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21 Dec

100 Days of Change – My Transformation Story

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Note: Andrew experiments with Intermittent Fasting. While IFing is an effective tool for many people, it is not a required component of the Primal Blueprint. As Andrew says, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

real life stories stories 1 2I’m nearly 56 years old and about four years from retirement. I have been training for retirement by building skills and habits for things I want to do when I retire, and at the same time I’m training for my eighties. Health care is on a path to crisis for people my age, and I figure the only way to survive the health-care crisis is to not need it. I came up with the 100-days idea because I figure it takes about three months to make a real change in oneself, and I had several real changes I needed to make. I choose to think in days, because change-making is a daily commitment.

My first 100-day objective was simply to get more active and build strength. I was 230 pounds, it was late July 2011, and I began a weight-lifting/cardio routine coupled with low-carb/Primal Blueprint diet. After 100 days I was much healthier and 220 pounds. I wasn’t strict enough with the calorie restriction, so despite eating more Primally I didn’t lose all that much weight. I did lose fat, but gained muscle.

Fall2011 1

The second 100 days began in November 2011, and my objective was to become a better Nordic skier. I skied 108 days between mid-November and the end of March. I went from being a floundering spastic to being able to ski with most of the better skiers in my age range, but I never had their speed or endurance uphill. My weight didn’t change much, but again I had not embraced the caloric restriction idea. Low-carb is important, but I think that at some point you have to eat less if you’re going to lose weight.

The third 100-day objective was to get myself to a healthy weight and be prepared for intense XC ski training at the beginning of the next ski season. At that time I wanted to be firmly under 200 pounds. I set my sights on losing another 25 pounds and starting trail running and mountain biking to help with my conditioning.

Running has never been my thing because of lower back trouble. Running made it so painful I figured I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I was wrong about that of course (more on the back pain later). Trail running turns out to be a lot easier on my back than road or treadmill running.

I began alternate-day eating in April this year at 220 pounds. I took a real interest in Nordic skiing (both classic and skate) last winter and I happen to live near an excellent Nordic ski facility, which transforms into an amazing XC running and single-track biking facility when the snow leaves. This is my playground.

My program for the summer was to eat only within a 4-hour window every second day, and run or ride 4 to 10 km 4 or 5 times per week. For 10 weeks I followed the ADE program without faltering and then began to relax a little, going to one meal a day for a week, then back to alternate days for a while. I was still eating a lot less, but as I approach a healthy weight it becomes less important, and sometimes it seems to work better eating a smaller amount once every day.

I took the word fasting out of the alternate-day program because I think fasting is more than skipping a meal, or even several meals. Not being a scientist or nutritionist, all I have is my own body for a lab and my own experimentation for evidence. Some things I have proven sufficiently to guide me, other stuff I’m still testing. As such, you should consider this anecdotal and your mileage may vary!

I believe there are three phases of hunger as follows:

  1. Psychological demand to eat. You can ignore this. All you’re doing is messing with your mind.
  2. Physiological demand to eat. You can ignore this too. Now you’re messing with your digestive system and it tells you about it.
  3. Physiological need to eat. Don’t panic, but pay attention. This is the zone where real changes take place in your body. This is what I consider fasting to be.

Physiological need is quite a different matter from the demand phases. It kicks in late on day 3 or maybe day 4 of a fast. In my opinion, before that time all you did was skip a meal or two or three. I’m not suggesting that phases 1 and 2 are easy; in fact they are the most difficult.

Eating carbohydrates means you have to address phase 2 regularly. As such you get into phase 1 and 2 urges regularly. I think that to make caloric restriction work more easily you need to get over the carb addiction. That might take two weeks, but I consider it essential to a positive caloric-restriction program.

I have tried this both ways and it is one of the things I consider fact. YMMV.

