My 12 Week Primal Challenge
I'd like to give a great big Philly-style RAWR! for everyone at MDA. I just registered for this account name a few minutes ago and this is my very first post, but I've been lurking in the archives and forums for the past two months or so. Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to introduce myself.
My name's Anthony. I'm 24, a towering 5'7" tall and a massive 145 pounds. I am currently in the best shape of my life without question. So why am I writing this? Because I'm only 24 and have a whole lifetime ahead of me! - and a 12 week challenge ahead. This is gonna be long, so bear with me!
I grew up in South Jersey, about a 30 minute drive from Atlantic City and pretty much every shore town. I come from a pretty large Italian family - and no, we're not guido faux-New York Italians. We're as normal as someone from Jersey can get. I've always been a short guy and a chubby kid. I was never fat, but I was always probably in the ~20% body fat area. Because my family is very Italian, we went through a lot of bread. My mother, my grandmothers and myself all cook - and very well - so processed food was almost never in my diet. Outside of takeout or going to a restaurant for a meal once or twice a month, all my non-school lunch meals were home cooked - and thank God for that looking back. The only truly bad food I ate would be whatever the garbage they served you at school is, but we ate pasta twice a week and bread was a daily occurrence. Every Sunday was pasta and gravy with Grandma and the family, which is easily the best meal on Earth and always will be. I don't care how much y'all pretend to hate grains, you will never be able to tell me that that isn't the best meal on Earth :p
Around my junior year of high school, I started lifting weights. I really only did benchpress, curls and situps. I hated, hated, HATED cardio. I didn't diet. I ate the same as I normally did, and I got a good bit stronger, but no big changes to my body type happened.
In 2004, I went off to Philly to college. I enrolled at Drexel University and embarked on my journey to become an electrical engineer. I pretty much stopped working out my first two years, but kept roughly the same body type. Thanks to homecooked meals my entire life, I hate processed foods. I'll eat just about any raw fruit, vegetable, any kind of meat, anything fresh, but I HATE boxed crap. Because of this, I couldn't eat much of the cafeteria food and always began a meal with soup and salad, which kept a lot of the crap food out of my system. Pairing that with walking back and forth to class every day, my weight and size stayed constant.
In 2007, I moved off campus with my friends, got a large bedroom and bought a weight bench. We purposely moved a mile off campus so we'd have to walk back and forth to class a minimum of once a day. Sometimes it was 2 or 3. I started doing 2 mile jogs on the street 3 times a week, continued my normal benchpress/arms/situps exercises and got into much better shape, but it didn't do a whole lot to make me lose fat. I was stronger and felt a whole lot better, but was probably still in the 16-18% body fat range. My senior year, something in me snapped and I started doing cardio in the gym 3-4 times a week. I was either cycling 12 miles or running 3.5 miles each time, but it all seemed to do nothing to make me lose fat. It was just maintenance exercise I guess.
In 2009, I graduated from Drexel's 5 year electrical engineering program. This is where the trouble started. Being as I'm in the office 90% of the time, I didn't move around much during the day. My lunch was a pretty simple sandwich with a couple of pretzels and either water or brewed iced tea with very little sweetener. I really only drink water unless I'm drinking alcohol. However, I started to gain weight and got up to around 160 pounds. I went out and bought a meat slicer and switched to whole wheat everything, but my weight pretty much stayed the same. I was wearing 33" waist jeans and just felt crappy, so I decided it was time for the dreaded dietary change.
After reading lots of bodybuilding sites, I decided to do a 7 week CKD. This was very, very effective. All I had to do was cut out carbs, but I have a very strong will and it was no problem. It was boring as hell and I missed things like eating a simple apple or a big salad. I pretty much limited myself to 2 cups of spinach a day, and then pigged out on pasta and pizza to recharge on Sundays. I got down to 145 pounds in the 7 weeks, added 25 pounds to my benchpress and I was back down to a 32.5" waist, fitting comfortably in 32" jeans and needing a belt.
I pretty much kept up low carb for the next couple of months. I ate all the meat, cheese and vegetables I wanted, but I kept starches down to one meal a day. I tried to eat as much protein as I could, ate 6 small meals a day, 2 of them being whey protein shakes - one in the afternoon at work in water and one after my daily workout in skim milk (I don't like full fat milk, never had it growing up). I was very slowly losing body fat, but it was barely noticeable. I definitely wasn't gaining, that was for sure.
In January, I made a resolution that I wanted to have six pack abs for the summer for the first time in my life. I started reading bodybuilding.com a lot and took up HIIT and scrapped cardio. At the time, I was running 16 miles a week - 5.33 miles in 45 minutes, 3 times a week. I decided that carb cycling was the way to go as it was very popular on that website and was much healthier than keto since you ate vegetables regularly. However, in my travels, I somehow stumbled on MDA. And I praise the Lord for that.
I've always been skeptical of the SAD, the war on saturated fats and I've ALWAYS known that carbs and bread make you fat - not meats - but the wealth of info on this site has driven all that knowledge home. I learned about the highly insulinogenic effects of dairy, which I never knew. I threw out my cow's milk and switched to unsweetened almond milk a few weeks ago and lost an inch off my waist in 7 days. That's when I knew for sure this is the lifetstyle for me. And it's just so sustainable! I have modified my weight workout drastically. I am now incorporating squats and deadlifts thanks to Mark opening my eyes to the production of HGH and testosterone through those two particular workouts, which totally explains why I have a huge chest for my size and puny arms and shoulders. My only HGH producing workout was benchpressing! Now, mind you all, I am not going 100% primal. More like 90-95%. I drink alcohol once a week on a weekend day of my choice, but I am not a big drinker. Last week I had 3 Miller Lites and a vodka and diet Coke (I hate soda but it's the only mixer I've drank since I did keto), so I don't go overboard, but I am not giving up that part of my life, so don't look down on me for it :p
My goal is to have six pack abs by the end of this 12 week journey. I am documenting with pictures. I am already on my third week, so I will post my first two weeks of pictures in posts below. I'm doing this journal to not only motivate myself, but everyone else who stumbles across this. From the past 2 months of slowly falling into Mark's lifestyle, I have felt better than I ever have in my life, and this is all so sustainable and easy. Yes, there will be cheats - when I visit my Grandmother in Jersey once a month, I may have one bowl of pasta, but I don't think 2 pounds of pasta a year is going to affect my health - but like Mark says, this lifestyle isn't about giving up everything you love. It's about making educated compromises at times and making smart decisions over your lifetime.
Cheers and thanks for bearing with me!