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Primal Journal (PrimalEagle) - Terrified Newbie - HELP!

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  • Primal Journal (PrimalEagle) - Terrified Newbie - HELP!

    Hi everyone,

    After getting a lot of coaxing from a friend of mine who has had great success with this way of living, and after a few weeks of lurking while making a last ditch attempt at weight loss/health via CW, I am ready to see if PB is right for me. Here is a little of my history:

    I am a 33 year old female attorney (public service). Since college I have been gaining and losing the same 25 lbs. Generally people say that I look fit but in a "strong" sort of way. My body type is always described as "athletic", and I have always played a lot of sports and seem to have been born with an indordinate amount of muscle for a woman. A few years ago I decided I wanted to get into really good shape and got my RMR and body fat tested, and then embarked on a calories-in/calories-out program of eating within my RMR (over the last five years it ranged from 2300-2500 as a true RMR - did not count any daily activities) and working out and playing sports and was able to cut 25 lbs in 3 months without much trouble keeping my calories between 1800 and 2000 a day. Since that time, whenever I gained a few lbs I would just cut back to within the "correct" amount of calories and the weight would come off.

    Two years ago I moved to Arizona. Within my first three weeks here, I broke the top of my tibia during a vball tournament which took a year to heal. Once it healed I started working out again and quickly broke my wrist, which took another four months to heal. Over that nearly 1.5 years I gained about 20 lbs back from a lack of exercise and overeating. This past September, after months of inactivity after the broken wrist, I got really depressed about my weight and forced lack of activity and let a friend convince me to try the HCG diet. I did one round and lost 20 lbs. I started a second round and ended up on vacation with my finace's family and cut the round short and immediately gained back what I lost.

    In January I decided to "get with the program" again and, realizing I had lost all ability to recognize proper portions, ordered Nutrisystem. I combined the nutrisystem (1500 calories a day) with 5 days a week of intense kickboxing at my dojo. I lost 9 lbs in the first week and nothing for the next three. I realized something had to be wrong and went in to get my RMR tested. I had my RMR tested approximately one year before, which found that my RMR was about 2300 and that my lean muscle mass was 141 lbs (hydrostatic testing). This time I did the Bod Pod and found that my lean muscle mass had whittled away to 126 and that my RMR was an astounding 1560. Thank you, HCG diet, for cannibalizing my muscle and for your VLCD supressing my metabolism. Ugh.

    For the last 8 weeks I have been working with the folks at Bod Pod to figure out what to do. Despite moving my calories all around from 1600-2000, and despite 5 days of kickboxing, 3 days of run/walking 3.5-4.5 miles and beach 2s vball on the weekends, I have only lost 1.5 lbs and less than 1% bodyfat. It's simply not working anymore. I did too much damage to my metabolism. The worst part? I ordered my wedding dress prior to figuring this out and "knowing" I wouldn't have any problem dropping the 15 lbs or so before my November wedding (I had done it many times before without issue) -- but it's still 2" away from zipping up.

    So, here I am, tired of being hungry and sore without any results. I am impressed and inspired by your stories and am hoping it can help turn me around as well.

    Here are my stats per my last bod pod reading last Friday:

    Height: 5'9"
    Weight: 184
    % bodyfat: 31.29
    Lean weight: 126.6
    RMR: 1587

    I really want to get down closer to 22% body fat with less concern about my actual weight. My plan is to aim for 100% PB for 30 days (knowing I will likely have some days that fall short), and limiting my fruits, nuts and dairy. My plan was:

    Carbs: Under 50
    Fat: 100-140 grams
    Protein: 60-80 grams
    Calories: 1800

    As for my workouts, I was going to drop kickboxing to 3 x a week instead of five (it is pretty high intensity with us punching, elbowing and kicking heavy bags, sit ups, pushups, lunges, throwing medicine balls, etc.); walk 50 minutes at least 3 x a week (and maybe add 30 second sprints in every five minutes or so); and then 3-6 games of 2s sand volleyball on the weekends.

    I plan to start Monday after I get back from the in-laws house. Any thoughts on my plan would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!!! I really need to gain some control back.
    "If you won't be better tomorrow than you are today, what do you need tomorrow for?"