Food as a reward, particularly desserts, baffles me. You work hard at keeping your cravings under control for a week or two and then reward yourself with the very things you know to be the cause of all your troubles. It doesn’t make any sense! Say you painted your house and worked very hard for a couple of weeks to make it the pride of the neighborhood. Would you graffiti bomb the place as a reward? No, you think that would be stupid.

I want to mention my experiments with artificial sweeteners. I have proven to my own satisfaction that they sabotage a diet. I have done this in a couple of ways. I have been eating low-carb (about 50-100 grams/week) for many months. My hunger urges are totally under control.

As a test I rinsed my mouth out with sugary-sweet iced tea and spit out the drink without swallowing any. Within 20 minutes I was craving food in the worst way I’d felt in months! Then a few days later I mixed up some artificial sweetener in water and repeated the mouth rinse. Same reaction! I was suddenly craving food like I hadn’t felt since the last test. I did this test a couple of times, which is not sufficient for any real scientific research, but I found it compelling enough. My hypothesis is that the taste buds catch a hint of sweet and trigger an insulin reaction. I figure the artificial sweetener fools the system and you get a shot of insulin in anticipation of a sugary ingestion coming in.

So, if I’m right, you need to stay away from sweet-tasting things. Anything that causes insulin to be secreted from the pancreas will lower your blood sugar and make you feel hungry. That’s my theory, and again YMMV.

I seem to work out best when I’m hungry. I have the most energy just before my meal. If it has been 40+ hours since my last food, I have power to burn. I ride up the hills without stalling, I make quicker decisions and reflex actions, and I often want to go longer than I have time for. For the last few months my most sluggish rides and runs have been right after a meal, even a small one.

I would like to summarize the concepts and ideas that helped me through the last three 100-day programs, and will help me through the next one.

  1. Marry Smart. A supportive wife makes this kind of thing so much easier!
  2. Get off of and away from carbohydrates and sweet-tasting foods. This makes missing meals a lot easier.
  3. Don’t drink calories. Stick to water and tea or coffee. Juice, milk, beer, booze – all poison. If you can’t live without your beer, realize that it is going to make this whole thing very difficult.
  4. Plan some physical activities for non-food days. You will have at least a couple of hours to kill while you’re not shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up.
  5. Reschedule your life without mealtimes. This may be the biggest benefit of alternate-day eating – free time!
  6. When you get hungry on a non-food day, exercise or, if it’s late, go to bed. It will pass.
  7. Don’t reward yourself with foods that don’t fit the plan. Cheesecake and ice cream are always bad choices while you’re working on your weight-loss goals.

My next 100 days are about fixing my back troubles. I realized at some point that I can have a sore back whether I sit around or get out and do things. In choosing to be as active as my back will allow I’m now running into a bit of a problem going as far and as hard as the rest of my body and mind are anxious to. I’ve decided to take on the main thing that has been holding me back for all these years. Now I know that 100 days is not all that long, and I can fix things if I keep my attention on them. I’ve been to a sports physiotherapist and I have a course of stretching and strengthening exercises to do. I do them eight times per day. I’ll check in with physio regularly and do exactly as prescribed. I don’t expect any program to succeed unless I do the work and follow the plan. At the end of this 100-day period I’ll be into a new ski season, and a different 100-day objective.

So far I’ve stayed with the programs I laid out for myself. After just finishing the hardest 100 days yet I look back at the beginning and remember how I felt, how hard it was getting my butt up those hills on my bike, and how slowly and painfully I ran. I weigh somewhere south of 195 puonds now and I have reset my target weight to 185. At my height and frame size I don’t think I could be considered overweight at that point.

I could be saying “I wish I’d done that” but instead I’m saying “I’m glad I did that.”

August192012 apausewhiletrailrunning

Andrew

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Like a different man! Congratulations. I love the self experiments. I know people wanna just be told “do this”. You showed you gotta do a little self diagnosis and prescription for what will offer you success. Very cool!

    Luke DePron wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Amazing transformation Andrew
      40 hours since your last food??
      You took the IF to the next level.
      Looks like it worked though.

