I'm really proud to post a dozen testimonials. And this isn't even all of them. They speak for themselves: a college student, a mother of two, a cadet in the military, a ski instructor, a woman who just went through menopause, and a few former vegetarians. There are many recurring benefits and comments (weight loss, energy, skin, sleep, depression, former vegetarians, paleo "making sense") and a few recurring challenges (taking photos, the first week, cooking, and social situations). It's not easy to change how you eat for a month, so hats off to everyone. And thank you for sharing your experience — it multiplies the impact. I'll follow this post up with the winners of the gift certificates.
All bolding is mine, I corrected spelling mistakes, formatted the entries to fit the blog, and sometimes took excerpts due to length. My commentary will be in orange, and I'll start with ones that have photos. Here's a list with an incomplete summary of benefits/issues:
- Jordan (lost 14 pounds, carpal tunnel, asthma, former vegetarian)
- Lane (lost 21 pounds, hello abs)
- Harmony (IBS, fructose, former vegetarian)
- Bronson (skin, sleep, energy)
- Robin (the "yegg", cooking tips)
- Carl (lower cholesterol, off statins, higher energy)
- Megan (challenges with losing weight)
- C (female problems, acne, weight, bleeding bowels)
- Spencer (energy, acne, a nasty bender)
- Paul (weight loss, gas)
- Jon (married: tough first week, weight loss)
- Meghan (sleep, skin, hair, mood, depression, former vegetarian)
Been reading your blog for a little while now. Great stuff. I finally decided to try the Paleo 30 when my vacation ended on January 4. I'm getting married in October and I don't want my kids to see my pictures and say "Damn dad, you were a fat slob even when you were young!"
Prior to paleo, I had followed a vegetarian diet, and before that a vegan diet. I have to say that both a vegan and vegetarian diet can work pretty well if you actually cook and eat vegetables. The problem is, I think for most, is that it ends up being a carb heavy diet with too many processed proteins — too many Morningstar burgers, etc. So I decided to do something drastic and eat a diet of basically meat and vegetables. Cutting back on carbs on a vegan diet is extremely difficult. It can be done on a vegetarian diet, but with cheese and milk…
In any case, here are the results:
- January 4: 231 lbs
- February 1: 217 lbs
The pre-paleo pictures are from Christmas day and on my New Years vacation. The last two are from today, February 1, day 26 of doing the paleo challenge.
It's hard to see your body, but you clearly lost a few pounds off your face alone!
Admittedly, I fell off the boat during the Eagles / Packers game when I was still toying with the notion of a 'free day'. I ended up drinking beer, eating pizza, and gaining a few pounds in two days.
What changed — the biggest change for me was energy levels. I was always yawning in meetings and never had the energy to go out on Friday. No joke, now I have energy that needs to be burned off. Thankfully, there is a gym on the corner of my street. When I get home from work I have to go — otherwise I'm too antsy. I also put a pullup bar in my office and started jogging. Not because I want to lose weight, but because I need to burn off energy. I still drink coffee, but because I like it — not because I need to.
Hardest Moment — Packers @ Eagles game. Aside from the Eagles loss, I decided I was going to loosen up a little and have a beer. I downed one Guinness and it was all over. Pizza, fries, beers, nothing but junk. I had lost about 6 lbs up until that point and then gained it all back the next morning. That was a huge setback. Football was a pain in the ass going through the carb flu while everyone was eating pizza and drinking beer.
Most rewarding moment — when I realized my old dress shirts fit at the end of the month. When I could do a pull-up again. Realizing my belt is on it's last loop. Not having such an awful double chin. Starting to grow a manly caveman beard!
Oddest improvement — I had carpal tunnel in my left hand and it cleared up in like a week. My thumb used to go numb driving. It doesn't do that anymore, which is pretty cool. I suspect that cutting out grains helped that a lot. Asthma is also down considerably — every year I get terrible winter induced aesthma and this year it's not nearly as bad. I even did wind sprints in the cold weather. It's not gone, but it's a LOT better.
What I've learned along the way is that taking a free day every week is a quick way to curb progress.
