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Primal Journal: Catherine (Goal: leaner, faster, stronger)

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  • Primal Journal: Catherine (Goal: leaner, faster, stronger)

    I am a 52 year old woman who loves mountain biking, cycling, and high intensity training – all of which I’ve taken up in the last couple of years - the higher intensity training is the newest.

    After reading articles and books about Paleo/Primal for a time, I finally decided almost 3 weeks ago to go Primal for one week. That went pretty well! I immediately dropped 3 pounds which I think was simply water from the sudden dropping of all grains in my diet. Went to a mountain biking/camping event for a weekend, and when I came home decided to try a 30 day experiment going Primal.

    My ultimate goal with this? To get leaner, faster, stronger and more durable - I've been prone to over-use injuries after too many sedentary decades. I am now barely 130 pounds & have too much abdominal fat. My lower body is very strong, my upper body…isn’t. I am, however, taking steps to take care of that imbalance. My group trainer recommended The Primal Blueprint and I really like this forum so here I am. I think starting this journal will help me through this process as I get started, and really appreciate the chance to do this.

    Today is day 8 of my 30 day experiment/challenge:

    B: 2 slices uncured bacon, 2 pasture raised eggs + 1 egg white scrambled with spinach and mushrooms (cooked in coconut oil), 1 cup whole organic milk, coffee

    1 hour (6am!) group training session that featured everything from bosu core work to kettlebell swings, to pushups, rowing and burpees

    S: macadamia nuts, coconut water

    L: organic mixed greens salad with 4 oz turkey breast, mushrooms, tomato, carrots, blueberries, extra virgin olive oil + fresh lemon juice dressing

    S: celery + almond butter with crushed flax seeds

    D: (planned) more turkey breast, bok choy and broccoli sautéed in coconut oil, more organic mixed greens, strawberries with coconut milk for dessert.

    Calorie intake is still a bit lower than it should be, but it isn't bad an today I hit my target as I really need to be at 2k calories on a hard workout day, which this was. My carb intake appears to be averaging around 80 over the past 8 days and I still feel pretty good – but I have felt my energy levels getting a bit low this weekend when mountain biking and at another group workout at my gym. I try to eat well BEFORE my workouts, which has always served me well.

    If there are any obvious holes apparent in my nutrition please point them out. I didn't really feel like I needed the afternoon snack but I've a problem getting enough calories if I don't. I can only eat so much at a meal. My average macro-nutrient splits for the last week has been:

    57% (100.9 grams) fat, 16% (64.4 grams) carb, 27% (105.5 grams) protein (average for the last 7 days)

    Today: Calories: 1,934: Fat 125.7 grams (57%), carbs 76.2 grams (15%), and Protein 134.1 grams (27%)
    Last edited by Catrin; 08-28-2012, 04:40 PM.

  • #2
    I am amazed at how much better I feel after I eat in the short time since I started going Primal. I had no idea that I actually enjoy eating vegetables, and my digestive system started working better almost immediately. Personally I don't care if I lose weight, I am only 6 pounds from my goal. I am far more concerned with leaning out, increasing strength, mobility, and endurance.

    This morning's breakfast:

    2 slices uncured bacon
    3 eggs scrambled with greens and mushrooms
    a couple of strawberries
    cup whole milk

    Today is a rest day, sort of. Planning to play on the bike tonight for an easy recovery ride - get out there and smell some fresh air, feel the wind, de-stress from the day. Riding and mountain biking IS play for me, though sometimes it becomes rather energetic play

    I do intend on dropping milk entirely at some point but I want to make certain that I am getting enough calcium from veggies first. I've read Mark on this, as well as information from The Paleo Diet - but this is the last thing that I will change as I want to make sure... I am probably over-thinking this. Only 1 cup whole milk a day now rather than the 3-4 glasses skim milk before.

    I am looking forward to trying beef for the first time in 4 years. Not out of some moral aversion to eating cows, I just noticed a few years back that I felt MUCH better if I didn't. Of course it wasn't organic/grass fed beef, and considering the price difference between grass-fed beef and pasture-raised poultry I will still probably not eat beef all that often.
    Last edited by Catrin; 08-28-2012, 06:05 AM.