  • #2
    It sounds to me like you're planning to do it right! The only advice I have, which may or may not be helpful, would be to not worry so much about keeping the carbs so low at first. Focus on eliminating the grains and such more than worrying about how many veggies you're eating. At least for a little while.

    My wife is doing the HCG injections and about 850 calories a day. The eating suggestions are surprisingly close to Primal, but still way too low calorie, and I'm not crazy about the HCG.


    • #3
      I think your caloric intake is at a reasonable level that will promote a steady loss of weight. I strongly suggest you begin a weight training routine. Walking and sprints are good for general conditioning; however, weight training will build muscle to help shape you out and promote more sustainable weight loss.


      • #4
        I would recommend you cut out the kickboxing all together for a while - it sounds way too stressful. Instead, how about strength training just a couple times a week - maybe 20 - 30 min sessions of some good all-body exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. Limit your sprints to once a week to start. Walk every day as your main form of activity. Your body has been way too stressed out from the intensive exercise in addition to the low-cal (semi-starvation) diet plan. You need time to recover. The body does not lay in new muscle tissue while in a stress mode - it only does so in a relaxed/recovery mode. Your body needs to get the message that you are have all the calories and rest that you need to start rebuilding your lean muscle mass. Make sure you prioritize sleep.

        I wouldn't worry too much about counting calories - obey your hunger. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Again, the body needs to know you are NOT starving yourself. Forcing yourself to forgo eating when you are hungry keeps the metabolic rate down and retards building of lean tissues. Just eat according to the PB - LOTS of good fats and low carbs and your hunger should be a reliable indicator of what you need once you adjust to this way of eating.

        As you recover from the damage you have done, you may find that you have lots more energy and are itching to get back into kick-boxing or other more intense forms of exercise. See how you feel after taking at least a month off and following PB exercise recommendations.


        • #5
          Thanks everyone! This is exactly the type of dialogue I was hoping I would get. I really love the wealth of knowledge on this site -- not to mention the support.

          @AllBeefPatty: Please, please, PLEASE tell your wife to be careful. When I spoke about my diet with many nutritionists/doctors, they all agreed that unless you have a metabolic issue, are post-menopausal or have some thyroid condition you should STAY AWAY from HCG. While my VLCD was 500 calories a day instead of 850, I was told that if your metabolism is fairly healthy your body will have no choice but to cannibalize muscle no matter the amount of "hcg" in your system. I lost 14 lbs of muscle that I could document and replaced it with stored fat which affected my metabolism obviously but so did a sustained period at 500 calories a day. Talk about stunted. I read all the warnings before I did it but felt so desparate and saw a friend get such great initial results that I let myself be talked into it and now wish I hadn't. Even worse, I talked a friend into it and she is having the exact same problem I am. All her weight is back, she has been eating right and exercising for 3 months and hasn't dropped a pound. My nutritionist/Bod Pod guy says he is going to use me as a case study to write a paper about it -- he is astounded at how my body continues to outsmart me to keep on the weight. This is the #1 complaint of people leaving HCG and so I know it is not limited to me. Please tell her to BE CAREFUL.

          @John: I was hoping keeping the kickboxing in would account for some of the strength training, as we do a lot of resistance work (squats, lunges, pushups, sit ups -- often each with heavy medicine balls -- as well as lifting and moving heavy bags, etc.), combined with the kicking and punching over 50 minutes. I am one of those rare females who typically gains muscle by curling empty orange juice cans and I am already very muscle dense, even with the loss of 14 lbs of muscle. I was hoping to put back on about 6 or so but really don't want to go too much further than that. Of course, I will deal with even more muscle if it means my body is shedding fat -- beggars can't be choosers.

          @Barb: See my response to John re: strength training. That's one of the main reasons I want to keep kickboxing and also because I am really enjoying it. My fitness level has greatly improved in the last 8 weeks and I know that is why. That said, I am concerned about "bonking" this first month while my body is adjusting so I realize I have to drop it down. Maybe I will start at two days, make sure I'm walking daily (but skip the sprints?).

          I wish I could follow the "eat until you're hungry" advice. I am so out of whack these days that I just can't always seem to figure out when I'm hungry v. when I'm not, not to mention emotional eating. The bigger issue is eating PAST the point when I'm full -- I can't seem to find the "shut off". Thus, I am going to embark on this with the idea that I will follow my body's signals but also track it so that I can make sure I don't allow it to lead me astray, e.g., I'm not going to make sure I hit 2000 calories a day (if I'm not hungry I will eat less), I just want to make sure I don't eat MORE than that until I know my body is really requiring more. Make sense?

