For over a year now, I’ve been trying to implement the practises of a “paleolithic” lifestyle, espoused by role models like Arthur De Vany and Mark Sisson. Basically speaking, it means getting back to a way of life that mimics the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived, before the advent of agriculture. It’s the way our bodies have evolved to live and thrive. We haven’t had time to adapt genetically to our modern day patterns and stresses.
This is maybe chapter three in my weight loss saga. From the age of eight or so, I started to get fat. I was never morbidly obese, but was definitely fat enough to be embarrassed.
When I was 19, I decided to get a gym membership. My only experience with a gym before that was the basement weight room in my high school. This gym was open and bright and full of confusing machines. I was assigned a “trainer” who gave me a list of exercises and a chart for my progress, and more or less left alone. I would walk about 6 km there and back two or three times a week, exhaust myself, come home and have a big pot of macaroni and cheese or Chunky Soup. For some strange reason, I wasn’t getting results … so I quit after a few months.
At my heaviest, at age 23, returning from a one-year teaching job in northern Japan, I was 5’10” and 260 pounds. One day, I just decided that enough was enough and began exercising in earnest and really focusing on my diet this time. I got an elliptical trainer and used it religiously, continued to walk everywhere (walking is something that I have always enjoyed, no matter how much I weighed), and along the lines of Conventional Wisdom, tried my best to eat low-fat foods and whole grains. I won’t lie: there was some great progress. At 260 pounds and with a continuous effort, there would have to be. I got down to about 220 before the results slowed considerably.
Around that time, I decided to go back to university, which meant moving from Regina to Victoria. I had no car and a limited budget which meant walking more and eating less, and I managed to get down to just below 200 pounds. I vowed I would never pass the 200 pound mark again.
But then I hit a plateau for several months. Over those few months, I moved back to Japan to teach English again and work towards becoming a translator. The company I worked for participated in the yearly half-marathon held in October around Lake Suwa in Nagano. Even though I was at a plateau, I was feeling better than I ever had before, so I decided in April to participate. It wasn’t until June that I started training in earnest.
Jogging became my new thing. Three, four times a week I would train and marvel at the increase in my endurance. I’d follow up a run with a big bowl of brown rice and some chicken. I ate with my students at the junior high where I worked, and every lunch included a big bowl of white rice. Breakfast for me was also brown rice, with some seasoning. By October I’d lost maybe five pounds. But I ran the half marathon and felt proud of myself. I did it again the next year and shaved 10 minutes off my time, and another 5 or so pounds off of my frame. But ten pounds in two years, being that active? Give me a break.
A couple months later, in late 2007 or early 2008, my friend and martial-arts-guy Marcus introduced me to Art De Vany’s site, and his ideas of “evolutionary fitness.” Through his site I found Mark Sisson and his “primal blueprint.” It clicked right away. It all made perfect sense.
Literally overnight I ditched the brown rice and switched to eating more meat, tons more fresh vegetables, nuts, berries and fruit. I cut out grains, beans, potatoes, and sugar (except for a weekly cheat that I allowed myself). I stopped jogging. I had joined another gym the previous summer, and I changed my routine from the typical one that leaves your average gymgoer a sweaty, exhausted mess to one of higher intensity but shorter time, lifting heavier weights. From January I incorporated intermittent fasting as well.
By late spring, the scale said I’d lost 15 pounds. I’m certain I lost at least 20 pounds of fat, and gained muscle. I was looking great, but most importantly I was feeling fantastic. My energy levels were high and solid all day long. My skin was clear. I was strong for the first time. I was never sick.
Since then I’ve been refining the way I incorporate EF and the PB. I weigh about 173 pounds now, and would like to lose my last 10 to 15 pounds of fat. I would like to be at about 10% body fat. I guess it’s true for everyone that these last few pounds are the most difficult to get rid of. But once spring gets here (on the Canadian prairies, it doesn’t arrive until mid April at the earliest) I can get outside and play like I haven’t played since I was a little kid.