    • #3
      Since I've a group training session tomorrow morning, and I took tomorrow off work as a treat to go either mountain bike or road ride - depending on how my legs feel - today is a true rest day. My bikes sit in the corner twinkling at me, they want to go for a ride...and so do I! My legs forget they do need breaks however, and tomorrow will go much better if I let them rest tonight. I did go for a nice slow walk after dinner however and just enjoyed the sunshine and breeze.


      • #4
        Had a great group training session this morning and followed it up with some heavy leg presses. Took the day off of work to play on my bike and enjoy the beautiful weather! I've a good amount of time off to use and decided to use some of it Waiting a couple of hours to give my legs a little chance to recover from the earlier efforts.

        This morning I mixed up my usual bacon/eggs/spinach and went with some left over grass-fed ground beef/eggs/greens. I guess that wasn't SO different, but it was yummy. Weight is still rock solid stable since initially loosing 3 lbs that first week and I am not complaining about that. My final goal is in my journal title, and my weight is so close to my target that I really am not concerned about it. Right now I need to focus on changing my body composition/leaning out.


        • #5
          This is day 10 of my 30-day experiment and I've already noted a couple of things:

          1. My system is far more, ahem, regular since ditching all of those grains and non-fat dairy. My reading told me to expect that but it certainly goes against conventional wisdom. Of course, I've added a LOT more veggies...problem solved

          2. Energy fluctuations. My carb intake has been cut from ~180-200 grams down to 70-80 grams. So far I've not noticed an appreciable difference in my energy levels outside of one or two instances during a heavy group workout on Sunday. Obviously my body is still adjusting, but this is an interesting process. We will see how my hill-climbing bike ride goes in an hour or so. Still working out bike nutrition and am determined to not resort to the energy blocks and bars that I did before if at all possible.

          If anyone is reading this other than me - does everyone normally go through some sort of carb flu? I am trying to prepare myself for this - but so far so good. My diet was clean of most sugar and no processed foods before starting this process - though of course I was consuming grains and LOTS of non-fat dairy.
          Last edited by Catrin; 08-29-2012, 06:59 AM.


          • #6
            Ok, I need to get better about posting my food choices here. Right now my meals aren't changing a whole lot, but that is ok. I've also been forced to try some new foods. I am finding it difficult to get enough carbs - as active as I am I DON'T need to have an average carb intake of < 60!


            B: 3 eggs sauteed with spinach and mushrooms, coffee

            1 hour intense group training session - I hit the leg press machine afterwards
            14 ounce Muscle Milk (I know this isn't especially good for me but didn't have much of a choice)

            45 minute easy bike ride a couple of hours later

            L: Lots of baby mixed greens topped with 4 ounces grass-fed ground beef and a bit of olive oil (need to go shopping)

            D: 1 tin Sardines in olive oil, olives and red peppers (never had sardines before!), roasted kale chips - roasted them in coconut oil as an experiment. 1/4 small honey dew melon. 1 cup organic whole milk

            Calories: 2,002 (met my hard workout day goal)
            Breakdown: Fat 156.1g (66%), Carbs 67.5g (13%), Protein 115.6g (22%)

            My fat intake needs to drop just a bit and carbs need to increase a bit. Especially for hard workout days I really want to get between 80-95 grams of carbs - this is a challenge right now. The only reason I got as high as 13% was I ate the melon at dinner, they need to be more evenly distributed.


            • #7
              Catrin, I don't know what you mean by carb flu (english is not my first language), but like you reported, my energy levels have dropped a quite bit after dropping rice and pasta from my diet. Hope it's just some sort of readjusting phase.

              By the way, how do you count your Fat/Carbs/Protein each day? I wanted to do it, but have no idea how.


