Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween Mergers!  

I hope everyone had a great weekend and didn’t go overboard on the candy and snacks from all the weekend Halloween festivities.  For the Nutrition Challenge participants, keep up the hard work as we enter the third week.  Hopefully it’s getting easier and your starting to look, feel, and perform better.  

Also this week, we are having a ‘Bring a Friend Day’ workout!  Got someone interested in trying out CrossFit? Then bring them to class on Sunday, November 6th, at 10:00 am.  This will be a special class for you and a buddy to participate in a CrossFit team WOD.  Sign up at the gym on the Announcement Board (the regular, All Levels 11:00 am class on Sunday is still on as well).

And here are some photos from Friday’s deadlift and burpee session.

Kevin is eating clean and making this 305# deadlift look easy.

Christina and Sarah taking on the 2008 CrossFit Games workout of: 5 rounds of 5 deadlifts and 10 burpees.

D1 with a 285# PR.

168# and a PR for Morgan.

A fast and furious WOD.

And here’s an appropriately themed pumpkin I carved to celebrate my first CrossFit Halloween a couple of years back.  Check out the teeth.  


Paleo for the Weekend

If you’re sticking with the Paleo gig this weekend, and I hope you are, here’s a Pumpkin Chili recipe to try out instead of snacking on sugary candy that happens to be around the house; just get rid of the temptation and throw that stuff out.

Bri’s Paleo Pumpkin Chili (CROCK POT RECIPE!), serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small Red Onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef (I order from here, for those of you who live in the KMC area in Germany!)
  • 1 cup Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 14 Ounces Organic tomatoes with their juice, diced
  • 3 oz (half a small can) tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar (not particularly “paleo,” but it helps cut the acidity of the canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • Avocado for topping (optional)

Directions: In large skillet, melt coconut oil. Add garlic, onion, and jalepeno and saute for about 5 minutes until veggies are softened. Add sauteed garlic, onion, and jalepeno to crock pot. Into the same skillet (no need to clean it), add beef. Brown, and then add beef to crock pot as well. (Done with the skillet!). Add the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot, mix well, put the lid on, and cook on Medium for 4-5 hours. Serve, and top with cold avocado if desired (a swirl of coconut milk or a dollop of sour cream would be great too!)

Speaking of the weekend, do you find it harder to eat clean on the weekend?  What’s your plan for eating healthy through the weekend?  Does going food shopping on the weekend keep you on track and in the right frame of mind?  Does coming to CrossFit on Saturday or Sunday help?  What are your tips and strategy this weekend?  Share them in the comments.  

Thursday’s Skill

Run 800 meters

Rest 3 minutes

Run 800 meters again

Workout of the Day 


20 minute AMRAP of:

Run 400 meters

Max pull-ups

Post pull-ups to comments

New member Will smoking this workout with his fast run times and pull-ups.

Lift Heavy then Eat

Lots of big squat numbers and PRs on yesterday’s workouts.  I’ve said it before and will say it again, the body wants to lift heavy things.

And if your body also wants to eat a tasty enchilada, then try this recipe from Everyday Paleo.

This is a seafood enchilada recipe that has no tortilla substitute, but the sauce is homemade and out of this world.  You can try this recipe as is or get even more creative and purchase these new coconut wraps recently featured in an issue of Paleo Magazine. You can also make your own coconut tortillas, or just do as we did and smother some seafood, chicken, beef, or whatever other protein source you might enjoy with the homemade sauce and devour!!

Seafood “Enchiladas”

1 medium onion, minced

2 tablespoons coconut oil or grass fed butter or ghee

2 cups tomato puree (make your own using 4 large tomatoes pureed in a food processor)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 pound seafood of choice such as wild caught cod, shrimp, or crab (or other protein like shredded chicken or ground beef)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Saute the onions in the coconut oil or butter until limp.

