One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Ask Roni: I Need to Eat Paleo Because I CrossFit, Right?

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I wasn’t planning on doing an Ask Roni this week with the challenge, but when I read Sarah’s email I just had to respond right away. I’m pretty passionate about this. You’ll see…

Roni,

I have been reading your blog for years, and truly value your input and knowledge when it comes to weight loss and health. I, like you, am a crossfitter. I tried it on a whim six months ago, and instantly became addicted. It has changed my body, but most of all I love the way I feel; it makes me feel like I can do anything.

My question is this — I have been told over and over that now that I’m a crossfitter, I have to eat like a crossfitter,  i.e. Paleo. I’m not sure I want to commit to that. I still have some weight to lose and I definitely practice portion control and eat whole foods, but I wonder if I’m disservicing myself by not going Paleo. What ways have you changed your diet since CrossFit, and do you think a change is necessary? I just can’t imagine that a whole wheat wrap or an English muffin is that bad for my body. I’m wondering if I need to up my calories now that my exercise routine consists of Olympic weightlifting, as opposed to just trucking along a treadmill.

Thanks for your advice and congrats on your competition wins!

— Sarah

Hi Sarah,

I really wanted to answer you in a video podcast because I feel REALLY passionate about this subject but I don’t think I can record one for a few weeks and I really wanted to respond.

First of all I think what you’ve been told is bull$hit. Excuse my French, but really? Just because you do CrossFit you HAVE to be Paleo? I don’t buy it and honestly, it makes me angry the two are so intertwined.

I love — love, love, LOVE! Did I say love? — CrossFit — click for all the reasons why — and I have ZERO interest nor the desire to go Paleo. For me, it would be a step backwards.

Let me explain…

First, I have a long (and typical) history with dieting. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say I was broken for a long time when it comes to this area of my life.  I used to starve myself, then binge. I would try any crazy diet people told me about. I made cabbage soup, ate negative calorie foods, even tried drinking grapefruit juice before every meal. I popped appetite suppressants like candy. At one point I wished I was anorexic and felt guilty I wasn’t strong enough to fast for more than a few hours.

Like I said, broken.

Then I had kids and started this blog. I got serious about finding balance instead of a quick fix. I worked (and still work) on self acceptance. I started to see the value in pushing myself out of my comfort zone and experiencing things despite my inner mean girl telling me I shouldn’t. Really, that’s how I even got started down a path that led me to CrossFit in the first place.

Now I’m happy.

Let me repeat, I’m happy!

Notice I didn’t say skinny or thin or a certain size or a certain weight or any goal that I used to set for myself back then and honestly, when I started this blog.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this place of happy and I found it because I stopped trying to be perfect — READ THIS, really take a break and read it if you have’t already. Everything I say in that post is still true.

For me (and I can’t stress enough that this is MY OPINION based on MY EXPERIENCES), eating Paleo brings back all those feelings of trying to be perfect. Just do a search for “Paleo Cheat Day” and you will find hordes of people worried, stressed, and beating themselves up for wanting/needing a cheat day.

Again in my OPINION, this is not healthy and I don’t mean healthy in the sense of their diet — I mean healthy mentally and emotionally. It’s very reminiscent of my old dieting yo-yo cycle and want nothing to do with it.

I am NOT perfect.

My diet will never be perfect.

My body will never be perfect.

And really, I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t want to be.

You asked how my diet has changed since starting CrossFit and I’m not sure I can honestly answer that question because my diet is in a constant state of change and has been since I started this blog. Would my diet be any different if I didn’t CrossFit? I don’t think so. My focus from the beginning has been to find balance. I strive to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. I try to limit overly processed foods while constantly trying new things.

When I started down the path with those goals in mind I leaned on more convenience items but over the years I’ve learned to be more independent — I explain this journey a little more in my post called Tubs of Greek Yogurt and Bags of Kale Don’t Lie. I’ve come to the conclusion that my diet may always be in a constant state of slow change and I’m OK with that. I have no desire to eliminate anything immediately based on a fad or trend or people who claim to know everything about the human diet, because frankly, I don’t think anyone knows what the “perfect” diet is.

I’m sure people who follow Paleo feel their diet is just that, “perfect,” and more power to those who are able to eat that way. I’m sure they feel awesome eliminating all the typical junk from their diets, but I agree with you. I just don’t think a slice of whole wheat bread or a bowl of oatmeal or even things like beans are “bad” for me.

I also want to feel no guilt if my 3-year-old is feeding me M&Ms at a birthday party or my 8-year-old wants to celebrate his awesome report card with a trip to the ice cream shop. I don’t want to stress eating out with my friends or worrying about the ingredients in a dish at that fancy restaurant my husband took me to on our anniversary.

I say all that because my goal is to be happy, balanced and confident. If your goal is to win a figure competition or lower your body fat percentage or lose those last 5 pesky pounds then maybe you should prioritize differently. For me, after years of worrying about my weight, my body and my diet, I’ve come to the conclusion that life is too short to be perfect. I’d much rather focus on staying active and eating as healthy as I can without so many rules. It’s the rules that always tend to stir up my old dieting demons.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 7.41.38 PM

As for eating more calories now that you are Olympic lifting, I wish I knew the answer. I’m still trying to figure that out! It’s one of the reasons I’ve walked away from the scale and shifted to eating more intuitively without counting calories. I no longer fear gaining my weight back as I once did because I know my lifestyle now just won’t support it. I will say I have started eating before my workout and as soon as I can afterwards because I don’t think I was fueling enough for the lifts. I have definitely noticed a difference now that I do eat before going. So that has changed. I used to be an “empty stomach” gym person.

