Recently in paleo diet Category

One of the most common refrains I hear about Paleo is that it is too difficult to maintain. I say that is bullshit.

Bullshit. There. I said it again. Its really not that difficult to maintain a healthy Paleo diet and enjoy eating.

I'm probably in the best shape of my entire life right now. I'm not an Adonis. I don't walk down the street and people marvel at my muscles. I don't have 4% body fat. I'm at a normal, healthy place and did it by eating Paleo and doing Crossfit 4-5 days a week. Compared to other people my age, i'm fairly sure i'm in the top 10% when it comes to healthy looking & feeling.

My point of writing this isn't about patting myself on the back, but trying to get YOU the reader to motivate. I have a ton of friends who are frustrated with their bodies. They point at some part of their body and ruefully wish that there was an easy way to lose weight and look good without having to eat salad for every meal, while wishing they could have ice cream.

I'm telling you - its easier that you think. You just need to follow my plan. Why? Well, it worked for me and I was still eating pizza, hamburgers, ice cream, pasta and bread - all of those "OH GOD YOU CAN'T EAT THAT" types of food.

I want to state, again, that i'm not in perfect shape. I still have body fat. There's some girls at Crossfit that can kick my ass in workouts. That's life. There's always going to be someone who has a better body or is stronger than you. My point here is that you can do Paleo, lose weight and still eat "BAD FOOD".

Consider that we have 7 days in a week. 3 meals in a day. That's 21 meals. Right? Well...read on for my suggestions.

Instead of 3 meals on Saturday & Sunday, try to do 2 meals. Instead of eating Paleo on weekends...eat whatever you wish. Your goal isn't eating 6 bad meals on Saturday & Sunday but trying to eat 4 bad meals.

But, you can only really do this if you eat strictly Paleo from Monday to Friday. Also, you need to work out at least 4 days week. Doesn't need to be Crossfit. But it does need to be a workout where you are breaking a sweat. Walking on a treadmill at 3 miles per hour does not count, even if you burned "1,000 calories". If you must walk - do it at a vigorous pace. My friend Chris hates to run - so he walks at 4.5 miles per hour and works up a great sweat for 1 hour of walking. Sure, it takes longer but that's HIS way of doing cardio which is 100% fine.

That's my method right now. I eat pure Paleo from Monday to Friday. No sugar. No bread. No pasta. No rice. No beans. No alcohol.

Weekend comes? Hooray - drink up, have some pizza. Enjoy some Rita ice cream. Go to Fiore's and have a roast beef special. Drink a beer or three.

Results? I lost weight. I feel great. I'm alert. I do NOT get sleepy at work at 2pm. I'm not eating salad at every meal. I have fruit. Bacon. Meat. Veggies. Etc. I drink my coffee black now...and (gasp) I like it black now. I have tried coffee with cream and I feel like i'm drinking a hot milkshake. Once you appreciate black coffee....GOOD black coffee you will find the nirvana of what good coffee really tastes like. Oh, and for a treat drop in dark chocolate into your hot coffee. Delicious!

One secret is that I use Paleo Cuisine. I can't tell you enough how great it tastes. I'm telling you right now that if this was mass produced and available like McDonalds that more people who gladly eat Paleo over the crap that is out there right now. Its delicious. Plus takes 8 minutes to get ready. One of the biggest issues I had with Paleo is making food for myself would take 30-45 minutes of prep time, and other 30-45 minutes to cook. Now I get home from Crossfit, boil water - drop in your entree & side bag of food and its ready in a few minutes.

Breakfast is easy for me. I eat the same thing every day - Bacon, 3 egg omelette (varies on what veggies or protein I have in there) and a fruit cup with black coffee.

Lunch? Dig Inn has been my "go-to" place. I also do Benny Burritos Mexican salad with chicken for lunch or maybe 1/2 rotisserie chicken with veggies from Dirty Bird To Go. That's basically my rotation for 5 days a week. I sometimes even order whole wheat wraps from Benny's 1 day from Monday to Friday.

OH NO. THAT'S NOT PALEO!!!!!!

See. But its one meal. Maybe you want rice one day. Go for it.

The problem with "diets" is people get so fixated on the rules. I use Foursquare to check in and still get "THAT'S NOT PALEO!" when I check into places like Rita's Ice Cream. Big deal. Are you losing weight? Do your jeans fit great? How do you look in the mirror? If the answers are positive then you are doing something right.

My goals now are trying to take things to the "Next Level". Last weekend I did three "cheat" meals and one Paleo meal. Maybe I get my cheat days to one day (Saturday) instead of two days. Maybe I try to start drinking Paleo-friendly alcoholic beverages like red wine, and cutting out beer - or get to the next level and see if I can drink one day a week instead of two or three.

But that's me. Where are you at right now? If you are bummed about your body and really want to lose weight - I can help. But you have to stop lying to yourself.I had a friend who would order a salad every day for lunch. Every day. But she would have it with "Light Ranch On The Side". She would dip her fork of food in it and every day i'm sure she thought to herself "I'm eating salad everyday!"

She wasn't. She was slathering on the "light" ranch dressing and wondering why her stomach and hips were getting bigger every year. When she would workout, she would go on the stairmaster at a low speed and read a magazine like US Weekly. If you are working out at a pace where you can read a magazine - you might not be working out. If you cry about "not having enough time to work out", you are lying. Crossfit takes 45 minutes. They have morning, afternoon and night classes. People who say they can't find the time to workout just don't WANT to find the time.

That's my rant. Get off the couch. Get sweaty. Eat healthy, and allow for "cheat weekend" - and get yourself to "Level One Paleo".

