How to win friends and influence Paleo

Welcome to the new people who are just jumping on board now. In fact, all of you newcomers inspired today’s post… better late than never, right?

Today, I’d like to talk about one of the first struggles you’ll most likely hit when you start practicing this new way of eating. No, I’m not talking about the cravings, or the energy fluctuations, or even the grocery bills. I’m talking about the negative reactions of your friends and family. “You’re eating all that fat? That can’t be good for you.” Or, “That’s like Atkins, right? That’s just a fad diet.” Or, “It so restrictive – you can’t eat anything!” I’m sure you’ve all heard these statements and then some since you began your 30 day period. And Oprah knows, it can be tough enough to stick out the 30 days on your own, never mind if you have to defend yourself against the negative reactions, doubts and criticisms of your spouses, friends and co-workers. So what’s a 30 day’er to do? Here are some of my best tips for dealing with the nay-sayers (in a way that won’t get you divorced, de-friended or fired).

  • Lead by quiet example. This one is first for a reason, people, and it’s your most powerful ally. Your results will speak for themselves. After 30 days, when your energy is rockin’, your skin is clear, your aches and pains are gone and you’ve shed some fat or built some muscle, people will notice, and they will ask you what you’ve been doing. It’s kind of hard to doubt the method when the results are right there in front of them. So let your experience shine through, answer questions if asked but don’t waste your breath trying to convince, cajole or persuade others before they’re ready. Just be a living example of what this way of eating could potentially do for them.
  • Pick your battles. I guarantee on thing – you can make people feel bad about themselves just by rolling up to the lunch table. The way you eat may very well remind people that they aren’t eating the way they should, or could, or might want to. As such, they’re on the defensive the minute you plop your salmon and vegetables next to their Lean Cuisines. Now is not the time to point out the dangers of grains, or comment on the study you just read linking diet soda to obesity. Keep your lunch to yourself, and encourage others to do the same by not responding to blatant pokes, jabs or attacks on your “weird diet”. If someone is truly interested, have the conversation away from the crowd, when you can speak privately and not be interrupted by the haters.
  • Educate yourself. You know you’ll have to deal with questions, comments and straight-up challenges from time to time, so you’d better be prepared. If I asked you right now, “Why don’t you eat dairy?”, how many of you would have an immediate answer for me? That answer could range from the documented inflammatory properties to the fact that as soon as you stopped, your skin cleared up – anything from reference to personal experience. The point is – you’d better have an answer – and it can’t just be, “Because Urban said so.” (Although I really like that answer.) So, do your homework. Figure out the difference between Atkins and Paleo. Learn why certain foods are excluded. Understand how a diet high in good fats helps promote body fat loss. Prepare some remarks based on your own experience. Just don’t show up empty-handed, because if you do, you’ll lose any chance you may have had to get the other party to buy in. (And if that other party is your Mom who shops for all the food, your husband who cooks all the food or your roommate who pays for half the food, you really can’t afford to lose that chance.) On that note, however…
  • Refer to “scientific evidence” cautiously. I’m not saying you shouldn’t research and cite information from the likes of Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf or Gary Taubes. What I am saying, however, is that for every science-y article you find that talks about, say, why dairy is bad… there are a hundred just as science-y articles that will say the exact opposite. My recommendation? Unless you’re totally on the ball with scientific references (and able to smartly refute the opposing side on the fly), don’t let the scientific research be the only leg you choose to stand on. Refer back to point #1 – lead by example, and cite REAL people who have had REAL results. Hell, point ’em here. We’re not a clinical study – we’ve got thousands of comments (literally) from real people who can attest to the real benefits of eating this way. Kind of hard to argue with all that, you would think. Which brings me to my final point…
  • When outnumbered, fall back. You may very well find yourself stuck in a battle that you just can’t win. It’s a family dinner, your parents, siblings and children are at the table and you’re being hammered with doubts, skepticism and outright criticism. Take a deep breath, smile and simply fall back. In the end, the only person whose health and wellness you are responsible for is YOU. And while it may pain you to see the unhealthy behaviours exhibited by your friends and family, ultimately, they are responsible for their own lives, and their own choices. So rather than spark a bitter feud or ruin a birthday party, swallow your ego, your pride and your frustration and simply say, “Well, this is actually kind of working for me right now, but I hear what you’re saying and I really appreciate your thoughts. Now let’s get back to enjoying this delicious meal!” Sometimes, that’s all you can do… and that’s okay. Refer back to point #1… if people are open to change, eventually THEY will come to YOU, and you’ll get that opportunity to help them.

I hope some of these ideas clear a wider path for your 30-day and beyond journey. I’m sure some of you have also arrived at your own strategies for dealing with negative reactions to all of the wonderful and healthy changes you are making in your life. Share them here with us, so that we can all learn and benefit from some of the difficult and painful conversations you may have had along the way. And, as always, thanks for reading, and thanks for contributing. My community rocks, and I’m super proud to be your hostess.

