Paleo Challenge 2012

Tomorrow I start the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. I’ve mentioned this to plenty of people and I usually get the same question? Why am I going on a diet?

When people hear the word diet today, the first thought that pops into their mind is a weight loss diet. The truth is we are ALL on a diet. Some have good diets where they maintain weight and stay healthy. Some have bad diets full of all sorts of unhealthy food. And of course there are the ever so abundant weight loss diets. So whether we like it or not, we are all on some sort of diet.

The Lurong Living Paleo Challenge in this case isn’t necessarily about using the Paleo diet to lose weight. Instead it’s about using the diet to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Under the premise of the challenge, if I eat Paleo and give it my all in the gym, I will see improvement. Who wouldn’t want to give that a shot!?!!?

The truth is I eat a “mostly Paleo” diet already. Usually very low in grains and sugars, bad fats, etc. It has kept me in terrific shape and allowed me to continue to see progress in my weights and times. However one realization I’ve come to recently is that I need to eat more!! Due to illness a month or so ago and just regular plateauing, I’ve found that my caloric intake is much lower than what I should be taking in.

Now on my “mostly Paleo” diet, I’ve supplemented this with both more protein (good), more “good fats” (good) and more carbs (grains, sugars, etc. not so good) This has actually worked well for me. However the premise under this challenge is that I should be able to do the same thing under a Paleo diet, and this is exactly what I plan to find out. Can I gain (good) weight and see me weights and times improve over the next two months?

Tonight’s bounty at the store was mild. Chicken breast was on sale so I grabbed plenty. Almond milk and coconut milk to mix my post-workout protein shake with (the coconut milk for fat/calories). And then a ton of fruit and veggies: sweet potatoes, squash, onions, carrots, grapes, and berries.

For those unaware, Paleo is based on what Paleolithic man supposedly would have eaten. This was before farming, keeping animals, etc. So things like grains (cereal, bread, pasta), dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt), legumes (beans, peanuts, etc) were not available, and thus not at all a part of the diet. Same thing with fats and oils, which are limited to mostly nut oils, REAL vegetable oils (remember corn, soybeans, and such are not vegetables), and animal fats. This is a rather quick summary just to give you a general idea.

So that is MY challenge. If the diet is as long term as I believe, I should have no problem seeing my weight go UP over the next 8 weeks and see my times and performance improve. I know it can already maintain my weight and health. Now let’s see if it can be used for gaining.


“Your body hides your weight well”

“Your body hides your weight well.” I am sure many of us have heard this saying before or even told it to ourselves. While I can honestly say I’ve never been flattered enough to have been told this, I have definitely thought this on many occasions.

“I don’t look 175.”

“I don’t look 190.”

“I’m a little overweight, but I look alright for someone who’s 200+ pounds!”

The thing about this rhetoric is that it is not based on denial or deception. On the contrary, it’s based on everyday perception and perceived norms and tolerances in society.

When people see us everyday, much like we see ourselves daily, we don’t see the small changes from day to day, and thus don’t see the larger changes over time unless we happen to see pictures from a long time ago. Thus even if we are two pounds more even just two weeks later, in our eyes we appear to be the same. When we are two pounds more two more weeks later, we are still the same.

For those of us who were fit at one time or another, these “still the same” moments end up defining our weight gain. When I was 150lbs. back in the mid-90s and ended up with my hernia operation that stopped my workouts, it wasn’t probably more than a few months before I gained around 4-5 pounds. Hey, I’m not working out, taking things a bit more relaxed.. Gaining 4-5 pounds is normal! I still look the same so it hardly seems to be a big deal. You become accustomed to it and suddenly two to three more pounds finds your reaction to it the exact same. It’s strange to say, but the human mind actually perceives your body the same at say 150 pounds as it does at 200 pounds as long as enough time passed in between the two weights.

Perceived norms is also a deciding factor in this saga. Now don’t misunderstand me. I love that healthy sized adults are today’s cultural norm, and that for the most part a little more weight is more acceptable than a little underweight. The starving model look that seemed to infest our culture from the 70s through the 90s is dead and gone, replaced by a return to curves, tone, and health. Unfortunately this does lead to what “heavy” is now. Years ago at 5′ 9″, an adult male would probably be considered fat at 175-180 pounds. Not obese but definitely be made aware that they needed to lose weight. Now at 5′ 9″, I don’t think one person would question someone weighing in at that same weight and height. When I’ve recently been at that height, clothed, people thought I was crazy for wanting to lose another 20+ pounds. Heck, for most people to consider someone obese these days it seems like you need to be looking at a BMI of at least 34-35. Now the truth is that this is both good and bad. On the one hand, people that are somewhere between 10-20 pounds overweight are not leading a dangerous lifestyle and are found to look perfectly acceptable in society. It creates more confident individuals, happier people, and less stress on a daily basis. On the downside, 10-20 pounds overweight eventually becomes normal, and 20-40 pounds overweight now turns into “I could probably stand to lose 5-10 pounds”. The scale only goes up from here, both figuratively and literally.

The question is, should we change this and how do we go about it. While I do promote healthy living and being at a healthy weight, as I said earlier I love that it is ok in society to have a little bit of weight on you. It is certainly much less pressure on our kids and in our schools, and one would hope in the long run leads to lower incidents of eating disorders or incidents of “corrective surgery” at younger ages. However, with that being said, you definitely should know what your “ideal” weight is, and if you choose to keep a few pounds on your body make sure you are still maintaining a healthy weight within a reasonable range of that “ideal” weight. 10-20 pounds over your ideal weight isn’t even worth giving thought to in my opinion. However, 10-20 pounds over “10-20 pounds over” your ideal weight is mist definitely something you may want to reconsider.

With all of this being said, the number one most important aspect of any of this is for you to be happy with yourself and your body. Being unhappy with how you look or your weight can very easily lead to stress, depression, or bad choices. Whether you are losing weight or decidedly not, you need to be happy with yourself and with your current condition. If you’re not, then look at changing it, more than likely at that point in baby steps. Try to start being happy with the little progress you make and it will be easier to be happy with your self at all of the remaining steps along the way.


Current fitness status Week 13

Weighed in on Monday at a lean 169lbs. This is the least I’ve weighed since probably around 1999 to early 2000. From here the years effectively keep rolling back until my goal weight which I can now reveal is 155lbs. It may seem smallish, but for those who don’t know me I’m only 5′ 9″ tall which lends itself to a pretty nice weight and frame. Strength is through the roof as well, or at least better than it’s been for the past 14 years. Very close on most weights to beating my peak fitness levels from around 1995-1996. Running is coming along great with my current pace at around 8:53 and incline work going well. Current goal is still to finish the Lakefront Marathon at a pace under 9:00 which means finishing under 3:45. This would be a pretty substantial accomplishment I feel for someone who was around 50 pounds overweight just five months ago.

I’ve decided pictures will be coming, but not for a few more weeks yet. I want to be within mere pounds of my target weight before posting all of the pics (I think around three or four different weeks so far).