      Kelly Fitzsimmons wrote on January 3rd, 2013
    • For your back problems I suggest you try a Pilates teacher preferably a Stott Pilates teacher with experience in rehab Unfortunately as I live in the Uk I am rather a long way but if you check out Pilates in google you should strike gold

      Jennie T wrote on May 16th, 2013
  2. Wow! What a transformation! Congrats on finding a healthy lifestyle that works for you. I am still experimenting with eating schedules. I find a small snack and a big meal work best for me. Sometimes I can even go without the snack if I get enough protein in the main meal (to keep me full). Anyone have any suggestions for really getting the fat loss ball rolling? I just started crossfit this week and am still sore from day 1. lol.

    Jacob wrote on December 21st, 2012
  3. I like your 100 day goal idea. It is really tough to make improvements in more than one area at a time so it is good to have a focus. When I try to both gain muscle and drop fat at the same time I usually don’t succeed in either. Good luck with getting your back pain under control. I have a herniated disk in my back and mild scoliosis so I understand back pain. I have found that getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night has been the one thing that reduces my back pain the most.

    Wayne Atwell wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • I have found yoga to be excellent for back pain. Once a week for an hour and your back will thank you. I also love the 100 day goal idea. I will incorporate it in 2013.

      Anna wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • The only thing that’s ever worked for my scoliosis and lower back pain is Upper Cervical Specific chiropractic. It’s amazing to see how my spine is straightening just from keeping the top two bones in my neck aligned. Might be something to look into.

        Trav wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • Oh, and way to go with improving your health.

          Trav wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • I agree with this, and the comment below about chiropractic. I heard yoga described once as a “love affair with the spine.” Combined with weight loss, sleep and perhaps some chiropractic work, I think yoga can do amazing things for the back.

        Lance wrote on December 23rd, 2012
    • I also have a herniated disc (in L5-S1), YMMV, but I found the first several days of stretches introduced at mobilitywod.com to be extremely helpful. I do them before I go to bed so that my back can relax and decompress without fighting the tight muscles around the bad areas.

      Chris wrote on December 22nd, 2012
    • I had a spinal fusion L1/ L2 – a sports injury and later had herniated discs in L2 L3 and L 4 L 5. Core strengthening on an exercise ball and the chiropractic technique Active Release Technique has helped me the most. I am pretty much pain free now.

      amy wrote on December 31st, 2012
  4. Well done ~ in the exercise history of China, (like KungFu, QiGong, etc…) a “Gong” is generally thought to be 100 days!! If you practice with patience and intent for at least 100 days, you’ve achieved ONE Gong…..the accumulation of Gongs makes the master….incredibly encouraging….Thanks

    Ken Harbour wrote on December 21st, 2012
  5. Righteous! Well done and excellent work on the personal experiments and detailed write-up.

    It bugs me too that “fasting” on this site gets thrown around and is equated with just forgetting/skipping breakfast in the morning.

    Keep up the good fight. And let us know how XC season goes.

    Anders wrote on December 21st, 2012
  6. Any age, anytime. This stuff works. Great job!

    Nocona wrote on December 21st, 2012
  7. A couple of thoughts on back pain:
    1. losing the weight should help
    2. see a Chiropractor and get xray and see if it helps if it is a physical issue
    3. try the Inversion devices. The spine needs to decompress and fill the disks with fluid
    4. lower body excercise especially the glutes and body core strength
    5. posture (ergonomics when at the desk working) and spinal alignment (Tai Chi)
    6. proper running technique (not landing on heels)
    7. know your limit. I tend to over work and then get lower back pain. If I do over work, I have to ice down my lower back to head off the consequences
    P.S. great story!

    RobG wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Can I suggest checking out http://www.foundationtraining.com – their exercises are finally fixing my back after 30 years of problems (no affiliation – just a happy follower).

      ps looking good Andrew!