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  1. Katie says

    Byers, I feel guilty because I didn't pick up the 30 day challenge you threw down, but I wasn't ready. I was still getting my headspace under control, but have now decided to go Primal (very much Paleo with a few minor differences). It's funny that eating healthier has allowed me to find new foods and try new things that I never knew I liked. However, as happy as I've been experimenting in my mad sciencey type kitchen, I've hit some speedbumps already with naysayers. I try to avoid the sciency stuff because as you said, the argument about grains being good for you etc. quickly flies back in my face when I make comments about what negative things they can do. I love my sister dearly but while spending the weekend with her in NYC she asked me repeatedly where I "could" eat and what I "could" eat. When I tried to explain to her what I could eat and what I was doing she yelled at me for not eating any grains. It was very frustrating. I think leading quietly by example is def the way to go and letting the PR's (4 new ones in two weeks), and my energy speak for themselves.

    I think everyone who took your challenge did a tremendous job, and I commend them for sticking with it. I hope they can continue too!

  2. Steve says


    When I first read this post I thought I would not need your advice. The only one who knows about my new way of eating so far is my loving wife and she understands my need to get healthy and supports me in this diet 200%. But then I remembered Saturday night.

    The day before I started the paleo diet was the fantasy football draft for my league. I purposely put off starting the diet, so I could enjoy the draft without the added pressures of the diet and having to explain myself before I had any results to show for it.

    When the draft was over two buddies of mine and I started to bullshit over a couple of beers. I was really having a good time until Jim looked over to me and said “you shouldn’t run because you are too fat. Steve you need to walk first and lose some weight before you can run.”

    I tried to explain to him I started CrossFitting four weeks ago and walking would not push me hard enough to get any health benefits. I mean after performing Fight Gone Bad running seems easy. Then my other buddy Keith joined in told me to listen to Jim. I was dumbfounded. So I told them what they wanted to hear and I am back doing the WODs because I can’t let two good buddies keep me from my goals.

    I guess what I am trying to say thanks for the good advice.

  3. Karl says

    Ugh. Naysayers. Why is the world full of people who want to give unsolicited advice?

    @Melissa: It's funny that you blogged on this topic, as I was thinking about this exact issue over the last few days (counting down to go home 25# lighter, so I know explanations will be asked for). Also, being in the military, there are way too many people who know better than you and are ready to sharpshoot whatever effort you are making. Here are my thoughts as I return fire at these know-it-alls:

    1.) To quote Clarence Bass, everybody is an Experiment of One. This is my experiment, and it's working for me. If you're getting unsolicited advice from someone, ask them, "How is your experiment going?" Most naysayers are failing in their experiments–that's why they're picking on you.

    2.) Require some actual success from the person who is giving me the advice. Ask them what's worked for them, show me that it has worked, and then there might be a conversation worth having. If not, change topics. It's not worth the energy arguing about it.

    3.) Stand your ground. Give them the tough love that you may be relying on to get yourself through this lifechanging 30 days. Like Melissa said, I thought we grew past peer pressure in the 7th Grade.

    4.) Stay positive. That doesn't mean soft-spoken, but keep the conversation positive. If things dip towards the negative by shaming or sharpshooting, kindly change the topic to something with more common ground to keep it friendly. If they keep circling back to it (and some people love to keep doing this), simply refer to Tip #3 above and excuse yourself. You have better ways to spend your time and energy.

    5.) Play with your food. Sometimes, out of decorum, you have to put things on your plate you're not going to eat (they made it especially for you, bosses are watching, someone brought you lunch, etc). No worries–just do what three-year-olds do and eat around it. Nobody says you have to clean your plate to be nice. Tear the bread up, move the peas around, hoover up the salad, steamed veggies, and meat entree (after scraping off the sauce). Three-year-olds are experts at this, and only us parents are watching… nobody else.

    @Steve: I feel for you. There's nothing worse than being out with friends, expecting their support, and they turn on you and make you feel bad for what you're trying to accomplish by telling you that you are doing it wrong. I am, and forever will be, a recovering fat kid. And it's been a lot of what I've heard over many years of this battle with my body. Don't let it get you down. Put some Black Flag on your iPod, get your running shoes on, and hit the road screaming "Eff you, world! I'm bloody doing this!" Right here. Right now. It's your experiment. Nobody else's.

    And know, we're here to support you.

  4. Melicious says

    Here are some typical conversations I have with my co-workers in the lunch room:

    Clueless #1: Hey, Mel. Are you still doing that Bootcamp thing.

    Me, outloud: Yes, I love it! (Smile)

    Me, inside: Do I not FUCKING LOOK like I'm still "doing that bootcamp thing." And by the way, I do the indoor class now, too, and I just did my first deadhang chinup at 6:30 this morning. What did YOU do before work.


    Clueless #2: So… you don't eat any carbs? Don't you miss bread? Isn't that bad for you?

    Me, out loud: I get my carbs from vegetables and fruits… and no, I don't really miss the bread. I still like a good baguette, but I only eat it once in a while 'cause it's not good for me.

    Me, inside: How's that burrito the size of a baby treating you? Gonna feel real energetic this afternoon, right, so you'll be heading for the coffee in about an hour trying to keep your eyes open.


    But, to be fair, something wonderful has happened in the last 6 months or so…

    3 of my co-workers joined CrossFit after seeing my results

    a co-worker who literally didn't eat all day is now joining me in the kitchen at lunchtime and eating fruit, peanut butter, and vegetables (baby steps)

    when we ordered pizza for a team meeting, the project manager also ordered salads from Whole Foods so I would be able to eat… and other people ate the salad, too.

    I no longer feel awkward bringing my own food to meetings, and now instead of raised eyebrows, I get "what did you bring today?… it looks good."

