Picking Up Where I Left Off
I admit things didn't go quite as well as I'd planned. After my Becoming Leonidas 30-day trial, I intended to keep up a regular workout schedule. That didn't exactly happen.
I have my excuses, foremost among them a lack of reliable transportation. As you know excuses are worth their weight in gold: approximately $0. As part of planning my goals for 2010, I realized that my reasons for letting my workouts slip were pretty lame. So, I made getting in shape an official goal and started hitting the gym again.
What makes it an "official goal" as opposed to "some bullshit I said"? Metrics. Specifically in this case, I want to get in "really good shape" which I've defined as gaining 10+ lbs. of muscle and getting to 6% body fat. I apologize for all of the "quotation marks".
The good news: getting back to the gym has felt very natural to me. I started by running a routine very similar to the one I used last August and feel like I've made some good progress in the last two weeks. Exercise has never really been the problem for me though, so I need to address my diet.
Who the Hell is this Grok Guy Anyway?
Grok is the avatar of primal man over at Mark's Daily Apple, a site built around the idea that modern life has become unsuitable for primitive man. Of specific interest to me is the notion that many modern health issues, from the prevalence of cancer to the overabundance of abdominal fat, can in meaningful ways be linked to an agricultural, grain-based diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
I've been reading and researching the ideas of the paleo diet for a few months and most of its major assertions seem highly plausible. More importantly though, I just think it's cool. As someone who doesn't like most vegetables, that's a huge benefit when it comes to radically re-engineering my diet. And I do mean radically; I love grains and dairy.
The Virtues of Gradualism
Since this will be such a big change for me, I don't intend to do things all at once. Instead I want to make a series of smaller but decisive shifts in both diet and exercise. While I still like my exercise routine, it has most certainly become routine. That's dangerous because it can cause over-training.
I also become dependent on having certain equipment available and, as I learned last fall, it's easy to make excuses when you have to go somewhere specific to work out. To that end, I want a more integrated and varied approach to exercise, mostly modeled on the paleo/primal and Crossfit frameworks.
For diet, I'm going to follow a 3-phase plan:
Add good foods to my diet that I currently lack. Most notably this includes things green and/or leafy but lacking in psychoactive compounds. While I might be able to pull this off in a week, I'm going to give it up to a month to really take hold.
Begin to get more calories from meat and vegetables and less from grains and other simple carbohydrates. Begin buying foods from local sources if possible to avoid issues with nutrient density in products from larger agricultural companies. This stage will last anywhere from 1 to 3 months.
Cease all regular consumption of grain and dairy products. This will probably take another 1 to 2 months.
So if I start in earnest on 2/15, I should become a caveman sometime this summer.
A Final Caveat
The most important goals are fitness and overall health. While primal man may have evolved to eat a certain diet and perform certain types of physical activity, I am a modern man and will take advantage of the benefits that affords. Skepticism is healthy and I always support research instead of accepting things on faith. I'm not opposed to using supplements, modern medicine, or other synthetic compounds as long as I've done the work to understand how they might impact my health.
Like in anything, take the good and leave the bad behind. Looks like Mark agrees. That's another thing I like about this paleo-diet trend, the people don't seem like zealots.