Paleo Challenge: Done and Done!

by AliMargo on March 30, 2015

Weight: 131.8

Weight lost: 0

Weight gained: 0 (I’m not going to count two tenths of a pound as weight gain)

Overall health: excellent

I’m feeling: pretty great

I’m looking: thinner in the face and leaner. Skin remains clear and glowing.

Full Disclosure: A few weeks into the challenge, I was put on medication for which weight gain is a side affect. So, in a sense, not gaining weight was an accomplishment, right?

The in-laws are in town and so is Captain Crunch.

As I crest the finish line of the Sopris Chiropractic Paleo Challenge, my in-laws are in town from Minnesota. Like any good Midwestern family with an affinity for hot dish casseroles and fried-food-on-a-stick, they have filled my cupboards with every variety of bread imaginable, from sesame bagels (my favorite) and sliced whole wheat to cheddar jalapeno cheese bread. There are crackers, cheese dips, bottled dressings, mayo, Captain Crunch cereal, and mini chocolate cupcakes. Remember French dressing, that red stuff they used to have at steak restaurants back in the ‘80s? Yeah, they have that too.

The biggest struggle I’ve had with their visit has been to not come off as some kind of pretentious asshole food snob health nut, because I so totally hate those kinds of people. I also hate being the one to sit out a family breakfast that’s been prepared because I can’t eat cheesy eggs and don’t want the whole batch to be compromised because I’m not eating dairy (even if I did spring $7 for a dozen farm fresh, organic, grain fed eggs). I hate being the one who doesn’t join in on “chairlift snacks” with my 11-year-old niece because she’s chomping on Swedish fish. I hate being wary of Grandma Millie’s special chicken wing recipe because it’s made with an entire bottle of Russian dressing (yep, they still make that, too), a jar of apricot jam and a package of Lipton beef soup mix seasoning (which, as far as I can tell from reading the ingredients has no actual spices or herbs in it).

What I’ve found about adapting to living in the world with everyone else is I either have to eliminate certain dishes from my plate, bring my own snacks, or eat in advance so I’m not hungry. I am always the first to volunteer to bring a dish to a party so I know there’s something I can eat.

It’s fascinating, if not shocking to realize how much of the food we eat is processed. My in-laws eat healthy for the most part; every night we eat salad, grilled meats and some kind of veggie. They haven’t complained about the lack of grains on my dinner table. But when I look at the food that’s wormed its way back into my pantry, I have to cringe a little.

The challenge to stick to a whole foods-based diet outside of your own kitchen is almost impossible.  So how do you live in the world and stick with it?

What I’ll take from this:
I am a believer in fish oil supplements and will stay on them for the long term. The affect it’s had on my skin has been profound. I’ll also stick with the probiotics and the Vitamin D since I can’t say for certain which has had the most impact. An article I read on Paleo and acne asserted that all are a factor: sugar, dairy, fish oil and probiotics. It makes sense that there wouldn’t be one variable.

My Paleo recipes have spent a lot of time in the kitchen!

I will continue to avoid bread and grains simply because I love not feeling bloated and overfull after a meal. It’s also a great way to keep my calorie intake in check, by eliminating those empty calories from my plate. I’ve found this is not hard to do, even at restaurants or at other people’s houses. A protein and a veg are typically always served so it’s easy to create a plate without making compromises I don’t want to.

Looking ahead:
Like I wrote last week, it’s easier to achieve a goal than to maintain one. So I’ll need to set some new goals to ride the momentum I’ve created on this program. Here’s what I plan to do:

Eat clean. One of the dangers of Paleo for me at least, was craving “acceptable” Paleo foods like bacon and other red meats to make up for the calories I was missing from “filler” foods like grains and bread. I found it very difficult and very expensive to always buy grass fed/organic meats and because I had to eat something, ate a lot of red meat, deli meat and bacon that was not organic. Moving forward I’m going to try to focus on eating a cleaner diet of organic veggies, fruit, and better quality protein.

More juicing. Definitely want to try to juice more going into spring. I know juicing isn’t really encouraged on Paleo since it’s more sugar and less fiber. But until I can afford a Vitamix that can properly liquefy whole veggies and fruits, I’m pulling out my juicer. I do think there is a lot to be said for the nutrients from raw organic juice and it does fill me up to drink a good green juice during the day. My favorite is kale, spinach, green apple, lemon and a dash of pineapple. Also love apple/carrot/ginger for a quick kick. And in order to lose those impossible last 5 pounds, I’m going to eat a lighter dinner or even just a smoothie.

