Category Archives: Primal Thoughts

Get in Shape for the New Year! Go Primal!

Start out the New Year right!

I know, its sounds like a cliche. Everybody makes New Year’s Resolutions, but hardly anyone keeps them! A lot of people need to lose weight. A lot of people feel horrible and have medical problems. They take medications in the hope of felling better, but most of those medications have side effects that end up causing more problems. And most of the medications focus on symptoms and do not actually “cure” the disease!

My Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

For example, I was overweight and because of that I was Type II Diabetic and had high blood pressure. So my doctors gave me a high blood pressure pill and a pill to lower my blood sugar. One of the side effects of my glucose pill was diarrhea. I didn’t figure that out until one winter I lost a lot of weight and my blood sugar numbers came down to normal, so I stopped taking the pill. But during the following summer I gained the weight back and had to start taking my glucose pill again.  I noticed that as soon as I did this I had to start running to the bathroom again at all times of the day no matter where I was! It was so bad I dreaded having to go out! When I figured this out the doctor switched my pill to a pill called Glipizide. No more diarrhea, but this pill made my pancreas create more insulin and insulin is the fat storage hormone. So I’m diabetic because I’m fat and I’m taking a pill that is actually making me fatter! Great! But my blood sugar numbers were “normal” and that was all the doctor cared about.

Fix Your Gut!

So what did I do? I fixed my gut first! I did a 28 day program by the Clean people. So for 21 days you have a smoothie for breakfast and dinner and for lunch you have a salad with some protein on it. You also take a handful of supplements with each meal which consist of a lot of digestives enzymes and probiotics. You also cut out a lot of things like coffee, alcohol, dairy, gluten and a few other things. Then, in the last week, you add them back one at a time to see if any of them make you feel ill. When I added gluten back, I didn’t feel so good. I’m not Celiac, but there was definitely something bad going on there. The Clean program costs around $475, but you get everything you need (except the salads) including all the supplements, protein powder and extensive directions. Plus, you get to talk to a health coach if you need one on one help! Here’s a link to the Clean program. At the start of the year they do a group program and give you discounts for purchasing more than one kit. After I did this I felt great! I highly recommend it! And what do you do after you fix your gut?

Go Primal or Paleo!

I decided to go Primal which is a version of Paleo which is pretty much eating like a caveman! Paleo people don’t eat dairy products because, as they say, what caveman was going around milking yaks to make cheese?! But this LCHF eating plan emphasizes replacing carbs with fat and Primal people add more fat to their diet by eating cheeses and yogurts that are high in fat and of good quality. We also use heavy whipping cream! And don’t forget butter! I eat lots of butter! Butter good, sugar bad! No 2% milk, skim milk or even regular milk because these have lactose in them which is sugar to your body. No sugar people! So instead of Wheaties and 2% milk, I switched to my new breakfast of champions, bacon and eggs! I lost 70 pounds over the next 14 months and that was 5 years ago! So I’ve kept off the weight. Yes, I cheat every now and then, but if I start to gain weight, I go full Primal again and lose the weight. So you don’t have to give up your favorites for the rest of your life! I eat pizza, some bread and burgers on buns every now and then. I’ll have a pasta dish once in a while, a rum and coke, chips and dip, but just do it in moderation ONCE YOU LOSE A BIG CHUNK OF WEIGHT! That’s right, NO CHEATING UNTIL YOU LOSE A BIG CHUNK OF WEIGHT!

How to get started!

So here’s a couple ways you can get into the Primal lifestyle and the good news is that they’re pretty low cost! I’m a Primal Blueprint Health Coach and have been helping people go Primal since 2015. If you’re new to Primal, take my 21 Day Intro to Primal class. If you’ve been eating Primal for a while, take my 21 Day Ketosis Focus Challenge. I also have a 21 Day Primal Fun Foods Challenge that shows you how to make those fun foods that you give up when eating Primal like Burgers on Buns, Pizza, Pasta and even Desserts!  You’ll get lots of info from these challenges to help you on your way to better health!

The Mirror

Time to take a look in the mirror and see how on track you’ve stayed with your approach to the challenge. Have you…

  • Kept up your end of the bargain?
  • Done your very best every day, with every action item?
  • Made a sincere effort to utilize all the materials as they are intended?
  • Maintained a positive attitude and a big-picture perspective, successfully quelling the common urges for instant gratification and shortcuts to success?

It’s possible that the design and delivery of this challenge was not exactly perfect for you and your particular wants, needs and personality traits. For some perhaps it moved too slow; for others too fast, too easy, too hard, or too whatever. If you experience a disconnect between your ideal and reality, try to look beyond it in order to obtain the maximum possible growth experience from this course. Don’t let any personality or lifestyle weaknesses–procrastination, short attention span, negative emotional connections with food or whatever else–reflect in your participation.

