I first to Primal Transformation back in September 2014 at Haddin’s Gym in Zayed Sports City.

Let me tell you what happened since then.  I became a member of the gym and continued to drop into the Primal courses until I felt confident and strong enough to do the WODs (Workout of the Day).  It’s a progression. As time went on,  I started to understand my body more and learned what my body could and could not handle.

From 72 kg I had gotten down to 64 kg and seemed to stay there.  Never losing those last 10 pounds.  I know that weight can fluctuate so I am not one to religiously watch my weight but instead use how I feel as a fitness indicator. Other than my marshmallow belly (pouch included), I was content with this weight. I have always had soft abs – even before kids, so it is what I am used to. I have accepted that this is my body type and a hard tummy is not gonna happen to me.  Who would want those abs plastered across social media #abspiration?  Gross, right?

#Abspiration

When it came to my diet I had gotten to a point where poor eating habits had creeped in over time.  I was still eating mostly healthy but when the weekend came – FREE for all! Brunches, fast food, sweets -what ever I wanted.  I knew I was going to be back in the gym so it was OKAY.  That’s how I justified it to myself.  Over time 1 “cheat” meal became 3 cheat days – starting with the first evening of the weekend.  Once the new week began – back to eating healthy and working out.  How many of us do that?  Then I let other things in my life take priority over working out.  Initially going from a 5 day workout week to a 4 day down to a 3 day, then barely squeezing in 1 day a week during the month of December.  If you let it, other tasks quickly fill the time you set aside for exercise – errands, school events, doctors appointments.   I needed something to motivate me to get back on track.

With 20,000 AED prize money at stake, I thought – WHY NOT?  So what is Primal Transformation?  Primal is an intensive 4 week course that starts with a 4 day detox (which is recommended to do just before the course) combined with an uber paleo intermittent fasting eating plan and 5 days of intense workouts.  Participants must attend one class each day from Sunday to Thursday. The course usually includes a Biggest Transformation contest where participants can win a cash prize.  As it was the beginning of 2016, Haddins teamed up with Active Life by Daman so the prize money was 20,000.  Good motivation, I think.

When you sign up for Primal it is a big commitment (especially if you plan on following the complete program).  The commitment comes from you but you also have to think about how it will effect your family.  Meal planning, time, effort, weekends.  I had to think about why I was really doing it.

My main motivation for doing Primal Transformation again:

  • I needed something to jump start my daily workout routine.
  • I wanted to break my habit of eating poorly on the weekends.
  • I wanted to see I can do something about this jelly belly.

The Exercise Part:

The course consists of a different workout each day.  They call it Functional Fitness.  If I ever need to flip a tyre, drag a tyre, or drag myself with only my arms across a field – then, yes, it’s Functional. Each day is a different workout.  For those of us who have been through this a few times we know that the first and last days are the easier days (Assessment Days) and we all look forward to day before the last assessment day when we do partner stretches to loosen up. For all the days in between each workout is varied and no 2 days are similar – which makes each day fun and challenging.  You can expect to do numerous amounts of burpees, sit-ups, push ups, burpees, bear crawls, squats, tire jumps, running, squat jumps, planks, lay downs, farmer carry, squat press – did I mention burpees? It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is, you just do the exercises the best that you can.

Since I have done this before – I knew what to expect.  It doesn’t make it less challenging.  It is still hard, I think even worse when you have an idea of what’s coming.  There are somethings I will never find it in my heart to love – animal crawls.

The Food Part:

No sugar, no dairy, no sauces.  Basically if it is not something you can hunt or gather – you are not eating it.  It’s paleo but not just regular paleo (which can be initially hard enough), it’s a restrictive paleo diet that cuts out fruit and sugary vegetables too.  The idea is to get your body rid of it’s sugar dependance. You are given a list of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.  It’s tough but you can make some delicious meals with what is allowed.

 

Because I have done this part once before, planning meals to eat was not the hard part.  Neither was adjusting the meals for my family (just add rice or pasta). What was super difficult was the sugar withdrawal. Your mind starts playing tricks on you. I was negotiating with myself to sneak in a spoonful of raw organic honey (that hasn’t been touched since the attempted Paleo Christmas baking) like it was some sort of dirty binge meal.

It’s organic
It’s sugar
But it’s raw – that’s got to be good, right?
Its still sugar,  you don’t want to throw away all that time you have already put in without sugar
Only a spoonful
Don’t do it!

Who has this conversation in their head?  I’ll tell you who?  A crazy person.  And it doesn’t get better throughout the month.  The entire month was a struggle with these sort of conversations going on which did have me questioning my sanity at times.  I had to Revisit my goals daily to keep me focused.  I also felt aggravated more times than not, and often found myself taking a quick time out.  Breathe in, Breathe out.  This was an big issue which almost had me call off the whole thing a few weeks in. I found myself googling Paleo Anger. So many articles explaining why this happens.  It made me feel slightly better.  I had about 2 more weeks to push.

Sugar

 

Why would a sane person want to keep going if they are angry and questioning their sanity on a daily basis? Here’s why:  I started to notice a difference in my body shape.  After making through that first weekend without caving into food temptation, I noticed a difference in my midsection – which is EXACTLY where I wanted to see a change. I pushed through the next week with no sugar.  Then after the second weekend with no sugar – my body was still changing.  I used the weekends as markers – since no more crap on the weekend was my biggest lifestyle change during the month.

By the third weekend, everyone was commenting that I looked like I lost weight.  I hadn’t lost much (considering the constant mental battle it was) but my body was changing.  I want to say that it got easier as the program went on, but this time I don’t think that it did.  I was happy to get to the end.

The Final Results:

When you do Primal Transformation there is an assessment at the beginning and at the end to track your progress. In the end I only lost 4 kg (compared to others who lost 5-10kg) and I increased in the one minute assessments of the various exercises. I didn’t win the cash prize but I realised something very important.

The last time I followed the program (back in 2014) I lost 4 kg as well.  At that point I had a lot of weight to lose and muscle to gain, so it was an overall health improvement.  This time around I had a good base fitness to begin with.  What I learned this time around is that cutting out sugar is the best way to lose those last bit of pounds that have been sticking around. I am a firm believer in that now. Since the program has ended, of course, I have the occasional treats. I have incorporated carbs back into my diet but it is limited.  I eat healthy on the weekends and aim to continue.  The thought of fast food makes me sick now (and long may it stay that way).  I have lost another kilogram since the program has ended in February.  I am noticing a big improvement in my abdominal area which I never thought possible.  Are those ab muscles under there? #Abspiration possible.

My goal is for lifestyle change and that doesn’t happen in a 4 week period.  Doing Primal Transformation again was just the jump start I needed and perfect way to start 2016.

Would I recommend this program?  Definitely.  I would recommend for beginners and athletic individuals. It is always nice to have a challenge to keep you motivated.

Here are my results:

Primal 2016 Fortynista

Of course, I had to post the results on twitter (which if you are not following – connect with me @fortynista).

Primal Results

 

If you are living in Abu Dhabi and would like more information about Primal Transformation check out the Haddins Fitness Facebook page for dates of the upcoming classes.

If you are not residing in the UAE, I would highly recommend you find a similar course in your region.  Make sure that it has a paleo style meal plan that cuts out sugar.  It really makes all the difference.

Have you tried a paleo fitness plan before?  How did you get on and did you keep it as part of your life?  Tell me.  I am looking for different plans that work and can easily be incorporated as a lifestyle change.