I'm going to do another month of the paleo 30… it's not that hard once you get into a groove. After the initial cravings left, I don't even care about junk food. Today, as of 5:30, all I've had is coffee with butter in it and 6 chicken wings. And I feel great.
I didn't start the Paleo Challenge on the first of January. I had actually already committed to changing my lifestyle about two weeks prior. However, I have seen great results and enjoyed it immensely. I began Paleo simply because it made sense. I can't remember how I stumbled upon the concept, probably reading about barefoot running, another lifestyle change I wanted to enact. Regardless, I read your site, Robb Wolf's site, a few others, and I was hooked. I'm currently a Cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, and I will be commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army when I graduate in May. Being fit is the sine qua non of being an Army Officer. I've fluctuated in fitness and weight in my four years here, but now I needed to fully commit to achieving my desired levels of fitness and staying there. I didn't begin with the idea of taking a challenge, or of losing weight simply to lose it, so there was no "before" picture per se. I did find a picture taken in the early weeks of December though which I believe shows where I was at the time: see before.
After I began eating clean I also began to stick to my daily workout plans more consistently. I focused mainly on pull-ups, and saw steady improvement week to week. By the time I went home for the Christmas Break I felt good about my new lifestyle. The holidays are always a time when I have been lazy and ate too much. I'm not sure of how much I typically gained, but I know that I've never come back from a Christmas furlough in better shape than when I left. I promised myself that would not be the case this time.
Although the Paleo lifestyle is completely at odds with my family's traditional holiday foods, I managed to stay clean and avoid the usual traps: cookies, fudge, ice cream, more cookies. My family bakes for the holidays, but this year I would hold strong. My girlfriend, while not sure if she would be committing to the same paleo lifestyle, was supportive, and together we made an assortment of paleo foods. I got especially good at eggs, scrambled and fried (with olive oil) for breakfast. Fruits and nuts for snacks kept any hunger away which might tempt me, and meals were full of chicken, handmade lean burger patties, and great vegetables. Ok, maybe too much baby spinach for my girlfriend's taste.
I kept doing my pull-ups, and the occasional set of pushups, or sit-ups, throughout the entire break. Almost three weeks of it. By this point I began to notice that I'd lost weight. The last time I'd weighed myself at school on December 6th I had been 206 pounds. By the end of the furlough, January 10th, I was down to 190.
Back at school I had my first wakeup call. My progress had been good, but I hadn't paid enough attention to physical activity. The usual excuse of "it's just too cold to go for a run" had kept me indoors for much of the break. The wakeup came in the form of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) which I took the first week back at school as a diagnostic of my fitness levels. Normally I scored a 290 (out of 300) with the pushups being my downfall. This time, no such luck. I scored a disappointing 267. My run time, usually under 13 minutes for two miles, had increased to 14 minutes and 30 seconds. Clearly I had not been working on the whole picture. My sit-ups were also too low, and my pushups in the mediocre range they had been. So something must be done.
I immediately began to work running back into my workouts, reintroducing my Vibrams into the mix. I slowly worked up from short one mile jogs to four miles over the three weeks. Pushups have made a regular return to my weekly schedule, working at improving to an eventual 100 in a row as my first long-term goal. Pull-ups are still improving steadily, and I'm having fun playing around with rings and more gymnastic moves.
At the end of approximately six weeks of paleo lifestyle I have seen great improvements in energy levels, decreases in body fat, and an increase in muscle tone and strength. Additionally I have felt the transition in barefoot running, from the awkwardness and vague discomfort of adjusting my stride, pace, and foot strike, to a more smooth and extremely enjoyable experience. Runs are fun again.
I still see lots of room for improvement. The pushup goal is just the beginning. Incorporating more consistent CrossFit style workouts is on the agenda. Learning more recipes and cooking techniques is also of interest; experiments with coconut milk have had varying levels of success. Unfortunately the mess hall at school offers a limited variety, and so to remain paleo the menu becomes very repetitive. Regardless, I have enjoyed the experience at every point. When people ask why I'm doing this I have a variety of answers, but when they ask how long I'll be doing it I have only one. For the rest of my life.