If you’re a skeptic, strive to keep your mind open and at least try out the Primal principles for a while. Whether you strongly disagree with some of the principles, or conversely are a certified expert to the extent that some elements of the program seem like elementary review, growth experiences are to be had when you commit yourself to the process and the appreciation of every moment.

Try to maintain ownership of your own self-image and defining success on your own terms. This concept is particularly important to a weight-loss program because personal appearance is perhaps the most overt and superficial way we are judged, and therefore the most perilous to self-esteem. Even the most unconditionally supportive and loving mate nurturing your 21-Day challenge, and beyond, can unwittingly introduce potentially negative dynamics into the picture!

The way to escape from superficiality and negative psycho-emotional dynamics related to your personal appearance is to focus on the effort and the journey. Celebrate your efforts and ask that your supporters do the same while taking care to de-emphasize the results. Appreciate your Primal eating, exercise and lifestyle efforts for their intrinsic value, and let things like weight loss happen as a natural by-product. True beauty resides inside that slick external packaging anyway. Accept compliments graciously but redirect your own and other’s focus away from the waist sizes to emphasize the intrinsic value of Primal living.

Congratulations! Here’s to you!

Toughing It Out

It’s been mentioned a few times during this 21 Day challenge that this way of eating might be difficult for a short while as your body learns to burn fat efficiently.

A significant number of folks report feeling fantastic immediately—increased energy, rapid weight loss and more dietary satisfaction. Other folks report experiencing some brief difficulties with the metabolic transition, and then improved ease and enjoyment the longer they eat Primal foods and avoid grains. Finally, a small group of folks seems to struggle more than others. The severity and duration of one’s addiction to grains, sugars, caffeine and adrenaline (the latter from a chronic exercise program featuring repeated endorphin rush workouts or a high-intensity career) are most likely responsible.

If you’ve been jacking yourself up daily with the aforementioned life circumstances and inauthentic, artificial energy boosters, you may experience a “bottoming out” period of detoxification that can last a month or even six weeks in rare cases. Metabolic damage from adverse lifestyle behaviors is largely reversible and manageable when you make the right changes, but the influences of years and decades must be respected and you must be patient with your rate of success.

Going Primal may be more difficult if you’ve been running on fumes, but it can be especially important–even lifesaving–for you to begin the journey of detoxing and building the foundation for a sustainable, high-energy lifestyle that promotes optimal gene expression. If you have a personal history of high-carb eating and chronic exercise, and are really struggling to slow down your workouts and avoid grains and sugars this month, stay focused and take one step at a time in the direction of Primal living. If it takes you eight weeks instead of three to transition fully to Primal eating and exercise, that’s fine, as long as you maintain the commitment, focus and belief in a new way of life. If you are the stubborn type and not at all convinced that your 21 days of struggling to go Primal are superior to your old ways of big miles and big carbs, take notice of some subtle differences you have certainly already achieved. Do you feel physically better in the hours after a sensibly paced aerobic workout than after a hammer session? Do your Primal meals promote a sensation of complete satisfaction and more stable energy levels in the ensuing hours?

Exercise some patience and trust in the process, instead of fixating on the instant gratification of yet another workout endorphin rush. The light at the end of the tunnel is bright and sustainable for the rest of your life!

Total Insulin Load vs Nutrient Balanced Meals

One popular dietary strategy advocates trying to eat all meals and snacks according to a specified caloric ratio of carbs, protein and fat. The Carbohydrate Curve, on the other hand, does not care whether you take your carbs straight up or mix them in with delicious Primal offerings of wild salmon or scrambled eggs. The range you land in with your average daily intake–regardless of what other macronutrients are along, or not along, for the ride–will predict your success with weight management. Carbs drive insulin, and insulin drives fat storage, period. Hence, with the Primal Blueprint, we are focused on moderating the total insulin load of your diet.

It’s clear there is no advantage to eating nutrient-balanced meals when it comes to weight loss. Even for general health, it’s debatable whether balanced meals offer any advantage relating to how you ingest carbs. Keep your focus squarely on the elimination of grains and sugar products from your diet and on emphasizing foods from the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. Don’t concern yourself with what combination of foods or macronutrients you ingest beyond honoring your personal preferences. If you feel like bacon and blueberries for breakfast, or steak and carrots for lunch, then go for it! There are no negative metabolic consequences to stepping outside the narrow confines of conventional wisdom’s traditional meal combinations. As you learned with our Day 16 Primal Thought covering gluconeogenesis, your body will handle all metabolic functions smoothly when you eat Primally. Heck, Dr. Seuss was right–you can eat green eggs and ham six times a day and be healthy, happy and fit!