      Sharyn wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • I likewise recently started the foundation traning approach and have found it helpful with lower and cervical back issues. I am trying to improve my comfort on a road bike for slow movement and sprinting as running is not an option due to a suspect knee and said spinal concerns. It has helped so far. Plus cycling to me has always been a form of play. I am a 59 y/o male down 80+ lbs in 2012 from Paleo including some IF. This has been the best Christmas in a long time.

        IfYouOnlyKnew wrote on December 24th, 2012
    • I also like the 100 day goals. Long enough to make a difference and short enough that you have the end in sight to keep you encouraged.

      I also recommend a chiropractor for your lower back pain. Take note of how the adjustment is done and see if you can replicate the movement at home.

      I’ve learned how to pop my lower back and I can now do a “self-adjustment” anytime I need it. Even without cracking your back, it’s a great stretch.

      Knox wrote on December 23rd, 2012
  8. Good work Andrew – I’ll bet your family is glad you did that too! I’ve read a lot of medical records over the years and back complaints are a constant feature. I have always thought this has to do with weight (or sometimes height), but I’m sure that skinny little people have pain there too. It does seem like you should take a few days off the PT exercises to let the muscle repair itself. Hopefully it will be able to lend more support to the spine if it can build up. I just read Doug McGuff’s book, Body by Science, so I have this on my mind. Good luck on the next phase.

    Vanessa wrote on December 21st, 2012
  9. Hard-core!

    I started for the same reasons- I wouldn’t wish health or cancer care on my worst enemy. There’s been way too much of it in my family.

    Have you looked at kettlebells at all? They got rid of my back pain and leg injuries, and you can just leave them outside your door.

    Moshen wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Yeah, cancer *care*. Spoooooooky…

      Madama Butterfry wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Moshen, can you give a few examples of kettlebell exercises/workouts that you do? I purchased a kettlebell a few months ago, but still haven’t really figured out the best way to work out with it! I had knee surgery earlier this year, and I found that the swings caused me some pain afterwards, which ended up putting me off of kettlebell work. I’d love to pick it back up again though, just don’t really know where to start!

      Beth wrote on December 28th, 2012
  10. Brilliant and inspiring–way to go, and thanks for the inspiration! Looks like you have some healthy and happy decades ahead of you.

    Tom B-D wrote on December 21st, 2012
  11. What a great history!Once again another proof that PBP works!It may take a little twist or tug here and experimenting there since we all have different health issues to target… but once you get this thing down and learn how to nourish and move your body the way it is meant to be…is like ILLUMINATION!Thank you ANDREW for sharing your primal journey (kind of unique because of the “100 days ideas”) :-) Thank you Mark Sisson for EVERYTHING that you do to deliver the best information/researches/recipes/encouragement and so much more.Please excuse my grammar as english still is a daily learning. Can’t wait to see the next “100 day ideas”.GROK ON MR ANDREW and CONGRATULATIONS!

    alexandra wrote on December 21st, 2012
  12. Thanks for the feedback everyone. A couple of updates (the article dates back to August or September):

    1) Back pain is no longer an issue. I get the odd pang but it is under control and not stopping me from doing stuff. Physio came down to mostly yoga exercises. I have come to believe that yoga has many solutions.

    2) I’m well into my XC ski season and the next 100 days (gong!). It’s better than I could have hoped.

    Now the next 10 days .. avoid holiday excesses. Good luck with that, everyone!

    Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Good for you, Andrew! Great story and great example of the importance of having a plan, and for working out what’s best for your mind and body.

      Helga wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • How tall are you?

      oxide wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • 180cm (5’11”)

        Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Core specific exercises too my man, turn your strength into an asset.

