Have you ever done something so life changing that you can't imagine what life was like before?
This is my story of following the Primal Blueprint lifestyle.
It started a couple months ago when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law mentioned it to us several times. No grains, no carbs, no sugar. It sounded IMPOSSIBLE. Especially for a "runner" like me who eats enough carbs to run a marathon every single day. Mostly meat, eggs, and vegetables. High-fat dairy like whole milk and cream are encouraged in moderation. And dark chocolate.
And the benefits they talked about - no more hunger, no tiredness or crashes, feel better overall, weight loss, etc, etc, etc. It was appealing, but.....
Nope. Never! Give up my daily oatmeal? And fresh crunchy bread? And pasta nights before a long run? And DONUTS?! Runners can't go primal.
WRONG. I've been primal (or predator as I like to call it) for over a month. And still running.
My husband and I went back and forth for several weeks with these thoughts:
- That lifestyle would be impossible to maintain
- I'd miss carbs
- Our running would suffer
- It would be so much more expensive
- I get sick on high cream and whole milk
- It's just plain crazy
But then, my BIL sent us this blog post about a marathoner who went primal and it changed her life. And so we decided to give it a try with two months until our next race (a half marathon).
So what is PRIMAL? You eat certain foods to change your body into a FAT burning machine instead of a SUGAR burning machine. Your insulin gets regulated, you burn fat that you have stored, and you last longer between meals. It all goes back to those days before agriculture, when humans were eating meats and greens that were not processed or genetically-modified.
So what is a typical day like? I have 2 eggs in the morning, with berries on the side. Lunch is a big salad with leftover sliced meat from the day before (steak or chicken). Snacks are nuts, apples, almond butter, carrots. And for dinner, we grill up some chicken or steak and eat with veggies, or we've been trying some amazing recipes (favorites below). Bacon (nitrate free) is encouraged. And, wine and cheese is allowed. Which is all you need to know.
The best part is: whole milk in lattes. Have you had one? They are amazing and creamy and delicious. WHY have I been starving myself with skim lattes? No more. This lifestyle is amazingly satisfying because....you are satisfying your body's need for healthy fats. No low-fat crap. Full fat goodness.
I can say that after going "primal" for just a month, these are the benefits that we both have experienced:
- Weight loss (my husband more than me)
- No hunger
- Satisfaction (you can eat butter and whole milk!)
- Feel amazing pretty much all the time
- Better endurance during long runs
- Faster running
- Balanced moods (yes, this one is important)
- Amazing food
- No digestive issues (TMI?)
I can't say that it's been the easiest thing I've ever done. But, most rewarding things in life take willpower and effort. If you are interesting in trying this lifestyle, here is my guide to you.
- Read Mark's Daily Apple blog. This is the "founder's" blog with many stories, how-tos, grocery lists, and recipes.
- Buy the books: The Primal Blueprint, Quick and Easy Meals, and The Primal Cookbook (cheaper on Amazon).
- Buy a food processor. This is a must. I have used my food processor more in the last month that I have in the last 3 years. At least a 9-cup.
- Buy organic, grass-fed, and local when you can. Have you ever had farm fresh eggs? They are amazing. And grass-fed beef is so much more nutritious for you. I was a skeptic - why would I pay more for the same thing? But it's not the same.
- Plan your Meals and Sunday Foodprep. I use this sheet to help me plan meals for the week. Lindsay over at LeanGreenBean has some great posts on Sunday Foodprep - spending a couple hours on Sunday can make for an easy week.
- Don't talk about it too much. It's hard - but people will think you are crazy at first. It's hard when you become a believer not to be preachy....as I'm doing right now. Oops.
- Try new recipes! There is almost a recipe for EVERYTHING primal - cookies, pizza, ice cream. You just need to change some ingredients. Below are some of my favorites so far.
- Be strong! Remember why you are doing this - to be healthly, and to eat the way your body was designed to.
Of course, there are always downsides to a change in lifestyle. Luckily, my husband and I are doing it together, which makes it easier. And it helps that family is doing it too. BUT.....
- Running for three weeks WAS hard for me. My legs felt like lead, and I felt heavy and dull. The amount of time that it can take your body to change from sugar burning to fat burning can last about three weeks. And as soon as I hit that fourth week, I started having amazing workouts. So hang in there.
- Eating out is a little harder. Especially when people start asking questions. Gluten-free is pretty mainstream now, so that's how I ask at restaurants.
- It is SLIGHTLY pricer to buy groceries. But, you eat out less. You plan more, which means less food wasted. And you aren't buying other foods like cereal and snacks.
- Mark (primal founder dude) does NOT recommend marathons...or any cardio over 25 minutes. He calls it Chronic Cardio. Sigh. That part of me unfortuatnely is not going to change anytime soon.
- I follow the 80/20 rule. Wine occasionally. Dark chocolate covered almonds. And I had mini grilled cheese at a wedding. And even though beer isn't primal because it's a grain....I still love a good beer.
I have a half marathon on May 26. My goal is a sub-2 hour race. If going primal helps me get there, then this is all worth it. And the fact that I feel pretty good is a bonus.
Favorite Recipes so far (images are linked, otherwise they are from the cookbooks):
Check out my Living Primal Pinterest Board. Recipe heaven.
Would you try this? If you think I'm crazy, you can let me know in the comments.
Dear Joe, you were right.