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
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
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!
Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 03-03-2011 at 06:55 PM.
Like I mentioned earlier, I've been slowly trying to move myself to the primal lifestyle for the past 2 months or so. During those two months, I have felt and seen more results than I would have imagined. Only in the past 3 weeks - after I scrapped the dairy - have I considered myself to be going hardcore into this primal lifestyle. I will be using this body fat calculator using the US Navy's equation to gauge my results:
Body Fat Percentage - Free Body Fat Percentage Calculator
This is the first time in my entire life that I am actually CONFIDENT in a lifestyle that will get me my six pack abs because it's the first time I've ever found a lifestyle that has MADE SENSE. It follows evolutionary genetics, it's based on real history and it's actually common sense, instead of the typical CW bought and paid for by big pharma and Monsanto that pay off doctors and the education system to teach incorrect information (my opinion). If this plan goes the way I want it to - and I am confident I will - I will be going primal for the foreseeable future and hopefully the rest of my life. And please, go easy on my Myspace-style photo shoot. It's the best I could do with my limited resources
Week 1 - Feb. 22, 2011
13.57% body fat
Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 03-03-2011 at 07:44 PM.
Week 2 - Mar. 2, 2011
These pictures will put me up to date as of this past Tuesday. I'm using a fabric 100 foot tape measure I use to measure distances on jobsites, so it's not the most accurate thing in the world. The raw number of body fat that I get from the calculation is the same because of the lack of accuracy, but I can tell I've lost a little bit of body fat. Hopefully, it's visible in these pictures.
13.57% body fat (though I'm sure it's a little lower)
More pics to come on Tuesday.
I really enjoy lunches on this lifestyle. I've adopted Mark's "big ass salad" for the past few weeks. It's always pretty much the same, except the meat in it varies, sometimes I'll throw in an egg or two if I'm running low on meat and sometimes I exclude cheese or include some almonds. My BAS today was:
- Around 2 cups of romaine
- Around 2 cups of spinach
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green jalapeno, chopped
- 1 whole red habanero, chopped
- 1-2 oz of extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Roughly 3/4 pound of meatloaf (ground beef, eggs, peppers, garlic, spices)
- A few tablespoons of homemade pico de gallo
- Olive oil, white vinegar (I ran out of red wine vinegar) and lime juice
- Sesame seeds and parmesan for flavor
I am going through vinegar like mad on this lifestyle. Usually, a bottle of red wine vinegar lasts a few months. I've gone through a bottle of red wine in a couple weeks and I've had to tap into my white vinegar and apple cider vinegar that I rarely use. It's great since vinegar is so good for you. I like this salad so much, I've been eating it for dinner lately, too.
Last night was kind of a cheat night. For anyone in the Philly area that's never heard of the Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co., I strongly recommend you give that place a shot. I would have never in my life thought a $15 drink would be worth it, but it's so worth it. I spent $33 on two drinks with tip, but they were the strongest, most top shelf drinks I've ever had by far. I got there at 8pm, hadn't eaten since noon and I was buzzed off of the two drinks. I'm pretty sure each drink had a liqueur in one of them as there was a very light hint of sweetness, so sugar+alcohol is the only cheat I've had all week if you cross out two total sweet potatoes I ate.
I also resorted to going to Applebees for dinner, but I found something on the menu they said had "31 carbs" in it - steak, shrimp, tomatoes, mixed vegetables and red potatoes - and I didn't eat the potatoes that came with it, so hopefully that's pretty safe. I had 1 draft Miller Lite.
Dinner tonight: my first attempt at primal pizza!
If anyone is curious, I made the crust roughly as follows:
~1/2 cup coconut flour
-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/4 cup heavy cream
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp baking powder
~1/2 tsp garlic powder
~1 tsp oregano
I cooked it on parchment paper that was greased with extra virgin olive oil in a 400 degree oven for 17 minutes, then turned the broiler on high and browned it. I placed another tray over it and flipped the pizza crust. Then I proceeded to add my toppings. They were:
- Fresh crushed plum tomatoes and garlic
- 1/4 pound fresh shredded mozzarella and a liberal coating of parmesan/romano blend
- Shredded coconut chicken thigh meat I made earlier
- 6 strips bacon
- Fresh spinch
- Red bell pepper
- Pickled pepperoncinis and cherry peppers
I browned the top under the broiler for a few minutes, topped the pizza with fresh cilantro, popped it back under the broiler for about a minute or less and it was done!
Obviously this was nowhere as good as standard wheat pizza made with high gluten flour, but I really wanted pizza so I made a compromise with the coconut flour. This was my first time using coconut flour and, just like everyone said, it's definitely dry and more suitable for cakes or biscuits. I'm hoping there are better (and hopefully cheaper!) alternatives out there. $7.49 for a 16oz bag at Whole Foods is ridiculous!
wow. pizza looks delicious!
Thanks. The coconut flour definitely left a lot to be desired, but it was enough to kill the pizza craving. I'm trying to make a primal cheesecake right now and I can't wait to see the results.
Originally Posted by moo
I have been inspired to create a Fit Day account. It was a long process to set up and customize some common foods, but it was worth it. I really learned A LOT about my diet. This is a pretty average day for me, except I usually only eat 2 eggs all day. All I have to say is that half a pound of meat is not a lot, and it really packs in a lot of calories.
My fat/protein/carbs ratio is exactly where I want it. However, I feel I'm getting too many calories in there. The thing is, I always feel "full" after a meal - not hungry and not stuffed. I've been eating to where I feel "just right". I may have to chop down my meals a little. Maybe I'll stop putting oil in my salad and just use vinegar? Maybe I'll ditch the cheese or the avocado? The tricky part will be maintaining the ratio while removing calories. I'm not sure if these high calories are making my fat loss too slow or if it's just slow when you're a male with 13% body fat no matter what.
I'm only 145 pounds, so I'm guessing I'm eating too much protein.
Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 03-08-2011 at 08:24 PM.
Welcome man. We're about the same height but I'm like 4-5 lbs heavier than you, yet I think I look kinda skinny and my abs already show, though not amazingly. I don't think I have more muscle than you, but maybe I do. Anyway, good luck on your journey!