If you haven’t heard about the Paleo Caveman Diet or the Crossfit (IronTribe in Birmingham) workout style, then do not be afraid. If you HAVE, then also don’t be afraid either. I’ve gone from hate to indifference to curiosity to personal guinea pig in order to determine the what, how, and why of this recent craze. Between my injury-prone history, my all or nothing athletic attitude, and my obsession with finding harmony, health, and balance, I became humbled enough to seek outside advice and inside experience.
I’ve always been the person who had to try it on before believing it. My famous last words before every break-through or breakdown, as it more often seemed to be, were, “I can do it myself.” And oh how I tried, sometimes succeeding but usually ending up with stitches (head, finger, nose, chin, etc.). My ego and/or excitement seemed to always get me in trouble or hurt, until I realized how to embrace as a lesson that I desperately needed to learn. Too bad it only took 30 years, a severely weakened and pulled hamstring, and a painful finish to my 1st half-marathon to learn it. That was the spiritual 2×4 that has so lovingly followed me around for decades. Of course I didn’t even realize its’ presence until about 10 years ago.
So now I’m 30 and the realities of fitness, family, work, and spiritual reality are booming loudly around me and inside me. I can’t keep going full blast until breakdown like I did in my teens and 20s. Unless I want blown out knees, hips, back, and more (Dr. Sophia Lal already pointed out the bursitis and arthritis in my hips, least I say more).
In an effort to minimize and eventually eliminate my pain and join inflammation, I’ve not only been going to physical therapy at Eskridge & White for 4 month but I’ve started working with new chiropractor, Dr. Jessica Dietrich-Marsh, in Pelham. Strengthening muscles, aligning bones/vertebrae, discovering nutritional deficiencies, and being my own patient, has given me patience and insight into what true healing is about. While no one “diet” or “food plan” is for everyone, I do believe we have much to learn from each other.
WHY the Paleo, Cross-Fit, Spinning, Yoga-Extravaganza?!
PALEO: This caveman approach says we need to go back to our ancestral diet because they didn’t have diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc. Paleo people blame the previous on excess fats, carbohydrates, sugars, and dairy. In particular, sugar (i.e. simple/double & even complex carbohydrates like grains/wheat) can feed the body’s stress response along with overtaxing the the liver & other digestive organs leading to an accumulation of toxins (and fat: the “tire around the waist” kind). It does give us energy but we have made sugar a food group and the main one at that in the past 30 years. No one needs that much energy, nor that poor of a quality which is found in sodas, desserts, and all sorts of pre-fabbed (i.e. processed) foods. Basically, sugar feeds the Stress Response which creates Toxins = Inflammation. Enough said. I’m inflamed enough so good by wheat, dairy, refined foods, potatoes, rice/quinoa except at lunch/dinner with protein and veggies. I’m still going to eat my legumes though; the vegetarian in me is still quite alive.
For more ideas on a gentle balance way to try it out, check out Paleo for Athletes.
CROSS-FIT/IRON TRIBE go hand in hand with the Paleo diet. The point behind their WODs (workout of the day) is to keep your body and brain guessing but also use dynamic, functional movements like lifting, swing, pushing, pulling, etc. They only have you do it with weight, quickly, and timed. This method builds endurance and quick muscle firing = strength and agility to name a few. My weak muscles and extra-stretchy body via Yoga called for major strengthening if I was ever going to swim, bike, run or even walk again pain-free. I might can stand on my head, balance on one foot, touch my toes, and fold over backwards but what functional purpose does that have if I can stand or sit for more than 5 minutes without hurting? So strength it is!
SPINNING & YOGA: These two things probably seem like polar opposites depending on the type of spinning and/or yoga class you attend but for me that create a dynamic balance of cardio, flexibility, and mental focus. Spinning makes me physically strong like the Cross-fit moves but it also requires focused breathing which I hone through my yoga practice. My yoga is more breathe work and meditation these days than an endless series of body contorting poses. It’s all good but only if it fits YOUR NEEDS. Stretching wasn’t working anymore and I couldn’t figure out how to strengthen while I stretched so I pulled the two a part and created a practice for me.
This is the introduction. Look forward to the reports. Y-Cross starts in T-30 minutes.
WATCH ANOTHER LOCAL ATHLETE & WRITER named Kim Cross as she takes herself through a similar journey under the tutelage of IronTribe Instructors and the healthcare professionals at Fagan Sports Medicine and PhysioFitness. Check out Kim’s journey at Operation IronTribe.