In 2007, I was 30 pounds overweight. I was on blood pressure medicine. I was on statins for high cholesterol. I was 37 years old. I went on my version of the paleolithic diet and lost 30 pounds in six months! My weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure have been fine (make that great) for over two years now! [update 9/4/2009 – blood pressure checked by my physician: 112/70!]
Starting in great shape
While I was studying biochemistry in college, I rock-climbed, repelled, bungi-jumped, skydived, lifted weights, mountain biked, did step aerobics…all the time! I was in great physical condition and my body showed it! I was able to eat McDonald’s once a day and “work it off” due to my activity level.
I graduated and began working a job and discovered why they called it working in the “real world”. I got married and had three beautiful kids. I was unable to keep up the same workout schedule. So, I sat in a chair most of the day at my job and ran errands and put the kids in bed with the few hours I had at night.
Sneaky weight gain
I never intended to stop working out. I never intended to eat like crud. In time, my diet caught up with me. I was addicted to feeling full. I loved fried foods and lots of sweets. My favorite food to eat as often as I could was cheesecake! This whole time, I never really paid attention. In my mind, I was still “healthy” because that’s who I had been for years.
Thirty pounds accumulating on my belly and back was eerily quiet and unnoticeable. I checked my weight once a year and didn’t care about it. My focus was on other things: being busy at work, family activities and feeling FULL at the next meal and what would taste the best for dessert.
Doctor says “you’re gonna die”
When my cholesterol was over 300 in a doctors visit once, I was told that I needed to start worrying about heart disease. What? heart disease? I’ve been healthy since college. Oh, and your blood pressure is no longer borderline it is HIGH and you need to get heart scan done. You keep this up and you’re going to die an early death.
I didn’t believe him. I’ve worked with physicians and seen some terrible mistakes. I’ve had them be entirely wrong about me before. So, I’ve never trusted a single physician with blind faith. They should be viewed as a team employed by you to know more than you do, but you should be the director of the team. Anyway, I digress…
So, after some serious worries about my health and the future of my family if I were to lose my health or life, I made some changes!
Biochemistry dude begins his own diet research
The biochemisty researcher in me began studying what was making me overweight, have high blood pressure, and have high cholesterol. I started measuring everything that passed my lips on fitday.com. This helped me to focus on the low-quality of crud that I was eating! I tried to just cut back on calories, which was TUFF!
I had studied some of Dr. Sears’ Zone Diet because of his focus on successful research and biochemistry, so I started with that diet as a base. Then I read as many clinical studies regarding diet and health issues as I could get my hands on. The most helpful “natural health” newsletter I found was from Dr. Mercola.
I learned about insulin resistance, hormonal influences and macro-nutrient allocation. I learned about a lot of foods that were linked to various diseases and started avoiding them.
Exercise is not worthy (compared to good eating habits)
I realized that what you eat affects your weight much more than exercise does! Sound crazy? For me, it takes 10 minutes of jogging to burn the same amount of calories as one-half of a candy bar! So if I were to jog for 20 minutes and then have a “power-bar” afterward, I did NOTHING for weight loss…not worth it. Exercise is critical to optimal health, but healthy eating habits are the powerhouse of losing weight.
Focus on eating (not dieting), then you’ll lose weight
I started focusing on eating ONLY the most healthy foods (specific types of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts). The paradox for me was that when I focused on getting the most nutrition from what I ate and avoiding anything that could possibly cause me harm, I started to lose weight. I wasn’t focusing on losing weight!
So, I guess you could say that I became a health nut. It was difficult to live with friends and family who ate “normal” junk food everyday. But, I have certainly gotten over it. So, much now that I embrace being different. I’ve been referred to as a freaky eater and I love it.
The Paleolithic Diet
So, along the way, I discovered that my eating habits were the Paleolithic Diet with some enhancements. I was still eating rice which isn’t Paleo, but I’ve cut it way down. When I cut it out, my weight actually drops a few pounds too. There are a few other things that I add to the Paleolithic Diet, which I’ll post about later.
Today, I feel great! I have more energy. I look good (back to my college days, well I’m older I guess). I take no maintenance medicines. My cholesterol is LOW. My blood pressure is normal and sometimes LOW. I’m certainly not invincible, but I feel like it. Most likely I won’t die early of CHD like my physician told me I would. I guess I should thank the doctor for being part of the motivation!
I’ve kept the weight off for 2 years and counting. I weigh what I weighed in college (155 lbs) and I can see my abs.