I've enjoyed reading your blog as I've implemented these changes in my life. Both for the humor (the evil of cupcakes comes to mind), and for the more serious aspects of nutrition, exercise, and reasoning behind the lifestyle. I look forward to reading your book when it is published, best of luck.
PS – There's also an after picture. 185 pounds and feeling great.
Lane has the best before-and-after photos of any of the submissions — seeing is believing. He's a great example of someone who was reasonably healthy and fit by "normal" standards, and took it to the next level. And thank you, Lane, for your service.
I have been 99.9% Paleo since the second week in December when I learned about the lifestyle from an IBS forum. Up until that time I was one sick Momma. No official diagnosis of IBS mostly because I hate the medical profession and believe I can take the power to heal myself, however I had ALL the classic symptoms. After being paleo for just a couple of weeks I was feeling like a newly reformed hooker! OMG! My energy level was up, I was sleeping. I was no longer depressed. On and on. Then I bought some dates at Wegmans. ALL the symptoms came back and I was very sick again. Got myself right again and ate pineapple. Repeat. Ate and apple. Repeat. Sticking with Paleo I began looking for the similarities in these foods. You guessed it Fructans. Keep in mind I am still eating a Paleo diet which is easier because I live with a man who hunts so we have a freezer full of venison and bear which we supplement with beef, pork, poultry and fish. The Paleo diet was a blessing until I discovered the complication of Fructose Malabsorption. Now I am pretty limited to just the basics–for now.
So no before or after pics but I can tell you I have kept body measurements for over 20 years (I don't own scales). Since starting the Paleo diet I have lost 1 1/2 inch from my waist, 1 inch from my hips and one inch from my bust. At almost 54 I have the energy I had when I was in my 30's. The biggest challenge–living with people who think I am nuts. Apparently I am not able to communicate well enough why I am eating just meat, vegetables, a few tolerated fruits, and nuts. Sigh. I also have to add this–I was a vegetarian for over 20 years. I managed a health food store and vegetarian cafe. All of this has been a MAJOR paradigm shift! A word to the aging population especially women–my body changed dramatically after menopause. I am not sure if it was a shift in hormones and /or the accumulation of food intolerances that caused my body to demand in no uncertain terms I change my diet but I am VERY glad to be a part of the Paleo movement!
If you have IBS or weird digestive problems, you need to go paleo yesterday. People with damaged guts are going to have problems with other foods too.
Hey John, I'm so glad I saw you on the Colbert report because I think I have finally found the answer! I am also a college student who is not overweight (maybe was a little bit), but mostly I was tired all day, my eyes bloodshot, my skin wasn't looking so healthy. After doing the Paleo Challenge I have seen some good results!
- More energy!!
- Acne is clearing up, almost gone!
- I sleep way better
- I wake up with energy
- My hair is not dry anymore.. it is oily and healthy!
- Oh yeah and I have lost 10 pounds (almost giving me that six pack)
- And I have been destroying people on the basketball court.
Paleo is the way to go!!!!! It's the only lifestyle that actually makes sense.
Acne is not a rite of passage to adulthood. I will have to add "destroying people at basketball" to the official list of benefits.
I did have to learn how to cook. I ultimately made some awesome buffalo jerky. A staple food is now the "yegg" — pureed yam + egg, mixed and poured into a muffin pan. I learned to roast all kinds of vegetables, including "multi-squash." Towards the end I found myself splurging on kale. Seriously! Like since when did I go crazy over kale?!
I started from a most humble setup — I am a bit of a minimalist… I ended up acquiring a few important things over time:
- A garlic press is a most wonderful gizmo.
- Kitchen scissors. Most essential for cutting up the meats.
- Glass pyrex. The more merrier.
- A tiny pan that perfectly fits 2 eggs.
Cooking tips for vegetables:
- If you don't like it raw, sautee it in olive oil with garlic
- If you don't like it sauteed, roast it in olive oil.
