Living Like a Caveman

4 minute read

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, a trainer or an health expert. This is just my story. You are the only responsible for whatever happens should you decide to listen to advice.

Around the beginning of 2011 I decided to change the way I was taking care of my body. Being a programmer and a geek, it should come to no surprise that I am almost always sitting in front of a computer, writing stuff all day long. I’m 178 cm tall but around that time I used to weight a whopping 99.8 Kilograms. Slow metabolism is partly to blame. Most of that weight, in fact, came from bad habits and disputable lifestyle.

I used to eat everything, whenever I wanted, mostly fat and sugary stuff. Ice cream after every meal, fruit juice, tons of pasta, pizza and bread until I felt satiated. Combine this terrible diet with little to no exercise and you have a recipe for disaster.

The saying “diet makes 80% of any weight loss plan” is true. My first step was to cut all superfluous food intakes (like all those pesky ice creams). Results didn’t wait to show up: I immediately began to loose weight. Around that time I decided to combine “diet” (quoted, because it wasn’t really a diet, but just a small change in habits) with lightweight jogging around the neighborhood.

At some point I essentially stopped losing weight. It was clear that simply eating a little less and doing some exercise wasn’t enough to reach my goal.

Around October 2011, however I had an accident and broke both my mandible and maxilla, thus had to eat liquid food for about two months. Two things happened:

  • The sudden and forced change in dietary habits (I essentially had to “eat” soup, for two months), helped to reduce the size of my stomach, thus changing my sense of satiety for the better.

  • I cut my hairs and beard (for no other reason than “well, I guess now it’s time to do it”), loosing the terrifying “hardcore nerd” look I had.

Nevertheless to say, body mass started to decrease again.

During the second half of 2012 I started to practice strength training and immediately saw the results. I now have more defined biceps and lower abs and thinner legs. It is now December 2012 and I can say that I reached my goal: I went from 99.8 Kg to 73.0 Kg, thus loosing more than 26 kilograms in the process.

Now that my goals for 2012 have been reached, it is time to set a new one for 2013: reduce body fat to 10-12% by summer.

Paleolithic Diet

It is by now clear that portion control, cutting some aliments and a little exercise isn’t enough to improve fitness and reduce body fat. One has to seriously reconsider which foods make someone’s diet to learn which bits need optimization.

A research brought me to the Mediterranean Diet and the Paleolithic Diet. After evaluating both I decided to settle on the Paleolithic Diet.

I decided for the latter after reading the reasoning behind it. Quoting the Wikipedia article: “Paleolithic nutrition is based on the premise that modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic ancestors and that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, and therefore that an ideal diet for human health and well- being is one that resembles this ancestral diet.”. At first glance, it makes logical sense to me, so why not try it?

Apparently it doesn’t force you to count calories and it is not an extreme diet like Dukan’s and Atkins. In fact, you don’t privilege one macronutrient at the expense of the other two. While being a low-carbohydrates diet, it still promotes intake of all three macronutrients.

I consider the Paleolithic Diet to be an “improved” Mediterranean Diet, which shifts focus from high-carbs foods (like pizza, pasta) to vegetables and unprocessed (read: saner) edibles.

Paleolithic Exercise?

A nutritional plan is nothing if it’s not being combined with proper exercise. Common sense tells us to apply for a gym membership and sweat for hours, multiple times a week, also, throw a lot of cardio while you are at it. Is all of this really necessary?

Apparently not. There’s a school of thought born around the same principles of Paleolithic Diet which follows the “do what you’re engineered to do” mantra we’ve seen before.

This caveman’s fitness plan doesn’t involve machines. Just bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, dips, squats, crunches, etc. Simple supporting tools, such as pull-up and dip bars are all that’s really needed to get in shape.

What follows is my detailed workout plan for the whole week.

Workout Schedule

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
6:00 Mini + Run Mini Mini + Run Mini Mini + Run
18:00 Regular - Regular - Regular

Run: a 6 km run at moderate pace with short sprints of around 200 m each time I feel like doing it, for a minimum of four times in a single session.

Mini Workout Plan

A simple circuit of three exercises to do every workday. Repeat the circuit three times resting one minute between each run but don’t rest between exercises in the same run.

Area Exercise Reps
Core Crunches 20
Upper Chin-Ups 5
Lower Squats 25

Regular Workout Plan

Perform each circuit four times, resting one minute between each run.

Circuit 1

Area Exercise Reps
Core Sit-Ups 20
Upper Pull-Ups 5
Lower Squats 25

Circuit 2

Area Exercise Reps
Core Crunches 20
Upper Chin-Ups 5
Lower Lunges 20

Circuit 3

Area Exercise Reps
Core Crunches 20
Upper Dips 10
Lower Boot-Strappers 20

Conclusions

Changing my life style is one of the best things I’ve ever did. I feel more confident, more energetic, I get tired less often and just let bad things past me. If there’s a recipe for happines, part of the ingredients certainly are an healthy diet and good exercise.

Further Reading