Crushing Paleo Cravings

Peanuts

When it comes to dieting, there always seems to be the looming question of how to prevent cravings.  The truth is, you can’t completely prevent cravings.  They’re our bodies natural “push notifications” to let us know that we are deficient in one nutrient or another.  The problem with cravings stems from curbing them with unhealthy food from an early age.  The most intense cravings usually come when you first decided to go Paleo since your body is not used to running on Paleo fuel. Once you understand what your body is craving, it becomes much easier to eat a Paleo-friendly alternative.

Chocolate

A magnesium deficiency is the most common reason we crave chocolate.  Since chocolate is not on the list of paleo diet treats, we find ourselves looking for other ways to combat that craving.  One sweet treat that can boost magnesium levels and leave you satisfied is a frozen banana dipped in raw organic peanut butter.  Bananas are loaded with magnesium, and provide other vital nutrients to help you recover from a workout and stay hydrated.  

Bread

The biggest issue I had when going paleo was giving up bread.  It is a staple in nearly every household in America, and it is difficult to cut something like that out of what you consume each day.  When craving those highly processed carbs, look to something else that is high in nitrogen, which is what you’re lacking during those bread cravings.  Foods high in protein, especially fish, also tend to be nitrogen-rich foods.  Broil a piece of Alaskan salmon with a side of green beans to make your brain forget what bread ever tasted like.  Your body will thank you later.

Dairy

One of the staples of the Paleo diet is swearing off all forms of dairy.  When your mind is craving dairy, the odds are your body is telling you to eat because you are calorie deficient.  There are two schools of thought on when to eat.  You can either eat when you’re hungry, or you can eat throughout the day so that you do not get hungry.  If you believe the latter, you may find yourself between meals craving a cold glass of milk.  Raw nuts are one of the easiest ways to get calories into your body quickly and in the most guilt-free way possible.  A handful of cashews should do the trick to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Starting a new diet can be scary for many people, and they’ll often look to give in to any craving that comes their way.  Think of going Paleo as a lifestyle change instead of a diet, and you’ll start understanding how to better plan for these cravings by stocking your cupboards with the right substitutes for the job.

How to Survive Holiday Party Season as a Paleo Enthusiast

Food feast

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day comfort foods and nostalgic sweets will tempt you wherever you go. When coupled with extra stress, lack of sleep, and too much alcohol, it often seems easier to give way to your cravings and promise to hop back on the wagon after the holidays are over. But you don’t have to give up! Read on for some strategies for sticking to the paleo diet during the holiday season.

1. Be the Host

The easiest way to avoid meals that aren’t paleo is to cook them yourself! Many dinner staples fit the diet, so you would only have to make a few substations. Whip up some cauliflower mash in place of potatoes and bake paleo versions of classic holiday desserts. Your guests probably won’t know the difference. If you are worried about picky relatives, you can always make small batches of “regular” dishes for them; you will be so busy with hosting that sticking to your yummy paleo foods will be easy!

2. Stick to Your Exercise Plan

Work out a little harder during the holiday season in case you do slip up with your paleo diet. Sticking to your routine also gives you a sense of stability during this crazy time of year, so you will feel less stressed, which means less chance of stress binging. You can also work out before your big holiday meal. The endorphins will make you feel so good you won’t want to ruin that feeling with bad foods.

3. Plan Some “Cheats”

Holiday foods are more than just fuel for your body; they are associated with family traditions and happy memories. If skipping your Mom’s pumpkin pie or Dad’s famous ham makes you feel sad and isolated, acknowledge and give yourself permission to experience these emotions. You can also carefully plan one or two “cheat” foods during the holidays to feel like you are involved and make the cook feel appreciated. A few of Grandma’s cookies or a glass of eggnog won’t hurt too much if you have stuck with your paleo diet all year.

4. Bring Your Own Food

If you are worried your host won’t have anything that fits the paleo diet, bring something you can eat. This works especially well for a potluck! Offer to bring a paleo version of the most diet-killing dishes, like dessert. You can also eat before the gathering so you aren’t tempted.

Are you a paleo dieter who’s been through the holiday seasons once or twice before? Send over your favorite tips and secrets to help others navigate this tempting time of year.

Seven Gifts for the Workout Enthusiast in Your Life

 

What’s more fun than writing a blog about all of the gifts that you’d like to receive? Not much, in my mind. Lucky for me, I have a lot of workout junkies and health nuts in my family, so doing a bit of pre-holiday research comes just in time.

