Fiction Writer Determined to Match Body with Mind
Hello everyone, my (nick)name is Zeeko and I'm excited to start my Primal path! Who wouldn't be, really?
I didn't really mean for this to become an essay, but if you're bored, go ahead and read; if not, just know that I'm happy to be here.
My story starts from my preschool days, running around in my dad's backyard-turned-garden, digging up worms, playing in my tree house and spying on the neighbors, that kind of thing. My dad and I tended to our plentiful vegetable garden with our three fruit trees, and made sure our 27 rabbits didn't destroy too much while running around. Needless to say, I grew up appreciating what I now see as a primal lifestyle. It was pretty great.
Unfortunately, our eating habits did not reflect our pastimes. My grandmother (more like a mom to me) was a big baker, my dad cooked everything else, and rarely did I see what Primals consider healthy on my plate. When I was about 7, our house had a huge fire and our family separated, so it was just me and my dad after that. He fell into a pretty hard depression, and next thing I know I'm eating fast food for dinner more than cooked food, and if we ate at home, it was usually Spagetti-o's, or Chef Boyardee. Not good.
Because of that, there has never been a time in my life when I wasn't overweight/obese. The older I got, the worse it got. Everyone else in my family either said, "Oh, it's just baby fat, it will go away when you grow up," or,"You're not fat, you're a pretty girl." I appreciate their tone, but I certainly do not appreciate the lies. "Pretty" or not (I've always been a tomboy so calling me pretty was an insult once), the fat never went away; it just found more company! By the time I was 15 I was considered obese. At first I didn't believe it; I've always been pretty strong for a "girl" and thought they didn't take that into account. They didn't, but they didn't need to. 200lb for a 15 year old, 5'5" teen is obese no matter how you look at it.
It didn't really hit me until my first steady relationship at 17. Due to family issues, I was living at their house, and what a culture shock! Everyone was healthy (from my point of view at the time), energetic, productive and just completely opposite of what I was used to seeing at home. The mom cooked all her meals, and the kids were total cardio freaks. The brother biked everywhere, and my sweetheart was in cross-country. The mom did yoga everyday, and the husband practiced boxing with his professional MMA brother frequently. I was definitely a fish out of water. The only exercise I had under my belt was marching band (harder than some people think, but in chronic cardio standards, not nearly hard enough).
It never really stopped being awkward for me there, and once I graduated high school, problems started. I went to University for one month, and decided that I was going to explode if I had to endure one more day of classroom learning (don't get me wrong; learning is my favorite pastime). After that, I didn't really know what to do with myself, and became severely depressed. I literally spent 6 months of my life making an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) a full-time career. Unfortunately, I didn't play for money; I played for the addiction of instant gratification (many video game developers are now calling morality into question regarding these types of games). Eventually, my significant other of three years decided they couldn't handle it anymore, and kicked me out. In all fairness, my depressed nature turned me into a very difficult person.
As you can imagine, I gained more weight. I think I was about 215 at the time. When I went to live with my grandmother, not much changed. She was never home, so my dinner consisted exclusively of frozen dinners and fast food. For the next three years I battled with a stomach ulcer, low blood pressure, severe insomnia (several days without sleep), anemia (fainting in public on a monthly basis), migraines, and my depression was now full blown type I bipolar disorder, complete with terrible decision making and attempted suicide. Instead of taking prescribed medication (I didn't have health insurance because my parents were out of the picture), I turned to recreational drugs. I was no longer interested in my instrument, my hobbies, and most of my friends. I was in a really dark place.
About a year ago, I had the scariest panic attack in my life (and I've had quite a few). I'm going to skip the details, but my dear online friend gave me a nice, no-nonsense speech on how I needed to change my immediate habits (ironically, I met him through that video game I was addicted to). He's a pretty healthy guy, and I knew he only had my best interest in heart, so I finally switched gears and listened to some of his practical advice. Unfortunately, he's an unknowing member of the Conventional Wisdom nation, and despite his true intentions, my weight of 227lb was going nowhere. Mentally, I have been slowly building myself up from rock bottom, and with varied results (bipolar is especially frustrating because you're not sure if your happiness is real sometimes). I was ready to change, but I didn't know how.
