My first crossfit experience

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Exactly 12 hours ago, I was pretty convinced I was about to heave up a lung. I was almost at the end of my first crossfit class and my lungs were not happy. Neither were my glutes or thighs, though no one else in the class seemed to be having their lives flashing before their eyes. The two flights of stairs down to the exit were a cruel, cruel joke. My legs seemed to not want to work any more – they were like, ‘This is payback for what you just did to us in there. You want to get the car so you can go home and weep? NEVER! You’ll be stuck in this gym for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!” Again, no one else seemed to be having this kind of tussle with their lower limbs, especially not the Nordic-god-esque Swedish guy who virtually glided out of the gym in a puff of Armani fragrance and extreme blondness.

This all took place at Black River Park Crossfit, the gym in the office block where I work. I discovered them some weeks ago, and since I usually have an hour to kill before work starts (due to a frustrating parking situation), I thought it’d be a good idea to use that time productively. I’d never tried crossfit before, though I was smugly certain that Jillian Michaels had prepared me for anything.

Er, no.

The gym offers a free ‘Launchpad’ week, consisting of three introductory crossfit classes. It’s compulsory for anyone who wants to join the gym and hasn’t done crossfit before. I was interested to learn that the aim of crossfit isn’t necessarily to be a standalone form of exercise, but to help improve your performance in the other sports you do. I once did two weeks of field hockey when I was 14, which has been the grand extent of my sporting career. I was also heartened to see, on the wall, a description of the ideal crossfit diet, which of course you probably know is basically paleo.

First… from the back

There were 8 of us and in general, the class went well. What (almost) killed me were the circuits – running, followed by push-ups, sit-ups and squats. My asthmatic, smoker’s lungs (don’t judge) really struggled with the sprinting parts – I’ve never been a great runner. However, I didn’t have any trouble with the sit-ups, and the push-ups were okay too. But those damn squats!

I know that crossfit isn’t a competition and everyone works at their own pace, but I hated being last in everything. I’m strong enough to do it but I’m slower than these lean, tall men. I really want to be that teen movie character who looks super cute in her gym outfit, and all the guys think ‘oh she’s just a girl, ha ha, she’s no match for us with her painted nails and coordinated outfit’ (as an aside, I wasn’t wearing a coordinated outfit but I did have very chipped gun-metal metallic polish on my nails). And then of course when it comes to the crunch, the girl kicks their butts and wins the trophy and goes home with the hottest girl on the cheerleading squad and the guys are shocked and amazed and super jealous.

But no. The reality was an entirely different beast. Like literally a beast. I was red-cheeked, huffing and puffing, and I was first from the back. It wasn’t a pretty sight. BUT I pushed through and finished everything, which I’m proud of.

Never. Getting up. Again

My muscles aren’t exactly excruciatingly painful today, but they feel quite jelly-like. I’m pretty convinced I’m walking funny. The best way I can describe it is that my thigh muscles feel ‘seize-y’. The next class is tonight, which I’ll be attending, and the last one is on Thursday. I’m not sure that crossfit is for me – to be honest, I don’t like working out among so many men – I just get shy and uncomfortable, which is ridiculous. That said, I saw the muscles on some of the ladies and – though I’m not one for hashtags – I immediately thought “#WANT”.

From zero to crossfit

Another reason I’m so glad I’m doing this Launchpad challenge is because K is also doing crossfit at the moment, in preparation for the Impi Challenge. Considering that, one month ago, the most exercise we were getting was getting out of bed in the mornings, this is a huge achievement for us. The other day a friend was saying to me that I don’t ‘have to worry’ about exercise because I’m not overweight – but that of course is missing the ENTIRE point of physical activity, and it actually made me feel more guilty for not working out more. So it’s definitely something I need to include back into my life. I used to be very dedicated to my Jillian Michaels workouts so that might be a great place to (re)start.

Either way, I still have 2 more crossfit sessions ahead of me, and who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with it. The instructor is awesome and very encouraging. I know that when he’s looking at me, he’s thinking, “Shame”. That’s a real South Africanism and to understand what it means, read this or this. Basically, you never want someone to look at you with sympathy in their eyes and say, “Shame”.

