Paleo Without a Kitchen: Megan Dawson’s Challenge Recap    June 11 2014

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For time:
Row 500 meters
20 parallette handstand push-ups
Row 500 meters
20 strict handstand push-ups
Row 500 meters
20 kipping handstand push-ups

Megan did the spring Challenge without a kitchen!

Megan did the spring Challenge without a kitchen!

Paleo Without a Kitchen: Megan Dawson’s Challenge Recap

Over the next few weeks we’ll share a few Spring Into Summer Challenge participant’s personal accounts of their experience and what they learned.  We can all learn from each other and we hope you find this series helpful in your pursuit to better your health and nutrition.

First up, Megan!

Why Did You Do the Challenge?
Jamie (Megan’s husband) and I signed up for the Spring Food Challenge while watching whales and sipping mai tais on the beach during the final days of our Hawaiian vacation. We were feeling gross because we had hit every shave ice stand on the island as well as a Tony Roma’s pre-packaged ribs and other high quality food from Costco. We needed a kick in the butt to get back into the paleo mindset.

So we left paradise and launched right into the spring food challenge.

After one week on the challenge, we ran into an unforeseen obstacle.
The first week of the challenge was hard, but we were hanging tough and rocking the challenge. On the second week we got thrown a complete curveball. Our ice maker malfunctioned and flooded our kitchen and part of the basement. Suddenly, we had a crew of people descend upon our house to assess damage and dry everything out. After a week of drying, they removed the flooring, lower cabinets, counters, oven/stove top, dishwasher and sink. Just like that, we no longer had a kitchen to prep or cook meals in. We had only a grill and a microwave.

This brought up the question. Could we maintain a strict paleo diet with a very limited kitchen?

For us, past paleo success required us to prepare large quantities of food ahead of time. But, our lack of a kitchen sink made doing dishes a nightmare and any large scale cooking ventures were a complete pain. We had to decide if it was realistic to try to continue with the food challenge or just bail entirely.

In the end, we decided we should at least try. We had only two more weeks of completely strict paleo and then there was a little more flexibility with win meals. I bought an electric skillet and an induction hotplate with the idea we could boil eggs etc. We took it one week at at a time and I am proud to say, I made it through six weeks following the program!

Then we made the decision to stop.
Then, at some point during last two weeks things unravelled a bit. What happened?

Well, basically, our at-home routine ended due to travel and end of school year festivities. I spent 9 days on the road at my college reunion and at a conference in D.C. Then I returned home to a wide range of end-of-year celebrations with my kids. I was eating meals in a lot of social settings and did not have direct control over the meals that were being prepared for me.

I was completely stressed out and frankly I was becoming a little neurotic about food. I wasn’t enjoying what were supposed to be fun events because all I could think about was whether the food was compliant. It was time to consider letting the food challenge go. This was tough for me because I am very goal oriented and it pains me to fall short.

But, I had to consider the question, what was I really trying to accomplish? My original goal was to become healthier and get back on the paleo bandwagon, not to become a stressed out control freak. So, for the last week and a half I decided to cut myself a break. I would follow paleo as closely as possible, but not make myself crazy.

So what did I learn?

1) I feel far better when I don’t eat gluten or sugar. My digestive tract thanks me.
2) A square or two of high quality chocolate goes a long way in satisfying the need for dessert
3) Routine is the key to any successful paleo plan
4) Everyone faces their own set of obstacles during a food challenge, but most can be overcome.
7) Sometimes the healthier decision feels like the weak one, but in fact is still contributing to the larger goal.

A Return to Paleo
In the end, I gained two pounds of muscle and lost 1/3 lb of fat. I didn’t finish the challenge, but I kept my sanity and throughly enjoyed my daughter’s 5th grade graduation!

My ultimate success from the food challenge is that I am back on the paleo bandwagon about 90% of the time, making mindful food choices and living a healthier life. Yay me!

  • shane

    Awesome recap Megan! It sounds like you achieved the overall goal of the challenge which was to find a balance with life and Paleo so that it can be maintained in the long-run. Nice job!