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May Challenge - newbie tries primal

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  • May Challenge - newbie tries primal

    I’ve been lurking on the forum for a few weeks, and ready to take the plunge.

    I’m 35, married, and a father who has always been on the “husky” side of things.

    Aside from a year of college when I was too poor/busy to eat anything other than couscous and Guinness and looked anorexic, and a two year period where I got heavily into weight lifting, I have worked half-heartedly to stay in the range of “could stand to lose a few pounds.” I have some associated body image and food issues (thanks dad), but for the most part I have always been healthy.

    I decided to renew my efforts to get into shape last fall. The night before my 35th birthday I attended a mixed martial arts class with two friends who suggested I give it a try. Just 5 minutes into the warm-up I was wheezing and puking.

    Between the realization of what condition I was actually in, along with the intensity and action of the class, I became determined to get into the shape necessary to participate at the same level of the existing class members.

    I cleaned up my diet, began a basic routine of cycling and interval training on a treadmill to improve my aerobic and anaerobic abilities. Returning to my interest in weight training, I researched what lifts would benefit a combat athlete the best, and started a basic 5x5 routine of squats, bench and shoulder presses, and dead lifts. While it was odd to forget the isolation and muscle group routines of my past in favor of focused core and explosive power lifts, the reduced time moving steel was welcome.

    The results were fantastic. I joined the class, worked hard, and soon caught up with my conditioning (skills are another thing entirely). Weight began to melt away, and I managed to drop from 217 to 190 in a few months, building back lots of muscle along the way. With my strength and endurance increasing, and spring finally here, I moved from the treadmill to the real world, and began running, setting my goal on training for my first 5k race, which I will run tomorrow.

    So where does Primal fit in?
    Lately I’ve been feeling like I need to change things up a bit in order to see more gains. My body recomposition has been fantastic, but has begun to slow. Lately my focus has been on running, not strength training or MMA, so I’m not adding muscle mass at the same rate. I also had become so used to watching numbers on the scale get smaller, that I have been putting too much focus on my calorie intake and macronutrient breakdowns, often eating too little for someone of my size and activity level.

    In terms of food, I had followed a CKD diet back when I was into lifting. It did an ok job of allowing me to gain muscle mass while not adding weight, but I wasn’t getting as lean as I would have liked. It taught me that my body does well on reduced carbs. Since last fall, I’ve been trying to stick to a 40% protein / 30% fat / 30% carb diet (as tracked my fitday). With my gains (or losses) stalled, and a recent viewing of Food, Inc., I felt it was time to try something different.

    Since Monday I have been striving for “primal.” Between my MMA classes and running, it was very easy to deplete my glycogen stores and get into ketosis, and I’ve been able to get under 50g of carbs a day, with splits of 50% p / 40% f / 10% carbs at around 2000 to 2300 calories. As a test, I had a beer and some whole wheat crackers while making dinner last night, and developed a headache within half an hour.

    I believe that I’m ready.
    I understand that there are no absolutes.
    I realize that this will be a challenge.

    5’11”, 188 pounds, currently running a regular 3.5 mile route around 8:15 mile with a best of 8:00. May 1st is my first 5k, May 30th is my second. My goal for May is to be leaner and faster.
    Last edited by Nasno; 04-30-2010, 11:02 AM.

  • #2
    Ahh yes the booze and whole grains test!! Isn't it amazing ?! Thanks for sharing a bit of you past and talking courageously about the future!!! Im an avid runner, and love more than anything to be outdoors-admiring the combination of my body and nature moving together.
    Keep us updated , Im always excited by challenges


    • #3
      Ran the race today with my older brother, his wife, my younger brother and his wife.
      My older SIL is an avid runner, and my younger brother runs often, usually 6-7 miles. Their spouses run, not sure on frequency.

      I finished the course, which was more hilly than everyone else expected, in 24:12 (7:48 mile) and surprised the family by being the fastest by at least 3:35. Lots of compliments from my siblings about my conditioning, Including my older brother who mentioned he's never seen me in such good shape. I'm glad I trained here in town with lots of hills.

