Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paleo Movement: Efficient Exercise - It's time to lift Heavy Things

Welcome to the new Wednesday post!  I've conducting my very own n=1 experiment for the past few months and it's time I let the world in on my progress as I believe I have found that final puzzle piece, so to speak, in my paleo journey (that sounds corny, but it's true).  Starting April 1, I participated in an eight week Project Transformation Class at Efficient Exercise and my results were so amazing, that I've decided to continue working out at Efficient Exercise under the careful watch of experienced trainers.  You might recognize Keith Norris, one of the masterminds behind PaleoFX.  I will also be continuing to get nutritional advice from Amy Kubal, RD who will be sharing her wealth of paleo nutrition knowledge with Efficient Exercise clients in the future.  On Wednesdays, I'll be blogging about my Project Transformation experience and my continued training at Efficient Exercise as well as my nutrition.  I'm super excited and I hope you are too.  

If you're interested in how I found Efficient Exercise and my results, keep reading.  

When a gym has a halo, it's a good thing. 

I Might have Missed Something.

I found the Paleo way of eating almost two years ago.  At the beginning, I was a paleo information sponge.  In addition to scouring the internet, I bought  Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution.  Sure, sure, I saw the chapter on "Ancestral Fitness" and all the recommendations on the paleo blogosphere to lift heavy, but I had my exercise routine - Masters Swimming. So, I completely ignored that information.  In fact, I think I completely skipped the Ancestral Fitness chapter in Robb Wolf's book as I would have remembered the awesome Battlestar Galactic reference I discovered when I read it recently.  

I love to swim.  I love to race.
My typical routine was to swim an interval based coached 1.5 hour swim practice 6 days a week. I'd average 4000-4500 yards a practice.  I would do a traditional strength training circuit every once and a while but certainly not with any regularity.  Over my first seven months of adopting a strict measured/weighed paleo diet, I leaned out and got very close to what I thought my goal weight was.  I was ecstatic, but eating strictly was wearing on me, so I loosened up a bit.  I didn't weigh everything; I had some sweet potato with dinner (instead of just post workout); had a few nuts; and some fruit.  I was a wild woman let me tell you.  What happened?  

My weight started nudging up.  I was still swimming, so in my mind exercise wasn't an issue.  And then a cycle, which I think is familiar to many who have struggled with their weight, occurred.  I buckled down to strict paleo again and then got upset when the results weren't happening, so I'd binge on some really un-paleo things.  Back and forth, buckle down then binge.  Very quickly, I had put all the weight back on that I lost, didn't swim regularly and my IBS symptoms that paleo had made disappear came back with a vengeance.

New Year's Resolutions Sabotaged.

January 2013, I did as many do and decided to go strict paleo (weighed/measured Robb Wolf-ian Paleo template plus- no fruit, no nuts, starchy carbs only post workout) and swim 6 times a week.  I did allow myself 2 glasses of wine a week.  At the end of the month, I had logged just over 50 miles in the pool and lost 7.1 pounds.  Then everything went wrong.  January 30, I came down with Norovirus.  It took me a good two weeks to recover from that horrid experience.  My first day back at the pool, I had trouble breathing -  I had bronchitis.  I soon found myself right back where I was on January 1, plus a little.

When Opportunity Knocks, Take a Leap of Faith.

One afternoon in March, I recieved an invitation through Amy Kubal for an informational meeting for a Project Transformation at Efficient Exercise.  At that information meeting, Keith Norris laid out the basics of the methodology used at the gym, High Intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIIRT), the hormonal changes it facilitates, and Amy Kubal talked about the basics of eating a paleo diet, the preferred nutrition plan/template of the gym.  While I'll get into more specifics in a future post, the program was essentially 8 weeks of group training, 2 - 30 minute workouts a week for the very reasonable price of $150.  

During the question and answer session, someone asked about cardio and additional activity.  The answer?  Basically, other than the hour of workouts at the gym, additional heavy cardio was not recommended.  How about Masters Swimming?  One of the trainers explained it was fine to take a walks and participate in activities that you enjoy, but heavy cardio was not recommended.   What about masters swimming? *Crickets*  Not recommended.  

Starting this program would require me to, at least temporarily, abandon my lifetime primary mode of exercise and my primary social group.  At first I thought, "what do they know, I'll keep swimming."  But then I realized, if I did this, I needed to go all in or I'd potentially sabotage myself.  I thought about the fact that what I had done in the past had worked in that I could lean out, but didn't cause the shift I needed to make it such that I could easily maintain a healthier body composition.  This was an awesome opportunity.  I took a leap of faith, and followed Efficient Exercise's recommendations.  No swimming.

The Numbers Don't Lie.

Was my faith rewarded?  Remember my New Year's Resolution month in January where I swam 50 miles doing strict paleo and lost 7.1 pounds? During a month of the Transformation Program, exercising just 1 hour a week and eating strict paleo in the same way I did, except for omitting alcohol and starchy carbs altogether, 11.3 pounds gone.  By the end of the 8 week program, I had lost 17 pounds and I'm still losing.

What's even better is that my IBS symptoms are again gone and I feel very solid from a digestion standpoint.  I also am starting to feel physically stronger.  Really, there's no other way to say it - I feel FANTASTIC.

Now I know that weight isn't the end-all be-all metric one should be concerned with and many paleo authorities say to throw out your scale, but, for my purposes, while I have a fair amount of leaning out to do, it's a good indication of my progress.  I use a Withings Scale, which shows me my weight broken down into lean mass and fat.  I recently had a DEXA Scan and found that this scale is actually pretty darn accurate.  The top line represents my total weight and the bottom line represents pounds of fat lost.  You can see that the downward slopes nearly match and the majority of my loss has in fact been fat.  

I love that slope!

Staying the Course.

While I miss the pool, I can't argue with the results that Efficient Exercise's Transformation Program gave me.  I'm amazed.  I will go back to the pool eventually and Efficient Exercise actually tailors programs to help athletes enhance their sport performance, but, for now, I'm going to focus on continuing with Efficient Exercise in one on one and group training and I will bring the world along for the ride as I blog about it in my new Wednesday Paleo Movement Post.  

Next week's post will explore my actual Project Transformation Experience.  My Wednesday Efficient Exercise Paleo Movement posts will also be shared on the Efficient Exercise Blog as a Client Point of View Series.  Along with sharing my experience, I'll be helping them share Point of View interviews with other clients.  They already have some great video interviews there.