The Paleo Conversation

Before we get into the lifestyle recently described as the caveman diet, let’s talk about workouts! This morning I went for a run along Buffalo Bayou. I ran for 43 minutes and followed up with an ab workout. The run wasn’t easy. Houston in July is not ideal. If you are one of those who manages easy summer runs in Houston, then congratulations on being the chosen one.

Fortunately the picture does not portray the insane amount of sweat that resulted from my run. I would drench the carpet if I didn’t have the mat.


Below is an ab workout that is nearly impossible to complete. I can’t say I had anything to do with it. When we were living in New Orleans, I went to a Saturday morning circuit class with Terrance Allen. He created this ab routine, and it’s a killer.

Terrance’s Ab Workout

Part 1: 1 minute plank (2x)

Part 2: 15 double crunches

15 regular crunches

10 V-ups (begin with arms above head, lift arms and legs at the same time making a V,                  touch your toes and come back down slowly.)

*Complete 3 rounds of Part 2

Part 3: Bicycle holds, 20s each side x2 ( it’s like playing freeze frame with doing bicycle crunches)

Bicycle crunches, regular, 10x each side

*Complete 3 rounds of part 3

Part 4: 20 flutter kicks

20 leg crosses

20 v-kicks

10 leg circles

*Complete 2 rounds of Part 4

Part 5: 6 inches, 1 min. (hold your legs straight out with your feet six inches above the ground)

If you completed this with no problems, please let me know and I’ll send you a medal.

Now let’s have a chat about cavemen…although hunter/gatherers bring about more pleasant images. Many recipes I plan to include will say ‘Paleo’ and I just want to be clear on why I eat this way and what it really means (to me, anyway).

He seems pretty content.

Now is as good a time as any to have this conversation. I kept most people out of the loop on my dietary preferences because the term ‘Paleo’ freaks people out or draws unnecessary and uneducated comments. If you promise not to judge my high egg consumption, then I in return promise not to judge your rice cake consumption.

I’ll begin with WHY: because real food matters. It really, truly does. If it didn’t come from an animal or didn’t grow naturally from the ground, then I don’t want it to be a regular part of my diet. Many of the criticisms of the diet have to do with historical accuracy. Critics point out that people ate differently all over the world so there can’t technically be a singular Paleo diet. We say thanks for that…we agree. I would like to emphasize that I am not trying to reenact history. The lifestyle is based on a set of simple principles.

Here’s a pretty, colorful picture showing what I eat:

paleo foods
No cavemen consuming raw bison legs? Gasp.

In the middle we have eggs, shrimp, chicken, beef, ham, and nuts. Surrounding those foods, and also making up more than half of the picture, are vegetables. Let me give an example of one day’s menu. This morning I had an apple with almond butter before my run. Later I had two scrambled eggs with 3 cups of sauteed spinach. For lunch I had chicken sausage and two cups of mixed balsamic vegetables from last night’s dinner. I ate a small bowl of berries as a snack. For dinner, we had Paleo meatloaf (no breadcrumbs…everything else about the meatloaf is pretty straightforward) and cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” Between the two of us, Ryan and I consumed  8 cups of cauliflower in the “mashed potatoes.” And then I had some dark chocolate, which is not Paleo and brings me to my next point…

I don’t follow it 100% of the time. One of the most useful sources on the Paleo lifestyle I’ve found suggests an 80/20 relationship with Paleo. Do it right 80% of the time. Now, that doesn’t mean the other 20% includes giant bowls of macaroni and cheese followed by  a meat lovers pizza. It means I make certain conditions. Notice there are no legumes, dairy, or grains in the picture above. I’ve always been fine with dairy, so I do include the occasional cheese and plain, full fat yogurt in my diet. I also like chocolate and eating at restaurants about once a week. That’s my 20%. Someone else’s 20% might involve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Maybe that should be next week’s 20%…yum.) To each his own.

There’s also an entire portion of this topic dealing with the “fat dilemma.” If you’ve heard anything about the Paleo diet, then you’ve heard that we like our fats. Now, before you assume tomorrow’s breakfast will consist of a bowl of melted grass-fed butter and a side of bacon-fried-bacon, keep in mind that everything must still be done in moderation. I’m going to save this discussion for another time, but if you’re interested, here are a few places you can read about it: How Consuming Fat can be Healthy and Safe, Fat as Fuel, and Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats.

Alright enough about that. Tomorrow’s post will be lighter because we are finally getting a couch! Do me a favor and scroll back up to the workout picture and pretend it says ‘insert couch here.’ We’ve been in Houston for weeks without a couch, so I can’t wait!

Question: What do you like/dislike about the Paleo diet? (scroll ALL the way down to comment, if you’d like!)

Paleo Websites I’ve Found Useful:

Mark’s Daily Apple, and more specifically Mark’s Daily Apple Success Stories

Stupid, Easy Paleo (great resources, please don’t be put off by the name)

Robb Wolf

Beginner’s Guide to Paleo

I also watched the documentary Fat Head, which can be found on Netflix. It’s not about the Paleo lifestyle, but it debunks some of the “fat is bad” myths and discusses implications and assumptions in Supersize Me. It’s not the most sophisticated of documentaries, but it provides enough food for thought.

Good night!



3 thoughts on “The Paleo Conversation

  1. Pingback: A New Couch and a Yoga Face-Plant | Happy Eater

  2. Pingback: Paleo Fuel | Happy Eater

  3. Great post. To anser your question: I like the fact that going on a paleo diet can drastically improve your health and with more and more people converting to it and people are actually getting more conscious about what they are eating. Which again might result in some pushback to the food and medical industry (I might just add the governments)as if gives a clear sign that a lot of people no longer want processed, industrialised foods. Foods that merely serve the intrests of the dominating companies, aimed to sells at the lowest cost , with the highest profit possible. On the other hand of the spectrum however you have these paleo Nazi’s who are very precise on what and what not can be labeled paleo. While I actually think it is about learning to understand your bodies needs, learning to understand what works and what does not work for you and slightly adopting the diet accordingly.

    Keep the good posts coming!



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