This is one I made the other day, and turned out fantastic:

2 pound veal
1 cup almond flour
4-6 minced garlic cloves
1/2 minced onion (very fine)
2 tbls basil
2 tbls oregano
1 tbls red pepper flakes
1 tbls chili powder
2 eggs
salt & pepper
Mix in a bowl with your hands - roll into balls. Put into oven at 350 on a aluminum lined baking tray 15 min on each side. Then, throw into my sauce for 1 hour:

Sautee 3-4 garlic cloves in olive oil, then add
2 28 oz can of tomatoes & 1 1/2 cup water
2 tbls basil
2 tbls oregano
salt, pepper, 1 tbls red pepper flakes & 1 tsp chili powder
set on low heat & cover

Spaghetti squash cut in half, put in oven at 375 for 40 minutes. Let the squash cool for 10 minutes out of the oven, then scrape with a fork to get 'spaghetti'. Let the spaghetti cool down a bit, or your dish can be too mushy. Also leftover spaghetti heats up nicely in the microwave.

To save time, bake the meatballs with the squash. The meatballs should be done with about 10 minutes left for the squash. Also you can throw in the oven Italian sweet sausage to cook the same way for 20 minutes on each side @375 & add that to the pot, too.

Paleo Part 2 - Day 33

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Everything was chugging along nicely in week four and five. Injured myself in Crossfit on Monday March 11. Wasn't anything torn or broken, but really strained my hips doing a billion squats on a workout. Tuesday it was tender & sore, but I figured it would clear up in a few days. A few days became a week. Then got a massage on Friday March 15 - helped, but then on Saturday night I aggravated my hip.

I thought it wasn't too bad until I was outside walking Rocco - and it came on really fast where I literally could not move my leg without a strong dose of "soreness pain". I couldn't put much weight on it. Rocco - he is trying to walk and tugging me down the sidewalk. I have to basically scold him (sorry Rocco) to stop moving so fast. To his credit (or fear) he then walks very slow down the sidewalk while i'm trying my best Frankenstein impression.

I never had a moment where I felt so helpless. I'm standing there in the cold and I realize that I can't walk. Do I call a friend? Call an ambulance? Ask a stranger for help? Funny thing is that my decision was simple - I was embarrassed that I was hurt. I didn't want to ask for help because I couldn't believe I was hurt to begin with and the pain level wasn't severe, but my leg couldn't bear weight. I simply had to use the edge of the building to lean against while I slowly - we are talking baby steps here - inched my way to the back door of my building to get access. Then up the elevator and doing the same process down the hallway, using both my hands to stabilize myself against the wall.

I thought I was going to need to call a doctor, every movement I was in "soreness pain". So I called my sister, "S". Explained to her what happened and she had me take four Advil and call her in the morning. Long story short - it worked.

Hip is better, but not ready for Crossfit. Aiming for Monday Mar 25 as the return.

What does this all have to do with Paleo? I'll tell you.

In years past when I didn't workout, I would think "Well i'm not working out, so I can cheat meal." Then cheat meal turned to cheat day. Cheat day turned into cheat weekend. Cheat weekend turned into cheat week.

None of that happened here. My "cheat" is when I don't cook for myself and I go to Chipolte or Qdoba and get a burrito salad in a bowl with lettuce, protein, guacamole and salsa. In the long & short of things probably not ideal-perfect Paleo, but its close enough. to what we are trying to achieve.

I weighed myself today - and for the record the weight is more of a barometer than anything else because muscle and fat may weight the same but it sits differently on the body due to density - and I was 218 pounds.

Five weeks and I lost 15 pounds. I haven't wore my "fat jeans" since week three. My belt is at the lowest notch setting, I can't tighten it anymore and i'm thinking its time for a new belt anyhow.

I feel good. I don't feel like i'm sacrificing to get to this, but sure i'd like a cupcake or a roastbeef sandwich from Fiore's. Oddly enough I don't miss alcohol very much, except when my friends have plans they all revolve around drinking. St. Paddy's Day - I skipped going into NYC. LepreCon - skipped. A friends birthday party at a bar - I went to it & drank seltzer.

There were a few nights when I got caught up in work or a game on my PC and forgot to make dinner. Rather than panicking and eating crap, I just skipped my meal rather than eat something "bad". Last night I had three clementines and a banana for 'dinner'.

What I learned from paleo is two things:

1. I ate too much. I generally was good on my diet before this Paleo Self Challenge. But had quite a few weekend days where I would eat a sandwich from Hoboken on Rye, chips, a coke and 2 regular sized cupcakes from "Sweet". I can't guess on the calories there, but would hazard my lunch was 2,500 calories alone. Add in there a few beers later, with pizza and could have been eating 5,000 calories a day. With Paleo, I wasn't craving food because I wasn't hungry. I could skip a meal and yeah I wasn't STARVING.

2. The absence of sugar makes all food taste better. We are a society that eats too much sugar. People know this. But they don't make any change in their lifestyle to stop it. I woke up one day, looked in the mirror and said, "This is not who I want to be." - some people think there is a magic pill they can take which will melt the fat. Appetite suppressant isn't the way to go because it doesn't fix the underlying issue - its the diet, stupid. What makes paleo easier is that when you start to strip away the sugar overload, bland food tastes better. Carrots are tasty. Brussels sprouts are delicious. A simple dish with lamb chops, tomatoes, garlic and curly parsley is out-of-this-world.

Plus, if *I* can do this - anyone can. My willpower is nearly zero. I am very shocked that I went 30 days without alcohol & on Paleo for the second year in a row. My goal is to allow Easter weekend to be a 'cheat weekend'.

Then what?