Natural Appetite and Food Appreciation

Amidst all this talk about effortless weight loss and “it’s all about insulin” let’s not forget the importance of honoring your natural appetite and eating for satisfaction instead of gluttony. It is definitely possible to mess up your Primal weight-loss efforts by absentmindedly stuffing your face with heaping portions of Primal-approved foods as a knee-jerk reaction to eliminating grain and sugar favorites from your diet. Make sure that meal times are calm, relaxing and celebratory in nature…and don’t wolf down food on the run– even if it’s macadamia nuts or a banana.

Eat at a deliberate pace, so that you can notice just when you reach your satisfaction point and can push the plate away. Studies indicate that it takes some 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message from your stomach that you’re full, so if you are eating quickly, you’ll overstuff before you even realize it.

If you are hesitant to try Intermittent Fasting, take a baby step and delay breakfast one day by a couple of hours. Even a subtle departure from a regimented three-meals-a-day habit can heighten your sensitivity and increase your appreciation for food when it’s time to enjoy a meal.

It’s likely that our hunter-gatherer ancestors, even at a great feast after a famine period, did not indulge to great excess, for he had to be ready for peak performance at a moment’s notice to avoid being some other animal’s feast. You never again have to worry about obsessive, regimented eating or uncontrollable weight gain, so there is no need to overdue it in order to quell those fearful emotions.

The Scale

Perhaps you’ve been tempted at points during this challenge to step on a scale and quantify the success of your journey. If so, remember this:

Body composition changes are not linear: Your body has numerous subtle mechanisms that promote homeostasis, which makes losing weight far more difficult than maintaining weight. Even gaining weight is tough, and requires a sustained pattern of producing high insulin levels, underexercising and overriding natural appetite to consume excess calories. Eating and exercising Primally will generate positive long-term lifestyle benefits in the area of improved health and energy levels, reduced disease risk and effortless weight management. However, it’s unlikely that your Primal efforts will produce tidy, linear results over the long run. Rather, you may experience fractal breakthroughs, when certain weeks or months produce very noticeable results, and other periods pass with seemingly nothing to show for it.

The 21-Day challenge involves food journaling, exercise and other measures designed to produce results quickly. As you proceed with your lifestyle efforts in the months following the challenge, you may experience some fitness and weight loss plateaus that are perfectly natural, predictable and healthy. It’s critical to adopt a long-term perspective about living this way. Go ahead and step on the scale, but make it once a year on your birthday instead of three times a day!

But here’s the thing, for me, when I’m doing good and I’m committed 100%, I know I’m losing weight. So I weigh myself everyday in the morning! Great positive reinforcement to see the numbers going down daily! Then when I level off or gain weight (it does happen), I can figure out what happened and do better!

Bodyweight is a complex figure: Due to hydration and water retention variation related to your circadian rhythm and exercise regimen, your daily bodyweight can fluctuate by as much as five pounds. Furthermore, positive changes in body composition from Primal eating and exercise are often reflected by increased lean mass and reduced body fat. Hence, getting leaner and fitter can result in no change on the scale, but very noticeable changes in your physique. Focus on the LGN (Looking Good Naked) or WSP (Wearing Smaller Pants) parameters more than the scale when it comes to measuring your fitness and body composition progress.

Low Carb Eating Does Not Have to Waste Muscle Tissue

We’ve heard the story spouted by serious athletes, experts and supplement makers for years: carbohydrates (converted to glucose) are the preferred fuel for working muscles. After hard workouts, you must replace this fuel right away or suffer negative consequences, namely gluconeogenesis—the conversion of muscle tissue and fatty acids into glucose in the absence of ingested calories.

The truth is that gluconeogenesis is only a bad thing when you catabolize muscle tissue. When gluconeogenesis is triggered, your brain, muscles and other organs obtain a steady supply of glucose to function normally, but often at the expense of lean muscle.

You can easily prevent this catabolic effect by eating Primally. Ample consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds supplies all of your carbohydrate needs for a busy, active lifestyle. Ample fat calories will promote high satiety levels. Consume an average of 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean mass, and your lean muscle tissue will be preserved.

If your muscles become deficient in glycogen, because of a chronic training regimen or other extreme circumstances (a growing, athletic teenager; a physically arduous job, etc.), your body will utilize ingested protein, and even fat to a lesser extent, to restock muscle tissue through gluconeogenesis. And this will happen on an as-needed basis. Your body will manufacture just enough glucose to meet metabolic needs. In contrast, obsessively fueling and re-fueling with carbs will often deliver excess glucose, which is then converted into fat and stored.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking gluconeogenesis necessarily requires muscle breakdown, or that dietary carbs are essential for muscle recovery or any other bodily function. We can function quite well on extremely limited carb intake, even if we exercise heavily. Consider Grok, who went for long stretches (as in, “seasons”) when carbs were scarce or completely unavailable, when physical activity was strenuous, and did just fine without depleting muscle mass. One more reason to eat like our ancestors!