However what actually comes out of his mouth is, “That’s awesome you’re doing great keep going well done that’s amazing you’re a hero you could rescue babies and puppies from burning buildings OMFG look how many sit-ups you’re doing in a row and you aren’t even holding your thighs I would also totally walk that last part of the sprint it’s actually so clever that you’re using it for recovery time the rest of the class is DUMB because the aim of crossfit is to come LAST and no it’s not a competition but YOU WON because of the fact that as I just said the aim is to come last and OMG you are AWESOME please show me that jog/drag/walk/crawl thing you just did I WANT TO LEARN IT because it is AMAZING.” Shame, he’s a very good actor.

Okay, I’m going in for round 2 today. Send good wishes! Send asthma pumps! Send in some back-up – I may need a stunt double for this.

Day 5 – Day 11: A week of challenges and triumphs

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K has been following the paleo diet for almost two weeks now. It’s amazing the psychological impact it’s had on me as well: I don’t want to cheat on my diet because I know how hard she’s working to stick to it, and how difficult it is for her.

To sum up briefly, here are the things she’s found easiest and most difficult about switching from a regular diet to paleo.

The easier parts:

– Eating more protein. As Paleo Leap says in this great article about paleo and protein, “healthy animal fats are the backbone of a paleo eating plan”. Although paleo isn’t meant to be a protein free-for-all (you really shouldn’t be eating steak for breakfast, lunch and supper), it’s also pretty hard to overdo it – your body simply starts to reject it, and you’ll feel pretty nauseated.

– Eating breakfast. K has never been one for breakfast and getting her to eat anything before midday has always been a struggle. But because she switched to paleo at the same time that she started working out pretty hard, she realised that she’d need something in her belly in the morning. I make her fruit smoothies every morning, using bananas, strawberries, pineapple, plain yoghurt and a dash of apple juice. I know that there’s no protein in it but it’s a start for someone who’s always shunned the idea of a morning meal!

Eating more fruit. Fruit is extremely healthy and I feel it’s a very useful ‘bridge’ between a standard carby diet and a paleo one. K often went entire days without eating any fruit, which means she was missing out on important vitamins and minerals. I’m so glad she’s including more of it in her diet.

The harder parts:

– Snack foods. Snacking on the paleo diet takes a fair amount of planning, which is ironic considering that a snack is usually eaten fairly spontaneously. There’s no grabbing a sandwich or having a bowl of popcorn between meals, which I know is hard for her. Most paleo snacks are protein-based, so I make sure that she always has things like biltong, fruit, hummus or yoghurt on hand (she’s still doing some dairy, but mainly yoghurt – no cheese).

Cravings. It’s difficult to give up comforting carbs in one fell swoop – but that’s what she’s done. She’s had the pizza cravings, the curry-and-rice cravings, and the eclair cake cravings. It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. That said, she hasn’t succumbed to any of them.

Bypassing the bread basket. We attended a fancy-shmancy event last Saturday that was packed to the rafters with Cape Town’s glam set – rich, blonde, tanned and skinny. When they brought the bread basket around, K really struggled to resist, and eventually succeeded by telling herself, “I’m not a prisoner; I don’t need bread!” She later commented that, were it any other event, the bread would’ve been demolished in minutes – but of course, these ladies and gents weren’t in the least bit interested!

– Set menus. At the same event, we were presented with a set menu with three options each for starters and mains. Because K is quite a fussy eater, even the meals that were paleo-compliant weren’t particularly appealing to her. The moral is, if you’re a fussy eater and you’re doing paleo, try to cook all your own meals. In fact, fussy or not, you should try to do this. It’s simply the healthiest way to eat.

Not eating eggs. K will eat eggs on occasion – but usually when they’re accompanied by toast, hidden in pancakes or turned into omelettes. I eat boiled eggs daily, and I find them an easy breakfast and a handy snack. Plus they’re also a great source of protein if you don’t feel like cooking. Not eating boiled eggs does make things a little harder, but it’s not impossible to navigate.

Alcohol. On strict paleo, all booze should be avoided, but some fervent followers will allow dry wines or certain spirits – neither of which really appeal to K.

So how is she making it stick?

Considering the harder bits far outweigh the easier ones, how does she stick to it? Well, the 30-day goal is really spurring her own (though secretly, I’ll admit that I’m hoping that some of the paleo principles stick long after that – after all, processed carbs are not good for anyone). She’s also signed up to do the Impi Challenge in October, and she’s knows she needs to be fully committed to her workout plan and her diet if she’s going to get through it successfully.

