Its time for another edition of Caveman Close-Ups! These are real life stories of fellow college students who began living a healthier, happier lifestyle. If you would like to add your own story, please don’t hesitate to contact us here. Without further ado, Caveman College gives you: Max Gazzara
I began to eat “primal” (or paleo) in my sophomore year of college. The reason why I started eating this way may be quite different than many other people’s stories. In my sophomore year of high school, I began to run cross country and track. All throughout high school, I did not even think about diet, eating pretty much whatever I wanted. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that my interests started to take a turn towards nutrition.
Upon entering my college, I was one of the better distances runners on the team (it was a small team…). Deciding to “take it to the next level,” (whatever that means), I decided I was going to change up my diet and start eating healthier. I began with cutting out typical junk food like pop tarts and chips ahoy. I then continued to get stuck in the conventional wisdom dogma and began to cut out a lot of fat and almost all meat.
When I started losing weight, I thought that it might help me run faster times. I would jump on the scale to see myself lighter, and continued to restrict despite the hunger and fatigue. As the winter went on, I basically became anorexic. Although I was running up to 75 miles per week regularly, I was only consuming just around 2000 calories or less per day (I know, I was counting).
Although this time period only lasted for about 4 to 5 months, it was easily the worst time of my life. I was always tired, hungry, exhausted (I did not want to get out of my chair while sitting ever), cold, and depressed. I had no sex drive. I would do things that never happened before (I won’t go into detail, but for example I wet my bed 3 times… the only 3 times in my life I wet the bed). I went from 135 pounds in November to 115 in April. I am 5’5. I don’t recommend running 11 miles a day and not eating! (I also did not run fast again until I started eating more again).
It did not take much to convince me after months of deprivation to try something new. After a month of all you can eat of everything, I saw Tom Naughton’s movie “Fat Head.” Everything started to make sense, and my mind was blown by the amount of misinformation out there. I read Mark’s Daily Apple and other primal blogs. I cut out all grains, and started eating a ton of saturated fat. From this point on, I was always deeply interested in nutrition and health.
Although I began gorging myself throughout the summer (I would often binge eat due to my time of going to bed hungry most nights), I made another mistake. I was eating too low carb, especially since I was still running a lot. I cut out a lot of fruit and starches because I was convinced they were “bad for me.” It took some more months until I began to realize that starches like potatoes and rice were not going to kill me in the long term.
Avoiding grains and seed oils was not too hard for me in college. A big advantage I had (in regards to nutrition) was that I lived in walking distance from the college I attended. This allowed me to pack my own food as often as I pleased. A staple for me was to take some sort of meat or hard boiled egg, some avocado, and pack it along with cooked sweet potatoes (to make a “sweet potato sandwich”). I’d also pack fruit or sometimes my left over dinner.
As a distance runner, I usually had plenty of fruit or potatoes packed and ready for after my practice. It was extremely easy (especially when you are cheap like me) to resist buying food from the cafeteria.
As for eating out, it’s pretty easy to avoid gluten by not eating bread or pasta. The real trick is avoiding the seed oils and possibly soy. What it comes down to is hoping that the meat or fish you got from going fishing on saturday. Although fishing is a great sport its not something we want to do every single day for many reasons. Going fishing is nice, doing it with a Fiberglass Dock Box when you DO go out is something that is necessary to keep up with the every day challenges that come in with fishing.
I also was able to do well with avoiding junk food by practicing intermittent fasting often. Although I rarely do it now, I used to be pretty strict at different points in the last three years. Going up to 20-24 fasted hours on occasion, I was able to resist “bad” food when tempted, and not being hungry helped.
As of now, just graduating college, I still continue to eat primal, but I eat a lot more starches and fruit than I did two years ago. Luckily Im now with a scholarship thanks to one of the top veterinary schools to continue with my studies and can approach fitness in a more balanced manner as i have all my time more balanced. I already am lifting regularly for strength, improving my speed with sprints, and playing some sports rather than pounding out mileage everyday. Sometimes I fear that I may have messed with my metabolism due to the lack of caloric intake during that six month span, and then the following six month span of eating low carb while running high mileage.
I believe the real culprit in poor health is processed food, mostly due to the high amounts of poly-unsaturated fat and fructose from corn sugars. Combine this with other unidentifiable ingredients, and a diet that consists of little nutrition due to high grains, and you have an issue. Overall, I feel the healthiest diet consists of mainly saturated fat (from coconut, chocolate, grass fed butter etc), starches that are non-inflammatory and not GMO (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, even good quality wheat in some cases :-o), fruit and easily digested vegetables, and properly raised meat, fish, and eggs. I am now very interested in ideas spread by Matt Stone and Emily Michelle Benfit from “Butter Believer” http://butterbeliever.com/how-to-nourish-your-metabolism/ .
I’m 22 years old, live in Queens, NYC. I’m very interested in nutrition, health, fitness, food, minimalism, and a holistic lifestyle. I used to be very into music and can play a few instruments. I ran competitively for about 7 years for my high school and college team, but am not sure to continue or pick up a more balanced fitness approach.
In His Own Words:
“Who would have ever thought I’d think about posture, digestion, hormones, stress and sleep so much”