Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post: Primal and Me

This story comes to me from a blog reader. I thought you may enjoy it as well.

"I have struggled with weight almost my entire life. In fact I've been obese to some degree since I was 8 years old. It was around then that I started suffering from dysthymia, which is chronic and very long lasting depression, along with social anxiety, and sweet food became my emotional crutch. My increasingly morbid obesity was accompanied by increasing social isolation and further reliance on my sugary happy drugs. 

Growth spurts in my teens (I eventually reached 6'3") greatly reduced my obesity going into College but the onset of further emotional and intellectual stress flared it all up again. I gained huge amounts of weight, my anxiety and depression got worse and I developed severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I would wake up greatly more tired than I was when I went to bed, I was fat, miserable and I hated myself, I could only function on an almost unending stream of highly sugary coffee, and I was burning out of College. Somehow I managed to finish my degree and have marketable skills so I managed to find work in my field (Software Engineering) and start a career. I gradually got my health conditions treated. I started sleeping wearing a CPAP (night-time breathing machine) and so my sleeping radically improved. I ended up on antidepressants and got counseling. 

During this period of my early career I also had my first major attempt at weight loss, mainly at the behest of my older brother. I joined a gym and got a crack personal trainer. I initially made progress but eventually I simply stopped. I didn't have the internal motivation to keep exercising and I did not have the will to eat less junk food. My gym membership ended up being a very expensive and rarely used drain on my finances and I lost ground in the end and gained even more weight.

I then tried my first attempt at doing the Primal Diet because of reading about it through I didn't read sufficiently though as I did not have a good balance of vegetables, ate far too many fruits and didn't eat enough saturated fats. Unfortunately I was still in the anti-fat mindset. I did feel a bit better in some ways as it was an improvement over the past but it was a very half -hearted effort. Added to this disordered affair I ended up changing jobs and cities in the middle of this and I ended up rooming with a group of men who weren't eating Primal. The theory of persisting with this diet, in a half-hearted way, around people eating all the foods I couldn't was unsustainable and so I slipped back into my bad diet. 

I ate a lot of pizza, a lot of fries and all manners of junk food. I gained more weight and more guilt and some friends noticed and thought they would help. A friend invited me to join him at a new gym, with a new "body transformation" program. I tried it, and initially I made progress. I lost a bit of weight, I did a lot of exercise and my muscles grew but I was still eating a lot of grains and carbohydrates and avoiding fat. But my friend ended up going overseas for a while and I had to rely on my own initiative to go to the gym and do the program and so being the way I am I stopped and lost even more ground than I'd gained.

Around about this time, and on a whim, I joined a dating site and struck up a quick friendship with a woman who is now my fiancee. After a few months it became clear that we both very much liked each other and we were headed for marriage and this became a huge motivator for me losing weight and keeping it off. By this stage I had reached nearly 447lbs and I started exercising again and eating less, but my progress was so bitterly hard and slow it was discouraging. I was still in the pro-grains, anti-fats mindset, and even though I had been increasingly reading about the Primal Diet I just didn't quite have the wherewithal yet to go for it wholeheartedly.

Two things happened at this point. The first one was that Tom and Heather Woods, who I had followed for some time and who I think are spectacular people, started doing the Primal Blueprint. The second was that I got engaged. Everything fell into place mentally and I had the right motivation, knowledge and good examples and so I launched into the Primal Diet. Initially I suffered major "carb-flu." I sweated profusely, had a major headache, and was extremely tired all the time. I had to take two days off work and I had to drink massive amounts of water and electrolytes to replace all the sweat I was losing. After two weeks it subsided and I started feeling extremely energetic and I quickly lost 22lbs. 

I was eating primal foods that I really liked that made me feel full. I love bacon, I get to eat lots of it. I love omelets and I've learned to love salads and all sorts of yummy food I'd never regularly prepared. I've found it spectacularly easier to totally avoid bad foods instead of reducing portions. I've subsequently found out that this has to do with the nature of the non-rational majority of our psychology where binary decisions (either this, or not this) are easier than decisions of degree (either this much, or not this much). All along I was working against my psychology and I didn't have the bloody minded will power to overcome it (as I admit better people than I do seem to have). My internal child is still that little emotionally broken sugar-addict and I was putting a smorgasbord of sweets in front of him and asking him to take it easy, shock horror it didn't work.

Since that initial 22lbs the weight loss has slowed down and gone into a sort of cycle where I lose a portion, gain a little of it back, and then lose it again and go down a portion more, and then gain a little of it back and repeat. The first couple of times, and until I worked out my weight-loss cycle I got a bit disheartened by the slight gains but I've since come to accept them and look forward to the new lows. I'm still bad at exercising, I don't do it enough, but I'm slowly improving my overall living of the Primal Blueprint in total and not just the diet. However the diet is helping me make progress even though the rest of it isn't perfect yet. I've still got a long way to go but I've now lost almost 40lbs in total. It's so psychologically relieving to be finally, after all these years, be making consistent progress and be on the right track! Praise the Lord! :)"

By Gregory Nazianzus

1 comment:

  1. I want to give Gregory congrats on his weight loss and commitment thus far. The exercise is integral to the process. Even if it is a brisk walk for 40 minutes a day or a stationary bike, you have to start. Eventually doing some basic weight lifting will help tremendously. I started the or TSC a little over a year ago and have lost 24 pounds while gaining many pounds of muscle. I began with the lunges and squats without any weight, just the movements, and now I need to buy even more weights for my dumbells, currently at 35 lbs each. I sleep better, am more alert and feel infinitely healthier than 2010. One day at a time, do the work, reap the benefits.