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Primal Journal - Diamond Night

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  • Primal Journal - Diamond Night

    Right -- I've been wondering whether or not to start a journal, but here I am. Hello World!

    Today was Day 4 of my paleo/primal venture, and like every day since Day 1 (6 Nov), I've been looking for results. Yes, I'm impatient! And no wonder, after having scoured MDA for the past few days and seen so many incredible tales of transformation.

    Why am I trying Primal at all?

    I've been battling with my weight for a long time, and although I am generally an exceptionally well-balanced and happy individual (so says my wife, and I have no reason to disagree), this is the one thing that I am not happy about. None of my previous attempts at resolving this issue has been successful. I'm 36 years old and have tried exercising my weight down (failed, often), have had a liposuction (helped for about 2 years, then I gained the weight back), tried Xenical fat-elimination tablets (failed), and tried all sorts of diet approaches including Weight Watchers. Nothing has worked.

    The Paleo diet was recommended to me by my best friend, whose judgment I value very highly. He has been living (almost) carb-free for about 2 years now and is in great shape. Low body-fat, glowing skin, very fit. I admit I listened to him with great skepticism when he first started talking about not eating any bread (gasp!) or other grain-based products, but I did listen to him because he is no fool.

    But I did not really listen closely - went sort of low-carb for a while, lost a bit of weight, then gradually eased into the best of CW and Paleo diets - no restrictions on carbs or fat. Interestingly enough, I did not gain any weight doing this, but nor did I lose any. So Stephen Guyenet and Gary Taubes may well be right about their "set-point" theory -- the body seems to find a weight it likes and then make sure it remains stable.

    Unfortunately, for me -- as for many others -- the set point is not where I want it to be. How to reset it, that's the million dollar question. Maybe Paleo/Primal is the answer. I'll give it a try and track my progress via this journal.

    What is my motivation? Well, vanity is one strong factor (Mark's "Looking good naked"). It is probably one of my greatest desires in life to be able to go to the beach or the pool without feeling self-conscious. It's not that I feel the need to be an Adonis -- just feeling that I look "normal" would be more than enough. It would bring me unimaginable pleasure!

    Another factor (and this is where I expect my wife would support me 100% -- if I could convince her that eating fat is not going to kill me) is that I have incipient NAFLD - non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This can turn lethal in the long-run, so self-preservation is another strong motivator. I am in treatment with a specialist (gastro-enterologist), but he is a prophet of the conventional wisdom (in spite of all the evidence that it is wrong). I would love to shatter his world-view by proving him wrong! My next appointment to see him is 10 months away, so this should give me ample opportunity to prove or disprove the paleo/primal approach.

    I've been recording my weight daily for the past 8 years (except for interruptions when travelling). It's been hovering around the 100kg mark (that's 220 pounds). My aim is to get to about 85kg (187 pounds). From what I've read from other members, 33 pounds is not an impossibility.

    2002: 97.9kg
    2003: 99.6kg
    2004: 102.7kg
    2005: 96.5kg (after liposuction)
    2006: Lost the records
    2007: 97.8kg
    2008: 97.4kg (with Xenical)
    2009: 99.8kg
    2010: 102.3kg

    I'm aiming to get some blood tests done the next couple of days to get a baseline on the fat values and liver values. If I could improve those -- well, I'd be happy!

    Anyway, I'm very pleased to have discovered this community and feel as if I know some of the members already -- you seem like a very nice crowd.

    By the way, I live in South Africa - a country that loves its meat, but is only just beginning to climb onto the organic bandwagon. Definitely a development that will be heading only one way.

  • #2
    Day 5

    Felt quite good today, in spite of having slept only 3 hours last night (hazards of my job as a translator). I feel quite warm, even though the weather is cool - perhaps a sign of the body burning more energy?

    Played 2h of tennis in the evening and felt absolutely fabulous for the first ten minutes or so - as if I had boundless energy, and with my heart rate never rising over 130bpm. But the bounds became apparent pretty quickly after that, as I ran out of steam (relatively speaking). But at least now I know the kind of feeling I'm striving for.

    Food today:
    B: Rib-eye steak from yesterday
    L: Two beef skewers with roasted vegetables and plenty of olive oil
    D: Nothing - not hungry (curious!)

    Sports: 2h tennis


    • #3
      I had a good night's sleep last night, assisted by half a tablet of melatonin. Using it certainly helps me sleep, but I've found I'm quite woozy the morning after if I take a whole tablet -- the half-dose does seem to mitigate the effects.

