A little background and how the Paleo diet changed my life
I’ve reached the age where I’m the wrong side of 40 and work as a Digital Production Co-ordinator following some time working for a fruity technology company. I was a sound engineer for most of my life before this and that is where my poor lifestyle stemmed from. I was a pretty heathy kid; played sports and ate as well as my parents could feed me by their knowledge. My dad was a butcher so we always had good meat but this was always surrounded by lots of bread and other grain based foods. When my parents separated I became vegetarian (not because of my dad leaving though) and remained this way until about six years ago.
Studio life meant being locked in a room with little daylight, long hours and a high diet of junk food, coffee and cigarettes… With the occasional alcoholic beverage thrown in. I didn’t exercise and after a while the desire to do so left me completely and the pounds piled on. It was ok though, I was happy with how I was. I accepted myself, after all I was just a little chubby.
I always ate as best as I could but being a vegetarian meant that I ate lots of pasta, bread, cereals, fruit and vegetables. A lot of meals involved pastry of some kind also and looking back I hate to think what my daily grain based carb intake was, although I thought I ate healthily. It was certainly low fat, even skimmed milk. Everything I read and heard meant that I was doing the right thing. I was just a bit heavy as I never exercised and sat at a mixing desk for 16 hours a day.
Time for a change
In time I wanted a career and life change and so left the music industry. I think this triggered something in me that lead to more weight gain. I wasn’t eating the best food, still not exercising and I’m sure the mood change and realisation that I was unsure at what I was doing seemed to do something to my metabolism. Clothes got tighter and I had to buy bigger jeans. I was wearing 38″ waist but they were tight. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the bigger size as that was too depressing and made me think about how big I was. At this time I really began to lose confidence in my physical appearance.
So, a few years ago we decided to leave London, start a family and begin a new life. At this time I was at my heaviest and the prospect of moving to a coastal town appealed. I’d get a bike and try to get fitter again (as if). I had started to eat a little meat again and was beginning to enjoy it, although I’d never admit it. I registered with the local doctor and had to have an assessment. That was when it hit home. I was 262 lb, my cholesterol was 6 (whatever that actually meant) and was told my blood pressure was a little on the high side. I was advised to start jogging.
Yes, I heard it right, my overweight doctor suggested jogging, as you can guess I ignored him. Time went on and I just got unhappier and unhappier, I would only buy clothes online as then I wouldn’t need to go into a shop and face someone, admitting that I was a fat bastard.
Something hits home
Around this time I had three weddings to attend, two of which I was the best man. That meant I would have to have my photo taken. I had shied away from photos as I was too embarrassed by how I looked and wanted no evidence of what I had become. What I saw from the photos filled me with completed dread and a realisation that I was a mess. I also kept thinking that my little boy was going to have a fat dad. I didn’t want to be that role model… That sounds so bad.
Then, at a low ebb I saw an article in the local paper about an accountant that had a real health issue but had lost 80 lb on something called the Caveman diet. He’d done so well he was about to run the Great North Run which is a local half marathon.
I was blown away, it gave a brief overview of the diet but gave nothing much away so, being an internet junkie I opened up the mac and got up close with Google. My search brought me to a website called Caveman Power ran by someone called Matt Emery. It explained the ethos of the diet and gave a real simple three stage way of attempting to kick start the lifestyle. Something ran true with me and so two days after the third and final wedding I started. It was October 19th 2009. I followed the stages and spent two weeks fasting through stage one and then eating anything I wanted to learn how “bad” food made me feel. Then, in stage two, I spent two weeks fasting and then eating Paleo to learn how I could feel and then hit the ground running with stage three. This first month was really difficult. I was completely addicted to gluten based carbs and was going through withdrawal. I was coming down.
I just kept reading, trying to figure out what not to eat and what I should eat. A link on Matts site lead me to Mark Sisson’s Mark’s Daily Apple, a link there lead me to Keith Harris Paleonu (no longer around but was such an awesome website) and Richard Nikoley’s Free The Animal (whose video chat with me you can see interspersed here on this page). I read, I ate well and I walked a lot. I couldn’t do much more than that. I was so out of shape that it was all I could do. As time went by I kept having to buy new clothes. The weight was shedding from me. I lost 14 lb each month for 4 months. I stopped weighing myself as it was no longer about the weight but about my composition.
I ate pretty strict paleo for about six months and then started to experiment with foods to see what I could tolerate. I tried some dairy which made me feel ill, I can have a small amount of cheese here and there but that is all. Coffee is ok as long as I don’t have it too often or have it decaf. Red wine isn’t too bad either, again as long as I don’t go mad which does happen but only every now and then.
At the one year mark I decided to step on the scales, interest got the better of me. I was 173 lb. Holy fucking shit! I tried on all of my clothes that were left and laughed my arse off. Nothing fit, even the odd tops I had kept from when I was in my mid twenties were too big.
Where am I now
Since then I have maintained a 90% strict Paleo diet, I actually feel bad if I stray which I know I shouldn’t but maybe thats just my make up. I also started to exercise a little around then. I started running but this only lasted a few months as I found it a bit dull. I joined a gym and go once or twice a week to lift heavy things, following the Doug McGuff method outlined in Body by Science. I bought a kettlebell and give that a swing a couple of times a week also. At last weigh in a couple of months ago I was 185 lb, although I’m getting leaner. I spent a year losing the fat I’m now planning to spend the year gaining some muscle. I’ve never had a body that is lean and its quite exciting thinking that I can achieve one. My entire outlook to my health and fitness has been turned on its head. I’m almost evangelical about it and most of my friends think I’m a little nuts.
What can I say. Paleo changed my life. No going back.