Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nutrition Challenge

To give a bit of background, Sensei Nick and I have recently been working on several changes, including reworking the rank sheets for the Aikijutsu classes at his school. We are really happy with the results, but I will post about that later. We have also joined a CrossFit gym and we are loving it. I have to say that I really enjoy the CrossFit philosophy and work outs a great deal more then a typical gym workout. I have started referring to my crossfit work outs as "Ninja Training". It's good stuff.

You can find information about CrossFit on the CrossFit Home Page or check out the CrossFit Games, which is a competition whose aim is to find the most fit person on earth.

Starting in April I will be doing a nutrition challenge with my gym. I will be documenting everything and posting my experience along the way. I'm going to be trying out the Paleo Diet, which essentially encourages us to eat like Cave Men. Essentially, if you can hunt it or pick it you can eat it. I highly encourage you to look at the website and look at the research that has been done on this subject. It's pretty interesting compared to a lot of other diet and life style type eating habits I have looked into. Secondly, sometimes you need a nutritional supplement. I have always been on the hunt for good supplements, post work out sources, and such. I like to know what I am putting into my body is good. I recently learned about AdvoCare and I'll be test driving their products during my nutrition challenge. So I can let people know if they work as well as they claim. They do have a pretty good rep as they have an entire scientific and medical board behind them. I'm looking forward to seeing how the nutrition challenge turns out.

I am so ready to continue on my path to 'ninjaness' as it were. I want to be in great shape, I want to eat well, and I want to be healthy.

I have my 'weigh in' on Saturday where I will have my body fat % calculated. The goal is not to lose weight, it is to lose fat and build muscle, so I feel pretty good taking part in the challenge. I get sickened by the dual nature of our culture. The obesity rate is sky rocketing, but at the same time the desire to be skinny and look good drives millions of young people, boys and girls, toward unhealthy dieting and eating disorders. Fit is healthy and sexy, skinny is not. Meat is for the man, Bones are for the dogs. It's a difficult paradigm to overcome and a hard thing to find a balance.

My mother struggled with an eating disorder almost her whole life. I have seen how devastating it can be and how incredibly difficult it can be to overcome. (But, I have to say, my mom has been E.D. free for a few years now and she is looking much better. I'm so proud of her, I know how hard it's been and how much of a struggle it was, but if anyone out there is reading this and struggles with an eating disorder, you are not alone and there is help. You are stronger then you believe you are and you can overcome anything!)

I think that is what drives me so strongly towards becoming a personal trainer and martial arts instructor. I want to help people in the way my trainer and my instructors have helped me. I want to give people the gift of health, confidence and happiness. To help them feel good about themselves, to be genuinely happy with what they see in the mirror every day, to be confident in what they can do, and to achieve a healthy lifestyle. That is my hope and wish. I am working towards making all this happen, getting in super great shape, working hard on obtaining my black belts in Aikijutsu and Karate, and learning what I can about nutrition and supplements. I will make it happen!

More to come. Thank you sincerely for reading. :)


  1. The paleo diet sounds similar in principle to the low carb, high protein diet that I am following. I am certainly feeling some positive benefits from following such a regime. I have managed to lose some stubborn weight from around my abdomen, no longer suffer any bloating, sleep better and generally have more energy throughout the day. You soon get used to not eating grain based carbohydrates and I don't miss them at all. The great thing is you rarely feel hungry between meals. I hope this way of eating works well for you too, I'll be eagerly waiting for your posts....

  2. Sweet! That's good to know! I am looking to get rid of the same stubborn weight, and being able to sleep would be a HUGE plus for me, since I don't really ever sleep. I've ALWAYS had trouble with that.

  3. Hi Sahara,

    Congrats on the focus towards overall health and I like how you make clear that fit and strong are attractive; stick-thin is not. I hope this doesn't come across in a sexist sort of way, but it is encouraging to see more women that understand that Truth.

    I have a question, too. What are your thoughts with regards to the difference between the Paleo diet and the Atkins diet (other than they are purported by different sources)? To me they sound remarkably similar in terms of impact on the body - both good and bad.


  4. Hi Brett -

    Not sexist at all. I have always had more guy friends then girls, and they all tell me the same thing: We don't like bony girls! I think the problem lies in that in media and advertising this is such a vast amount of photo-doctoring done that women feel like they have to be perfect. There is a vast sense of "I'll never be good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, etc" in our gender. It is very hard for women to believe a man when he says "I like your curves!" when on average she sees 400 to 600 advertisements that tell her differently. (For those readers I have who are picky about making sure I cite my facts, some information about that with sources can be found here: Anyway, it's a sad but vicious cycle. So I can understand a guy's frustration at having to tell her lady repeatedly like she's beautiful only to have her respond with "Thanks, but I'm not really."

    On to the Atkins question! I don't know much about Atkins, except that my grandpa was on it for a while to help him lose some weight. I think he is a diabetic with high cholesterol. From what I could remember he could eat meat but no bread/pasta/grain, etc. I did a bit of research this morning and here is what I found. They do sound very similar with a few differences. For example on Atkins you are allowed some dairy, and none at all on the Paleo.

