What do you get when you cross 33 motivated learners with 30 days of strict paleo eating?
A successful paleo challenge, that’s what!  We began our nutritional odyssey on January 15th and wrapped up our Whole30 on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day.  In that time, our participants had to keep their diet free from grains, dairy, legumes, all sugars, alcohol, and artifical sweeteners and withstand the temptations of the Superbowl buffet and Fat Tuesday.  But they prepared well and stuck to their guns and the results were nothing less than stunning.

A few stats:

People who came in for before measurements:  33
People who came in for after measurements:  25
Total lbs lost from the group of 25:  220.4 lbs
Avg lbs lost:  8.8
Total inches lost:  114 3/8
Avg inches lost 4.6

This dedicated group began their journey with the Paleo Expo and Kick Off Seminar where they learned the fundamentals of the paleo diet.  Required reading during the challenge included It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig as well as the many blog posts,  articles, and emails that I forwarded to them during the month-long challenge.   Group members motivated and encouraged each other through the recipe and paleo tips posted on the Project Paleo facebook page as well as through emails within the group.  Every single person in the challenge moved in a positive direction either with weight loss, inches lost, or improvement in biomarkers of disease and quality of life.

To me, the most gratifying part was seeing the lightbulb go off in peoples’ heads and realizing that they were finally “getting it”.  They put the theory to practice with lots of trial and error in the kitchen as well as the gym.  They noticed messages that their bodies were sending, that had gone unnoticed before.   They realized what a huge impact food made on their overall well being, and they liked feeling good.  While I truly believe everyone came out a winner after the 30 days, there were a few standouts. To choose a male winner and female winner (and runner ups), I looked at both objective and subjective measures (percentage bodyweight lost, inches lost, before and after pics, and essays).  There were so many close calls and it was hard to choose…really hard.  But here’s how it all shook out…
Top Caveman:  Donald Johnson
Runner up:      Adam Storm
Top Cavewoman:  Sydney Saito
Runner up:  Heather Pfeifer

Prizes included:  Trader Joe’s gift certificates, Feed Your Vitality gift certificate, an assortment of local, quality meats from MAC’s local buys, supplements including Vitamin D3, fish oil, digestive enzymes and other digestive supports courtesy of Dr. Adam Hughes, coconut oil from Tropical Traditions, paleo cookbooks, and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bars.

paleo diet cook books

We wrapped up our challenge with a paleo potluck at my house this last Friday.  Everyone bought tasty paleo treats that we all got to taste and share.  I am sooooo proud of every one of you for your dedication and your willingness to give this a try!

paleo diet dinner
Kassie and Marissa enjoy great food from the paleo offering table.
paleo jalapeno poppers
Jalapeno poppers courtesy of Adam Storm.


paleo pulled beef and slaw
Marla and Marissa look on as Bob helps himself to Southwestern Pulled Beef and  Chipotle Cole Slaw.

 (Pulled Beef and Slaw recipe can be found at PaleoCurious)



This athlete lost 8.2 lbs and 7.2 total inches, mostly from her waist and belly button.  The side view shows a much leaner physique.    This is after 30 days of strict paleo.

 before paleo diet after paleo diet
after paleo diet before paleo diet

after paleo dietbefore paleo diet


The next picture is the difference in one year.  Over this time, this athlete has lost over 20 lbs and many inches.  She continues to experiment with new recipes and has added Crossfit into her routine as well.  Not only does she make goals for herself, she acts on them and attains them.  Always reaching higher!

after paleo dietbefore paleo diet
after paleo dietbefore paleo diet


This set of pics was taken 6 months apart.  This athlete started crossfit in about July 2012, and began layering on the paleo nutrition shortly after.  The before is from 8/12 and the after is 1/13.  Dedication and persistence.
after paleo dietbefore paleo diet


after paleo dietbefore paleo diet

This next athlete didn’t really need to lose that much weight, but his goal was to lean out and begin to gain muscle mass.  This is from 30 days of strict paleo.  He is naturally gifted with good genes, but with a little effort, he was able to drop stubborn inches from his waist, moving toward the goal of washboard abs.  (We all have abs…we just need to get through all the insulation to find that 6 pack!) You can tell that his nutrition is starting to make a difference.

after paleo dietbefore paleo diet
after paleo dietbefore paleo diet
after paleo dietbefore paleo diet

Finally, a few words from the recent paleo “graduates”…

–> “Two primary benefits have come from the experience.  The most important is that because we involved our children in the experience, a unified meal time has become a priority.  I’ve had many more fulfilling conversations with my wife and children in the last month than in previous months where meal time was fit into whatever activities our children were involved in.  Also those meals have been much more creative and diverse.  We’ve had a variety of fish, roast beef with parsnips, turnips, and carrots, chicken stirfry, and salads with a variety of experimental homemade dressings.  The second benefit is of course the better health.  I’ve had to shift to a smaller belt size, my clothes are loose, and I’ve had several comments at work.”  -Donald

“I also learned how important the food I eat is to my health. Just hitting it hard in the gym won’t get it done. At least not for me. Food is what makes the difference for me. I had already made exercise part of my routine and have now learned how to incorporate nutrition into my life. ”  -Adam


–> “After the last challenge, I stated that I had not hadthe “aha moment” that I expected I might have had while on the Whole30.  After reflecting I actually had my “aha moment.”  My moment didn’t come as an improvement of a health problem, but rather with the knowledge I’ve gained while on this journey.  I read label even more and I no longer purchase food in boxes or pre-made meals that are frozen and oh – so convenient to zap in the microwave.  The best part is all of the great food I cook. As much as I enjoy going out to eat, I would now much rather cook and have dinner at home.  I have also found my new favorite thing to do . . . I thoroughly enjoy perusing the aisles of Whole Foods, Local Harvest, Global Foods, and Trader Joe’s looking at all they have to offer – I have been know to spend three plus hours, just making my “circle” beginning at WF and ending at Global Foods.” – Angie
There were many more great essays and thoughts put to paper.  All in all, this was an amazing group of individuals looking to better their health and learn a few new strategies for improving health and longevity.  They consistently inspire.  So proud of all of you!