Many of you know that I’ve been working out for years, and my personal favorites are yoga, pilates and the Barre Method and it’s variations. It all works for me, giving me long, lean muscles and preserves my size 4-6 figure. My ultimate goal is to have a dancer’s body even though I can’t tell a pirouette from a Tours en l’air. But of all the years I’ve done this, I STILL kept a jelly belly with jowl-ey looking love handles. With a strong family history of diabetes, my body physiology is sensitive to sharp sugar spikes, so I tend to hold on tight to belly fat.
It was time to up my game, and it started with cutting sugar consumption down to 15 grams per day, skipping alcoholic beverages all week with only a couple drinks on the weekend, then cutting all the wheat and finally picking up something I absolutely hated: Running.
When I pictured the idea of running, I envisioned flat feet banging on concrete, pain in my knees and joints, sweat everywhere. I balked at people who could run miles and miles a day and would quietly think to myself, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!!” Another turn off for me about runners was that I’d see a lot covered concrete, but didn’t always see great results. I mean, people were running marathons and clearly had more stamina than I did, but some of the women were plus sized and the men were XXL. With that combined, running was not an exercise I was willing to risk my weak knees for.
Then as I did more and more research on the paleo lifestyle, I discovered that some fitness experts believe that running is very much a part of paleo fitness. Think about it. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ran after food, and away from animals who wanted them for food. They didn’t run long distances like marathon runners, but did a lot of sprinting–which required quick bursts of energy followed by periods of rest. “Sprinting offers all the fat burning effects that most people are hoping for when they do traditional steady-state cardio, but without the excess cortisol, oxidative stress, and potential damage to the thyroid and metabolism,” says Jason Seib, writer for the blog, Everyday Paleo.
The idea of sprinting for fat loss is interchangeable with the notion of interval training, or cross fit training. It’s not complicated though. At least two times a week I sprint on a treadmill. I started a brisk walk (around 2.8-3.0) for two minutes, followed by a one-minute sprint at (5.6-5.8). I do this for 30 minutes max. And because I find that running or walking in place to be exceedingly boring, I use it as an opportunity to listen to audiobooks. I actually look forward to my time on the treadmill, and am currently listening to “World War Z.” Mmmm. Zombies.
Some paleo purists think folks should be running outside barefoot and climbing trees like monkeys. I’m not…quite there. Nope. I think a black woman living in a virtually all white neighborhood climbing a tree like a monkey would do little to elicit trust from the moms and dads that their kids were okay to hang out with mine.
Although fruit sugar is far better than table sugar, the fact is that all of it can spike your insulin levels, and if the sugar you consume isn’t spent, it will be stored as fat, usually in the belly. My mistake in the past would be that I would workout hard and then down one or two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a giant bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. I’ve since given up the bread and (sigh) Honey Nut Cheerios and the milk, and opt for more natural, non-processed sources of sugar 30 to 60 minutes before I work out so that I use that energy efficiently and have the stamina to endure the workout. Before I did this on my no-sugar-at-all!! journey, I struggled through workouts, had low energy, and had to take many breaks. So on my sprint days, breakfast might be a smoothie with strawberries, blueberries, a handful of spinach, and half a banana with my egg-based protein powder and some unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Alternatively, I’ll make “French toast” out of my paleo bread, fry up uncured, nitrate-free bacon and a small patty of hormone-free pork sausage. I cut up strawberries and blueberries into a bowl along with a tablespoon of REAL maple syrup, a little ghee (clarified butter) and melt it all in the microwave for one minute and pour it over everything. It. Is. So. Good. I eat that bit of deliciousness and I have energy for my workout and won’t be hungry until one or two in the afternoon.
Post workout meals are VERY low carb. Lunch is often a chopped avocado and chicken sausage plate with pesto on top.This week I discovered venison, and it is DELICIOUS. Lunch today was a succotash of ground venison, Roma tomatoes, yellow squash and bell pepper, seasoned with oregano and thyme from our garden, garlic and shallots.
For my smoothies I use Jay Robb Egg White Protein Powder, and can be found at any health food market or vitamin/supplement store.
For my paleo French toast: Order it at PaleoBread.com