Back in spring 2008, I was finishing up a Master of Theology, taking a class, finalizing my thesis, and working full time. Stress was a way of life. I coped by consuming mass quantities of low fat tortilla chips and other “healthy grains.” The result? I graduated with honors and a weight of 255 pounds with a body fat of 55% (only 115 pounds of lean mass).
Despite the pounds and pant size, I did not realize I was fat. What finally opened my eyes were photographs and almost daily weakness and tiredness. I finally knew I needed to change.
What I wanted
Three criteria controlled my change of lifestyle:
- I wanted physical strength (at least enough to carry the five gallon water bottle up the stairs),
- I wanted to feel good, and
- I refused to diet.
Surfing the web for insight, I happened upon Mark’s Daily Apple and our buddy, Grok. While cultural “low-fat” training kept raising questions, Mark’s descriptions and arguments made sense. I chose primal because it works with God’s original design for humanity and our continuing adaptation to his world. So, taking baby steps, I started the journey to primal. To date, I’m probably a 70-30, or maybe even a 60-40, primal person, but even this has made dramatic changes in my health.
What has happened
As of my last measurement, I am 205 pounds and 35% body fat (133 pounds lean mass, up 18 pounds!). I am stronger. I feel better (though there are some remaining issues, which I describe below). Even my teeth are healthier. Further, my visible progress has encouraged others to take the primal journey with me; sharing our struggles and successes helps keep us on track.
What I do
I decided to focus on three areas: eating, moving, and sleep. I slowly cut grain and starchy vegetables from my diet, added healthy fats (mainly olive oil, grass fed butter, and coconut oil), and started eating clean meat. I walk one mile every week day and a three miles on Saturdays. Recently, I started weekly strength training (one set of each exercise to failure; I’m still pretty much a wimp here, but I’m working on it). My sleep has increased from an average of 5 hours a night to an average of over 6—still not good, but getting better.
- I’ve been at 205 for weeks, if not months. I’m not sure what needs to change, but something does.
- My blood lipids are out of whack (the LDL is entirely too high for the doc’s liking; I don’t like it much either). I’ve resisted medication so far, but ifestyle changes have been irregularly applied, resulting in minimal—if any—improvement.
- My lungs are still congested (I have mild asthma) and my joints still hurt (I have Joint Hypermobility, inherited from my father, I expect). Both of these issues result in inflammation, which is probably one cause of the high LDL. As of this writing, I am beginning to experiment with anti-inflammatory eating and regular monitoring of my blood glucose response. There is no news yet, but I remain hopeful.