Wait, You Don’t Eat Bread?

Paleo.  Gluten-Free.  CrossFit.  ALL are big BUZZ words right now.  I have been applauded in addition to majorly criticized for eating the way that I do as well as following the exercise programming that I choose to follow.  10 months of clean eating.  I thought it might be a good time to go over why I have chosen to eat the way that I do.
 
A little over 2 years ago, I started to get into CrossFit (CF).  One of the guys I met through CrossFit told me that I should start eating Paleo.  He told me that I would feel so much better.  He went on to explain HOW to have a Paleo way of eating, but left out the WHY.  I said ok.  I’ll bite. My diet is fairly carb-overloaded, plus, I can do most anything for 30 days.  We went shopping, I dropped a couple few bucks at Costco on clean food and rid my shelves of the processed stuff once I got home.  The next 30 days, I ate strict Paleo.  No cheats.  After those 30 days, I had a “victory meal” to celebrate the end of those 30 days.  The next many months, while I stuck with the CF, I slowly quit eating Paleo.  I tried, but wasn’t successful.  I saw Paleo as a “diet.” 

This past January, I wanted to get back to Paleo.  This time around, however, I thought I’d try it from a different angle.  Instead of just doing a 30 day Paleo diet, I decided to just have it be my way of eating.  No end date.  I didn’t call it a “diet, ” I called it my Paleo lifestyle.  One day, I just quit carbs….cold turkey.  I will be honest with you, the first 5-10 days of cutting out sugar, processed food, and really everything that comes in a package, is difficult.  Your body gets angry.  “Stop the train….where is my energy?” Your body needs a little time to switch from using carbs and sugars as fuel to using solid proteins and fats as fuel and energy.  Many many people quit Paleo at this time.  Stick with it, don’t be discouraged.  Once that transition time is over, you will start to see changes.  You will drop some pounds.  You will notice increased energy.  You will sleep better.  You will feel better.  Not too long after making the switch to Paleo, I noticed that I didn’t feel bloaty, gassy, or crampy.  I never get the hiccups anymore, and I quit getting heartburn (which had been bothering me for years).  I never knew how bad I felt on a daily basis until I started to feel good.

About this time, I also as a part of a fitness challenge group.  My good friend, Laura, of Fully Fit, has regular challenge groups.  Basically, it’s a handful of people who are accountable to each other.  A private FB group is created.  Each day, everyone posts everything that they ate as well as what they did for exercise that day.  It’s really making yourself vulnerable.  Everyone can comment on how your day went.  Some days you really need that kick in the butt, “Hey, you didn’t eat enough today” or “You really had a lot of sugar today.”  Most days, however, you get a “Hey, nice work resisting that doughnut” or “Your food looked awesome.  Nice job.”  Motivation, encouragement, accountability, friendships, and the occasional butt chewing. Laura’s challenge group motivated me and really truly helped get me on track to be successful with my consistent clean eating and exercise.

Through this group, I found that I really enjoyed encouraging people to eat clean.  Shortly after starting this fitness challenge group, the Paleo Paramedic Facebook page was born, then not too long after that, this blog.  I was feeling great and I wanted all of my friends to feel great as well. I enjoyed finding fun recipes, making them, taking a picture, then sharing my thoughts on it with my friends.  I also wanted to really dive in to Paleo and learn the WHYs of the Paleo way of eating.  My first few “likes” were a couple close friends and some family.  Now, nearing my 12 month Paleo Paramedic anniversary, I’m a few shy of 400 “likes.”  I am truly humbled.  I am passionate about clean eating and fitness.  I will never try to condemn or make people feel guilty.  I guess my goal is to make my friends think.  I consider you all my friends.  I want you guys to be educated.  After eating clean, I realized that I had no idea how good I could feel just by eating.  Just by cutting out a few things from my diet.  Who wouldn’t want to share that with everyone?

I’m big on having goals.  I write them down at the beginning of the year and cross them off one by one as I accomplish them.  One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to be in the best shape of my life by the big 3.0.  I’m 1 month and 2 days away from my 30th birthday. Through eating clean and a commitment to fitness, I’m there, dude.  I have lost a few inches, toned up, dropped weight, and most of all, l feel pretty darn great.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.  Thanks for the “likes.” Thanks for the “shares.”  I’m blown away at how many people lare interested in what I have to say as well as how to eat a little better.  I’m just a paramedic who is dedicated to fitness and helping others however I can.  I’m here to help create a community dedicated to clean eating.  Questions, comments, concerns….I would be more than happy to visit with you about it all.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

-Lindsay
Your Paleo Paramedic

CROSSFITTERS READ THIS

Another post on massages.  Yesterday was massage Monday.  I was feeling chatty, so I talked a little bit about CrossFitters and massages with my massage therapist. I know she has worked on a few CF’ers in the past, so I asked her if she has noticed anything differently with people who CrossFit vs those who don’t.  The main thing that she has noticed is significant upper back tightness and knots.  She went on to say that since CrossFit is big on core strength and a lot of times WODs incorporate quite a bit of shoulder and upper body movement, the athlete’s back is usually a mess.

