T.J. came in second in the PCF Fall Paleo Challenge. He won $631.75 cash and $535 in PCF and Humble Gourmand Gift Certificates. Here’s his story:
I went into the Fall Paleo Challenge with a horrible diet. The classic American diet of carbs, fat, sugar and processed foods. Far to often I go for the comfort foods that has slowly lead to my current status of 25-30lbs overweight that I gained over the last few years as I approached and passed the age of thirty. Fast food, pizza, Chili’s, Outback, etc. was the norm. I would wash it all down by destroying Diet Coke.
As the start of the first day of the challenge approached I was nervous and dreading it. I had a very negative attitude. All I could think about was “what I would not be able to eat”. I was pissed that it seemed like everyone in my life circle would be eating what they wanted and enjoying themselves and I would be doomed to six weeks of pain and the same foods over and over. It seemed almost impossible and I was already setting myself up for failure and rationalizing excuses to why the whole Challenge was a load of crap for me.
The first few days were really tough. I had a brutal headache by the end of the first day because my body was craving sugar and caffeine. I was not that hungry which shocked me. Some how I made it through those first couple days and my body began to adjust. What helped me out the most in those first couple days was Brian’s advice to just think in the short term and not to try to think about the whole challenge at once. He said, “when it gets bad just make it to the next meal”. That advice was crucial for me. I managed to overcome the cravings and the negative thoughts to quit in those first couple days and I was starting to gain more confidence. I finally began to believe that I could break the bad habits that had become the norm over the last few years and I started to really feel empowered mentally and emotionally.
This confidence began to spread over into the daily WODs. In the first week, as my body was beginning to transition off the energy of sugar it was used to, my performance was worse. My strength did not really decline in specific movements, but I would just run out of gas toward the end of the Metcons. Brian and Alison said this was totally normal and as my body began to adjust to the Paleo Diet it would dissipate. Sure enough as I began the second week I started to regain my lost capacity and endurance. As I entered the third week I began to see an obvious increase in my ability to finish the Metcons with some real push I had never had before. It was like I had this whole new gear. I began to ask myself, “By week six would Noah, Wilkins and Matt Q. be asking to clean and set up my weights prior to the WODs because I was now far and away the best athlete at PCF???”
The Paleo vs. non-Paleo diet for me is almost laughable. After those tough first two weeks the positives changes I experienced was amazing. My energy levels were so much higher and so much more consistent throughout the day. My skin seem to clear up and look healthier. My performance in the WODs had improved so much. My pull up strength exploded and in the final benchmark WOD on the last day I was able to improve my total by 40. My mind was even clearer. Previously when I would destroy carbs and sugar in a day my mind would feel foggy.
Doing the Paleo Challenge in the group setting with the help of the PCFs coaches is the best way. I tried on my own of the last few years to start a healthy kick. It would always last max a few weeks and I would give up. Showing up everyday at PCF and talking about some of the challenges and the really emotional moments throughout the six weeks with the other competitors (DF PCF Pete) and the coaches is truly invaluable. Knowing that other people going through a similar experience creates such a great sense of community. When you are tempted and feeling down a sense of not wanting to let the other people down really keeps you going.
The Fall Paleo Challenge was a totally awesome experience for me. The dedication of the coaches and their endless knowledge of what you are experiencing and the solutions the challenges that arise was such a wonderful education in health and a better lifestyle. It opened me up to such a new world of variety and food that I did not think could exist on the Paleo Diet when I first started out with such a negative attitude. It was only further driven home by the turn out for the Paleo Potluck on the final day. If people who are beginning a Paleo Challenge could see the variety and amount of amazing food they would be shocked.
Moving forward Brian gave great advice that I am now trying to implement. In a short period of time – two weeks, thirty days, etc….anyone can basically eat the same thing over and over (eggs, bacon, chicken) and survive. His advice was, “to really change your lifestyle the key is to make the transition from just surviving to actually thriving”. The key to making this transition is variety.
When it was all said and done everything changed for me in an overwhelmingly positive way. My energy levels, my performance, I lost 18 pounds and I am now a walking, talking Paleo Crossfit Sexy Machine. I saw that I actually do still have ribs which I thought my body had decided I didn’t need anymore. The only thing left is to whoop Terry’s ass in our hand-to-hand combat challenge if he will quit ducking me!