I don't know. Part of me thinks I should try to go another month on Paleo, but allowing for certain Paleo-friendly alcohols like red wine or non-grain grape-distilled vodka on the weekends. Maybe allowing for a cheat meal once a week (which I nearly guarantee would be Fiore's roastbeef!). We will see. I will keep updating here under "Paleo" to keep people informed.

Also a few closing notes:

People ask "HOW DO YOU FEEL??" - I feel fine. On Paleo i'm much more awake and less groggy. I'm always tired in the mornings. My sleep is good, but not the deep crazy sleep that people report when they are on Paleo. Although I can walk into my bedroom and be asleep within 5 minutes on Paleo, so that's a plus.

If you are thinking of trying Paleo - do it. If you want to try it like me, you can by Robb Wolf's Paleo book and follow his 30 day guide, or search for other Paleo cookbooks on Amazon. Most of my meals are from his book or doing Google searches for foods or meals I liked. For example, I learned how to make spaghetti squash & meatballs because I was craving meatballs. So I searched "Paleo meatballs" and read a few dishes over. Then I look at how my Nanny made meatballs with veal, and I came up with this:

2 pound veal
1 cup almond flour
4-6 minced garlic cloves
1/2 minced onion (very fine)
2 tbls basil
2 tbls oregano
1 tbls red pepper flakes
1 tbls chili powder
2 eggs
salt & pepper
Mix in a bowl with your hands - roll into balls. Put into oven at 350 on a aluminum lined baking tray 15 min on each side. Then, throw into my sauce for 1 hour:

Sautee 3-4 garlic cloves in olive oil, then add
28 oz can of tomatoes & 28 oz water
1 6oz tomato paste
2 tbls basil
2 tbls oregano
salt, pepper, 1/2 tbls red pepper flakes & 1/2 tsp chili powder
set on low heat & cover

Spaghetti squash cut in half, put in oven at 375 for 40 minutes. Scrape with a fork to get spaghetti when its cooked & is great when its a day old too.

To save time, bake the meatballs with the squash. The meatballs should be done with about 10 minutes left for the squash. Also you can throw in the oven Italian sausage to cook the same way for 15 minutes on each side & add that to the pot, too.

That's it. Paleo is worth trying for one reason alone - it works. Plus I don't feel like i'm 'suffering' while i'm on paleo. Sure, I kind of miss some foods, but its more like a wistful thing than i'm-craving-a-cigarette kind of mood.

Do it!

Paleo Part 2 - Week Three

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Day 16.

Up until this week I have mostly been feeling OK, no real major cravings and a bit tired. Seems like this week I turned a corner. I'm not feeling as lethargic as I did for the first 10 days. Getting a good amount of sleep, averaging 7 1/2 hours a night. Sleeping OK, was hoping it would be better by now, but really its just OK.

Crossfit going well. 4 days in a row last week. I worked out three days this week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and did Thursday in my condo gym doing a mixture of lifting weights (bicep curls, bench press and pulldowns) and cardio (jump rope, sit ups, squats). I'll be back today at Crossfit. Trying to keep up Crossfit to 4-5 days a week.

Scale today was 225. Funny thing is that my 'fat jeans' are in the corner and I have my old jeans back on already. I can feel the reduction all around my midsection, its just less puffy than before. Still have work to do. My goal isn't necessarily related to weight alone, since a scale doesn't take into muscle vs fat. My goal is just feeling better in my body, and getting stronger at Crossfit.

My back was a major problem when I first started Crossfit again. Really sore. To a point where I could barely do much. It was embarrassing. But I did light weight - and got a massage at Body Balance each week. It really helped. This was the first week I was free of any back pain (soreness) from working out. Now my biggest issue is getting my endurance back, but I feel like each workout i'm a bit stronger than before.

No real issues with eating. Don't "miss" food like I thought I would. I think the key so far is that my breakfast is pretty much the same:
1. Omelette (with veggies) or Egg scrambled
2. 6 slices of bacon!
3. Mixed Fruit cup

Lunch usually is a chicken over greens or rotisserie chicken with a veggie side or left over dinner. Plus maybe a handful of almonds as a snack (no more than a handful).

Most of my dinners are stuff I search for online or from Paleo-centric cookbooks. Jambalaya, Veal Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash, filet mignon steak, Italian veal chops, Flounder Fillet with Dill Vegetables, and others. Sometimes in a time crunch I will go to the Taco Truck and get 6 tacos without shells and just eat that or go to Chipolte and grab a burrito bowl with salad (protein with sauteed veggies, guac and salsa).

Only issue with cutting out alcohol is that social life goes "bye bye" around Hoboken. Really, its kind of funny how much everything centers around having a drink. But, doesn't really matter - the weather is pretty crappy and most of my weekends have been quiet.

Paleo Part 2 - Week Two

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Last year my first foray into paleo was new and scary territory with lots of questions and planning.

This year it's been pretty easy. I kind of already know what I like to eat. My routine is mostly like this:

Breakfast: Black coffee, Bacon, 3 eggs, fruit cup.

Lunch: Rotisserie Chicken or chicken salad, or leftovers from last night.

Dinner: Some kind of Paleo dish from my cookbooks or internet.

Last night is a good example of "some kind of Paleo dish". I wanted meatballs. I looked around at a few recipes from different paleo sites. I also compared my Nanny's Meatball recipe which uses ground veal. So I bought ground veal from FreshDirect, and then modified a few things like taking out sugar and adding in chopped garlic & onion, red pepper flakes, chili powder and 1/4 cup of almond flour. Funny thing is - they turned out good! I wouldn't call it "great", I want to try some things differently next time like mincing the onion versus chopping it. Also I want to fry the meatballs instead of baking them like I did last night.