    It takes people time. At least in my circumstances, the #1 reason I got pushback from people was that my good habits gave them a wake-up call about their bad habits. These people need compassion and gentle love — they are NOT ready for the tough love.

    I remember when I was obese and not physically active. I was filled with shame when I saw people eating healthy food, running, jumping, climbing, whatever. I felt like I was looking in a reverse mirror and seeing what I should be doing.

    So, yeah… I might be sarcastic on the inside, but genuinely, to people who are lost, I try to be compassionate. It's a long journey, and not an easy one.

    Carry on, Cave people. Spread the good work. Give it with love and patience if you can… and if someone is a bonehead, too bad for them. Cause when the zombie attack comes, we'll be ready (kidding. that last part made me sound nuts, right?… cool!)

  5. Charity says

    Oh how I could have used this post this weekend. It was tough. Big family birthday party in another state. Finding food was hard. Eating enough was harder. I kept getting all kinds of nastiness pushed in my face. On top of that,I somehow ended up in a conversation having to explain Crossfit to 'exercise' professionals who still think heavy lifting is not for 'girls'. I'm so happy to be home.

  6. johnj says

    I started the 30 day paleo period 4 days ago. I wanted some input on energy fluctuations in the beginning stages. I am an avid CF'er and CFE'er and i feel absolutely dead right now…almost shaky. Is this normal? I am still eating the same amount of food…just strict paleo, and my fat intake i believe to be high but maybe i need to watch it closely. Also on the paleo shopping list it says to limit egg intake to 6 a week. i eat 6 a day…and referencing mark's daily apple he suggests a dozen a day rather than the GOMAD idea. Just wanted ur thoughts on egg intake also. thanks!

  7. Chad says

    @johnj – If you look at the posts through the original 30 days, you will see that, yes, it sometimes takes a couple of weeks (or more) for your body to get used to the new fuel source. Robb Wolf had a great post recently on this. See it here: As for the eggs, it's your call. Some paleo folks encourage limiting the dietary fat (apparently Loren Cordain does in his early work) but I think you'll see that MB and most here encourage fat intake. Good luck and stick with it.

  8. Brandon P. Petersen says


    so telling them they are idiots, and this is the reason is they are out of shape and look the way they do DONT work? $hit, i've been going about it all wrong!! :-) :-)

    Honestly, i gave up on trying to help people around me, unless like you said, they come to me on the side and are serious. I got to many foolish rebuttals, that made me contemplate cutting my own ear off!

    Here's to learning more!!

  9. Chelsea says

    @Melicious – You are freakin hilarious! I've had a similar situation at work. As my co-workers have found out by my refusal to support their "Heart Healthy Bakesale", amongst other retarded fundraisers for the AHA, I am not afraid to tell them when I don't agree. After getting a few questions on why I wasn't eating the 'free lunch', they started asking me for my input on where to order lunch from so that I'd have something to eat. I've got them ordering soup, salad, half-sandwiches, and fruit for dessert now rather than Pizza!

    With direct regards to the post…the biggest thing I have trouble defending is legumes. People don't understand why you shouldn't eat something that might make you sick if you ate it raw. And I'm having trouble explaining it. Any suggestions on that one?

    I've also noticed that even when people accept that my way of eating is better, I get a lot of 'Oh I could never do that's and 'I could NEVER give up such-and-such'. My sister-in-law, after watching me feed my neice raw bell pepper and cucumber, even claimed 'she would NEVER eat that for me!'. How can I phrase what I want to say, 'it's not THAT fucking hard', and 'she would eat it if she saw YOU eating it', in a way that will draw them in rather than scare them further away?

  10. bernie says

    I've had folks ask me if I'm concerned with cholesterol from eating so many meat products. Honestly, I haven't done the research so I don't know how to answer.

    Also, I have an off-topic question for y'all. I'm a latte lover. I can give up the milk latte, but I'd really like to have at least a soy latte now and then. In what way is soy cock blocking me, and is it a less bad substitute for milk?

    I've tried coconut milk and it's just not doing it for me. I'll turn to almond milk next, but, most cafes don't have almond milk, and everyone knows a latte tastes better when it's made my someone else.

  11. Tamson says

    I've been lucky enough to have pretty supportive people around me. I'm sure a few think I'm crazy, but they keep it to themselvers. Mostly what I get is some pretty gentle teasing, and I usually tease myself in response. Then there's my six year old ("Mom, did cavemen eat pizza?). I think the response of your family, friends, peers and how it affects you is largely dependent on how you decide to approach the 30 days. I always thought of it as a personal experiment–which is essentially what it is. The reason the basic tenets of nutrition are so hard to nail down is that we are all so different–we grew up eating different things, we evolved from different populations originating in different parts of the world with different food sources….So it's kind of ludicrous to pretend that what's good for you is going to be good for someone else. There will be overlap, but we're all going to have variations. So my biggest fear going into the experiment is that I didn't want people to think I was self-righteous because of my diet. That in mind, it doesn't seem right to attack someone's pizza habit because you think they would be better off without it. Who's to say? Maybe the pizza is really worth it to some. My coworker is a phenomenal athlete and has a two cookie a day habit….Everyone responds to things differently.

    @Chelsea: With regard to legumes, I have to say those were the biggest offender in my diet. Everyone says they're so healthy, and they make me feel like absolute crap. I persisted in eating them because they are supposed to be so freakin' healthy, and I continued to feel crappy. So I'm pleased be liberated.

