n = 1

What’s up people? Anyone else’s hands peeling like crazy from all those toes-to-bar and pull-ups? Gross, I know. Aside from my lumberjack hands I am super-excited about the expansion of The Fort CrossFit! Kyle and I took possession of the keys to the additional space last night and we’re starting the work this afternoon. There is a lot to be done, but it won’t be long before all the Fort Monsters will have double the space to be even more badass.

As I sit here sipping my coffee (Starbucks new Blonde Roast – delicious) I’m think about how I’ve made it through 16 days of the Paleo Lifestyle Challenge. That is just over half way! I am psyched because I have been able to stick to the parameters I set for myself: No nuts, no dried fruit, minimal booze. I feel amazing; I have a lot of energy, my skin has cleared up, I feel more rested in the morning, and I have been performing well in the gym. This has, by far, been my best performance in a paleo challenge yet. I think it’s because I have real goals and I have some great competition. People are bringin’ it this time!!!

June will mark 2.5 years since I decided to “go paleo”. The first year was touch-and-go as I dealt with the social obstacles that come along with eating this way and wanting to fit in. Happy Hours in Oregon and paleo don’t really go hand in hand. But, I managed to keep my friends so that’s good. I have realized that to make this your lifestyle there is a transition period; it’s definitely a process. I decided to be my own experiment; I was the ONLY participant; n=1, baby! In hardcore science, n=1 would get you laughed at, but for my life I believed this was the best way to figure out if making changes in my diet would really help me to feel better. It’s not like I felt bad, I just knew I didn’t feel the best I could. As a graduate student I acquired the habit of consuming well above the healthy limit of caffeine for probably an elephant. I knew this wasn’t good, so I was willing to try anything to get myself some more energy. I was working out, but still feeling sluggish, not focused, and generally  “hazy”.

I began to listen to Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Podcast on iTunes and after the first 6 episodes I was sold. I  scoured the internet and read blog after blog. The evidence seemed legit. All this reading and investigation was also a fabulous distraction from the ridiculous amount of school work that was constantly lingering. I went out on a Sunday and shopped for all the paleo staples and went at it. I fought through some headaches and energy slumps during the first couple weeks, but I also dropped 8 pounds. As my body adjusted I began to feel better and better. I felt like I’d come out of the haze; like a veil had been lifted. I took pride in the fact that I was really taking care of myself. Not only was I eating a bunch of great protein and produce, but I was more focused on sleeping and sleeping well. I prioritized my health; not something that many graduate students do. My area of study was frikken health promotion and health behavior! Wouldn’t it make sense to actually BE HEALTHY!!!??? I won’t even get started on that rant – I’ll save it for another day.

I had a lot of feedback from people about how “that paleo stuff” was silly, faddish, and unsustainable. Well, sorry, people, you were mistaken. It’s been almost 3 years and I still feel great. I am the fittest I have ever been, I have great quality of life, I have a clear mind, and I’m not fat. In a society where this is not the norm, I feel fortunate that I can live this way, have the opportunity to spend my time with like-minded individuals and inspire others who may just be embarking on their n=1 journey. I spend a lot of time tweaking my diet. I try different things depending on what my goals are. Paleo means something different for everyone. What works for me might not be what works for you. Trust your journey though, and know that just because something doesn’t “work” for you this time around, you can always try something different next time. If you hit the nail on the head, and what you do with your diet gets you where you want to be, pat yourself on the back and take notes! It’s one huge learning process.

I realize that one can certainly survive on the standard American diet (SAD), but I know that one cannot thrive on the SAD. To live the paleo lifestyle takes additional time, effort, money, creativity, and thought. But, to maintain health is work. I choose to hold myself to a higher standard when it comes to my health. I think that as a paleo/CrossFit culture we linger on the edge if being elitist. I do ask that you commit to holding yourself to a higher standard when it comes to your health. I also ask that you do not become the obnoxious person that goes around smearing it in the face of everyone you come in contact with. Just be the walking billboard for how you choose to live. You know you feel great, you know you look good; just smile, be confident, and let it radiate from you. People will notice. If they care, they will ask you what you’ve been doing. Then you can make the call as to how in depth you go about your n=1 experiment.

For the record, I no longer care about “fitting in” when others are stuffing their faces with beer and nachos. It’s my body, I do what I want! And believe me, sometimes I am the one stuffing my face with beer (Harpoon IPA, please!) and nachos.

Right on.

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