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The following is reprinted from the CrossFit Evolution (FL) Newsletter and is written by Co-Owner and Coach, Monique Ames.  Monique was gracious enough to permit me to reprint the following article.  Enjoy!

Real Health Care Reform
Do Crossfit and Eat Paleo
April 2010


Okay, first off, we are not a fan of Obama and definitely not a fan of his Health Care plan. But this newsletter is not about our political beliefs, it's about our training, performance, & health beliefs. So no matter where your political leanings are, you should still always seek out the truth about the betterment of your own health. To this end, this article is dedicated.

OUR idea of Real Health Care Reform starts at home. It starts right in your own kitchen. Stop spouting the same old tired dogma that has been erroneously spread for 50-60 years… unless of course you are the picture of health, vitality, & strength. Then I guess you are an anomaly and you can stop reading… you lucky bast***!! 🙂

The majority is not so lucky. You are not wore out & stressed out just because it comes with age, a bad job, a rough life (though, that doesn't help does it?). The way you feel day in & day out has everything to do with what you eat, day in & day out. Eating right, enables your body & mind to manage, cope, and eliminate the daily stressors of life. It allows you to see clearly. Then maybe you can fix all the other stuff that went wrong, if that's the case.

In this edition, we are highlighting how to get started on the right path of eating for optimal wellness, which has as a by-product, improved performance and looking damn good. There's lots of extra added links throughout in case you want more info or want to read even more.

The vegetarian article is dedicated to all of our vegetarians in the gym, which is a small handful right now (my God, I hope it's not a trend!). Just kidding 🙂 sorta. Because of you, we have needed to research and learn more to ensure that we did our jobs, which is to help you become fitter, stronger, and healthier, despite your chosen food path. So again, we may not agree, but that doesn't mean we can't work together and be family. So thank you to: Kristin, Taylor, Laura, Rock, Tegal, and new member Christine. Thank you for joining our family and trusting that we will deliver the goods, no matter what!

Leo, Coach G, MoniqueAs always, your feedback is important. Let us know how we are doing. Enjoy the Newsletter.

Feedback HERE.

Wishing you a lifetime of
health & happiness. 

  ~ Monique & Leo

FilFest 2010 in South Beach Miami. The man between Leo and me,
 is Coach Greg Glassman, the founder & CEO of Crossfit.

Levels of Adherence
Making Paleo work for you & your family

As with Crossfit training, the Paleo diet can be scaled down accordingly for every individual. Most people cannot just jump right in with 100% strict Paleo. We have found that a better way is to dial in each individual. Seek to improve upon your current diet and strive to make it cleaner & better, by setting new food goals, every 1-2 weeks.

Not only will this method make it easier on you, but also easier on your family. And speaking of family, this is the way that you will slowly but surely convert them over too. It's all about a little at a time and building a strong base.

Some Ground Rules

You must start a food log. You will always get to your destination faster if you have a map, know where you are starting, and know where you are going. You need more than a lofty goal, you need a game plan. Keep the food log simple. Use 1 page per day. Record the time you ate, what you ate, and how much of it you ate. This is the very basic and first requirement.

Get yourself a regular notebook or journal to work as your logbook. Pick up a cheap food scale from the "household" aisle of your local grocery store, it's about $10.00. Read up on the "Paleo cliff notes" to get a basic starting point, buy the book "The Paleo Diet" (the only one I recommend because it is written by the World's leading expert on Paleolithic diets), or visit his website for the best current information and published scientific research.

If you want to know WHY you should eat Paleo, here's the "WHY Paleo cliff notes" . Start recording everything you eat & drink into your log, Start NOW. Even if you don't know what you're supposed to be eating. You need to see clearly what you are actually eating every day. After about 3 days of recording, you should be able to see where your trouble spots are. Now, let's improve your diet & your health.

Pyramid of Danger

The Paleo diet end goal is to eliminate Processed Foods, Sugar, Grains, Dairy, & Legumes/Beans from your daily diet. And I placed them in a specific order I call the Pyramid of Danger. Eliminate these groups a step at a time.

Processed Foods
Real food doesn't come from a box or a can. The toxic chemicals used to preserve it, the added salt and/or sugars do not need to be in your body. Frozen dinners… read the ingredients label. If you cannot pronounce something or you don't know what it is… don't eat it. Simple ingredients are always better than chemicals. Eliminate the processed foods from your diet first. Cook large batches of quality foods and then pack into tupperware. Store in the fridge or freezer and now you have a healthy frozen dinner that YOU made.

And while I am at it, this is a great family time opportunity. Cook together! Whether you're a couple or a family, cooking can be made to be fun, not just a chore. Don't have the time? Make some, it's important, this is your family we are talking about. You cannot get back lost time. When it's gone, it's gone. Enjoy all the moments of your life.

