This is Chapter 4 of a 5-part narrative where I revisit my search of optimum health through diet, and how I found it in animal foods. It’s not meant to abide to a particular group or “movement”, nor is it meant to preach.
What it does emphasize is the value of good quality meat for hormonal health and strength, and how deliberate food/calorie restriction is counter productive to happiness and fitness.
In chapter 4, I finally give up the excess exercise, start enjoying a drink and smoke again, and experiment with cooked starches.
German translations provided by Anina.
The Frankfurt Road to Recovery: Group Fitness Trainer?
All this meat (plus the fat I was carrying) meant that my first summer in Frankfurt was absolutely sweaty. I could barely sleep, and would wake up at night, dip myself in a cold shower with my clothes on, and return to my bedding to cool down.
I was gradually losing fat, and I ramped up my group fitness excursions. Team Halbig had moved to a popular group fitness center – T.G. Bornheim (TGB) – in the summer, and I followed along. For the next 6-8 months, TGB would become a regular evening time haunt of mine.
I lifted weights 6 days a week, Monday – Saturday, and did the group fitness courses on the evenings of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. So technically, no rest day.
Still, my mobility and flexibility had increased to the point where I was dominating the front row of TH Combat courses that had become my favorite. I also naturally grew increasingly popular among the members of the club both inside and outside the course; my social circle grew, I started dating, and I was soon out partying every other weekend.
Partying of course meant just dancing; I still wasn’t drinking alcohol, was sticking to raw meat, organs, pineapples and honey — plus a bit of raw dairy in the form of raw cheeses and sour creams.
I also began exploring things like blood.
- The blood I drank was from healthy cows and pigs.
- Drinking it gave me a feeling of warmth and euphoria. It was a strange kind of high – a strange mix of cannabis, alcohol and caffeine – minus the crashes. I’d often drink it before going out with friends to celebrate, or before/in-between a TH-Combat session.
- At one point I was even drizzling my meat in blood, using it as a dip.
- My sense of smell had developed tremendously; I could now smell people – it wasn’t from their breath or armpits in particular, but I could tell when someone had terrible digestion, had eaten a salad, had drunk a coffee, etc., from meters away. I also recall smelling blood around me as I walked the city a few nights.
For a while my body enjoyed it; but as you learn to interpret your body’s signals, you’ll find that these cravings for natural foods come and go depending on what’s needed at the moment. After weeks of drinking it, I found myself gradually reducing the amount till it no longer appealed to me.
Similarly, I’d go through phases of wanting a lot more fish, mussels – I ate mussels raw for days, until I made the bad decision of buying frozen ones from not the best of places. I simply got diarrhea, lost all appetite for a day, lay in my bedding, and recovered in 24 hours.
- Otherwise my digestion was top notch; I would have the occasional diarrhea when over consuming fat, but other than that, the mornings were pretty smooth and low volume.
- My depression was long gone, and I now felt only an animalistic desire in going out there, meeting people, and experiencing life.
- I was no longer obsessing over my food intake or appearance all that much; the latter still nagged at me, but not to the point where I let it consume me.
- My libido had certainly stepped up its game.
I did a Sed Card shooting for a small-time modelling agency here in Frankfurt (they selected me, set me up in their database, but I never heard anything back from them after that), and had pretty much mastered TH Combat as a student.
I now wanted to be a trainer, and by the end of 2019, had Steffen Halbig get me ready for my Les Mills BodyCombat trainer’s license examination scheduled for the spring of 2020.
- For the next 3 months I trained the hardest I ever did in my life; weights in the morning, 1 hour of practice with the coach, 2 hours of attending his courses as a student, followed by another 30 minutes of practice after. All this while working an 8-hour job.
- I quickly learned to get comfortable facing a crowd – he and a friend of ours, Elena Frank, who did her own (TosoX) courses at TGB, would sometimes let me take over their courses for 15 minutes as pseudo-trainer.
- I had also grown really lean as a result, but I was still holding a lot of water around my midsection and upper body. I thought my diet was on point, I was getting 4 hours of exercise a day, and I was still fluffy – frustrating to say the least.
- I experimented with restricting again – skipping breakfast, eating one meal a day etc. – but they made me feel either bloated, thirsty and terrible. Now that I had tasted blood (literally and metaphorically), my body was defaulting to three meals.
- I also realized all the excess weight training and lack of rest days had made me insanely stiff; we had to work on stretching routines and I’d consulted a physiotherapist about my shin splints.
- I took his and Elena’s advice about resting at least once a day, and cutting back on the weight lifting for the sake of my joints – I went down to lifting weights 3 times a week instead of 6.
- At the peak of my training (and the physical stress) I was putting my body through though, I started developing another kind of craving – for citrus. I started sticking some lemon juice into my bottle of Apollinaris.
Then that corona thing surfaced on the world map.
The Frankfurt Road to Recovery: Peace and Balance
For the first time I was forced to stay out of the gym and turn down the excess exercise; of course, dysmorphic as I was, I didn’t really see that as excess at the time. I bought myself a pullup bar and spent the next three months just pushing, pulling and squatting my bodyweight with some HIIT thrown in.
On the diet front I stuck with raw meat, pineapples and honey. I experimented with spicing my meat for a little while using a combination of Vonderplanitz’s suggestions and my mother’s recipes; that turned out to be delicious, sure, but digestion wasn’t best – the meat would digest quick as usual, but the spices would linger for longer.