      D wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • Meant turn your weakness into an asset, lol

        D wrote on December 21st, 2012
  13. Congrats Andrew, great story! I’m a couple of months away from 60, lost about 20 pounds (got on the scales for the first time in a few months the other day) without really trying over the past year, just eliminated grains and simple carbohydrates from my diet. I’ve always exercised and had a pretty healthy diet (except for buying into the multi-grain propaganda) most of my life though. I’m happy with being 155 lbs at 5′ 8″. As far as sweeteners, try stevia, all natural, just takes a little and will NOT raise your blood sugar, and may not give you the cravings you are experiencing. Might be worth trying. Berries give me the sweets I need plus I must confess I eat a couple of 88% low sugar chocolate squares each day. Best wishes for continued success!

    George wrote on December 21st, 2012
  14. I love the way you approached your goals, Andrew. While I recognize that many of your methods aren’t appropriate for me, I have come to realize that no two bodies respond to a given protocol in the same manner. And you are a very wise man to understand the value of marrying well! Nicely done on all counts!

    Kris wrote on December 21st, 2012
  15. Have u tried a mackenzie certified physio? I have a disc protrusion and three physios did little to alleviate my symptoms. I researched the mckenzie method and found a certified pt who has me doing extensions, which all the others told me to avoid. After only one week im noticing a big difference.

    rae wrote on December 21st, 2012
  16. Great job, you went from George Costanza to George Clooney. You look like money now!

    I am 58 and retired for almost 5 years. You are right, health care is out of control, even the most minimal care is hugely expensive. A chronic condition or emergency could easily become a financial calamity. Insurance concerns are the biggest obstacle to early retirement.

    Old guys rule.

    bayrider wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • +1!

      Madama Butterfry wrote on December 21st, 2012
  17. This sounds far too strict and joyless to carry on.

    leida wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • I agree. I guess everyone is different, but I’ve lost weight on primal/paleo without any fasting. I don’t restrict the volume of what I eat and I still eat a fair amount of fruit. I like sweet stuff. Very, very occasionally I may eat something non-primal (including dessert). What I love most about primal blueprint is that it is EASY and SUSTAINABLE. I may have actually lost weight quicker on weight watchers, but it was excruciating. I’m happy to be following an eating plan that I have no doubt I can follow (more or less) for the rest of my life.

      Annie wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • Also, IF as presented in this post is also only realistic for a single or a very flexible couple. As a breast feeding mother, abstaining from food every other day when it’s available seems like a very bad idea. Ditto with feeding the kids. Even if I wasn’t breastfeeding the existence of my kids means all the time benefits accrued from not preparing meals goes “poof”, since I’m feeding others anyway.

        Also, I go stark raving loony (more so than normal ;) )when I’m hungry. I can’t focus or think about anything but food. I can’t imagine trying to be around my kids on the non-food days. Heck, I started low carb diet precisely because I was such a moody monster as a vegetarian.

        So yes, I can see the IF part of his approach to definitely be a YMMV.

        Amy wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • I’ve read that IF is mainly effective for men, women can end up with lots of hormonal issues, and difficulty losing weight if they do IF too much.

          Kathleen wrote on March 19th, 2013
    • Joy is being healthy so that you can look forward to the rest of your life fit and fabulous!

      People think I am too strict for not having pizza for two years now – I don’t care what they think. I am healthier than most of them and my body comes before what anyone else thinks.

      Pure Hapa wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • There is a difference between not eating a pizza – or any other food- and not eating every day – and setting guidelines like – if you are hungry, sleep it off; eating an apple is gonna destroy all the work, etc. It takes more to maintain than to reach the goal. A loss achieved with extreme methods is very hard to sustain, it is likely to backfire. For example, at some point a person will stop sleeping if the hunger suppression is chronic. Chronic fasting might be possible to a monk living in a world of spiritual meditation who can elope to the Tibetian mountains and seek calm and enlightenment, but a normal person at a normal world is going to grow short of temper and potentially negatively react on a personal or a professional level sooner or later.

        I dunno, this all sounds like the “Biggest Looser” Primal way, and the Biggest Looser in my view the worst thing that could have happened to the overweight people seeking to lose weight.

        leida wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • +1 Sleeping off hunger…not very primal.

