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The following is a testimonal from my brother Cris regarding the paleo diet. For those of you that have been considering and/or doubting paleo, this is a very useful read. Granted Cris is my brother and I did ask him to write this testimonial because his story is amazing and I’m very proud of him, but he didn’t recieve any special help from me. Most of the information he got from The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. We had a few conversations getting started, clarification on different foods and what not, but other than that, this was all him. Another related tidbit is that Cris does not CrossFit (presently, I’m working on getting him to a box where he lives!) so these results can be yours too!
I can’t begin to describe how happy I am to see my brother in such great condition, both physically and mentally. I love that his health is on the rise and he is on little to no meds. And all of this because he cut a few non essential foods out of his dietary intake. The bottom line is this – we want this for EVERYONE! There is no need to go through life miserable because you are eating things that your body does not need. I am very proud of Cris and all the results he has achieved and I’m thrilled that he has a new lease on his life! I hope everyone is inspired by his story and it helps motivate you to make the necessary changes in YOUR life. Enjoy!
Weight has often been an issue for me. I think ‘husky’ might have been the term used in my youth in lieu of something even less flattering. At various times as I grew up I would lean out then add the weight back on again and looking around my family I was convinced that this was going to be an on-going problem. Working at a desk, from home, hasn’t helped the issue and over the last 10-12 years I’ve tried a number of diet and exercise plans with varying degrees of success.
In the last 3 years or so I had started to get heavier in general with no real change in diet or lifestyle. I chalked this up to just getting older and an already slow metabolism grinding to a halt. I didn’t get on the scale very often because I didn’t want to see what the number would say. I never felt as fat as I probably was because I’m reasonably tall at 6’1″ and, for better or for worse, I have a long torso (or short legs, depending on your point of view) and felt like the weight wasn’t as obvious (though, it was). On top of the weight, I had been dealing with elevated blood pressure for several years – controlled by medication. With hypertension being a high risk in my family, my doctor informed me about 8 years ago that my BP was totally controllable through the meds but that I would have to keep taking them forever. Sigh. Just another thing to deal with.
About a year ago, I injured my back while horsing around with my dogs. I had dealt with some sciatica off and on for a few years and initially thought that it was nothing more than that until the pain rapidly (and I mean within minutes) all but incapacitated me. After going to the doctor and learning that it was a herniated disk, I also got the lovely treat of getting the doctor office weight check wherein I learned that I was now pushing 280+. Suffice it to say, not my best day ever.
So, we treated the back initially with pain meds and a pretty spectacular anesthetic patch and I started, again, with trying to focus on losing weight. My activity level at this point was not very high (the back inhibited me quite a bit) but I did what I could and I diligently tracked what I was eating and focused on trying to eat better generally. Overeating had never been my problem, in fact quite the opposite as my caloric intake was never high, I just wasn’t doing anything with the calories that came in.
Over time, my back got better and I’d only have to deal with flare ups with I did something stupid (I was, and am, trying to avoid any sort of surgical option to repair the disk). I continued to eat ‘good’ and was still not checking my weight because I knew it wasn’t going down. My personal frustration hit a high point when I realized that the jeans that I was wearing were getting too tight and I was going to have to go up another size to a 44″ waist. At this point, I could no longer delude myself about the weight – there’s nothing thin about getting 44×30 jeans.
Along this journey I had been focusing my diet on trying to eat more whole grains, staying away from anything with fat in it, only drinking skim milk, etc. We had even dabbled in some vegetarianism for a time to no avail. Somewhere along the way, I started weighing myself again and was, quite honestly, pissed. My weight had actually increased and I now hit my all-time peak at 292 pounds. This was completely unacceptable and, frankly, embarrassing.
I was loosely aware of Paleo as a concept and had always liked the idea of the ‘caveman’ diet but had more or less thought of it as likely a fad diet. Plus I’d heard you could eat bacon and, honestly, who loses weight while eating bacon? At this point though, I knew something had to give so I started doing a little research and stumbled onto The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I downloaded the book and started to read it a bit and called Mike to see if he knew anything about it. We talked for a bit, Mike was obviously very enthusiastic about it and, coincidentally had been following the plan and been recommending it. I decided to give it a try and even got my somewhat skeptical wife to go along with it to help me even though she’s never had any need to lose weight. I decided to do this right and really follow the plan as much as possible. This was March 10 and that morning, my scale informed me I was 292.5lbs. Ugh.