Of course, K and I are not doing paleo as strictly as we could be – although I, simply by virtue of my IBD and food intolerances, am probably far closer to it. If you are interested in following the diet, here’s a handy list of all the things you should eat and shouldn’t eat on paleo.

Allergic to… everything

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K jokes that I must be an alien because I’m allergic to practically everything on the planet. When I was a baby, I developed asthma. I was obviously still quite sickly because then the doctors figured out I was allergic to pets as well – and all the other regular allergen-inducing elements like grass, dust, house mites, pollen, people, walls, TV, water and being alive. Okay okay I’m exaggerating a bit, but I was a pretty allergic kid, and I continue to be a pretty allergic adult.

Often when I emerge from my (piping hot) showers, I’ll have a rash on my face, neck and upper body, a bit like itchy bites. If I swim in the sea, my body breaks out in tiny red dots from head to toe – tiny, raised red spots that take anything from thirty minutes to a couple of hours to disappear. Friends, unable to contain their amazement/mirth, have even photographed it.

When I visit my sister, she gives me an allergy tablet as soon as I arrive, because they have two dogs and within minutes I’m a sneezing, snotty mess. Right now, as I type this, I look like I’m deep in the throes of influenza – the kind you read about in Chaucerian tales, which wiped out thousands of people because of poor sanitation and rats and the fact that no one ever bathed (I swear I bath). My eyes are red and puffy and I have thick dark circles below them. I have no idea why this is – I simply started sneezing a few hours ago and haven’t stopped. I did open the windows of our apartment, and outside there are some trees, so it could be that. A cat could’ve walked past our front door. A cat could’ve thought about walking past our front door. It could be any one of a million things.

My research into autoimmune disease, and the time spent talking to nutritionalists, has made me realise that many people with IBD or other types of autoimmune diseases often display many allergies/intolerances, and also may exhibit symptoms of more than one autoimmune condition. For me, it’s asthma, eczema/psoriasis (mild and never properly diagnosed) and dry eyes – and of course ulcerative colitis. I’ve read many blogs posts by people who also have multiple autoimmune conditions so it seems to be pretty common. Oh and I’m lactose intolerant (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more as well).

I’m not trying to draw any conclusions  – you’ve got the Google doctors and scientists for that. I’m more just musing out loud. And wondering how the hell I’m going to get it together to look half-presentable for the show tonight. My favourite drag queen can’t see me looking like I’m coming off a 36-hour heroin binge.

Quick-fix solutions for puffy, panda eyes?? Eeeep!

Day 4 and an easy way to start exercising

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Everyone knows that the key to losing weight is diet AND exercise (sorry about that, I didn’t make the rules). But those of us who are trying to heal our bodies through diet also need exercise, even though that might sound counter intuitive, especially if you’re struggling to maintain your weight.

Exercise doesn’t have to be about burning 500 calories on the treadmill or ripping through a crossfit workout (although it can be!). Doing yoga or taking a walk is amazing exercise for anyone trying to develop a stronger, healthier body without necessarily losing weight. As we know, exercise is one of the most important building blocks of physical and psychological wellness. My nutritionalist recommends a 4km walk several times a week (it only takes about 40 minutes), or a few yoga or Pilates sessions each week.

K recently joined our local gym and she and a couple of colleagues work out during lunch time. One of them – J9 – happens to be a pro fitness buff, and she accompanied K today. I later received this email:

Time: 1.41pm

Subject: J9 killed me. I am dead.

She made me do all this [workout attached – it was pretty insane]
I did everthing except the burpies.
Not that I have anything against burpies but by that point I was on the verge of throwing up. And I didn’t want to make a mess.
This whole thing took us an hour.
Oh and as a warm-up I did 9 mins walk/run on the treadmill… and of those 9 mins I did a full 3 mins of running (not in a row). But still. That’s more than I did yesterday.
OK I’m going to go whimper whilst I eat my lunch… If only I can bring the spoon to my mouth. I may have to eat it out the bowl with my FACE.

This week alone, K’s been gymming (after not exercising in years) AND following my paleo diet and she says she’s feeling ‘lighter’ – not necessarily weight-wise, but in terms of not being weighed down by stodgy carbs and sugar.

For my part, I’ve been slowing getting back into exercise too. I lapsed on my Jillian workouts for a few months and now I’m starting to get active again slowly. I’m sure you’ve seen those ’30 day’ challenges online, so I’ve printed out a few and stuck them on my lounge wall to encourage me to do them every day. Today my thighs were so sprained from squats that I thought my muscles might burst right through my skin and splatter over my colleagues.