          The good news is that I have a six weeks of bodpod testing left, so I should get to document the changes in my lean body mass and metabolism, which hopefully will show the positive benefits of this diet for any non-believers.
          "If you won't be better tomorrow than you are today, what do you need tomorrow for?"


          • #6
            Come join our April challenge!

            And if you've not bought Mark's book, borrow/buy a copy as he talks in depth about over exercising.

            And welcome!
            Even if you fall flat on your face, at least you're moving forward!


            • #7

              Please don't freak out. We're both 5-9, and I would be ecstatic to have 126.6 lbs lean body mass (I'm currently running about 115, up from 110 pre-PB).
              What killed me was doing extreme Weight Watchers previous to finding PB, and losing a whole bunch of muscle myself. You're totally on the right track, but it will take a little time for your body to recover. I'm 51, so you're gonna spring back a LOT quicker than I did ;-)

              As long as you stick to meats, fish, poultry and good fats as your base, and add some veggies, there is virtually no way you can eat too much.


              • #8
                Primal Eagle,

                The reason I suggested giving up the kickboxing is that a 50 minute workout of that level of intensity has a couple of negative effects on what you are trying to achieve. First, you will deplete your glycogen stores in your muscles and that will lead to carb cravings to replace them. A shorter, more focused strength training workout will be less likely to do that. You will give your body the signals to build muscle mass without completely depleting glycogen. When your body is under stress, which you surely have been with your recent training and diet regimen, you produce more cortisol. Cortisol has several VERY negative effects on weight loss. First, it makes you more insulin resistant, so it takes a larger amount of insulin to process the carbs you eat. Insulin causes your body to STORE energy, primarily in the form of fat, and inhibits the release of fatty acids to use as fuel for your activities. It causes you to retain sodium, so you gain water weight. It is a catabolic hormone, so it inhibits the repair of body tissues. It decreases immune cell activity and decreases bone formation. The reason to give your body a rest from all this intense activity is to help restore your metabolism to some semblance of health - meaning you easily repair and build lean body mass, and you have a flow of energy from your fat stores that is not unduly inhibited by high insulin levels. Losing 15 lbs of lean body mass is an indication you have not been gaining fitness from this regimen, but losing ground.

                I know it is hard to move away from the calories in/calories out equation that has been drilled into us, but weight and metabolism is controlled by hormones, not a simple mathematical equation. What you eat (high fat, low carb) helps lower insulin levels and will make more of your stored fat available for fuel needs. But overly stressful training can counteract the benefits of eating primally. Ultimately only you will know what is the optimal amount of exercise for your health and well being, but many of us here have discovered that less (or at least less than what you describe as your routine) is more.


                • #9
                  @Kuno1chi: Thanks for the encouragement! It has definitely been frustrating -- normally with this routine by now I would be down 15 lbs and fitting in my dress no problem. Maybe, however, this was just life's way of introducing me to PB at a time when I desperately needed it and after seeing that CW was no longer working for me and that I don't have to starve (or overtrain) for results.

                  @Barb: Thanks for the thoughts. Just to clarify, though, the loss of 14 lbs of LBM was from when I was doing HCG last fall. Since I started eating within my RMR and doing the exercise in January, I have had a bit of increase in LBM and a bit of a decrease in body fat, but basically remained the same. However, strength-wise I started being able to do maybe 10 regular pushups and now I can do 3 sets of 30 without much problem, I can do hundreds of crunches and thunder rolls and can lunge and squat like a maniac. I can also get through the class while punching harder and pushing myself when before I was just going through the motions b/c I was so exhausted and doing the bare minimum. So yes, I am seeing some "fitness-based" results which tells me I am stronger and in better shape but my body composition is not changing.

                  I also read Mark's book and the threads and have seen the research on glycogen, which is why I figured I could not continue to do it 5 days a week as well as run, vball, etc. Also, the concern about bonking while my body is transitioning. I figure I will try to start by dropping it to 2-3 days (instead of 5) a week and see how I'm feeling before and after the workouts. If I am too exhausted or feeling grumpy or finding my cravings increase then I will bump it down even further. I will stop running, though, replacing with with straight walking and maybe ultimately adding in a strength training class at my gym once a week.
                  "If you won't be better tomorrow than you are today, what do you need tomorrow for?"