              • #8
                My energy levels overall are better and more consistent since dropping all grains and beans from my diet. "Carb flu" I've heard use to refer to that time period in which our body has to become fat-burning adjusted and that apparently causes fatigue and so forth until the body adjusts. I've had a few fluctuations in my heavier workouts - but that appears to be settling down nicely I have, however, just learned that I've not yet cut my carbs low enough. As a small woman, I really need to cut it back more than a larger man would - like Mark. While I did grumble at the unfairness of that it does actually make sense.

                As far as calorie/nutrient counting, I use an application on my phone called "Lose It!". I've used it for the past 3 years since I started work to reverse diabetes 2 and found it quite effective. I need the accountability to keep me honest with myself. The initial database is pretty decent, but you can also add custom foods and recipes - AND copy foods and entire meals over to a new day without having to re-enter anything. Hopefully Paleotrack will soon have that feature - I am too spoiled by that to move to another program that doesn't do that. Lose It! also has a website and you can track things there if you don't have/want to use a smart phone.


                • #9
                  Food today:

                  Breakfast: 1 slice uncured bacon, 3 eggs scrambled in coconut oil and spinach. 1 cup whole milk (hoping to find some whole fat organic Greek yogurt to replace this with). 4 small strawberries

                  L: 3 cups mixed baby greens, 1 roasted chicken breast, carrots, mushrooms, 1 tbls. extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 of a medium orange

                  S: medium boiled egg, 1 small celery stick with a bit of almond butter w/flax seeds
                  40 minute hard workout with some stretching/walking beforehand (burned 450 calories according to HRM)

                  D: 2 small roasted chicken legs (with skins haven't done THAT in years), sauteed baby kale, 1/8 honey dew melon for dessert.

                  Totals for the day: 1,618 - too low for workout day

                  Fat 101.8 grams (57%)
                  Protein 118.1 grams (29%)
                  Carbs 57.2 grams (14%)

                  I need to increase the fat quite a bit, lower the protein and carbs. I am nervous about lowering the protein though, especially with my activity level as it is (which is lower than it WAS).


                  • #10
                    Yesterday was a pretty good day! I started out with a nice bike ride with a friend, we did 23 easy miles. Wanted to go further but rain was threatening so we called it good at 23 miles. I didn't feel the need to eat anything during/afterwards which is as it should have been. Not so long ago I would have immediately eaten a banana or chocolate milk + a few chips. I didn't even think about that for a few hours when I was eating lunch.


                    Breakfast: 2 slices uncured bacon, 3 eggs sauteed with spinach and mushrooms, coffee with half and half
                    Bike Ride

                    Lunch: roasted chicken breast, field greens salad with mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, onion and dressed with extra virgin olive oil + juice from 1/2 lemon

                    1 hour gym workout - had a few frozen blueberries with coconut cream poured over them when I got home

                    Dinner: 2 thin pork loin chops fried in coconut oil, sauteed bok choy and kale, 1/2 avocado, 1 boiled egg

                    Fat 144.6g (63%), Carbs 68.8 (13%) Protein 122.6 g (24%)

                    Carbs are still too high but working on getting them below 50.


                    • #11
                      Time really gets away from me! I've decided that I don't want to go for the really low carb percentages, my activity level is such that I want to stay right at 12-14% - no higher, no lower. Protein at 27% and 60% Fat. I feel really good at these percentages, my weight is slowly dropping and I've all the energy I need for my activities.

                      So back to this journal with yesterday's intake - too much dairy but am trying to use it all up - will be dropping dairy entirely once it is gone.

                      4:30 am Breakfast: sausage/egg/spinach/mushroom frittata, 2 slices uncured bacon, 1 cup whole milk
                      (12:30 fitness assessment including a Bod Pod evaluation)
                      2:00 pm "lunch": 6 ounces roasted chicken, 1/2 avocado
                      Dinner: 2 lean pork chops cooked in a bit of coconut oil, blueberries, full fat Greek yogurt. (need to go shopping for veggies)
                      1 hour easy bike ride - more for relaxation than training for a change

                      Calories: 1650 (a touch low)
                      Fat: 109 grams (61%)
                      Carbs: 37 grams (9%)
                      Protein: 119 grams (30%)

                      I've been wanting to drop the dairy, but was a bit concerned about calcium - as a 52 year old woman this is a concern. My reading tells me that bone broth is an excellent choice for calcium and it is easily absorbed by the body.