- Spices go a long ways to making yummy foods. Particularly: cinnamon, cumin, paprika, black pepper.
Still trying to master the meats.
I have really enjoyed this diet… And how often can you say that about a diet? I eat all the time, but get less calories per day than before. I have a big appetite, so I like the freedom to be able to eat whenever I feel like eating. I have also enjoyed the challenge of discovering new veggies, new ways to fix meats, etc. I don't miss grains, beans, and only slightly miss dairy. I really miss alcohol. (Will add the latter 2 back in in the future.) In the mean time, I'm all gung-ho to start round 2 and see where I end up a month from now!
Yes, Paleo is a discovery of new veggies, not just meats. Thanks for the great cooking tips. The "yegg" is brilliant.
I probably don't qualify for your 30 day challenge since I've been following a paleo diet since the last week of October, but I wanted to share my story anyway.
I am 27 years old had been struggling with my weight for a few years, and over the past year or so struggling with keeping my cholesterol down. My doctor had put me on statins and I started eating a high carb / fiber, etc diet to try and loose weight and lower my cholesterol. After 6 months of this my weight hadn't changed, and my total cholesterol had gone up by 80 to 238 (good went down, bad went up). My Doctor insisted I just keep up what I am doing and it will fix itself. Shortly after I was introduced to the paleo diet. After digging into it I decided to give it a try, I took myself off the statins, and started eating paleo. When I began I was about 194 pounds, with 33% body fat. As of a few days ago, I am 166 and 23.5% body fat. I feel more energetic then I have in years, I am no longer insanely groggy when I wake up in the morning, and all around I feel fantastic. I still have a ways to go to get where I would ultimately like to be, but I went from being on the last notch of my belt and getting ready to buy a bigger one to buying new pants and adding new holes to my belt so I don't have to buy a smaller one in just 3 months. I certainly have no plans to turn back now.
P.S. while I don't have the specific breakdown when I donated blood about two weeks ago Carter gave me my total cholesterol, which has already dropped to just above 200.
Your doctor is a fool. Luckily, you are not. Let us know when you get your cholesterol breakdown.
So I went paleo for 30 days, following the Whole30 guidelines. I've also completed three weeks of CrossFit.
I lost two pounds. I lost one centimeter in my waist and gained one in my quads, biceps, and calves.
I'm pretty angry at not losing more weight as I'm extremely overweight. I was completely honest with my eating, even going so far as to strip fruit from my diet, keeping my carb intake to less than 50g a day. However, I've never lost weight with any other type of eating. I have more energy, I no longer have food crashes, I am sleeping better, and I'm happier. My blood pressure has gone from 127/80 (it had been even higher than that previously) to 116/68.
I'd like to lose weight, for sure. I need to. And I'm frustrated by not losing more. But I think I'm on the right track and I'm going to keep with it.
Hang in there, Megan. It can be hardest for folks who are most overweight — it will take time for your metabolism to heal. All other indicators seem to be moving in the right direction. It will happen.
I want to thank you John for basically saving my life….I was in poor health for many years and my family, work, and personal life was suffering because of it. I had the gammit of problems: female problems, acne, over-weight, headaches, stomach aches, bleeding bowels (sorry guys), extreme fatigue, foggy head, easily irritated….shall I go on? I had started a journey on my own about a year ago of not eating any grains (I found out I was allergic) except corn. I was still eating potatoes, beans, some processed foods, and any sweet that I could get my hands on. Some of my problems were gone, but the majority remained. Then I came across your challenge…ordered the book….suffered through the first week of cravings. The only thing I can say is THANK YOU!! I feel like a kid again! NO more fatigue, acne, headaches, stomach aches, etc. They are ALL GONE! If I wasn't married with two kids, I would propose to you! I know we don't know each other, but you hold a special place in my heart. I can actually work, play with my kids and finish my day with energy to spare. You are an inspiration! Oh, and the best part….I have lost 4 in off my waist, and 4 1/2 in off my hips!! When I figure out how to post pics (lol) I will!
This is one reason why paleo isn't a fad or an ideology. If you solve health problems like these, you ain't going back. Welcome back to life, C.