Check out this TED video by Chef Jamie Oliver. It is sad where many of our families have gone. Stop blaming the gov't, the taxes, the job, the money, the boss, whatever… make time NOW for what is important to you. Don't get me wrong, don't just sit there and take it… whatever life throws at you. Sometimes, you gotta throw it back, really hard! But there is a time and a place for everything. Make time for your family, because without them… does all that other stuff really matter that much?

There is nothing good about sugar. NOTHING! It spikes your insulin levels, making you more susceptible to becoming diabetic, having high cholesterol, stunted growth, inability to absorb nutrients, getting hyperinsulinemia, or just plain old getting fat. Where am I getting this stuff? Go HERE and read the references at the bottom. Sugar is bad stuff! Get it out of your diet. This is #2, because at least it's not a toxic chemical (unless you eat/drink that made-made sugar, then see #1 above), but it will still lead a sure path to disease and sickness.

Also called cereal grains, include wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye, & millet. Grains are used in cereals, breads, pastas, and used in almost ALL processed foods (read the label!). Grains are not nutritionally balanced compared to fruit, veggies, nuts, and even meat! Our digestive systems and bodies are flat-out not designed to process grains, no more than it can process dirt (and there are some nutrients in that too but why would I want to eat it?).

Grains contain anti-nutrients (phytates) that rob your body of nutrients, like affecting calcium intake. And then there's gluten containing grains (wheat, oats, rye & barley) and Lectins. Those cause intestinal permeability, which means that your gut lining weakens and food bacteria etc can pass out of the intestines and start floating around the body. All this causes inflammation of nerves & tissues, causes intestinal distress, and can lead to disease when consumed in excess. Read the full article HERE from Loren Cordain, PhD. Lose the grains!!

Babies are meant to get milk from their mother, not a cow or a goat. And adults don't need milk. Most of us lack the enzymes to process it anyway. On top of that, dairy raises insulin levels. I don't care what the Dairy Council says or even Mark Rippertoe. You don't need milk!

Why do you think
you need it anyway? The protein? You'll get better quality protein from animal sources. The vitamins & minerals? That's why you should eat nuts, veggies, & fruit. Worried about osteoporosis? Worry less about calcium intake (you get calcium from fruit & veggies) and worry more about calcium excretion (caused by grains!). Read HERE for more info. Get the dairy out of your diet.

By the way, I have recently written an entire article on just dairy. WOW, the hate mail 🙂 Peeps love their dairy. Anyway, for optimal health, my opinion and advice is to lose the dairy and my reasons are based on sound research. Read it here: Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk.

Beans & Legumes
This includes: peas, beans, black beans, kidney beans, green beans, lima beans, soybeans, tofu, peanuts, anything ending with bean or peas. This group contains phytates and lectins, that you read about above in the grain section. So, same problems. They gotta go too.

Level 1 Paleo

It's tough. That's why there's a pyramid to ease you into this. Just keep in mind, I always allow 3 "cheat meals" or "open meals" per week. This allows you to reap the benefits of staying healthy while allowing for a couple indulgences to keep your sanity and have fun, because life is meant to be fun. But you have to be healthy enough to enjoy it!

This is what I call Level 1 Paleo. It's systematically eliminating unhealthy foods from the daily diet and recording food intake, whatever it is, in a logbook. It's the first step to success. Eliminate one group at a time. This could be daily, weekly or monthly. Whatever will keep you consistent, on track, and moving forward. If you fall off, just get right back on track. No one is perfect, but we must strive to be healthier, not just for ourselves, but for our families.

At Level 1, I don't restrict calories. I want the focus to be on food quality. I also advise everyone to eat a minimum amount of protein. The easy method: take your bodyweight; the first 2 digits is the amount of ounces of protein you must eat at a minimum. For example: I weigh 150 lbs. I need to eat at least 15 oz of protein per day. In actuality, I eat about 20 oz of meat.

Level 2 Paleo

Level 2 is all about food quality. The goal is to make the switch from conventional store bought meats (all done in a factory), to real farm raised meats from a local farm. Lucky for us, we actually have one and they deliver to our gym free of charge at least once per month. Switching to organic is also better for your health.

Level 2 is not for everyone, but could be. I won't lie, your grocery bill will go up. But your health-related bills should go down. Take care of your health, and maybe you can get off the meds your on. Maybe you won't get sick so often. Maybe you won't need to go to the doctor. I have found all these statements to be true, for me & my family.

Read the full article HERE, that was originally written by me, for PaleoChix last month. If you get a chance, watch Food, Inc. It just makes sense to stop eating conventional factory-farmed sick, crowded, juiced-up, antibiotic-full, inhumanely treated, stress-filled (high cortisol), unnaturally-fed (grains & candy), chemically-laced animals (fish, seafood, poultry, cows, pigs, etc).