    When you mention impacts on the body, they both support weight loss by similar theories, less carbs = less insulin, etc. However, there were more health concerns regarding the Atkin's diet which I feel like Paleo had addressed. For example:

    ' Robert H. Eckel, MD, director of the general clinical research center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, agrees. He tells WebMD, "Our worries over the Atkins diet go way past the question of whether it is effective for losing weight or even for keeping weight off. We worry that the diet promotes heart disease. ... We have concerns over whether this is a healthy diet for preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. There is also potential loss of bone, and the potential for people with liver and kidney problems to have trouble with the high amounts of protein in these diets."

    The Atkins promotes a high-protein, high-fat diet that may cause a host of problems, particularly for the large segment of the population that is at risk for heart disease. What's more, the plan doesn't permit a high intake of fruits and vegetables, recommended by most nutrition experts because of the numerous documented health benefits from these foods. ' From

    Paleo diet supports a high intake of lean meats, fruits and veggies. No dairy, no legumes, and no grains. From the looks of things, it seems like the creators of Paleo have done more research and are continuing to do research into the benefits and risks of eating like this. Where it looks like Atkins focuses only the carb problem, Paleo looks at a broader picture. For starters they are pretty specific about eating lean meats to balance out the Omegea 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids in your body, which is a contributor to heart disease. (I'm not a scientist but the seminar I went to over this, the Dr. (Dr. Chad Edwards spoke about the real cause of heart disease and all the things happening on a chemical level in our body which cause blood clots, and such. It was a bit above my head and I could only take notes so fast, so I am having a hard time conveying the specifics, but there is a lot of good science behind this.)

  5. Secondly, Paleo research has also looked into the bone loss problem and the problem isn't so much lack of calcium as it is making sure that our calcium intake and export are better matched. Americans have one of the the highest calcium intake rates in the world, but we suffer more osteoporosis then any other country. Through consuming veggies as opposed to processed dairy, which also have an increase in the vitamins which help our bodies absorb calcium, the problem of bone loss is avoided.

    Anyway, I'm by no means an expert, but the Paleo website has a ton of good information and lots of FAQ with sources and studies to back up their claims. I'm not trying to tout Paleo over Atkins since I've only been on it for a whole day and half, but just doing a few minutes of research this is what I was able to find.

    So, to me it looks like Atkins is kind of a lighter version of Paleo... although I am a little discouraged that they don't recommend as many fruits and veggies. I'm pretty sure a person never got fat or died from eating too many fruits and veggies. But, I could always be wrong!

    Sorry for such a long reply, but I hope that answers your question. I tried to take a neutral standpoint and look only at the facts and if I find anything counter to what I have posted I will be sure to let you know!

  6. That was an extremely thorough response!

    I will admit that I haven't done enough research to rule in or out the Paleo diet. However, my rule of thumb is that any diet that tells me I CANT eat a food based on an arbitrary rule ("That's not what cavemen did!") just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, there are a great many things that our cavemen ancestors ate (bugs, for instance) that I wouldn't touch if there were a loaf of bread within a day's walk!

    I suppose my position can be summarized as "all things in moderation".

  7. I understand your position. I usually feel the same way. I think the guide line here is that the scientists looked at our ancestors and saw they were free from a lot of the degenerative diseases that plague Americans today and looked into how they lived and what they ate. I think "Eat what a cavemen ate!" is more a guide line to help you stay on track. It's easy to remember. I did research into the ABS DIET for a while and I could never remember their mnemonic device for what was ok to eat and not to eat. The Doctor that I spoke with said that obviously we cannot hit it exactly perfectly, and the goal isn't to be perfect, it is to always try to do better. Stay on track as best you can. Have a cheat day! etc. I think the creators of Paleo and most proponents of Paleo would agree with your statement, "all things in moderation."

    I also think that "Eat the way a caveman ate." Isn't as arbitrary a rule as it sounds. There is currently quite a bit of research being done in this field and their arguments are valid. I posted in the comments on the next page some of the reasons for avoiding gluten. It isn't because cavemen didn't eat gluten, it is because there is research and evidence that shows that gluten is extremely bad for us! Here are some examples:

    Even if you just spend a few minutes on the Paleo website in the FAQ section you will find they have done some pretty extensive studies to back up their philosophy. They link to all their sources and studies as well.

  8. I think I am starting to treat your blog like an internet forum! lol.

    The thing I wonder about is whether our caveman ancestors were free from degenerative diseases due to their diet, or the fact that 25 years old was "middle age" and a broken ankle was a probable death sentence! But I think I'll check out a few of those links you've got there and browse around. thanks!


  9. No worries, that's part of why I posted this. Here is someone online asking similar questions, so you're not alone.,7120,s6-242-303-307-9048-0,00.html

    Either way, if you find anything interesting, let me know!

  10. This is a probably a little late, but here goes:


    are some of the best online resources for Paleo.

    Just some FYI for TSK and others.