Let me introduce myself.
My name is Richard, a 31 year old dad of two who had a holiday booked and a whole lot of weight I wanted to shift.
I have been overweight most of my life, you know the type “I’m not fat I’m just big boned”. I was a front row forward at school rugby because I had more than my fair share of bulk. I took the usual amount of crap for being the chunky kid at school with the added problem of a forward rotated pelvis which gave me the proverbial J- Lo bum.
I bumbled my way through my teens trying a few diets; I even tried the 1st gen diet pill which was not a nice experience. Being the early 00’s the whole body beautiful fitness wave that we are all riding at the moment was solely for the old school body builders and people who wanted to join the army or be a pro athlete. At my 6th form there were 2 guys that went to the gym. Compare that to most 6th forms nowadays and the percentage for both guys and girls will be a lot higher.
Although overweight from my early teens, I had remained comparatively fit due to always having physical hobbies. I played with going to a gym when one of my friends started working at a golf club with its own gym, we were going on holiday and I wanted to look as good as possible. I lost a few pounds but had no sustained success.
For the next 6 years I travelled around the country with work. My weight yo-yoed till the day my son was born, I looked in the mirror and a 21 stone 294lb man was staring back at me “shit what had happened!” I smoked, drank and ate as I pleased. By now my physical hobbies had faded and to be honest I was a mess. I should have known better, my father died of a heart attack when I was 10 years old so you would have thought that would have motivated me, it didn’t!!
A few personal circumstances changed and I returned to my home town. I hooked up with my old friend from my teens who was now a successful personal trainer. I don’t remember his exact words but it was something to the effect as “f@#k man what’s happened to you”. We vowed that I would get into better shape, and so the grind started!! In the course of the spring/ summer of 2014 I succeeded in losing 4 ½ stone through eating well and a combination of 2 or 3 Hit sessions a week and lifting weights with my friends. I was on top of the world as far as my physical fitness and weight loss was going. However life has a way of making things difficult for us… In the December of 2014 I became a single parent to my two beautiful rug rats, my ability to train as I had throughout the summer came to a very abrupt halt.
I was managing a household, trying to hold down a job and squeeze some gym time in, the gym time was the obvious loser. Slowly but surely the weight started to creep back on, I pretended like it wasn’t happening for a while but it became very apparent that it was.
In March 2015 I got a job working at a new gym in my area owned and run by my friend and his business partners with whom I had trained with the summer before. This will give me the tools to train and get back into shape I thought. The more I had become involved in health and fitness in the previous summer the more I realised it was an industry that I liked. However, work is work and play is scarce as a parent of two under 5’s and, even though I was surrounded by more positivity than I could shake a stick at, my weight continued to climb.
Anyone for a coffee?
So I decided to embark on a 12-week cut to try and shift at least 12 Kg’s before I flew… the challenge wasn’t the training or the eating clean, the challenge was combining them and fitting all the necessary components into the lifestyle of a single parent. I was drawn up a comprehensive plan, based on my daily caloric intake and set free into the wild to return a leaner fitter version of myself!
I had tried this a few times over the previous few months with no success, so what was the different this time?? I decided to document the journey via the medium of Instagram; this was because I felt by putting it out publically I was hoping that the level of accountability would give me the needed motivation to achieve my goals. (Fast forward 8 weeks and things were not going so well!)
So the whole 12 week thing kind of fell to pieces! In a well-meaning attempt to remove the amounts of Redbull I was consuming on game days (I play rugby every Saturday) I decided to purchase some pure caffeine powder; I tried it a couple of times with the recommended dose and felt zero effect. So one particular Saturday I was rushing to get to the game and I decided to add a bit for extra added oomph!! Let’s just say I may have added a little too much, I accidently overdosed myself to the tune of 25 large double espressos or 72 Redbull’s, yes you read it right 72 Redbull’s!
After an ambulance ride to the nearest A&E dept. with a suspected heart attack and after 24 hours of observations I was allowed home with no heart attack and no long-term side effects, but a new found respect for caffeine, I did feel like rubbish for 5 days!
As with most attempts to control my weight over the last 10 years, I allowed this week off of training and hiccup with the whole caffeine thing, to completely derail my motivation and positivity.
The date for my holiday was looming and I just cleared my head with all concerns of how I was going to look on the beach, I just vowed that my girlfriend and I would have the most relaxing and rejuvenating holiday possible.
Which we did! It turns out that 10 days of sun, sea, sand and mojitos on a paradise island will give you the time to reflect and assess what is important in your world!
So this is where I am at the moment, still 120kg, still wanting to change my body composition and still a parent of 2 small ones, I have a wonderful girlfriend but we current have our own houses to run.
What am I looking for? A sustainable, child-friendly method of providing my family with nutritious food on a budget whilst trying to fit in my passion for rugby and a need to shed some serious body fat, easy right!!
So where was I going to start!!!!
Now several years ago I briefly read an article on the benefits of the paleo style of eating!! Now we all know the guy from the gym who is all into paleo! They usually like the sound of their own voice. He is usually the same guy who screams Crossfit while doing some seriously whacky pull-ups that make him appear as if he is trying to dislocate his own shoulder.
