Back To School Paleo Challenge!

Maybe you spent a little too much time partying at the beach this summer. Maybe you’ve gradually let the cheat meals take over and become the norm. Maybe you’ve been indulging your little weakness for frozen beverages. Whatever it is, it’s time to get back into the paleo swing of things with our Back To School Paleo Challenge!

The Details

  • Duration: Tuesday, September 7th – Saturday, October 30th (Labor Day through Halloween!)
  • Prizes: Top man and top woman will split the prize pool (last time we ran a challenge the pool was $740!) Top 2 men and top 2 women receive a free month of unlimited BBC membership.
  • Eat a diet rich in nutrients and minerals made from real whole foods that your grandmother would recognize: meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. A diet that supports your physical efforts by giving you energy and reducing inflammation but does not store itself as extra fat on your body. Participants should commit to a diet that they feel is reasonable and sustainable given their lifestyle. Modifications should be as minor as possible (for instance, if you know you’ll never make it a month without booze, throw in a couple allowed drinks.)
  • Work out at least twice a week.
  • Keep a food log either online (we recommend a Tumblr log used in conjunction with iPhone app) or offline scribbled in a notebook. This is REALLY IMPORTANT because it will let us diagnose problems should they arise (e.g. “why aren’t I losing weight?” or “why is my hair falling out?”) Not to mention that it’s an invaluable tool for becoming truly aware of what you’re eating!

How To Enter

On or before Monday, September 6th Tuesday, September 7th:

  • Fork over $20 for the prize pool (deliver to Sam or Keith.)
  • Pose for ‘before’ pictures (details below.)
  • Complete performance benchmarks (details below.)
  • Weigh in (this will be kept confidential — you may opt not to weigh in, but it may negatively impact the benchmark portion of your score, as we are taking into account change in performance relative to change in bodyweight.)
  • Send a link to your online food log to [email protected] OR assure us that you are keeping an offline written food log.
  • Join the challenge Google Group to ask questions, share food logs, recipes, issues, etc.

How To Win

  • Pose for ‘after’ pictures (details below.)
  • Complete performance benchmarks (details below.)
  • Weigh in (as above.)
  • Sam and Keith will choose the top 3 male and top 3 female finalists whose body composition and performance changed the most over the course of the challenge (50% of score will be based on visible changes as demonstrated by before/after photos; 50% will be based on performance benchmarks.)
  • All challenge participants will be eligible to vote on the top 3 men / top 3 women to determine overall male and female winners. Voting will take place over the week following the challenge. Participants must vote in person at the BBC — before/after photos and benchmark scores of finalists will only be available as physical print-outs for perusal at the front desk.

Before and After Pictures

  • Participants must have 3 ‘before’ pictures taken by Sam or Keith at the BBC within the week preceding the challenge: front view, side view and back view. Men are in shorts; women are in shorts and sports bra/bikini top.
  • To be eligible to win, participants must have 3 ‘after’ pictures taken by Sam or Keith at the BBC within 2 days of the end of the challenge. Same views / attire as ‘before’ pics.
  • Pictures will remain private for the duration of the contest except for print-outs of 3 male and 3 female finalists that will be kept at the BBC and used to vote for winners.
  • Once the contest is over, we would very much like to use before / after photos of participants to help persuade future clients to clean up their diet! We will ask about your preferences on this at the beginning and again at the end of the contest — we hope you’ll help us out!

Performance Benchmarks

  • Participants must complete the following metcon benchmark at the BBC within the week preceding the challenge — 21, 15, 9 reps for time: air squats, burpees.
  • Participants must complete the following strength benchmark at the BBC within the week preceding the challenge — 1 rep max deadlift.
  • To be eligible to win, participants must repeat both the metcon and strength benchmark within 2 days of the end of the challenge.
  • Benchmarks must be witnessed by either Sam or Keith or someone they have directly deputized!

What Do I Eat??

