Here is an update on those two stories just for my very own blog.
Seven years ago, in preparation for my wedding, I went to a personal trainer to talk about getting a bit more lean and fit for the wedding. Thank goodness he’s a knowledgeable guy because I said, “you’re going to tell me not to eat so much red meat, aren’t you?”
He said, “No! I usually recommend something like to the paleo diet.”
That began six years (and counting) of dramatically improved health and wellness.
By way of introduction, I am a teacher by trade, I have an amazing wife of close to six years, a three year old, and a two year old. A recovering chronic cardio exerciser in the form of running medium distances at medium speeds and carb lover in the form of bagels, pizza, and beer, paleo has been a huge departure from my former habits and a huge stabilizer for me through a ton of transition and stress.
I’m in my third iteration of this health and primal journey with who knows how many more to come. The first was changing the way I ate and exercised with an eye on Looking Good Naked, and the second was a journey of accepting the broader lifestyle to fold in mindfulness and connection in ways that included responsibly sourcing food, and viewing this way of eating as part of living my best life. The latest version involves some experiments with keto and a desire to teach others what has worked such wonders for me.
My current keto version of things is relatively straightforward for those of you familiar with the subject, and it is very much a natural follow up to the early paleo days of unlimited almond flour baked products and endless piles of meat and sweet potato…not that there’s anything wrong with that. These days, I eat vegetables with reckless abandon. My boss was sitting next to me at lunch a week or two ago, and he said, “good god, man. That’s a lot of lettuce.” I said, “thank you,” and he looked confused.
Anyway, I don’t add fat I wouldn’t otherwise eat through buttered coffee or excessive bacon, but I’m not shy about dousing roasted veggies in olive oil, putting some excess dressing on my salads I enjoy so much, or even encouraging the family to enjoy some mayo from time to time. I have found all of the touted benefits of keto to be true, and those include mental clarity, decreased hunger, and the most even energy I can picture with two kids under four. Breakfast is no longer a part of my eating routine, and it truly is because I don’t feel hungry when I wake up.
Outside of the kitchen, I have fallen in love with the weight room, and, though I haven’t fallen in love with Tabatas (who could…they’re awful!), I find that eight minutes of torture per week in exchange for pushing my health is probably worth it. I read a suggestions by Mark Sisson a few months ago of super sets totaling between 15 and 20 reps over three sets with thirty second breaks between, and that routine has been great for me. I can get a full body, really challenging workout in around half an hour, and the gains are coming fast. After two or three months of this routine, personal bests in the bench press, hex-bar dead lift, and box jump heights have followed.
A few years ago, some co-workers were interested in my transformation, and I told them what I had done. A couple of them had some success with my suggestions, and, equally as important, I found the process of having meaningful discussions around health with them incredibly gratifying. I decided to become a Primal Heath Coach because helping people regain control of their health feels like such a worthy goal to me. Sam’s Whole Health was born a year or so ago, and it has been incredible to begin a phase of my life as a support for those looking to improve their health. Clients have a hard time believing they needn’t be hungry, needn’t slave away in the gym, have every right to eight or nine hours of sleep each night, and, most of all, deserve to live and age gracefully; however they define that.
The more time I spend thinking about health through a primal lens, the easier it is to connect it with many of the problems I see in our world today. People are disconnected with each other, with the environment and the sources of their food, and from the impact of their actions in unprecedented ways, and I think it is impossible to make positive changes in one’s health without reestablishing some of these connections. I have a book in the works that speaks to some of this, and I’m excited to see what other insights present themselves as I interview experts and do more research.
On a personal level, fatherhood, meditation, basketball, sleep, making time to connect with friends and loved ones, and working to align the life I want with the life I have with an eye toward acceptance round out my Primal pursuits these days. My second success story highlighted the challenges that parenting continues to present and the new experiences that are gifted to me daily. As I write this sentence my daughter is refusing to nap upstairs and my cortisol levels are through the roof…but I digress. Meditation in particular continues to be a saving grace as I plumb the depths of my patience, love, and understanding with and for my children. Giving myself the best chance to be healthy through diet, sleep, and exercise feel like a wonderful investment as I portion out my limited energy resources at this time of life.
Everything I wrote in my first two letters to Mark still rings true. The momentum that I mentioned around good decisions begetting more good decisions continues to grow. Dessert, beer, and grains are literally and figuratively off the table for me, and my will power is no longer spent trying to resist foods that are antithetical to my goals anyway. Most of all, I have anchored my approaching (already here?) middle age in the Primal lifestyle. I am banking hours in the gym, the kitchen, asleep in my bed, with my wife, and with my children with an eye toward living Whole and awesome today and for years to come.