These are the two I’m using:

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It’s an easy, manageable way to get back into it and I do love a challenge so it works for me. If you like the idea of this kind of workout, use these templates or Google your own. There are tons of different ones – arm workouts, leg workouts, abs, etc. Obviously you need to keep it up after 30 days, but it’s a great way to transition into more strenuous workouts – well I think so anyway.

Tonight we had the most amazing paleo Thai chicken curry with cauli rice. It’s super healthy thanks to the coconut milk (homemade, so zero additives) and truck-load of green veggies we added. Meals like this really make you feel like you’re not missing a thing.

And tomorrow is FRIDAY! The weekend is going to be our first paleo hurdle together: Saturday night we’re going to a show that I’m so, so excited about I might just BURST… but it includes a 3-course set meal. Luckily for me, I’m there for the star of the show – my most favourite drag performer, Cathy Specific – and I could DIE DIE DIE I’m so excited!! I actually feel like instead of my thighs, my stomach might burst all over this screen and splatter you all with butterflies. So I’m hardly concerned about the dishes but I know it’s going to be a challenge for K and it’s going to be exciting to see how we navigate it together.

Okay OMG I’ve gotta go. I need to start thinking about what I’m going to WEAR!

Day 3 and some handy paleo food swaps

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I think most people who switch to a healing diet would be lying if they said there weren’t at least a few things they missed from their former way of eating. I also think for most people, sugar/carbs create one of the biggest holes – it’s classic comfort food, after all.

Today is day three of paleo for K, and I was super impressed to discover that she’s been drinking her coffee without sugar. Today’s email read:

You would actually be so proud of me and I have L [colleague] to corroborate the story. I was going to make coffee with sugar… I put the sugar in the mug (like half of half a spoon) and then sat down with L and R at the table. I decided against the sugar and surrendered my mug to L. SHE LAUGHED at how little sugar was in the mug. Then she went to add more.

I’m especially proud of K because tea and coffee, especially when sugary and milky, is ultimate comfort ‘food’ for me. Growing up, if I had a shock or a heart break, my mom would make me a cup of strong, sweet tea. For stomach bugs, the solution was the same, with Marmite toast added to soothe the belly. As an adult, five or six cups of sweet tea or coffee would get me through the work day, and would also assuage my sugar cravings.

When I started worrying about my weight, I switched from sugar to sweetener, which is super-duper sweet, and I could easily drink six cups of tea a day, each with three sachets of sweetener added. I also drank a ton of diet cooldrinks. At the back of my mind I suspected that the artificial sweeteners were wreaking havoc on my gut, and I was right! Cutting them out was the first, and one of the biggest, steps to healing.

But I’d be lying if I said it were easy. Now, I drink black coffee with no sugar (two cups a day max, and seldom on weekends), and I never drink regular tea because I can’t stand the taste of it without milk and sugar.

I deeply miss my comforting mugs of tea, and while there isn’t an ‘exact match’ replacement for them, there are ways to soften the blow. Here’s how I’ve replaced some of my best-loved, and most missed, foods and drinks.

  • Sweet/milky tea and coffee: organic flavoured teas with lemon, honey and ginger added.
  • Fizzy drinks: organic apple juice with no added sugar or preservatives (limited to a couple of glasses a week).
  • Alcohol: Should be avoided if you’re flaring and if you know you can’t tolerate it. Fill a glass with ice, lemon wedges, mint or frozen berries and top with sparking mineral water. It’s the easiest way to fool your brain (and everyone else), and you won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you can tolerate alcohol, stick to dry wines and grain-free spirits only, like tequila (if you can stomach it!).
  • Desserts/‘something sweet after supper’: Fruit with honey; banana ‘ice cream’ (frozen bananas blended up) with cinnamon; dairy-free yoghurt; nuts drizzled with honey (and a shake of salt! Try it; it’s delicious).
  • Rice/mash: cauliflower rice/mash.
  • Potato: sweet potato (paleo, not SCD). Season with rosemary, garlic and coarse salt.
  • Pasta/noodles: Sounds strange, but if I make a delicious pasta sauce or curry, I pour it over butternut or steamed cauliflower and it’s just as enjoyable.
  • Sugar: honey/maple syrup/leave it out (you become accustomed to eating less sweet-tasting food).
  • Cake: There is no replacement for cake. Nothing. Accept it, grieve, and move on. It’ll become like a phantom limb: the pain is always there, but you learn to live with it. Seriously though, you can find ‘legal’ replacements for most cake ingredients: almond flour or gluten-free flour instead of regular cake flour; baking soda instead of baking powder; honey/maple syrup instead of sugar; coconut butter/oil instead of butter; avo instead of butter; egg replacements/flax seed instead of egg, etc. The list goes on – you just have to be adventurous. But you also have to accept that cake, as you knew it, is off the table and a thing of the past (but also, remember how bloaty and ugh the past was!).

