#6 no tomato biggie sized with an iced tea

There was a time in my life that this was what I ordered everyday. In fact I even added an extra five piece chicken nugget. At that point it was the only this I ate all day except for the 3-4 quad shot mochas I would get from Starbucks. It was at least a $26 dollar a day habit. At this time of my life I generally worked 730 am until about 9pm. I rarely took breaks but if there was something in the snack room I probably ate it. I looked at the time something like this.

IMG_0248 A little over sized in the mid section and feeling like I needed to hide in a giant costume to make it through the day. Although I was in the Mickey suite I was far from the happiest place on earth. It was hard and embarrassing buy I had to make that money right. I had to take care of the family. IN the end I learned a valuable lesson. Most of you know the story but for those that do not the chasing of my tail or money in this instance led to divorce. It was then I decided to make some change.

The journey that transpired over what is now nearly 3.5 years ago and is still ongoing has been nothing short of life changing. It is safe to say that I do not eat fast food any longer. It did not happen overnight and I’m writing this hoping that you don’t have to go through the same 3.5 years to get there. They say that books are written by those that have had experience to help others shorten the time frame it takes them to travel to the same destination. In simple terms I made the mistakes so you don’t have too.

Journey #1: Learning to exercise consistently. P90x was the program that I chose to get the exercise in order. I was not really eating at all(which I don’t advise) but I was depressed. Going through a divorce I just couldn’t find an appetite. When I did it was a 52 pack of dibs (another thing I don’t advise). Even though I was not eating since I was overweight and I went from zero exercise to 6 days a week I lost weight. Me at 6 weeks:
It  is not pretty but I was done approximately 15-20 pounds. I marched onward. I still ate whatever I could get my hands on. I generally ate when someone made something for me. This lasted until about February of the following year. This shot is from November. When I moved back and I had to feed the kids I decided it was time to eat better. I reached out to a friend and began my journey of clean eating.

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Journey #2: The second part of the journey combined clean eating with exercise. At this point I was beginning to do Insanity and had been eating based on a caloric structure my nutritionist friend prescribed. I still cheated often and had some fast food with the kids but for the most part I was on it. I started to notice a considerable change in my physique. I was starting to see definition. At this point I was all the way down from 205 + pounds to 155 pounds. I was pretty small. The definition was based on being lean. I did not lift weights and I did not do anything other than Insanity and an occasional P90X for the heck of it.

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Journey #3: Soon after this part of the journey and running classes out of my house I was hired at Powerfit Personal Training. I was opened up to the world of weights. I began to lift and I cleaned up my food even more. I had to I thought. I had to walk the walk. I wanted to put on some muscle and I wanted to see a little more definition. With weeks of hard work and some coaching by my colleague Chris Barbour I started to see some mass gain. I gained weight and I made it up to about 170 pounds or so. This is what that part of the journey looked like.

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I felt really good but I had several stomach issues. I had irritable bowl, digestive issues galore and overall I did not feel healthy. The story goes a few directions from here but I tried paleo briefly before I began training to step on stage for a show. I had been bulking for the show before I tried and I was actually up to 196 pounds again. I looked rather funny but it was part of the process.

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This process of learning how to add and subtract weight in a way that was controlled by me was still very foreign. I began to learn how to use food as fuel for the body but I was still eating many things that my body did not agree with. The bodybuilding show was right around the corner and I had to make a decision. Continue to make my body hate me so I could do well in a competition or just simply let go of the hard work and focus on my health. There were several other reasons that I chose not to compete in that show and I wrote about them in Many Journeys. I got down rather low in body fat and composition along this journey though. Here is a shot of what I looked like at this point. 

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Journey #4: So let’s recap where we stand. I am a man addicted to work who eats a #6 from Wendy’s every day. I am overweight sick and out of shape. Then I go through a divorce. This life challenge wakes me up to the possibility of exercise. I begin to exercise 6 days a week but I am still clueless to what it means to fuel your body. Moving forward I am now on the exercise and I decide to eat cleaner and follow a nutrition plan. This really has an impact on how my body looks, feels and functions but I am still not totally disciplined. I still munch around on things I should not when the kids are with me or when I get a little depressed. After some time on this plan I go to work for a gym. Here I start honing in my skill on what exactly to put in the body to make it do what I want. First experiment was a mass gain. I went from 151 to 170. I was feeling good but I had more to go. I decided to compete in a bodybuilding show as we have discussed so I had to put on like 30 pounds in hopes to gain about 10 pounds of muscle. I am a small guy by nature. I begin consuming so many calories a day and I do throw a little caution to the wind. Its happening I am growing but I feel horrible everyday. I get challenged by a friend to try this paleo thing and since I was about to start my lean out I thought it was not a bad idea. I instantly lose 20 pounds almost to my detriment. I did not want to lose weight that quickly but I did. So I stopped what I was doing and went back to what I knew at the time. I am now micromanaging my food to the point food is no longer fuel or fun. It simply is a chore I have to accomplish each day. I am down to 1530 calories, I feel like crap, I have no energy and my stomach is in shambles. This is when I decided to go Paleo full tilt and learn as much as I could.

Current Journey: I am no longer at this point a fast food guy. I no longer count calories or pay attention to my macronutrients. I eat healthy whole foods that help my body feel full and effective. I eat lots of fat, carbs mainly from veggies and some sweet potato because I still workout pretty high intensity. I eat protein but half as much as I was. My body gains 10 pounds over the next several months and only increases in body fat by 3%. I am currently 7.4% body fat and 160 pounds + or -. I don’t really know because I never step on the scale. My stomach does not hurt anymore. I love to cook and play in the kitchen. Food has again become a healthy part of my life. If I decide to indulge in some wine or a treat with the kids I do so knowing how it will impact me. My energy levels are sky high most of the time. I still have stress in my life so there lies there rub. I pick up every book I can on Paleo to better understand why this is the way to live. I am getting more clear each day. As I set out to help hundreds of people do the same I am encouraged by what eating whole foods can do for you.  Paleo is not a diet. Our ancestors have eaten this way since the dawn of time. After all you didn’t think that 2.6 million years ago cave men did not eat right? They ate what naturally existed here on our planet. They did not eat what came out of a plant not green plant but a factory plant in a box. Processed food was not something they dabbled in. As I watch our children and others get larger overnight at an alarming pace I get more concerned. As I see all these pre-made health drinks take over for real food I get alarmed. Not because they are bad. I love Shakeology but because people use them in place of real food. Paleo consists of meats, nuts, seafood, seeds, fruit and veggies. Natural stuff. I write this hoping to help you shorten the curve. The shortcut you take should be learning from someone who has already gone through what you are about to go through. Not surgery or magical pills but an educational process on what heals. I would love to help you slay the dragon of the #6 or whatever your staple meal of choice might be. Once a Round Table man I only eat pizza now on special occasion and most often it is a breakfast pizza I made Paleo style. I don’t eat the dairy, wheat stuff because it simply does not make me feel well. If you feel like you need help I am here for you. I offer coaching 30 and 55 minute sessions on whole health development via skype, email, phone or best in person. I can guide and help you. As a trainer I have reduced my workouts to 5 times a week and less than 45 minutes of working out time. I do the rest with mobility and stretching. Everything is simplified and the results have been amplified. Down with you Wendys #6. Although you sound good from time to time I know where you came from. Here is a final shot of me today healthy and happy. Stay healthy and stay true to you.

Mathew Freeman

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