Most of my meals have been homemade, but a few easy ways to order locally and apply it to Paleo Diet:

  1. Order 6 tacos from the Taco Truck - strip off the shell and eat the meat filling with a veggie side.
  2. Order "salad" from Chipolte, order double meat, sauteed onion & peppers with fresh avocado - put some salsa on there and enjoy.
  3. La Isla does a great roasted chicken breast, which is only $5 and great when you are in a jam for something to eat.

Haven't cheated except for one breakfast in which I ordered a Western Omelette and it had cheese in it - this falls under the "don't sweat the small stuff" mantra to the diet. I'm being strict but allowing for things like a packet of ketchup or A1 sauce. OH NO! THEY HAVE SUGAR IN IT. Yeah, yeah. I'm not drinking a pint of ketchup. The salsa at Chipolte could have sugar in it, but it was one meal out of 30.

I feel pretty good. Down about 5 pounds, but that falls under the "water weight" that everyone loses in the first week. I did Crossfit Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. Felt stronger and my recovery a billion times better. I'm sharper - I can feel sharper. I'm still a bit tired, but that is because I haven't been sleeping enough hours - getting to bed late because i'm being dumb.

Interesting side note about sleep. Lately I have changed my approach to my bedroom. I used to play video games in there or surf the 'net. Since Paleo I tried to cut that down, with surfing the net with my iPad and playing games only occasionally. When its time for bed, I go immediately to bed - no TV, no computer, no reading. Bedroom is for sleeping. As soon as I get into bed, lights off and sleepy time.

You know what? That fucking works like a charm. I was definitely someone who had issues falling asleep because i'm thinking or whatever - just making the bedroom the place where you sleep...helps. So, my suggestion is get rid of the TV in the bedroom if you have one (I do not have one).


Paleo Part 2 - Week One!

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I decided to "Go Paleo" again. For a few reasons:

1. I'm overweight. I weighed myself the other day and I was 233 pounds. I have never, in my life, been over 230 pounds. I'm 6'4, so technically its not quite the same when you are 230+ pounds and 5'9 - but still.

2. I feel like crap after eating. Literally falling asleep at my desk as my blood sugar skyrockets. Or, on the weekend, I take about a 2 hour nap.

3. I'm wearing my "fat jeans". Enough said.

4. I come home from work and often would just nap with Rocco next to me. Wake up around 7 and get something to eat.

5. I restarted Crossfit about a month ago, after taking the last 3 months off. I kept coming up with excuses. First it was Hurricane Sandy. Then it was "the holidays". Once January rolled around it was "too cold". I finally signed up by 2nd week of January and it was like starting all over again. I was so weak. My back hurt. My legs hurt. Kept putting off things.

I'll be first to admit that my willpower is my biggest issue. I have a sweet tooth. I like cupcakes and Tastykakes. Seriously, its bad. Secondly, i'm inherently lazy. Cooking for myself versus walking three blocks to get a sandwich is a no brainer. Plus I like beer and wine - and scotch. My drinking really isn't like it used to be, but usually 2-3 drinks on a Friday or Saturday.

The hardest part of eating right is the planning. Having food on hand in a pinch or when it is late and you are hungry and don't feel like chopping, cooking and cleaning up. There are a few ways to get around that, especially with Hoboken. La Isla makes a great rotisserie chicken breast. Chipolte you can get a naked lettuce bowl with protein and salsa. I'm not letting condiments stop me so i'm allowing for a ketchup packet with my eggs, for example.

What was getting me down was that I first tried Paleo where I allowed for alcohol. Then I allowed a cheat meal. Then I had a cheat day. Then pretty soon I was thinking "Oh, I was good for 5 out of 7 days..."

It starts to cascade. A few days ago I was eating Pop-Tarts after lunch at work. Something had to give.

So, here we are. Technically it is Day 3. I started on Wednesday. I wasn't planning to write about this, but I changed my mind because I figure it would hold me accountable. Plus, I figure I need things to write about, and haven't been updating the blog very often and didn't want to wax poetic on my Facebook about eating.

I plan on being 100% honest until Easter Sunday. No sugar. No bread. No dairy. No beans. No corn. No alcohol. I have 37 days left. Think I can do it?

It's the final week of my paleo diet and here's my final thoughts (which may be a rehash of old thoughts):

1. It's sort of like a "smart" Atkins diet. Basically it says "OK dummy, here's what makes you fat: sugars and carbs. Don't eat refined sugars and carbs. Eat everything else." So you can nit pick and question "IS THERE SUGAR IN KETCHUP?!", and count calories if you want. The bottom line is just avoid wheat, dairy, rice, beans/lentils and sugar and any product that is made with those ingredients. Eat meats, veggies and fruits to your hearts content. Don't worry so much about fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs and sugar makes you fat.

2. It's an easy diet if you plan. It's difficult if you don't plan and/or have food/leftovers in your fridge. There were a few nights where it got late, I didn't have food on hand and suddenly...I'M HUNGRY!!! I would get like Taco Truck tacos (without shells), add in a veggie or fruit, throw in a handful of nuts and - that's dinner.

Also along with the "planning" part is the time part. Most of my dinners took at least 20 minutes of prep (chopping, etc) and then time to cook, etc - and usually was a solid hour of 'dinner'. That really cuts into your time. By the time i'm home from CrossFit and showered it was 7pm. I have to walk Rocco, which is another 20 minutes. Then make & eat dinner, and I was done by 8:15 to 8:30. Then you have maybe 2 to 2 1/2 hours of whatever to do until bed.

