I signed up for a 30 day paleo challenge at our CrossFit box. My normal diet is, overall, pretty good, but I figured I could stand to be disciplined for a month and see how it changed my energy levels and strength/endurance during workouts.

It was also a nudge to limit drinking to the weekends, and even then I’m sticking with wine.


Food rules for our paleo challenge:

YES: all lean meat, fish, seafood & eggs; all non-starchy seasonal vegetables; seasonal fruit

In moderation: healthy fats, nuts and seeds

NO: grains or cereals at all; legumes; dairy; processed foods; sugars or artificial sweeteners

Alcohol is allowed but at a minimum amount.



  • Clean week: 5 points per week. One unauthorized cheat meal: 3 points. More than one unauthorized cheat meal: 0 points for the week.
  • We completed a test WOD which we will do again at the end; ostensibly to illustrate a proper diet improves overall performance. If we do better the second time around, 5 points. I’m actually a little concerned because I don’t think I could have done this any faster than I did (5:29).


  • Bringing a friend to “Bring a Friend Fridays” earns 3 more points (wanna go?)
  • If we post a pic on social media in Riverfront gear and hashtag #TheRiv #CfRiverfront we earn 3 easy points.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

I pretty much live in Riv gear.

  • Participating in Crossfit Riverfront get togethers or events earns 5 points and a coach-approved cheat meal.

At the end of the day, the scoring isn’t such a big deal; I have no idea where we stand compared to other teams. But you betcha I’ve been going and doing the challenge WODs to earn my cheat meals. They’ve been doozies, too. (The workouts, not the meals.)

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

One guy did the humans vs. zombies Halloween WOD in acid washed tight ass jeans. Respect. I haz it.

So far, I really miss cheese. Like, a lot. But I’m vaguely lactose intolerant, and frankly, I can feel the difference, not eating the cheese. I don’t get that icky-full feeling after meals. Depending on who you read, some iterations of the paleo diet allow some dairy, and I’ll probably add it back in after the challenge is over, but not at the quantities I used to eat it.

The first day of the paleo challenge was hard, simply because I didn’t prepare. Egg breakfast, OK, but no cheese on top? I had to make some ketchup from scratch because I can’t just eat eggs plain. And then, I had like no time for lunch but nothing quick to grab. I spent the night boiling eggs and chopping veggies and the rest of the week went much more easily.

The family is eating normally for the most part; what we’ve primarily done is simplified our meals, forego the very cheesy dishes and quick processed foods (we never ate a lot of those anyway), and some easy substitutions (coconut oil for butter or olive oil when sautéeing, coconut flour for regular flour, etc). Sauces and cheese is available for them on the side. I eat eggs and fruit for breakfast and leftovers or salad for lunch, for snacks I have hard boiled eggs, raw vegetables, honeycrisp apples or bananas.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Sample lunch. Salad, honeycrisp sliced thin, egg salad made with avocado rather than mayo.


One of our skill sessions this week was a 2K row. I took it nice and easy and didn’t have to stop at all— that’s unheard of for me— finishing in 9:06. In June, I was pretty proud of my 9:49.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

Maverick and I came in first by a solid 30 seconds for this week’s paleo challenge (partner) WOD, at least for our timeslot (those 5:15 am people are a different breed and their scores were like a full minute faster). Given that I spent the early part of the week sidelined by a stomach bug, I’m feeling pretty smug about it.

The warmup was 50 burpees for time; I did it in 3:42 but can’t find my time from the last time I did it. I’m pretty sure it was a little over 4 minutes; the time before that was just under 5 minutes, pretty soon after we had started taking classes. I only mention it so I know for next time 😛

The workout was 50 kettlebell swings (we used 25s), 50 goblet squats (dropped to 20 and even so am feeling those today), 50 box jumps (I have to do mostly stepups because of my knees), 50 situps and 50 one-arm thrusters (we held on to the 25s for these).

The “partner” element was just that I had to wait for Mav to finish his 50 of any move before we could move on to the next one. He was only a few seconds behind each time, and I gave him some grief about a water break (“c’mon! You can’t drink water and jump on the box at the same time?!”) but I was pretty damn proud of the kid.

CrossFit Riverfront Paleo Challenge

How’s that for an awkward photo?
I was trying to save Heather from having to touch my sweaty back.


Anyway, I’m curious to see how I’ll feel when I add dairy and grains back in at the end of 30 days; maybe I’ll decide it’s in my best interests to limit them.

But not pumpkin pie. I plan to eat my weight in pumpkin pie in two weeks’ time.

Paleo challenge eats so far:

  • Paleo pumpkin bread
  • Pot roast and baked potatoes (sweet potatoes for me). Simplest meal ever, lots of leftovers.
  • Steak kabobs with peppers, onion and grape tomatoes.
  • Roasted chicken: basted in coconut oil, rosemary, garlic and lime juice.
  • Fire roasted bacon meatloaf with roasted asparagus
  • Pan fried steaks. They had rice, I had leftover sweet potato.
  • Pork tenderloin with sautéed spinach
  • Slow cooker BBQ chicken breasts and thighs (we made this BBQ sauce; it tasted like a great pulled pork sauce. It needed something to make it more BBQ. Like something to make it smoky?) with roasted garlic broccoli. I ate a whole tray of broccoli and I felt no shame.
  • Stuffed peppers. We doubled the recipe, using both ground bison and venison sausage. It was pretty fantastic.
  • Breakfast for dinner. Eggs, bacon, whatever fruit and veg we had sitting around. We did this once each week.
  • and a couple of nights of “there’s a fridge full of leftovers, go eat something.”
  • I made ketchup, mustard and Worchestershire from this post’s paleo condiment recipes.
  • Most of those nights had some sort of salad involved.

My earned Halloween cheat was broccoli bites; this week we went to IHOP for Jake’s birthday and I had some crepes and a cheesesteak. And then I slept for 13 hours. That’s not related but it’s such a rarity I just want it on record.

I feel good. I’m sleeping better. I’ve had to miss a fair number of workouts since we started thanks to my work schedule, illness and having to shuttle Jake around to doctor’s appointments for his dislocated shoulder, but I feel like I’ve given my full effort each time— no having to take breaks because I was too tired, too fast. I think ahead about snacks and have healthy ones, rather than grabbing something to eat in the car on the way to class. And I’m definitely eating more than I used to, which is a good thing. I’m very guilty of being a meal skipper and then eating anything in my way.

So, two weeks in, paleo challenge verdict: not too hard, feeling good. Down 11 pounds, but take that with a grain of salt since I was sick for a couple of days.

Let’s see how I feel at the end of the month 🙂


Ever done a paleo/ Whole 30 challenge?


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