      We all celebrated at our house with a BBQ. I got up at six to light off the smoker. Smoked pork shoulder, a butterflied chicken, and a chuck roast were fantastic. Slaws and salads, lots of veggies, and some crackers and chips that were easy to avoid. I enjoyed a few cold beers to herald my victory, but otherwise I'm headed into the primal trip full speed ahead, with thanks to being over zealous with the BBQ, lots of appropriate left overs.
      Last edited by Nasno; 05-03-2010, 06:46 PM.


      • #4
        Sunday 5/2
        Sunday morning brought an unscheduled trip to the supermarket for coffee. Decided to take my bike (its .75 of a mile trip).
        Some yard work, playing with kiddo, nice lazy recovery day.

        B-4 egg whites, 3 eggs, 3 oz spinach in an omelette
        L-2 burgers w/o buns, red cabbage slaw w/citrus dressing, green bean and tomato salad
        D-pulled pork, pickles, olives

        Monday 5/3
        Wifey announced she was starting a fitday account, and jumped back into some treadmill work and working her heavy bag.
        MMA class was cancelled, so after dinner I scouted a new running route by bike, and lifted for the first time in a few weeks.

        I'm really enjoying making being outside and having fun a priority.

        B-first attempt at IF
        L-smoked chicken, red cabbage slaw w/citrus dressing
        D-last of the burgers, avocado, celery
        1 oz of pumpkin seeds for snacks


        • #5
          Tuesday 5/4
          3.5 mile run before breakfast

          L-smoked chicken, mixed greens, avocado
          D-lsteak and broccoli
          1 oz of pumpkin seeds for snacks
          smoothie-protein powder, 1/2c cottage cheese, 12 oz water

          Wednesday 5/5
          No MMA or yoga today. Ran a new route of 3.75 miles after work. More of a back roads and farm land route. Enjoyed smelling the russian olive that is in bloom.
          Wifey wants to go on a walk after dinner.

          B - 5 whites, 3 eggs, coconut oil
          L - BAS smoked chicken, avocado, tomato, pepper, spinach
          D- grilled salmon & green beans

          1 oz of pumpkin seeds for snacks
          smoothie-protein powder, 1/2c cottage cheese, 12 oz water
          swiss cheese

          Calories: 1,948
          Fat: 104.0 (47%)
          Carbs: 57.0 (11%)
          Protein: 199.0 (42%)

          We managed a brief walk, but our 5 yo took a tumble and scraped her knees and hands. I did manage to get some heavy weight lifting in, as I removed a transfer case and transmission from a Jeep CJ after kiddo went to bed. Not bad bench pressing a 90 lbs piece of cast iron followed by a 70 lbs chunk of aluminum.
          Last edited by Nasno; 05-06-2010, 03:41 AM.


          • #6
            Thursday 5/6
            The planets aligned this morning, and between my wife's workout (she's jumped back in) and making lunches and breakfasts, I found a spare half hour before work. With forecasts of rain, I decided that even though I should take the day off, that I'd do my regular 3.5 mile run. I stretched out, grabbed my iPod, and the rest was like I had set cruise control. Hills were effortless, people I passed were smiling, traffic was light.

            Dare I say what was once a chore has become an addiction?

            When I got back, my wife informed me that she had lost a few pounds. The funny thing was on my run, I had been thinking about how her noticing a change might steer her towards the primal side. Since she started her fitday account and has seen what she's been eating, she has asked how much of what she should be looking for in her daily food intake. Figuring that losing fat and gaining muscle mass was her key, I offered her the suggestion of a "gate way" plan, limiting calories to your daily rate with a comfortable deficit to achieve her weight loss goal, .7 grams of protein per lb of body mass, and looking to balance carbs, fat and protein intake at around 33% each (it worked for me last fall).

            I'm hoping she sees some results, finds what works and what doesn't for her, and possibly joins me in giving primal a try. She's read Omnivore's Dilemma, has steered me towards shopping at the local farmer's market, and wants to try to "get off the grid" in terms of cornfed meats, HFCS, and factory farmed produce. This makes me happy.

            Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of our first date.
            Today I jumped on the scale and was 185.
            When I told my wife, she said "you haven't been 185 since we started seeing each other."

            I weigh the same, but am in better shape, than I was at 21.