- I also realized for the first time how I’d accepted all the soreness and joint pains from excess exercise as normal; my flexibility automatically improved as I stuck to just bodyweight.
- I noticed that I’d begun losing some of the stubborn water and flab I was holding on to; which surprised me at the time. Exercise was reduced, I was burning less, and yet I was losing weight?
- This made me reassess my journey from 2017; I accepted that not only was I overdoing the exercise, but was letting that and my body dysmorphia (the urge to get leaner) consume my life.
This is not how I wanted to live the rest of my life; I had things to do, and now that I was healthy, I could finally stop obsessing over my food and shape.
- My test for the BodyCombat license was postponed, but I decided not to take it. That form of strenuous cardio was not something I believed in anymore, nor something I wanted to advocate for good health.
- I realized how much I missed the small joys of having a small cool drink in the sun, a smoke by the riverside, and just watching life go by; in a way, I was using exercise as an outlet, a substitute, and that was doing me more harm than good.
- So, I started introducing alcohol back in; I stuck with quality German cider (Äppler, Apfelwein or Ebbelwoi as it is known here), natural cigarettes minus the additives (American Spirits), and cigars/cigarillos. I didn’t feel they affected me in any way, long as they were quality/natural – in fact, I felt much more relaxed than I ever did than when exercising like a maniac.
- With the summer heat, I also introduced some freshly squeezed orange juice into my diet, despite Vonderplanitz’s recommendations (fruit juices can be too high in sugar; fruits are best consumed with fat to slow down the digestion and rise in BS). It felt refreshing.
- Group courses had resumed for the summer, but now I was only attending TH Combat for an hour on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays.
- I started exploring other creative pursuits; took up dancing (Bachata) classes temporarily, attended a few open-air Salsa parties, and began looking more seriously into modelling, theatre, and travelling.
- For the most part though, I was enjoying living in the moment without having to push myself into 12 hours of work + exercise. A lot of the people around me went into their shells with the lockdowns – but not me. I was living life for the first time in its fullness.
By the end of autumn of 2020, my efforts and contributions at work were rewarded; I was offered to step up to lead the team I had joined in 2017. For the first time in 26 years, I felt content. I didn’t want anything, I wasn’t chasing anything, and the voices in my head had gone away – I was happy just being.
The Frankfurt Road to Recovery: Fine Tuning
Two principles have guided me through these past years:
- To not bear attachments to anything physical or material; I’ll spend my earnings on the best meat and clothes because this is what I enjoy, the former being vital to my peace. I live minimally, own zero furniture, and still sleep on the floor.
- To make the most of every day, with whatever I have access to. I see this as overcompensation for all the years lost to a brooding/lazy/fat childhood.
Somehow these two dovetailed into me making my final experiments with tweaking my nutrition in the fall of 2020. Now that I was healthy, relatively lean and at peace, I wanted to see if my faith and beliefs in a raw meat based diet were actually based in dogma (and an irrational feat of carbs):
- I started introducing a greater variety of carbohydrates in my diet, following Vonderplanitz’s recommendations of eating certain cooked starches and fruits to normalize excess hormones.
- I was still eating raw meat for breakfast and lunch; but I started adding in varieties of German bread once or twice a day.
- To my absolute surprise, all the water and flab I was holding on to? They were shed in a matter of weeks; I could see all six of my abdominal muscles for the first time.
- I also began taking friends out to lunch and dinner on a frequent basis; I’d join them in eating cooked meat, a bit of brown rice, spaghetti and a few cooked vegetables once or twice a day. I no longer felt the need to drink fruit juices.
- I also enjoyed hard liquor and the occasional cocktail from time to time.
As work stepped up in intensity towards the fall, I was forced to give up the evening sessions of TH Combat. All I had with me was the morning sessions of weight training, and that seemed enough to keep me lean – in fact, I noticed myself get even leaner.
When trying to analyze what else I was doing different beside the diet – I realized that I was walking a lot more now that I was not in the gym all the time. On days I felt my leanest and digestion was on point, I saw a direct correlation with the number of steps I was taking. The more steps I took, the leaner I got.
That said, by early December 2020, I almost dropped the ball. I let my carb consumption loose for a little bit and:
- Found myself craving more meat; with the increase in grains, the meat intake had naturally gone down a fewfold.
- Was starting to feel mildly depressed in the mornings; my alcohol consumption was also on the rise, as I looked forward to a drink every night after work.
- I was experiencing a slight dip in energy and mood in the afternoons.
- Developed hemorrhoids as a result of the increased fiber and alcohol.
- My joints started to ache. Not too much, but I was starting to feel less enthusiastic about walking and taking the stairs. I also felt like take a nap every afternoon.
- My hair seemed to get drier, and my skin started to develop miniscule acne-like bumps.
- I was also starting to get “soft”.
Just as Vonderplanitz states though, certain foods (with the exception of raw meat and fat) in the right amounts might be needed to correct aspects of a damaged system from time to time; when the time comes for you to move on from then though, you just will know.
I cut out all the starchy carbohydrates and sugar, and reverted back to a diet of just meat and fat. This time though, I hit more of a balance than ever.
Continued in Chapter 5…