3. Add the tomato puree, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt.  Mix well and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

4. Pour the sauce into a food processor and process until smooth.

5. Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with the seafood.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the seafood, cover tightly with aluminum foil and back for 10-12 minutes or until the seafood is cooked.

6. Serve with sliced avocados, lime wedges, and cilantro.

*If using the coconut wraps, cook your meat prior to filling the wraps, stuff the wraps, roll, place in a baking dish, cover with the sauce and heat in  the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until warmed through and the sauce is bubbling.  

Wednesday’s Skill:

30 minutes to find a new 1 rep max back squat

Workout of the Day (WOD)

Tabata hand release push-ups 

Rest 1 minute

Tabata squats

Count lowest score on the push-ups and squats

Strength Workout of the Day (SWOD)

Part 1:

12 x 2 front squats

Use 80% of your 1 rep max front squat

60 seconds rest between sets

Part 2:

Establish a 1 rep max bench press

Post loads and Tabata scores to comments

Luke getting a PR on his back squat at 225#.

Anthony loading up the bar during yesterday’s Strength Class.

Tabata squats, a 4 minute routine with a lot of built in rest.  Don’t be fooled, this can hurt.  

Why Strength?

Why be strong?  As Mark Rippetoe says, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and generally more useful.”

Strong people being more useful is certainly the case in this video as these people SAVED this man’s life using their functional strength.

The victim made it to the hospital and sustained only minor burns and some broken bones thanks to the people in this video.  WOW!  CrossFit, being strong and fit for life and its unknowns.

Tuesday’s Skill:

300 meter row for time

3 sets with 3 minutes rest between

Workout of the Day (WOD):

50 kettlebell swings (53#/35# for women)

50 wall ball shots (20#/14# for women)

At the start of the workout and every minute stop and perform 7 burpees

Post times to comments

It was you versus the burpees in this WOD.

The post WOD recovery position pretty much tells the story.

And who’s going to get their first kipping pull-up tomorrow?  Dave and Nadia can help you out.  Watch this video here.

Seven P’s

In the Marine Corps we used to say that “prior, proper planning prevents piss poor performance”.  The seven P’s.

This holds very true for your exercise and eating.  If you plan out your day to include time to work out, then even on the really chaotic days, you’ll make the time to come to the gym.  But if you plan to work out only when it’s convenient, guess what, you’ll probably never get around to making it in that day.

To top it off, now you’re trying a new way of eating that requires a lot of time and preparation.  So much meat and too many vegetables to cook after a long day of work, traffic, the kids, etc.  Why not just whip up some quick and easy grilled cheese sandwiches?  You swear to yourself that you’ll do better tomorrow, and if not, then next week for sure.  See where this is going?

Well here are some tips you can try to properly plan what to eat when time is short and you’re in a jam.  Just don’t go overboard on the Power Bars.

Five Things You Can Do This Weekend to Make Easy Paleo Meals All Week

By Riki Shore of Three Squares

Eating healthy Paleo meals takes some planning and preparation, but the rewards, as most of you already know, are huge. You’ll feel leaner, enjoy smoother digestion, increase your performance at the gym, and have extra energy to spend on all the things that bring meaning to your life.

Here are five things you can do this Sunday afternoon that will give you a great foundation on which to build Paleo meals all week.


Buying a whole chicken and roasting it at home saves you money at the butcher counter and provides protein for several meals. Ask your butcher to cut the chicken into six pieces. Follow these steps to roast the bird:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken on a stainless steel baking sheet. Rub each chicken piece all over with olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. These ingredients bring flavor to the cooked bird, so be generous with them.
  3. Bake the chicken for 30 – 35 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees in the breasts and 175 degrees in the thighs. Don’t have a thermometer? I recommend buying a digital one, but for now, the chicken is done when the juices run clear when you pierce the meat with a sharp knife.

Once the chicken is done, eat some of it right away with a sauce of your choice. Good options are aioli, guacamole, salsa, or even fresh chopped herbs with a drizzle of olive oil.