(courtesy of Whole9Life and CrossFit Seattle)


1. Eat real food – meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, healthy oils. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re fresh and natural.
2. Do not eat dairy. This includes butter, cheese (hard and soft), yogurt (even Greek) and milk (including cream in your coffee).
3. Do not eat grains. This includes bread, rice, pasta, corn (I count corn as a grain), oatmeal, and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains. That’s not real food, right?
4. Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds, lentils, and peanuts. (No peanut butter, kids.)
5. Do not eat sugars of any kind, real or artificial. If you must sweeten, use minimal quantities of honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar. No Splenda, Truvia, Stevia, etc.
6. Do not eat processed foods. This includes processed bars (like Zone bars), dairy-free creamers, etc.
7. Do not drink alcohol, in any form.

More About Meat…

  • Animals, including fish, raised in commercial farms are not healthy so try to get grass fed beef, USDA certified organic meat, wild fish, and/or locally raised animals.
  • If unable to do any of the above, then eat the leanest cuts you can and trim visible fat. (Eating the fat of healthy fish, birds and animals is good for you. Eating the fat of unhealthy creatures is not.)
  • Eggs are good. Eggs from birds allowed to forage and run around are better.
  • Buffalo, elk, venison and other types of wild game are excellent choices if you can get them.

More About Vegetables…

  • Non starchy vegetables should be a big part of each meal. Virtually all vegetables offer excellent nutritional value.
  • When possible choose organic, locally grown vegetables that are in season. Each of these factors will improve nutritional value. Here’s a nice guide to autumn fruits and veggies.
  • Experiment with sautéing, roasting and grilling your veggies. Try different recipes and different ethnic foods. Learn to use herbs and spices. This stuff should taste good!
  • Variety is king! There are TONS of yummy veggies out there — try squashes, eggplant, garlic, leeks, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green, cabbage, celery, kale, dandelion, spinach, tomatoes, radish, parsnips, mushrooms….
  • Avoid starchy vegetable – potatoes, etc. If you must eat starch (it happens) try sweet potatoes.
  • Avoid legumes. Beans, peas, lentils and soybeans should be avoided. Why?

More About Fruit…

  • A paleo diet allows virtually all fruit consumption. There are a few issues though. We need to consider how the fruit was grown as well as the type of fruit to evaluate nutritional value. Also note that fruit is a very rich source of sugars, which although natural may hinder weight loss if consumed in excess.
  • If you can grow your own fruit or pick wild fruit – go for it!
  • Scavenge the local farmers market for fresh local seasonal fruit. Organic is best.
  • Try to avoid fruit from far away. Flying in kiwis from New Zealand is not really helping our health.
  • Avoid GMO (genetically modified organism) fruit.
  • A little fruit juice occasionally can be okay but, fruit juice is really candy.
  • Some fruits like bananas and pineapples have a high glycemic load and should be avoided if you are trying to loose fat.
  • Berries are awesome! Eat lots of berries!

More About Nuts & Seeds…

  • Nuts and seeds are filling, nutrition, and packed with protein, fatty acids, enzymes, antioxidants and lots of vitamins and minerals, especially potassium and magnesium. It is possible to screw up your fat profile with nuts though. Lots of nuts have an unacceptably high omega 6 / omega 3 ratio.
  • Some great choices: walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds
  • Beware of peanuts and cashews. These are not nuts, they’re legumes. Don’t eat peanuts or peanut butter. Peanuts contain lectins and other anti-nutrients which can cause some real health problems.
  • Lots of packaged, shelled nuts are covered in trans fats! Read the label! Best to buy raw, unsalted nuts and spice them at home. When in doubt, buy walnuts and/or macadamia nuts.

More About Fats…

  • Fat is good for you. Fat is essential to your well being and happiness. (This is not hyperbolic writing. Having the proper fat profile makes a huge difference to your mental outlook and moods).
  • Fat is a great source of energy. Fat triggers our sense of being full. Fat is an essential part of many of your cellular and hormonal processes. We sicken and die fairly quickly without adequate intake of essential fats.
  • However…there are many bad fats in our food supply!

