Welcome to the Paleo Challenge!

No matter how much you work out, if you don’t dial in your nutrition, you won’t see the full benefits from the hard work you’re putting in. Many CF gyms have held Paleo Challenges to help their members change their nutrition habits, and we’re going to hold our first “30 Days of Paleo” Challenge beginning on March 1st.

We’re going to keep it simple, and encourage everyone to take part. Here are the basic details:

Starting out:

  1. Tell me (Cynthia)  you’re in, and contribute $30 to the Prize pot, which will go back out as prizes to the top participants; you can ante-up at the kickoff meeting!
  2. Attend the kickoff meeting on Saturday, February 27th  at 10am (right after the morning class); if you can’t make that time, contact me at cynthia@jolicoeur.com
  3. Get your “Pre-Challenge” pictures taken (front, side & back view. Men will wear shorts, women will wear shorts and sports bra/bikini top). We will take photos at the kickoff meeting.
  4. Submit “Pre-Challenge” basic stats including:
  • Weight
  • Measurements (abdomen, waist, neckline and wrist)
  • Body fat % (measured on the scale or  by calculation). Here’s one of many online calculators

NOTE!!! The pictures taken are PRIVATE, as are the basic stats. Those of the top 5 men and top 5 women will be viewed on paper at the gym to determine the winners.

What you have to do:

  1. Start and maintain a food log; in order to win, the log MUST be submitted each week.
  2. Stick to Paleo nutrition for 30 days
  3. Post questions, ideas, concerns, recipes etc to the Paleo Challenge blog
  4. Submit Post-Challenge basic stats and come in for “Post-Challenge” pictures within 2 days of the end of the Challenge

What we’ll do for you:

  1. Provide lots of information about Paleo nutrition, answer questions
  2. Choose the top 5 men and top 5 women whose body composition changed the most

Who decides the Winners?

Challenge participants vote on the top 10 to determine the Winners (1 male, 1 female)

What’s in it for you?

  1. Support, encouragement and motivation to take your fitness to a new level by improving the fuel your body runs on
  2. A shot at winning the BIG PRIZE: half the money in the Prize Pot and  1 month’s membership at the gym FREE!
  3. We’re also working on some additional goodies to liven things up 🙂

About the Photos:

All participants will take their photos in the office. We have the same lighting for both the first and last shot. All participants will come in one at a time. There will be no spectators. You will change in the office, take your three shots, and then change back to your normal attire.

23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Daniel Hong on February 23, 2010 at 6:38 am

    This is gonna be awesome!!

    I’m in!!

    However, I can’t make the meeting Saturday, February 27th. So could I give the money to Jason on Friday?


  2. Posted by Daniel Burgess on February 23, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I am completely in!


  3. Posted by John on February 23, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I was planning on doing this myself anyways.
    I will commit to it from up here in Boston


  4. Posted by Jojo on February 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Great site, Cynthia! Nice work on this!!

    Here’s my question: Is this just for those that are not on paleo?

    I’ve been paleo for about 5 months+ now, and I have noticed a difference in my own body without taking the before and after pics. I don’t see any reason why I should quit now; I do feel 10X better not eating grains and starches, and I’d like to think that it has contributed to my overall strength in our WODs. Would this challenge benefit someone who has gone beyond the 100days?



    • Hi JoJo! Congratulations on making the Paleo change on your own! I think you could definitely benefit from doing the Challenge, because as with other areas of life, it’s an unfolding process, You’ve seen major changes in your body & performance thanks to the first major shift away from the Grains and Starches; now you’re into the stage in which you may find that smaller “tweaks” which refine your nutrition are where you will find more benefits: for example, dialing in pre-and post workout intake and improving your recovery.

      Plus you will bring a lot of practical experience and advice for us all!


  5. Posted by Miles on February 23, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Awesome– definitely in.

    Few questions:
    – Sounds like the contest is purely decided by before/after pictures? If so, what are the measurements for?