I like to use the leftovers to build up a lunch salad, make a classic chicken salad, or chop very fine and mix with braised swiss chard. To make these preparations easier, after you’ve had your roast chicken dinner, peel away the skin from the remaining chicken and “pick” the meat – using your fingers, break the meat into bite-sized pieces. Store in a covered container in the fridge for easy use on a weeknight.


Making your own salad dressing is a no brainer. It allows you to control how much and what kind of oil goes onto your salads, and you can choose what flavor you’re in the mood for each week. You can even go creamy one week, then oil and vinegar-based the next.

If you’ve never made your own salad dressing before, start with a simple vinaigrette. Put a tablespoon of Dijon mustard in a small bowl, along with 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a shake of pepper. Whisk everything well, then drizzle in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until well combined, then taste and add more vinegar or oil as needed to suit your taste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for 5 – 7 days.


One of the keys to maximizing the nutritional benefits of the Paleo diet is to eat plenty of vegetables, in all their incarnations. Having homemade pickles on-hand means you have an easy snack, a terrific lunchbox addition, and a flavor booster for prepared salads and meats. Pickles couldn’t be quicker or cheaper to make at home. This recipe shows how to pickle both cucumbers and carrots. Delicious.


Another way to ensure you’re getting enough vegetables is to have plenty of raw veggies on hand for easy snacking. Below is a list of my current no-cook favorites. My daughter is served one of these at every lunch and dinner, and I munch on them throughout the day.

  • Wash and trim sugar snap peas, removing the “thread” that runs along the top of some pods. Wrap in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and store in an open plastic bag in the veggie bin. Before eating, toss with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
  • Cut a cucumber into 3-inch sections. Cut each section in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 2 or 3 wedges. Sprinkle each wedge with Kosher or sea salt. Let sit a few minutes, then enjoy.
  • Peel and slice jicama into matchsticks. Squeeze with fresh lime juice and store lightly covered in the fridge.
  • Chop romaine lettuce into large bite-size pieces, then wash in a salad spinner. Store in the fridge in the salad dressing for easy salads.
  • Wash celery and trim the ends. Cut each stalk in half crosswise, and, using a paring knife, remove the strings from the outside of the stalk.


We all have busy lives and sometimes you need a fast, healthful treat. Maybe your kids want a cookie or high-protein muffin in their lunchboxes, or maybe you’re running from the gym to your next work appointment and need to eat something on the go. These treats are no- or low-sugar; they use high-protein flours; and they taste great. One for one, they are healthier and more affordable than prepared gluten-free cookies or protein bars.

Almond Butter Power Bars

Apricot Power Bars

Cooking is like exercise – the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Do you want to become an awesome home cook who prepares knockout meals for your family and friends? Or maybe you just want to bump up the flavor and nutrition at your family table? You need only to start cooking. Once you start, keep it up and watch your meals soar.

Monday’s Skill:

20 minutes of clean and jerk practice.  Touch and go sets of 5 reps, working on fluidity and speed.

Beginner Skill:

Push Press

5 – 5 – 5 (going up in weight for each set)

Workout of the Day (WOD):

10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:

75 double-unders

50 box jumps (24″/20″ for women.  No rebounding off the top)

25 shoulder to overhead (105#/70# for women)

Post rounds to comments

Marianoel and Brian no longer afraid of the double-under.

Morgan not letting the 25 reps of ‘shoulder to overhead’ slow her down.

Strength, endurance, flexibility, stamina, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance…we cover all the fitness skills at CrossFit Merge.

Brush up on your squats for Wednesday.

Weekend Fun

Everyone showed grit and determination on Saturday’s WOD, Murph.  

We were long overdue for this WOD, but we did this Hero Workout on the day Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy received the nation’s highest military honor for heroism, the Medal of Honor.   


For time: 
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.

This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

You can read LT Murphy’s Medal of Honor citation here.