Good Fats

  • Fat from healthy animals is good for you! Chicken, duck, goose, lamb, beef and pork fat can all be eaten and is an excellent choice for cooking because of heat stability. Lard is internal fat from around the kidneys. Lard from naturally (not grain) fed pork and beef is a very good choice. Lard from grass fed animals is hard to find though, so butter can be used instead. If you can find some high quality, nitrate-free bacon, the fat leftover after cooking it can be used for cooking all sorts of other delicious things!
  • Coconut oil is good for you and a good choice for cooking. Choose organic, cold processed coconut oil.
  • Olive oil is very healthy. Go for the extra virgin, cold pressed and use liberally. Extra virgin olive oil does not have great heat stability so use non-virgin olive oil or something else for high heat frying.

Bad Fats

  • Trans Fats – fats damaged by heat. Trans fats can be extremely destructive to our health. Trans fats can be made at home!! Start with a healthy, unrefined oil, naturally high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids – apply excessive heat and presto! Health wrecking trans fats. Easy!
  • Hydrogenated and/or partially hydrogenated oils. Terrible! Reread the last paragraph.
  • Canola – should be avoided. Canola has a very good omega 6/ Omega 3 ratio. However, to be used commercially it has been genetically modified, highly refined, partially hydrogenated and deodorized. Yikes!
  • Margarine – see trans fats.
  • Peanut, cottonseed, soybean and wheat germ oils… not good!

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  1. AJ August 31, 2010 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I am so in.

  2. August 31, 2010 at 9:15 am - Reply


  3. Lubes August 31, 2010 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I am in, but I might cry if I see the before pictures. So, you can take them but not show them to me.

  4. The Baconator August 31, 2010 at 10:25 am - Reply


  5. Swaggy August 31, 2010 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Swaggy: in… Belly: out

  6. Adam August 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm - Reply


  7. Seana August 31, 2010 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    So IN. I <3 this. Lovely timing, I've been feeling heffer-ish.

  8. Michele August 31, 2010 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Don’t you ppl know summer ISN’T over!!!!

    Begrudgingly in…

  9. She-Hulk August 31, 2010 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    In-ish. I want to continue with the quart+ milk a day as long as my lifts keep going up, but it would be nice (now that Kurt plans on slimming down) to not be the BBC’s *only* fat kid in a compression shirt.

  10. Whitney September 1, 2010 at 1:15 am - Reply

    i’m so in. that whole “no alcohol” thing will have to be modified though. just being honest….

  11. Cynamon September 1, 2010 at 10:56 am - Reply

    In! echoing whitney’s comment as well.

  12. Grace September 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    IN. Got my carrots and sweet potato chips READY.”

  13. Elastigirl September 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    In for some advanced paleo challenge action: My Focus will be on performance and recovery and–let’s be honest–if I happen to grow an Ab that’d be OK too.

  14. She-Hulk September 2, 2010 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Gosh, Grace, stop eating CARROTS. Do some people need to have a word with you?

  15. Vange September 2, 2010 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Oh God how I needed this…Im in gulp gulp…

  16. Tippy September 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I’m in! I have managed to keep the weight off since the last competition but now it’s time to lose more!

  17. Jonathan Silverman September 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    You are not going to believe what I read tonight:

    “The Rabbis of the Talmud maintain that the forbidden fruit, the eating of which led to the knowledge of good and evil, was wheat.”

    This was in a footnote! A footnote!

  18. Seana September 7, 2010 at 9:29 am - Reply

    DAY 1! yay! After successfully gorging this weekend-I am bloated but ready to get fit!

  19. tylerdurden September 7, 2010 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    It’s on!

  20. Jess September 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I found an Omega 3 liquid fish oil by Webber Naturals that has a great dosage of EPA and DHA per teaspoon (985mg EPA; 545 DHA, vit A & D) but it says “natural orange flavour.” I haven’t been able to check the ingredients in store but does it sound like it would not fit into the paleo challenge since it has “natural” flavour?

  21. Berit July 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Wait, why would my hair be falling out if I did anything like this? Tell me now, before I do it, not after when I have to regrow my hair.

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