Going Primal

I just finished reading The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  I read the first few chapters out loud to The Husband, since we were driving down the road and I wanted someone to share the information and discuss it with me.
I love reading this way, plunging through a few paragraphs, stopping to throw out a comment, reflect, ask questions, discuss connections.  Reading PB was transformative for me, but I think perhaps not for the same reason as most people.  Maybe I’m wrong.  You tell me.
Here’s what I learned, as a brief incredibly long and rambling timeline:
January 2007
Thrown into nutritional reform due to my mother’s midnight Emergency Room visit (which resulted in a diagnosis of diverticulitis).  I swore off everything fried, fatty, and fast, dropping my nightly Ben & Jerry’s pint for more veggies and fruit.  Although I was overweight at the time, my main concern was changing my horrible habits so that I would still be around when I had grandchildren and actually be healthy enough to enjoy them.

I searched the aisles at Barnes & Noble until I came up with a heart-healthy cookbook that would help me reach my goal of less processed food prepared quickly for a hungry family.

I joined the local Y, and dropped in every day on my way home from student teaching, spending 30-45 minutes either walking or slowly jogging.  The weight machines were curious, elusive aliens that I watched but never approached.

June 2007
In only six months, I had dropped 70 pounds.  I walked for graduation at a happy 150, smaller than I had been in high school.  I had moved from daily walks to running 2-3 times a week.  Even when we went out with friends, I opted for lean meats and veggies.  I loved the way I ate; I no longer felt tied to calories or the scale.

August 2007
My first teaching job begins.  I learn quickly how difficult it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle when surrounded by doughnuts at staff meetings, chocolates during training, and baked goods from parents.

January 2008
At 165, I seek out a personal trainer to help me learn my way around a weight room.  I’m petrified about lapsing back into a life of unhealthy eating and a scale that reads 220 or higher.  For the next six months I meet with my trainer 2-3 times a week to lift hard, do minimal cardio bursts, and sprint through the parking lot dragging her along behind me.  I give up running; cardio is boring once I discover the fun of my new circuits.

June 2008
I am a lean, mean, muscled machine.  I feel strong, healthy, more vibrant than I can ever remember.

Summer 2008 in a Nutshell
Although I made huge physical strides in 2008, and felt better about myself than I had throughout my life, I suffered a huge hit on a personal/family level, which I allowed to tear me down.  This was my fault -- not the problem, but my intense reaction to it.

I spent the summer in a daze, hurt and depressed.  I abandoned workout out, rarely ate any of the fortifying meals I had become so accustomed to; in fact I rarely ate anything. (At first.  Then came the tsunami of food.)

December 2008
By the end of the year, I managed to pull myself back together, but the damage was done.  I was out of my routine and lacked the willpower to get myself back in the gym.  I was still fairly close to the same body shape and weight from earlier in the year, and I think I let that safety net become a guise for my new lackluster desire for optimum health.

Summer 2009
Back to my old habits.  Fast food, soda, lying to myself.  “Everything in moderation is okay,” I told myself.  At 170 pounds and  too financially strapped to head back to my personal trainer, I decided to make changes on my own.  My thoughts were completely different from my original 2007 desire for health, however.  I missed the image in the mirror.  I missed how 
I felt when I was lean.  Let’s face it, I missed feeling sexy.  With a roll of fat popping out of my skinny jeans, I was angry with myself.

The pictures I had taken along my journey haunted me.  Flat belly, strong biceps, lean legs.  I wanted it back, and I wanted it FAST.

The focus was not on heart-healthy nutritious foods anymore.  I needed minimal calories, high protein for muscle building, low fat, low carbs.  I needed immediate results.

I was back in the gym, walking or running or climbing for one or two hours at a time.

I was back in the gym, lifting weights, when I wasn’t online researching methods to build muscle and drop fat as quickly as possible.

Oddly, with all my sprints and long runs and heavy lifting and minimal food -- nothing changed.

