No pretending to like tofu any more!: Eric's primal transformation
Iím 41 years old, and Iíve had weight issues since I was 7 or 8. The summer before my Junior year of high school, I decided to lose weight. I had reached 195 pounds and was around 5í8Ē. I did it by starvation. I ate about 350 calories a day Ė one frozen WW meal Ė and on Fridays, I would have a large pepperoni pizza as a treat. Crazy, right? But it ďworked.Ē I lost 50 pounds in 3 months. I now shudder to think about the damage I did to my body. Oh well. I kept it off through the rest of high school, and I was actually relatively healthy in my first couple of years of college. I rode my bike about 20 miles a day, and I lifted weights for a while. My roommate, who was a middle distance runner on the track team, gave me a book, ďEat to Win.Ē God, looking back on it, it should have been titled ďeat to die.Ē It promotes a very high carb, extremely low protein and low fat diet. Well, I started doing it. While I continued to exercise, everything was fine. But then I stopped exercising, and I kept doing the basic principles of that diet Ė loads of carbs, little fat and protein. I started gaining weight, and I guess I was too stupid to put 2 and 2 together. Too much beer I suppose. At the time, I assumed it was because I wasnít exercising. True, but Ö the way I was eating was terrible.
In my mid-20s in grad school, I developed hypoglycaemia and asthma around the same time, and I slowly gained a ton of weight. I lived in DC during 9/11 and realized that I may need to run away from something or walk 10 miles home, and I wasnít in shape to do it at all. I weighed about 295 pounds. Between 2001 and 2006, I studied a martial art and dropped my weight to the 250s. My diet still sucked though. I moved and stopped training. Fast forward to 2009, and I weighed 295 pounds. Again. Yikes. That's a photo of me around that time.
I had to do something. I absolutely refused to go over the 300 pound mark.
Without realizing it, I started eating something closer to primal/paleo. I ate a ton of salads with grilled chicken, and I cut out bread and pasta. I lost 30 pounds. Then I got married, and I got a job in Vienna Austria, where Iím living now. Here's a photo of me soon after I arrived.
I kept my weight in the 270s until this February, when I visited home. I was there 3 weeks, ate every kind of junk food and fast food I craved (or knew I couldnít get back in Vienna), and I weighed over 280 when I returned. Here are some photos of my on that visit.
[ATTACH]8123[/ATTACH] This isn't a mugshot; it is for an international driver's license.
This one is of me beginning to devour a hot brown, which is technically a sandwich. Yeah. That's right. A sandwich. It has a bottom layer of bread, then some turkey and ham, some tomato, then an enormous amount of white sauce (flour, butter and milk), and loads of cheese, topped with bacon.
I stopped eating like a madman and dropped to 272 by March 28th. Thatís when I joined a gym.
I started swimming every day at lunch-time. After my first month, I got a free personal training session, and the trainer said I should start lifting weights if I really want to lose weight. I was sceptical. So then I started doing a ton of research on losing weight and exercise. Turns out he was right. I found stronglifts, but then quickly moved over to Starting Strength (though I do rows instead of cleans). I lift weights 3x a week and swim 2x now.
I had cut down on carbs (eliminated sugar, but still had moderate amounts of whole grain bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and lots of beans, lentils, and tofu). I was also eating a lot of protein thanks to the weightlifting. I was losing weight. I lost 11 pounds between March 28 and April 28th with a respectable gain in muscle. But I was feeling really worn down all the time. Iíd gut out my workouts, but Iíd feel like crap at the end of the day with very little energy. A friend on FB posted that she was eating a high protein, high fat diet with low carbs. I thought she was crazy. High protein, ok. High fat? What? So I was curious. Thatís when I discovered paleo and got Robb Wolfís book and devoured it (didnít find Markís site until a couple of days ago). In the process of gearing up to try paleo, I tracked my food carefully for a couple of days and discovered that even though I felt like I had severely cut my carb intake (the sad thing is that I actually had cut it), I was still eating probably 45% calories from carbs.
So I started paleo over the weekend. On May 26th, I weighed 261. Today, I weigh 257. Not bad in 5 days. The first couple of days were hard. Not from a cravings standpoint, but I think my body was adjusting to the transition away from so many carbs, and I felt Ö the best way to describe it was weird and tired. But then by Tuesday, I started feeling pretty good. Yesterday and today I feel great. When I started swimming 2 months ago, I swam 12 laps. Yesterday, I swam 40 laps in less than 26 minutes. And I wasnít tired afterwards. I was actually energized. I donít have any blood sugar crashes now either. I havenít breathed this well in years (thanks to swimming -- canít attribute that to paleo since it has only been 5 days, but I do hope that over time it will improve even more because of paleo). Iím very much looking forward to how I feel after a few weeks of eating paleo.
My weight loss goals in the past have always been to lose enough that I can function reasonably well and buy pants in a normal store. Iíd resigned myself to being obese for the last 15 years and that, even at best, Iíd be moderately obese. And that was OK for me. It was the way I was. Sad, isnít it? But now I want to be f*cking fit. I donít want a ďbeer bellyĒ any more, and I want to be able to do anything physically that I feel like doing. I never want my weight or a lack of conditioning to hold me back. A lot of whatís motivating me now is that I have an 8 month old son, and Iíve come to the realization that 1) I need to be in better shape to be a good dad and be able to keep up with him; 2) I never want him to feel like we canít do something that he wants to do because I canít physically do it; 3) I want to be a good role model for him; and 4) I want to be around long enough to know my grandkids, and the way I was going, that was NOT going to happen. I donít have a weight goal per se since Iím also doing strength training. My primary goal is to have visible abs for the first time in my life.
I now weigh 297 pounds (83 pounds lost) as of July 16, 2013, about 14 months after I began paleo. This photo was taken over the weekend at Rathausplatz in Vienna.