Day 35: How a paleo diet is making me a better climber

As some of you may know, Sheffield (the city we live right next to and I work in) is basically the climbing capital of the UK. There are four (that I know of) indoor climbing walls and we are just 10 minutes drive away from the UK’s biggest national park – The Peak District. The Peak District is where I got the inspiration for my blog domain and is also where Boyfriend, Dog, and I spend a lot of our weekends in the summer. It’s awesome.

Dog in the Peak District

Rowdy enjoying himself as the king of the castle in the Peak District

What many of you won’t be aware of is Sheffield was just confirmed as the UK’s capital city for outdoor activity. This is off the back of some research that’s been done, which showed not only that Sheffielders spend more on outdoor gear than anyone else in the country (and they have over 200 businesses to buy from), but 66% of Sheffielders get themselves to the outdoors for recreation.

There are lots of benefits of living so close to so many opportunities for outdoor recreation and they’ve been cited over and over in many studies, including this one from Harvard, which lists increases in vitamin D levels, exercise, increased happiness, increased concentration, and faster healing as some of the benefits from getting outside.

Sheffield is also pretty hilly, so if you’re a pedestrian you’re pretty much always getting a workout, it doesn’t matter which direction you’re walking in. What amazes me is how much people cycle in Sheffield. Some of those hills are pretty steep! But anyway, cyclists are crazy. Let’s get back to climbing.

I’ve written a little bit about climbing before. Boyfriend and I go bouldering every Sunday morning for a couple of hours before coming home and cooking up a mega roast dinner. Sundays just wouldn’t be the same without either of them. But this week was extra special because it’s new routes week.

As you can imagine, indoor bouldering would get pretty boring if you had the same climbing routes to solve week in week out, so at the centre we climb at, they change the routes something like every five weeks. We’d been getting a bit fed up of the problems that were up previously as I think they gave them an extra week and we’d pretty much solved all the routes we were going to be able to do, so we were more than ready for the route change.

Route changes are bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s exciting as you get the opportunity to try different things and really test yourself. But on the other hand, some of the climbs can feel a bit awkward as you’re going straight from routes that you’ve gotten to know over the previous weeks and are used to and right into a load of brand new routes that you now need to adapt to. I love it though and today was a great climb.

I think I’m getting better as well. I had assumed I had got as good I was going to get for someone who started climbing in my mid-20s and only gets the chance to go a maximum of once a week. But I’m definitely getting better. Seated starts I might have struggled with before, I’m now doing with ease. Underhang routes that I wasn’t strong enough to do before aren’t draining my strength like they used to. And everything just seems a lot more natural.

I think some of this could be put down to going regularly and just naturally getting better with practice. I’m certainly pretty fearless when it comes to the climbs now, going for things that I might have chickened out of before. But some of the improvement has got to be put down to this diet. For example, all that protein and lower carb levels are definitely helping me increase my muscle ratio and decrease my fat percentage. Overall, I feel better rested than before and my sugar levels are more regulated, which is definitely helping me keep up my energy throughout the session.

But one of the other things that’s helping me is that I’ve actually shed a few pounds as well. I tend to avoid talking about weight on this blog as weight loss isn’t an aim of this diet for me. I was a fairly slim 125lbs before I started eating paleo. I’m 5’3″ish tall. I lost about 10lbs just eating paleo and about a further 5lbs since starting this AIP diet, which puts me at a BMI of 18.9 according to this BMI calculator. I haven’t lost any weight for about four weeks, which is good because any more and I would be getting into underweight territory, which I definitely don’t want.

A picture of me bouldering at the Matrix

This is a while ago… I’m way more ripped now :p One of the good side effects from eating such a restrictive diet!

But anyway, how does this help my climbing? Well, a lighter body means less weight to pull up the wall. Climbing is great exercise because you use your whole body and your body weight is what you’re lugging about all over the place. It’s much easier to get up the wall if you’re carrying a stone less than you were before. It feels a little bit like I was climbing with a big rucksack on before compared to how easy it feels now, which is great. It’s the first time I’ve actually been thankful for the weight loss!

I know indoor climbing isn’t outdoor recreation, but we are in November! And it’ll set us up nicely for when the warm weather comes back around and we can get outdoors again in the Peak District. For now, I’ll just make do with walking outside.

Do you get outdoors? How does climbing/ walking/ cycling make you feel?

Food Diary
Breakfast: Smoked salmon salad
Lunch: Salt beef salad. Persimmon for afters
Dinner: Roast beef with roasted red onion, celery, garlic and herbs. Side of honey glazed carrots and parsnips, and mashed swede.
Snacks: Small packet of raisins.

Pain level (out of 10)
Woke up with mild discomfort about a 1, but nothing serious. Went away pretty early on and then came back at about a 1 again at 3pm. Had a nap and it went away. Started to come back a little bit around 9pm, but again only at a 1. Pretty pain free day. The antibiotics must be taking care of that pesky infection.


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