What the hell was that?

That my friend was the sound of another false belief being blown away and shattered. The programming runs deep. Step on the scale and measure your fitness level. Not! I was reluctant to participate in the Challenge. Why would I need to do it? My Paleo commit date was 12/21/12 and I was making pretty good progress. Since I became a crossfit/paleo enthusiast my weight had gone from 182 to 158 pounds and I was showing improvement in the basic lifts and in my WODS. I was happy with the way I looked, felt and performed. I even did that Olympic Distance Triathlon in July with minimal outside training. Yet in the back of my mind Paul’s off handed comment last August that I was looking “a little runner scrawny” was annoying me. C’mon, 158 on the scale baby “I’m in shape again”. I don’t need no stinking challenge. I decided to participate in the Challenge purely out of a sense of community. I wanted to deepen my connection with other members of Crossfit Worcester. I wanted to join in and be part of. My mind boldly proclaimed “I had nothing to learn, it would be easy and I was simple paying $40 to be part of”. How wrong I was. I did the initial body fat testing and was totally surprised to be at 15% body fat. I completed the fitness bench marks and was satisfied with my level of fitness. At that point I decided “pull ups” would be my personal bench mark for the challenge as it was a very weak area, a “goat”. I had just gone from the Blue Band to the Green Band for aided pull ups. At the initial testing of the challenge I did 16 Green Band pull ups and 3 unaided pull ups. Not overly impressive but considering I couldn’t do a single pull up prior to Crossfit, I was pleased with my overall progress in 10 months. As the challenge got underway the first surprise awakening was “fish oil was the same number of points as fitness activity”. Coming from an endurance mentality of more is better; this was a “take notice” moment. The next was sleep and rest days. I was pretty good at getting my 8 hours, but now I was actually scheduling my sleep, going to bed an hour earlier, making sure I got those sleep points and again, these sleep points far outweighed the activity points. But the real shocker was discovering my real weakness: taking activity rest days. To this point I was stringing together 12 to 15 days of active fitness days. In the challenge I would be penalized for this. Now I had to schedule “active rest days”. I was learning about letting my body recover. I still struggling with this, but am open. While my eating habits remained consistent (Paleo efficient meals) these other areas of living Paleo were becoming prominent in my lifestyle. I realized what I thought was Paleo was expanding to a fuller Paleo way of life.

After two months of the challenge where am I now?

I got on the scale expecting to be 152-155 pounds. I felt great, I looked great and I was performing at new levels. Clearly I had lost some more weight. Booooommmm: 165 pounds is what the scale announced. How could this be? The mind screamed, “You fat bastard”, “you must have cheated somehow”, “loser”, “shit I’m out of shape”. Before the challenge I was actually fluctuating between 158 to 162, now I was fluctuating 162 to 165. My mind struggled with this weight gain. I could gaining weight be related to improving overall fitness and well-being. But the fitness facts told a different story. While the scale said 165 (fat), my pull up benchmark became the light, the truth, the witness to my Paleo Challenge success for me (fitness). About half way thru the challenge I banged out 30 Green Band pull ups and 12 unaided pull ups. Not the prettiest pull ups, but pull ups. Something was happening. I was actually getting stronger. Would I dare say,” growing muscles”? Was my overall 7 pound weight gain not flab, but muscle, not fat, but fitness? Is this what Paul meant by “runner scrawny”? Man did he annoy me with that comment. I know I didn’t have the fastest times at the box, but they are mine and they are a far cry from where I was at on September 1st at the beginning of the challenge and from last november 1, 2012 when I began onramp. Today (11/2/13) I completed 22 pull-ups (kipping no band). Joe’s Cash Out: Step on the scale and measure your fitness level. Not!

Living Paleo is more than just eating Paleo. At 165 pounds I feel 155 pounds. I’m stronger. I’m improving. I feel great and dare say “look great naked”. I feel I have made more progress in the last two months, then in the previous ten months. I am not discounting the foundation I laid in those initial ten months, but the Paleo Challenge was a great way to end my first full year at Crossfit Worcester and I am eager to begin year number two of the rest of my life with an ever increasing focus not on the scale, but rather on how I look, feel and perform.

Thanks Paul, Joe

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