I’m in full-swing Primal mode at this point. It’s been a change from what I’m accustomed to. I’m working with NPC figure competitor and paleo Crossfit athlete, Allison Moyer. I’m not prepping for a competition, but I am enlisting her help in putting together a Primal eating plan that supports my physique and fitness goals. I was winging it based on what I had read in The Primal Blueprint for about a month, but I realized I needed someone to help me with a more targeted nutrition strategy.
I have a lot of new foods in my eating plan now, including heavy cream (2 tbsp!) in my coffee each morning, pumpkin with my breakfast, and sauerkraut with 2 meals per day (sauerkraut helps with digestion due to the good bacteria it contains in addition to being a good source of iron, vitamin K, and vitamin C). I am eating 7 or 8 meals per day (depending on whether I am lifting or not), and at first, preparing and eating that many meals seemed kind of overwhelming. However, I’ve started prepping my meals for the next day as soon as I come home from work and find it really only takes about 15 minutes to pack 3-4 meals for my work day.
I came across something the other day that said, “Food doesn’t have labels, products have labels.” That really struck a chord with me. I sometimes post pictures of my Primal meals on Facebook and have had a few people ask me to share recipes. The problem is…I don’t have any! All of my meals are pretty much as basic as it gets. I don’t get fancy or complicated. One meal might be extra lean ground turkey, 4 oz of sweet potato, and 4 oz of asparagus – no recipe, that’s just what it is! Another meal might be salmon with spinach sautéed in coconut oil – again, just 3 ingredients. In most cases, I don’t really even use spices or herbs. I just enjoy the natural flavors that my food inherently has. I am also eating a ton of vegetables (all kinds) along with berries and apples. The variety is extensive, and I love the feeling of knowing that what I’m putting into my body is so good for me.
A big component of Primal eating focuses on food quality. It emphasizes the need to eat organic, locally grown produce, free range organic eggs and chicken, wild caught domestic fish, and grass-fed beef. I admit to being lazy with my food sometimes. Until recently, I was buying those cartons of liquid egg whites in place of buying actual eggs and only using the whites. I also used to buy bags and bags of Tyson’s frozen pre-cooked chicken strips, which are riddled with sodium and other chemical ingredients to fake the coloring and taste of grilled chicken. I didn’t realize what a big difference those choices make and how much better food is in its natural and unprocessed form. Re-examining my food choices in the light of how they were grown/raised and where they come from has been really eye-opening.
I was exhausted today and had a sugar craving, so I thought about getting a Diet Cherry Pepsi from the machine, but decided against it. Diet soda – talk about a chemical shit storm! I realized that not poisoning my body with aspartame (which is actually a neurotoxin that can cause cell death), phosphoric acid, and a host of other artificial and potentially harmful compounds was not the solution to my sleepiness problem. So many “healthy” products that have labels proclaiming things like “diet,” “low-fat,” “sugar-free,” and “fat-free” are actually far worse for your health than the normal version. The food industry can’t remove the fat and sugar without sacrificing taste, which is the reason you buy their products in the first place, so they have to add other things in to compensate. For low-fat and fat-free products, the sugar content is often higher. For low sugar, no added sugar, or reduced sugar, that usually means adding in artificial sweeteners. And don’t even get me started on trans fats and partially hydrogenated oil!
The nutrition plan I’m currently on is meant to get me leaner. I’m not doing a ton of cardio (just lifting 4 days per week and doing 20 mins of cardio 3-4X per week), and I feel like I am eating a ton. Allison believes in “coaxing” the body into change as opposed shock and aweing it into reacting, which means small adjustments over time and nothing drastic. I have to admit I am a little impatient with that strategy. I know that I could get lean more quickly by doing a crapload of cardio and cutting calories significantly…but I also know that’s not sustainable and would make me miserable. I’m not looking for a quick fix, I am looking to find a better way of achieving and maintaining my ideal physique while focusing on health and balance. It’s hard sometimes to put your faith in a new way of doing things instead of falling back on what you know has worked for you in the past (at least in the short-term), but I am making every effort to be completely committed and patient to see how this plays out over time. So, for now I am focusing on being 100% primal and compliant to my meal plan.
I’ve also mixed up my training a bit. Instead of doing upper body/lower body splits, I am doing more Crossfit-style workouts, and man are they kicking my ass! I think I am finally ready to go to a Crossfit gym and give the real thing a try…hopefully on Saturday morning! I will definitely write a follow-up post about my experience.