Take a look at the following roundup provided by Refinery29. Take note: these gifts are primarily aimed for those who simply can’t go a day without their workout fix. The marathon runner; the kale smoothie maker, the cyclist who rides each morning despite the rain. What’s really cool–these gifts are out of the box. They special or unique while still catering to that adventurous spirit.

  1. For the Yogi

La Vie Boheme Medina Yoga Mat, $86, available at La Vie Boheme.

Take a look at this funky mat. Practical and full of style, this mat will provide your favorite Yogi with hours of inspiring motivation.

  1. For the Runner

Road Runner RPI Travel Stick, $27.99, available at Road Runner.

I have about four different tools like this one at home yet this seems to be a perfect model. Small in size, this muscle tamer will travel well with you no matter where you’re headed next. Why I like this? The gift is thoughtful. You’re not giving the runner in your life another gift card to the Sporting Goods emporium. This one comes from experience. And that’s something everybody loves to receive.

  1. For the Multi-Trainer

SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask, $34.99, available at Nathan Sports.

Anyone who has participated in multi-race events will understands the true gift of the water bottle that carries you from land to bike to sea. Shower your ambitious friend with this upgraded model that even has built in compartments for keys, ID, and emergency fuel.

  1. The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer

Gu Energy Gel, $34.80, available at Gu Energy.

Why go for candy when you can stuff these covetable energy gems inside your loved ones’ stockings? Great for runners, cyclists, and hikers, these on-the-go power packs will give you the fuel you need to complete that last few miles.

  1. For the True Glamper

Primus Onja 2 Burner Stove, $139.95, available at REI.

Check out this upgraded camping stove that’s designed for the true glamper. What exactly is a glamper?

  1. For the sweetheart in your life

Weightlifting Necklace, $11.95, available at Etsy.

Sometimes traditional charms just won’t cut it. Check out this sterling silver necklace adorned with tiny replicas of all your favorite crossfit gear.

  1. For the person who’s always on the go

Skullcandy XTFree Wireless Headphones, $99.99, available at Skullcandy.

The revolution in wireless headphones has just begun. Gift this high tech set and your loved one will be rocking the latest

A Brief History of Fad Diets (And Why Paleo Is Here to Stay!)

It seems as though a new fad diet pops up on a weekly basis without fail. You finally know what one is about and maybe decide to try it out when suddenly there’s some new craze in this month’s magazines that’s guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve ever tried before. No matter what the diet is, it seems complicated and like a lot of work, though probably less work than closely monitoring all your meals in addition to exercising on a consistent basis. People want fast solutions, which has caused the rise of fad diets over the last couple hundred years.

Well, one of the newest diet crazes goes beyond a fad; the paleo diet! A nod to our caveman ancestors, this diet focuses on the foods that biology meant for us to consume.

Photo of  a pomegranate

History of Fad Diets

Fad diets have been around as early as the 1820s (though they likely existed long before that). In the 1820s, Lord Byron encouraged people to drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar in an effort to shed weight. At this time, other liquid-only diets were suggested and have stuck around since then. Over a hundred years later, the Grapefruit Diet rose to popularity, which encouraged a low calorie diet and a piece of this fruit with every meal. These relatively harmless diets were followed by others such as the founding of Weight Watchers in 1963, Slim Fast (a diet of mostly shakes with a daily substantial meal) and The Atkins Diet (low-carb, high protein) came onto the scene in the 1970s. In the 2000s, the South Beach Diet (a less intense version of Atkins) and juice cleanses become more popular and caught numerous followers.

In more recent years, the Paleo Diet burst onto the scene. This diet, however, has already proven its effectiveness.

The Paleo Diet

Why has the Paleo diet achieved so much popularity in recent years? To start, people began realizing that we’ve evolved over the last few million years from hunters and gatherers, but that it’s only within the last 10,000 or so years that humans settled onto farms and began producing food that way. Many argue that this period of time is incredibly short compared to the rest of human history and that our bodies have not yet properly adapted to consuming food this way. The root of this argument? Paleo diet is evolutionarily and historically best for the human body.

A main point of the Paleo Diet is cutting out grains, because our bodies haven’t developed to digest these properly, which explains the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Those suffering from celiac allergies are able to cut out gluten and eat a healthy diet through the paleo diet. The paleo diet has also helped reduce people’s symptoms who suffer from autoimmune diseases, along with various other conditions. Some people theorize that a root cause of many diseases lies in our incorrect diet, so switching to the paleo diet can help fix these issues. You’ll also take-in less sugars on the paleo diet, which can fight obesity and many other health issues, such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Paleo is still gaining steam, but those who follow the diet sing its praises and swear that it’s the best diet for any human.

