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Getting my body back thanks to Paleo & Primal

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  • Getting my body back thanks to Paleo & Primal

    I've been overweight most of my life.

    When I was a young boy, I was pretty skinny, but I had a large tumor surgically removed from my chest when I was 7, which in those olden days before minimally invasive surgery, required cutting me from the lower tip of my shoulder blade to under my nipple. After the surgery, I slowly started putting on some extra weight, I was told it was a combination of the tumor being gone, which would steal calories and energy, and the medication I was put on afterwards. The doctors said my added weight was acceptable and my family was just glad I was alive.

    I ate from what I can tell was a pretty standard american diet, though even that has changed over the decades (less cooked meals at home, more freezer meals and fast food and a whole lot of ramen).

    When I joined the National Guard at 17, I was within the weight guidelines, but was definitely a bit pudgy. Basic Training was very physically demanding, and the extra fat melted off of my frame in the 6 weeks I was there. I managed to keep it off for more than a year, probably mostly because I grew to love long distance running. I ran several miles several times a week and entered many 2 and 5k races, and the Indianapolis Mini Marathon (10k).

    Here is me right at the end of my second 3-month training stint with the Guard, and a few months before starting college (around September 1998):


    When went to college, they had a saying: "The freshmen 15", as in the number of pounds you gain from eating the cafeteria food combined with the junk food and ramen noodles. I probably put on more than that. A year or two later, you're still there and now able to drink, there's another 10 pounds or so. I probably left college above 190lbs.

    I've gained and lost a bit from time to time the past decade, but I've kept fairly steady around 200-220 pounds or so, I also developed chronic GERD heartburn and have taken Prevacid by prescription (before it went over the counter) to counteract it. I tried to watch what I ate by getting low-fat foods and skipping breakfast, and only very occasionally "treat" myself to ice cream or baked goods, but fast food was a staple of my diet. Probably 5-7 meals a week came from a restaurant or through a drive-through window.

    My wife has been in the Weight Watchers program, and I tried for awhile to follow their rules and buy their snacks and meals, but I quit because it was terrible. I had to constantly do math to come up with the point value of boxes of prepackaged food, and I was always hungry, and the snacks were kind of gross.

    About 15 months ago, I started going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and although I got a little stronger, my weight and body composition changed very little, I lost maybe 6-8 pounds.

    After years of neglecting my health, I stepped into a doctor's office in December and got a physical and blood panel done. Overall, I was in decent health for being obese, but my doctor was not satisfied with my cholesterol levels.

    I was advised to do more cardio at the gym and take fish oil capsules twice daily.

    I did as directed, and also tried to eat a bit better, less eggs, less fast food, salads and PBJ or turkey sandwiches for lunch. When I came back in March for a follow-up panel, my cholesterol had actually gone up. I was quite surprised and disappointed.

    For the next month, I did more jogging than weightlifting and started taking 3 fish oil capsules daily, but overall didn't change at all. I felt I just didn't know *what* to do.

    I'm a big nerd and a programmer with a 30-minute+ commute daily, so I listen to a lot of programming-related podcasts. Particularly those put out by Dan Benjamin of the 5by5 podcasting network. And from time to time he would mention that he and his family has been on the Paleo diet and a host of issues they all had went away. I made the decision that this was the time to check it out.

    Here's about what I looked like at this point (around April 25):


    I told my wife I was going to do the Whole 30 challenge, and while she was pretty skeptical, she supported me. She was worried that eliminating the biggest food group on the pyramid, and eating more meat might actually make things worse. I convinced her that in 30 days we'd both know if it were working or not and I could stop.

    I picked up "The Paleo Diet" by Loren Cordain and read it cover to cover over the next week as I cut out all the breads, beans, sugars and dairy. The book encourages you to start out very strict and follow it for 30 days. I kept pretty strict, however I did sprinkle a little shredded cheese on my salads from time to time, and a burger or two with cheese on it. I also had some pickles and blue corn chips, but overall pretty strict.