The Saturday morning gang in the middle of Murph.

Pull-ups, just 100 of them.

Brian and Burpee Mike plan on wearing weight vests the next time we do Murph.

Nice work, Kara!

Some Motivation to Eat Healthy

You remember the college days, right?  The lecture halls, the library, the sprawling green lawn, essays, and all night study sessions.  And let’s not forget the crappy food you fueled up on get your through those memorable  years: pizza, Ramen, burgers, beer, and probably more beer.  You may have been your university’s Bluto or Frank the Tank.  

It’s never a wrong time to kick back a bottle of Jack for Bluto.

And we all know how good it is “once it hits your lips.”  Ain’t that right, Frank?

You could go that way, but here’s some motivation for you if you’re just trying out this Paleo gig.  

Mateo, our diehard member over the summer that returned to college back in August, is eating clean and CrossFitting.  Despite all the difficulties and temptations to just totally let his hard work over the summer go down the drain, he’s making it happen.  

The gym at his school isn’t the greatest, no kettlebells and limited pull-up bars, but he makes it work and can now bang out double-unders.  And forget about frozen burritos in the microwave for dinner, or bagels for breakfast.  Mateo is whipping up some eggs, bacon, and muffins made from eggs, almond meal, apples, and mashed bananas.  

Solid work, Mateo!  Give him a shout out in the comments.

Give it an honest shot and see where this Nutrition Challenge takes you.  Good luck!

Wednesday’s Skill

Max Thruster

1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 (find a new 1 rep max thruster)

Workout of the Day (WOD):

12 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:

6 ring dips

12 sit-ups

18 air squats

24 double-unders

Elements WOD

12 minute AMRAP of:

7 dumbbell thrusters (30#/20# for women)

7 sit-ups

7 burpees

Post rounds to comments

Who’s ready for a Girl WOD tomorrow?  Miranda’s got some tips for you on the wall ball shot.  

It’s Really Hard to Eat This Way

No, you’re just not used to it yet.

For me, it’s hard to consider eating Toaster Strudels and Orange Juice for breakfast.

Well it’s doubly hard cause I usually fast, and don’t eat breakfast (but let’s not get into that yet)…

I don’t think twice about most my meals at this point – It’s second nature. Two poached eggs, and some diced sweet potatoes, cooked with onions in pastured butter. I could cook this in my sleep (and most mornings, if/when I make breakfast, I probably am).

I realize that Pop-Tarts/cereal and juice is quicker option (a little bit), but how long does a complete diabetes blood test panel and oral glucose tolerance test take? You might be on that path – Get off it! You’ll save yourself time and money down the road by eating preventatively healthy, in line with your evolutionary heritage…

We are creatures of habit. And old habits are hard to break. But when it comes to eating many of the foods that have a negative impact on our health, it is a hard habit to break on a psychological and physical level.

Some of you may be experiencing a little fatigue, lethargy, etc. This is normal, and to be expected. Some call it the “low-carb flu”, detoxing, etc. Almost any drastic change in your diet (in any direction) is going to flip on different metabolic pathways. Ever NOT eat fast food for a very long time, then have some…yeah, not pleasant.

I hate saying “give it time”, as you can apply that in the wrong context, and lead people down the wrong road, but “give it some time”.

Many of these foods act on our reward centers in our brains (opioids in grains/legumes, carbs and sugars effect on serotonin, etc). This is where doing a 30 Day “strict” moderate-to-lower carb paleo approach, a la Robb Wolf may come in handy – If you start experimenting, tweeking, and fiddling with the concept from the get-go, you’re probably likely to never give this thing an honest buy in.

Many long term low-carbers, or long term vegetarians, seem to see it as a failure of your willpower if you do not thrive on their idea of a perfect human diet.

“You just need to stick to it longer.”

“You need to go lower/no-carb.”

“You need to become full Vegan.”