    And finally, with regard to kids and food: There's always something that a kid will eat for other people that s/he won't eat for a parent. So kudos, Chelsea, but take it easy on your sister. I've been in her shoes. Sometimes they either know they can get away with it with you or they just want to keep up the challenge. Either way,it's not an easy job.

  12. Brandon P. Petersen says


    i think someone has mentioned once in a while having Organic Soy Milk with their coffee….
    I picked up small thing of this. Dairy and Gluten free.
    i havent tried in a coffee yet, but think i am going to this evening…

  13. Chelsea says

    @Tamson — I totally understand the whole kids & food thing…my gut reaction is to say 'you're the parent, and they can only eat what you buy', but then again, I don't have kids (yet) and I know when I do I'm bound to change my opinions (or atleast modify them). Which is why I did NOT blatantly reply in the aforementioned way to my sis'-in-law. My question is, what CAN I say that is more delicate and gentle to lead her towards feeding her baby something besides frozen chicken nuggets, french fries, and hot dogs? I know they're not my kids, I still love them dearly and I want the best for them. I don't want to wait until I have my own kids to use as 'examples', but I suppose I just might have to?

  14. Renee says

    @Chelsea: I believe it was Mark Sisson that wrote up a big thing about legumes and why they're bad. Most(all?) legumes have toxin in it called lectin that is known to have atherosclerotic properties (hardening veins). I know Cordain also wrote about this in reference to rabbits.

    @Bernie: Soy is cock blocking you specifically as a male in that it supposedly increases estrogen production. For men that want to get way strong with testosterone, producing extra estrogen probably isn't helping you. (could be wrong here…but i think that's one of the issues.) suck it up and drink it black :D

  15. bernie says

    @Renee: Thanks for the science on soy. Except, I'm a girl. So I wonder how the excess estrogen might affect me? And how much soy it would take to affect the hormone balance. I guess at this point I should consult google. ;)

  16. Black Rabbitt says

    I got a blood test to prove my point. LDL is 100, HDL is 102. Before getting rid of the refined carbs my LDL was the same, but I only had a HDL of 60. Triglycerides went down. % bf went down. Yea Meat!

  17. Melissa Byers says

    @Steve: The idea that you need to be in better shape before you start exercising is so retarded, I'd swear I've been huffing paint. You know what you're doing is working for you – so just keep on doing it. Lead by quiet example, and show them that HARD work brings FAST results.

    @Karl & Mel: I'm considering just handing the whole damn blog over to you two, your comments are so good. Thanks to both of you for your continued contributions – and fantastic advice here, all around.

    @Bernie: First, I am in total agreement with Black Rabbit. Go to your doctor, get a physical and know your numbers. When people ask you if you're concerned, you can then say with certainty that with stats like yours, you have no reason for concern.

    As for soy lattes and soy milk in coffee, that's the compromise I've chosen to make. As long as you're not drinking too many, or using too much soy in your cup, I wouldn't worry about the effects. Starbucks soy lattes are delicious, but you have no control over how much soy they use. A better option on a daily basis is to make your own delicious coffee, and add a splash of soy creamer yourself. I like the Silk stuff – the creamer, not the milk. (The creamer is a bit thicker.)

  18. Steve says

    @Karl and Melissa thanks for the kind words and support.

    I am hooked on CrossFit and I am building an awesome home Gym. No good affiliates near me so I work out at home. I have joined the CrossFit journal and spend hours studying video and practicing my skills. Not so good at the clean yet but it will come.

    I am on day four with the paleo diet and my craving are less but still are there. I noticed I am more restless at night but I believe that is because my body is in withdraw from the toxic food I use to eat. So I must say so far so good.

    Anyway this is a great place to come to learn new skills and offer and receive support in our quest for a fitter and healthy life.

  19. Shayna says

    @Charity: I totally understand your problem with other people who are "exercise" professionals, especially in the family. My brother is a personal trainer, and when I tried to show him CrossFit, he just claimed it was some sort of "Lose weight quick" scheme. He also started saying it wasn't safe because we do things like deep squats. He refused to look at the main site or anything. Very frustrating. Don't let it get you down. I've decided that I'll prove to him how awesome CrossFit is by continuing to do it and sharing each accomplishment I get. Maybe you'll shut your relatives up when you can lift just as much as they can or do more pull-ups. :)

  20. Charity says

    It wasn't all bad though. My sister in law is very cool about it. I guess she was impressed with what was basically wallballs (or thrusters but that sounds wrong) using my 32 pound 2 1/2 year old nephew for a ball (no, I didn't smack his little head on the wall) even with the incessant 'AGAIN AUNTIE!'. Toddler throw is quite possibly my favorite workout now!

  21. Robbie says

    This is a skill I have had to pick up quickly.Working in a gym with a bunch of hardheaded crossfit hating bodybuilders and eating Paleo has raised a few eyebrows when I sit down burgers with no bun, grilled eggplant and guac. I have the rep for being the chef among us, so my meals are closely watched…nobody has tried Paleo yet, but a couple guys are looking at it hard. I have given up dropping knowledge and just state the facts. I dropped 8 pounds of fat in 6 weeks and gained 3 pounds of muscle. Then I shut up and chow down. The in-house nutritionist told me I was getting too skinny and that my high fat diet was going to hurt my liver. I smiled and said when my liver goes, I will fry it with onions and eat it.
    Prob not the most scientific way to rep paleo, but bad ass nonetheless.