What are your thoughts? What fad diets have you tried over the last few years (or decades)?

Photo of a steak on a bed of rosemary

Paleo Diet Secrets: 5 Tips to Survive and Enjoy Your First Month

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If cutting calories is not an aspect of dieting that you particularly enjoy, the Paleo Diet just may be the diet you’ve been looking for. Based on the types of food our ancient ancestors ate, this unique approach to eating healthier promotes optimal immune function, stronger muscles, and healthy bones through foods like grass-fed meat, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.

This may seem like a difficult diet to maintain, but with the following tips on how to properly manage your first month, you’ll be able to develop healthy eating habits that could last a lifetime.

Budget your trips to the grocery store

Introducing non-processed foods and organic meats into your diet can rack up a pricey grocery bill. Be sure to write down what you plan to buy before entering the store, and set a price limit. A simple mistake first-time dieters tend to make is spending much more on expensive products because they fall under the category of “what to eat.” Research the least expensive foods that still fulfill your diet needs, and don’t go overboard.

Prepare meals the night before

If you are following this diet while contributing to the working world, first of all, hats off to you. To make your life a little easier, make any lunches or snacks that you plan to eat the next day the night before. This not only saves time but can build a healthy routine that could contribute to the successes of your diet in the long run.

Snack in between meals

Cutting carbs and dairy products out of your typical diet commonly leads to feeling hungry more often in the early stages. Luckily, the Paleo Diet allows you to eat a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and again before dinner. Your best choices for these mini-meals could be sliced lean beef, seasonal fruit, sliced apples, or raw nuts.

Exercise

The best way to see results faster from this diet is to exercise on top of it. In addition to improving results of the diet, this is an extremely healthy lifestyle habit to develop. Even if your day is a little too busy to squeeze in a quick workout, exercising just three to five times a week is sufficient.

Get creative!

Just because you’re dieting doesn’t mean every one of your meals must be bland and tasteless. Take advantage of all the foods you are able to eat, and find some fun recipes online, or come up with your own. Your options are endless!

Though starting a diet can seem like a dismal process, it is a practice that you will not regret. The Paleo Diet is an effective and easy way to improve your daily eating habits and can build healthy routines along the way. Once you begin to see results, the rest will come naturally.

Why Cycling? Reasons Why Cycling Should Become Your Next Addiction

There are countless hobbies and activities in the world that people take up every day, but few are as valuable as cycling. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider adopting this healthy habit.

Lose Weight and Increase Health

Not only can cycling promote weight loss, but this form of exercise can also improve your body’s overall well-being. This activity is an extremely effective way to burn calories depending on the intensity of the ride, and size of the rider, using several muscle groups throughout. According to National Healthcare Provider Solutions, cycling can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50% as well.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

Be Happier

With exercise comes a rush of endorphins. Cycling is one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can perform, and in turn, can reduce stress. If you’re feeling down or having a bad day, just a 30-minute bike ride is all it takes to release a surge of endorphins powerful enough to counter any negativity that you’re harboring. Introducing cycling into your weekly routine can create long lasting benefits to your mental health.

Become Environmentally Friendly

Perhaps one of the more obvious upsides to cycling is the eco-friendly aspect. Unlike driving a car, bicycles use no fuel, require no batteries or motor oil, and take little energy to make, all of which can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. In addition to helping out our planet, cycling also decreases traffic congestion, making that daily commute just a little bit easier for everyone on the road.

Kick Unhealthy Habits

Developing a positive addiction to cycling can take the place of any harmful dependencies you may struggle with, whether those are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or overeating. Devoting time to this new hobby will reduce time available to give in to these unhealthy habits, and can create a routine that will eventually phase them out entirely.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

Bond with Friends and Family

Cycling is arguably one of the most social physical activities you can be a part of. Chances are there is a cycling club in or around your local area, in which you can build new friendships and connections within the community. This is also a hobby that the whole family can enjoy. The youngest of family members can join the ride in a bike seat and enjoy the scenery, while the oldest can ride alongside themselves, enjoying the fact that cycling is easy on the joints. With how impressionable children are, this also a great way to develop healthy habits early on, as they will see how cycling is a standard part of your day and want to mimic your actions.