3. I'm frankly amazed how everyone I met has zero willpower. You mention not eating dairy and I always get the same reaction, like I told the person they had to take cold showers for the rest of their lives. "Whhaaaattt? No dairy? No cheese? No yogurt!?"

Also on a related topic. Try not eating dairy for 30+ days and then eat something with milk, and watch your body's reaction. For me it was cramps and some quality "toilet time". A bit TMI, but really makes you wonder if we were meant to drink cow's milk.

4. Believe it or not the hardest part of the diet wasn't the alcohol restriction. I was fine. There were a few times where I would have liked a beer or a glass of wine, but for the most part, it wasn't hard to give up drinking. The only problem I did have with giving up drinking was my social life (and lack thereof) was basically zero. You ask your friends to do something that doesn't involve getting a drink and you hear crickets on the other end of the phone - or replies by text of: "That sounds like an option" and never hearing back from them again for a week.

What was hard was "missing food". Like missing that big cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Or pizza from Grimaldi's. Or getting a cupcake from Sweet.

5. I think it's sustainable, and do-able as a normal diet. I plan to continue it, but the big problem I can start to see is 'cheating'. I plan to resume drinking. I plan to have foods that have rice in them. I'd like to avoid wheat. I'd like to avoid sugar. But I guar-an-tee you I will be walking down the street with a box of cupcakes and run into someone who is going to be like, "OOOH! That's not on the DIET!"

Willpower is one thing, like I mentioned before, and that willpower is basically going to be focused on reducing the bad foods that I mentioned above. I hear from my friends all the time how they eat so well, and then watch how they check into Foursquare to places where I know they aren't ordering something healthy. Or I ask the same people "Keep a food log for ONE WEEK. Just one week. Write down EVERYTHING you eat or drink. Then you will immediately see why you can't lose weight."

I love the people who do eat 95% right but are out drinking 3-4 nights a week and claim "It's just wine! That's good for you!". It's good when you have one glass of wine, not a bottle of wine. Trust me, cutting out alcohol was probably the #1 reason why I was able to lose 2-3 pounds a week.


So, that's it. My 'final weight' was 211 pounds from 222. 11 pounds in 6 weeks. Only had 1 true "cheat" meal which was my birthday on Feb 12th. Otherwise I stuck to the diet, and I do have some "before and after" pictures, but not sure if I want to put them up on the web. If you shoot me an email at philly2hoboken (at) gmail I will share them with my friends and answer any Paleo-centric questions you may have.

Week 6 on Paleo - Is Crossfit A Cult?

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So far so good. Things in the last week were a bit more 'routine' with my diet. I did a lot of the same meals, and wasn't as creative. Kept it to the basics. Steak, chicken, fish. With a vegggie or sweet potato side. But to my credit, been chugging along on the diet. My first and only "cheat" was last Saturday night. It was my birthday. I figured I was good for 33 days, and could afford the luxury of...ICE CREAM.

I went to Marea with my family. It was out of this world good. I have been to a lot of great restaurants over the year, but this one takes the cake.

I actually was pretty paleo friendly ordering the fixed price meal there and getting a fish appetizer (and nearly choking on a fish bone) and having the steak for dinner (normally I wouldn't order a steak at a seafood restaurant, but this sirloin was highly recommended - and best I have had in years!).

But didn't stay so paleo with my fusili with octopus and bone marrow.

And then brown sugar gelato covered in rum & espresso. Heavenly. It was

Once a year, it's a birthday. Gotta celebrate. It was quite enjoyable and felt like a nice reward for myself after sticking to the diet. My weight is down to 212 today. Jeans fit very loose and I need a new belt.

Not sure how my weight I need to lose now, really. Being around 210 would be my ideal weight. The Paleo Challenge ends on Feb 22, so I have about 8 more days of staying on the plan.

Crossfit is good. A friend of mine posted this article on my wall, "Inside the Cult of CrossFit". It was a reprint of another article from Men's Fitness back in October 2011.

It's 'somewhat' fair article but sensationalizes the Crossfit a bit. To me, Crossfit is kind of like joining a sport. You have a group of people who work out together to get stronger at what they are doing. If anyone played an organized sport they would recognize this. I was in crew in high school and I remember running up and down stairs until I was ready to throw up. I remember running track and my legs would be wobbly, you run until your lungs were burning.

Somehow...the author equates Crossfit to a cult. That's a bit absurd. It's no more a cult than your local high school football or basketball team is a cult.

I think people get so amped up about CrossFit because (like he wrote) it fun to be back in great shape. You want to spread the word, and say, "This works! Try it!" - so you try to tell your friends about it, and are enthusiastic about getting your friends to join.

Like anything else, you get what you put into it. And if you go overboard in any sport you can hurt yourself. So I listen to my body, record my workouts and the next time I try a workout see if I can do better. The whole "NO PAIN NO GAIN" thing that the writer tries to make the reader believe is bullshit (at least in my opinion). Certainly people push themselves, and people do get hurt, but I think that would be true in any sport - Crossfit is the sport of fitness. Every class is led by an instructor, who is often watching what you are doing and offering advice on how to do it better.

I think the big issue I have with anyone working out or if they are trying to lose weight is "overtraining". People go overboard with exercise in the desire to gain muscle or lose weight. That's the quickest way to hurt yourself. Crossfit is no exception, and the author's examples in his article about Crossfit are examples of people who have no idea what they are doing, and this could have happened to anyone playing any organize sport - or working out on their own.

Crossfit to some is a "fad". Most people who say that never tried it and simply don't know what they are talking about. I definitely encourage anyone to try the free class in Hoboken which is on Wednesday night or Saturday night.

