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Primal Journal (OptionJedi)

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  • Primal Journal (OptionJedi)

    Where, here I sit writing my first journal ever, digital or otherwise.

    I am 45 years old, Chinese American, a father, a software engineer, and travel alot internationally (think over 100K miles/year for the last 10 years). Oh, and of course I love to eat as my main form of dealing with stress (and I have alot of stress).

    At the beginning of the year, my doctor did a series of blood tests and had the following news for me:

    1. My HbA1c (blood sugar level) was approx. 8%. Means I was headed towards diabetes and increased probability of cardiovascular disease.

    2. My blood pressure, previously somewhat under control with a cocktail of 4 medications, was now consistently 140-150/100. She didn't want to prescribe more powerful drugs as we maxed out on the "safe" drugs and the next level were central nervous system manipulating drugs.

    The conclusion of that was an additional prescription to help with the elevated blood sugar level (can you say insulin resistance?) and a referral to a diabetic clinic and a cardiologist to get a different view on the blood pressure.

    I went to see the cardiologist and his medical diagnosis was metabolic syndrome (genetically pre-disposed based on parents profile). However, he did not prescribe medication. He informed me of a hospital program that he and his fellow MD's run that takes a holistic approach to the issue focusing on behavioral changes for the mind, body, and spirit. All very new agey and as you would expect in silicon valley. However, I liked the idea and signed up, but the start wasn't for at least a month (this was beginning of Feb 2011).

    As I started researching metabolic syndrome, I came across this website and Mark's book/eBooks. The stories here really resonated with me and my situation. I decided to give PB a try while I was waiting for the MS program to begin. It was relatively easy for me as I love meat and fat, don't really have a sweet tooth. My issue was starch. Being Chinese, there are rice, noodles, and dumplings. Being American, there are sandwiches, burgers, fries, hash browns, corn, and chips. So I quit. Cold turkey. Never looked back. Wasn't as hard as I thought, just compensated with meat. Initially, alot of meat, but the amount I could eat became lesser. At least to the same point of satisfaction. Also started eating nuts and alot of eggs in the mornings. About 2 weeks into it (this would be mid-Feb) I started to try some IF by skipping lunch. Then skipping breakfast and lunch and only eating dinner on some days. Haven't made through a full 24 hour or more IF period yet.

    Well, it's now Mar 17, 2011 and the MS program is going to start the end of this month. I've been living PB now for 5 weeks. So what's happened so far?

    1. I don't get sleepy anymore in the afternoon. No food coma like I used to after a big bowl of noodles at lunch (though I do have like a pork chop or chicken thigh with skin with a salad or veggies or a big burger in a salad bowl).

    2. I seem to need less food overall. I am eating till I am full (still haven't been able to stop eating when I'm no longer hungry, that's the next level), but I seem to reach that level with less volume of food. I think it has to do with the amount of protein and fat I'm eating along with the leafy/colorful veggies.

    3. I went to have an echocardiogram 2 days ago and my blood pressure was 120/80! I made them do it again just to make sure the reading was correct. Still on the 4 meds, but this is definitely a huge step in the right direction.

    4. I did not weigh myself to start, but the doctor's last reading was 215lbs (I am 5' 9" tall). Today I am somewhere between 195-200lbs. Still need to drop a bunch of fat, but I do feel smaller.

    5. I was wearing 38in. waist pants and they were tight. I am now in 36in. waist pants and they are loose.

    I have been exercising a little bit more, but nowhere near the higher levels I was at when I was younger. Mark's exercise as little as possible approach resonates with me also.

    So far, it seems the results are promising. I have more energy than before and am sleeping better. I will still go through with the MS program as it seems that they are very consistent philosophically with PB (manage stress, eliminate processed carbs, etc...). I am very encouraged by the progress so far. I never started out with the goal of having abs and a body like Mark, but hey, given how things are going, I may get there. I did take a before picture but am very embarrassed to post it. I think I will post it if I get a decent "after" picture to post along with it. I'm not there yet by a long shot (and I'm not using high standards).

    Thanks for reading. I know there are others out there who face much greater challenges than I do so I don't want to sound like a whiner, but this medical scare really got to me. Just glad to make some small progress in the right direction. Hope airing this all out will give me the motivation to continue...
    OptionJedi Journal

  • #2
    Excellent progress. This is very interesting to see the PB from the perspective of an Asian American since Asians are often held up by CW as the pinnacle of perfection in all things dietary. We will be following your journey with interest.




    • #3
      Welcome Jedi! Keep up the good work!
      Ancestral Health Info

      I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

      Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
        Excellent progress. This is very interesting to see the PB from the perspective of an Asian American since Asians are often held up by CW as the pinnacle of perfection in all things dietary. We will be following your journey with interest.


