CrossFit isn’t just for dudes, and author Stephanie Gaudreau is living proof. Author of the new book, The Performance Paleo Cookbook, a guide for athletes to support their bodies with proper nutrition, Steph is the kind of DIY queen we love. Not only is she kicking ass in her box (seriously, she deadlifts 320 lbs), but she also keeps the super popular website, blog and Instagram, Stupid Easy Paleo. We were super amped when Stephanie agreed to share her workout tips, advice for aspiring bloggers and words of encouragement for Paleo newbies.
Stereotypically, CrossFit classes are filled with enormous dudes who yell at you. What can you tell female readers who might be a little nervous to give it a shot, to entice them in?
CrossFit is by and large about community, and when someone is cheering you on to finish that last set of pull ups, I can see why it could be construed as enormous dudes yelling at you. At most gyms, you put on your headphones and want nobody to bother you, but at CrossFit, it’s about community. I’d definitely say to shop around and find a gym that you feel comfortable at. See if they have a class for beginners or an on-ramp program that’ll teach you all the fundamentals before you get thrown into a regular class. And of course, there’s always the buddy system. Going with a friend can make it far less intimidating.
One of my favorite things about CrossFit is the emphasis on getting strong, as opposed to getting thin. Can you tell us a little about the changes your body has gone through doing CrossFit?
When I started CrossFit in 2010, I was transitioning off a decade of racing bikes, running long distances and doing triathlons. I did a ton of cardio, but I was super weak. In fact, I couldn’t even jump onto a 16″ box when I first started CrossFit. A lot has changed since then, and I’ve increased my strength like crazy. With that, I’ve gained back the muscle I lost while I was doing endurance racing, which is a great thing. Increasing your muscle mass is an important factor in a healthy metabolism and supporting fat loss. Women lack the testosterone levels to get bulky — training by lifting low rep, heavy weights will not make you get huge.
Obviously diet plays a big part in those changes, and you eat to perform — what’s it like eating with friends, with such a strict regimen happening?
The thing is, we have an average of 21 meals a week to make really great choices. If I’m out with friends at a restaurant, I usually make a few easy swaps (like switching a burger bun for a lettuce wrap), but I don’t sweat the small stuff. I cook most of my meals at home and have a lot of control over making healthy choices. If it’s a special occasion, I tend to have something that’s not on plan, but I know I’ll get back to normal once I get home. It works out well.
Your photography is bonkers good, and all your food looks delicious. What is your favorite recipe in The Performance Paleo Cookbook?
That’s SOOO hard to choose just one! My favorite is probably the Tender Asian-Marinated Flank Steak because the flavor is just SO good. The Cherry Cashew Protein Bars come in as a close second because people have been asking me for a dairy-free, egg-free protein bar for a while. Wish granted.
For those who are just starting out their own food blog, are there any tips or pointers you could offer?
Good question. You know, the secret is to take your time and develop your own style. Experiment, make mistakes and learn from them while you’re small and not as many people will notice. Nowadays, it’s so easy to start a blog, but I see people wanting to get big overnight. The truth is that it takes time to figure things out and have the staying power to last. Post consistently, truly come from a place of wanting to help people and provide amazing, free content to start.
For those just starting to go Paleo, perhaps as a New Year’s Resolution, what tips could you offer on staying consistent with it?
As far as staying consistent, it takes a shift in mindset. Instead of approaching Paleo as, “Wow, look at all my favorite foods that I have to give up. This sucks,” think of it as, “I’m going to nourish my body from the inside out with all these amazing, nutritious foods.” If you change your mindset and your habits, you can do anything long term.
I love this post you did about the goals for being Paleo and what it means. If you were going to give a super brief pitch for someone on the fence about going Paleo and starting CrossFit, what would it be?
You owe it to yourself to find out how good you can really feel and how strong you can really be. What do you really have to lose?