100 Days of Change – My Transformation Story

by Mark Sisson Mark's Daily Apple

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Note: Andrew experiments with Intermittent Fasting. While IFing is an effective tool for many people, it is not a required component of the Primal Blueprint. As Andrew says, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

I’m nearly 56 years old and about four years from retirement. I have been training for retirement by building skills and habits for things I want to do when I retire, and at the same time I’m training for my eighties. Health care is on a path to crisis for people my age, and I figure the only way to survive the health-care crisis is to not need it. I came up with the 100-days idea because I figure it takes about three months to make a real change in oneself, and I had several real changes I needed to make. I choose to think in days, because change-making is a daily commitment.

My first 100-day objective was simply to get more active and build strength. I was 230 pounds, it was late July 2011, and I began a weight-lifting/cardio routine coupled with low-carb/Primal Blueprint diet. After 100 days I was much healthier and 220 pounds. I wasn’t strict enough with the calorie restriction, so despite eating more Primally I didn’t lose all that much weight. I did lose fat, but gained muscle.

The second 100 days began in November 2011, and my objective was to become a better Nordic skier. I skied 108 days between mid-November and the end of March. I went from being a floundering spastic to being able to ski with most of the better skiers in my age range, but I never had their speed or endurance uphill. My weight didn’t change much, but again I had not embraced the caloric restriction idea. Low-carb is important, but I think that at some point you have to eat less if you’re going to lose weight.

The third 100-day objective was to get myself to a healthy weight and be prepared for intense XC ski training at the beginning of the next ski season. At that time I wanted to be firmly under 200 pounds. I set my sights on losing another 25 pounds and starting trail running and mountain biking to help with my conditioning.

Running has never been my thing because of lower back trouble. Running made it so painful I figured I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I was wrong about that of course (more on the back pain later). Trail running turns out to be a lot easier on my back than road or treadmill running.

I began alternate-day eating in April this year at 220 pounds. I took a real interest in Nordic skiing (both classic and skate) last winter and I happen to live near an excellent Nordic ski facility, which transforms into an amazing XC running and single-track biking facility when the snow leaves. This is my playground.

My program for the summer was to eat only within a 4-hour window every second day, and run or ride 4 to 10 km 4 or 5 times per week. For 10 weeks I followed the ADE program without faltering and then began to relax a little, going to one meal a day for a week, then back to alternate days for a while. I was still eating a lot less, but as I approach a healthy weight it becomes less important, and sometimes it seems to work better eating a smaller amount once every day.

I took the word fasting out of the alternate-day program because I think fasting is more than skipping a meal, or even several meals. Not being a scientist or nutritionist, all I have is my own body for a lab and my own experimentation for evidence. Some things I have proven sufficiently to guide me, other stuff I’m still testing. As such, you should consider this anecdotal and your mileage may vary!

I believe there are three phases of hunger as follows:

  1. Psychological demand to eat. You can ignore this. All you’re doing is messing with your mind.
  2. Physiological demand to eat. You can ignore this too. Now you’re messing with your digestive system and it tells you about it.
  3. Physiological need to eat. Don’t panic, but pay attention. This is the zone where real changes take place in your body. This is what I consider fasting to be.

Physiological need is quite a different matter from the demand phases. It kicks in late on day 3 or maybe day 4 of a fast. In my opinion, before that time all you did was skip a meal or two or three. I’m not suggesting that phases 1 and 2 are easy; in fact they are the most difficult.

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