Monday, February 25, 2013

Eating Paleo in Japan

Before last month, Paleo was pretty much a foreign word to me.  I'd heard about it here and there, but never really had a clue what it was about.  Most people that do CrossFit (see my last blog entry) live a Paleo lifestyle.  The Paleo diet consists of eating the following:  fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts/seeds, fruits/vegetables and lean meats.  On Paleo, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, sugars and overly processed foods are not allowed.  Wow!  I wasn't sure if I could survive without cheese, bread and rice especially since I live in Japan where rice is such a staple food.

After giving this a lot of thought, on January 14th I decided to participate in the 30 day Paleo Challenge.  This was completely optional and nerve wracking because while I've dieted over the years, I'd never been on a program where I was eating clean.  Luckily, one of the requirements on this challenge was having a partner.  This was a complete lifesaver for me because I needed someone that would hold me accountable during these 30 days.

Extra Credit handstand outdoors!
Along with the nutritional aspect of the challenge, we were also supposed to keep a food journal, do a certain amount of workouts per week,  take before/after pictures, get our measurements taken, perform a baseline run/pull ups, and do extra credit.  Since most of these things were based on points, the team with the most points at the end of the challenge would win.  Since I do have a competitive side, I was bound and determined to not mess up during the challenge...but this was no easy feat.

The first week of the challenge would prove to be the toughest.  I seriously felt like I needed a sponsor.  Thank goodness for my partner, coach and other classmates (even the ones not participating in the challenge) who were such a great support network by providing recipes, tips, cheers, etc.   As the weeks went on, eating clean became easier.  I was sleeping better, had almost no headaches, lost a little weight, rarely felt famished (well maybe on a few days), was very hydrated, and was still able to exercise like mad.  Although I was feeling awesome on this diet, the one tricky part of the challenge was eating out.  Again, I live in Japan where noodles and rice are consumed at almost every meal.  Thankfully, Japanese eat a lot of meat and vegetables, so I was able to find something that was Paleo.

Paleo chicken curry (thank goodness for coconut milk) for dinner.

By week four, I was so used to doing the food journal, drinking 1/2 of my body weight of water, and really paying attention to what I was consuming, that this challenge became habit.  I liked how I felt and decided that I would continue Paleo or at least a modified version of it when it was over.  My team, along with two other teams came in 1st Place.  I was so proud of myself, my amazing, strong, funny, friend and partner, and of everyone else.  It is not easy to change or stick to a healthier lifestyle even if you know it is good for you.

Extra credit Fireman's Carry!
I also want to thank everyone outside of my CF group for cheering me on before/during/after the challenge.  Your positive comments, making me special Paleo food to eat, and your genuine inquiries as to how things were/are going for me were sincerely appreciated. 


  1. I've not yet been brave enough to try Paleo, but I've read a lot about the health benefits. Did you experience any withdrawals during the first week?

  2. The first two days were horrible. I felt like an addict. Once I got into a good eating routine, things were much better.