I hope that helps, Sarah. I’m sure I now pissed off the hordes of CrossFit/Paleo fanatics out there. I can’t stress enough that I think it’s awesome if you can eat that clean. It’s just not for me.

-Roni

P.S. Here’s today’s food journal for the One Week Eating IN Challenge! Still going strong and love that The Husband is still with me! This is the longest he’s gone without eating out ever!

What Why
The Most Amazing Bowl of Oatmeal EVER! – No really. Click here. :) Breakfast with the kids. This is the 3 year-old’s favorite so I make a big batch and the 3 of us share it.
Cinnamon Triscuits Busy morning. Hungry. First thing I saw and grabbed.
Blender Brownie Another.. holy crap I’m on the run and hungry grab!
Black Bean and quinoa soup turned mushy stew with some grated cheese on top Honestly, I was trying a new recipe idea for GreenLiteBites but it went bad. Not bad enough to through away but not good enough to share. I’ll be eating this “mistake” all week because I refuse to through good food away.
2 chicken thighs cooked liked this with roasted broccoli and a sweet potato on the side. Note: I split my sweet potato with the kids and eat The Husband’s skin from his regular potato since he doesn’t.  Dinner – this is another family fav dinner night. Everyone ate GREAT! I can get a whole chicken thigh in the 3-year-old easily and we all love broccoli and potatoes. :)
 Another Blender Brownie  And this is why I don’t bake often!

Flowcart mage from TreeHugger.com



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Discussion

There are 13 comments so far.

    stephanie

    March 27, 2014

    Very well stated Roni! My dinner in tonight was homemade pizza my husband made. He even made the dough :-)

    Amy Patterson

    March 27, 2014

    Love it!

    Kitty

    March 28, 2014

    Great post and I agree entirely.

    jody

    March 28, 2014

    Good answer. I feel the same…while some Paleo is fine, there’s no way I could sustain the energy level needed to perform at xfit on strict paleo. If you’re doing crossfit it usually goes hand in hand that you’re consciously thinking of clean eating all the time, but not too a fault of losing energy.

    Irene @ IZO Fitness

    March 28, 2014

    Ok, hold on a second. I follow a Paleo lifestyle and whoever told Sarah that needs a punch in the face!

    I am so sick of people trying to force rules onto others for their choices. While I eat and live Paleo, it’s impossible to live that way 100%. Impossible. Unless you live in the mountains of Montana and you are shooting your own buffalo, milking your own almonds, and growing everything organically. So let’s get rid of that You Have To Do This In Order To Do That mentality.

    There are many people who don’t follow a Paleo way of eating that do Crossfit. Hell, I’ve met some Crossfitters that didn’t even know what Paleo was. While generally, Crossfit is a part of the Paleo lifestyle, it’s not mandatory that they go hand in hand.

    So please Sarah, do Crossfit, eat healthy (whatever that means to you). And if anyone has something to say about you not following a Paleo way of eating, tell them you’re too busy lifting to listen to them.

    Now all that being said, if you really want to know why grains aren’t IDEAL for the human body, that’s something that can be easily explained. ;)

      Karen P

      March 28, 2014

      I do not have cheat days, either. I do have 85% chocolate every day and it knocks my socks off! Well stated Irene.

      Irene @ IZO Fitness

      March 29, 2014

      Yeah, I don’t even know what a cheat day is. Some people need it to keep on track the rest of the time and that’s fine. But that’s not me.

    Sheri

    March 28, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more. In the end it’s what works for YOU. Another fabulous dinner in!

    Shauna

    March 28, 2014

    Ridiculous, isn’t it? Anything that has a “cheat” day is automatically OUT in my book. Totally the wrong way to look at healthy eating.

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    March 28, 2014

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    Karen P

    March 28, 2014

    The really, really cool thing about my low-inflammatory food template (yes it’s Paleo-ish) is that I customized it to myself. No matter what food you choose, choosing what makes you feel good and stay well (and it changes over time) is an honor and privilege. Glad you found what works for you Roni!!! Very, very important to customize. Auto-immune disease and menopause and emotional eating make weight maintenance even more of a challenge. My hope is that each person finds their own food/life template.

    Paula

    March 30, 2014

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this post. It isn’t just for Paleo folks, this post can be for vegans, vegetarians, raw. I was a prisoner of ingredients. What was acceptable & not acceptable. OMG, I was so damn miserable. I strive to eat healthy to get healthy. Roni, you INSPIRED me to give up the scale & calorie counting and to LIVE. I struggle each day, but I am so much happier for it and realize through your blog that I don’t need to feel guilty for not being 100% vegan, paleo, raw or whatever diet it is. And I can be thinner, healthier and happier NOT counting calories, label reading or mentally beating myself up when I am human and err.

    Debbie Welch

    March 30, 2014

    I so needed this post! Trying to get myself back on track, andnthis really helped lift me up and put things in perspective! Thanks!!!!