          Bobert wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • I respectfully adhere to my position on this after consideration. I’m not sure we’re on the same page when you say “sleep off hunger”. I am talking about shaking off the psychological and physiological demands when “fasting” (quotes intentional). If you were on a program like I was you’d need to NOT EAT for 44 hours at a time. If going to sleep helps you stick to your plan then I consider it valid. It worked for me at times.

          Also, I thing Grok would often need to deal with hunger in the face of dwindling food supplies when the Burger King was closed (I mean, when it’s dark or cold out or something). In that sense I reckon going to bed hungry is as primal as the rest of the things we do to mimic the primal experience.

          The other thing is, I’m not suggesting this program is right for others. In fact if you don’t have a significant amount of weight to lose I couldn’t recommend it.

          Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • +1!

        HopelessDreamer wrote on December 22nd, 2012
    • I agree it’s not for everyone. I wanted to get my weight down quickly so I could enjoy doing the things I love to do.

      I want to get exercise by mtn biking and skiing. Hauling the equivalent of 4 gallons of milk around the trails was making that difficult.

      I sequenced my transformation my way. It may not be the only way or the best way, but it’s one way.

      Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • Everyone’s different and YMMV, indeed. But I found this advice completely in harmony with my own experience.

        Understanding one’s hunger and controlling it can be very liberating when you’re used to the other way around.

        Timothy wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • Well-said! I hate the feeling of being controlled by hunger.

          Lance wrote on December 23rd, 2012
      • The one thing I love the most about paleo is that the cravings are gone. From the beginning of going paleo, it took about 2 or 3 weeks for all of my cravings to stop. Now I’m free to fast anytime I like without the manic hunger.

        I choose to fast 1 day each week with about 50g of whey protein during the fast. However, I have a friend who did 1 year of intermittent fasting every other day and did quite well with it.

        Knox wrote on December 23rd, 2012
    • While I don’t have the exact personality and life suitable to do this (single mom, foodie), I TOTALLY know some people this would resonate with, and I enjoyed his direct and masculine tone in relating the experiments and philosophical approach. What’s awesome about these Friday success stories is that they use core common elements we all relate to, but the diverse personalities and challenges they have faced reveal how realistic the PBP is for any individual!

      Love this line, and agree, “Health care is on a path to crisis for people my age, and I figure the only way to survive the health-care crisis is to not need it.”

      Joy Beer wrote on December 22nd, 2012
  18. Nicely done.

    James wrote on December 21st, 2012
  19. Awesome goals set and met! And you did it before the end of the world according to the Mayans!

    Seriously, I am taking some items you mentioned and incorporating them into my own training. I am only 10 lbs from ideal weight and have been stuck here for months..time to break the plateau.

    Rev. Dave Deppisch wrote on December 21st, 2012
  20. “I came up with the 100-days idea because I figure it takes about three months to make a real change…I choose to think in days, because change-making is a daily commitment.”

    LOVE THIS! Way to break down your goals into 100-day segments and conquer each one at a time. Fat loss didn’t even enter the equation until round 3. Talk about prioritizing overall health & happiness over some arbitrary number. Amazing job!

    Chika wrote on December 21st, 2012
  21. Thank you for sharing your story Andrew. I especially appreciate the methods you have been choosing, such as thinking of your process as a series of days and focusing on one major goal at a time. You seem to know yourself well.

    P.S. I completely agree with your account of fasting – the three phases as well as the cycle of energy have proved themselves in my experience.

    David wrote on December 21st, 2012
  22. Thanks, Andrew. Your story is very inspiring and motivating for this 50+YO woman. Today (the solstice) is the winter holiday I celebrate, and as is typical, I have a big feast planned (it’s mostly primal and naturally so). But I can start on a 100-day goal tomorrow—and I will.

    inquisitiveone wrote on December 21st, 2012
  23. Great, detailed story. Thank you for sharing. You look fantastic!

