Saturday, April 6, 2013

30 Days of Primal

Let me introduce you to Grok. He is my Caveman companion. On this blog I make reference to eating Primally and realize that some people may not know what that means. The Primal Blueprint is a fantastic book by Mark Sisson about how to retrain your body to function like the strong, healthy, amazing machine that it is. I highly recommend reading this if you have not already. The cliffs notes version of the plan is this: while our civilization and food have changed dramatically over the last 10,000 years, our genes have not. So, essentially out bodies are not able to process a lot of the food we eat day to day, including grains and processed sugars. By returning to a hunter-gather lifestyle, like my friend the Caveman, we experience countless health benefits including weight loss, energy balance, and immune strength.

I won't go into all the science here. If you have an interest in learning more about this, I recommend you visit Mark Sisson's blog at It is a fountain of information and success stories. What I do want to share here is my experience. About 2 years ago, we decided to become Primal. This meant giving up all grains and processed sugars and focusing our diet on meat, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, and occasional dairy. If you can kill it or find it, you can eat it. No more pasta, rice, bread, etc. The first week is tough. Being a sugar lover, I discovered that my cravings were much more psychological and habitual than physical. I'm bored, I eat. I'm happy, I eat. I'm stressed, I eat. You get the point. In the afternoon, you find something sweet as a treat. After dinner, who doesn't want a treat? These habits were not due to needing or even wanting the food in question. They were much more based on what I had always done. The thing I noticed is that after embracing the new diet, there is a huge sense of power and freedom in choosing what I would eat. I remember the first time someone at work offered me a cupcake from the inevitable box of deliciousness that was left by a vendor and I simply said, "No thanks". I was amazed afterward at how easy it was. I didn't miss it. I didn't need it. And keeping my commitment to myself gave me power.

So what was the effect? I stopped having energy crashes throughout the day. No more fighting to keep my eyes open at my desk at 10:30 am and no more afternoon carb overloads after lunch. I would wake up, head to the gym and maintain a high energy level from morning until bedtime. I lost about 20 pounds. The weight loss wasn't hard or painful and my workouts were fairly simple; walking and occasional weight lifting. And, as you may have experienced, when you improve one area of your life, other areas are affected. Keeping your commitment to yourself creates self-confidence and I felt great!

Being someone who loves to cook, I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to make anything fun anymore or anything delicious to others. While Roland gets excited about a big slab of steak on a plate, it doesn't do a whole lot for me. I soon discovered that there were countless blogs and even cookbooks with Primal and Paleo recipes. You can use cauliflower in place of rice, spaghetti squash in place of pasta, almond flour in place of white flour, honey in place of sugar, etc. This was a fun and new challenge for my skills in the kitchen.

After about a year, we got a little lazy. Our meals at home were still Primal, but we found ourselves eating out more and allowing too many "cheats". It was too easy to just grab a burger and fries when we hadn't planned ahead. The snowball took effect and we veered back to a mostly conventional diet. The pounds inevitably returned, and naturally brought a few friends with them.

So March 1st we re-committed to 30 days of eating Primally. While you can get strict on this, to us this meant no grains, no sugar. Today is day 35 for me. I feel great! I am down 4 pounds in a month and Roland is down 5. While it is less than I was hoping for, I realize my body is having to fight through all the crap I fed it. If your body doesn't believe you (say, because you have "dieted" for the last 20 years) it tends to hold on to its storage. Over time, the compound effect will take place and the results will speed up. I have no doubt.

More importantly, I kept my promise. I followed through on my commitment and took back my power over the foods that, in all honesty, have dictated my choices for years. Keeping your promises builds confidence and that allows you to make more and bigger promises. I have revived my schedule of getting up at 5:00 am and heading to the gym. I am planning on participating in a couple of 5Ks this summer, even if I am the last to cross the finish line. I have recommitted to this blog, which has been depressingly neglected. I am making efforts toward finishing books that are gathering dust on my nightstand and nurturing friendships with people who may not even remember my name at this point. Growth takes effort. But not as much as you'd think.

Just make one promise. Then keep it. Grok on!

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