    – How detailed of a food log is required? ie, these could all describe Lunch:
    1) Salad
    2) Salad with Chicken
    3) Salad of Spinach, olives, carrots, sunflower seeds, dressing,
    4) ~3 cups of Spinach, ~1 cup of chicken, a tongful of olives, carrots, sunflower seeds

    – What happens if we stray from the paleo rules (a few times)


  6. Posted by Stacey M. on February 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Cynthia! My husband and I are in! I tried to do 30 days of Paleo on my own, but found it difficult to follow by myself. I’m excited to try this again with the support of my husband and the group!

    We can’t make it to the meeting on Saturday either.


  7. Welcome Miles!

    In answer to your questions (which we’ll also cover at the Kickoff):
    1. We’ll look at both the pictures and the stats to determine the winners. Neither one alone would tell the story. WE WILL ALSO DO PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKS AT THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE CHALLENGE but are still working on exactly what those will be. Stay tuned 🙂

    2. The level of detail in the food log might vary, but the minimum should be what you ate, when you ate it, and how much (including supplements such as fish oil).

    The minimalist version might be:

    7:30 AM Large Shake (strawberries, bananas, unsweetened coconut & almond milk)
    9:30 3 eggs scrambled
    12:30 Grilled chicken breast with sautéed onions, tomato slices & side salad with balsamic vinagerette dressing
    5:45 1 banana
    7:30 Grilled chicken breast, baked sweet potato chips & onion slices, grilled red bell pepper, spinach salad with carrots and paleo dressing

    And the more detailed version would be:
    7:30 AM Large Shake (1 cup strawberries, 1 banana, 3/4 Cup unsweetened coconut & almond milk)
    9:30 3 eggs scrambled
    12:30 6 ounces Grilled chicken breast with sautéed onions, tomato slices & side salad with 2Tbs balsamic vinagerette dressing
    5:45 1 banana
    7:30 6 ounces Grilled chicken breast, 1 cup baked sweet potato chips & onion slices, 1/2 grilled red bell pepper, 2 cups spinach salad with carrots and 2 Tbs paleo dressing

    3. There are NO “Cheat Days” during the Challenge; you won’t be out of the competition, but you will be doing yourself a disservice and will definitely affect your results. It can take your body several days to recover from a cheat, and over a week for a “big blowout”.

    Keep the questions coming – we’ll go over everything in more detail at the kickoff meeting (and I’ll send the info directly to those who can’t make it or who are remote).


  8. Posted by Zach on February 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

    What up Cynthia? Hey thank you so much for heading this up. It is a huge task to take on. I can’t wait to try this out especially with Sectionals beginning at the end of this challenge. Count me in for this Saturday. Thanks again!


  9. Welcome Zach! I can’t wait to see the benefits everyone reaps from doing this!


  10. Posted by Brian M. on February 25, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Count me in. I’ll be there on Saturday. Is milk included or excluded during the challenge?


  11. Hi Brian – for STRICT Paleo, all dairy is out.. but it’s actually kind of a “gray zone” subject to much discussion. There’s a great piece on it here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-intolerance/

    The comments there too are pretty interesting.

    Let’s talk about it on Saturday!


  12. Posted by Jesseb on February 25, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Cynthia, I my not be working out on Sat. but i plan on being there for thd Paleo Kick off meeting. I sure this will get covered, but is protein powder okay on the paleo diet? It pretty convient at work and I think Mark Sisson even recommends it as a supplement. I also have a couple of ideas in regards to food logs..We can use a “shared workspace” to post the the food logs such as Google Docs and uploaded excels or whatever format can be used..


  13. Hi Jessie! glad you’re joining in!

    Since Paleo is geared towards eating unprocessed foods in their natural state, using protein powders would not exactly be in line with that philosophy. I actually make my shakes with egg whites, which I get from http://www.eggwhitesint.com. I guess they are processed in that they eggs are cracked open and separated, so that just the whites are packaged, but that’s it.