    Alison wrote on December 21st, 2012
  24. “Say you painted your house and worked very hard for a couple of weeks to make it the pride of the neighborhood. Would you graffiti bomb the place as a reward? No, you think that would be stupid.”

    SO WELL SAID. That comparison just opened my eyes. Thank you.

    Stefanie wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • yup!!! thanks for this – I soooo needed it!

      Peggy wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • I think that’s a fine approach and outlook if you are trying to mentally ween off a sweets addiction where you are constantly sabotage themselves. But nobody should think that they are causing irreparable harm to their body if they have a dessert every couple of weeks and are mostly strict other times. We all use different mental cues and analogies that help us work through our own problems though. Binging I think is a different story, but we are all in different places.

      D wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • The painted house analogy is another good example of what to tell folks that insist you can have “just one piece of cake” or “a few small cookies won’t hurt you.”

      I have a few other examples that I use when I’m encouraged to eat junk, but I’m definitely adding this one to my list!

      PrimalGrandma wrote on December 21st, 2012
      • I try to keep thinking how each case is unique, and I guess for me a wholesale abstinence from food that could sabotage my progress is easier. Over all than sampling the forbidden stuff even rarely.

        Eating a piece of cake means, for me, having to deal with a hunger spike later.

        Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
        • I have found, that I simply don’t want to eat the cake. It doesn’t call to me at all these days. Your story was an interesting read, Andrew, thank you for sharing. Going primal has allowed me to disconnect from food, and I now eat when hungry, which is about 2 meals a day, a brunch and a shared meal with my family in the evening.
          Don’t forget the neurological aspect of sweeteners and sugar, they hit receptors in the brain that respond to opiods it’s powerful stuff, and any sweetener beyond a whole food should be used cautiously and consciously. Best wishes for the season,
          Cheers

          Heather wrote on December 21st, 2012
  25. Awesome! Love all the fasting self-experimentation. As for your back, I too, have been experimenting. Esther Gokhale is a great beginning step. Also, check out Kelly Starrett’s Mobility WOD project. I can actually see based on your after photo that you are a little short in the front hip. I bet you’d feel great after a good couch stretch. Great work!!!

    TwinDad wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • I took a Gokhale class in July 2012, and I have already experienced a 90% decrease in back pain, noticeable posture improvement, and a smaller rib cage area. I highly recommend it.

      Heather wrote on December 26th, 2012
  26. Great story! You are totally transformed!

    Siobhan wrote on December 21st, 2012
  27. You should look into Eight Steps to a Pain Free Back by Esther Gokhale. I learned about her book on this site and will forever be grateful to Mark for the recommendation. The Mayo Clinic says her book may be the best contribution to non-surgical back pain ever written.

    jess wrote on December 21st, 2012
  28. This was really inspiring. You’re right about the list, especially the first: Marry Smart. I do not have a supporitive spouse. He refuses to even consider looking into the Primal Lifestyle–although he’s 40 pounds overweight and has a host of health problems that read like the first two paragraphs of a Friday tesitmonial. At least he’s stopped sabatoging my efforts. I’m about to start a 90-day journey of my own (using my new 90 Journal!!). Best of luck to you in the next 100 dys!!!

    Trish wrote on December 21st, 2012
  29. Great job, Andrew! I love when you say “Health care is on a path to crisis for people my age, and I figure the only way to survive the health-care crisis is to not need it.” At age 54 I share your opinion and it is why I think following one’s own primal blueprint is so important. Great job on the experimentation — it is the only path to finding what is right for you.

