Cardio Queen Gone Primal

I was always a little on the heavy side, ever since I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out in kindergarten. I would say 3rd grade was the last time I really felt “normal.” After that it was all down hill. I can remember my childhood being filled with snacks, cakes, and overall poor food habits. As I got into my teens and after graduating, that’s when I started really suffering the emotional consequences. By the time I was 18 I weighed 200 lbs, and being a teenager, that made life pretty much hell. My life was generally unhappy and not going the direction I’d always dreamed, unable to afford college and working at minimum wage jobs. Food was my comfort. It was so comforting I ended up at 250 lbs… at least that’s where I think I ended up. I stopped weighing myself after that.

I had just ended a very serious relationship and I got fed up with my life. I decided it was time for some change. I moved into a new apartment where for the first time in my life I could cook for myself and eat what I wanted- which meant finally eating healthy food. I remembered back to when my sister went into the Air Force and had to lose a lot of weight just to get in. Her recruiter told her no “white” foods. No bread, no pasta, no potatoes. I started following that rule, and was thrilled to see the weight start to slowly come off. My mom bought me a treadmill for my birthday. At 250 pounds I was no runner, but I could at least walk. Gradually as the pounds came off my speed went up, until I was at the point of slamming out 6 miles on the treadmill every morning, faithfully. I was meticulous when it came to my meals. Every hour and a half to 3 hours there would be a “mini-meal” or a snack, you know- so my metabolism stays high. (At least that’s what I thought.) Every day was planned out, what I would eat, when, and how many calories. It was all right there in my journal- what I ate, how many calories, along with a log of my weight, my workout, and how many calories I burned from running. It seemed like the more weight I lost, the more obsessive I got about food, exercise, calories, cardio… the whole shebang.

I remember when I got down to my goal weight of 150 lbs. On one hand I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t even remember the last time I weighed 150 lbs! On the other hand, I still had a lot more fat than I imagined I would at that weight. I was a little shocked. I was a runner and runners are supposed to get skinny! What happened!? So naturally I cut calories a little more, and increased my miles. At my max I was eating 1800 calories a day and running almost 50 miles a week. I knew deep down that this was not a pace I could sustain for long, and what’s worse, at 140 lbs the weight completely stopped coming off. I was so frustrated and depressed.

During my “Cardio Queen” phase I’d joined a forum for runners, and a fellow runner directed me to I’m an admitted Foodie and was looking for recipes, and boy did I find some great recipes! I couldn’t believe all the great foods, no grain required. What really impressed me was Mark, and his wife. I remember seeing a photo and thinking “Wow… I want to look like that.” I did some reading through the archives and decided to take the leap. It was incredibly hard wrapping my brain around the idea of eating more fat, and running less.

So I got my diet straightened out and restructured, and it really was surprisingly easy once I got over my fat phobia. It was a little sad giving up my Kashi TLC bars and my yogurt. Of course I don’t miss the gurgly gut the yogurt used to give me. Eating Primal has opened doors to new foods I never knew about. Coconut milk is one of my new favorite ingredients, and I love cooking with beef tallow that I render myself. It has also spurred me to think more in depth about the meat I eat, and where it comes from. I’m proud to say I’ve gone from buying the cheapest CAFO “club packs” for $1 per pound to shopping for a chest freezer to hold my grass fed/finished beef, and the wild boar I will soon be ordering- uncured bacon and all. I’ve also broadened my food horizons to foods I thought I hated, like radishes and liver. Yes, I actually like liver.

That’s not the end of my Primal evolution. I’ve learned great lessons about not only eating Primal, but living Primal. I sleep better, and I play more. I also exercise differently. No more pounding miles on the treadmill at 5:00 am, annoying my downstairs neighbor. I’m sure she’s as grateful for my lifestyle transformation as I am. I do still get up at 5:00 am, but now it’s of my own accord, without the alarm clock, to go to the gym to play leisurely on the elliptical, do tabata sprints on the stationery bike, or lift lots and lots of heavy things. Admittedly, random outdoor exercise is better, but I do like the structure the gym provides me, and I certainly don’t turn down an opportunity to use my lifting and sprinting skills in the outdoors. One of my favorite games, part exercise, part play, is “chase the rabbit.” If there are no rabbits in sight, it becomes “chase the parents’ Jack Russell terrier.” He loves it too.

I noticed some other side effects of my new lifestyle. I wasn’t hungry every hour like I used to be. I don’t have to plan out an entire day’s worth of food, nor do I need to keep an emergency Soy Joy bar in my car in case I’m lost out in the concrete jungle without a snack. I only eat 2 or 3 times a day (rather than 5 or 6) and yet I had energy- and lots of it! My boss recently commented to me how I was “too chatty and upbeat” too early in the morning. We were pulling overtime at 6:30 in the morning, and I was wide awake and ready to go, while my co-workers were dragging themselves around by their coffee cups and breakfast bars. When I get home from work, I’m proud to say I don’t pass out on the couch after dinner anymore. The energy levels I have now are amazing, albeit sometimes frustrating when my non-Primal friends and family aren’t raring to go, go, go with me.

Of course, what would a success story be without results? I’m very proud to say that I’ve lost another 15 lbs after 3 months of going Primal, and am continuing to improve my body composition. That’s a grand total of 125 lbs of weight loss in 2 ½ years. I am exactly half the weight I used to be. How freaky is that!? I’m building muscle tone in my arms and don’t look quite so “skinny fat” anymore. I still can’t do a regular pushup, but I can do several “girl” pushups- a huge improvement over my previous state. I have to say, I look amazing! I can’t wait to finally wear a bikini.

The biggest change in my life, beyond what I eat, how I exercise or how I sleep, is the simple freedom that the Primal Blueprint has afforded me. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. If I’m running late for work, it won’t kill me to skip breakfast. Some mornings I don’t feel like lifting weights, or doing sprints, so I don’t feel guilty for just taking a walk, or doing no workout at all. I don’t have to measure every serving of food and count every calorie, and make sure I burn off a certain number of calories on the treadmill in order to lose weight. I can eat meat, and fat, and eggs in butter without the fear of getting fat again. I can be free… free to eat, to run, to breathe, to live Primally.

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