Comments or Questions? Email me! Philly2hoboken {at} gmail.

I told friends I started the diet for two reasons. One, I felt like my old diet plan was good, but most of my weight stabilized, and I wasn't really losing or gaining weight. Two, I wanted to see if there was a major difference in my Crossfit gains while working out.

Now, I did ramp up my Crossfit a lot. I went from 3-4 days a week to 5 days a week. Now each class is 'only' 45 minutes, and we focus on various muscle groups that each class is basically unique. So i'm hitting all body parts, rarely repeating exercises and some days we are doing strength and some days we are doing conditioning. It's good and I like it - plus I am seeing decent, if not grand improvements in my strength and conditioning.

The Paleo for the last week, I am starting to hit a slight rut with my cooking. When I first started I was excited to try new recipes. Now, I get home from the gym and want to eat without having to cook for very long. Most of my dishes take at least 30 minutes prep time and cook time, if not longer - especially if I forgot an ingredient, like i'm missing a certain spice, herb or vegetable.

Oh, here's my million dollar idea, after cooking Paleo for a month. Someone needs to come up with a compact spice line (similar to this - but maybe smaller and more choices for the random spices, so you have 30 spices available, not 15. Also the ability to change names on the bottles). Most spices, like that from FreshDirect or in your local store, are in 8 ounce bottles, or a 1/2 cup. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I have spices in my spice rack which could be over 3+ years old. I'm not talking Oregano or Basil, but the random spices for the "one time I made this dish..." kind of spices like saffron or cumin.

Spices aren't that expensive, really, at $3 for basil or oregano. Maybe more 'exotic' ones can be $4-5. I know saffron can be ridiculously expensive.

You know what the problem is? Not the price - but the size. Wouldn't it be nice to have a whole spice rack, compact, that costs $1 per spice, each in a glass vial about 3-4 ounces? Certainly you can get larger, more commonly used spices if you wish. My spice cabinet is overflowing with spices and often finding the coriander or chili powder involves me taking out about 10 different spices before I can find it.

My idea would be a compact spice rack, with small vials (like test tubes, and lids) of each ingredient, and keep the price low, but the quality high (from packaging to content). I would surmise these are your 15 "basic spices" that every chef should have on hand.

15 spices - $15 dollars instead of paying $50-60. Plus every year you could replace your whole spice cabinet for $15 to have fresh spices on hand every year. Most people agree that ground (not while) spices should be replaced every 6 to 24 months, and will lose flavor after six months.

So think about your marketing. You are selling the idea that you will always have on hand fresh spices, at a low cost, and market it online. Plus, once someone buys your bottle packaging, you can just sell them the spices in a plastic bag, which they can just refill into your special, well crafted bottles.

The only problem would be getting the word out and marketing it. There's lots of places to buy spices online. The key would be figuring out a way to distinguish yourself from the pack. I would think that Fresh Direct could do something like that....now only if I had a contact over there...

Back to Paleo...

I think it's a good diet, and easily do-able by anyone. The key is being prepared. The second key is getting rid of any 'cheat' foods you have in your home. Paleo makes a big deal about rice, wheat, beans and sugar as the 'bad foods' to avoid. It's nearly impossible to avoid them when you want something fast and on the go. We talk about sugar being the reason why our society is so overweight, but we have to think that empty carbs from wheat and other sources have to come into play here. Plus the explosion of gluten & celiac diseases certainly lends credibility to this.

The problem is just convenience to preparing and eating. But i think that's true for any diet, and not just Paleo.

For those keeping score at home, i'm down to 213 pounds. 4 weeks and 8 pounds, about 2 pounds a week, so I think that's healthy. My jeans are fitting great, and starting to see serious ab definition. I'm thinking I should be 210 by the end of this. Anyone getting married in 6 weeks and you need to lose 12 pounds (the healthy way?)?

Week 4 Update On Paleo

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The paleo diet started on January 9th and this is week four. My friend Matt emailed me, "Three weeks I guess.. how do you like Paleo?"

The Good:

1. It's much easier than I thought. I remember on my old diet it was very repetitive and after three weeks I was DYING for diversity in my meals. It's fairly easy to plan, since I started with a few paleo-centric cookbooks to plan out my meals.

2. I was already kind-of-sort-of doing a good diet Monday thru Friday before I started paleo. Brown rice, sweet potato, meat, vegetable etc was already part of my meal plan, but I probably cheated a lot more than I should have. With the Paleo Challenge from Crossfit, I paid $100, and will get $50 back if I complete the plan for 45 days. So there's a financial incentive to stick to it. Plus, if i'm chosen as the (male) winner I get what's in the pot. So far I have been adhering to the rules, and haven't cheated (as far as I know - zomg! that balsamic dressing had 1 milligram of sugar in it!!).

3. If you plan out your meals for the week it's easier. Where I would run into trouble is when I didn't plan my dinners out well enough and then be missing an ingredient (where's my coconut milk!?) and then be stuck. Fortunately, I kinda learned a few quick meals to make over the years which aren't that exciting but do the job. And, i'm always game for a steak and sweet potato dinner.

The Bad:

1. I don't feel "amazing". I thought maybe after a few weeks my energy levels would soar, and i'd be sleeping great. My sleep still sucks, but I think (not sure) my snoring must be reduced since I did lose 7 pounds and alcohol makes snoring worse. Rocco isn't complaining that i'm keeping him up.