      Still feeling good and generally not hungry. I have found that a major issue of the low-carb way of eating is availability of food: Carbs are so ubiquitous and so easy to find anywhere, anytime that the thought of not having them produces low-level anxiety. It would be very good to get away from this mechanism, perhaps once my subconscious has understood that I'm not going to starve to death just because bread is a no-no. Has anybody else had this experience, I wonder?

      Food today:
      B: Sirloin roast with vegetables, prepared the day before in Le Creuset casserole
      L: The same
      D: A handful of nuts and some biltong (similar to beef jerky, a national delicacy here in SA)

      Sports: 20 minutes on the cross-trainer, 10 minutes on the weight machines, 15 minutes on the rowing machine at the gym (I don't particularly like gyms - bad music and many people with stressed or anguished faces, no smiles...)


      • #4
        Day 10 of Primal - I've lost a kilo in weight and am feeling pretty good (except impatient, still!). Keep reading about Primal and love going back to the success stories and before-and-after pictures -- surely there can be no better motivation!

        B: Bacon and eggs
        L: Cream of greens soup from yesterday, some yoghurt with blueberries and sunflower seeds
        S: Biltong and macadamia nuts
        D: Droewors (dried sausage, SA specialty) and cream of greens soup leftover from yesterday
        S: Some dark chocolate

        Although I think my diet composition is not too bad (pretty good so far at staying away from sugars and carbs), I feel I may have to moderate the quantities - I'm not in tune enough with my body to listen to the signal to stop eating.

        Sports: 40 minutes on the cross-trainer, 4 minutes Tabata-style sprints on the cross-trainer, 40 pushups, 30 dumbbell curls (8kg), 10 squats
        Last edited by diamond_night; 11-16-2010, 02:08 PM. Reason: Added a meal that I forgot in version 1


        • #5
          Day 11 - weight still unchanged, mood positive, but with the odd carb-craving still hitting me. I usually manage to make it go away by either drinking (tea or water), or by having some meat or fruit.

          I know the exact location of all the sugary snacks in the house (my wife is not on-board yet), but pride myself on not having touched any of them since starting - not the ice-cream in the freezer, nor the cookies in the bottom drawer, nor the candied cashews in the cupboard. Long may it continue! :-)

          B: Egg omelette with bacon, tomatoes, and onions
          L: Slow-cooked beef goulash with oven-roasted vegetables
          D: More of the same
          S: Biltong, 2 pieces of dark chocolate, 2 peaches, blueberries with yoghurt

          Sports: 2x 30 dumbbell curls, 30 pushups, 20 squats with weights


          • #6
            Day 12 - my dad asked me if I was on a diet (I gave the easy, but incorrect answer - "yes") and my trousers have begun to slip. I'll soon have to tighten my belt by one notch, woohoo! Our finance minister will be pleased.

            B: Goulash, peaches with cream
            L: Some lightly salted mixed nuts
            D: 2 fried pork chops, 1 apple, 2 pieces of dark chocolate
            S: Some biltong

            Proud to report that I manfully withstood the lure of biscuits on offer at a political meeting tonight - in spite of feeling rather hungry after that light lunch!


            • #7
              Day 14 - weight is down about 1.5kg, great! (I weigh myself daily, but calculate a 7-day moving average to even out fluctuations.)

              The day's success story was finding a butchery in Johannesburg that sells grass-fed beef. I assume that a lot of the meat I buy elsewhere also comes from grass-fed cows, but it's hard to be sure. So I was very pleased indeed to have found the Braeside Butchery and stocked up with about 11kg of various cuts. Good times ahead!

              Tennis was a bit strange this afternoon because my heart-rate was incredibly high. I played for over 2 hours and my average turned out to be 85 percent of my maximum. That's a lot higher than the 60-70 percent Mark recommends, but I enjoy myself so much playing that I simply don't want to stop! I'm hoping that as I get fitter (and lighter), my heart will be able to deliver the same level of performance at a lower level of exertion. It'd certainly help my game as well...

