“A month of Paleo, no compromises … no backing out”—meet the Full Metal Caveman.
Lies infamy betrayal
After writing for Paleo Minds for about a year I feel compelled to write this article by way of a confession … there is something I must impart on you with a little hesitation; all this time I’ve been a cuckoo in your midst, an imposter. I haven’t been eating Paleo, in fact I never have, well until March that is.
I decided to take Michael up on the challenge, a month of Paleo, done properly, no compromises unless unavoidable, no backing out. My reasons? There are a couple, If you’ve been following my Convict Conditioning Blog you’ll notice that things went quiet recently (don’t worry there’s an update for you soon) … long story short I got injured, had to stop exercising over Christmas and got stuck with a belly that I can’t shift with my current lifestyle. I’ve also had a fairly unpredictable stomach for a long time, it bloats up at random leaving me uncomfortably dingy-like and with excruciatingly slow digestive transit.
I have often suspected that lactose might be the culprit, but have been unable to find a pattern in my diet to prove the theory. I get indigestion a lot and sometimes have very irregular ebbs and flows of mood, concentration and energy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the shambling wreck that list of symptoms suggests, this stuff isn’t constant thank goodness, I’d be living in a tree. I list them as they’re going to be my yardsticks to measure Caveman Steve. In brief: weight, body fat, digestion and mood.
My expectation was 70% to suffer through the month and drop a little timber, the remainder was a mix of curiosity about things like ketosis, bacon lust and the desire to work out if dairy and I could coexist. I should say that I love toast, good malted seedy bread with butter and Marmite rocks my world and I went into this with the expectation that this wasn’t going to be the end for bread and I.
There are a lot of approaches out there: Paleo, Primal, myriad variations like Bulletproof, Wild food etc. The level of information and counter information is bewildering, especially when you throw the usual selections of bad or poorly informed online sources into the mix. After a little scouting around and some welcome advice from my favourite Paleo Webmaster I settled upon standard Paleo blueprint with the option of coffee and coconut oil breakfasts on non-recovery days. That means no grains, refined sugars, processed food, legumes, toxic starches or *GULP* alcohol.
I’d actually already adopted a few Paleo-ish traits in my avoidance of potatoes and milk, and the occasional ketosis-prolonging buttered coffee breakfast. The intention was to get a fair appraisal of the diet change by keeping as many other factors constant so would still be doing my regular workouts—in brief three short but intense bodyweight sessions, an hour martial arts class and maybe a bit of yoga a week.
So … bring on the (organic) bacon!
From Paleo minus three to ‘launch’
I decided to go live on 1 March so in the preceding days I began preparations, running down my stock of non-Paleo foods to take temptation out of the way. In retrospect, this wasn’t the smartest move I could have made. I can cook to a fairly high level (disclaimer) but I’d kept a stash of MSG packed noodles from the darker aisles of a Chinese supermarket for when I’d tumble in from a class at nine—starving, feral and fatally unfussy. My point, aside from the barrage of imagery, is I’d eat these up as occasional treats but fairly glutted myself on them that weekend.
Looking back I ate pretty unhealthily in those last few days in the interests of clearing out, I doubt it did me any favours when it came to transitioning. In fact on the Friday (P minus 3) I stepped out after work to celebrate a friends leaving with a drink or two, max. Fate it seems had other plans and I ended up stumbling in, swerving and unintelligible on the last train home. Saturday was wasted on the sofa feeling like I’d been pummelled all over by the alcohol fairy. Not my finest hour.
What I did do right was read up on what I could eat and put in an order for plenty of fresh meat and veg. I was lucky enough to find a local farms ‘paleo box’ at 20% off full of organic grass fed steak, mince, venison, lamb and organic chicken. This was received weighed, sealed up, refrigerated and frozen ready for the month ahead. Wasn’t cheap though, the battery farmed, grain fed cheaper alternatives eyed me up.
At the end of Monday 29th I tumbled into bed, exhausted from my day at work (and probably the weekend) planning on starting my Paleo month with a good night’s sleep.
This is the story of what happened, week by week. Stay tuned.