But the actual theory had always stuck with me, it kind of made sense in my head. I have always felt that the future inhabitants of this planet would look back in history and say “what were they thinking!” So, even though mainstream science seems to shun the paleo theory for a much higher carb diet, I was intrigued.
What gave me the boost to finally give something new a try was a podcast called the Joe Rogan Experience. His no frills take on all aspects of the modern world had also captured my interest, on one particular show, Joe had a guest called Mark Sisson, now his name wrung a bell with me from my previous reading into the paleo world. MS had a website called www.marksdailyapple.com. There he had crafted his own brand of Paleo eating which he called the Primal Blueprint. After listening to JR say that he was going to try the 21 day transformation, and then in later episodes claiming that this could potentially be the way he was going to feed himself for the foreseeable future, I was more than hooked. I jumped straight onto Amazon and ordered my own copy of the Primal Blueprint as well as the 21 day transformation and an Audio version of the Primal Connection. I was keen.
After reading and listening to all 3 books in record time for me, (I haven’t read a book from cover to cover since school), I am ready to give it ago. To start off I am going to attempt the 21 day transformation. The premise of the 21 days isn’t to lose some unrealistic and unsustainable magic weight but to transform your body from using carbs as your primary fuel source to using fat as your main food. Thus the books claim, you should have heightened mood, energy levels and clarity of mind, you will then apparently start to effortlessly burn inches of body fat, with the minimal amount of gym or training time. This was the big sell for me, now I understand the positives of eating clean and the primal blueprint takes eating clean to the next level, but being able to get these results with less training would be a life saver to me. I have, like many parents (not just single parents), got very small windows in which to fit any form of training.
Again, as before, I am going to use Instagram to document the journey to help me remember what I have eaten or done over the 21 days. I also actually find the interaction for complete stranger strangely motivating. So here goes…
Day 1 to 7
So after reading and researching as much as I could about how you are expected to eat, feel and react on this change to my eating habits (I didn’t want any unfortunate accidents as with the diet pills) I am ready, the book gave me a set of simple rules to follow the 1st of which was to plan what you were going to eat for the 1st 7 days.
Roast Chicken and roast veg
Monday 1st official day!
So one of the biggest stumbling blocks I have had up until this point whenever I am trying to lose weight other than my weak will power, ability to consume large volumes of food in a very short space of time and a LOVE of crusty white bread and real butter, was finding ways to include food that I was eating with food that the children would eat. Now I have never been one to feed them too much junk, I understand that they are at the most vital time in their lives regarding many things one of them being growth, but if I am to believe what is said in the PB then I will be setting up habits that will carry them into adulthood good or bad.
What I have found is that by trying to actually sit down and eat meals with the children that are very similar to what I am also eating has helped. Rather than cook them something and then expect them to sit quietly at the table while daddy does the opposite, dashing here and there trying to sort the house, answer emails or find the dog that’s chasing cats for the 10th time this week.
Naturally they look to take their inspiration from what I am doing as there parent. All I needed to do was add back in a few Carbs i.e. the odd bit of toast and pasta, to make sure that they had plenty of energy. So far this is an experiment on me to see how I react to this new Primal way of eating. I am aiming to feed the children as clean and nutritious a diet as possible but it is unrealistic to expect them to live without the staples they are used to just because Daddy is on a mission (again!) If I do have good sustained results then I will try and phase them onto the slightly more primal diet in due course.
As for how I have felt over the 1st 7 days of my new plan I can honestly say I have not felt this good in a long time… the book suggested that I should start to feel less hungry and the desire to eat regularly should diminishes as more days pass, This I have found has stopped me grazing at key times of the day and means that I enjoy the dinners I have been cooking all the more.
I feel fresher in the morning and seem to have more energy in the evening, I have had a couple of mild headaches and this as the book explained is to be expected, as my body changes from a Carb based energy source to a fat based one, however sometimes it has felt as if life is intended to give you headaches anyway, what with squabbling children, staring at computer screens and phones all day, rushing from school to nursery, to work then back to nursery, to my friend to pick Harry up then home to start the evening routine, to finally crashing into my pit surrounded by washing because daddy’s room has become the laundry/ dumping ground. It’s no wonder there is the odd headache so to be honest I couldn’t say whether they were diet or lifestyle related!
I recorded my weight on day one 120.4 KG!!! now that is only 7 KG from my all-time high, this fills me with an unrivalled anxiety, hitting 21 stone was a low mentally… the only thing that helped me power out of it at the time was that it coincided with Harry being born so I didn’t have the time to think about it. However I never want to get back to that weight so seeing the big 120 was a shock.
As the 1st week has progressed I have certainly felt better in myself and so when it came time on day eight to jump back on the scales I was hopeful of some positive downward movement with the numbers. Now I work in a gym, and I mix with a lot of people who are experts in their field and the party line that most reputable fitness professionals follow, whether they are people I work with, people I see train or one of the 1000’s of online fitness gurus we are all aware of, is that you shouldn’t look at the weight rather care about your body composition, and this is something that I also believe, HOWEVER I don’t care who you are EVERYBODY cares about those dam numbers on the screen!