When it comes to finding folks knowledgeable about strength – both in theory and in practice – you’d be hard pressed (pun totally intended – we at Paleo Comfort Foods are good like that) to find a more qualified or more experienced couple than Greg Everett and Aimee Anaya Everett. Words and phrases like “national champion weightlifter” (Aimee) and “author of the best book available on Olympic weightlifting” (Greg) are just some of the things you may hear about these two, not to mention that you may recognize Greg’s voice from the weekly Paleo Solution podcasts with Robb Wolf, and if you’ve ever watched a video on how to lift a ton of weight, you have probably seen Aimee. These two have all sorts of credentials to their names, and provide info to the masses via the wildly popular Performance Menu, and run Catalyst Athletics in Sunnyvale, CA. If you ever are looking for some serious coaching, go and seek out Greg and Aimee!
In addition to being amazingly strong and incredible coaches, they also live a “clean eating” lifestyle. We wanted to take some time to get to know the Everett’s outside of the gym, and how a paleo approach has worked in their lives and in the lives of their clients.
PCF: Who started it (and by it I mean eating paleo)? How long have you been eating this way? Was there any resistance from the later-adapter? What did you (each) notice first in your transition?
Greg: I did. I used to co-own NorCal Strength & Conditioning and helped start the Performance Menu with Robb Wolf and Nicki Violetti, so I was fortunate enough to be at the epicenter of this thing. So I would have started in 2004. I first met Aimee through her weightlifting coach, Mike Burgener, and was consulting with her on nutrition. I never called it Paleo because I don’t like labeling nutrition protocols – that’s the best way to get resistance. But she very quickly became much leaner and stronger, although didn’t attribute the changes to her nutrition. It took a while for her to connect the two and to recognize her gluten intolerance. Honestly my transition wasn’t anything dramatic – it turns out I’m fairly evolved and handle just about any food quite well. So we’re an interesting pair because Aimee is extremely reactive to gluten and has to be very careful about what she’s eating.
Aimee: Greg definitely did. I was introduced to it through Greg and he and Robb convinced me to go gluten free since I had had a stomach ache for roughly 16 years. When I went completely Paleo my lifting was amazing. I was training better than ever before, and I felt super fabulous all around. Because I was essentially ignorant to how food could effect your life, I contributed my amazing energy, my feeling great and not having a stomach ache to the fact that my training was so fantastic. I honestly didn’t believe it was eating Paleo and being totally gluten free. I didn’t ever correlate the food thing with my overall improvements until later. After being on Paleo for about 6 months I started eating whatever I wanted again because I thought I was doing so well, so why not? Well it wasn’t too much later that I was feeling like complete crap again, and I made the connection. Shitty food = shitty Aimee. The stomach aches returned, I felt sick and exhausted, and my training started to suffer. This is when I realized Robb and Greg were not making this stuff up, and now I have been gluten free for nearly 4 years.
PCF: Sometimes making the transition can be a challenge. What do you think were the most difficult things to overcome? Do you find a lot of your athletes are resistant to this way of eating?
Greg: For me, eating clean is always a challenge because of volume. For me to maintain my bodyweight at 230 lbs, I require a lot of food and doing that with strict Paleo is impossible. Fortunately I can get away with corn, potatoes, etc. without bad reactions. I don’t push Paleo on any of my lifters or clients. Nutrition is a lot like religion – the harder you push it, the more people resist, and I couldn’t be less interested in getting embroiled in nutrition discussions and arguments. We provide resources and support for the people who want to experiment, but I never tell anyone what to do outside of training.
Aimee: The most difficult thing to overcome was the rearranging of my thinking about food. I had to start thinking about food as fuel for my body, and letting go of all the things I thought were so delish I couldn’t live without… like sandwiches from my favorite deli, or homemade pastas with rich sauces, and of course double-stuffed Oreos and all the delicious desserts I was a sucker for. My clients resist this way of eating until they see other people eating this way, and the amazing results they are achieving. Then they give it a go, and just like I did, say “wow, this shit works, for sure!”. Also, I find that people just want you to justify what they are eating is healthy. Like, “well, I eat whole wheat pasta”, well dude, pasta is pasta is pasta.
PCF: What would you say your one “non-paleo” vice might be?
Greg: Carne asada fries.
Aimee: Sugar. I am am addict. I have a problem. Crème brûlée, macaroons, homemade whipped cream on anything, cupcakes, and anything chocolate. Truffles. oh em gee. I have mastered the gluten free dessert, and am on a mission to perfect the gluten free cupcake. I literally want dessert constantly.
PCF: If you had to eat one meal every single day for a week, what would you choose?
Greg: Some kind of nacho variant, to include carne asada fries.
Aimee: Aside from Crème brûlée? Filet Mignon, crab salad, and avocado.
PCF: Food, sleep, exercise, fun…all are important in achieving and
maintaining health. Which one of these do you find you struggle most with, and how do you go about addressing that?
Greg: Sleep. I’m a terrible sleeper and it affects a lot of what I do. I just maintain good sleep hygiene, grab quick naps on the couch in my office when I can, and mainly just suck it up.
Aimee: honestly, I don’t struggle with any of those things. I can sleep anytime anywhere. I have amazing recovery abilities, and I always make time for what is fun for me…my family, cooking, baking, and relaxing. I read a lot, and make sure I get my down-time. There’s never enough time to do all the nothings you want, but I sure attempt to do nothing as much as I can!
PCF: You two have helped hundreds if not thousands of athletes become – well, better athletes. Have there been any stories of athletes of yours who you have seen just transform themselves by adopting a paleo way of life?
Greg: Aimee would probably be the best example. She got past long term stomach problems and other health issues by eliminating gluten from her diet.
Aimee: I can’t even begin to choose a favorite story of our many athletes who’s lives have been changed by filling their lives with fitness and paleo. However, my long-time best friend Penney, who I have known for over 20 years, has struggled to lose weight from having kids through a cesarean section. I finally taught her how to eat paleo, and make it part of her life about 2 months ago, and the transformations in her life is completely amazing. I am so proud of her. She is a pro, cooks some amazing dishes, and really has transformed the way she thinks about food for her and her family. She is one of the few people I have introduced to paleo that actually sees it as a way of life and not some diet fad. She is attacking it 100% and is not only losing the weight, but feels fantabulous because of it!
PCF: Who does the (grassfed) cow’s share of cooking around the house?
Greg: Aimee. She enjoys it more and I tend to work late so it has just kind of panned out that way. Thankfully.
Aimee: Definitely me! When I don’t want to cook, we eat out or pick up! Although Jade, or kiddo, is starting to love cooking. She is only 9, but there is a handful of meals she can make completely on her own, and is so proud of it. With mom’s supervision, of course.
PCF: Fill in the end of this sentence:
Greg: The best think I ever ate (that Aimee made) was…pretty much everything. Maybe meatloaf.
Aimee: The best thing I ever ate (that Greg made) was…the amazing gluten-free chinese food he picks up from our favorite chinese food restaraunt 😉
Many thanks to Greg and Aimee for stopping by and chatting with us. And yes, the carne asada fries have quite possibly moved onto our list as something to try in life!
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