    Using an iPhone app called "Lose It!", I was tracking my diet for awhile in detail, and was eating 1000-1200 calories a day (which I know is low for a man, but I also have a very sedentary job). I have since abandoned tracking the calories of what I eat, but I'm pretty sure I'm eating a bit more now.

    I still felt that I should be eating a higher percentage of vegetables to fruit, and more fish, but am nonetheless very happy with the improvements I've seen and felt.

    I listened to all of the "Lastest in Paleo" podcasts too; they really helped keep me thinking paleo.

    After a month and a half I went back to the doctor for another blood panel, some 20 pounds lighter.
    I told her I cut out sugars, breads and beans and left it at that. My bloodwork came back with a much better number for LDL, but my HDL had dropped from 33 to 26 (ideal is above 50). I also got a testosterone test done that came back pretty low, but in the normal range. I told her that I still have low energy in the mornings and evenings and she suggested I supplement with "Alive!" probiotic and take a real adult multivitamin instead of a children's chewable.
    It wasn't the slam-dunk improvement I was hoping to see, but I read that HDL can be raised by doing lots of cardio, and by getting more fat in the diet.

    I started supplementing more (which I think really did help) and stepped up my workout routine a bit, but nothing drastic. I also started cooking my eggs with butter or bacon grease and eating more nuts as snacks.

    I try to get to the Gym 3 times a week, but realistically, I really only make it 2 times a week, but often go on the weekends with my daughter to the pool, or at least ride our bikes a few miles. I usually only lift as much as I think I can realistically do 10-20 reps of, and do 2 or 3 of those exercises before getting on the treadmill to run 1 to 1.5 miles at an about 5mph pace, which takes about 15 minutes.

    After 4 months of paleo living, I had to get new clothes because the ones I own were very baggy on me (I was wearing XL shirts and size 34 or 36 jeans). I picked out 10 or so Large shirts, but they were a bit baggy too, so I tried on a Medium. I was so pleased to see I had skipped Large entirely.

    I've also gone from obese to overweight, and am now clinically "normal". I'm very stoked to say that.

    My wife tells me she doesn't think I snore anymore, so now I'm allowed to sleep on my back again.
    I pretty much immediately stopped taking heartburn meds as I just don't need them, even after loading up on jalapenos and pepperochinis.

    Anyhow, I'm down more than 40 pounds since starting, and feel great in my new wardrobe.

    August 15th

    I think I've got another 10 or 15 pounds of fat to lose, but in the past week and a half I've noticed that the scale is moving much more slowly, but am almost certain its because I've started really stepping up my fitness, and am probably putting on muscle. If I can't get back to the shape I was in in the military, that's ok, but I'm betting I can.

    Anyhow, that's my story so far. Thanks for listening. I'll try to keep this tread updated.
    I'll be getting another blood panel done in two more months.


    Here are the details for the numbers people out there:

    April 25 - 205 lbs
    May 16 - 193 lbs
    June7 - 183 lbs
    July 15 - 173 lbs
    August 16 - 162 lbs
    Edit: September 21 - 155 lbs
    Blood Panel:
    | Ideal | 2011-03-10 | 2011-06-28
    Cholesterol | 0-200 | 212 | 170
    HDL | 40-60 | 33 | 26
    Triglyceride | 0-150 | 162 | 102
    LDL-Calculated | 0-160 | 147 | 124
    Chol/HDL Ratio | 4.2-7.0 | 6.4 | 6.5

    2-3 strips turkey bacon
    2-3 eggs fried in leftover bacon grease and a little butter
    Handful of Jalapeno slices mixed into one of the eggs
    2 cups water
    1/2 cup Coconut or Almond Milk

    3-4oz of Lettuce wrapped cold cuts or leftover chicken breast or burgers
    small mixed-greens salad with spinach leaves, Pepperochini's, grape tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt (and occasionally a little shredded cheese)
    Unsweetened Yogurt Mixed with berries and a little agave or 1 cup of mixed berries
    Bell pepper, cut into strips or 1 piece of fruit