    @Steve: I'm a solo Crossfitter as well, it's a challenge but very rewarding and when I do get a chance to hit up CF Toronto, I get so fired up from the energy, then I hurt for days!! I'm following CF 603 right now, amazing programming, but tough! Props to you for being a solo and fighting the good fight!

  22. Tamson says

    @Chelsea: I think you are having an influence. It sounds like you got your niece to eat veggies and your sister-in-law was appropriately impressed. I am not an expert at this sort of thing, but I do have a similar problem in reverse. My in-laws love to spoil with food and because I think it will be counterproductive, I really try not to go head to head with them.I try to instead just offer positive solutions and set a good example–give healthy and yummy choice whenever possible. Like you did! And if it gets really bad, I make my husband talk to them!

  23. Tracy says

    At first when people asked why I was eating the way I was I started saying that I wasn’t eating grains, dairy, legumes, etc. They would then comment they couldn’t understand how I wasn’t eating carbs and they would be saying this to me while I was eating a bowl of beef curry with turnip, mushrooms and peppers or snacking on carrots and sunbutter.
    I changed my explanation to that I was cutting out processed foods, especially ones with ingredients I can’t pronounce. If I can’t take a food in its raw state into my kitchen and be able to eat it after preparing it myself it won’t be included in my diet. People understand this concept much more quickly. As for the whole legume conversation, rather than trying to explain how they need to be processed to be consumable I will just say they make me gassy. ‘Oh I love hummus but my guts are rotten an hour later.’ That shuts people up pretty quickly and will make it less likely for them to offer them to you. Then I may go into a spiel about how it may cost a little more but it is great to be able to support a community by purchasing local produced foods whenever possible. This is a great way to distract from the conversation if necessary.
    Good luck to the newbies and you should read all of the posts, there are some great recipes out there. Chef posted a great one for Chowder if anyone is interested:

  24. Kate says

    If you are starting to get sick of food, here is a stir fry to try. I made it up based on some recipes from Melicious and Steve Paleo, so I am really proud of myself!

    Olive oil
    2 lb chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces with bone removed if applicable)
    3 medium diced tomatoes
    2 sliced carrots
    2 diced onions
    ½ of a red pepper, diced
    4 cups leafy spinach
    ½ to 2/3 cup coconut milk
    Salt free Italian spice powder (onion powder, basil, oregano, garlic)
    I also used some Tastefully Simple pesto spice (which does not have sugar!)

    Put some olive oil in a large non-stick pan (about 2 tbsp). Put chicken in pan and sauté until chicken is cooked through. As chicken is cooking, add in some spices. Remove cooked chicken from pan and set off to side.

    Drain any liquid from pan. Put more olive oil in pan (3 tbsp). Put all vegetables into pan. Add in some spices. Sauté until cooked to your desired level of crunchiness. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

    Drain any liquid from pan. Put olive oil in pan (~1 tbsp). Put coconut milk in pan. Add some spices. Stir together for about 1 minute. Add chicken and vegetables back in pan and mix with sauce. Cook for 1 more minute.

  25. Matthew Campato says

    Melissa first off I have to say, this being my first post and all, that your blog is incredible and the people hear are all amazing. That being said your blog was what motivated me to start the 30 day challenge. After doing zone for about 3 months and not seeing any results and lack of energy(long story) I decided to go back paleo like when I first started Crossfitting almost 6 months ago. I'm just 7 days into the challenge and I will say it has not been easy. From the managers at work throwing us a pizza party(20 costco pizza's with soda. It's my kryptonite. I'm italian.) to going to Disneyland last night with my sister and walking by every ice cream shop and bakery they had things have not been easy. People at work are like it is ok you can have just one small slice of pizza or one small cookie. But I keep thinking about how you said once you start if you slip up there is no restarting on the challenge, I have had the fortitude to say no to things that my body is "craving."

    Thank you so much for the open and candid way that you address the issues that we as CrossFitters face on a daily basis from those that right now do not understand or see eye to eye with the way we are eating or approaching fitness. This blog has been my safe haven and my recharge when things get tough on the eating front. Keep it up. I look forward to every post now. Please keep kickin all of our asses(you know in the good for us motivating way.)

  26. Will K. says

    @Karl- The clean your plate thing was a huge issue for me to overcome. My family always operated on the "clean your plate" principle. Seriously I got the starving children in wherever speech more times than I can count.
    Anyway I am fortunate that my Wife while not jumping on the wagon with me has kept the criticism to a minimum. She has even made some changes of her own. Also, people tend to stop sharpshooting after you point out that you maxed your last APFT (I know we talked about not shaming people into silence but this technique is effective with Army guys).
    Your results are the best argument you can put on the table with a thing like this. I had a coach who used to say "let the scoreboard do your talking for you", this is the same thing. If someone wants to poke at you about your diet point out a PR or two and just let them mull that over.
    Finally Melissa, Awesome point about falling back. We are not the dietary gestapo (Sorry EU type people but it was a good example) here and people other than us are free to eat whatever they want. The only exception I draw to that is my son. Until he's old enough to make mature nutritional decisions on his own I will show him healthy through my example and through what is made available to him at meal times.