    Myra wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Myra, that’s exactly what I wanted to say to Andrew, so I’m just seconding your comment. I applaud his self-experimentation, and am baffled by the few critical comments. Surely people don’t think they know better than Andrew does about his own experience? We all have to find our own path to our own best health. And, at age 51, I’m also trying to set myself up for the best health possible in the coming decades. Hopefully many of them :)

      Gingerzingi wrote on December 22nd, 2012
  30. Core exercises are very important not just stretching for any type of mid-line problems. Also, Insulin is produced by everything. The key is to make the spikes less and if you do spike it make sure it is after a workout. Studies have shown that sweetness regardless of calorie content will result in an insulin spike so for all those diabetics, you should avoid added sweetners of any kind, sucks but its true.

    D wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • Awesome! Really like the way 100 days worked for you. The coolest thing about primal living is how easy it can be to personalize as opposed to one size fits all ”diet”. You look like a different person, but most importantly you healthier!

      Stormi wrote on December 21st, 2012
  31. +1 On marrying smart.

    “You can’t fix stupid” – Ron White

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • It is a key point. Particularly for one like me who is always taking things to a one extreme or another, or doing things in a non-conventional way. A spouse who lets you be yourself is a treasure beyond any lottery win.

      Andrew wrote on December 21st, 2012
    • I’ve seen the effects up close and personal of not marrying well. I’m sooo lucky in marrying my husband.

      Amy wrote on December 21st, 2012
  32. Very instructive post, plenty of method and good sense!
    For your back: buy Esther Gokhale’s book “8 steps for a pain free back” in Amazon. Mark did a review of it and her daughter participates in the PrimalCons! That book changed my life.

    wildgrok wrote on December 21st, 2012
  33. Just short 30 minute massages once a week should really help your back pain. I used to be a massage thereapist so I’m not just talking out of my ass.

    Marie wrote on December 21st, 2012
  34. Amen to these brilliant insights on dietary psychology! Very well stated and helpful.

    It seems the troubled state of healthcare has a tremendous silver lining. We all have extra incentive to take responsibility for our own health.

    Fantastic and inspiring work, Andrew. I hope when you turn 80 you’re still hitting your stride!

    Timothy wrote on December 21st, 2012
  35. awesome! a different person!

    Todd Hargrove wrote some nice articles about back pain (more like pain in general)

    http://www.bettermovement.org/

    pam wrote on December 21st, 2012
  36. One of the best posts I’ve read. This guy’s direct and brutally honest take on the familiar excuses lots of us make when it comes to diet or exercise is motivating. I might stop whining and try his 100-day plan in 2013!

    J wrote on December 21st, 2012
  37. You look great Andrew! And I agree about artificial sweeteners. They must somehow trigger the same mechanisms as sugar. “If they fire together, they wire together”.

    Victor Dorfman wrote on December 21st, 2012
  38. I to have been doing eating experiments lately. I definitely perform better on an empty stomach. I prefer to skip breakfast and lunch before an afternoon workout. Up my water intake for that time and it is amazing the difference. Even if I eat a little little protein in the morning and don’t workout until 1 I notice the difference. I think alternating fasting days with exercise, Then Refueling and rest together works best for me. I naturally tend to consume more on my Rest days, it seems natural for my body to do this and it work!

    I really enjoyed your article and success story! Keep it up!

    Nicole wrote on December 21st, 2012
  39. Thanks Andrew for a personal and well-thought out plan for achieving a goal. YMMV yes, but your plan typifies a punch list for success:
    1. Support from partner, family, or friends.
    2. A reason to be fitter (in your case, xc skiing) – matching the idea of enjoying life’s pleasures to putting in the work.
    3. Putting into practice the notion of eating to live rather than living to eat.

    Eating well occasionally can be a pleasure in itself but your photos confirm the results of your tinkering. Well done.

    Jeff F. wrote on December 21st, 2012
  40. I appreciate your comments and experiments regarding artificial sweetners. I think you are right although for a long time I resisted this idea! I have found that upping my fat intake has helped me and my sweet cravings have really gone and I am rarely using the artificial sweetners anymore! I like your 100 day approach, I might try it!

    Jenny wrote on December 21st, 2012

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