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After six long weeks, the Paleo Challenge is over. Congrats to all our participants-- everyone who stayed consistent saw some great results both in their personal measurements and with their workout results. Time to celebrate with some pizza and donuts after all that hard work, right?
Not so fast. Hopefully, those of you on the challenge haven’t gone out and completely abandoned all that solid time and effort you put in! The Paleo Challenge wasn’t just to help our members achieve a short-term goal; our plan was to put you on a sustainable path to a fitter, healthier lifestyle.
First, let me make something completely clear (those of you who I’ve talked to about diet already know this): I don’t think Paleo is the be-all, end-all of nutrition. Paleo is a great way to reset—to throw out all the excess junk we’re surrounded with on a daily basis. But we all have different bodies, different needs, and different lifestyles. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet, because everyone’s metabolism (and indeed, life) is unique. Furthermore, strict Paleo on a consistent basis becomes another source of constant stress: “Was there cream added to that omelette? What kind of oil was my stir-fry sautéed in?” These kinds of questions turn food from being an enjoyable experience into a constant chore.
So then, what is a modern-day caveman to do post-Paleo? Well, if you’ve been eating (mostly) clean for over 30 days, your body has probably adapted to that way of eating—now it’s time to do some self-experimentation! Try introducing something new into your diet, while keeping everything else constant. Make it a real, whole food (in case you’re wondering, Snickers or McFlurrys ARE bad for you…no need to test it) and resist the temptation to add everything back in all at once—the object here is to keep the confounding variables to a minimum. Try adding in dairy, beans, rice, bread, quinoa…anything you’ve felt you’ve been missing in your diet. If you get an instant reaction (stomach cramps, nausea, etc) then you can eliminate that food immediately. If you don’t feel any immediate side-effects, keep it in your diet for two weeks and do a self-assessment. Do you feel better or worse? Have you gained or lost weight? How have your workouts been feeling? If there are no ill effects, chances are that food is just fine for you to eat—and may even help you add muscle or PR on your back squat.
Once you’ve done a reasonable assessment of what food works for you, the next step is finding the right balance of Paleo, Neolithic, and modern-day treats. That’s where the 80/20 rule comes into play…which we’ll discuss in the next post.