              B: Peaches and cream
              L: Fried chicken breasts with roquette and avocado, accompanied by roasted vegetables (restaurant)
              D: Some nuts, droewors, and biltong, 1 apple
              S: 2 pieces of dark chocolate


              • #8
                sounds like you are doing good so far, I have been primal for a month along with my partner David (who is also south African) and I love it. I used to be vegetarian! but now as long as the meat I eat is organic I will eat it , so far I havn't told anyone im not veggie anymore coz i figure they would just expect me to eat any meat and I dont want to go into I only eat organic! And I wont even attempt to explain primal eating to anyone just yet although my partner has converted a few of his gym friends! I now find myself walking around the super market proud of what is in my trolly!
                Hope you get your wife on board soon!


                • #9
                  Hi Amyrose,

                  I agree with you - so far this has been a very pleasant experience! Before I started, I was worried that I would often find myself in situations with nothing "legal" to eat, but so far this hasn't happened once. There's always some meat, eggs, veggies, fruits or nuts around, so I'm feeling remarkably unstressed.

                  As to the question of getting into discussions trying to explain Primal to people not familiar with the concept - man, that really is tricky. At the moment I'm following an approach of not talking about it at all, but rather waiting to be able to show some clear results after a reasonable period of time (a few months or half a year, say).

                  But already I find myself worrying about the health of my friends and family when I see them tucking into the sandwiches, pizza and pasta. If I believe (or am convinced) that it is bad for them, should I not be speaking up? I expect that sooner or later I will... that's when things will get interesting!

                  Anyway, thanks for saying hi - hope you continue to enjoy the Primal way as much as I have!

                  And for David - ek weet nie of jy Afrikaans kan praat nie, maar as jy van my generasie of ouder is, dan sal jy geen keuse gehad het nie. Ek wens vir julle baie geluk met die nuwe etenswyse!

                  All the best,

                  p.s.: I don't really speak Afrikaans all that well, so please excuse my errors. :-)


                  • #10
                    Hi, thanks,
                    Dave canrread and speak Adrikaans but not write it so well!


                    • #11
                      Hi Diamond,

                      I am impressed that you are already losing weight. Do you have a "before," photo?

                      One thing I highly recommend is really sticking to fermented dairy, like Mark says. I eliminated it and then added it back & found I had a bad reaction to things like butter & cream. Seems as though you like cream and the good news is you can make a fermented cream called creme fraiche that you can make really easily.
                      Notebook of a Nutrition Nerd



                      • #12
                        Hi me2,

                        I've always wanted to say this: "I would like to thank me for your comments", while I am actually thanking somebody else (that being YOU, me2). Thanks! :-)

                        You may well be right with your dairy suggestion. I have a good tolerance for dairy, with family origins in northern/central Europe, and like it very much. But having a high level of tolerance, while protecting you from some effects, does not protect you from the insulinogenic effects, unfortunately. I've already cut back quite a bit on my milk and cream consumption, but will try to reduce it further; and substitute with yoghurt and creme fraiche.

                        I have yet to make my first yoghurt, but hope to be able to do so soon - reading the ingredient lists on the yoghurt tubs here has been an enlightening experience. Even looking only at plain yoghurts, almost all of them are fortified with starch -- not really what you want to see when you're trying to go primal, is it?

                        Best regards,


                        • #13
                          It's been a while since my last update, and with good reason: I was away, working long hours as a translator at a one-week conference. Although I enjoyed the work and the company of my colleagues, what was less pleasant was being cooped up in a windowless room for endless hours, hunched over a computer.

                          So... a week with no sports, buffet food, little sleep. How did it go?

                          Actually, not too badly! For the first time ever, all the chewy mints supplied so liberally to smooth our thinking were left untouched; the pasta and rice, likewise; the sugary desserts, also left for my colleagues; the many cups of coffee, all drunk without sugar or sweetener. I must say I am rather impressed with myself - so much temptation, resisted! (But perhaps not quite so impressive - cloying and sickly sweets seem to have lost some of their attraction, which is a bit of a relief.)

                          The end result was that although my weight did not go down any further, at least it did not go up. What a relief!

                          I've still got a few hectic weeks ahead of me, as translations often pile up towards year end (departments spending their budgets at year-end...), but I can't wait to get back into doing some exercises and getting some more sleep. Hope it works out.

                          B: Full-cream yoghurt with an apricot, a peach, and a banana
                          L: Grilled chicken breasts with pesto, parmesan, and a side salad (restaurant)
                          D: Roasted chicken thigh with roasted veggies (leftovers from Tuesday... a bit borderline!)
                          S: Some unsalted, air-roasted nuts, and biltong (consumed while watching South Africa beat England at rugby -- go Bokke! )