Nerd Fitness and Paleo

So, my best friend Joe (of Invisible Druid) started eating Paleo and working out on the Nerd Fitness Challenge last….oh, I think December or so.  I live a number of timezones and at least one ocean away, so I didn’t really get to keep up with him or his lovely fiancee Traci till we saw them 5 months later at their wedding.


Oh.  My.  God.


Joe had lost at that point almost 70 lbs, and Traci was easily down 30.  They looked fantastic.  I looked like the first kid that gets kicked out of the friggin’ Chocolate Factory, so as soon as we got home I started researching what they did (and continue to do) to get so amazingly healthy.


Paleo (or the Caveman Diet) basically means that you eat what the people of the Paleolithic Era consumed – animal flesh, fish, fruits, nuts, and veg.  Farming hadn’t been figured out yet, so that means no grains (including corn and rice), and no white potatoes (yams are okay), and no beans (I am still not sure about this one).  And while cow flesh is just fine, cow milk and associated products (butter, cheese, yogurt), are all out.  And of course, no sugar or sugar substitute, and no pre-packaged foods (like boxed rice, frozen meat pies, etc).  The basic rule is, if it can rot within a few days and is not in the no-no list above, eat it.  If it can sit in your cupboard for 30 years without losing any nutritional value, you can’t eat it.


The first few days was really rough – the caffeine withdrawl headache was beyond belief, I had to drink some tea to not shut down from the pain.  But, I can say 16 days in I am a stone (14 lbs) down – I was 17 lbs down, but I cheated all this past weekend and gained 3 back.


The diet has been a big eye-opener for me.  I notice now when I crave food (when I am feeling stressed versus actually being hungry), and how I respond to that need.  I have been walking a helluva lot more (even today in the sweltering sun the baby and I did nearly 4 miles), and although my knees hate me, I can feel myself getting stronger.  I have a greater respect for making and enjoying my food.  Instead of chicken fingers, frozen in a big bag, last night I roasted a whole chicken.  You have to deal with giblets, and the bony bits where the legs were chopped off, and it reminds you that this thing you are about to eat used to be alive, not just a comical shape in breading.  I no longer want bread, rice, or even pasta (and Mama loves her some spaghetti), but I still crave Krispy Kreme and Starbucks.  Ah well, in time I will learn not to OMG WANT them, and instead see them as a nice once in a while treat, if that.

So, why is this on a geek blog?  The other half of the subject line, the Nerd Fitness.  The deal is this:  like any good roleplayer, you have to have a strong character sheet.  You don’t know how you will respond in a situation unless you know who you are.  Same with exercising – you create a ‘character’, and work on levelling him or her up through exercise.  For instance, I would choose Druid.  As the character sheeet says:

Druids are one with nature. Often vegan or vegetarian, they specialize in being one with themselves, finding balance in everything.  These peaceful folk spend a majority of their time training in the arts of yoga, meditation, and tai chi.  Strength training is only done if necessary, as  most druids aren’t interested in massive muscles or explosive power.  Druids also follow a minimalist diet, high in vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  Some eat meat, but only enough to get sufficient protein.  Processed foods are the enemy.

Primary attributes: agility, flexibility

Training: hiking/walks, meditation, yoga, tai chi

Real life example: Yoga instructors.


Now since I can push a pram for a long walk much easier than I can box my kid (although that would probably be fun), the Druid character sheet works best for me right now.  So, my goals are:


  1. Walk at least 1 mile every day.
  2. Keep working on my Paleo.
  3. Do at least 15 minutes of Wii yoga a day.

I also have a few books – Everyday Paleo (great I think for new people who want a plan and menu/recipes), and a few more scientificy books that I haven’t begun to crack yet.  And from Joe (who I consider an authority on this stuff, and you should seriously check out his blog for his progress as well as lots of smart and funny things), here is a bunch of fun stuff:


The best resource for forums, free books, articles, etc is Mark’s Daily Apple.  It’s a big site with some daunting archives, but once you get comfortable with it, it’s brilliant.
Robb Wolf is a paleo trainer from Chico, CA.  He runs one of the best gyms in the country and if you’re looking to learn more about the science behind paleo, his podcast is mesmerizing.  A lot of his talk is geared toward people with autoimmune conditions, but as it turns out, that’s a lot of people. Worth a listen and a read.
Everyday Paleo is only so handy for me, because it’s geared towards things like raising a paleo family and paleo kids, but her recipes are brilliant and their podcast is really fun.
Paleo Diet Lifestyle is a small site that doesn’t update often, but it has a really goodpaleo 101 kind of feel.  When family members ask me to describe my diet, i send them here.
NerdFitness.  this is the community that got me started in this.  Still the best place for nerds looking to shape up. Also big into paleo or just video games.
The Whole9 blog and their Whole30 challenge. harsh, but fair.
Hunter-gatherer blog:  mostly it’s just an adorable barefoot running caveman running a blog like a boss.  He is less pushy and more fun. He just sort of lives his life happily and paleo.
Evolify:  sort of the Dan Savage of the paleo world.  I dig him a lot.