Speed up to three months ago, I finally decide to cut off all sugar drinks and all fast food, and my mood immediately improves (and not the fake kind of mood). I stop using drugs, and after a good amount of toil, I don't even think about it anymore. I finally lost the first 5 pounds of my life, and I was ecstatic. I didn't even try Chronic Cardio, because I'm a big fan of listening to your body (from the ulcer), and it said No Thank You. Instead, I tried out Muay Thai, and instantly loved it. Unfortunately, the classes were too expensive for my minimum-wage self, so I just took the small amount of what I learned and practiced at home. I lost 23 pounds this way, but then I hit a plateau. The number 204 burned in my head like a mocking squirrel barking at a helpless dog. What was I doing wrong? I trained my taste buds to reject fatty foods, I ate plenty of whole grains, and I haven't been eating red meat for more than a decade, so what was the big deal? I managed my calorie intake like a crazed mathematician. In Conventional Wisdom world, I was doing everything right (cardio notwithstanding).
Things got sour. I was getting over-stressed about it, and that made me incapable of downing solid food. I was stuck on soup and Ensure for two weeks. I lost 14lb in those two weeks (even I knew that was bad news), and once I could start eating solids again, guessed who showed up? Good old 204.
I knew something was up. I knew whatever I was doing, no matter how "A-student" I was being about it, it wasn't right. I'm only 22 for heaven's sake! And so my fervent quest for answers began. It didn't take very long to find the phrase "paleo diet", and while reading the NerdFitness blog, I found the link to MDA. First, I read Primal 101. Then, I looked everywhere for negative reviews (the first thing I do when something sketchy comes along), and I couldn't really find any, to be honest! The most "severe" comments I saw were "elitist", "expensive", and "unrealistic". I never found any serious health concerns related to the concept (at least none concerning my personal health issues). I consider myself pretty competitive, so "elitist" is a compliment. Expensive isn't too much of a problem considering my single, no-dependent status. Unrealistic? In what ways? All the comments like this were obviously written by people who never really tried, or people who are big fans of making excuses (and boy do I have experience in making excuses).
So, here I am, in my second week of going Primal (first week of being strict about it), and 204 is already a thing of the past. I love the fitness ideas, because they coincide perfectly with my logic. I tried red meat for the first time in 11 years, and it was so good that I feel pretty stupid about ever rejecting it. Today I tried bacon (the good kind, too) and I think I could eat it every day! I convinced my current household to let me pick out the vegetables, and I think I found a hidden love for cooking. Stir fry is quickly getting up there in favorites. I love every single soup recipe in the free cookbooks. I actually don't hate food anymore, and the feeling is like a big breath of fresh air.
I can't wait to see how far my body will change from the inside out. My wrist problems have been non-existent since I started, digesting is a lot easier in general (the red meat is still pretty confusing for my stomach, but it's almost completely normalized by now), and my insomnia is keeping me up until midnight instead of keeping me up for 50 hours at a time. My mood is just a ball of sunshine, and it's rubbing off on the people around me. I finally hit my first major fitness goal of hitting 199lb, and people are starting to notice. It really is a snowball effect, isn't it? My next major goals are to be able to do a real pushup, and no longer be considered obese by BMI standards (I have a lot of issues with BMI, since it drove my friend into a terrible eating disorder, but I realize that being obese is a health risk regardless).
I'm trekking down the "go with the flow" path, and I forgot that that's how my natural personality was all this time. I'm not naturally neurotic, and I'm not naturally a Debbie Downer. I'm looking back at my days as a dirt-caked kid, and I'm realizing that she never really left. It feels good to be me.