I'm not completely into starting journals, but the Primal way of eating has made me so excited that I feel compelled.
I think Mark should beef up registered member profile abilities. For example, he could allow members to have their own blog (journals) within their profiles and progress monitors with charts and such. Other members could see top (weight) "losers" and read their journals for inspiration or ideas. In addition, Mark should create an open recipe database where members can easily create recipes and enter them into the database. This would allow for rapid-fire searches for new recipe ideas.
Anyways, I started going Primal just a week ago on July 6. I did it because the idea of eating less carbs was slowly creeping back into my head as a must-do.
My weight loss story in a nutshell - as a kid growing up, I became huge. I weighed in at 250 either in late middle school or early high school. I was made fun of my whole childhood - yet my humor kept me afloat. Finally, mid-high school I started turning things around with WeightWatchers and got to 230. Then I officially turned things around with Atkins by getting down to 200 and, eventually, 175 - my lowest weight ever. Sure enough, I considered myself as having reached my goal and began to slip off the wagon. I climbed back to ~195 and forever struggled to lose weight again. I went on Atkins, off Atkins, on Atkins, off Atkins. Eventually, around the second year of college, I discovered Calorie Counting. I enjoyed this approach as I didn't have to limit myself as to what foods to enjoy. It was all about the Calories. This worked, for the most part, and got me down to 185 and kept me stabilized during tough college times. Around my 3rd year of college, I read Eat, Drink and Be Healthy - which mainly advocates the Mediterranean Diet and watching caloric intake. I started eating healthy grains and foods and began building my running mileage. I got down to 175 lbs again and, immediately after reaching my goal, was thrust into two Summer internships. I worked such long days that I couldn't find time to exercise and my diet slowly deteriorated to the point where I was eating scones and sandwiches with chips (they are "baked!" I would say.) Once I returned to college, I realized the damage when I couldn't fit into anything from before Summer and had climbed to a whopping 205 lbs. I had to buy new clothes. I then had a supreme epiphany that I HAD to turn things around and, despite my reaching 175 in the past, I was still quite chunky at that goal. I made my goal "happiness." I wanted to look in the mirror and not make excuses. If I had a belly, I had a belly. I also began to think and research more and more about what life is like to be overweight and I have come to realize just how much it affects people's lives. From the way we sit, to social situations we avoid. It has a DEEP impact on every part of our lives. Thus, I began counting calories again, keeping rigorous progress charts and trained for a Half Marathon. Over the course of my 4th year of college (I actually started at the beginning of Winter Quarter, not Fall - the first quarter of a college year) I got down to 185 lbs and had a Half Marathon under my belt. Unfortunately, I also had terribly sore knees. I thought that, after having ran a Half Marathon, going for a three mile jog shouldn't be tough. I jogged along, mentally confident, yet I couldn't stop thinking about how many aches and pains were in my legs. My foot arches were sore every morning for weeks. Finally, being done with college, I am back at my parent's house in their pasta-filled environment. I start my first job in mid-September and want to make the Summer the best weight loss summer of my life. In June, I tried to make this happen. I weight lifted, jogged and counted calories. For some reason, I just couldn't budge my weight throughout June. It had to be the pasta, rice and potatoes my parents always served. Thus, I set off on the internet to explore alternatives to my calorie counting ways.
That's when I came across Mark's Daily Apple. For the week that I have been doing Primal, my weight has dropped 5 lbs (water weight, I know) and I don't get those cravings-for-more that are so typical when eating pasta, rice and potatoes at dinner. I am beginning to discover the joy of fruits and vegetables and the hardships that grains can bring.
Yet, my past weight loss experience has not been wasted. I still feel it is important to track calories. I do not believe that weight loss is as simple a creating a caloric deficit, but I do believe that it is an integral part. Calorie counting is a drag for the first month, but after that, you memorize calories of certain foods and ball-park figures. Also, I used to count calories in excel and in notebooks, but it became too cumbersome. I now keep a piece of scratch paper around and just jot down numbers to give myself a ball-park figure. I don't write down what I ate - that's in my head. I call it Guerilla Counting. Is there a white board on the fridge? Jot down your lunch in calories and remember the figure. Once you get to dinner time, you know how much you can eat and you don't need to jot down dinner. It's not perfect, but it's sustainable.
Starting weight: 191 lbs
Current weight: 186
Goal weight: 170
Here are some new things I have done and learned during my transition to Primal:
1) I made grain-free protein bars:
5-6 scoops Vanilla whey-isolate protein powder
2 tblspns peanut butter (would have used almond or sunflower but didn't have it)
5 tblspns of flax seed meal
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup organic raisins
I was going for simplicity and speed here. Heat the oven to 425. I put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stirred. I SLOWLY added water and kept stirring until I got a really sticky paste. I then placed equal sized balls onto a greased cookie sheet. I shaped the balls as best I could into bars. Placed them in the oven for 10 mins. They kind of spread out half way through the cooking time then started firming up. Made 6 LARGE bars, 12 if you cut them in half. For 6 bars, each is ~300 calories. Didn't write down the other nutritional facts - but it's all Primal baby. Next time I may use parchment paper because they stuck quite a bit. The trick is to chop the nuts up so everything is very evenly spread out. The bars are very nutty and delicious. The raisins add the needed sweetness. I don't taste the peanut butter though. Slight hint of vanilla due to protein powder.
