From Primal to Carnivore - a 10-year journey. Part 2
When I made the switch to a Primal/paleo/Keto diet, I weighed 232 pounds. It was the heaviest I had ever been in my life. My body mass index was 31.5 and I was obese. Did I feel obese? No, I didn't. I felt normal. With the slow recovery from the accident and the 4 surgeries, my activity level had dropped dramatically and it showed. The soreness from the inflammation on my conventional diet during that recovery made activity painful and it felt better not to do anything.
When I was in Grade 11, I weighed 165 lbs. I was the same height as I am now - 6 ft. So in the 20 years from 1988 to 2008, I had put on almost 70 lbs. I am sure I had more muscle than when I was 17 years old, but most of it was fat. I was only putting on an average of 3 lbs of weight a year, but it was a slow and steady decline of my physical well being.
My body would sweat every night. I would wake up and the sheets and pillow would be soaking wet. Sleeping would be painful and stressful on my body. I started snoring at this time. So loudly in fact that my wife started wearing earplugs.
The diet advice from the primal book was very simple. 1. Don't eat any carbs - no grains, potatoes, or other starchy vegetables. 2. Eat meat, fats, greens, and a little fruit.. 3. Move and be active. 4. Lift heavy things.
It was four rules. Four simple rules to remember and follow. I could do that.
And it worked. The pain stopped and the weight dropped.
I set a goal. I wanted to reach 190 lbs. 40 lbs less than my max.
We sell 40 lb cases of ground beef to people. Every time I picked up one of those cases while helping a customer, I reminded myself of the goal and I would refocus my thoughts and efforts on hitting that goal.
Within six months, my weight had dropped to about 200 lbs. I was losing about 1 lb a week while eating until I felt full. It was not a starvation diet. It was easy and enjoyable to do.
I remember going to a meal with my sister-in-law, who is a nurse. My plate was piled high with bacon, sausage, and other tasty foods. Her eyes got big and wide. She could not believe that I could eat that much, but by the look of shock on her face, it appeared that I should be dropping dead from eating that much fat.
Not only did I not die, but I also kept losing weight.
Before I started this diet, my body was in rough shape. I had suffered 4 broken ribs and a separated shoulder. While waiting for surgery to repair the shoulder, I wrecked my ankle by tearing two ligaments in the same foot while playing in the yard with the kids and the dog. I was chasing the dog and rolled my ankle in a hole. I fell to the ground in pain. The kids ran to tell my wife who was on the phone in the house. The kids told her I was hurt and she told the person on the other end of the line, “I have to go. Tim hurt himself... again”.
Some friends commented that with all the health issues I was experiencing I was a modern day Job.
It was a rough time in my life.
It took four surgeries to fix me up. I had shoulder surgery, which was good for 6 months and then while working under a baler, something happened and my shoulder became separated again. While waiting for the 2nd surgery, I had surgery on the ankle. Six weeks after that surgery, I was back in for my second shoulder surgery. One week after that surgery, the followup appointment showed the operation had failed. I was back under the knife a month later. The recovery from the final operation took about 4 times as long as the first.
After the four surgeries, all within 18 months; the painkillers, the anesthetic and being unable to physically exert myself for years put me in a very bad physical state. My body was sore all of the time. My ankle was constantly swollen. I would press down on my foot with my thumb and it would leave an imprint for 15 seconds.
The primal diet changed all of these things. Everything improved. I stopped sweating when I slept. Much to my wife's surprise, I stopped snoring. My ankle improved. My shoulder improved.
And then one day I hit my weight goal. I saw 189 on the scale. It was a weight that I had not seen since university. I felt great.
Physically, I was feeling great. My body was working well, I was slim, aches and pains were gone. But I didn’t feel different mentally. I didn’t have any mental health issues when I began all this. I don’t recall my thought patterns changing while I was on this diet. This isn’t relevant at this point in the story but please remember this point for later.
After reaching my goal, I decided I could celebrate a little.
Perhaps I should say that I celebrated a little too much.
Pizza is my weakness. The combination of flour, tomato sauce, meat, and cheese called to me. In my younger days, I would order 2 pizzas from Dominos and eat them both. I know - scary! But as excited as I was for reaching my weight goal, I thought I could relax, live a little, and enjoy some of the good things in life….like pizza.
One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I am an ‘all in’ kind of guy. I can’t do things halfway. I can’t lose a little weight. It either has to be a lot of weight or don’t even try. With food, it was eating until I was satisfied or don’t eat anything. With work, go all in with work and effort or don’t even start. I am either hot or cold. Lukewarm doesn’t work for me.
So, when I started to eat just a little, it didn’t last very long. Soon, I was eating a lot of all the wrong foods. The weight started to creep up a little, and then a little more, and then even more.
My wife calls it the ‘exceptions’. An exception here, an exception there and slowly all the sacrifices that I had made to lose the weight were gone.
I waffled. I would be good for a week or two, and then find a reason to cheat on the diet. “Oh, it is a hot day. Time for ice cream!” The exceptions happened, and my weight would go up and down.
When I would eat clean, my body felt great. But when I would eat foods with gluten or sugar, my shoulder would start to ache and my ankles would swell up within a few hours. The pain and the aches would come back.
I would wake up in the morning and my wife, Lori, would stare at me from behind tired eyes. “You ate gluten didn't’ you?” I had been snoring and she had not had a good night sleep. We learned that gluten makes me snore
So I would go on again and off again. Lose weight, gain weight. Feel good, feel bad. I was lukewarm and I hated it.
And then I listened to a Joe Rogan podcast with his guest Dr. Shawn Baker and my mind was blown…