Ehhh… I don’t think so. There may be an element of adjustment that can make you more tolerant to a diet that doesn’t fit your needs and lifestyle. But at some point, you should be able to intuitively “feel” that something is truly wrong, or right, for your body.

That’s why I like this “paleo” thing (when approached from the right angle). IT IS NOT LOW-CARB, HIGH-MEAT, or VEGETARIAN/VEGAN, HIGH-CARB, etc. There is no simple answer with diet and nutritional advice for people. It’s because it’s not a juvenile idea (meat is bad, carbs are bad, fat is bad) spit out like rhetoric and dogma. It’s much, much more complex than that – Again, when approached properly.

Now that said, “eat what a caveman ate”, is an okay “fallback”, and something that you can grab onto like a life raft if you’re lost out at Cheesecake Factory and don’t know what to order.

Using the principles of evolutionary nutrition and traditional cooking methods, and viewing things through a biochemical scope, we can make wise decisions in the right foundational direction. The tweeks you make for you, make it optimal for your situation and goals (fat loss, performance, longevity, pregnancy, etc.)

As some of you start off in this direction for the first time – Here are a few things that will be very helpful to you…

As you might see from looking into these resources, or countless others, there is always slight disagreement and different approaches to this. Higher-fat, lower-carb. No starch at all, no fruit at all, lots of fruit, lots of starch… It gets annoying.

 Here are some general “rules of thumb” or tips that I have experienced personally, and seen be helpful with others, etc.

  • If you are really new to this, have body-fat to lose, and have eaten “low-fat” for a while, you are probably best served to SLOWLY ramp up your fat intake. Your gallbladder is partially atrophied – Give it some time to “get back in shape” to handle digesting all that fat.
  • Likewise, if you are new to this, and have some insulin sensitivity issues, you are probably best off avoiding starchy carb sources, with the exception of perhaps small amounts once a week as a “refeed”, or small amounts immediately after your more intense workouts. In a future post I will talk about the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to include starch sources in a long term healthy diet, something I believe really screws up many low-carb and “paleo” dieters. For now, just eat some damn peeled sweet potatoes once a week, thanks!
  • I think almost everyone starting this thing off goes crazy on nuts and fruit… You DO NO NEED EITHER in a healthy diet, AT ALL!!! Have some if you’d like. But neither is the panacea of health they are promoted to be.  Ditch them for the most part – You’ll be better off.
  • I don’t think you can go too wrong resorting to lean meats/fish, green veggies, and small amounts of pastured butter, coconut oil, olive oil… This is gonna get most people a lot of mileage.

 I hope you all are taking this seriously (it’s your health). Next post we’ll get into a little bit of why you should opt for “quality meats”, and what I mean by “quality”… 


Rane J.

Tuesday Skill: 

5 sets of max weight pull-ups (25#/15# dumbbell for women)

L-sit practice inbetween sets

Elements Skill:

L-sit progressions

Workout of the Day (WOD):

15 deadlifts (use 65% of your 1 rep max)

Run 100 meters

12 deadlifts

Run 200 meters

9 deadlifts

Run 400 meters

6 deadlifts

Run 800 meters

Post times to comments

And they say we don’t do abs in CrossFit.

Chris and Dan going for max sets of chins.

Kendra with a great deadlift expression and Brian with just straight up great hair.

Power cleans for tomorrow.  

The Power Clean from Again Faster on Vimeo.

Fall Nutrition Challenge

Don’t forget to sign up for the Nutrition Challenge.  Eat clean, eat healthy, eat to feel better, eat to perform better, oh yeah, and you’ll probably look better too.  

Be sure to come in this week to get some strength, endurance, and metcon numbers so we have a good comparison to measure your improvement at the end of the challenge.

The deadline to be officially entered into the Nutrition Challenge is this Friday.  Don’t wait.  