                  • #10
                    Hey PrimalEagle - welcome !! ... I just wanted to say hi and I know how overwhelming it can be when you try to do it ALL - hey. I am an ex-lawyer so I know how you want it all to be "right" - LOL!!! ... Just don't get too overwhelmed that you freak and throw in the towel - I have been there too and now I am back here, starting over
                    welcome !!!
                    Check out my new blog at


                    • #11
                      hello and do not be terrified! if you want to know terrified check my journal...eating in itself was terrifying! i know nada about HCG except it is prolly not good for people. stay allllllllnaturrrrrallll hahah. make sure you be gettin lotsa good fat to combat craving, especially after kickboxing i bet that is hard! never done it before
                      Get on my Level


                      • #12
                        I am sure you will do just great - you are young and athletic and your body WANTS to be muscular. Glad to hear you were regaining strength the past few months. Let us know how you do and what you learn in the process. Welcome aboard!!


                        • #13
                          Thanks, PrimalEagle. My wife has very low IGF-1 and a thyroid condition. Nothing she has done in the past has worked, so she just thought she'd give this a shot. I'm still not crazy about it.


                          • #14
                            OK so I'm starting today. I was going to wait until tomorrow when I'd had a chance to do all my shopping and prepare, and as I was up for another round of Bod Pod measurements tomorrow morning so I would know my TRUE starting spot, but frankly I feel so gross after this last week I just can't wait anymore. My scale says I'm 1.5 lbs up from last week and I wouldn't doubt it, despite the fact I had three days of kickboxing, ran 3-4 miles all five work days and took an 8 mile hike on Saturday to Seven Falls in Tucson.

                            My nutrition goals are in my first post, and my workout goals remain: kickboxing (2-3 x a week), walking for an hour or more (5-6x a week), and 2s sand volleyball (3-6 games in one day). This week I know I will only be kickboxing 2 days and my vball will be more like 10-12 games as I have a tournament on Saturday and at least one set of games on Sunday.

                            I haven't eaten yet but I'm trying to wait until I'm sure I'm hungry, then I will hit the grocery store after work to make sure I am all stocked up on the right foods.

                            Thanks for your encouragement everyone!
                            "If you won't be better tomorrow than you are today, what do you need tomorrow for?"


                            • #15
                              WEEK ONE (HIGHS AND LOWS)

                              Ok, so I am officially done with week one. I was really good about counting my calories/carbs/macros during the work week and was successful in losing 7.5 lbs from Monday - Friday. My ratio was less than 50 carbs a day and around 100 g of fat and protien each day. I only ate about 10 strawberries over the course of the week, and had 1-2 squares of 85% dark chocolate every other day or so as well as anywhere from 1-3 oz of cheddar cheese.

                              I got up on Saturday morning and was up .5 lbs. Then I headed out to my 2s sand vball tourney (8 hours or so of on/off play in AZ heat). I wanted to try it without any kind of carbo-loading so I ate some steak and guac in the morning and then just snacked on trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) and 1 oz of cheese throughout the day, as well as 2 banans (warding off cramps). I knew I would need more carbs than my standard diet and hoped the nuts and bananas would compensate. I got home and ate some more steak and grilled broccoli and then went out with the boy for a skeeball tourney and was hungry at 9:30 pm and ate the filling of a philly cheesesteak. Weight held steady at the slightly higher number.

                              Yesterday (Sunday) I was STARVING, may be a result of the extra calorie burn form the tourney? Had 2 eggs and 5 slices of bacon for breakfast, took the dogs for a 50 minute hike, IF'd lunch b/c I was out but was STARVING when I got home and ended up snacking on too much trail mix and 2 oz of cheese before finally eating a chicken fajita salad I made (salsa as dressing). Had 2 squares of dark chocolate as well. This morning I was up another pound. The only truly non-primal thing I had was one glass of Coke Zero yesterday.

                              Happy overall but always bummed when the scale goes up.
                              "If you won't be better tomorrow than you are today, what do you need tomorrow for?"