Have been doing Paleo since the summer, although not 100%. I took the 30 day challenge seriously after the new year and went strict paleo except for butter. I even eliminated nuts and seeds, alcohol, cut way back on coffee, slept in a dark room and made sure I got a full nights rest I even threw in some intermittent fasting once a week.
I felt great the entire time, no acne, lost weight (I could see my 6 pack even when not flexing!), bowels felt good, lots of energy, recovered from workouts faster than ever (I'm also a ski instructor and need to not feel trashed after a full day of skiing so I can do it again the next day). I also made some significant strength gains in the gym (got my first muscle-up on the rings!) After my bender which included copious amounts of milk, chocolate, peanut butter and homemade bacon peanut brittle (hey bacon is paleo right?) and some gluten exposure, got some nasty acne, gas and bloating, weight gain, headaches, nose bleeds (although I'm not sure this is related, anyone let me know if they know otherwise) loss of energy, loss of libido, muscle aches for days after working out or skiing, I also smell worse and have greasier hair. As awful as the past few days have been it has showed me how great the paleo diet is and how terrible the SAD is. It has been a great learning experience, and I fully plan on continuing this diet into the future. Although I didn't come into this with any serious health problems I definitely came out ahead.
Sometimes a bender is all you need to keep you honest.
I did not have a perfect month, I came pretty close (only 2 real fouls, both Italian restaurants). My friends were almost always amazed at how I shrugged off anything from cookies to cakes that I would have most certainly dived into back in December. The biggest thing I noticed, and I know this isn't very pleasant for the rest of you reading out here, is that 2 times I did have a high carb meal, I had awful gas for the rest of the night and entire next day. It would take almost 2 days to get it out of my system. I learned that eating nothing was much better than pasta if I was dragged to an Italian restaurant, and mostly for the sake of my friends. However, other than that extremely noticeable quality, it was a great success! I feel great, lost about 6 pounds, and fully plan on continuing to diet this way. I guess I just really love meat! Thanks John!
Paleo Benefit #17: Less farting.
I had been interested in going paleo for awhile before taking the challenge, after having read about paleo in some "health" mags and seeing your segment on Colbert. The nuts and avocados at the NYC Barefoot Run sort of inspired me too…I mean, no bagels?! Anyway, with a somewhat firm commitment, I began the challenge on Jan. 3rd.
Predictably, the first week was difficult. I mean, how was I supposed to eat a burger without the bun? But the cravings eventually ceased, for the most part, and your basic guidelines of eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch and meat/veggies for dinner really helped out. Breakfast was easy…2-3 eggs with bacon or turkey bacon. Lunch was also easy, as there is a great salad bar at work with chicken and tuna available as toppings. Dinner was not so easy…I discovered that the key to a tasty, caveman-approved dinner would involve some work and planning. No longer could I throw in some of frozen, breaded chicken cutlets from the bag into the toaster oven. My wife became frustrated too when I would inevitably tell her that the dinner she prepared was not paleo-friendly. "But beans are natural!" Eventually I (we) got the hang of it and actually did some proper grocery shopping. We even learned how to cook fish! (which is surprisingly easy).
As for results, I have lost about 8-9 pounds and feel great. I feel lighter, my pants are looser around the waist and I am enjoying sustained energy levels instead of the usual peaks and slumps. I find that I am cheating (on food) less and less as my desire for some of my previous dietary staples begin to disappear. I know that I will never entirely give up something like pizza, except that instead of having a couple of slices several times a week, I will now limit it to special occasions. Diet soda is still my vice, as is my nightly pinch of wintergreen Grizzly. I haven't really touched alcohol except for a glass of red here and there. I hit the gym a couple times a week and do relatively short, high-intensity workouts (doing Spartacus 2.0 currently). Next I plan on visiting a local farm here in north Jersey that sells meat from their own pastured, grass-fed, humanely-raised animals. All in all, I am very happy with the decision to take on the challenge and am thankful to you, John, for inspiring change. I definitely plan on maintaining the lifestyle, and will continue to make changes and improvements, while continuing to educate myself. The results, so far, speak for themselves.