  27. kortina says

    "lead by example" and "educate yourself" – two bits of wisdom to live by. props, byers

  28. Oh, what have I done? says

    Great posts people! Love knowing there are a whole tribe of us our there basically feeling the same way.
    Living by example has had a very powerful effect on my kids. They understand now why I say no to the sugary treats, and can accept that they are for just for every now and then. That is a huge success, considering I was raised on Pepperidge Farms cookies and McD's, oh, and spaghettios. I totally agree about shutting up and just persisting without copping an attitude. I am much more effective when I just DO. Sometimes my communication gets too garbled up and then your point is completely lost.That is also why I decided I am not cut out to coach Crossfit. People I have coached get the glazed eye look when I am talking, and however humbling that is, I realize some people are made to communicate effectively and some of us are just work horses. At least I can have a good effect on my 4 kids who I refuse to let grow up and be 'typical'.
    Like Kortina wrote, heres another kudos to Moxy-Boss and everyone else who leads by example and gets educated. And an especial kudos for those blessed few who can get the message across verbally!

  29. Jen says

    So I'm on day 28 of this paleo challenge and feeling terrific. I started doing CF in March and feel amazing.I lost 5#'s last week, set some PR's, kicked some major ass. After losing 200 lbs, I'm finally happy with myself for the first time ever, and I thought this was positively affecting my relationships and my family and my three little kids and my entire life. The owner of the globo-gym where I work even approached me this week asking me to run a bootcamp (which until I get experienced and so much better at CF and get my level 1 cert, is good experience!) For the first time ever I ROCKED a bikini at the beach on Sunday and even posted pictures on facebook. My self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and my self-image have skyrocketed. For the first time ever I like what I see when in look in the mirror. Started my little blog…looking at some advanced certs at a college in the area. Life's great, I thought. Until I walked in the door after CF Monday and my husband told me without any preamble that he's moving out at the end of the month. No warning. No conversations. No nothing. How's that for negative?SSo I'm trying desperately to force myself to eat right now, because I'm not going to let this ruin the good that I've done. And I'm not going to go the other way and turn to food for solace. Thank God I was so far along in this challenge, and already committed to continuing it indefinitely. I think if this had happened three weeks ago, when I was still craving and eating things I didn't want – this would be a very bad thing. I'm so thankful that Melissa's challenge came into my life when it did and has given me strength – both physically and mentally – to deal with this. I'm not a maudlin, whiny type girl – but I did want to share. It's like the pinnacle, the zenith of crappy negativity from people.

  30. Steve says


    I am stuck here trying to think of something to say to make it all better. As a man I have that need to solve a problem rather than to listen. But this is about you and not me so I will just say the following:

    I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I mean it sounds like he really does suck. I don't know, but maybe his pride cannot handle the beautiful successful woman you have become.

    Take good care of yourself not only for yourself, but also for your children.

    Lastly your husband does suck.

  31. Steve says


    I am humbled by your support. I am just blown away while you are serving in Iraq you could support me. Just thanks and if there is any kind of care package you guys need just let me know and I will send it to you.

  32. Oh, what have I done? says

    Melicious – first dead hang eh? Awesome. Here's wishing you many sets of 5 in the future!
    Jen – WOW. gut-wrenching. Stay strong in yourself. Keep the good feelings as tight as you can and you are sure to play it all out with honesty and strength.

    I wonder what Usain Bolt eats?

  33. Melicious says

    Thank you, oh what have i done! It was pretty exciting.

    Although at the gym this morning, I did 80 really sad (i mean SAD) quasi-kipping, get up there anyway possible pullups with the bands. Boo.

    Ego FAIL

  34. HC Ange says

    Melissa (and everyone else reading),

    Hello from Canada! Long time reader, first time poster! (I’ve always wanted to say that!) :) Where to start…I feel I have so much to say, and hopefully it all comes out making sense.
    I must start with this was the perfect post for me to finally comment on, as right now I have a few people poo pooing my transition to Paleo. Here’s my story…
    I have been overweight for most of my life. I started Crossfit last January 2008, and in that year and a half, I also changed my eating habits (not paleo, until now, but I had made big improvements from where I used to be) In this year and a half, I have lost 40 lbs as well as 40 inches. And I’ve kept it off. While that is a HUGE accomplishment for me, I still have at least 70 (or more) lbs to go.
    I had visited this site quite often, and when I saw the 30 day challenge posted in July, I thought that would be a good opportunity to make even BETTER changes. But I failed. Not once, not twice, but 3 times. Even though “it’s not that effing hard”, I find it extremely hard! But I gave it another go, and today is the end of day 17 for me! I have survived 4 family gatherings where there was ice cream. I’ll admit, I stared at it longingly! I survived not having any of my Grandma’s cinnamon twists! I sure took in the smell though, wishing I could have just one bite! Thank goodness for paleo pumpkin pie to get me through the parties! :)
    So on my journey into Paleo, I have a few friends/family who are questioning the authenticity of it. Especially my dietician friend…”Whole grains/legumes are good for you”! So I’ve been pretty much saying the “it’s working for me right now” thing. In the end, I know everyone will support me, but it gets frustrating having to always explain myself! I am so grateful to everyone on this blog, and for all the endless advice/recipes/support to get me through this! You are all so inspiring!
    My Crossfit facility is doing the 30 day challenge in September, so I have a bit of a head start. Sept.2 is my own end day, so I might have some ice cream :) but then plan on continuing with them!

    I apologize for such a long post!