2. Crossfit "gains" haven't nearly improved like I would have liked. I have gone to Crossfit since Jan 9 about five days a week, except for last week when I hurt my shoulder. I thought maybe i'd see (by now) some serious strength increases, but i'm still feeling weak in most classes, and still doing beginner weight levels. In our last "Fight Gone Bad" workout I scored a 170, and probably should have been around 200. I know these numbers probably don't mean anything to you, but they aren't good. The top end people are scoring 300+. It's still early on this, but now have to start re-thinking what i'm doing wrong here. I got the diet down, and been attending all the classes - I may need to hit my condo gym after class and just work on weights on my own. I'm definitely getting fitter, no doubt, but not sure if i'm getting 'stronger'.

3. I still miss pizza, sandwiches and alcohol. I would be lying if I said i'd do Paleo for the rest of my life. I don't have cravings for those things, it's more like a wistful remembrance of how good they were. I would (hope) that once the diet ends I can just do it during the week, and on the weekends try to "cheat less". Maybe try to keep two "meals" over the weekend where I can have a Fiore's roast beef or one meal is a personal pizza from Grimaldi's. Plus, making plans with friends where you cannot drink is nearly impossible (at least with my friends) - "Hey! Want to see a movie? Hello? Hello?"

That's about it. Bottom line is that the diet works, i'm halfway through it, but really will see where I am around day 45 before I give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.

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I'm sure you heard the old news by now about Paula Deen. What a shock. Eating crap her whole life and gets diabetes in her 60's.

Paula, and she defended herself and her cooking by saying things like "I'm not your doctor" and "practice moderation".

Let me lay out exactly what's wrong with that attitude and exactly what's wrong with our society when it comes to food.

1. We are surrounded by bad, but convenient food options. Try to eat healthy on the road.
2. We are all weak. You, me, everyone.
3. Food is like a drug. You get pleasure from eating. Bite into a doughnut. Slurp that coffee with cream and sugar. In your brain, the endorphins explode with delight.
4. Most chefs at any major restaurant can easily tell you that they slather food with butter, salt and sugar. They spike food to make it even more delicious.
5. Most of the processed foods in the worlds have far too much sugar and salt.

So the problem is - we are a trapped society, unless YOU make your own meals. The problem with making your own meals is time. Yes, some meals can be made quickly. But even last night when I decided i'd like to just have a steak & baked sweet potato, it still took me 90 minutes to get it completed. I didn't have steak on hand - so I had to walk to Garden of Eden to buy it fresh, along with the sweet potato. I baked the sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. The steak was fast, about 5 minutes cook time, and another 10 minutes of 'rest' before I eat it (let the juices settle).

Now that i'm doing the paleo diet, i'm not going to turn into some born again diet freak shouting from the rooftops that we should not eat breads, pasta, sugars. I love bread. I love pasta. I do plan to eat them again. But i'd like to be a lot more moderate, in the future, about how I do this.

I was at work the other day and someone was telling me how they 'eat in moderation', but 'mostly healthy' and they 'hit the gym all the time'. Meanwhile this was clearly someone overweight. I have no doubt if this person kept a food journal they would quickly realize that they were not eating in moderation. Here's the new rule for eating in moderation: "You get three 'cheat meals' a week". That's it. So imagine you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, 7 days a week, or 21 'meals'. You can eat poorly on only three of those. I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that anyone who says "I eat in moderation" cheats at least 8-10 times. Or, at the very least, have no concept of portion sizes or any concept of what is really healthy. They eat Yoplait yogurt and think it's healthy, while they are guzzling down 30 grams of sugar each serving. Do you know how many grams are in a teaspoon? It's 4. 30 grams is 7.5 teaspoons of sugar. Think about that before you have a yogurt for breakfast and think you are eating "healthy".

Also, It drives me crazy to walk by the gym and watch someone on a treadmill or stationary bike or cross trainer with a "US Weekly" magazine and doing some kind of easy going "la la la la" workout thinking they are just burning away the calories from yesterday's dinner of salad, chicken and 1/2 cup of ranch dressing (*on the side!).

You want to lose weight, it's the EASIEST THING ON THE PLANET TO DO. You don't need special diets. You don't need Weight Watchers. You don't need Nutrisystem. You don't need shakes. You don't need Atkins or Paleo. No special pills. No exotic drugs or fruits that are claiming to be a "breakthrough of science". If you use steroids or HGH, you are a fucking loser and you know it (especially if you are a trainer).

You need to do two things:

1. Eat healthy. Real foods - meat, vegetables, fruit (keeping sugars here in check). No refined sugar. No breads. No pasta. Trust me, you can live without them.
2. Exercise. I don't care if it's Crossfit, or whatever, you need whatever gets your heart beating and you are breaking a sweat. You need to do this more than 3 times a week. At least 4 if not more. You don't need to do it more than 30 minutes. Even if you are out there, jogging, for 20 minutes which breaks a sweat that is a million times better than on a stationary bike for 1 hour pedaling at 2 mph.

That's it. Not that hard. Am I God's gift to exercise? Nope. I'm like anyone else. I'm weak. I said this earlier. But we all know what we need to do, right? I'm trying to do something different and see if I get results.

So what's stopping you?

Week 1 down, Week 2 Begins!

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What has surprised me most after a week of eating Paleo, is how my food cravings have been fairly low. I fully expected to be "dying" for cookies or candy or cupcakes by now, and really it's been a non-issue. Also I have found this diet to be fairly easy, thanks to Robb Wolf's book The Paleo Solution.

It already has a 30 day mealplan in the book. So I have been following it nearly to the letter. I haven't had any refined sugar. No wheat. No grains. No rice. No dairy.

So far it has been smooth sailing.

My Crossfit workouts haven't dramatically changed. I still get gassed real fast like I used to. I am hoping that after a week on real food that I see faster gains. I went to class five times last week, and plan to go five times this week, whereas in the past I usually went 3-4 times a week to Crossfit.