So, if you’re seeking a new hobby, a different form of exercise or just an activity to remove the mundane from your life, cycling is one of your best options. Research what bicycles may work best for you, strap on a helmet, and begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Photo of a bike and cyclist

The Athlete’s Guide to Packing

Runner in the summer heat

 

When you’re an athlete and love to being active, traveling can be a little different for you than for others. Do you pack your gear? How do you perform your specific routines? Rest assured, here are a few tips to make your travels fun–not stressful!

 

Packing for the trip

 

While you may not be planning to compete in a race or competition on your trip, it’s likely that you’ll do some kind of physical activity. I love traveling to national parks and other beautiful outdoor areas, which involves a significant amount of hiking or cycling. You’ll need to pack items for these activities, in addition to what you’d normally pack for a regular day, unless you’re planning to spend the entire trip doing physical activity.

 

First of all, pack lightly and well ahead of time. You’re going to be carrying all of your luggage and gear, whether it’s just from the airport to wherever you’re staying or for hours while hiking or exploring. Pack only the essentials; if you aren’t sure whether or not you’ll need something, then don’t take it! An extra shirt is easy to buy. Straining your muscles carrying too much is not an easy fix. Pack a few days ahead of time, so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to find everything you’ll need, and then risk forgetting something incredibly important. Pack fitness clothes, for whatever climate you’ll be in, and also any medications or small items you might need. Bring along a portable phone charger, so when you’re active, you don’t have to stop and find a power source. Make sure you have appropriate footwear, along with all the gear you’ll use.

 

Van on bike trip

 

On the trip

 

On your trip, it’s important to keep your normal routines. Maybe you’re just traveling for leisure, but it’s important to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. Stick to a workout routine and get plenty of sleep, especially if you’re competing in a race or competition during your travels. Sleeping enough is vital to performing at your best.

 

If you’re traveling for leisure, remember to take time to be active. You could rent bikes or go for a run, as long as you planned ahead and brought the right gear. For a run, all you need are your sneakers and an idea of where you’re going. Download Map My Run for a great workout experience. This app gives you a route and even tracks your mileage. You won’t have to worry about getting lost! Another great app is Nike+ Training Club. This app provides various workouts for you, most of which don’t involve any equipment. It’s perfect for when you’re on the go, but still need to exercise.
Finally, remember to stay hydrated and take care of yourself! You may be traveling to a warmer climate than you’re used to, and if you’re physically active, you might become dehydrated. Take a water bottle with you that will quench your thirst and allow you to be active without worrying about water consumption. Besides hydrating, eat healthy food and keep a balanced diet. I’ve mentioned the importance of sleep already, but make sure you get enough! Traveling is stressful on your body and you’ll want to practice initiatives that keep you in great shape.

Hikers running up a mountain

What Makes America Great? RAGBRAI

 

Instead of Baseball, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie…..Try Bicycles, Pork and RAGBRAI

 

RAGBRAI: bike break

 

To say that this July ended on a high note, might just be the biggest understatement of the year. Just last week, a group of friends and I headed to the heart of the great American Midwest, for what has easily been the best week of my 2016 summer.

The Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, is an event that has been taking place in Iowa for over four decades, and is steeped in rich American culture and history. Two editors at The Register newspaper challenged one another to bike across the state of Iowa back in 1973, as a way to generate original content for their publication. The pair invited the public to join them, and to their surprise, over 500 participants biked alongside of them each day. Check out this site to learn more about the birth of RAGBRAI. 

 

 

My Experience

As a seasoned racer, I have completed several marathons, triathlons, and other physical endurance events in recent years. None of that could have prepared me for the experience that I would have as a RAGBRAI participant. Rather than being competitive in nature, RAGBRAI exists as more of a community event that brings people together. This festival-like party on a bike introduced me to a part of this country I would have otherwise been naïve to knowing. The race is not comprised of elite athletes, or seasoned gym goers – but rather a melting pot of people who want in on this shared adventure. A comradery existed between us on the course as it wound through the state of Iowa, and we were somehow connected to the people who greeted us at each town along the way. It transported me to a simpler time, a time that younger generations may never fully know. A time when everyone was welcome, there are no judgments and people were proud of their towns.  Everyone laid their bike on the side of the road to venture to the many booths of food, drink and support at each small town along the course.  There was no worry of your bike being stolen or ever feeling unsafe, it was perfect.

This 44-year old event is a point of pride for the great state of Iowa, as it should be. Farmers along the route offered riders cold beverages, hot homemade pie, and an unwavering support that is hard to describe.