Switch to your local farmer who runs a real farm, with love and hard work. Where the animals eat what nature intended them to eat, walk around in open pastures/fields, get plenty of exercise and sunlight, are never treated with chemicals/drugs, and are happy until their day comes. Not a bad life for an animal.

Level 3 Paleo

It's all about weighing & measuring. You have heard this from me & Leo a thousand times and have read it on our respective blogs. Again, this level is not for everyone, but can be. It requires a lot of work. Decide for yourself if this is what you need and then do it. Read the full article HERE. Again, originally written by me, for PaleoChix, last month.


Your diet & nutrition can be as hard core as you want it to be or as much as you can handle. It can take a couple months or a couple years to get yourself dialed in and comfortable enough that it becomes second nature. Be an educated consumer. Aim for health & wellness. Know why you are doing it. Then do it.

Vegetarian & Paleo?
Can it work?- YES!

Vegetarians can do Paleo, but it will take a lot of work. I am not a vegetarian, but we do have a handful in the gym now. And I owe it to them to help guide them on their health & fitness journey with respect for their chosen food path. I'll be honest, I don't fully understand it, nor do I get it, but I respect other people's decision. It's their life, not mine. So here we go. Here are the facts:

1) We, CFEvo, advocate Paleo: meat, veggies, fruit, nuts & seeds.
2) Vegetarians only have a problem with the meat part.
3) For strength training, everyone needs lots of protein.
4) For crossfit workouts, everyone needs an ample supply of calories.

What's A Vegetarian To Do?

Step 1: What Are The Reasons For Being Vegetarian
I like to sit down and talk to vegetarians (and vegans for that matter) and find out why they chose the vegetarian lifestyle. I am upfront with what I promote as healthy and assure them that I will respect their chosen food path, but I need to have a basic understanding of why they chose vegetarianism. Some vegetarians have changed their mind in my office (true statement!) and have added chicken or fish back into their diet.

Again, it depends on their reasons. If it's health related, I can usually produce enough evidence to sway them back towards carnivore. And yes, I receive much joy from converting people. Some have moral issues with eating meat or have seen first hand the slaughter house (real story here… in the 5th grade her school took the class to a slaughter house. who the hell does that?!?!). Anyway, I explain the difference between factory production and family-owned real farm-raised cows on a pasture at a local farm. That usually causes food for thought, but I never push. My job is to educate and I take it very seriously. If later they decide they are ready to make changes or just have questions, I am always ready to help.

And then there are those with religious reasons. I don't touch that! I focus on educating them on how to get more sources of protein and try to minimize the damage done to their bodies due to their vegetarianism. I still ask everyone to read about Paleo and the reasons for it, rather the reasons why certain foods are off-limits (in a nutshell). I am always up for questions and discussion from any of our members.

It's a personal decision, but I would like all vegetarians to examine their reasons. If it's religious, I won't even try to convert you. If it's for moral/ethical/environmental reasons, then I ask you to consider local farm-raised beef/pork/chicken that is treated humanely, fed correctly (what they would eat in the wild), and killed humanely. If it's for health reasons, then I ask you "How healthy are you and are you thriving?"; "Do you have a totally clean & clear bill of health?". If so, carry on, you are an anomaly.

At their absolute best, vegetarians may look like this…

Brendan Brazier: professional triathlete
Brendan Brazier

I prefer a more muscled & filled in body type as do most of the peeps in our gym. But again, that too is personal preference. Brendan, from what I understand, is an outstanding athlete in his chosen field, the triathlon. At least he's not sickly or skinny-fat or overweight like alot of vegetarians (I call it as I see it from personal observation and shopping in health food stores). If this is the body type you are after, then stay vegetarian.

However, if this is what you are looking for…

Will and Andrew of CFEvo
Will and Andrew

then you best switch to Paleo and increase your protein intake. And eating meat helps! It takes muscle to build muscle.

Step 2: The Danger Pyramid
Yes, you have seen this before if you have read my previous article: Paleo Level 1. Vegetarians notoriously eat a ton of bad carbs. We all understand why we need to give up processed foods (even though for some reason Vegetarians do not consider pretend meat: soy plus a bunch of other stuff, to be bad). We all also understand that we need to cut out the sugar. That's the easy stuff.  Its the grains, legumes, and dairy, that make this tricky. Vegetarian or not, it's gotta go. When you know why it's gotta go, you understand, but… now what do I do about protein?

Step 3: Getting More Protein
Did you know that there are many forms of vegetarianism? It's true. Some allow eggs, dairy, fish, & seafood… and I know of one who eats chicken. NOTE: don't hate mail me over this, I am stating facts! So, sometimes making Paleo work for a vegetarian is easier than others. Again, depends largely on the reasons. Note: I mentioned dairy above, but I don't advocate it's use in mass quantity long-term, not even for vegetarians. Read my Dairy article for more info on why.