What has surprised me is how I tell people what i'm doing and the (mostly) negative reactions to it. You try to explain to people the plan and there's a tremendous amount of resistance. No bread? Not even wheat? No cheese??

Listening to people fret over the idea of not being able to eat their favorite foods anymore sort of reminded me when I quit smoking cigarettes. I remember when I quit smoking, how "drinking wouldn't be the same", "watching football wouldn't be the same", "a cigarette after a meal wouldn't be the same".

But once I quit, you got used to it.

Whatever the same pleasure receptors we have in our head for cigarettes must be tied to food. No doubt. That's why it's so hard to "diet". Plus if you look at most everything out there - there is sugar in everything. Or salt. The goal of the food industry is to pack sugar and salt and spike food like Marlboro spiked nicotine into cigarettes. It makes it really hard to quit, doesn't it?

I weighed myself yesterday. Started at 221 last week. I'm down to 218. 3 pounds in a week. Usually that's water weight. I don't have a goal for my weight, to be honest. I mean people put far too much stock into their weight. I'm just concerned about my mid-section, around my hips, stomach which seemed to retain the majority of my weight. Plus, I have zero interest in just losing weight if it involves losing muscle too. I took a 'before' picture with my camera (shirt off!) and will post that at the end of the 6 weeks.

My only issue with this diet is ONE thing. No alcohol. It's not about drinking, but it is about being social. I had two events to attend last weekend, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I didn't attend either. It's not fun being the sober guy in a bar when everyone else is drinking. And I didn't want the temptation to "just have one".

Also, coming up with idea to do things with your friends that doesn't involve drinking is a bit of a challenge. Movies? Hang out and watch TV? I gotta start thinking about things I can do on the weekend besides hanging out with Rocco or this is going to be a looooong five more weeks.

Tasty Burgers & Salmon w/Pecans

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Day 1 is behind me and I learned two new things to make myself for dinner which were easy and delicious.

1. Salmon with pecans and rosemary.
Grab a filet of salmon, coat a baking pan with coconut oil, top the salmon with pecans, rosemary and some sea salt, cook at 350 for 12 minutes. Fan-tastic. I'm not a fishy-fish guy and normally do NOT eat salmon, but this was the bomb. Simple to make and fast!

2. Burgers
There are a billion burger recipies out there. I found one and it converted me from allrecipes.com Chris' Bay Burger:
1 pound ground beef, 1 tsp basil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper - cooked in olive oil on the stove (a grill would be perfect, of course) - left off the buns, just grabbed onion & tomato and wrapped it up in red leaf lettuce.

Paleo Challenge: Accepted!

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I joined Crossfit last year, and I found the gym revolutionary. I have tried to convince my friends and family about it, and most people aren't interested. Each have their own reasons, or routines and don't want to rock their proverbial boat they are in.

I, on the other hand, constantly like to try new things & explore new ways of doing things.

My gains at Crossfit have been...OK. I tried to stick to my "Old Diet" while at Crossfit, but was doing it Monday thru Friday 100% clean, but then Saturday & Sunday taking "breaks". It worked, but I found my energy and gains at Crossfit were less than optimal to what I was expecting. I still can barely do pullups, it's my weakest exercise. I got better at other areas, like box jumps. But still felt like I wasn't getting stronger like I should be.

Often, I kept hearing from the Crossfitters about doing the "Paleo Diet". For a long time I just kept thinking "I know how to eat clean. 5 meals a day. Protein/Complex Carbs/Veg, no sugars, dairy, breads, pasta..." I didn't want to change.

But I kept reading about others doing the Paleo Diet and having remarkable results while doing Crossfit. I was intrigued. Curious. I'm not a big fan of "fad diets". I am more of a fan of being smart about what you eat. Limiting my bad food intake. Staying away from sweets and sugars.

The problem? It's not really working well enough.

I decided that it's a new year, a new diet, and going to eat, starting on Monday 100% Paleo for 7 days a week.

What is the Paleo Diet? You can read more about it here. In the most basic description, you just want to eat food that we, as humans, were meant to eat before the development of agriculture. We should eat Woolly mammoth and Sabretooth Tiger steak? Well, no - pro-Paleo advocates claim that genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic era some 20,000 years ago - and have not adapted to agrarian diets. We see plenty of people we know who are lactose tolerant, gluten allergies, peanut allergies or other autoimmune issues.

Here's what the diet basically details:

1. You can eat foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat (steak, chicken, lamb, pork) and seafood (fish, shellfish, etc), and can be gathered, such as vegetables (including mushrooms), fruits, eggs, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. All foods may be cooked, without restrictions.
2. Foods excluded from the diet, mainly grains, legumes (e.g. beans and peanuts), dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils, although some advocates consider the use of oils with low omega-6/omega-3 ratios, such as olive oil and canola oil, to be healthy and advisable.
3. You are advised to drink mainly water, and some advocates recommend tea as a healthy drink, but alcoholic and fermented beverages are restricted from the diet.

So it appears that not only will I be on the diet for 45 days, but also on the wagon for 45 days. This will be...interesting. Anyone want to take odds on how long I last? I give myself about 21 days before I snap. But, with the Crossfit Challenge there is a $100 buy in. If I can stay on the diet for all 45 days, I will get $50 back. If I win the challenge, I win everything in the pot - more info on the Crossfit Hoboken website.

Suffice to say, I may be staying away from bars for the next 45 days. Sorry in advance if I am lame.

I have put in my order with FreshDirect yesterday, and using a diet plan from Robb Wolf's "The Paleo Solution".

I certainly will keep you updated here on my progress.

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