                      Last weekend I tried a bone broth experiment using chicken bones (pasture raised). I had them in the crock pot for about 25 hours and was just considering turning the pot off when my power went out. It was out for 7 hours...and there was no way I was going to take a hot crock pot and put it in a refrigerator with no the time the power was back on I didn't feel like dealing with the disposal of the broth and put it in the fridge to deal with it the next day. Obviously those 7 hours was more than long enough for bacteria to set up in the bone broth.

                      The next morning when I took it out of the fridge, I noted that all of it had congealed into gelatin - I probably didn't have enough water in it to begin with as there was no actual broth. I am sure it would have been fine if the power hadn't gone out. No matter, I now have more chicken bones and also was able to score 10 pounds of soup bones (grass fed beef) for $1/pound and will try the experiment again. THIS time I will put in more water...


                      • #12
                        I tried a different kind of breakfast this morning, first time in a long time that I've not had traditional "breakfast food" for breakfast, though I still had eggs. Gotta have eggs

                        Beef bone broth (from marrow bones), heated it up and put in 2 ounces sliced beef, mushrooms and baby spinach. When things just started boiling I cracked two eggs into the mix, cut the heat back and covered it to let the eggs cook. YUMMY! Had a small cup of coffee with it and was good to go.

                        I am starting to have fun experimenting with eating in ways I never thought of before - and I find I look forward to meal times again - it's been a long time since I actually enjoyed food. Too many years with the CW very low-fat diet that featured lots of skinless boneless chicken breast and gallons of non-fat dairy to go with my whole grains and rare veggies.


                        • #13
                          It seems to be getting easier to get the percentages I want as far as macro-nutrients are concerned, though my calories on rest days aren't dipping down as they should be. I need to stay in my calorie targets regardless of percentages if I want to progress and lose body fat. I was hungry yesterday though and didn't feel like I had over-eaten so perhaps my body needed it. With all of my riding, mountain biking, and gym work my activity level is high and my body has to recover from those activities. For now I want to start using Cron-O-Meter to track my food rather than Lose It! as the former allows me to track micro-nutrients. I need to make certain that I am getting enough of what my body needs.

                          I've already posted yesterday's breakfast in the post above

                          Lunch yesterday was a roasted chicken breast, a baby spinach salad with 1/2 an avocado, steamed carrots and EVOO. Strawberries for dessert.

                          Dinner: 1/3 pound grass-fed hamburger cooked in coconut oil on top of romaine lettuce with avocado, tomato, onion. Pretty much a hamburger without the bun 1 ounce Havarti cheese with dill, and EVOO on the salad

                          Not enough carbs, my trainer wants me to get 70-80 with my activity level (he is Primal as well so he gets it). Too much fat, not enough protein, and about 200 more calories than there should have been for a rest day but I won't beat myself up over it. Eventually I will get used to this approach and be able to stop thinking so much about it.

                          Fat: 162.3 g (72%)
                          Carbs: 45.2 g (9%)
                          Protein: 94.7 (19%)

                          At some point in this last month I've started enjoying meal time again! I do need more vegetable variety, but I love Kale, Spinach and Bok Choy so much it is hard to get away from them. Not that I have to, I can add to them, but I can only eat so much without feeling stuffed!


                          • #14
                            Yesterday was a rest day. I considered going for a gentle ride but my legs were still fatigued so I decided that wisdom was the better part of valor, and I've a lot of mountain biking and other riding planned for this weekend. Tonight I will go for a nice recovery ride.

                            Today's menu:

                            Breakfast: Beef bone broth (from soup bones), heated it up and put in 2 ounces sliced beef from the soup bones, mushrooms and baby spinach. When things just started boiling I cracked two eggs into the mix, cut the heat back and covered it to let the eggs cook.

