Lola’s Primal Challenge: The Reason and the Breakdown

I have been Primal since March 1.  I have seen really positive changes in how I look and feel.  I’ve been following the 80/20 rule, meaning that 80% of the time I am strictly primal, and 20% of the time I cheat and treat myself to a bunch of sugar in my coffee, a big plate of nachos or some fish tacos in corn tortillas.  This would all be fine and dandy if I were where I wanted to be, physically.  But… I’m not. 

The “Paleo” world advises that us to “dive in” for a solid month (without ANY cheating), and then after we have done that we should reassess the way our body looks and feels.  If we look and feel great and want to start the 80/20 rule, then more power to us!  However, if we haven’t yet achieved our goals then we should forge ahead without cheating for an entire month.  This is thought to be the most healthy way to detox.

I’ll admit I never made it a whole month without cheating.  It seemed too hard.  But now I’m ready, and here are the rules I am making for myself and my friends who have agreed to participate!  Get ready, we start this Sunday, August 7 and it will go until Sunday, September 3rd.  That’s 4 straight weeks and we can do it!


We WILL eat:

  • Protein!  Forget your college nutrition classes that said that we only need 10-15% of calories from protein.  PB states that we need AT LEAST .5 gram of protein per pound of body mass, if you are moderately active you need .7-.8, and if you are extremely active even more!  Don’t obsess over counting each gram, doing so will make you crazy.  Just make sure you eat plenty of lean meats, eggs, and fish every single day.  Supplement with protein powder if you wish.
  • Fat!  Fat is good if you are getting it from the right source.  Avocado, coconut oil and olive oil are your friends.  If you are concerned about eating a lot of fat or saturated fat, I could not give you a better resource than this.
  • Carbs!  Our carbs will come from fruit and veggies.  Eat things that grow from the ground.  If you can find and afford organic, then go for it.  If not, try to focus on what’s locally grown or in season. 
  • We eat when we are hungry, and we don’t when we aren’t.  If that means we snack between meals because our tummies are grumbling, have a snack.   If the office is adjourning for lunch at 12pm and you aren’t hungry because you had such a great breakfast, skip lunch!  Listen to your body, it knows itself better than you do….
  • We will drink water, coffee (no sugar or cream), or unsweetened tea. 

We will NOT eat:

  • Processed foods.  See all of those boxes and packages in your pantry?  Throw all of those chips, crackers, cookies, golfish, pretzels, chex mix, poptarts, cereal and pasta away.
  • Grains.  “Whole wheat” or not, they are just NOT healthy.  (Read this by Mark Sissons and this by Wellness Mama for further insight.) Avoid gluten like the plague.  Gluten is frequently in the following: beer, bread, candy, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, cookies, croutons, gravy, oats, pastas, heavily processed lunch meats, most salad dressings and marinades, some sauces (including soy sauce), and soups.  Meat, fish, eggs, fruits and veggies do not naturally contain gluten, but I did buy a box of frozen halibut at Costco recently and wheat was actually used as a preservative.  Check the labels of everything you purchase for wheat/gluten and do not eat it!
  • Dairy.  Remember, it’s just for 30 days.  We can add it back in on day 31, it’s not forever.  To quote a friend of mine, “It’s not that I’m never going to eat it again.  I’m just not going to eat it today.“  Goodbye milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Starchy veggies/legumes.  So no beans of any kind.  No potatoes of any kind.  No edamame.  No corn.  No rice.
  • Sugar.  We will not eat or drink sugar.  No sweet tea.  Forget sugar in your coffee. 
  • Sodas.  Diet or not, they should never be consumed, even after 30 days.
  • Juice.  Unless you squeeze it directly from the fruit yourself, it is not to be consumed, no matter HOW many servings of fruits and vegetables the box claims it has.

But Lola, I can’t do it!  It’s too hard!  I am just getting started and I feel like there is nothing to eat!  I haven’t mastered grocery shopping yet, and cooking doesn’t come so naturally to me, and I need to ease in!  Otherwise I will get frustrated on Day 1 and throw in the towel!

I get it, someone out there is saying that.  So for YOU… here is the non-hardcore challenge.


Do everything from the “Hardcore Primal Challenge” with these exceptions…

  • Dairy in moderation (2-3 times a week) is acceptable.  But please read this article first.   At least read the last half.
  • “But Lola I run/bike/chase kids for hours a day and I need more carbs!”  Okay, fine, a sweet potato or two will not hurt you.  Oatmeal runs around our backyard with a backpack full of weights and he eats sweet potatoes, too.
  • Buy yourself some (unsweetened) coconut water. 

Did that help??  You’re welcome.  🙂

A few tips….

  • Watch your fruit intake!  Lots of people who are new to primal or paleo eating make the mistake of completely gorging themselves on fruit.  Remember, fruit is good for you, but fruit is also high in sugar.  I plan to eat no more than 1 piece of fruit a day, so one apple or one banana.  Berries are a free for all because they are so high in antioxidants and low in sugar.
  • Watch your nut intake!  When Oatmeal and I went primal, we ate TONS of nuts.  It’s the obvious snack choice because they are so easy to find and they don’t have to be cooled.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fat, but it can turn into too much of a good thing, especially if you are trying to lean out. 
  • Do not obsess!   For example, we know  that we said no gluten, but we don’t have to interrogate our waiter or waitress at every restaurant over what they may or may not have marinated your steak with.  If you WANT to be that hardcore, then go for it!  
  • Get a buddy!  I could not do this without my friends.  So here we go!

Tomorrow, I will post my fitness goals during the 30 Day Primal Challenge.  Start thinking about yours!

We start THIS SUNDAY!  Oh, and before I forget, snap a picture of yourself before you start so that you have a comparison.  No one has to see it but you!

My favorite primal meal in a hurry:  Taco salad!  Grassfed ground beef seasoned with cumin and chili powder and mixed greens with avocado, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, red onion and lime vinaigrette.  15 minutes and totally primal! 

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