Making Smart Workout Decisions

Take some time daily to reflect on your present condition and how your workout choices might best align. If you feel energized and motivated in a resting state—chomping at the bit to get out there and challenge your body—by all means go for it. If that little voice of reason inside you is begging for rest or to exercise caution about an area of weakness or injury risk, listen carefully and back off accordingly. Exercising intuitively is truly the most effective way to develop and preserve your fitness. Consistency and regimented schedules work on a very basic level but bring a high risk of burnout when followed over the long term, particularly as your fitness goals increase in sophistication and your workouts get more difficult.

Give yourself a daily score for Energy, Motivation and Health, and then score the degree of difficulty of your workout to see if they align, or if you pushed yourself too hard or too little. Make your workouts open-ended appointments in case you need to cancel at a moment’s notice, curtail them partway through based on negative biofeedback or extend them significantly when you’re feeling top notch. With careful attention, you will develop the ability to sense whether you’re feeling normal, exceptional or below par after just few pullups, pushups or sprint warm-up strides.

Granted, we have to consider inertia here. If you’re not a morning person, feel mentally exhausted at the end of a long workday or are cuddled up on the couch in front of a warm fire on a winter day, you may argue that you’ll never feel like exercising intensely at these times. Under these kinds of circumstances, when you don’t feel like exercising but really think you should get out there, I recommend stepping out the door, getting started and seeing how your body reacts once it’s set in motion. You might be surprised by how much it wants to move!

I Love Cold Turkey

Today is the day to celebrate your accomplishments, as well as acknowledge any old habits that may be holding you back. In other words, it’s time to have a real honest talk about moderation.

When it comes to eliminating grains and sugars from your diet, moderation is a losing strategy on a biochemical level. If you are “trying pretty hard to cut back” on your carb intake, allowing old habits to gradually dwindle away instead of eliminating them immediately, you are likely not going to get the results you aspire to this month, or any time in the near future.

Not to freak you out or anything, but if you start introducing a bunch of new high-fat Primal foods into your diet while making a mediocre effort to cut back on grains and sugars, you may find yourself gaining weight. Steak and eggs is a winning Primal breakfast, but if you have steak, eggs, a bowl of cereal, a piece of toast and a glass of juice, the insulin response from the carbs on the menu will transport the high-fat foods right into your fat cells. Eating Primally to lose body fat is an all or nothing operation when it comes to getting your carb intake into the right zone on the Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve.

The same principle holds true for aerobic exercise. Drifting out of your designated heart rate zone for a couple minutes here and there may not feel like a big deal, but a sustained pattern of workouts where heart rate exceeds 75 percent of maximum can be destructive to your fitness and your health.

So, move on forward with that all-or-nothing attitude…at least until your 21 days is up!

Injury Prevention Tips for Workouts

While the Primal Essential Movements (PEMs) for strength training are about the safest strength training exercises you can possibly imagine, there is still the potential for injury if you use incorrect form. Take a look at these simple tips:

1. Maintain a straight and elongated spine at all times: This is particularly true when you become fatigued and start to lose muscle control and stability. Throughout the PEM movements, keep your neck aligned with your torso (spine straight from head to tail), since the difficulty of these movements causes your neck to want to drift away from neutral.

2. Understand the difference between pain and discomfort: When you put your muscles under duress during exercise, you experience a generalized “burn” in the designated muscle groups–part of the desired effect of the workout. This type of discomfort is vastly different from sharp, localized pain in a joint or connective tissue that indicates overstress. When you feel the latter, you must stop the workout immediately and apply ice as an effective first response to trouble.

When you think you are ready to get back at it, go through the desired exercise’s range of motion without any weight to test whether an injured area has healed or not, then attempt the real thing. Again, if you experience pain, stop and choose a different activity that you can accomplish pain-free.

3. Warm up properly: You can ease into your challenging workouts with 5 to 10 minutes of low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, followed by some half to two-thirds efforts of the intended movements of your main session. This protocol will help elevate your body temperature, transfer blood from organs to extremities and lubricate joints to allow for the forthcoming explosive efforts.

If you are doing a PEM workout, warm up with some abbreviated squats, pullups or pushups to get the blood pumping. For example, before a set of pushups you can rattle off a few knee pushups or chair-assisted pullups.

Let’s get that blood pumping!