Well, nothing changed quickly enough for me.  I dropped about 10 pounds (mostly water I’m sure) and toned out a little, but mostly all I ended up with was an insane hunger for more food, and frustration over my slow results.
In the months that followed, this became my pattern.
Work my butt off, starve myself with packaged “foods”, get discouraged and binge.
Honestly, you’d think I just plain became an idiot during that time period.  I already knew what worked -- I’d done it before!  

But I was so hellbent on quick answers that I kept chasing my tail.  Never getting any closer to my goal, always getting further away from a healthy self image.

February 2010
I discover Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss plan.  Less than 20 grams of fat and carbs a day, lots of protein, and forums full of people (mostly men) proclaiming oodles of weight loss.  The problem?  They complain of dizziness, nausea, low energy levels, and random digestive issues.

No matter, I can totally do this, I think.  And I do.  Egg whites, tuna, veggies -- no fruit, no nuts (which I miss terribly) -- but for 4 weeks I manage to feast on mostly protein.  I drop 12 pounds, look leaner, and actually feel pretty amazing.  Lots of energy and mental clarity.  I wish I could eat little to no carbs all the time, but Lyle’s book talks about glucose and your brain and metabolism issues -- and honestly, after a while I just get sick of tuna.  And eggs.  And turkey.

Off for another round of yo-yo’ing.  

June 2010
I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  I remember my original love for running, learn a lot about tribal nutrition, barefoot running, and survival.  Something in the back of my mind begins to click into place.

July 2010
I’ve been following the blog Diary of a Modern Matriarch  for a while, but she started a new blog, Primal Matriarch.  It’s all about “eating primal”.  I’m digging the recipes she shares, and the abundance of fruits and veggies she talks about.

I email her, and she tells me about PB by Mark Sisson.  Lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, meat, eggs ... and the list goes on.  All the foods I love. (It reminds me of the Rapid Fat Loss Plan, but doesn’t swear off all the delicious fruits and nuts and dairy that I crave)

As I read the book I’m talking with The Husband about this horrible merry-go-round I’ve placed myself on.
All in the name of the perfect body.  Beauty.  An image.
Yeah, it makes me sick too.  
We talk about how when I originally lost 100 pounds it had nothing to do with how I looked, and everything to do with how I felt, and how I wanted to feel in 30, 40, 50 years.

PB reminded me that what matters most to me is not how cute I look in a bikini, but how much time I’ll be able to spend running down the beach with my grandkids when I’m all wrinkled with time.

It reminded me that when I was able to lose weight and get healthy I was NOT eating processed junk.  I was enjoying real foods: foods rich in color and taste, that grew out of the ground, could be eaten raw, and didn’t require an expiration date for me to know if they were okay to eat or not.

It reminded me that when I enjoyed working out I was lifting heavy, playing around with cardio, and sprinting once in a while.  I was doing these things in short sessions, a few times a week.  Not every day; not for hours at a time.

It reminded me that the way it all started for me -- nothing fatty, fast, or fried was exactly what I needed; what I should have returned to instead of banging my head against the pantry door looking for answers that don’t exist.
I have come full circle.  The way I originally became healthy was by having a true desire for health, no matter how long it took.  I looked for foods that would strengthen my heart, deter cancer, lessen the risk for various diseases.

When I lost my way, I tried to find every shortcut home possible.
I learned there are no shortcuts.
I’ve been eating primal for three days now.  I feel stronger, less bloated, and proud of my choices.  Sure, I’m giving up grain, but I feel I’m getting a lot in return.  No more calorie obsession.  No more starving myself.  No more praying for a quick fix.
This is the only body I have to work with.  I’m worth more than a constant, frustrating hunt for a shortcut that doesn’t exist.  

I’m worth more than always wanting a body that is only seen in airbrushed magazine ads of 14 year old girls.

I’m worth a lifetime of healthy eating, playing in the sun, enjoying myself and my family.

1 comment:

  1. I expect a big ol' bloggity blog about your trip soon! I am also totally heartbroken that you are not a follower on my blog! Where's the love, baby?