        Thanks Robin. Interesting your perspective of CW and Asians. I think the key term here is Asian American. Once here in America, the Asian diet gets morphed into something really dangerous from a PB perspective. China is experiencing huge obesity problems now as a result of their economic "success." Also, Chinese cooking in particular incorporates quite a bit of noodles, rice, breads, dumpling skins, and starches of various varieties. And because most of the cooking is done "family style" where you share the food together, it's even more challenging to go PB socially.

        I've found that I've basically had to eat more "western" style where food is served in individual portions so I could control my food to not include the stuff that grok didn't have available. For Chinese food, I've had to "pick" at food and leave behind all of the starchy carbohydrate stuff and then get the inquisition about why I'm not eating the best part...

        One strategy I have employed is to take control of the ordering for the table so I can focus more on the pure meat and pure vegetable dishes and leave out noodles, dumplings, and soy/tofu type dishes.
        OptionJedi Journal


        • #5
          Was pretty good this morning. Two fried eggs (in olive oil) with 6 black berries.

          Friend called for lunch, wanted to go for Hawaiian BBQ. This is usually trouble as H BBQ is served with white rice and macaroni salad.

          Turns out they now have a brown rice option.

          Even better, instead of rice and mac salad, you can get a green salad!

          So I got the Hawaiian BBQ mix on a bed of lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes:

          The L&L Menu |

          Looks like Grok is making progress...
          OptionJedi Journal


          • #6
            Great stuff. It can definitely be hard going from a particular ethnic diet to something that restricts entire food groups like PB. I come from a Jewish background. If you reproach bread amongst Jews it's like you're denying god in the holy land. But I'm healthy for the first time in my life so that's what counts.

            There is a ton of great info on Mark's blog and other paleo-style blogs that you'll probably stumble upon. Be as a sponge!
            Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

            Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!


            • #7
              Originally posted by Stabby View Post
              Great stuff. It can definitely be hard going from a particular ethnic diet to something that restricts entire food groups like PB. I come from a Jewish background. If you reproach bread amongst Jews it's like you're denying god in the holy land. But I'm healthy for the first time in my life so that's what counts.

              There is a ton of great info on Mark's blog and other paleo-style blogs that you'll probably stumble upon. Be as a sponge!
              Hey Stabby, that's so funny. When it comes to food, I consider myself an honorary Jew. I love hitting the NY deli's but I did get accosted by a waiter at Carnegie deli when I asked for my pastrami sandwich on sourdough instead of rye! Now with PB, the issue is moot...

              Breakfast this morning was eggs with spinach, onions, and bacon. Really like not having to worry about calories or portion sizes.

              Did a LHT workout on Thursday. Moved from doing wall pushups to knee pushups now. Back to only being able to do 12 of those before failure. Had the wall pushups up to 50. Such a big difference. The hardest for me is the pullups. So far away from being able to do 1 (at least I can do a few real pushups). I am currently lying under my table and using that to do a "pull up" with only the upper half of my body. Need to find a way to setup the 2 legged pullup in Mark's video.

              Sprinting is still hard for me. Does it get easier?
              OptionJedi Journal


              • #8
                So I went to a party today and saw some friends I haven't seen in over 4 months. They all commented on how much weight I had lost. I didn't really see it myself, nor did my wife for that matter. I still have a long way to go but that just tells me how far out of control I was before. Good intermediate feedback though. Wait until they see me in another 3 or 4 months!

                Also, my wife made short ribs tonight but she used a recipe with brown sugar and Chinese Oyster sauce. I didn't realize this until I ate it. I love all kinds of meat but I think my taste buds have changed. This was way too sweet for me. Also, the Oyster sauce contains 820mg of sodium/tblsp. and contains MSG. I'm throwing that stuff out. Evil, evil, evil. Oyster sauce is another Chinese staple that is used alot. Live and learn. I couldn't eat the rest of the short ribs. I was hoping she would just bake them or broil them but she's the boss on Sundays....
                OptionJedi Journal


                • #9
                  OK went to see the cardiologist today and the results of a bunch of cardiology related tests were all positive. What was even more cool was that my blood pressure was 114/80 with a resting pulse of 65. This is still with medication but the doctor said that we baseline this for another month or so and we can start looking at taking down the meds. Bloodwork test in about 2 weeks and we'll see if we can get the fasting blood sugar down so I can eliminate those meds as well.
                  OptionJedi Journal


                  • #10
                    Blood pressure has been consistently in the 120/80 range (+/-10 on the top number). Weight loss seems to have stalled a bit but I am definitely getting stronger during the workouts.

                    I've moved from pushups against the wall to now pushups on my knees. Up to about 35, should break 50 in about 2 workouts so then it'll be on to "real" push ups.

