Real Results – FTA Feature

April 19, 2011

Richard at Free the Animal posted a great feature about me today. Big thanks!

Below is the full version of the story I sent Richard. Enjoy!

I have always considered myself athletic. I was active as a child and throughout high school, and I never had any issues with my weight or physique, nor did I ever worry about what I ate.

When I went to college, my focus shifted to academics and social matters, and before long I had stopped exercising completely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was headed down a risky road in a poorly maintained vehicle.

My junior year in college, the wheels fell off. Mounting personal issues, paired with a heavy load of engineering coursework, resulted in severe stress, and my friends and I medicated with beer and video games. I became more sedentary, slept less, and was constantly worrying about one thing or another. My lifestyle led to significant weight gain, and by the summer, I was at 200lbs with very little muscle on my 5’10” frame.

I moved back in with my parents and was set to take a few quarters off from school for an internship in the bay area. The week I was set to start work, the company all but went under and I was stuck with nine free months and no job. Suddenly I lacked purpose and began doubting my self-worth.

Salvation came in the form of pick-up hockey and home cooking. My parents had been low-carb for years (my brother and I complained for years about the bacon smell originating from the seemingly unhealthy diet), and though I didn’t realize it at the time, I’m sure my carbohydrate intake dropped significantly during this time period. I was lucky enough to find another job, and spent the remainder of my time at home working and playing hockey 2-5 times per week.

I lost roughly 40 lbs during my stay at home. I looked better, felt better, and regained the confidence and sense of self-worth I had lost. I returned to school last March, determined to maintain my rediscovered health (and waistline). Shopping for myself again, I ate nothing but salads and pasta. School limited hockey to once per week, so I started jogging and mountain biking. I watched my portions and used low-fat pasta sauce and salad dressing.

Over three months, I gained almost ten pounds. My new clothes were getting tighter, I was losing stamina on the rink, and I was hungry after every meal. It didn’t make any sense. This was the first attempt I had made at watching my diet and I was exercising more, but I felt worse and was gaining fat. Now I realize I was starving and getting fat at the same time.

I went home for a week in June before starting summer school, and my dad was in great shape. He told me he had been eating a “paleo diet.” He pointed me to Mark’s Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, and Free the Animal – I was off and running. I bought The Primal Blueprint, and the science of insulin management struck a chord with me. I looked back at the cycles of body composition I had experienced in my young life, and it seemed to hold true – carbohydrate was a problem.

I scheduled my birthday at the end of July for a last Neolithic hurrah, then embarked on a low-carb paleo/primal lifestyle on 8/2/10. For the first six weeks, I tracked my dietary intake and body weight, and wrote a post every day on a blog constructed for that purpose (now indexed here). The leftmost pic is early August (a few days into my primal/paleo diet), the middle is the six week mark, and the rightmost is the six-month mark.

In those six weeks, I lost 13.6lbs, and got my abs back. I had boundless energy and no crippling hunger. It was easy to get out of bed every morning, and I found I actually enjoy cooking when the food tastes good. I was actually excited to see people I hadn’t in awhile, instead of embarrassed to show my added pounds. For the first time since high school, I craved activity. Suddenly, the couch wasn’t enough for me; I wanted to be enjoying the sunshine and challenging myself athletically.

This lifestyle has also had the unexpected, but certainly welcome effect of lowering my stress. I used to worry about everything. I’m not sure how it happened, but now I am an expert at letting it go; I truly release the stress of everyday issues from my body and mind. Perhaps it is because I feel confident in my health in a way I never have before.

The paleo/primal diet has been like a drug for me. I can’t get enough of the science of nutrition and diet; I’m constantly thinking about how the body works. Since those first six weeks, I’ve been experimenting with my health and fitness, all on a strong paleo base. Most recently I’ve been experimenting with Leangains and I’ve added quite a bit of muscle (shown below). In addition to this passion for knowledge, I developed a love for writing, a rare romance for an engineer.

I just started a new blog where I aim to, among other things, combine my engineering insight with evolutionary health and fitness.

I likened the paleo/primal diet to a drug, and like any good drug, it has a way of spreading. Just like my dad advised me on the virtues of a paleo diet, I have drawn in my girlfriend and a few friends. It seems natural that such a simple solution to the widespread problem of diet should spread like wildfire. This gives me hope that some day the “food pyramid” will look a lot more like we all think it should.

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engineered by evolution.


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