Monday’s Skill

Front Squat

3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3

Workout of the Day (WOD)

5 rounds for time of:

10 kettlebell swings (70#/44# for women)

15 burpees

Elements WOD

12 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of:

6 pull-ups

8 goblet squats

6 push-ups

Post times and rounds to comments

D1 going for a PR on his 3 rep max front squat.  Any guess at to whether or not he successfully made this lift at 155#?

A little couch stretch action from Bryan, Ant, and Steph.

Burpee action from Kendra and Marlene.

Who’s ready for some ring dips on Wednesday?

Eat better, cook more, and don’t go broke

You’re starting the nutrition challenge today.  First things first.  Go shopping.  But then you start looking at all the meat and produce.  Grass fed and organic keep popping up.  Looks expensive, right?  And then you start to waffle and think it’s just easier and cheaper to grab some peanut butter and jelly for some old college style snacking because you’re on a budget.

Well, that doesn’t have to be the case.  Read Robb Wolf’s advice on this matter:

Why I went into health & fitness and did not sell vices is beyond me. If this whole Paleo thing goes fanny-up it’s going to be hookers+cocaine+baked goods, finished with a smoke. No one will argue with that buffet but in this health shtick you deal with the mass illusion of “cave men lived short lives, meat causes cancer, this is not sustainable.” Then there is that pesky Evolution thing!

Well, I guess I can be assured of job security. It’s not likely the ADA is going to change course nor will folks like Dr. Melina get a clue anytime soon, so onward an upwards.

Back to the affordability of Paleo: This way of eating, like virtually any way of eating, can be made much more, or mush less expensive. Now, similar to cooking or meal options, I thought this was a pretty straight-forward concept (if you are broke, buy cheap, if you have some cash, kick your heels up a bit) but alas, it is not. So, I’m going to walk through some basic shopping and put an arrow in the head of the “Paleo is expensive” idea, then we will look at some basic finance ideas as I think some folks may benefit from that.

WholeFoods or WholePayCheck?

We ran a piece recently on shopping at Wholefoods which was pretty well received but I wanted to share a recent shopping trip I did and the chow I procured on that excursion. Check out this receipt and then I’ll talk about what I bought and why.

I bought two organic chickens, and a mix of ground beef and chuck-roast. Why these items? Because when I walked into the store they had these nifty yellow “sale” cards on them. Even the color-blind cannot find an excuse for fracking this up…I also bought a “bunch” of chicken, ground beef and chuck roast. things broke down like this:

9.15 lbs of chicken@ $1.39 per lb

16.7 lbs of meat@ $3.99 per lb

Total cost: $81.10

Total carnage: ~25lbs

Here is what that all looked like:


Now, the meat was NOT grass-fed, but when I hit the Santa Fe farmers market I always buy similar cuts of Grass-fed meat for $4/lb. Can you spend $30/lb on New York steaks? Uh, yea, but Keystone needs to eat too, so I go for the inexpensive cuts and just kick my heals up occasionally. When we were living in Chico we routinely bought a half a cow and the average price was $4-5/lb. We have not set that system up here yet, so I make do with the situation I’m in. So WholeFoods (or the Hippy Santa Fe farmers market) can be navigated in a reasonable way. I’ll pause a minute and wait for the inevitable complaint that arises when you are trying to help people….Ok, I think it’s just about here:

“But Robb! That is still too expensive for me!”

Ok, shop someplace else. I’m going to look at some produce shopping I did at one of the big food outlets (FoodMax) but you could buy your meat there and save a ton of money. Sale items will likely range in the $1.50/lb to $2.50/lb and given that the meat I just bought at WholeFoods is not Grass-fed, the quality is likely similar at a CostCo or Food-4-Less kind of location. anyway, take a gander at the produce I bought:

Where, oh where will I get vitamins eating Paleo?

Robb, my Doctor said I can’t get fiber on Paleo. Thoughts?