                    Pullups continue to progress slowly. Had to enlist the help of the gravitron, with quite a bit of assistance, my back is really weak. But, at the level of assistance currently, I've moved from being able to do only 6 to 14 pullups. Once I hit 20, I'll reduce the assistance by a plate and see what happens. After the 14th rep, I squeeze out 2-3 more negatives.

                    Squats have moved up to 50 non-stop back against the wall type squats. Ready to move on to bar assisted squats.

                    Shoulder press is kind of awkward. Using a 2 foot high bench, I can do like 30-35 presses, so time to move on. Tried doing it with hands and feet on the floor (not feet on chair yet) but it's way too hard for me to do even one (I guess given my weight). Is there another modification? I don't want to end up doing 50 reps to muscle fatigue.

                    Planks are kind of strange too. I can now do a full forward plank on my elbows for 90 seconds, but the side planks with the legs straight for 45 seconds are too difficult for me at the knee (can't hold it straight). So I end up doing side elbow and knee planks but they're kind of too easy now for me. Is there an in-between?

                    Started sprinting. I love it. I HATE running. It bores me, it used to hurt my knee (probably due to heel strike, reading Chi Running now), and it just takes alot of time. I would never have thought sprinting would be so cool. Short duration, high intensity, feels awesome afterwards. I was really sore in the hip flexors afterwards though. Is this normal for a beginning sprinter?

                    I sprint with a heart rate monitor. To get ready for sprinting, I was doing sprints in the gym on an elliptical. I went as hard as I could for the sprint interval. What was interesting was that when I got outside and actually ran for the sprints, my heart rate easily got 10 beats higher than what I could achieve in the gym but it FELT MORE EFFORTLESS to run at full speed. Not sure if that makes sense or if that's a normal sensation.

                    Anyway, done in 16 minutes including warm up and cool down. I am seeing the effects just in little things like climbing the stairs. I am convinced the sprints helped my squats also as I would have to take 2 or 3 breaks on my path to 50 squats. Now I can knock them out without a break (well, unless they knock me out first because I'm pretty winded and feeling the burn at squat 50).

                    So while the weight loss seems to have stalled a little bit, blood pressure is maintaining and my pants continue to get looser. I am definitely starting to see a change in my body shape.

                    Eating wise, I've been pretty good about what I eat. I think part of the stalling may be portion control and perhaps it's time to throw in more IF's. I love to eat. And while I've cut out all the rice, pasta, bread, sugars and stuff. I'll find myself eating more meat as "compensation" for the loss of starches. I do notice I don't need or want to eat as much as before, but probably still more than I need to.
                    OptionJedi Journal


                    • #11
                      So finally got to see my doctor today to review my labs taken on April 8.

                      Previous HA1C of 8% is now at 6.3%!!! This was the original catalyst for going primal and the doctor was more excited than I was (she said she doesn't really see this number retreat that often, this quickly, this dramatically). Still a little on the high side but definitely going in the right direction after 3 months going primal.

                      Blood pressure has been in the 120/80 range for over a month now on daily measurements.

                      Doc says she wants to wait another 3 months and re-check all blood work before she is going to start paring down the meds. She was very conservative and tried to manage my expectations to not be too high about paring down the blood pressure meds (the most costly) and the metformin. I am pretty confident I will get rid of the metformin for blood sugar as that was the last med added and I'm making definite progress against the need for that. On the blood pressure side, I just need one of the 4 in the cocktail to go as that represents more than 50% of the overall cost... The saga continues...

                      Clothes continue to get looser as I am now wearing 36 waist pants and they are loose on me. 3 more months and I should hopefully be looking at 34's.

                      Have kind of plateau'd/stalled on PBF though.

                      I'm doing pushups on my knees and have kind of stalled on 35 in the first cycle and 20 on the second cycle.

                      Pullups are still on the gravitron and really haven't been able to break 14 cycle 1, 10 cycle 2

                      Squats are still against the wall and can do 50 cycle 1, 50 cycle 2 non-stop, but they burn like hell during on the quads. Love the feeling afterwards but don't like before and during.

                      Presses are actually re-gressing a little. Barely make 25 on cycle 1, about 22 on cycle 2

                      What has increased alot is planks. I can now do 2 cycles of straight elbow/toes planks for 90 seconds each. The side planks I'm still doing on knees, frankly it's too easy but doing them straight legged is too hard. Is there an in-between or do I just go longer on the knees?

                      Is this an indicator of over-training?