                            After breakfast I went to my group training at 6am - it was a great (and hard) workout - I know some here don't eat before their workouts but I don't have time to eat before work AND the workouts are very hard. I need to eat beforehand. Had a vegan protein shake afterwards. I don't usually use the protein powder after my own workouts as I make certain they are easier than our group sessions - those are very intense. The protein powder is hemp/pea, it also has some coconut oil and carbs are quite low.

                            L: roasted (skinless/boneless) chicken breast with baby spinach and strawberries. Light on veggies, but it is getting close to shopping day!

                            Lunch wasn't enough, I was starving by 2:00 and had a rather large snack of 3 ounces of grass-fed ground beef and a small "shake" of 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk blended with a small banana and a couple of pieces of ice.

                            D: Roasted kale and carrots, more roasted chicken breast. Now that I've had a good taste of whole pasture raised chickens, the skinless/boneless breasts are extremely bland in comparison.

                            ~1,700 calories with 55% fat, 16% carbs, and 29% protein.
                            I am happy with the splits, overall calorie intake was a bit low however. My target for hard workout days is 2K.

                            Lunch is the weak part of my meal planning. I take food to work of course, but I have to get more creative to make certain I am getting proper nutrition. I've had problems in the past with not getting enough calories and my body adapts to that pretty quickly - which of course means any weight loss/body fat loss is stalled completely.

                            What has been really interesting since going Primal about a month ago is that I now actually get hungry - my body now tells me when it wants food. During my 3 years of a very calorie restricted/low-fat-higher carb diet I never got hungry - and that was when I was still riding 100+ miles & 3 gym sessions a week on an average of 1,300-1,400 calories. I had 3 meals + 3 snacks a day as I was taught by my doctor and dietitian. I certainly lost the weight, except for those final 10 pounds that have been hanging around like a house guest who has outstayed their welcome.

                            My body adapted as they will, but thankfully the sports nutritionist at my current gym slapped me on the wrists when I first saw her earlier this year and she persuaded me to increase my intake by 50% after I did a resting metabolic test. I still struggle with getting enough calories, but it is easier than it once was.
                            Last edited by Catrin; 09-17-2012, 05:36 PM.


                            • #15
                              Yesterday I experimented with a different way of fueling for the bike. This has been the only thing that's concerned me since going Primal since I really don't want to continue with Cliff Bars and Shot Blocks if at all possible. It wasn't an especially long ride, only 30 miles, but long enough to require a bit of nutrition on the bike.

                              I tried a small amount of jerky, a couple of dried cherries and a couple of macadamia nuts. The only thing not covered are electrolytes, and I don't trust the sodium content in the jerky to really cover it. I lose a LOT of salt on the bike, I've had problems with this before. I've since picked up some "Salt Stick" capsules to take care of that for rides greater than 30 miles. They have a pretty decent electrolyte profile and I don't need to take them on rides less than 30 miles anyway.

                              Menu yesterday:

                              Breakfast: 2 primal scotch eggs, 1 boiled egg, strawberries, coffee with a bit of coconut milk

                              Lunch: roasted chicken quarter and romaine lettuce salad with veggies and a bit of walnut oil/salt & pepper dressing

                              1 small banana after my bike ride

                              D: 4 oz baked Pacific salmon, sauteed bok choy and lacinto kale, 1 lovely dark Porter beer

                              Calories: 2,074
                              Calories burned: ~865

                              Fat: 128.1 grams (57%)
                              Carbs: 94.3 grams (19%)
                              Protein: 119.6 grams (24%)

                              I prefer to keep my carbs between 70-80 - except for days that I've a decent bike ride. On these days I think they should be higher, but still under 100 if I can do it.

                              My weight is starting to fluctuate a bit, I've gained 1.5 pounds back from what I initially lost when I started my Primal experiment. I am still less than 8 pounds from my target weight - but hopefully the scales won't go back up to my pre-Primal weight. I think that I am probably getting too much protein on non-gym days and I need to drop it back to 90 grams on rest days. As hard as my training sessions are I don't want to cut back on protein those days. It is all a balance, and finding that right balance for MY body.