Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Optimal not Tolerable

Why do I make it a priority to cook most of my meals, to paleo-ize recipes, to pack lunches and snacks, and to go to the grocery store multiple times a week to keep up a steady supply of fresh foods?  It seems like a lot of work, and I feel like all I do at home anymore is cook, eat, and do dishes!  So why I do what I do, because I'm striving for optimal not tolerable.

What do I mean by optimal?  Think about it from the perspective of a race car - it's designed to run on high octane fuel.  If you put regular 87 in it you're putting in a "tolerable" fuel source.  The car will still run, but you're going to gunk up your engine and get poor performance out of the car.  When you put in the "optimal" fuel, high octane 93 or racing fuel, your car doesn't just run, but it runs optimally - you'll notice that it has great performance, it responds better, etc.  Your body responds the same way to what you put in it.  Anything with fat, carbs, and protein is considered food.  I believe Paleo foods are truly your optimal food source, based on the way your body breaks them down at a nutritional level and then how your body uses those nutrients to fuel your body and brain.

Tolerable Breakfast

Optimal Breakfast
It's true you can get fiber, vitamins, and minerals from grains, legumes, and dairy but these food groups are tolerated by your body and cause a lot of bad things like inflammation and gut irritation when you eat them. You can get the same vitamins, minerals, and fiber (and in larger quantities with more diversity) through eating more vegetables and fruits and eliminating the foods that your body tolerates and replacing them with ones that your body runs optimally on. Why would you want to put things into your body that are sub-optimal, if you are what you eat - I want to be putting optimal foods in so that I can achieve my best in everything I do.  Being sharper and more attentive at work, having better workouts and faster recovery, and overall having more energy to enjoy all the activities I do in my daily life.

One of the common questions or concerns about switching to a Paleo diet is that you will be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals: Where are you going to get your fiber? and What about calcium? are two of the most common questions I get. When you compare Paleo based meals to the "healthy" Standard American diet meals you will see that the Paleo meal is always higher in vitamins and minerals every time. You can get fiber naturally from eating whole fruits and vegetables. Calcium is a bit more complicated to understand, but you can get calcium from leafy green vegetables (like broccoli) and when you change to eating Paleo foods you better manage the acid/base balance that your body struggles to maintain - primarily through the leaching of calcium from your bones. Now do you understand how a nation that consumes so much dairy could also have a problem with osteoporosis.

The next time you make a food choice, think about what you are putting in your body - personally I'm going for the real, whole foods verses the newest flavor of cheerios which is claiming to have 20% of my daily recommended intake of fiber.  How much fiber do you think is in the veggies in my omelette or in the avacado...definately more than 20% RDA.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Strong is Beautiful

This past weekend we celebrated the conclusion of the Paleo Challenge - and a few other variations - at Crossfit King of Prussia.  I was struck at how vibrant everyone looked, and it was really cool to hear people share what they learned over the past 30 or so days.  Some experienced headaches clearing up, acid reflux / GERD eliminated, that their morning stuffiness had evaporated, and most of all that everyone felt great.  People were setting PR's, losing weight from 2 to 18 pounds, and noticing that their clothes fit differently - in a good way.  It's amazing to be a part of helping people to see how tweaking their food they can live life optimally instead of just getting by.

Another thing that I realized this weekend was that just as my thoughts on food have evolved, so have my thoughts on beauty.  I think strong is beautiful.  I realized I really admire the women I work out with - I love that we have killer muscles, and that we want to show them off.  Some even have rock solid 6 pack abs - I want them too!  Being strong is beautiful, and I find that I am envious of another athlete's muscle up, ring dips, perfect form heavy dead or effortless 100+ clean and wanting to be like that and then figuring out what I can work on to get better at those things.   It's empowering to know that you can squat more than your body weight or deadlift +200lbs.  What's best is that you know that there are so many things that you can do that other people wouldn't even try like climb a 15ft rope, or get over a 6' wall.  So ladies keep up the amazing work and keep getting stronger and more beautiful, and thank you for being a constant source of my inspiration.