"Beyond the Barbell – Will Odom"

For the October segment of ‘Beyond the Barbell’ the athlete we’re featuring from our #DCFStrong community is Will Odom, the 1st place (male) winner of our previous Desert CrossFit Paleo Challenge. With the Rockin’ Fit Paleo Challenge kicking-off this month, some of our audience may be interested to learn about the different aspects of a Paleo Challenge and some details on what got Will through the challenge. We thank Will for his contribution to the blog and for being part of our #DCFStrong community!!!

Athlete name: Will Odom

Age: 35

Started CrossFit: February 2015

With the kick-off of the Rockin’ Fit Paleo Challenge I thought some of you may be interested in my Paleo Challenge experience. When I was asked to contribute to ‘Beyond the Barbell’, I decided that I would share some thoughts on what got me through the challenge. As a continued Paleo fanatic, I congratulate all who participate. You have decided to take on a task that is weary to the faint of heart. I’ve heard many people say they don’t have the nerve to take on such a lifestyle adjustment. All I can say is EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE! It is worth it. I say, stay the course and you will reap the benefits! Not only physically but mentally.

How did you hear about Paleo?

I heard about a Paleo Challenge through Desert CrossFit. Upon my first time walking into the box, I was greeted by the owner, Cheryl Cohen and was introduced to CrossFit and Paleo. I was lucky to begin my CrossFit journey along with incorporating a Paleo lifestyle at the same time. I was essentially working my body two fold, by changing my unhealthful eating, but also getting back into exercising.

I had been fighting a significant and discouraging weight gain around my waist and it began to inhibit other activities I was involved in. In coupling the CrossFit workouts with the lifestyle changes I was introduced to during the Paleo Challenge, I managed to drop 12 pounds in the initial 3 weeks. This weight loss further motivated me to embrace Paleo and continue to be active in CrossFit.

What changes/progress did you experience as a result of following the diet? How long before you started seeing those changes?

My initial 3 weeks was the springboard to my success. While certainly being a challenge, I knew if I was going to make the change, I needed to be radical. So I followed to a T, everything outlined in the Paleo Challenge, making my body better. I needed to heal it from damage caused by consuming sugar, refined foods and grains that were inhibiting me from being the best I could be. Persevering, I recall picking up a 15-pound weight during a workout and reminding myself this is what I lost and knew I could continue to build on it. My goal was to be able to pick up 45 pounds and know the hard work and dedication that went into losing that amount of weight. I was sure this would be the pay-off in sticking to an improved eating lifestyle and CrossFit training. I knew that changes were happening when my suits, gym-shorts and shirts were falling off. I started to use new holes in my belts and also began to notice that I needed to buy a new suit-coat for work.

Even though the challenge ended after 6-weeks, it changed my entire approach to eating and exercise. My eating and exercise habits have remained the same since the challenge ended. Today I can pick up 45-pound weight in addition to a 25-pound weight and that would just be under the total weight I have lost to date!

What were the biggest challenges in switching to and following the diet?

I was challenged with having to create new meals sans no pastas, breads, potatoes and rice, which were certainly part of my daily meals. While I was not a cook, I had to become one quickly and learn, otherwise I could sink back to my bad habits of eating highly processed fast food meals. I got my inspiration from cooking demonstrations along with some Paleo cookbooks. I embraced my BBQ and went to town! Grilling became something I really looked forward to. I still enjoy grilling vegetables, replacing my need for grains and pasta. Meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds along with some fruits have become staples in my refrigerator. I consume them at levels that will support my CrossFit exercise regimen

How long have you been following the diet?

Ever since the Paleo Challenge that began in February 2015, I have continued a lifestyle of eating quality whole foods. I prefer the word “lifestyle” instead of “diet” because diet implies a simplistic, specific start and stop of consumption until the desired weight is accomplished. For me personally, I’ve found this to be self-defeating, as someone doesn’t just diet or deny themselves until the desired goal weight is reached. I have found success in embracing Paleo, and changing my mindset to making it part of my daily lifestyle. A Paleo lifestyle has done more for me than just simply losing weight and inches. It has restored my energy, confidence and greatly reduced inflammation. In addition my strength gains have increased which I’ve noted during my CrossFit workouts. I’ve noticed that athletes who embrace a balanced approach to nutrition and CrossFit are often are the ones that standout in making personal records in CrossFit and thus life.

What does your version of the diet looks like? What do you eat on an average day?

I eat meat and vegetables 3 times a day and snack on seeds (almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds), and a little fruit. The vegetables I eat are, broccoli, spinach (lots), asparagus, lettuce (of all kinds), sweet potato (little bit), celery, snow peas, cucumber, tomatoes and a few others when in season. I include some oils like avocado, olive and coconut for cooking. The Paleo lifestyle does exclude a lot of foods that many are accustomed to, though I have found ways to adapt many recipes to something I can enjoy. It does take some effort and homework to find recipes but there is a plethora of good information on the Internet and cookbooks galore. I also recommend preparing meals in large quantities such as chicken breasts, roasted vegetables and some grilled pineapples that serve as dessert when I’m craving something sweet. If there’s anyone who is looking for food preparation ideas, I am always available for questions.