    I remember a while ago hearing a quote that I thought was perfect. “No dessert can be sweeter than the sweetness of success!”

  35. T. Reyes says

    I have been pretty strict Paleo for about 3 months now. Totally gluten and dairy free for a month (down about 15lbs since then). I have found a small shift in my thinking that has had a profound impact on my outlook at foods. It is no longer "cheat days" or "cheat foods". They are "treat days" and "treat meals." I remember growing up that ice cream for desert was a special treat, and not associated with a bad thing, like cheating. So now when I choose to have baby back ribs with the paleo blueberry bbq sauce (has a tblspoon of honey), It's a treat meal, not a cheat meal. ps woke up 1 lb lighter after treating myself last night.

  36. Renee says

    oh noes!!!!! i was offered some steamed edamame today at work by a coworker and accepted, assuming it was in the rules just like green beans are.

    i just ate baby soybeans?! *headdesk* Whoops.

  37. Steve says

    Day 6 and I am 6 for 6 and feeling good.

    @Renee don't sweat the edamame if that is the worst mistake during your 30 day challenge I say you are doing pretty good.

    @ HC Ange
    I am new here too and the people here are great. Welcome.

    @ Melicious Your pullup is great and I bet it is only a matter of days before you can pump out five in a row. I can't wait for my first real pullup.

    I will check in tomorrow.

  38. Jesse says

    @ Melicious Awesome job on the first pullup! Congrats! The first one is the hardest one.

    Hang tight everybody. It seems like everyone is going strong, and I hope that people who have just found us will realize that it isn't too late to start.

    It's awesome to be done with my thirty days and see all of the benefits that people are having here. It really helps keep me motivated to continue on with this lifestyle. (that and the feeling great and performing better!)

  39. ontheroad says

    Hey Gang!

    Haven't posted in a while but I am doing well post challenge. Going on week three since successfully finishing the 30 days.

    Things that i have learned so far:
    Allowing my self my one cheat meal each week, really keeps me grounded and takes the cravings away.

    Eating healthy has blown my weekly budget away.

    Too many raisins are a bad thing.

    I really love my flat tummy more than chocolate and bread.

    Yes you can have turkey and carrots for breakfast then an omlette for dinner and the food police wont come and take you away.

    Coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream is sooooooooooo good.

    and most important, I can control what I eat, it does not control me.

    Hope everyone is doing well and you are changing your life.

  40. Steve says

    Today is day seven on the paleo diet and I weigh myself every Saturday and guess what? I lost 6.5 pounds.

    I don't understand I didn't count calories and I lost weight. I ate as much as I wanted and I lost weight. I never lost weight before without starving myself. Today I weigh 286, but I have hope that I can reach a healthy weight for the first time in 25 years.

  41. Jesse says

    @ Steve: Congratulations on the weight loss! I hope you are feeling better as well. Hang in there!

    Health Link Time: I don't know if anyone here reads Slashdot, but in the midst of all of their tech articles two days ago they had this interesting one about how apparently the U.S.'s life span expectancy has basically stopped going up, and is lagging behind almost every other developed country (well, we beat Albania, but just barely…).


    "Scientists this week are reporting a breakthrough therapy to lower the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases — diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer — by about 80 percent."

    Guess what it is? It's living a healthy lifestyle. That's right, eating smart and exercising. Eighty Percent difference!

    Just a little food for thought while you're all munching on your dino chow.


  42. bernie says

    Hey all, Here and there in the comments, I've seen references to the website Mark's Daily Apple, which I've started reading more and more. He talks some about a low carb diet, even what I would consider very low carb. What does the byers does paleo community think of low carb, in particular as it relates to athletes?

  43. Jen says

    Hello All!

    @ Steve and Oh what have I done (I love your moniker, btw!): thanks for the kind words and support. It means alot!

    Well, today is day 30 for me. Am I stopping here? Hell no! The changes in the way I feel and my energy level throughout the day have been phenomenal. No mid-pm slumps, no dips in energy. I get up, I go, I go to bed, I sleep better than ever. The fact that I have NO MORE CRAVINGS, food-was, was something I previously thought an inactuality. And I'm eating… Read More GOOD STUFF! No way on earth on I giving up Paleo…that would be like asking me to give up music. or books. Not gonna happen! Am I going to incorporate some FOFs? Probably – but right now I'm not really missing anything. :-)

    And re: all those comments from trainers and stuff, I agree with the responses to just keep leading by example, just like Charity and the rest are doing. I actually work in a globo-gym and got nothing but flak over my Crossfitting…for the first few months. I also got in some trouble over the fact that I was eating Paleo and writing about it on line. I worked a few hours a week as a food coach for a weight loss program in the gym, and even though I walked the party line there, since I had members who read my face book, it was considered a conflict of interest. They told me I needed to either stop writing about the paleo stuff or block all members from my site. I chose to let them find someone else to work those few hours. But it's funny…after all the guff I took from them…it's me that's drawing these huge crowds to classes that are becoming more and more Crossfit-esque and me that they just asked to run a boot camp. So just stick to your guns, keep doing what you know in your heart is the best for you, and you'll be amazed at the number of people you positively influence without even meaning to!

    You guys are all amazing! Have a great weekend!