I cannot for the life of me find the receipt for this, but it was about $20 for all that produce. This is one of the reasons it’s hard for me to not bludgeon people when they make ignorant statements about everything from fiber to the nutrient content of eating Paleo. I mean, how much more fiber and nutrients DO you need? If I was really tight I’d ditch the coconut and avocados and cut at least $6 off that bill and put it elsewhere, but it’s still a lot of food for not much money. Was it Organic? No, but it was largely seasonal, and this particular place turns over a mountain of produce. It is amazingly fresh and you cannot beat the price.

Here is another staple, a gallon of coconut oil:

FAT: It’s Where it’s At!

I think the Tropical Traditions Gold Label goes for about $75 per gallon but if I recall I got a “buy-1, get-1″ deal on this. I eat this stuff constantly and 1 gallon last me 6-9 months. So, this may be a significant up-front cost, but you just need to think ahead and pro-rate this over the long haul. Now I’ll wait for the next question…..

“But Robb! How long will that last you!?”

Well…I don’t know. The coconut oil will last over a year, the produce 2 weeks, the meat similar or longer. If I was doing a mass-gain I’d cut those times in half. I have finally come to my senses and being 170-175lbs, lean and strong is plenty good for me. The bottom line is we are talking about ~$100 for two weeks of food for Nicki and I. If I’d bought the meat at one of the big-box mega food places I could have likely cut that bill in half, bringing the bill down to about $60 for two weeks, neglecting the fractional coasts of the coconut oil. Either way, not too bad on the pocket-book.

“But I want to save the world! Shouldn’t we eat organic and grass-fed”

Well, grass-fed and organic are certainly optimal, but if you cannot afford it you cannot afford it. If it REALLY matters to you, make sacrifices and make it happen…but you might need to shelve your idealism long enough to survive, and reverting to bagels is not the way to go. Your health will be better served by eating conventional meat & mega-farmed produce than a largely grain based diet. This reminds me of the following:

Hippy Excuse for Failure #1: I can’t find grass-fed meat…so I’ll eat a bagel.

Hippy Excuse for Failure #2: I can’t find organic produce…so I’ll eat a bagel.

Substitute Afford” for the word “find” above and we have the same story. I can’t tell you where your value system should start or stop, but I will definitely tell you when you are sh*tting the bed with faulty logic.

But I’m a starving college student!

Ahh…the College Student. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to create some framework here!

At the age of 16 my dad became disabled and could not work. It was not until I was 22 that his disability went through and I was freed from largely supporting my parents. Through all of high-school and part of college I worked full time to not just float my families boat, but also to get the things I wanted like a motorcycle, spending money etc. Even in college I sent money home to may parents, while maintaining an academic load of 18+ units. I worked at a vitamin shop and I tutored chemistry, physics and Spanish. I was president of the Chemistry club, VP of the pre-med club and it was a grueling schedule. But I WANTED it. I was the first person in my family to go to school since the time of Socrates. That’s a long winded way of saying I do not have ANY sympathy for the folks in school trying to make ends meet. It sucks, it’s also your opportunity to do something with your life. If eating clean is important, you will find a way to make it happen. If you are better looking than you are smart, become a stripper, they make great money. I’m not that smart, I’m not good looking, but I will out-work just about anyone.

Robb, I’m REALLY broke

Everyone’s situation is different. Many folks are out of work and things are legitimately tight. If I was really tight, I’d do my best to follow the above, and add a 50lb bag of rice (prices range from $25-$50). or, I’d eat a LOT of coconut oil as my main calories. Let’s look at some specific numbers:

Gallon of coconut oil is $75 with a total calorie content (117 cals per serving x 256 servings per container) of 29,952 cals. Cost: $0.0025/calorie

Bag-o-rice is $25-$50 with a total caloric content of a 50lb bag (3600 cals/kg x 22.68 kg/bag) of 81,648. Cost: $0.0003 to $0.0006/calorie.

So, calorie per calorie the rice is indeed cheaper, but both options are pretty damn inexpensive overall. I seem to remember getting a buy-1, get-1 on the coconut oil which effectively cuts the price in half, making them almost identical in price.

