19 October 2015

Maintaining longterm health and well-being.

Last week I stumbled on on something that had me reflecting about my entire weightless story. To be honest, I have trouble believing that was actually me on the left there. Further, I was hit with a realisation. As proud as I am of the transformation, I'm more proud of how long it's been. That picture of me on the right was taken almost 8 year ago and I have no doubt I'll maintain this level of health and well-being in the long term. That amount of freedom and calmness is the most rewarding part of the whole story.

Without going into the journey in too much depth, here are the dot points:

  • I played competitive baseball and basketball as a teenager and suitably fit from 170lb (77kg) to 190lb (86kg) as I matured
  • I broke my right ankle when I was 18 and spent 6 months in a cast ballooning to 200lb (90kg)
  • Accustomed to sedentary life in university increasing to a ghastly 274lb in 2007 (124kg)
  • After a trip to New York in June 2007 I decided to get into good shape
  • I managed to get down to 199lb (90kg) by January 1 2008
  • Ran the Gold Coast Marathon in 2010 weighing about 182lb (82kg)
  • Have weighed 200lb (90kg) again since a few times, struggling to stat fit
  • Settled at 192lb (82kg) for the last 2 years since adopting the Primal Blueprint

The period between 2010 and 2013 was the most challenging stretch. With the benchmark goals of losing all of that weight, and all associated fitness plans (i.e., the marathon) behind me, maintaining a healthy lifestyle was incredible difficult. It’s incredibly hard to get yourself into shape when you’re not, but keeping it going when all the specific targets and plans are done is something else entirely. Getting healthy starts out as the goal, but that'only short term. Being healthy forever is what it's really about. 

Without the extrinsic goals of weekly progress, personal best running times, and marquee fitness competitions, the idea of eating properly and being active was more confusing and less fun than before. In these 3 years I varied both my workouts (running, swimming, basketball, yoga, pilates, weight lifting,etc) and my diet (organic, vegetarian, paleo, vegan). Like most, my weight and overall health rode the rollercoaster depending on the inconsistencies of motivation, stress and life satisfaction we all go through. The one thing that was consistent, was that it was hard (confusing and not fun).
In 2014 I discovered a book called the Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. As I worked through the 10 Primal Laws the weight dropped and energy levels increased and stabilised, and my moods improved more than I have ever experienced prior. I loved primal living so much and the approach  to health it provided so much that later that year I signed up for the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification Course to build the knowledge needed to make this a permanent facet of who I am as a person. I spent about 5 weeks last Christmas season completing the course. It was a series of training modules, mostly reading and diagrams, with introductory videos and a test for each one. It was pleasantly challenging. The perfect mix of genuine academic rigour, but flexible and and straight forward enough to ensure success.

 It's a life long journey of course and there's always more to understand. While I feel I've "figured it out" regarding my weight and physical fitness, there are plenty of aspects of good health I'm still studying and experimenting with. At the moment my newest endeavours involve studying brain health and the microbiome. I'm reading a lot about how maintaining healthy gut bacteria strengthens our cellular systems as well as our neurological framework. I recommend reading Brain Maker by Dr David Perlmutter. I'm fascinated by how the food we eat just doesn't cover our physical health but our psychological health as well. 

2015 marks the 7th year of my journey, and about 5 years of maintaining my long-term health goal . I live a fun and active lifestyle involving hiking, light runs, some basketball, playtime with the dog and plenty of gardening; I’m moving more than I’m sedentary; and most of all, I’ve maintained a healthy target weight of around 192lb (82kg), sleep well, am more calm, and able to sustain greater focus and lucid thinking when I need it. Above everything else though is the freedom. There are a lot of diets and nutrition plans that work well. Primal is one of the only ones I have come across that grant you with complete authority and freedom over your food. It's a legitimate facet of my personality.

Where most carb rich, small-meal diet plans involve tightly managed portions every 2-3 hours and an awful lot of mental and physical energy dedicated to what to eat, when and how often, primal allows you the freedom to load up on as much as you want of the nutrient dense, high fat, low carb, local and natural foods you’re meant to eat. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t when you’re not and 3, 6 - 16 hours may go by until you eat depending on your schedule, time, feelings or goals at the time and it’s no big deal. Even when willpower is low, or life doesn’t lend itself well to manage proper eating, this is fine - eat what you want, but know what you’re doing. Full awareness, no guilt. Embrace that pizza for and enjoy it as much as you can so that once it’s done, it’s done and you can get back to what’s importants.

Screenshot 2015-10-05 at 3.40.15 AM.png