Ladies and Germs, for those that don’t know back in September of 2011 I went on a really long bike ride. I rode from Yakima WA to San Diego CA. It took about 55 days and I rode over 1700 miles living on $8-$11 a day. During the trip I became fascinated by a diet called the Paleolithic Diet. Far from being a fad diet, Paleo was about a lifestyle and required many changes to bring ones life more closely aligned with how we’ve evolved over 2 million years. I won’t go into the details of Paleo living, literature abounds on the net. Google it yourself.
However I am here to tell you that for the duration of my trip I adopted the Paleo Diet and doing no ‘exercise,’ that is without setting aside a specific time to ‘train’ or ‘workout’ I lost 40 lbs in about 2 months. Many would say that my biking 30-50 miles a day on average helped. I’m sure it did, I’m sure the moving and the exertion of effort was a great factor into my weight loss and strength gain.
But I don’t believe thats all there was to it. I met many cyclists on the road who were no where near as fit as I had become. They had been cycling for years, they were around my age, and they’d been ‘exerting themselves’ for waaayy longer than I had, yet they had a mere fraction of the strength I’d only recently developed. What was the difference between us?
The one thing I noticed was our diets. Both the items we ate, the nutrient contents, and the money spent. They spent way more money, ate way more food, but stayed about the same. When I told them of the complete transformation that I was undergoing they wondered how it was possible that I would make such progress in such a short amount of time.
Consider these photos:
And this photo:
No pictures were taken unfortunately, but I looked even better by the time I got to San Diego and I was stronger, so much stronger than when I started.
What did I do? How did this progress happen in such a relatively short period of time? The only thing I’ve come up with is that I adopted a Primal Lifestyle. Part of it was a choice and part of it was just the necessities of cycling across the country with no money. I didn’t eat dairy products. No milk, cheese, yogurt. Where would I have put these things? I wasn’t packing a refridgerator on my bike; they would have spoiled. And they were expensive. Some travellers I saw would buy a half gallon of milk everytime they wanted a bowl of cereal. I don’t have that kind of cash nor a desire to drink that much milk in one sitting. So travelling and financial necessity demanded that I give them up.
I learned how to listen to my body. Early on in my trip, grains just werent cuttin it for me. I love oatmeal, but it just wasn’t filling. Nor was pasta or rice. After a half hour of biking I would be ravenously hungry. From time to time I carried meat with me. I usually bought it in small quantities and only on rare occasions as it was, comparatively, expensive. I started to notice that on the mornings that I ate beef or chicken, I stayed full till my next planned snack/ lunch in 2.5-3 hours.
Grains stopped working for me, so I gave them up. I decided that meat wouldn’t be that expensive if I stopped buying grains. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy both grains and meat, but I figured that the money I’m not spending on grains I could reinvest into meat.
I of course ate ALOT of fruits and vegetables. Some I ate less frequently because of their cost (blueberries, blackberries, avacadoes) but when I added up what I was saving from not buying grains I found that I had money left over, even after buying meat. So I was able to gradually work these more expensive, but very healthy foods into my diet.
At some point, I realized that the fat in the meat was what kept me full and gave me energy for long bike rides. I worried about my carb intake. I figured that carbs were very important since I was cycling across the country and all. So I researched my foods on the internet to see how many carbs I was eating without bread and rice and oatmeal. I found I was still eating about 150- 170 g of carbs a day. My fruit and vegetables were full of them!!
I began to research low carb diets on the internet to see if eating such a low amount of carbs was healthy for me. This is when I came across the Paleolithic Diet. You can read about the diet on your own time, but during my cycling trip my body had basically been telling me to eat almost exactly the way The Caveman diet described.
Once I include eggs (yes I found a way to carry them on my bike) nuts, and a bottle of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) I was set, my food costs did jump to a outrageous $8 a day on their own, but even if you add the average $5 a night it cost me to camp in the Hiker/ Biker sections of State Parks, I was living an incredibly nutrition, healthy, active, and most importantly FUN lifestyle on $13 bucks a day!!!
This is why I think the ruling powers in our society hate vagabonders and generally disdain adventurous travel. Its so friggen cheap!! And Good for you!! You can’t make money off the vagabonder. He eats low cost nutritious food so theres no money to get out of him for overpriced, unhealthy, processed foods. He’s active all day, so his immune system is powerful and he almost never gets sick and even when he does, water and proper rest usually sees him back on his feet in a day or two, so pending any catastrophic genetic health disorders, theres no money to be made off him in pharmacutical drugs or medical tests or hospital bills.
He’s content to live simply, and doesn’t go to excess, but doesn’t neglect what is fundamentally important to him: his health and quality of life. And he understand that the quality of his health, is the quality of his life. He’s also smart enough to know, that it doesn’t take much to be healthy.
Now, I told you that to tell you this. I am currently in Providence KY. I have been here with my parents for a little over a month. Recently, I’ve been on their diet; I eat what they eat. They eat: Bread, Rice, Fried Meats, Pasta, things that are supposed to be good for you. I also go for runs and jogs. I’m not exactly biking 30-50 miles a day, but I’ve still been kinda of active; I run 3 miles a session for about 2-3 sessions a week; 6-9 miles a week. I’ve also occasionally had a few sessions of push ups and crunches. Not a lot of activity, but not sedentary either. I’ve been eating what they eat for about a month. This is what I look like now:
So what happened? Heres what has changed: I’m not NEARLY as active as I was during my trip. I’m eating grains again, which I wasn’t doing. Because grains are basically ’empty’ carbs I’m essentially eating sugars (thats what carbs are) that have no nutritional value, or we could say that I am eating carbs that have ‘some’ nutritional value, but no nutrient that I couldn’t get from better fruit and vegetable based sources.
I think that I can reproduce the fast and dramatic results from my cycling trip. The Primal Blueprint sounds about like what I was doing on my trip. Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, lots of low impact exercises, with sessions of short high intensity physical exertion. Yes, cycling across the country, when taken day by day, mile by mile, is a fairly low impact activity. The cycling wasn’t difficult except when I had to grind up the hills and the switchbacks. Other than that, it was fairly low intensity; I just kept plugging along.
The constant activity, combined with with what was essentially a Primal Diet, resulted in pounds melting off me and improved physical strength. The only major difference between what I was doing and a Paleo/ Primal lifestyle was the type of exercise I did. Cycling is defnitely cardio and Primal frowns on Chronic Cardio and instead focuses more on strength training and building lean muscle mass to burn calories.
So I am planning an experiment. I will follow a Primal lifestyle for 1 whole month and see if I notice a significant difference either in my physique or in ‘the way I feel.’ I will post regular updates here and possibly videos on my Youtube account. Details of the experiment to follow in another post.
Have fun watching me ‘Go Primal.’