            B - 4 whites, 4 eggs, coconut oil
            L - BAS steak, avocado, tomato, pepper, spinach
            D- 2 pork chops, asparagus, grape tomatoes with sesame oil and cilantro

            1 oz of pumpkin seeds for snacks
            smoothie-protein powder, 1c cottage cheese, 12 oz water
            swiss cheese
            1 c sliced strawberries w/balsamic vinegar

            Calories: 2437
            Fat: 148.0 (54%)
            Carbs: 54.0 (8%)
            Protein: 223.0 (38%)
            Last edited by Nasno; 05-07-2010, 08:56 AM.


            • #7
              Friday 5/7
              Up early, but no chance for a workout yet. Decided that my intake was looking a little lean, so I pumped things up today

              B - 4 whites, 4 eggs, coconut oil, and a grilled pork chop
              L - BAS 2 cans of tuna (running short on animals), avocado, tomato, spinach
              D- Should be local grass fed italian sausage, broccoli, spinach

              1 oz of pumpkin seeds for snacks
              1/2c cottage cheese, 1/2 c sliced strawberries

              Feeling really good. Sleeping well and waking up early and easily. I have noticed that I start dozing off earlier.

              Wifey wants to go to a Sheep and Wool festival this weekend (she's a hard core knitter). I wonder if any food vendors will be serving lamb?
              Last edited by Nasno; 05-07-2010, 08:58 AM.


              • #8
                I'm glad I wrote "should be" for last night's dinner, as I ran into my first awkward primal social moment.

                On my way home from work, wifey phoned me to tell me she heard from our sister in law that lives near by. Seems some ants were found in their house, and they had the house sprayed, and needed to stay away for a few more hours, and called to see if we wanted to go out for pizza at our favorite local pizza joint.

                I wasn't really excited about Friday nights at the busiest pizza joint in town before my primal experiment, as it is more crowded then I like, and dealing with the limited food options and their awesome beer selection was going to make it even more difficult. I sucked it up and agreed, as it would be fun to get our daughter together with her cousins and see my sister in law.

                We met up, found a table, and the girls went to order slices. I hung out with kidlet and the nieces, and asked wifey to order me a salad. They came back with the best smelling pizza and an acceptable house salad. I dug in, as did everyone else, and we enjoyed some conversation. After a few bites my sister in law looked at me and said, "wow, no pizza, and not even a beer. what's up?"

                I shrugged it off as balancing out a huge breakfast, and she understood, as in the last year she has gone to great lengths to get into awesome shape herself. After dinner, we brought the kids to the park to play, and ended the evening with a trip to the local ice cream stand, which happens to serve my favorite locally made organic ice cream. Again I excused myself from the tasty treats, even after my SIL called me a wet blanket.

                We got home, got kiddo ready for bed, and I read her some stories. Later, I reviewed my fitday account and tried to fill in the gaps with what we had in our almost empty kitchen, and was left with a protein drink.

                So, how do you explain "going primal" to family and friends when they notice your choice, or lack, in participating with a meal or event?

                I'm sure this will pop up again during my month long project.


                • #9
                  This is a good read Nasno. I think you're doing awesome. I just searched pizza to find you because I just had a similar experience, but I handled it a little differently. I am limiting dairy but not avoiding it completely. I took one slice, carefully scraped the sauce, cheese and toppings off the crust and enjoyed myself with a fork. My sister was actually impressed with my willpower to keep it low carb.


                  • #10
                    Thanks Grol, I appreciate the feedback.

                    Even though I'm only a week in, it has been tough. I'm a huge beer fan. I make beer, I grow hops, I go to beer festivals, regularly attend tastings. I love beer, but there isn't a place for it in my month long challenge. Thursday night a buddy came by to help me with a project and brought a six pack over, and I had to excuse myself. Friday was pizza and beer, and again, I opted out. Yesterday I stopped by a friend's shop, and he tossed me a new limited release summer ale to try. I explained that I was trying something for May to hit my target weight and get faster. He said, "If you lose any more weight, you'll look like Karen Carpenter."

                    I know my friend was kidding around, but it got me thinking about how far was enough.

                    Yesterday morning I realized that when I wake in the morning, I'm pretty much ready to go. Just a few weeks ago I tossed and turned in the morning, waking slowly. Feeling it, I decided to pop out of bed and go for a run (instead of enjoying a cup or two of coffee and taking my time). I enjoyed a 4.5 mile run in the rain, leaving my ipod at home. I got home, and stepped on the scale before hopping in the shower.


