Happy Paleoversary to me!

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I love this Tolkein quote.  It seems rather apropos of my journey to improve myself over all and my journey to improve my diet and health.  I’ve always had an interest in nutrition it seems, I just didn’t realize it.  And, looking back, I was more right than wrong despite always trusting my instinct.  From a very early age I shunned bread unless used for a sandwich. I gravitated towards real butter figuring something natural should be better than something synthetic and made of who knows what.  And I’ve always preferred more of the main course than dessert. So it seems I was not lost, as so many others are, but just wandering around aimlessly, feeling my way through the dark.  Until 4 years ago today. Which makes today a rather special day.  It’s my Paleoversary!  Well, not really, that’s actually January 1st when I began my first 30 Day Paleo Challenge.  But today marks the beginning of the road I’ve been traveling for the past 4 years.

It all began when was invited by a guy I barely knew (he’s now a very good friend and my trainer), to attend a nutrition seminar in a tiny Karate Dojo doubling as a Crossfit gym.  Some lady, whom I had never heard of, named Diane Sanfilippo was coming to give a talk on Paleo nutrition.  I had heard of Paleo at that point through my involvement in Crossfit, but at that time Crossfit was really pushing The Zone diet. And I had heard of Robb Wolf and had just begun his book The Paleo Solution but didn’t really know who he was yet either.  But this Diane person was somehow connected to him, and he wrote a book I was reading.  So, maybe she knew something.

I was eager to learn more.  I knew diet was the thing most holding me back from improving my performance in the Crossfit WoDs, and I also knew that no matter how hard I worked out that flab I had acquired in my 30s just wasn’t going away.  There had to be something else.   So I signed up for this seminar and brought my wife.  We’d discussed in the past seeing a nutritionist or dietician, but never really done more than talk about it.  This seemed like a logical and safe step to me.  No commitment, but if I liked what this Diane person had to say, maybe she’d help us or recommend someone who would.

Little did I know then where this road would lead.  It turns out this seminar was her 2nd ever seminar. And starting with an e-mail I sent her the day before (I almost titled this post “Diane didn’t know what she signed up for! The e-mail is posted below for your amusement 🙂 I’ve developed a friendship with Diane that has lasted these four years.  In that time I’ve gone from some guy who knew really nothing about fitness and nutrition to a guy with a Paleo website (this one here!) , a Facebook page of the same name (Thoughtful Cave Dad), Facebook group dedicated to helping people complete their own challenges (have a challenge? need support? join us for “30 Days in the Cave“), and being on Diane’s volunteer staff to help support people and answer questions about her 21 Day Sugar Detox program (you can buy the book or the online program).

Who knew that attending this small little seminar, with a white board propped up on folding chair, would lead to such tremendous changes in my own health and that of my family.  Who knew I’d end up going on to help countless others on their journeys to improve themselves, their diet, their health, and who knows what else.

But, as the old saying goes:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

— Lao Tzu

So, take that one step, and see where it leads.  You might be pleasantly surprised!

For chuckles, here’s that seminal e-mail, written 4 years ago yesterday.  It’s a wonder, with an e-mail like that, she’s kept me around!

On Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Paul Lussier <contact@eventbrite.com> wrote:

Paul Lussier has a question for you about your event.

Hello Diane,

My name is Paul, and I’ll be attending your workshop tomorrow at Crossfit Woodshed. I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ve been reading up on nutrition quite a bit the past few months, and so far have digested (no pun intended 🙂 Barry Sears’ The Zone, Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint, and have just started Robb Wolf’s new book The Paleo Solution. Though, despite all this, I still have a few nagging questions I’m hoping to get answered. So I don’t catch you off guard tomorrow I thought it only fair to give some time to prepare 🙂

First and foremost on my mind is the part nuts seem to play in a paleo/zone lifestyle. I have 2 daughters, both of whom have food allergies; specifically to all tree nuts, peanuts (but not other legumes), sesame, and sunflower seeds.

I’m very interested in how to approach the paleo lifestyle without these items, since though not a requirement, certainly a huge convenience, especially when snacking.

I’m also very interested in understanding what’s wrong with legumes in general. I don’t really understand how they differ from vegetables, or what constitutes a legume, or why they’re not good (I’ve got a decent understanding of the evilness of wheat/grain/soy, though). I just recently came across the idea that a paleo diet excludes these things, and, like grains, had always thought they were good for you.

Another question that’s bugging me relates to eggs. Barry Sears seems anti-yolk due to it’s high content of arachadonic acid. Yet the Paleo people seem to be all for whole eggs. I’m very confused on this issue and hope you can address it as well.

And lastly, oatmeal. I love the stuff. Which, I understand won’t make it any better for me 🙂 In The Zone, Barry Sears recommends in favor of consuming oatmeal (specifically slow-cooked, steel-cut, which is the only kind in my opnion!) because of it’s high content of GLA, which our bodies stop producing after age 30. Yet, the paleo diet is anti-grain, and though I haven’t heard anyone specifically say oatmeal is bad, I’m assuming since it’s a grain, that it’s on the list of bad stuff.

Additionally, I’ve been adding flax seed to my porridge, since it’s supposed to be very high in Omega 3s. However, Sears also mentions that flax seed and flax seed oil are also high in ALA which inhibits the production of Delta 6 Desaturase, which our bodies break down in order to produce GLA.

But, since I’m past 30, I’m theoretically not really producing much GLA on my own anyway,
hence the consumption of oatmeal. Interestingly, GLA is further broken down into Arachadonic Acid, the very thing that Sears says is so wrong with egg yolks. So, why am I consuming that which will turn into the thing I’m supposed to avoid?

I apologize for being so long-winded, and for getting into the deep science of this (I’m sure you’re likely to tell me I’m way over-thinking this stuff 🙂 but I’m an engineer/math guy and, like Robb Wolf, really get into all the numbers and science of this stuff!

I assure you, I’m not stressing over this, I’m just interested 🙂

Thank you for your time, especially if you’ve made it this far! And I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.


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