I may consider … eating brown rice or quinoa as a way to maintain a cleaner diet without so much meat. I have read that there are many nutrients and health benefits to eating brown rice. Another thing I didn’t love about Paleo was the cost. It is very costly to fill your plate with meats and veggies. And I got to the point where I was getting very tired of eating salad every night since lettuce was the only real filler ic could find as a substitute.

Foods I will continue to avoid … Processed foods, bread, white rice, and dairy.

Goals for April (because it’s important to always have a goal)
Lighter dinners (smoothies or vegetable salad) to lose those damn 5 pounds

Join Burn Fitness to get a weight-training program going

Drink raw juice every morning

4x/week cardio

5x/week yoga

3x/week weight training

What I learned …
I can live without pretzels!
We live in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to find whole foods in a natural/organic state. Once you begin to pay attention to what we are eating, you realize how much of our food is manufactured and loaded with harmful chemicals and additives. While it is expensive and inconvenient to source better quality whole foods, it’s worth it when you consider the alternative. You might not know exactly how what you are eating is affecting your well being, or what exactly is the cause/effect dynamic, but once you remove these things from your diet there is no denying you feel and look better. For me, the biggest selling point was my clear skin and the lack of bloating, distention and “fullness” I often felt after a meal. Also of note: I never burp after eating a clean meal. My digestion is happy and so am I!

A big thanks to Dr. Scott for inviting me to participate! There are thousands of wellness practitioners but very few of them are true healers—your dedication to health goes far beyond your chiropractic practice. As the old saying goes, you can lead someone to water, but you also have to teach them to fish .. or something like that? Thanks for showing me the way.

Hope the rest of you (who I never heard a peep from) had a good challenge. I would love to hear your experiences! Please please please feel free to comment here.

Love and paleo granola to all,


Ali M.




Paleo Week #5: I Think My Sweet Tooth Fell Out

by AliMargo on March 22, 2015

Weight: Who the hell cares?

Shrimp Puttanesca with sweet potato noodles (just because I needed a pretty food photo).

So I have an interesting story to kick off this week’s report. We had friends in town and went out to dinner up at one of these places that does super dressed up bar food. I did the appetizer-and-salad thing Laurel recommended: Thai pork spare ribs and a salad with mixed greens, crispy prosciutto, crisped cashews and some kind of applesauce. The ribs were delicious—slow cooked with meat that fell off the bone but after the first few bites, I started to taste the sugar on the rub. I can’t even explain how odd it is to find a meat dish too sweet. The salad was almost inedible. Between the applesauce on the bottom of the plate and the dressing, all I was getting was sugar, sugar, sugar.

It’s crazy to me that restaurants cook with so much sugar and butter that going out to eat is no longer the fun experience for me that it once was. But I finally get it: once you break your addiction to sugar, you don’t even want it anymore.

I remember during the first couple weeks when I got into a debate with Dr. Scott about using Stevia, which has no carbs, no calories and does not effect your insulin response. He asked me to stick with his rules for these 6 weeks and then do what I want after that. And now (Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!) a light went off—it was my taste buds he was concerned about, and breaking my addiction to sweetness (Stevia being dramatically sweeter than table sugar). I get it now! I get it!

New This Week:

About to go for a run in my new HokaOneOnes!

I bought a pair of HokaOneOne ultra-cushioned running shoes and am so excited to get back into running again. I’ve always struggled with injuries and am hoping these amazing shoes will make the difference. They are super light, too. Running has always been the only exercise that gets me the results I want—maybe something about the weight bearing. And I love that it’s so simple, just a pair of shoes, and that you get a lot in a short amount of time. Plus, living on the Frying Pan is a runner’s dream. Pretty flat with gentle rolling terrain along the river and the most beautiful scenery you could ever ask for.  But I have to be careful; I did a 6.5 mile run (probably too far too soon) and then 5 miles the next day and had that “running on my bones” feeling—achy joints, sore Achilles and major fatigue. I really need to take at least 1 recovery day between runs and cross train with cycling and hiking if I want to avoid injury, but I met my goal last week of 4 days of running and 5 of yoga.

A Few Fun Recipes
Loved Laurel’s artichoke hummus—a really great satisfying snack with crudité made from almonds, artichokes (I used bottled ones and they were a bit pickled so the vinegar added some yummy tang), lemon and garlic. Simple but yummy and great for when you want a crunchy snack.

