That's a sweet title. I'm pretty sure that would make a great slogan for a t-shirt or something. Anyway, following along with the trend of the past week, this is my Paleo story.
I was never in great shape although I always wanted to be. I still remember the only real workouts I ever did on my own in high school were just some bodyweight stuff in my room...50 push ups here (probably with terrible range of motion), 100 sit ups there, a couple hundred jumping jacks every now and then. That was fun, but really didn't do much for me. In 8th grade I started running marathons (for a total of four), but I was still a fat kid and I very clearly remember following up all my long training runs with a gigantic Jamba Juice smoothie (which, in case you were wondering, is terribly not Paleo).
All said, I left high school skinny fat, but with a huge appetite that was at least partly curbed by a large volume of running. After a couple years of college eating straight up junk, (my freshman year, I ate Jack in the Box every night/morning between 11PM and 3AM) I looked like this:
So I started CrossFitting in early 2009 and back then everyone was all about The Zone (which is like calorie counting), and I jumped into The Zone head first. I started weighing and measuring my foods obsessively, counting all my almonds (something I still catch myself doing when I eat almonds), and trying to eat everything in "perfect proportion". In some ways, it was great for me. It taught me to be disciplined, prepared, and responsible (as well as teaching me how awesome a good cheat meal can be).
But at the same time, The Zone put me into a really unhealthy mental place. It's really difficult to stay sane when you literally count and measure everything that goes into your body. I remember obsessing about how many almonds I ate (3 almonds = 1 Zone block of fat = 1.5 grams of fat), how many slices of deli meat I was having, and getting the dreaded "Zone Head". That's where you Zone really well and you lose weight, but you get all skinny and useless and your head looks gigantic. Here's me after a few months of Zoning:
Zoning wasn't working for me. I had decent conditioning, but put anything that weighted more than 30 or 40 pounds in my hands and I was useless. At that point, I had the following numbers: 350 lb deadlift, high 200s back squat, low 100s snatch (maybe 125 or 135?), no clue what my clean was, and about a 9 minute Fran that almost killed me.
So I went looking for the next big thing. I had heard of this thing called "Paleo", but thought that it was inferior to Zone and that it was too hard and that it was more for the badasses of the world than for the regular guys like me.
I was wrong.
Paleo was exactly what I needed and since I started in 2010, I haven't looked back.
Paleo is simple, accessible, and highly effective. It takes dieting and throws it out in favor of a healthy lifestyle. It can be summed up in one sentence: eat unprocessed foods consisting of meat, veggies, good fats like avocado, olives, and coconuts, a little fruit here and there, a little starch, and no grains, dairy, or sugar. Suddenly, there was no weighing or measuring. I would simply ask myself if what I was about to eat fit into that lifestyle. If the answer was yes, eat as much of it as I wanted. If the answer was no, stay away. Simple, accessible, and highly effective.
Two and a half years later, I'm still experimenting with my nutritional lifestyle. I went through a "paleo + dairy" phase for a few months recently to see how it felt. I've tried using just real food and also doing food + supplements for my performance. After all that, some things still stay the same: I eat clean, unprocessed foods. I eat large quantities of protein and fat, while also eating a ton of veggies to get my carbs. I don't "cheat", because I look at my nutritional lifestyle like it's a relationship...I wouldn't cheat on my girlfriend, so I don't cheat on my nutrition. But at the same time, if I have something that's not exactly Paleo, I'm not worried about it. I know that it's a temporary thing and that while I enjoy how some sweet things taste, I don't enjoy how they make me feel.
I can honestly say that this lifestyle is a fit for me, and that I don't see myself really moving away from it any time soon. It hasn't stopped me from having a fulfilling social life, or from enjoying the food I eat, or from having fun. I feel great, I look great, and perform very well in all areas of my life (work, competition, etc). I went from 'skinny fat' to 'all that'.
KB swings (70/53, american)
Box jumps (24/20)
Posted by Armen.