                    That works out to be 35 pounds since turning 35, in just under 25 weeks.
                    I had hit a small goal I set for myself.
                    I feel strong, my ribs are just visible, but I still have a slight belly and love handles.
                    As someone who has always been "chunky", my goal has been to enjoy a summer where I don't feel self conscious without a shirt on.

                    But is 5"11 and 182 too skinny for me?

                    According to the never correct BMI charts, I'm overweight.


                    • #11
                      I've enjoyed reading your journal! And I'm impressed by your progress and willpower. I wanted to say that I have a thin but fit husband who's 5'10" and weighs 155-160 when he's in good shape. I'd classify him as small framed, but based on this, I don't think 5'11" and 182 is too skinny at all. However, it would probably depend on your chest and arm size (i.e. muscle mass).

                      Keep up the good work!


                      • #12
                        Hey, sounds like you're doing great. Congratulations!

                        Only one question though - what's with the egg whites? Why not eat the whole thing?


                        • #13
                          Funny you should mention will power. This morning I sent young Will out for the Sunday paper, and took advantage of his absence.

                          Friday night I asked my wife what she wanted to do for Mother's Day, and she asked that I make her stuffed french toast for breakfast "like your mom used to make." My wife and mother had a stressed relationship, and with almost 8 years since her passing, my wife now remembers all the good things. I went out and grabbed the fixings yesterday (fresh Challah bread, cream cheese, organic strawberries, uncured bacon, etc) with the plan that I make french toast for the girls, have bacon and eggs myself, and all will be well. That was until I started thinking about how to handle food things this morning.

                          80/20 is a great perspective, but its a perspective and you need to keep it that way. I could see how it could become a crutch. I also need to remember that this is a "lifestyle" and not an absolute. That being said, I did some soul searching while preparing breakfast.

                          My wife asked me to make a recipe of my mother's on Mother's Day. My wife loves cooking, breakfast especially, but has never attempted, or even asked, how to make this recipe, which is odd, as she loves a culinary challenge. This was to be a gift for her. She also wanted to enjoy this breakfast with her daughter and husband. Something for all of us.

                          As the bacon was finishing and the french toast was ready, I rethought my plan. I set three settings, poured coffee and milk, and dished out french toast and bacon for all.

                          It was sublime

                          I even went as far as to drizzle mine with maple syrup my friend Wally sugared this winter.

                          Did it kick me out of Ketosis? Sure, but this morning was about sharing an experience (and some memories), not how many carbs someone ate.

                          I love you mom, and miss you dearly, even if you nurtured me with mashed potatoes and chocolate chip cookies.

                          The whites vs. whole eggs thing is purely guilt related., and I grew up in the "eggs are bad" world.
                          Even at my heaviest/most out of shapedness, my total cholesterol was 176, with my LDLs at 107, HDLs at 45, triglycerides at 100, and below average blood pressure.

                          I've done CKD, LC and now VLC, and with all of it I have felt most comfortable focusing on protein, not fat. So far, my experiences with primal are starting to open my eyes to what fat can do for me. I really wish I had the opportunity to get my blood work done before and after.

                          I did save and filter the fat from the bacon I cooked this morning. We'll see how it works into my eggs this week.


                          • #14
                            I'm glad you enjoyed the french toast! We have to remember about keeping things in perspective and I think you got it spot on for mothers day!. Does one day doing a bit of 80/20 really hurt. I know there are lots of people on here who are pure primal but sometimes I just think there's more to life than worrying about every little thing you put in your mouth. Good on you for showing the will power to not have the beer, but if you feel like one... I say have one, (not 2!). Change is a process that for some people is better done in small and gradual movements.... well for me anyway


                            • #15
                              Beer has been an evil temptress lately.
                              Wifey mentioned she wanted to head up to Freeport, ME today to hit LL Bean and grab lunch at our favorite brew pub Gritty Mc Duff's. I found a sweet steak and greens salad and unsweetend ice tea. Surprisingly, it wasn't that tough.

                              After a trying day of wrangling a 5 yo in a retail environment, I had wifey make a list and I offered to do the weekly grocery shopping. As I was driving home, I went through the list in my head; eggs, cream, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, pork, beef, coffee, bananas, avocados, berries, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, snap peas, almonds, cucumbers, tomatoes.
                              While it isn't an unusual list for primal, my wife and daughter eat conventionally. Looks like I might be rubbing off.