    You’re right though that protein powders are handy in making shakes. There’s some discussion of them on Mark’s Daily Apple, but the most important points if you DO want to use them are what the source of protein is and how they’re sweetened (sweeteners like Xylitol and Stevia have a similar effect on your insulin response as sugar does, and will keep you craving sugars). I’d opt for unflavored EggWhite Protein powder over any of the other options.

    One recommended product was from http://www.jayrobb.com/ ; I haven’t used it, and can’t vouch for it. Another suggestion was to search for Grass-fed protein powders (these would be the best of the Whey-based powders). One such product is from http://www.energyfirst.com/ . Again, I haven’t tried those, so I can’t say one way or the other what they’re like, but they’re pretty expensive.

    Here’s Mark’s piece, which is excellent! http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whey-egg-white-casein-pea-hemp-rice-protein-powder-supplement/

    Thanks for the question! and YES talk to me about Google Docs – that’d be a better solution for the food logs I bet.


  14. I received a great question via email, and thought I’d share it here in case others had a similar question. The question as about how strict the rules of the Challenge would be, and the example was:
    “If I decide to have apple sauce instead of an apple, would that still be considered ok?”

    So, here’s my take:

    We’ll go over what IS and ISN’T considered STRICT Paleo, and I have to say there’s a lot of room for maneuvering! I will encourage people to go as strict as they can for the 30 days, even if in the long run they want to keep dairy or use protein powders etc. There’s just so much benefit in being really strict for 30 days; it really allows your body to get rid of all the effects of the various substances you may not think ARE having an effect on you! Then if you add one in (for example, cheese) you can really tell how it affects you (or not).

    In your Apple versus AppleSauce example, it would depend on the sauce. Home-made, fresh apples cooked down into yummy sauce with no added sweeteners? Yum. I’d call that Paleo. Store-bought applesauce that includes corn syrup or other sweeteners? Yech. Not Paleo.


  15. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday (at least those who can come!). Those who can’t attend, I’ll email you the docs (if you send me your contact info) and will also post materials here; we will just need to get your photos, stats and $$ sorted out 🙂


  16. Posted by Dana on February 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Hey Cynthia. I love this idea. I am totally in as well but cannot make it to the meeting this morning. I will be at the workout tomorrow morning if that helps at all. Just let me know what to do and who to send money too and I am all over it 🙂 Thanks again!


  17. Posted by Jesseb on March 1, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Hi Cynthia

    I experimented with the foog log pages, I keep track of stuff on my Iphone using the App Lose It . I can access really detailed reports via email regarding the items I eat and can run custom reports as well. My concern is that I can really copy and paste into the food log because the reports I have are excel based. I am going to post instead my own Box.net shared space and if folks wanna access it they can. 🙂 I will use a hyperlink.

    PS are Pork Rinds Paleo?


    • Pork rinds are on the “Do not eat” list largely due to their high salt content – they’re basically salt, fat and protein. You could make a case for them being a good source of protein. The info I’ve found on them is that 43 percent of a pork rind’s fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid — the same healthy fat found in olive oil. If you HAVE to munch on them as a snack, I would find the least salty ones possible.


  18. Posted by Jesseb on March 1, 2010 at 2:47 am

    BTW here is my link to my paleo diet spreadsheets!!!! This is pretty cool!, you can click to see them perhaps everyone should create an individual box.net account its relatively pain less and you can choose what you want people to access. BTW Feb 17 is just to test out..and not counting.



    • The consensus amongst participants is to keep logs on this site, via individual places, so everything is all in one spot. Let’s see how it goes.


  19. Posted by T H E O on March 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Hey Everyone,

    I’m glad to see that so many people are excited about participating in the Paleo Challenge. I can’t wait to see how you all feel 30 days from now!

    G O O D L U C K!

    May the best Paleo-er, win?

    This is THEO signin’ off…


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