It was a privilege getting to meet and spend time with Catalina of Paleo en Forma – an incredible website geared toward the Spanish speaking, Paleo community. Catalina and I first ‘met’ online while searching for roommates for the 2015 Paleo f(x) gathering in Austin, TX. We agreed to become roommies, but the friendship that has blossomed since that meetup has meant the world to me (yet another gift, thanks to Paleo).
Since Catalina was curious about many of the Primal Play and natural movement workshops I attended, she decided to interview me for her website. And because I’ve never spotlighted anyone on my blog, I thought I’d ask Catalina about her paleo beginnings. Here’s what she had to say:
Which came first for you: Paleo or Crossfit? And why?
Contrary to many people I arrived at paleo first. Prior to becoming paleo I spent time in the gym, more than a decade practicing yoga. Yoga was a completely transformative experience. Unfortunately, I never saw changes in body composition.
I was mostly vegetarian and thus consuming a huge amount of grains and carbohydrates. I thought I was unable to lose weight. As you can imagine, when I shifted my diet and my life to paleo style, I suddenly not only had more energy, but a real desire to lift weights and move more. So I starting taking MetCon (metabolic conditioning) and HIIT (high interval intensity training) classes at the gym. Then, as I was reading or rather devouring everything paleo, I came to Crossfit. But having never been an athlete, I dismissed it as something not for me. Then a box opened almost across the street from where I live. I took that as a sign of the universe telling me I could give it a go.
It took a year to muster the courage to walk to the box. And when I did, I found wonderful people, supportive coaches, a very friendly environment. Because of a knee injury (not caused by Crossfit), I have to modify a lot and not do too much Crossfit per week. I go no more than twice a week, and I combine it with MetCon, HIIT, yoga and core work.
Thanks to Crossfit I learned to eat good carbs again (Yay!), I have never felt stronger or more confident. Even though I always score last, and the amount I can lift is pretty low (comparatively speaking), I am a great example that Crossfit is for everyone. And if taught responsibly, it will give great benefit to your body and mind. Oh, and I can perform yoga postures now thanks to strength gained from Crossfit.
What benefits or drawbacks have you experienced since going Paleo?
It’s hard for me to talk about drawbacks because going paleo was a decision my body made for me. I have literally never felt this good! Once I started the first 30 days, my body resoundingly said: This.Is.It!
I thrive on high fat and moderate protein and carbohydrates. I used to eat oatmeal with yogurt and maple syrup for breakfast and I lived hungry day in an day out. Now I eat nutrient-dense food, consuming two full meals per day, one small meal midday. That’s pretty much it. I feel full and I have energy. I drink water, teas and kombucha (sometimes coffee even though I shouldn’t, but nobody is perfect). Period.
To me the biggest joy is feeling my best and knowing that I am treating my body with the best nutritional sources, which is an investment for the present and for the future. I still take thyroid medication but my dose has been drastically reduced, and may be phased out entirely one day.
In terms of drawbacks, the fact that I live in a world that mostly eats SAD (Standard American Diet) style can make eating out with friends and family complicated (I have gotten pretty good at it, though). It’s the feeling that you can not share the food with them. So instead I’ve learned to focus on sharing the experience, the affection, not the meal per se.
Paleo can be expensive, which is another drawback, but it’s all about priorities. My clothes are simple, I drive an 11 year old car, but my bacon is pastured. Paleo started as a 30 day program and it became a lifestyle.
Tell us more about your website Paleo en forma, and the services you offer:
Speaking on how much paleo changed my life, and after many of my Latino friends showed curiosity about this “thing” I was doing but never heard of, I realized there weren’t as many bloggers or authors in the Spanish world teaching or talking about paleo. That was the beginning of Paleo en Forma, which launched January 2015.
Prior to that I had a blog, but starting 2015 I published a recipe and a post weekly, and started a monthly newsletter and interview series (it’s a gluten-free labor of love). We have almost 500 followers on facebook, almost 200 in instagram and also a presence on twitter.
I love Paleo en Forma because it allows me to do four of my favorite things: write, cook, research and take pictures. The site covers paleo as a lifestyle and I want it to be a resource for those who (like me) were looking for easy-to-follow guides on how to jump into this lifestyle, as well as for the seasoned athlete looking to paleo to enhance performance.
I also offer services to work one-on-one with clients to achieve body composition goals, as well as provide personalized menus. I want to offer my services as a public speaker in English and Español about all things paleo; give workshops, seminars and anyway I can help individuals be healthy and do it in a sustainable manner. Please subscribe to Paleo en Forma and I promise, because I have no time left, I will only send very few meaningful emails.
Are the Paleo and Primal experts doing enough to include the Spanish community? And if not, what advice would you give them in order to do so?
Not enough. I know some big figures have translated material on their sites. For example, Whole30 has a whole document in Spanish. However, I think the worlds of paleo are pretty divided: those speaking English and those in the Spanish sphere. I happen to be in both and I happen to know that the Latino community is a huge market not only because Latinos, like other minorities, bear the brunt of chronic diseases related to poor nutrition, but because there is a genuine desire in most populations to eat healthy, to make better choices, and decide that instead of McDonald’s they could bake a whole chicken with baked sweet potatoes and green beans and still have money leftover.
I would tell the experts: “Hey, huge market potential over here!” And a fabulous population segment with a rich culinary history – enormous potential to color and augment the paleo palate.
If you could present a talk at a future Paleo f(x), what would it be?
I would be delighted first of all (if I get accepted), it would be a great honor. I would have to speak to the other bloggers and try and organize a collective panel with them so that we have a more representative table of the Spanish speaking paleos.
As for topics, oh my gosh, I have a hard time selecting one topic but perhaps I would love to talk about Latin American influences on paleo cooking (yuca, plantain and other grain-free starches). I would also love to make Tostones a part of the talk.
Other topics include presenting an overview of what the Spanish speaking paleo community is talking about, what are the topics most widely discussed in Spanish social media groups: intermittent fasting, carbs, and athletic performance. One of the things I notice in the paleo conversations in Spanish is there is a little bit of an apprehension about carbs, and although I personally can’t go too high on the carb intake, I think there is a place and a function for carbs according to activity.
Lastly, I would like to have this conversation with paleo leaders in English to see how to keep expanding this movement worldwide. I am sure there are paleo discussions in French, German, and maybe even Thai languages. There is so much to learn.
Thank you Catalina for sharing your journey to Paleo and for all that you do to bring Paleo living to the Spanish community. Until we can get together again, you’re in my heart and my thoughts. Muchas gracias, Cata <3