                      The sprinting caused a bunch of hamstring discomforts and calf dis-comforts. Actually, after much research, I think I had what someone on the internet calls "Calf Heart Attacks". So I've been resting and doing "sprints" in the gym using the elliptical and the bike. This part has been advancing ok. I've been doing 20 seconds on and 40 seconds resting. 8 intervals after about 4 for warm up and then a cool down period.

                      Overall the PBF has stalled though, any ideas on how to break through? Doing about twice a week combined with 2 sprints/week. I do tai chi in between and will go for a bike ride or hike with my kids on the weekend. Over-training?

                      The food side has been awesome. Not hungry, not feeling deprived. Got all the meat/protein I want. Didn't realize until about a week ago that I need to eat more fat. The CW conditioning has me feeling "wrong" for eating fat. But I'm over that now finally and have started to make sure I get more fat in the diet. I've got some really good extra virgin olive oil and and now taking 2 tablespoons straight in the morning along with my morning coffee (no sugar, half and half).

                      Weight loss has kind of stalled too. Been stuck at 195-200 for a while now, though my clothes are looser by alot so I have to imagine I'm building up muscle, losing fat, and generally changing my body composition.

                      Look forward to the next set of blood work in 3 months so I can get rid of some of these meds.
                      OptionJedi Journal


                      • #12
                        Hey OptionJedi, just read through your journal, congrats on the progess to date! Also, thought I would respond here from your Sprinting and cramps thread..

                        I supplement with 500mg of mag and 200 mg of potassium daily. The RDA for Magnesium is around 400mg a day. So if you are taking 120mg a day, depending on diet, you may benefit from some more mag. (Saw you were on metformin and maybe some BP meds? I would check with your doc before making significant changes to your supplements. Magnesium also lowers BP, so wouldn't want any synergies happening there with the BP meds.)

                        I do all my running in VFF, and while I don't have flat feet, I have had my share of foot problems while running in typical running shoes... I developed bunions (actually had that corrected by surgery) and plantar fasciatis. The PF disappeared almost over night when switching to VFF, and my feet have strengthened immensely. I do both sprints and 1 longer running session a week, all of it on trails.

                        Its just my opinion, but I would expect that with increased mag (after checking with doc), a bit more weight loss and some more experience with the sprints that the cramps will go away.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OptionJedi View Post
                          Where, here I sit writing my first journal ever, digital or otherwise.

                          I am 45 years old, Chinese American, a father, a software engineer, and travel alot internationally (think over 100K miles/year for the last 10 years). Oh, and of course I love to eat as my main form of dealing with stress (and I have alot of stress).
                          Oh, and except for the Chinese American and a lot of travel part, this could be me! One of my biggest challenges in going primal was to stop the stress-related eating. Bad day at work? Man that Snickers bar would sure help out! One quote I read on a forum somewhere helped me out with that, it went something like "If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution!"


                          • #14
                            Hey Tim. I hear you. Things are alot better now after being primal for almost 3 months. However, eating sure is a lot EASIER solution than the real solution the real problem sometimes
                            OptionJedi Journal


                            • #15
                              So I just got back from a doctor's visit to review blood work done on July 15.

                              My A1C is now down to 5.6 from the 6.3 in April. I am now well within normal range and the doctor happily without hesitation agreed to take the Metformin off my list of meds. She said any hint of diabetes or pre-diabetes is now gone. Mission accomplished here though I think I'll still be making progress, this was the major objective of pursuing PB in the first place.

                              Oh, and by the way, I'm now down to 185lbs (220lb starting weight in Feb 11) in weight and the 34 pants (32 pants at start) are loose. In fact, I got size 32 shorts and they fit just fine. I've also had 4 suits altered because the pants were just too baggy and the jackets needed to be taken in.

                              The rest of the blood work was good too. Total cholesterol was 170 (< 200 ). LDL was way below normal and HDL was above normal (which is good). Even my Vitamin D was in the good range (although on the high end due to the 7000 IU of daily supplementation, doctor says I should tone it down to 2000 IU as too much may cause atherosclerosis.

                              Everything was in normal range. I think my doctor was more excited that I was and was totally shocked. She was beaming and said it made her day as she doesn't see many "reversals" of this magnitude.

                              The only negative to this visit was that the blood pressure is within range, but I experimented without the meds for a few days and it shot back up to 150/100. The doctor thinks this is a genetic "present" inherited from my parents who both have high blood pressure. I still have about 15lbs of fat to lose so we'll give it another 6 months and see how it goes. It may be that I'm stuck on BP meds for life. I am currently using a cocktail of 4 meds. I was hoping to remove at least one of them (which is 50% of the total cost by itself). She did not feel comfortable given where my current BP is at.

                              So not the home run victory I was hoping for, but I think I definitely hit a double, maybe even a triple. Not bad for 5 months on PB.
                              OptionJedi Journal