So this isn't my first rodeo folks, but hopefully it is my last. I've spent most of my life either struggling with my weight or ignoring it. I have gained and lost more weight in my life than you could imagine. At least twice I've lost over 75 lbs, just to gain it back. It was always a diet, or the beginnings of a lifestyle change that somehow got sidetracked, or I just got distracted by other things in life and turned to something else as my "obsession of the month."
Two months ago I found myself at my highest weight ever, 319 lbs. I'd spent the previous 6 months dealing with excruciating back pain from a pulled muscle, which lead me to find out that I have a bulging disc around L4-L5. As a result, sitting was painful... standing caused my left leg to go numb and then have shooting pains... but staying moving seemed to provide some relief. I finally went to my doctor, found out that I had the beginnings of high blood pressure (140/90). I was already using a CPAP to deal with sleep apnea. I'd gone for sleep testing because of the chronic exhaustion that was dominating my life as well.
So my doctor put me on a variety of NSAIDS and muscle relaxers. She even tried a short steroid treatment, but nothing really helped my back pain. I knew I had to make a change. The pain was already affecting what I could and could not do. I had to leave parties and events early because I just couldn't take it any more.
In early January I got an email from Marks Daily Apple about the Primal 21 day challenge. Now I've been familiar with Primal/Paleo for a couple of years. I even had The Primal Blueprint on my bookshelf. My wife and I started eating Primally about a year and a half ago, but got distracted and went back to a normal diet. She told me several times over that period that she really wanted to go back to that way of eating because she felt so much better. I agreed, but knew how much work it was preparing food.
I ordered one of the Challenge starter kits with the printed books, and for the week prior to the start of the challenge we cleaned out our pantry and started eating cleaner. We also watched King Corn, Food Inc, and a couple of other documentaries to reinforce our knowledge base and encourage us to find the healthy choices. I think I even dropped a few pounds during our prep week. After the first week of the challenge, my pain had decreased such that I stopped taking all of the back pain and nerve pain pills my doc had me on. I'm still taking the blood pressure medicine until I get my doc to say to stop. I'm still about the same BP sometimes, but it seems to be dropping.
We finished the 21 day challenge and decided to start it over again immediately. We got stuck on a few of the daily tasks, and didn't start our PEM's until about halfway through due to a lack of a pull-up bar. We also had a few days where we didn't do anything due to schedule issues.
So now I'm on day 30 (or day 9) of our second 21 day challenge. To date I am down to 292 lbs. My tight clothes are now very loose. I'll probably start digging through the bins of smaller clothes within another week or 2.
We've solved a lot of our food prep time problems using a food processor and a couple of spiral slicers. Next up we want to get a good mandolin slicer. We also bought some fruit and veggie storage bins for the fridge that have vents and water reservoirs. We eat a lot of lettuce, and some berries. These seem to keep them fresher longer than just a plastic container or the original packaging. We searched for and found local grass fed beef, pastured chicken, pig and goat meat vendors, as well as organic veggie farms selling at local weekend markets. We also found that our local "nice" grocery store has lots of organic veggies and a small section of organic and/or grass fed meats for those days when we forget to lay something out to thaw.
It's kind of funny when I think about it, but Mark led me to Primal living originally because of my interest in minimalist footwear. I was researching Vibram 5 finger shoes about 5 years ago and found Marks Daily Apple. I bought a pair back then, wore them for a few months on and off, and then they just gathered dust under my bed. My wife and I went to a yoga class at our gym to increase our flexibility and shake thing up a little, and there was a guy wearing 5 Fingers. Needless to say I pulled mine out and started wearing them again. My wife ended up getting a pair this past weekend, so we're getting our feet in shape together as well.
I know I have a long way to go. I'm not in a hurry, since this is a lifetime change. There is no end date. There is no final goal, only short and long term mile markers. I want to be able to do an unassisted pull-up. Eventually I want to drop to 170-180, but then the work really begins trying to tone and tighten up.
Some thing I've noticed:
1. Indulging in an off-list food is not the end of the world. Day 6 of my first challenge we had tickets to a local craft beer festival. Admittedly I did not drink as much as I would have in the past, but I tried all that I wanted to, and actually still lost weight the next day and the day after. On Day 21 we celebrated and went to the movies. I have always been a popcorn guy when watching a movie, so I decided to get some. It didn't taste that great, and I only ate a portion of it. It still did not negatively affect my weigh in.
2. My energy levels are a lot more consistent. I no longer have to deal with daily exhaustion. I am waking up much more refreshed, and if I'm having a low energy day some type of workout will turn it around.
3. I don't really have any cravings, and my appetite has decreased dramatically. I find it very easy to pass on unhealthy foods.
4. Food I used to dislike (most vegetables) now aren't so bad.
5. Eating out doesn't have to be a "cheat" meal. I've found (mostly) primal options everywhere I've gone. It may not be grass fed, pastured, or free range meats, but you can still pair it with healthy veggie options cooked with butter or steamed.