It took me "going paleo" to discover that eating wheat and/or gluten makes me feel crappy (and heightens my allergies). I also realized that abstaining from processed sugar and carbohydrates makes any cravings I had for said items go away. The positive effects/experiences I have observed since "going paleo" can not be denied. It has changed life the way I see it.
1.5 years ago, I stepped into a CrossFit gym and began setting goals for things I wanted to be able to do with my body. I saw girls lifting heavy weights, performing pull-ups, push-ups, handstands, box jumps, etc. Some of these things I can do now, but there is so much more I want to do.
In February, I participated in a challenge that involved very structured eating (still paleo), insane water consumption, and including supplements into my routine- fish oil, branch chained amino acids, vitamins, calcium and more. While I found the structure tedious, the results I saw were amazing, so I have continued with the supplementation.
This is where I have been.
In order to know where I'm going, I need to take a look at what has worked for me, and what needs improvement/testing.
Diet- While paleo was an awesome introduction into low carb living, I find I'm much happier when I can eat occasional high fat dairy, as well as rice, corn, white potatoes, and other gluten free starches. Wheat is still off the table for me because I don't like being a stuffed-up sneezy mess with one eye all red and tearing up. Not cool. I absolutely do love that eating fat is widely accepted and encouraged. However, due to its caloric denseness, fat still needs to be monitored, or as I will test out, allowed more freely on rest days, and rationed on workout days. I also enjoy the effect of not caring about food and therefore going long periods of time without eating. I always feel better when I eat less calories. ALWAYS. Fish oil, branch chained amino acids, vitamin D, and other supplements don't seem to be doing me any harm, and I rarely get sore from a workout. These are working for me. Bottom line, where does that leave me with diet?
Eating nutrient dense, high quality, real foods, but only when I'm hungry or haven't eaten for a really long time, and only in amounts that support my activity levels. I will try playing with macronutrient levels on workout vs. rest days, and I will begin roughly counting calories (gasp!) as I am trying to shed fat. I really liked the paleo illusion of not having to count calories, but I have slowly learned that for me, I need to better gauge how much I'm eating. I'm very much in the habit of recording what I eat in a day, but not so much tallying up calories. I'll be using the myfitnesspal app for that.
Exercise- CrossFit sometimes gets a bad wrap in certain fitness circles, particularly ones centered on fat loss/muscle gain. I like my gym, I like the workouts, and I've seen progress so, I'm not ready to give this up. The main focus of my training is going to be tweaking my diet, so in reality, whatever activities I choose to do should be my prerogative. Enjoyment/sticking with something in my experience far outweights what could be considered "best." I do not attend one of those CrossFit's that centers the majority of their workouts on MetCon's (or metabolic conditioning). We do hard, short workouts, rarely longer then 17 minutes. We also have strength days where no traditional conditioning is involved (trust me though...lifting heavy weights right is cardio). Bottom line, where does that leave me with exercise?
I'm going to continue what I'm doing (CrossFit/skills weekends at home) with the exception of fasted workouts. I will consume some branch chained amino acids prior to workout, but that is it. When I go to the gym at my regular noon time, I most likely will not have had anything to eat since the night before, and I will eat my first meal immediately after working out.
Oh, another thing I will be doing is "checkpoints." We already kind of do these at the gym with our benchmark workouts, but the schedule is never really consistent. I'm going to pick 3 movements, and every 8 weeks or so "check in" and see if I've improved. The three movements I'm picking are: deadlift, OH squat, and pull-up.
Currently, I'm at 235# for one rep max deadlift, I haven't tested my OH squat in awhile, but since spraining my ankle, it has reduced dramatically mostly due to flexibility I think? (pre-ankle it was 110#?) I'm going to go with 85 pounds on that one, and currently I'm only able to do band assisted pull-ups (I used the thick black band during high rep workouts), and I can do a max of 3 medium thick green-band assisted pull-ups before I have to stop. Next check in will be on Monday, July 2, 2012. Putting in on my calendar now. Wheeee! I'm excited to see how this experiment goes.