  44. Chelsea says

    @bernie — I think the general take on carbs around here is that if they come from vegetables, they ROCK! I used to think that carbs was the main place that athletes got energy for their workouts, but you'll see references in the comments about 'upping your fats if you feel tired during a workout'. This was a new idea for me when I first starting researching paleo online, but it's really worked for me so far in the gym. So, I generally try to stick to the 'lots of veggies, some fruit' plan when it comes to carbohydrates. Oh, and I hear if you're going for fruit, berries are preferable. Hope this helps!

  45. Karl says

    Day 28 for me, and I'm that much closer to getting home. On our last night in Iraq, a bunch of the guys ate dessert for dinner–nothing but cake and ice cream! One friend of mine had three pieces of cake/pie with 1cup scoops of ice cream on top of it. The whole table was covered in platefuls of desserts… except, of course my plate (honestly, they all ate so much I didn't even want to partake–good for them in that it was the only way they could celebrate leaving a difficult year behind). And everybody understood what I was doing and didn't even try to coax me into giving up my challenge in order to celebrate with them.

    The best part was watching the aftermath in the tent in the 24 hours that followed. They seriously looked hungover, like they did an all night pub crawl. Nevermind all of the runs to the latrine. I just kept to myself, giving the same respect I was given, and took it as an illustration of why these things are bad for your health. And I ust don't need that in my life anymore.

    Now comes the tough part–going back to the US of A and keeping up the good work that I've done so far. And not letting old habits creep back in, while finding a balance with the family and their diet. Like Melissa so wisely said, "all eating is emotional." Pray for me as the emotional roller-coaster of redeployment begins. Ugh.

    @Jen: I'm so sorry to hear about your goings-on at home. I hope all is well and that you maintain clarity of mind as you work your way through true adversity.

    @Steve: Keep it up, man. Just know you're not the only one dealing with friends who don't get it and a seemingly uphill climb to leanness and fitness. Every day is another round in this fight for your life. Keep your chin up and your eyes on the target.



  46. Steve says

    @karl good to hear that you are coming home. Also remember to come here while you are home so we can support your efforts and thanks for your support.

  47. Steve says

    Day 8 and all is well.

    I am doing the paleo diet to help me lose weight. My lunch was a Chicken Breast sauteed with olive oil, garlic, a whole red onion, a whole red pepper and black pepper. Also I added a sliced sweet peach to my plate.

    Does that sound like suffering on a diet or a treat? I mean this really beats trying to count calories on a non-paleo diet.

  48. Samantha says

    after 3 weeks of vacation and other people's food. i've decided nothing but paleo works for me. im definitely intolerant to gluten. dear lorrrrrd. not even sunbutter works for me. not even chocolate. i like salmon better.
    thank god im home.

  49. Steve says

    I am on day nine and my cravings are gone and I feel better and I am getting leaner without counting calories. Yes I am a recovering carbholic and I love it.

  50. Littles says

    Hey everyone! The first time I tried Paleo (my way) I didn't really lose. I was doing raw milk dairy and eating too much fat. Like a cup of nutbutter a day. I didn't really lose anything, even though my body did change a little.
    This time around, thanks to this blog, I'm doing it. Just doing it.
    6lbs in 6 days. I feel great. I prd on my push press. This works. I'm so so happy!

    @Karl, prayers being sent.

    @Jen, you're part of the reason I got over myself and did it. You are dealing with a lot and staying strong.

    @Steve, great job!

  51. Mindy says

    Hey Melissa Byers…

    Awhile ago I had posted about some bloating issues and in your reply you said your body doesn't do well with broccoli and that it causes bloating for you. I think I may have the same issue… with broccoli and brussel sprouts. I was just wondering… can you explain more about how your body reacts and reasons why you think it reacts that way and to which foods? I think you also mentioned something about how it was cooked? Thanks a million!!!


  52. Steve says

    Day 10 and all is well. At this point, I am not looking forward to cheating after my 30 are up. I am not saying that I will never eat anything outside of the Paleo Food List, and just saying I feel no need to treat myself to a cheat at this point. That may change in a few days, but now I doing well and feel satisfied with my food choices.

  53. Steve says

    Day 11 and all is well. My son had pizza for dinner. I was tempted but not too much. Learning to control food instead of having food controlling me is one of the skills that I am learning from this 30 day challenge.

  54. Dana says

    Diet soda is linked to obesity because fat people are more likely to drink diet soda.

    No one’s ever been able to prove anything else in humans. Just point to the correlation, which has an obvious explanation that everyone is overlooking.

    I’m NOT saying “drink diet soda”–if you don’t like it, don’t drink it. If you *do* like it, it’s worthwhile to avoid aspartame, and there are good alternatives sweetened with stevia now. But there’s no possible explanation other than wishful thinking that would show diet soda *causes* obesity.

  55. says


    No one suggested causality, but the correlation between diet soda intake and obesity is much stronger in the medical literature than you are suggesting. We’ve done the research, but a Google scholar search of “diet soda + obesity” would show you many peer-reviewed journal articles that show the correlation is strong across a variety of populations – teens, diabetics,”healthy” women – and that’s reason enough for us to recommend against them. Of course, that’s only one reason – diet sodas are supernormally stimulating, nutritionally barren and contain a host of additives and ingredients that detract from your health.

    And, for the record, the Stevia they add to processed foods and drinks is nothing close to “natural.”

    So we don’t care if you like it or not – across the board, all sodas (diet or otherwise) are a poor choice. And frankly, that’s just common sense – you don’t really need a study to tell you that, do you?