In the book, Robb Wolf suggests to not weigh yourself but rather rely on other factors to initially determine success – pictures, how do you feel, how do your clothes fit, etc. I’m a bit more empirical by nature, so not weighing myself was never an option. I started the first 30-day induction period and set a long-term weight loss goal to get to 220lbs. I felt this was an aggressive goal and one that might prove to be unachievable (in my adult life the lowest I could ever remember sustaining was around 235lbs) but I knew I needed to mentally be focused on a big goal so that I’d be less likely to settle early on. I also knew that there was a chance that my BP would improve but I held out no hope that I would get off the meds for that but thought maybe a dosage reduction could be possible.
Those first 30 days are tough. Or, at least for me, they were. If you’ve been eating like most Americans eat, this is a pretty big change. My body told me so, repeatedly, during that time. On the plus side, I wasn’t really hungry. Hunger typically isn’t an issue with Paleo, in my experience. I will say, the move away from grains, dairy, and even the lower amount of processed foods I was eating – that creates some changes. Not to put too fine a point on it but anyone looking to try this should be aware – you will have some GI changes, especially in the first 15-30-45 days.
The weight did not start to come off early but I wasn’t discouraged as I could tell that the change in diet was having other effects on me. In the first 2 weeks of the diet, I think maybe 3 or 4 pounds came off. I wasn’t thrilled but it was progress I hadn’t been seeing so I saw no reason to change. In the second two weeks, weight loss kicked into high gear. By the end of the my first month on Paleo, I weighed in at 271 pounds. Marked improvement.
Once I was through the induction period and this became more of a lifestyle and less of a ‘diet’, things became easier. The weight loss slowed its pace (but I had never thought that 20+ lbs per month would be sustainable) but also kept reasonably steady. I continued taking pictures and could start to see changes when I compared pictures, especially around my face. I could also start to see changes in my clothes – I needed to tighten the belt a bit more, then the 44″ waist jeans were too big, then the 42″ jeans were too big, etc.
In the middle of the summer it got comically hot here in Indy and I started to have have spells where I would get lightheaded and some tunnel vision. I knew that the heat can affect blood pressure but I was concerned that maybe something was not right and was even more concerned that my new Paleo lifestyle was adversely affecting me in some way. So I went to the doctor. My doctor was pleased that I had shown some weight loss but the big news that was that my problems were that my BP was too low. Scary low in fact (I was measure at 78/52 that day). My doctor decided that my dosage on the BP meds was too high for my now reduced weight so he cut it back – way back, reducing the dosage by 75%. He asked for me to come back again in a couple of months to see how things were going. This was July and my weight was now just under 250 pounds.
I was now more encouraged and was able to increase my activity levels more (I had already been much more active for the last several months and than previously possible) and between July and August I had 2 really good months as my body accelerated weight loss a bit. I hit my goal of 220lbs in late August. I was thrilled – I looked better, I felt better. I didn’t break out into a drenching sweat under even modest activity. I also, apparently, don’t snore anymore. All good things. In fact, I decided that hitting 220 had been sufficiently easy that I could hit 200 so I reset the goal in my head and kept plugging away.
Blah blah blah – I crossed 200 pounds in early October and am now sitting at a maintenance weight of about 195-198 pounds. The jeans I wear today are a 34″ waist and aren’t snug. I went back for my follow-up visit with the doctor in early September – he took me off the BP meds completely. My BP today sits around 110/70. I had my blood-work done a few weeks ago (annual thing we have to do for our health insurance) and while my total cholesterol was a touch higher than I would have liked (I don’t have that number handy), my doctor said it was fine but my triglycerides which had been….well, awful, last year at over 300 were this year at 110. My doctor was blown away by the transformation and asked me what my ‘secret’ was. I talked about what I do and don’t do now and he just said to keep it up and didn’t expect to see me again unless I got sick.
These days, I eat 90%+ Paleo but I do cheat a bit now – I think I’ve earned that. I’m a firm believer that not ever dietary change will work the same for everyone but I absolutely believe that anyone can lose weight following Paleo. Michael continues to try to plug CrossFit which I’ve not tried yet but, for the first time in a really, really long time I feel more like that’s something I might want to do (as opposed to need to do) so we’ll see.