2) Eating Primal challenges one's culinary ability. It is so easy to make a dish "good enough" if there is rice or pasta involved due to the craving effect. When eating primal, you have to explore different kinds of vegetables to keep from getting bored and you also have to season them and add things to make them more flavorful. In addition, you have to learn to cook meat and fish just right, because if you lose that, 50% of the dish is done for. It's easy to not bother about over-done meat if it's covered in rice and veges.
I have a secret weapon though, it's called the Flavor Bible. It is basically a giant index of all kinds of food A-Z. Under each food, there is a list of ingredients that goes particularly well with that food. They determined this by taking large surveys of top-notch chefs. Ingredients that are bold or starred are especially good. Then, they list "flavor affinities." Like, "shrimp+garlic+cream" (I'm just using an obvious one.)
3) Best meal so far: Broiled bone-in pork chops with New Orleans "Slap Ya Momma" seasoning with green cabbage with onions, thyme and champagne vinegar. Champagne vinegar turns green cabbage into HEAVEN. Perfect flavor combinations. I was amazed by this dish.
4) I'm learning that the only thing between me and being Primal is popular culture. Everything is served with grains, but it honestly doesn't need to be. Yet, grains seem to be the easy way out for most people. You have to try hard and be creative when going primal. The other day I ordered steamed clams in a garlic wine sauce and, of course, the chef had stacked three slices of toasted buttered bread RIGHT on top of the clams. I could barely see what I ordered. Was the bread mentioned on the menu? No, but I'm sure it was about 400 calories worth of bread. I didn't eat them of course, but it definitely pinged my cravings since I was only about a week deep into PB.
I like the 'Flavor Bible'. I am WAY better at cooking since our family went 'Primal' (even hubby has become quite the chef!), but sometimes I still think "What spice/ herb/ flavor(s) go together?
Ha ha! "Slap Yo Mamma" seasoning, love it!
You might find some of your 'Conventional Wisdom' getting slapped around while you are further exploring the PB way of life.
Have you read the book?
I am EXTREMELY into health and natural healing (it's like a moderate hobby for me) and I STILL got caught up into the 'low-fat', Atkins, calorie-counting, etc, but I knew there had to be a better way.
For now, I am succumbing to all aspects of the PB and then after full experience, I can find what I need to 'tweak'.
For instance, I don't count calories since eating loads of good fats and proteins are cutting down my appetite dramatically, so for me, losing weight happens regardless of calorie-counting! You may find the same results as well!
Good luck on your PB journey!
(Will you be participating in Mark's annual PB challenge coming up?)
Hi SassaFrass, you're right, haha, my "conventional wisdom" is indeed getting slapped around. It makes me feel more comforted about eating animal fats, but I'll continue to take both the "old" wisdom and the "new" with a grain of salt.
You're right about calorie-counting, I don't have to count as hard as I used to because, when cutting grains, meals just aren't as heavy - vegetables are next to nothing. Yet, I still prescribe to the "eat less to lose weight" and I don't really trust myself to naturally eat less - I believe I'll get better at cooking the PB way and my food will be so tasty I'll want more. Calorie counting is also good insurance for those times when the PB way is not attainable (vacation, unfamiliar environment, etc.) Also, nuts and oils are so high in calories that it's east to over do it.
I haven't read the book and don't really intend to in the near future. I have a lot of other non-health books that I'm reading and I think I have the main ideas down from reading Mark's blog. BUT, I do intend to partake in the challenge!
Well, I agree.
I started to use FitDay to track my food because, honestly, I didn't know what carbs were where! Since tracking my macros, I also got to see my calories and found that the lower-cal, low-carb + more (good) fats = steady weight loss.
Normally, I don't read books from one health 'source' (I have a large library of 'yet to read' health books), but this one is really fantastic. It's a quick read and Mark puts all of his knowledge into a condensed version of this site.
By the time I was done reading, I found what fit with my current 'knowledge' and the other little things that I needed further answers on.
Anyway, from one "I have enough to read, thank you very much" person to another, I do suggest it.
Good luck with the challenge! I will also be creating a journal in here to coincide with the challenge's start.
In regards to Weight Loss Plateaus...
Those who have been on long weight loss journeys know of weight loss plateaus. Plain and simple, you're losing weight and then, either suddenly or slowly, your weight loss begin to decrease or stop altogether. Eventually, you learn how to get it moving again. The answer is generally a change that is initiated on your part, either on purpose or on accident. When it comes to plateaus, I believe that they shouldn't be planned for. For example, something that works for me is taking a day or two (usually on the weekends) where I eat a bit more than usual. I follow this up with returning to a strict diet. MOST of the time, my weight will suddenly budge down. Yet, I have made the mistake in the past of deciding to eat more every weekend thinking that I'll hit a mini-plateau at the end of every week. This may work for a few weeks, but - I think - the excess eating eventually catches up and causes a plateau of it's own (or worse, weight gain.) So, is the scale not budging? Explore your one day or two day arsenal of tricks to get it moving again. Try a day of eating more and exercising. Or maybe try that intermittent fasting (I haven't though.) Some people say that doing a different exercise at a high intensity can get a plateau moving. Or maybe take a day off fruit. Try things out. Chances are, just making ANY kind of change will eventually get things moving again.