I recently took on the challenge of eating a Paleo Diet for thirty days. What is Paleo? “Paleo Diet – is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age.”(Paleo)
These different food groups include; nuts, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and eggs. It eliminates any sort of dairy or grains completely. The idea is that on a time-scale of our human ancestors, we have only been eating foods like grain and milk for a short period of time. The theory is that by eliminating those types of food we can feed our bodies what they naturally crave. I am currently on day twelve of my thirty days. In those twelve days I have seen a decrease of 5% body fat and a total weight loss of around 14lbs. My stomach has become less agitated and the feeling of “bloat” that usually accompanies a day of food has gone completely. I also by no means have ever felt hungry or starved of food. It has been almost the opposite, I have made meals that I can hardly finish. Meals that consist of chicken and mounds of vegetables. I know that I could easily scarf down a whole medium or large pizza by myself(maybe not at one time, but certainly in one day) and still eat other foods along with it. However, if I make a stir-fry that has chicken and a variety of vegetables, I can hardly finish my plate. Along with eating Paleo I have been juicing occasionally to get an extra bump of vegetables and nutrients. Of course there were days when my cravings for bread or dairy were quite strong, but I would find something to eat that was healthy and my cravings would stop. Our bodies crave foods…it’s part of being alive. We want food to survive. When I know that I am hungry because of boredom or a craving, I ask myself, “Do you want an apple or some sort of vegetable?”. If I don’t want either of those, then am I really hungry? or just reverting to old ways of over-cossumntion and eating for the sake of eating. I read at one point that the Paleo Diet helps you make reason for your eating behaviors. I’m only on day twelve, but I can see why that is true. Just like any other addiction, food is a substance that can be abused. On day three all I was craving was cheese covered bread. It wasn’t that my body was hungry, it was the simple fact that my mind wanted it to feel comfort. For many people food plays a huge role in emotional recovery. I know that if I am upset or angry, food was and is something I could turn to to settle me down. Back in the day I could easily wolf down 10 snickers bars, a massive soda, and ice cream and feel content and comfortable. The reason that it was comforting is because of the amount of sugars in those foods. It is also the same with grains. When grain enters your body it is converted into sugar. So we eat a whole pizza, not realizing that all of it is turning to sugar within your body. Here is a a link that basically breaks down what sugar does in our bodies, as well as the differences in the sugars we eat. LINK: SUGAR (Also, try watching “Hungry for Change” on Netflix. It is a good look at why we eat the way we eat nowadays.)
I have no reservations about continuing for another eighteen days. Every morning so far I have woken up feeling refreshed and not bogged down. At the end of the thirty days I want see where I am at, and if it something that I could continue with. It is the same as someone deciding to be solely vegetarian or vegan. It is simply a way of eating. There is no reason that it becomes “law” and that you should feel guilty by going against the way you have decided to eat. I don’t think for a second that I will never have pizza or cake ever again. That is illogical and a recipe for failure. It is just a way of eating the majority of the time. It not only makes you feel better, it also makes you more aware of what we consume and why we are consuming it.
Plus the food just looks good (and you can eat bacon):
Laden with sugars and artificial sweeteners, the amount of gum consumed by the American populous has become a growing concern. It is commonly known that a sleeve of wriggles gum, although approved by the American Dental Association(ADA), has undergone an intense change since its introduction to the consumer many years ago. Natural Sugars and Flavors have been replaced with the likes of Aspartame and Xylitol, and any resemblance to the pre evolutionated gum of the past is non-existant……….
Fault can be found with anything. A pro’s and con’s list can be made up for every single substance, issue, and cultural event. There are negatives to working out daily. There are positives to drinking.Fault can be found at anytime by those wishing to find it. So it is with Guns and Gun Control. We live in a world of polarities. Meaning, that for our brains to logically understand an opinion or an idea, we must associate it with the opposite. For example; when we look at what we perceive to be evil in this world, we compare it to what we perceive to be Good. That is why there is a Heaven and a Hell, a North and a South, also The Brady Campaign and The NRA. We are genetically programed from birth to seek out opposites. That is why our brains have difficulty in non polar situations. Same sex marriage is such a hot zone because many can’t wrap their heads around the non-polarity of the coupling of one single gender. This polarity however can be taught over time to become accustomed to unfamiliarity. The younger generations of Americans have now grown up in a culture that is more open to ethnicity, religious affiliations, and alternative lifestyles. It is an evolution of the brain in a sense. So when we come to issues like “Gun Control” there is an obvious split of opinion. There will always be those who approve and those who disapprove. As a country we can sit and debate and talk and fight as much as we want and really never solve a gosh darn thing. The only thing that legitimately changes opinion on matters is living in it. If the Government and the President were to actually lead our country (as they have been elected to do) they wouldn’t sit and “talk” all these issues over. It would be more prudent to take a stance, execute it fully, and see the outcome. How are we to know if gun control works, if we don’t try it? How are we to know that by putting armed guards into schools it will decrease school violence, if we don’t try it? We can throw ideas around all we want. Congress can banter and mumble their way through an endless maze. The world isn’t ending any time soon, so why don’t we try every solution? This country is built on checks and balances, and if we see that it simply isn’t working….we try something else. Say we see wide-spread Gun Control in the next 5 years, but we also see an increase of illegal gun trade and violence? As a country we could say, “This isn’t working. Let’s try a new route” and go down a completely opposite path. This country is crippled by its unwillingness and stubbornness to put down its egos, listen, and take action. The old cliche, “You don’t understand me until you walk a mile in my shoes.” should be the motto of this country. Let’s just try something. Anything. Moving forward in any direction is better than standing still.