Maple Chili Pork Chops
I got this recipe from a new blog I discovered PaleOMG which has lots of great recipes. I was so tired of grilled pork chops I needed a change. We love the brined pork chops from Whole Foods—they’re tender and juicy and hard to screw up. This recipe combined a nice spicy rub (cayenne, chili powder, paprika) with a citrusy sauce made from OJ, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. The recipe called to cook on the stove but with the thicker cut of pork chop I had, I finished them in the oven. Loved the spicy/sweet combo of this dish and would definitely make again.

Thank god for Lara
I’m at the point where a Lara Bar tastes like a chocolate sundae to me. I think I would die without them as a little treat with my coffee.

Going Coconuts
I’m pretty sure I’m eating every part of the coconut on this diet and I can’t get enough of it. I discovered coconut chips at Whole Foods that make a delicious addition to any sweet snack. I also switched it up from almond milk to an almond/coconut combo and always have coconut water on hand for my smoothies (my go-to smoothie is almond/coconut milk, coconut water blueberries, strawberries, ½ frozen banana, hemp protein, chia seeds, flax seeds and coconut).

Looking Ahead:
I’m pretty happy with where I’m at now and wouldn’t make any other changes. I’ve upped my fitness routine to integrate 4 days of cardio and 5 days of yoga as a goal. With the mild weather it’s a treat to get outside and enjoy the mountains. The big challenge ahead is how to continue with the challenge once the challenge is over. My yoga teacher Bikram once said, “It is much easier to achieve a goal than to maintain it.” How long before the devil on my shoulder creeps back in, “It’s Friday, go ahead,” or “You’re with friends. Eat a slice of pizza. Don’t be the high maintenance one” or “You can’t go to a Mexican restaurant and not eat beans and cheese.”

Thanks for all your comments and support along the way. You guys are awesome!

One more week to go …




Paleo Week 4: Losing my mind instead of weight.

March 14, 2015

Weight: 133.0 I was afraid to weigh myself this morning because it upsets and frustrates me so much, but I thought, “What if I’ve lost weight?” I went skinning up Tiehack yesterday with a friend who couldn’t believe I weigh over 130 (she is the same height as me and weighs a healthier 116 lbs). […]

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Paleo Challenge Week 3: I think I see the light

March 7, 2015

Weight: 132.4 (arrrrrgggghhhh) Screw the damn scale, I hit my stride this week, finding more of a daily rhythm in terms of food choices. I’m looking much leaner and my clothes are fitting differently (even though the scale won’t f—king budge) and I feel good. My skin continues to improve and I do believe now, […]

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Paleo Week 2: An Uphill Battle

March 2, 2015

End of Week 2: 134.8 pounds  My mom always said the war with the scale is a “lifelong battle,” and she always had the discipline to maintain her weight and is very fit and very slim now in her early 70s. If there’s one thing I learned this week in the Paleo Challenge is that […]

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Kale Chips, Chia Seeds and Hemp Protein: Paleo Week 1

February 21, 2015

February 21, 2015: 9 Days In   Weight: 131.2 I was really scared to get on the scale because I can tell I haven’t lost weight and I was afraid I’d maybe gained weight because I had to go out to eat twice this week and working at home, I have a hard time not […]

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Paleo? Here we go …

February 17, 2015
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If you woulda told me I’d end up on some caveman diet, I’d probably say something obnoxious like, “I’d rather eat lint that have to give up pretzels and beer.” But last Thursday I began a 6-week-long commitment to the Sopris Chiropractic Paleo Challenge lead by Dr. Scott Tesero and his wife Laurel. Here’s the […]

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It’s a Brave New Floor

December 3, 2014

It was love at first sight the first time I walked into our little A-Frame on the Frying Pan–even though it was the only house we looked at, we put in an offer right away. There was only one problem — I didn’t love the floors. It was pretty clear the sage green carpet in […]

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A Colorado Thanksgiving

December 2, 2014
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Growing up in a Jewish family with parents who are atheists but intelligent enough to tell people they’re agnostic, Thanksgiving was always the biggest holiday of the year because of it’s pleasantly secular nature. Not only did my mom write off God, she was also not a big fan of cooking, especially for a large […]

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The Kids Are Allright: Why I love volunteering for YouthEntity

November 13, 2014

My entire career was inspired by one person.I was a sophomore in college, taking the prerequisites to apply to the journalism school at the University of Colorado at Boulder and was not loving Reporting or Mass Media 101. I wasn’t sure if learning grammar and spelling and Associated Press Style was my thing. Then one […]

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