Practically Paleo

Posted: July 3, 2012 in food, lifestyle
Tags: ,

Roughly 3 months ago I decided to make a change.  I was pushing 190lbs on a 5 foot 10 inch frame, and while no one had mistaken me for obese my body composition was definitely softer than ideal.  In addition, although I was reasonably strong due to an inconsistent, yet sincere application of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program, I was under no illusions about the lack of aerobic conditioning I possessed and the potential risks associated, especially for someone over 40 years of age.

To Wendler’s credit, his training regimen does recommend hills sprints, sled pushing, and other metabolic and aerobic conditioning drills.  For whatever reason I mentally wasn’t ready to make the commitment.

During the years that I focused on strength based training my diet was a mess.  In a blind effort to consume calories for the repair and growth of muscle tissue, I crammed down potatoes, rice, pasta, milk and meat at every opportunity.  Paranoid that I wasn’t meeting a recommended daily intake of protein of roughly 1.5 to 2.0 grams per pound of lean body weight, per day, I also consumed at least 1 protein shake per day.  On any given day this might be mixed with water and ice, milk, ice cream or fruit juice.

In other words, my diet resembled a train wreck at a nuclear facility on Black Friday.  And I felt like it too.  But I continued, regardless of the bloating, aching joints, skin blemishes, or gastrointestinal distress.

Paleo diet inspired meal

Minus the flour tortilla, today’s lunch was Paleo perfection.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was a family vacation photo.  Spring break at Hacienda Piñilla in Tamarindo, a city located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica’s pacific coast.  I will spare you the gruesome experience of viewing the actual image, but rest assured that middle aged, male breasts compressed beneath a skin tight, rashguard style surf shirt is not flattering.

I make a partial income from local photography assignments and I’m still surprised at how oblivious we can become regarding our own appearance until we view ourselves in a photo.  There is something different, detached almost, in the photographic experience, than say looking at your reflection in a mirror.  I lied to myself for years while looking into the mirror.  One family snapshot rocked my self image and confidence to their foundation.

Many of you are already familiar with the Paleo diet or primal lifestyle as it’s known in some circles.   So I will not bore you with a tedious repetition of all of the facets or components.  Let me provide you with a quick and dirty summary: eliminate all processed foods, flour, bread, grains, legumes, beans, dairy and sugar (except for example those naturally occurring in fruits) from your diet.  Eat to your heart’s content all of the vegetables you like, along with several servings of protein rich foods and fruit per day.  Throw in some nuts and seeds along the way, as well as being mindful of your Omega 3 vs Omega 6 fat consumption, and you’re all set.

There are many flavors of the Paleo diet circulating the bookstores and internet, and you can find slight variations among what is recommended or prohibited, as well as variations in the level of intensity or commitment demanded by their respective authors.  Let me address this issue by simply sharing the two resources that proved most helpful to me: Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution, and Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.

If you’re interested in making a lifestyle change, and not simply starting a crash diet, these two publications should be more than sufficient to peak your interest and get you headed in the right direction.

I have followed the paleo/primal guidelines for just over three months.  Starting weight was 190 lbs and I am currently 175 lbs, plus or minus 2 lbs of water weight on any given day.  Some may not feel that 15 pounds is a significant enough change in three months time.  Some readers may be struggling to lose their first 10 pounds.  Let me emphasize something I think is critical to keep in mind: each person’s goals and execution will produce different results.

My personal goal is to level off at 170 lbs and assess my appearance, level of fitness, and the effort required to maintain that weight through a combination of exercise and diet.  I am searching for an ideal balance among several variables and I am flexible enough to realize that may happen at any number on the scale, not necessarily a random number I chose because it sounds nice.

If you decide to make a change in your life the best advice I can give you is this: know your own personality.  Are you someone who can make drastic lifestyle changes over night, cold-turkey?  Or do you need to ease into things, gradually eliminating evil and adding good along the way?  More than what exercise protocol or diet you follow, knowing the answer to that question is the key to success.

Let me know how things go for you!


  1. Tortillas are all that’s keeping me from being fully Paleo. I go with corn.

    • 10n84w says:

      That’s great! The grain and flour family isn’t usually my weakness, but the idea of wraps struck me mid-aisle in the super market. My bigger exception is cheese. I still include shredded cheese in some of my omelets, or I’ll have a little manchego or parmsesan while having red wine.

      • Yes, I too love cheese. I considered the name Manchego for my first born son. I find it harder to say no to some good chips and salsa as opposed to nachos.

        BTW, my buddy is holding a free online Real Food summit next week. He did the Paleo Summit a few months back where he interviewed and broadcasted videos of the top names in Paleo. It was a huge hit so he’s doing one for all healthy foodies out there called the Real Food Summit. Have you heard of it? Check it out:

  2. 10n84w says:

    Looks interesting. I registered and will take a look. Thanks.

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