Hitting a weight of 240lbs+ and a body fat percentage of 39%, being able to eat upwards of 10 king sized snickers bars in one sitting, may have been the bottom of the pit.(In terms of my over all well-being and health.)
In a 6 month lifestyle change and body reboot I managed to lose the weight. Beginning as a New Years resolution on January 1st and reaching my goal weight around mid July. I had shot down to weighing around 175lbs with a body fat percentage of somewhere around 15%. The move to St. George was also a positive experience for my weight loss and physical state. The amount of hiking and outdoor activities available, even in the Winter, allowed me even more outlets for exercise. Not to mention living with Tasha was a huge encouragement. We would hit the gym every morning at 5A.M. and eat healthy throughout the day, only to be back in the gym for an evening session.
Tasha and I decided to sign up for the Coeur D’ Alene Half Marathon and began our training for the race. Running is not in the Larsen gene pool. There are some people that have running in their blood…I am not one of those people. Running for me is a giant chore and I hate almost every aspect of it. Although, it got me into the best shape I had EVER been in. The day before the Half Marathon had me at 164lbs with a body fat percentage of 12% to 13%. There just also was a limit of to what my mentality could stand. I hadn’t eaten fast food in almost a year, and egg whites had over stayed their welcome on my daily meal plans. As soon as School came back into the picture and with school came theatre, I took a slight turn towards the unhealthy. Time spent at rehearsal or on homework meant less time in the evenings or mornings for workouts and scheduled meal plans. I began to eat late night fast food again and skipping workouts regularly. By the end of the year I was back to 185lbs and I stopped measuring body fat percentages.
As with the end of 2010, the start of 2011 saw an increase in weight. I hopped and bobbed anywhere from the 180’s to the 200’s and back again. I was then cast in the Neil Simon festival and during the time spent in Cedar I was able to maintain a steady weight that remained anywhere from 184lbs to 190lbs. Living alone gives me absolute control of what is purchased at the grocery store. I have an irrational fear that clerks at grocery stores and fast food places judge me for my food choice. Therefore, I don’t buy unhealthy things. I’m sure it’s not a normal thing, but I honestly don’t want to be cured of that. I’d rather have the fear of a drive-thru than be eating it. As 2011 came to an end my weight and eating habits changed on a weekly basis. One week I was strict and motivated, the next I was eating entire pizzas or cakes by myself. 2011 ended munch like it started…very unbalanced in terms of living healthy.
2012 really was a year of giant drops and gains. By February of that year I had seen an increase of weight into the low 200’s and a complete stop of all physical activity. The summer was spent in the Mountains of Southern Idaho doing theatre and once again I was able to make food choices based solely on what I was willing to purchase. The summer saw a drop of weight back into the 180’s and increase of muscle strength and cardio stamina. The summer ended and I againnnnn became stagnant. I am mortified to say that by October I had jumped to a staggering 216lbs and a body fat percentage of 26%. I had never come so close to my original weight in the last five years. It scared me. I was unhappy and extremely self conscious. I once again made the change back to being focused and energized about my health. By Christmas I was back to weighing around 195lbs with a body fat percentage of 21%
I started the year motivated and determined to get to a point that I am healthy and able to workout daily with energy. I currently weigh 185lbs and have a body fat percentage of 19%. My ultimate goal is to focus on my body fat percentage instead of my weight. There are days where I weigh myself upwards of 5 or 6 times and focus only on reaching a certain weight. I know that when I do that I begin to deprive myself of food or work my body into the ground when It is tired. By focusing on my body fat percentage I have been able to make eating decisions that don’t deprive me and don’t cause my mind to think I’m dieting and go into starvation mode. I have began to focus on muscle gains from lifting as well as increased stamina in cardio. As an actor it is incredibly important that I am comfortable within my own skin as well as healthy enough to portray any part with out having mental blocks. My goals in life would and will be inhibited by an excess of weight. When I have an increase of weight on my body dancing becomes harder and mentally exhausting. The same goes for other aspects of theatre such as; stage combat, warming up, vocal performance, the ability to move in costume pieces, and countless other things. 2013 I know will be a good year and I’m determined to keep my body and mind healthy, moving, and goal oriented. That being said…it’s time for the gym.