There are some solid guides for shopping on a budget, Diane at Balanced Bites has one of the best that comes to mind. Check them out.

CaveMan accounting

That first section is concrete in that smart shopping can make Paleo quite affordable, but again, you need to make decisions appropriate for your situation. Unfortunately, some people are not well suited to modern living on a variety of fronts. Case in point: I received a comment a while back that went something like this “I cannot pay my mortgage because of spending money on grass fed meat and organic produce…eating paleo is MAKING me bankrupt.” I was initially pretty cranky with this person because it seemed a remarkable lack of self accountability (and indeed, it is) but I also understand that this is part of a much larger problem. In the same way that we are not genetically well adapted to resisting the wiles of modern foods, so too do many of us fall prey to the lure of conspicuous consumption, credit and the like. Similar to food addictions, when we sit down to talk about the why’s of these situations we can either turn this into a moral quandary (this person is just stupid, bad, lazy etc.) or we can understand this is yet another example of an evolutionary discordance, with some of us navigating spending and finances reasonably well (like carbs) others…not so much. From an evolutionary perspective spending and budgeting do not make much sense. If we were  mobile and carried few possessions why would we need to worry about procuring stuff? If we had food we ate it. ALL of it. If it was more than we could reasonably eat before spoiling we’d give it to extended family, thus cementing social bonds and “banking” on the notion that when those other folks hit it big in the hunting-gathering lottery, they’d reciprocate to us. Credit, cash and spending are a technological and cultural advancement that is obviously very useful, but a lot of people do not know how to handle is effectively.

One of the most popular chapters of my book is chapter 6, the cortisol/stress chapter. I receive more comments about that specific chapter than the rest of the book combined. What folks consistently focus on is not sleep, or work stress, but financial stress. Do they own their stuff or does their stuff own them? For a lot of these people they have simply never thought about things in the way that I present there, and it is (apparently) powerfully liberating because instead of feeling bad about difficulties dealing with finances, people understand there is a reason for it. THEN…they DO something about it. You can be excused of your behavior until you are enlightened as to it’s cause. If you keep doing the same goofy shit after that, then we get to start talking about stupid, bad & lazy.

So, part of the issue whether folks can or cannot afford to eat this way may have some deeper issues related to spending on a macro scale. If this is NOT your issue, fine, ignore all of this, but I know for a fact it’s a pervasive problem based on the emails and communications I receive. If you think this may all apply to you I’d highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s material. He does amazing work and there are a variety of ways you can get started down a better financial path.

To recap:

1-Paleo is affordable.

2-Everyone has a different situation and must adapt to it.

3-Understanding your finances may liberate some cash you were previously squandering.

4-Many of our problems are an outgrowth of a diet and lifestyle at odds with our genetics.

5-If you really understand #4 we can quit feeling bad and make effective changes.


Steven did a nice reverse analysis  in the comments that looks at the costs of these foods in a more intuitive way, here that is:

Random but I think looking at it as calories/dollar is more enlightening to most people then dollars/calories.

The rice ends up being between 1633 calories/dollar and 3266 calories/dollar depending where it’s at in the $0.50/pound and $1.00/pound range.

The coconut oil ends up at 399 calories/dollar

Kerry’s Irish Gold butter is 400 calories/dollar (At $4.00 a stick)

85/15 Ground beef is 960 calories a pound so at $5.00/lb (about grass-fed prices) it’s 192 calories/dollar

Canned Wild Alaskan Salmon is 237 calories/dollar. 34 grams of protein/dollar, and 8 grams of Omega 3

I did a lot of these for a class a couple years ago but the hard-drive with my spreadsheet got formatted unfortunately.

Okay, there’s Robb’s advice.  Let’s see if you can make it happen over the next few weeks.
And for tomorrow, let the master of movement and efficiency take you through some deadlift tips.