Anyway, all of my vegetarians eat eggs and some eat fish too. Personally, if you can eat an egg and fish… why can't you eat chickens? They are just as smart as the fish (which is not very smart). As long as the chickens are farm-raised locally, then they have a healthy normal life, just like the fish & seafood. It's a discussion worth having.

So, if they eat fish, seafood & eggs… just eat more of it. If they eat only eggs… just eat more of it. Yes, that's a lot of eggs. Whole eggs, egg whites, doesn't matter to me. Just get more protein.

A good supplement would be egg protein powder as well. It's vegetarian & Paleo friendly. I have not seen Dr Cordain (again, he is the foremost authority on the Paleo diet) give the green light on whey protein, but he does okay egg protein powder for vegetarians. Check it out HERE. Also worth mentioning, hemp protein. No, it's not a drug. It's made from the hemp seed and contains protein. So, it's an option as well. Since it's a seed, I think it would be okay.

Note: I don't usually advocate protein drinks or smoothies because since they are basically baby food/pre-digested liquid, when you ingest it, it immediately spikes your insulin levels. A bad thing when trying to control your insulin levels since consistent spiking of the insulin leads to hyperinsulinemia, which leads to disease. And yes, even if there are no carbs in it, it will still raise your insulin level. News Flash: protein & carbs raise insulin levels, though carbs are much, much higher. However, if you are still vegetarian, then this will have to be incorporated into your diet unless you can actually eat the required amount of eggs (another plus for adding in some fish or chicken).

Are You Still Vegetarian?

If so, keep reading. Check out some of Brendan Brazier's books, like The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness. I hear very good things about it and the book reviews look good. Basically, it's a how to eat better as a vegetarian or vegan. If you insist on staying on that path, then I think this is one of the best books out there by someone who really lives it. You could do much worse. So check it out.

Open To Converting OR Just Curious?

If so, keep reading some more. Fact: We were born to eat meat. Our ancestors ate meat. And quite possibly, we became smarter because we ate meat. New research article supports this. Read this awesome post by Dr Dan Eades HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2. It's long but worth it, if you are sitting on the fence.

Another great read would be The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. It's the story about a vegetarian who examined her health, pondered her reasons, changed her mind, and became healthy again. Read an excellent review of the book HERE, courtesy of Stumptuous.com.

Final Thoughts

I think that Paleo with meat as the source of protein is the best diet for all reasons and all goals. But that's my opinion. Trial tested in our gym on many happy members. I think that it produces the best results, period. It is the premium diet for performance, health, longevity, and looking damn good!

But what about our vegetarians? They look damn good too. They train hard and they work hard on their vegetarian diet to be sure they get enough protein from eggs and protein powders. It's no easy task, but it can be done. They limit the danger foods as much as possible and rely heavily on the aforementioned eggs and protein powders.

Will they get as strong or as big as the carnivores? No. Will they be as fit & healthy as the carnivores? Depends on their diet. The more grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods, and sugars added to the diet are bound to decrease health & performance. Keeping the diet high in veggies & fruits, nuts & seeds, and vegetarian protein: egg or hemp protein powder and eggs (and again some fish or chicken is good) will go a long way to keeping a vegetarian strong & healthy.

Do I give vegetarians a hard time about their diets? Do I shame them because they eat the forbidden soy products? NO and NO. They are a part of my family now. I will educate them but in the end, they have their life to lead and their decisions to make. I may not agree with it, but I will do my best to help them be their best. I'll work with what I've got.


6 Responses

  1. justa

    This newsletter article perfectly matches my thoughts posted to several online forums when the health care reforms were passed.
    The only real way to reduce the total cost of health care is for the overall population to become healthier. Artificially trying to drive down costs while adding another layer of them will not accomplish anything. A healthier population will require less medical care. So simple even a caveman can figure it out!
    To me, the real challenge is getting the populace to take their health seriously and to realize that the vast majority of health problems are mostly self inflicted….and to do something about it. We need to stop pointing to the unlucky outliers that contract horrible illnesses due to none of their own doing. Those people are on the short end of the bell curve, as are the three pack a day smokers that live to be 95 years old and are never sick.
    Personal responsibility. What a concept.

  2. George

    There are other ways of reducing the cost of health care, but a healthier, better educated public would be a major factor.
    I’ll refrain from getting into economics and politics…for now. I do reserve the right to get political in the future!
    I agree with the newsletter as well. Nothing beats eating and working out for performance, along with not engaging in destructive behavior, for staying out of the doctors office and the hospital.

  3. christine

    Hi sunshine, can you forward this article to me so I can read the whole thing? Is that against the rules?? Some of the words are cut short and you know how slow I am…..

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