• My Top 5 Paleo Lessons Learned After 5 Years: Part 2

    The Top 5 Paleo Lessons I've Learned In 5 Years—Part 2 | stupideasypaleo.com

    It’s less than a week until my 5 year Paleo anniversary, and I’m counting the top Paleo lessons I’ve learned along the way. Check out Part 1 for some real talk about perfectionism, self-discovery and desserts.

    Because I couldn’t resist the urge to make it five lessons for five years, here’s the conclusion.

    Lesson #4: Eat to support your training.

    I’ve already touched on this one briefly in Part 1, but it’s important enough to get its own space. Sports and competition have been a part of my life since I was a kid, and my adult years have seen me split my time between three main pursuits: mountain bike racing, CrossFit, and Olympic weightlifting.

    Throughout my early twenties, I followed Weight Watchers because I thought I was too heavy, and then, closer to thirty, I was a (bad) vegetarian. Not only was I not doing these diet plans well—such as eating as much processed, sugary food as I could get away with—they weren’t supporting my athletic goals. I was constantly withholding calories and protein and not eating anywhere near enough fat.

    Even once I started Paleo in 2010, I still had a lot to learn about proper carbohydrate intake. I was constantly too low and really underfed. After a long season of Xterra triathlon, I was at my lowest weight in a long time, but I was also depleted and weak. It wasn’t until a lot of self-education and some tinkering that I realized I needed to do Paleo better.

    The outgrowth of that realization and the work I’ve done here on the site is the desire to help others like me who value being active, may want to compete, and want to use a Paleo platform to help them achieve their goals. It inspired me to write both of my books, The Paleo Athlete and The Performance Paleo Cookbook

    When you decide to hang your performance on a Paleo framework, it’s important to intake enough protein, carbohydrate and fat to support the above-normal output and repair the wear-and-tear your body is going through. What’s more, biasing your choices toward the most nutrient dense food possible a majority of the time will build the foundation of good health to help support that performance.

    If your training frequency is high (think several days a week or multiple sessions a day) or your training volume is quite challenging, eating protein and glucose-based carbohydrate (like a starch or starchy vegetable) for post-workout will help you get a jump on recovery.

    Take-away action: Poke around the website (here and here are good places to start), and do some reading about eating for performance. If you feel inclined to check out either one of my books, cool. If not, that’s okay too. Start with three meals a day (protein, carbs, and fat on each plate) and then start by adding a post-workout of protein and carb. Keep track of how you feel and how  you’re performing / recovering. Give new changes at least two weeks to set in before you make another major change.

    Lesson #5: It’s not just about food.

    While food is an incredibly important component of lifelong health, it’s not the only one. Focusing on better eating at the expense of sleep, movement / exercise, and managing stress is doing yourself a disservice.

    And while trying to get a handle on those things can be overwhelming, making small changes over time adds up. Remember, there’s a difference between discipline and perfection. Will you have times where sleep goes down the drain, you can’t get to the gym, and your life is super stressful? Yes, but hopefully that doesn’t represent your every single day for months and years.

    One of my favorite websites for all-around health topics like sleep and managing stress is Whole9. Check them out.

    Take-away action: Evaluate how well you’re sleeping, staying active, and dealing with stress. If you need to make change, make your goals small and manageable. Just saying, “I’ll sleep better this year,” isn’t actionable enough. “I’ll be asleep by 9:30 pm each night this week,” is much more specific. Find ways to keep yourself accountable, such as writing in a journal or having a buddy. You can do this. you CAN make change.

    The Top 5 Paleo Lessons I've Learned In 5 Years—Part 2 | stupideasypaleo.com

    What are the most important Paleo lessons you’ve learned so far? Would you add anything to the list? Share it in the comments below!

    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    11 thoughts on “My Top 5 Paleo Lessons Learned After 5 Years: Part 2

    1. Thanks for this two part article! I have really enjoyed your thoughts. One question I have is- what should one be looking for in work-out recovery? Thanks!

    2. Steph, you’re an inspiration, you’re recipes and advice have helped me over the years, I too have started with to many paleo crap foods and now just try to eat food that makes me a better athlete and person and you’re a part of that !!!!!!

    3. i loved this series of posts, babe!!!!!!!!! part 1 and 2 😀 i love how you pointed out that it isn’t all about food! i couldn’t agree more! i often remind myself “your goal is health” and some times that means satisfying my MENTAL health so if i just need a day of doing nothing or indulging i always remind myself that whatever i am doing is healthy for me because it makes me healthy inside and on so many levels. i hope that makes sense 😉

    4. I definitely agree with you on stress. I don’t think people realize how much it can impact our health. My health improved after I started meditating every day. I think it’s so important!

    5. I found you by happy mistake. I have been phasing in Paleo here, but it can take awhile with 7 kids. Replacing things slowly to reduce push back.(That’s a big lesson for me. I will get better results slowly changing the family’s habits then forcing it on them.) I’m excited about your Performance Paleo cookbook. I have a 6 year old competitive gymnast in the house and I’m sure I will find plenty to fuel her, and to give me the energy I need to keep up. Oh, another lesson I’ve learned is to not beat myself up if I fall face-first into the fudge. I just get up and start over. This isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon.

    6. I’ve been paleo for about 5 years too. Like you, I’ve found that carbs are not the enemy. And I’ve also found that perfection is not necessary. The world doesn’t end if you eat toast that one time. It’s about making the right decisions, most of the time. But your body really knows when you fall off the wagon and make bad ones for a while. It begs you to go back to the good stuff!

    7. I have started reading my way through your site and am beginning to change my habits, both food-related and otherwise. As a person who is new to any kind of healthy lifestyle, I just wanted to say “thank you” for providing great (and entertaining) information, delicious recipes, and a multitude of resources for us newbies. Your work really makes this change less daunting, for me at least. Thanks again!

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