When our minds (and bodies) are exposed to stress, our bodies release a variety of hormones intended to help us survive - adrenaline and cortisol primarily. This "fight or flight" response mechanism enables people to access superhuman levels of strength and focus, which is really useful in a crisis. This can become problematic when we allow ourselves to exist in a state of fight or flight, especially combined with lack of sleep or excess alcohol consumption (see below). Our adrenal glands get worn out from constantly producing adrenaline and cortisol, and our digestive and immune systems get out of whack. People under chronic stress tend to carry more belly fat, and are at greater risk of chronic disease. The worst part? Being stressed about being stressed only adds to your stress! If you are in a state of chronic stress, don't fall prey to the belief that this is necessary or normal. Address the sources of your stress, learn to accept what you can't change, and begin to change the things within your control. For those who like more info, here's a great article by Chris Kresser about how stress affects your body. Here's also a blog I wrote about identifying stress in your life. It may sound silly, but even just developing a practice of deep, cleansing breathing can help to reduce feelings of stress. Finding time to meditate in some form - choosing to consciously quiet your mind - is also surprisingly helpful. Spending time enjoying things you find cute (instagram animals, anyone?), and making time to enjoy our natural environment are also things I've found personally helpful.
The more you ask of yourself in terms of career, training/exercise, family, and other commitments, the more you have to prioritize sleep, especially if you're trying to lose weight and are operating on a caloric deficit. It might feel like you don't have time to sleep, but in reality if you don't, you'll be substantially less successful in your pursuits. Thankfully, there are lots of scientists focused on this, and this study is worth a read. Notably, the study concluded that chronic sleep deprivation puts you at a greater risk of obesity and diabetes, partially by making you less able to process glucose, making you less able to feel full, and making you less inclined to expend energy. If you sleep less than 8 hours per night, and especially if you sleep less than 6, this week I'd suggest trying to sleep like it's your job. Turn off the devices an hour before you intend to sleep, create a dark environment for sleeping - free of lights form chargers, clocks, etc., and consider blackout curtains if you go to bed late enough that you wake up after the sun comes up. Living in a state of sleep deprivation is possible, and feels normal if that's what you're used to, but you might be surprised by how much better you feel if you increase the zzzz's. If you've traditionally had difficulty managing your body composition, and you sleep less than 8 hours per night, independent of how healthy you eat (because sleep deprivation also makes it much more difficult to make healthy choices), this component may be a material contributor. Thankfully, sleeping more typically enables you to be more efficient, so you'll probably be able to accomplish just as much, if not more, despite spending more time sleeping.
This category is intended to represent the "probably detrimental" things that we consume on a regular/semi-regular/occasional basis as coping mechanisms, treats, or habits. I'm not sure whether coffee belongs in this category, but for purposes of a Paleo mindset it probably does. Things in this category have little to no nutritional value, meaning that they don't provide any macronutrients or micronutrients which cannot be consumed from other sources. In addition, they have known detrimental effects (alcohol, sugar, and caffeine) especially when consumed in excess. (And if you smoke, please, please, please stop immediately.)
Things in this category tend to be addictive in nature, meaning that consuming them leads to physical and mental dependence, and meaning that they're especially difficult to consume in moderation. They also tend to contribute some level of emotional satisfaction which can seem (or actually be) worth obtaining, despite the potential for negative health impact. The main thing to understand with items in this category is they really aren't good for you. Sure, red wine and tequila may technically be Paleo considering what they're made from, and coffee (especially for people who aren't negative responders) may help you be more alert without impacting your sleep quality, but really really, none of these things are better health choices than the things they're intended to replace - better stress management, high quality social interaction with people we don't need to drink around to tolerate, more sleep, and food with measurable nutritional value (versus sugar). Minimize your intake to the best of your ability, and recognize they do come with an inherent tradeoff, including the risk of excess consumption. For the second half of this challenge, reduce or eliminate your dependence, and strive to replace your cravings for them with health promoting alternatives.