I also wrote this post about making your favourite foods paleo, which has got some useful food switches.

The benefit of these replacements, especially when it comes to the hot drinks, is that my teeth are probably in much better nick than they were! Tea and coffee can leave some really tenacious stains. Cutting out fizzy drinks has drastically reduced my bloating, and no chocolate/dairy means no more frequent trips to the loo, and much less gas/bloating.

It’s hard not to lament the losses, which is why it’s so important to make healthy, sustainable switches. And bear in mind that while drinking only water is depressing (I’ve tried it), it’s still important to get your 2-litre fix each day, in between the other drinks.

If you have any useful food switches, please do share!

Day 2: 10 types of veggies & some cooking tips

I have yet to meet a vegetable I didn’t like (okra included), but the same can’t be said for my girlfriend. While I can happily feast on any vegetable that happens to be in season/in our fridge, K is a lot more selective. Now that she’s agreed to eat paleo with me – a diet largely focused on vegetables; none of which is potato – I’m redoubling my efforts to cook the kinds of veggies she’ll enjoy.

Now, while I don’t discriminate, there are certainly some veggies I prefer. They happen to be the exact opposite ones that K prefers. So last night I found myself cooking no fewer than 10 different varieties: Broccoli, carrots, butternut, gem squash, peas, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, leeks and green beans. In all honesty it was pretty quick to do (except for the peeling of the butternut, which K actually did for me), and because I cooked so much, we have plenty left over for work and the next few days.

If for whatever reason you also find yourself cooking entire harvests of veggies each night (I’m looking at you, SCD), these tips might help. Many of them were ingrained during the long hours of SCD prep!

  • Cook (but don’t overcook) your veg. Many people with IBD or other digestive disorders is encouraged to avoid raw fruit and veg (especially when flaring) as it can be difficult to digest. That said, there’s no need to overcook your veg to the point of mush, because then you’re losing a lot of the goodness. Brussels sprouts, for example, need just three or four minutes.
  • Cook more than you need. Putting in the extra effort tonight means less effort tomorrow and more time to watch Parks and Recreation. It’s also great to have cooked veggies in the fridge as a warm, filling snack. I always, always cook at least three days’ worth of veggies on a Monday.
  • Use as little water as possible. Generally, I boil all my veg so that it can absorb the flavour of the herbs, spices and stock that I use. But there’s no need to drown your veg – just a bit of water prevents them from burning and helps them to retain their taste and crispness.
  • Recycle the cooking water. Certain nutrients can be lost or diminished during the cooking process, so if I’m cooking all my vegetables separately, I keep using the same water with each new batch (topping up with kettle water if necessary). If I cook all the veg together, I keep the water (which is now more like stock) for the next time I cook veggies – which is bound to be in the next few days. This obviously doesn’t apply to gem squash and butternut.
  • Read the labels carefully. Not on your produce (although the photo below begs to differ – this was at our local supermarket!), but on your seasonings. Some seemingly innocuous spices are actually full of gluten, maize, soy and even dairy-based additives, so you really have to be careful what you use. If the ingredients aren’t listed, it’s probably best to avoid it. If you’re following AIP, you have to be especially careful: Even if your spice is free of additives, it might still have other ‘illegal’ ingredients like pepper or tomato.
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This is why you need to go to school, kids

So it’s day 2 and K is doing… well, I’ll let her tell you how she’s doing:

“Day 2

15.45pm

I’ve been carb free for almost 43 hours.

I’m doing fine. It’s all in my head.

I’ve bread if you stay away from the kitchen it helps. And to keep a pizza biltong with you to nom on every now and then. I walked pasta sushi restaurant and didn’t even batter eye.

I’m wine. I mean fine.”

