The story so far (fitness)

I spent twelve weeks during the summer of 2000 doing the Body for Life program. At the time I had reached 160lb (12-15 more than my normal weight) and was quite distressed to find most pants no longer fitting properly. It turns out that at twenty you can quickly change anything you want with a little bit of effort :)

Many years later, after returning from a year of non-stop overtime in India and then enjoying the nightlife far too often while at Microsoft I found myself bouncing off the bottom end of 170 and really started getting annoyed. I was able to go through one, two, or even three months of training but in the end always fell back into a rut. It took until last year to realise that my environment was having a huge effect on my health and I took the necessary steps to remedy that.

Twenty-one days later

I have read in a few different places that it takes three weeks for your body to completely adjust to a new routine – whether that’s exercising regularly, eating properly, or just waking up at a set time. Since almost a year ago, it has been impossible for me to have a period of more than three or four weeks without some major incident (including travel) occurring. Thankfully that is over.

It’s been just over three weeks since returning from my last trip and I can start to feel the difference. Eating fairly primally and getting to the gym regularly has started to make a difference. Now that the train is in motion, I’m extremely excited about what results are ahead.

Primal? What’s this now…

Simply put, The Primal Blueprint is a way of life that emulates the lifestyle our ancestors had 10,000 years ago before the advent of agriculture. To be honest, my main concert right now is the Primal Eating Plan – similar in many ways to the Paleo Diet but with a few important tweaks. Some might say it’s also similar to Atkin’s and that may well be the topic of another post. Notice the use clever use of the word ‘plan’ instead of ‘diet’. This is meant to be a lifestyle choice (like vegetarianism) rather than something you ‘go on’ and ‘come off of’.

Mark’s explanation is the proper starting point and the many follow-up and detailed posts on his site are a must-read for those interested. I will try to condense it into a few lines here:

  • Protein is great; keep it in moderation.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit.
  • Fat, for the most part, is good for you.

For anyone that’s read nutrition and diet information at all over the last five years, the last statement (and possibly the first) are pure sacrilege. I encourage you to read and re-read the many articles and studies on Mark’s website before jumping to any conclusions :)

Diet (and again, by ‘diet’ I mean ‘way of eating’) accounts for eighty percent of our fitness and health – the other twenty percent from exercise. (Whether it’s 80-20, or 90-10, it still follows the Pareto principle). ‘Common knowledge’ from the last ten to fifteen years states that plenty of cardio with some weight training is the way to burn fat. This plan can be summed up as:

  • Lift heavy things (strength training 2-3 times a week for 30-50 minutes)
  • Run really fast once in a while (intervals/tabatas/etc)

I should point out that neither the style of eating or workouts is unique to The Primal Blueprint. If you read Craig Ballantyne, Brad Pilon, Alwyn Cosgrove, Tom Venuto, Holly Rigsby, or countless others you will see a lot of very similar opinions (currently Craig and Brad are probably closest, even if the way they arrived at their conclusions differ from Mark’s).

What’s the expected outcome?

I’m glad you asked :) After almost four years at Microsoft I’ve got SMART goals / commitments engrained in me. The end goal is to be between 165 and 170 at 10% body fat (or enough to see abs). Unfortunately without some experimentation, there’s no way to make that time-bound. Given my current stats (160 at 20% body fat) there is a lot of room for play :)

For the next month, I’m going to ignore the scale. I will be tracking my food in CalorieKing and following these guidelines:

  • Carbs: 80 - 175g
  • Protein: 130 - 161g
  • Fat: 84 - 165g
  • Total Calories: 2000 – 2500

Non-workout days should have less total calories and carbs; workout days, the opposite. However, is it the range for the week I’m most interested in. After four weeks I’ll be in a better place to set realistic goals.

I will close with this: if Mark can be in this kind of shape at 53, just imagine what it can do for me at 30 :)

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