With up to 20,000 riders each day, the course changes each year. For 2016, the RAGBRAI course led us 420 miles through the beautiful southern Iowa rolling landscape, with a daily average of about 60 miles. Without any pressure to compete, or to get done before your friends, we were able to enjoy the scenery, take in the culture, and truly experience a unique moment in history. Check out these route maps

 

 

Logistics  

We went with a group called Team Sherm which was passed down to the sons of the originators of the name.  Our team leaders, Jon Castle and Brian Halm, have been doing this ride for nearly 30 years, both having joined in on the tradition as children.  They handled all the logistics from getting a U-Haul and driver, to arranging for our sleeping venues.  Many people camp every night, some even carrying their own supplies on their bike, but we only camped one night and the rest of the nights were either at a YMCA, host homes, or local businesses.  The local businesses and host homes were especially nice, because these people welcomed us sweaty cyclist they have never met into their home for showers and at least a floor to sleep on and breakfast.  This experience was what I envision backpacking through Europe would be like.  Staying in youth hostels or host homes.  Not the most restful sleeps, but sometimes these little inconveniences make you appreciate the things you take for granted, like a fluffy dry bed and an air conditioned home.  Again, the hospitality shown to us every single day was unlike anything else.  I have had the fortune to stay at the finest hotels in various spots all over the world, and not even the outstanding service provided by The Four Seasons can compare to this genuine Midwest hospitality.

Other logistics:  My group drove from Chicago to Muscatine (the last town on the east side of Iowa this year), and caught a bus on the Friday before the event to take us and our gear to the start town in Glenwood Springs (the west starting town).  We met Team Sherm in the start town on Friday.  For this transfer from East to West, Our Team leader suggested OOS (Out of State Bicycle Club). This group also will move your gear from town to town, but you will be camping every night.

 

Don’t Hesitate! Make RAGBRAI a MUST for Your Bucket list

I can’t tell you enough good things about this incredible event. Even if you are thinking about participating next year, I encourage you to go for it. If you would like to experience RAGBRAI and Apple Pie for yourself, I highly recommend you contact Jon Castle: jcastle523@comcast.net. Get yourself on the list for next year.

Whether you can commit to one day, or the full seven, I promise you won’t regret it!

 

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Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

 

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The summer months bring longer days, plenty of sunshine, and lots of opportunities to explore the greater world. The summer also brings higher temperatures that can be dangerous to athletes and exercise enthusiasts who aren’t acclimated to the warmer climate.

 

Dehydration, heat stress, sunburn–these are all significant health concerns that athletes should consider during the warmer months.

 

Here are a few tips to help keep you safe when exercising this summer.

 

Time Your Exercise

 

Exercising during the heat of the day is never recommended. If possible, strive to workout in the early morning hours when the sun’s intensity is weaker and the temperature remains cooler. While you may not be accustomed to early-morning workouts, the morning hours can be a fantastic time to exercise. Not only will you have added energy throughout your day, you’ll feel a great sense of productivity.

 

Drink Enough Water

 

No matter what time you choose to work out, you must make hydration your number one priority. If you’re a long distance runner or biker, it will be imperative to travel with a water bottle. Take frequent sips and make sure you’re hydrating before and after your sessions.

 

Concoct your Own Sports Drink

 

To increase the power of the water, and to prevent hyponatremia, a serious condition that happens when an athlete’s sodium levels are too low, consider making your own Gatorade. Not only will you save money, you’ll reduce the amount of sugar in the drink. Check out this round-up of homemade sports drinks. By adding ingredients like ginger, you can help reduce muscle cramps. Cranberries? They’ll aid in replenishing your electrolytes.

 

Enlist a Friend

 

Enlisting the company of a friend, relative, partner, or neighbor is always a great idea to make exercise a more enjoyable and sustainable activity. This rings true for the summer months. Having a friend along for the session can be a great way to keep both of you safe. If somebody is feeling tired or overheated, you’ll have a reliable backup to support you.

 

Switch Sports Gears

 

If you’re an avid runner but hate the heat, why not try a different sport during the hottest days of the month. Swimming can be an excellent alternative that will still provide intense cardio workout. Take advantage of the summer months and be creative with your workout options. Why not rent a canoe for the afternoon to build up arm strength? Love hiking? Find a park and spend the morning traveling the trails. Want to become more flexible? Take a weekly yoga class!


The summer can be a great way to explore new options. Keep safe, stay hydrated, and continue on your fitness journey!