Ah, she’s such a trooper! And she’s getting steak tonight – not something we usually indulge in midweek, but I feel she needs a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Besides, any diet that includes steak and biltong is totally doable 🙂

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Not if you know how to make a cauli-pizza!

The partner-paleo challenge: I get by with a little help from my (girl)friend

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Lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stick to my diet. I don’t know why this is, because time was when I was fanatical about what I ate and I stuck to my diet with military precision.

When I started this blog I was 100% committed to my 100 days on SCD (which I successfully completed). Then I switched to AIP, and I just didn’t have the same kind of staunch commitment. A few ‘bad’ foods slipped in from time to time, and I’ve now reached a point where I’m cheating once every week or two, which just isn’t acceptable.

Knowing what I know about myself, I believe it’s partly due to my now-ingrained tendencies to binge, which began about five or six years ago. I don’t know exactly what triggered it but I do know (or at least think I know) when it started. It’s something I’m going to have to figure out and really work on, which I am trying to do.

The other trigger – major trigger – is alcohol. When I consume alcohol I lose all self control and I binge on anything I can sink my teeth into – anything ‘illegal’, that is. Because it’s really not fun to go wild on butternut or grain-free cracker bread (believe me I’ve tried). So I’m cutting back on how much I drink (I know it sounds like I have a problem and I know that by saying I don’t have a problem it sounds exactly like I have a problem, so I don’t know what to say to convince you that I don’t have a problem but that AGAIN sounds pretty damn unconvincing so you’ll just have to trust me on this one).

Weirdly, I’ve also found lately (and this is entirely new) that even when I don’t drink, I get to that late-in-the-evening point when I’m ready to binge, so I think I’ve set up a kind of Pavlovian response in my brain and I really, really need to stop it immediately.

Last week I read this extremely interesting piece by Eileen at Phoenix Helix called Top 5 Mistakes People Make on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, and it was the last point that really resonated with me – for the first time ever. ‘Not getting the support you need’ isn’t entirely accurate in my case: my family (whom I don’t live with) and my girlfriend (who I do live with) are extremely supportive of my diet and often go out of their way to accommodate my food needs. However, my girlfriend is able to eat anything she likes, and has a well-stocked ‘treat’ cupboard (thanks in part to me), which is always the first victim of my late-night drunken binges. We’ve even discussed padlocking it!

But this got me thinking that my diet would be a whole lot easier to stick to if the other 50% of my household were following it too. And, as K is actually trying to trim a kilo or two and has recently starting going to gym, I figured that now was the ideal time to introduce her to the idea.

I pitched it, and she bought in. She’s agreed to do 30 days of paleo with me – not AIP, because that’s just crazy for someone who doesn’t have a digestive disorder – but straight-up, pure-and-simple paleo. And that’s what I want it to be: pure and simple. No refined sugar, no carbs, but plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean meat, salads and – although this isn’t strictly paleo – yoghurt-based smoothies for her (I’m lactose intolerant). I plan to do as much prep as it takes to help make this as painless and, hopefully, enjoyable for her as possible. I also know that the competitive streak in me is likely to emerge, and if she’s able to maintain it without cheating, well then so can I!

I’m incredibly lucky to have someone in my life who’s willing to embark on this journey with me, because paleo is hard when you’re switching from a SAD (or in our case, a S-South African-D!).

Today is day one and she’s already conquered a few hurdles. In fact, she emailed me at work to say:

“Day 1.

11am

The popcorn machine stirs from across the office. Weaving its perfume from room to room and down the passage, filling every crevice along the way.

There is no escaping the scent. It follows me. It haunts my nostrils teasing my brain. “Eeeeeeaaaat meeeeeee,” its sighs echo off the walls.

“Who will know?” it whispers. “One kernel won’t hurt…” it taunts.

But I must resist.

It is only day one after all. This is the very first test. The first hurdle. I must resist.

I pull out a tub of Vicks from the draw and smear a thick layer where my moustache would be if I were Mario or Luigi.

Nothing can penetrate the menthol guard it builds.

But I can see it. I see people munching away without conscience. They are all around me.

I

Must

Resist.

I turn up the volume on the headphones and position my monitor between me and the popcorn fiends.

I can do this.”

I’m so proud of her for starting on this journey with me, and I think the best way to keep it up will be to document it right here. So here goes, day 1 of 30. Wish us luck!