In fact, the other day my wife told me that maybe she too would be up for the challenge…
The NYC Barefoot Run may have been the first run since persistence hunting not have bagels. Yes, the first week or two can be tough. A crock pot makes it easy to prepare dinner: a big thing of meat, roots, tubes, veggies. Bingo.
I'm a 33 year old mom of 2 who has remained active and (I thought) ate in a healthy manner for most of my life. Despite that, for the last several years I've dealt with some fairly painful stomach/digestion issues. The term "celiac" kept coming up, although I tested negatively for it more than once. I did a lot of reading on my symptoms and did my best to "clean up" my eating on my own. After being a vegetarian for seven years, it was difficult me to give up my staples of grains, but I thought I was doing well to eat whole grains and gluten free products.
In October of 2010 I joined my local CrossFit, where I listened to other members talk to the trainers about a paleo lifestyle. As a teacher, reader, and lover of learning, I began doing some research and couldn't believe how simple it was and how much sense it made: eat real food. Rinse. Repeat. I spent the next couple of months locating resources, trying different foods, and making myself aware of the health benefits of the lifestyle. Furthermore, I began to learn a lot about my relationship with food…mindless eating, not really enjoying it, etc. As I began putting theory to practice (about 80% of the time) I started noticing benefits: improved workouts, a leaner build, better sleep, and a calmer nature. I also began noticing how harshly my body reacted when I indulged in non-paleo fare, particularly grains. Within hours I was bloated, irritable, and miserable. I was shocked when I realized that this condition was how I was previously spending the majority of my time.
I decided that I would go for the 30 day strict plan for the month of January after discussing with my trainer the need to let my body heal/reset itself from gut damage. My results:
- Although I haven't weighed myself, I know my original start weight was between 125-130 lbs. I've lost 9 inches since November (sorry I can't be more specific in regards to January only numbers), with the majority being gone from my midsection.
- Sleep!!! I have never been a restful sleeper until now! I'm in the process of a nasty divorce, and despite the strain in my life, I find it easy to go to sleep and stay asleep at night. This in turn has lead to improved moods during the waking hours.
- More with the moods – Although I have been "cured" of an eating disorder for years, the obsessive thoughts about food remained. Those are now gone. I no longer take an anti-depressant and feel better than I have in years.
- My skin looks better than it ever has, and although my hair has always been thick, I'm noticing tons of new growth…don't know if this is related to the diet or not.
- My kids are slowly coming aboard. Although I still serve them dairy, I have been eliminating the processed foods/snacks from their diets and replacing them with real foods. At 9 and 4 they are more willing to try new foods, and my daughter has actually started to ask for healthy items for her lunch.
- My workouts are stronger than ever. During the course of paleo my deadlift has increased by 50 lbs and I'm rarely sore following a crossfit wod. I've also begun crossfit endurance training for a half marathon and have energy to spare.
The hardest moments were those in which I didn't plan ahead. As long as I had plenty of protein cooked up, I was good to go. It was making those spur of the moment decisions when I was unprepared and starving that really tested me! For the most part, I cooked meat and veggies and added my favorite seasonings…it couldn't be more simple. I also had help from Sarah over at Everyday Paleo, the girls at Sweet Cheeks and of course from Robb's book.
My biggest tips:
- Plan ahead. When you go to the grocery store, load it up with the amount of meat and veggies you think you will need for the week, and then add more. Cook as much as possible on Sunday (crock pot of meat, prep your veggies) and put everything in storage containers for the week.
- Eat enough! In the beginning I was hungry. I doubled my protein and increased my fat and that was taken care of. As a child of the 90's, getting past the whole "fat is bad" mentality was tough. I basically have avocado with every meal now. My hunger stays at bay and I feel fantastic.
Thanks so much for your blog! I appreciate the information and inspiration you provide. I also maintain my own blog; feel free to check it out for more details on my journey.
Yes, it's possible to juggle a family with paleo. Meghan's kids don't know how lucky they are — they have a rockin' mom.