    4-6 oz cut of meat (usually grilled), Chicken, Turkey or Steak or Hamburger. Fish once or twice a week.
    Mixed greens salad as previously described
    Piece of fruit (Banana, Peach, Pear)
    When in a pinch I microwave a sausage and eat with salsa

    Trader Joe's Organic Beef Jerky (the only one I can find with low sugar and no soy)
    Handful of berries
    Raw nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamia)
    Pieces of coconut (I break them open and put the coconut meat in the fridge)
    1/2 to one square Lindt 85% chocolate (1/20th of a 3.5oz bar)

    3 cod liver fish oil capsules a day, as directed by my doctor
    2 "Alive!" Multi-vegetable & probiotic supplement (for the past 2 months only)
    1 one-a-day mens (for the last 2 months only), I was previously taking 1 children's chewable multivitamin
    and have just started also taking Vitamin C and K2+D3 once daily.
    Last edited by Unixmonkey; 09-21-2011, 09:27 AM. Reason: Update to current weight

  • #2
    started at 310 July 23rd 2011 ... workin and workin!

    my journal -


    • #3
      Fantastic! Grok on!
      Ancestral Health Info

      I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

      Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.


      • #4
        Wonderful!!!! Really amazing!! You look fantastic!!
        Height: 5'2"
        Starting weight: 180lbs
        Current weight 130lbs


        • #5
          Looking good!
          There are two wolves fighting within a man's heart, one is Love, the other is Hate. The one that wins is the one you feed.

          My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world. - Jack Layton

          The Primal Adventures of Griffin - Huzzah!


          • #6
            Went Primal January 24, 2011
            Lost 105 pounds in 5 months
            Currently 130 fat pounds down which is 120 pounds on the scale while putting on 10 pounds of muscle
            According to my kids I am looking more and more like the Hulk every day


            • #7
              wow! Nice work. Have you sent this to Mark for one of the Friday success stories?


              • #8
                No. I wouldn't be opposed to him using it if he wanted to, though. As I said, I'm definitely not done. I don't look too good without a shirt yet. Maybe another 2-3 months. I'm just really ecstatic about it improving my quality of life, and so quickly! I don't really talk to anyone about my experience, and this seemed like an appropriate place to get this stuff off my chest.


                • #9
                  Nice UMonkey! inspiring. I'm 60+ days and looking/feeling great. It's wonderful to think (though a bit out there) that the country could be turned around with a little education and support. Imagine cutting off from Pharmaceuticals by 50%?????? THAT would be cool.


                  • #10
                    Awesome results. Be patient though. The last little bit takes time and if you maintain this lifestyle a little bit more comes off every month. I am over 2 years in and my body is still slowly changing composition. I think I am about to drop another pant size after a year from 32" to 30". The biggest part is don't stress about it. If you feel stressed take a step back and relax. The pictures speak volumes to the progress you have made.
                    Check out my primal blog:


                    • #11
                      You look great, man! Good job!


                      • #12
                        Does anyone have any suggestions about my HDL? I've been searching, but it appears to be pretty uncommon to have it to be so low (26). Just eat more fat and do cardio? I get it that it's really just numbers, and don't want to sweat it, but I guess I am a bit.


                        • #13
                          I don't have any suggestions on the HDL dilemma you're facing. What's your workout/exercise routine like?


                          • #14
                            I go to the gym about twice a week for a little over an hour. Mostly lifting weights (near max weight at low reps), then run 1 to 1.5 miles at 4-5 mph pace. On the weekends, I usually go to the pool for several hours. Once or twice a week I'll do a P90x session. I make sure to take every other day to recover. I converted my office to a stand-up desk, and about once a day I knock out 20 pushups at the office to get the blood flowing.


                            • #15
                              Hello fellow hoosier! I'm in Muncie Way to go on taking charge of your health! You look great!
                              I've found people out here (I'm not an Indiana native) to be very wary of anything to do with change - especially in regards to food. So I feel your pain in regards to doing this lifestyle change alone... thank goodness for this site!
                              I'm hoping my boyfriend's snoring habit eases up as yours did!
                              Wag more, bark less.