This is the part where I encourage you to get regular massages.  I have noticed a tremendous improvement with my regular hot stone deep tissue massages.  Really, you are missing out if you don’t get them.  Also, I highly recommend mobility work as well as foam roller/lacrosse ball work. 

Check out Kelly Starrett’s website HERE as well as his book “Becoming a Supple Leopard.”  The book is pretty legit.  Take care of yourself.  Take every chance you can get to prevent injury.

Public Safety Paleo

lunch

As a paramedic, eating Paleo can be tough. For me, it took quite a bit of prep work and thinking ahead when I first got back into it. For my job, we work 24 hour shifts. We are assigned to either a city ambulance or a hospital ambulance. With the city ambulances, transport time can can be roughly anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes. On the hospital ambulance, transport time can be anywhere between 5 minutes and 6 hours one way.

The above picture is my lunch bag for a 24 hour shift. This particular day was a light lunch bag day. In my city, we have the luxury of full-size kitchens at each station, so some days, I may bring a package of chicken breast AND some steak AND some pork chops to cook at work. I joke that I pack enough food for a family of four. On the hospital truck, however, it gets tricky. We have access to a microwave…sometimes. When assigned to a hospital truck, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen the night before. I prepare and pack my food for my entire shift (grilled pork chops, scambled eggs, hamburger-onion-pepper mixture…whatever it may be). I’ve actually heard some people say “You can’t eat healthy on the hospital ambulance.” I say bologna. Sure, that one sandwich place and that cupcake shop and the burrito place and of course that slice of pizza along the way are all ridiculously tempting (especially when your medic partner grabs some food from there and you don’t), but you have to have the willpower to say no (maybe not each and every single time, but at least most of the time). I take my lunch bag with me in the ambulance. If you really want to stick to Paleo, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. No excuses.

With public safety (fire, EMS, police), no 2 days are the same. You have no idea what your shift has in store for you. Your stomach is growling, and in the back of your mind, you’re thinking how wonderful it would be to eat that delicious lunch you brought, but you’re in the middle of doing CPR or fighting a very long residential fire or making an arrest. You eat when you can. Sometimes, you may not get lunch. That’s just the way it is. Some days, if I’m hungry, I eat lunch at 10 am or dinner at 3 pm then snack during the in between times. Same goes with going to the bathroom, go when you can. You never know when the tones will drop.

Good snacking is the key with whatever job you may have. I always have snacks around (and I’m always eating…ask my coworkers). I try really hard to snack on vegetables. Honestly, sometimes it’s not very fun crunching on those celery sticks, but I know they’re good for me…and a heckuva lot better than that handful of cheesy crackers with the peanut butter in the middle or that package of poptarts. Celery, carrots, rutageba (this is a new one for me thanks to my friend Joy), sugar snap peas (not Paleo, but I eat them anyway on occasion), jicama, bell pepper slices. All things that are super easy to snack on. Slice em, Ziploc bag em, eat em. Nuts and seeds are nice to keep around as well. I keep macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds around as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I typically keep a Larabar in the side pocket of my medic pants for that boost of energy in case of emergencies, like that o dark thirty ambulance trip to the middle of nowhere after I’ve been running calls all day and all night. Integrated Fitness out of Pittsburgh has put together a list of 22 easy snacks. Check it out HERE.

Every once in awhile, you can certainly stray from the clean eating. I wouldn’t recommend scheduling in a “cheat day” each week, but I do believe in the importance of having your favorite foods and treats every so often. 2 reasons (in my opinion). A. If you don’t get to have your favorite things once in awhile, you won’t have as much joy in eating. When you allow yourself to have that treat, it will be easier to stick to the clean eating thing the rest of the time. 2. When you do decide have your very favorite carbalicious meal after days and days of clean eating, you may feel sick to your stomach. This reminds you why you stick to your clean eating.

Paleo takes time and planning, especially at work. Once you get down the eat this, not that thing, it becomes a lot easier. My advice, think ahead, plan your meals, pack smart, stick to it. You’ve got this.