It seems like when I turned 50 everything started downhill. Up until then (and after) I tried mostly low fat, high fiber diet which included vegetable juicing.
I was 125 pounds in high school and went from about 135 to 185 from 45 years old to 55.
I tried a LCHF diet in 2012 but was scared out of it by my doctors even though my weight went from 184 to 125 in about 6 months.
My reason to go low carb this year was: 1. Gum disease progression: a lot of deep pockets and getting close to losing a back molar. 2. A1C was 5.7 last April and my morning, fasting glucose had been creeping way up to 110
Four month SUCCESSFUL results:
4 years of gum disease reversed as of check up May 3. No more deep pockets, no bleeding and teeth in great shape. Gum recession will not grow back
April, 2018 A1C was 5.2 from 5.7 last April. Fasting morning glucose at 94 form 110 in December
Had IBS, bleeding anal fissure, internal hemorrhoids and terrible gas. 99% gone. Unreal!!!!!
Shoulder and back pain 90% better. Did 130 push-ups on Monday in 4 sets vs. 20 with a week of shoulder pain last year. Now doing deep knee bends and couldn’t ever thing of that last year because of back pain.
Every morning I would wake up with a runny nose filling several paper towels with mucous. It’s now 90% better and was even better when I did not have dairy but have added some of that back.
Weaned blood pressure meds to nothing and BP normal first time in over 20 years (was normal only with meds last 8). I had 4 stents in 3 arteries in 2010 with 1 artery clear and one 100% blocked (there are 5 major arteries feeding you heart). My chest pain did not go away after stents and cardiologist tried meds (renexa and long-acting nitro) neither worked so I said forget trying.
10 years of chest pain vanished after about a month of this and I thought at first it was my imagination (even though was getting great results on my new/used Concept 2 Rower).
My GP does a carotid artery scan every April and in 2017 he said the blockage had gotten much worse from 2016 and said I need to do something soon.
What was I supposed to do? Was already following all the stupid bullshit they told me to do.
This April scan showed “significant” improvement over last year!!!!! And that was with 8 months of shitty diet and only 3.5 months of carnivore.
My chest pain is gone and I have not felt this good since I was 30!!!!!!
I hope someone reading this will learn from my trials. I will have succeeded if one person takes action. I don’t want anyone to experience the pain and struggles that I have gone through. Since I was 12 years I have been on a perpetual diet. I hit puberty and plumped up. My family had an obsession with being thin and my mom was always on a perpetual diet. At 12 I started that rollercoaster too.
My parents thought they were being helpful when they told me that they didn’t want me to get fat. According to the 80’s nutrition advice that meant I needed to cut the fat from my diet. I took the USDA’s advice and avoided ALL FAT. I have a family history of heart disease, so I avoided red meat and especially saturated fat. I ate cereal in the morning, sandwiches at noon, and pasta at night. I never reached my goal of being thin but I held of being super fat out of sheer will and determination. My whole life I never remember feeling good. I didn’t even know what feeling good felt like.
I stayed on that trajectory through college. I was always watching my weight. I was on a ROTC Scholarship and in the Army National Guard. The thought of of losing my scholarship was terrifying. After my commission I joined the National Guard. I didn’t want to lose the GI Bill that was paying part of my tuition. I stuck to the low fat diet and counted calories.
I met and married my college sweetheart. When I found out I was pregnant I decided to leave the National Guard. I didn’t have to watch my weight. I ended up gaining quite a bit of weight being pregnant. After having my son I never got down to where I was before becoming pregnant. Four years later I had my second son. I was even heavier than after my first child.
When my youngest started school I decided to train for a marathon. I believed that running a marathon would make me thin. Life would be perfect if I could run myself thin. I trained for the marathon and followed the prescribed carb rich diet. I didn’t end up losing any weight during my marathon training.
After the marathon I thought that I needed to do a triathlon, then I would end up thin. Nope, I was still fat. The triathlon training made me realize that I liked riding my bike. I took up cycling. I rode my first century bike ride. I was able to cover the distance but I was still fat.
I enjoyed endurance training. I made many friends and loved training with them. I figured that I needed to ramp up my training. Of course, that must by why I was still fat. I wasn’t training hard enough. I started training for the 70.3 distance triathlons, then I worked up to an Ironman. After the Ironman I was STILL FAT… UGH! WTF!
If the calories in/calories out model worked, I would be super thin. I was training 20 hours a week and eating less than 1500 calories per day. I had mild asthma that soon became chronic and uncontrolled asthma. I felt cold and exhausted all the time. I developed reactive hypoglycemia. On top of all that I still FAT.
It became clear to me that I was doing something wrong. Hours and hours of endurance training and eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet was not making me thin. I must be doing something wrong. I started reading about Scott Jurek, and ultra-marathon runner and vegan.
I thought that was the answer, I needed to eat a vegan diet and train for ultra-marathons. The vegan diet was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The vegan diet made my health worse. My asthma and allergies were worse. I added to my health issues horrible gas, injuries, and giant boils started erupting on my face. The one thing that stayed the… I was STILL FAT!
At that point, I sought alternative medical help. According to my regular doctor I was completely “normal” and nothing was nothing wrong with me. It is “normal” to have chronic asthma, a poor complexion, chronic injuries, and to be fat after doing an Ironman.
A concerned friend referred me to Naturopathic Doctor (ND). She order a slew of blood tests. I was almost afraid she would say that there was nothing wrong with me. I thought if she said that I was healthy like my primary care doctor, then I must be crazy. I didn’t think it was normal to feel as bad as I did.
The ND didn’t think I was healthy or normal. She measured my hormones, and informed me that I didn’t have any. My hormone levels were so low that they were not readable in the test. I hadn’t had a period in about year, and I thought that was from my birth control. But it was more likely from my poor diet and excessive training.
Thought this process I became obsessed with learning how the body works. I became a ACE Personal Trainer, and read everything I could on health and nutrition.
I gave up on endurance sports and tried Crossfit. That is where I learned about about the Paleo Diet and Robb Wolf. I also learned that Crossfit was doing nothing for my health. My hormones were still a mess. After 18 months I still felt like crap and decided to ditch Crossfit.
I wanted to figure out how to feel better. I started listening to podcast. I found Ben Greenfield’s podcast. He talked following a low carbohydrate diet with endurance training.
I joined Ben Greenfield’s Become Superhuman Coaching program. I took courses and certifications with the C.H.E.K. Institute. The C.H.E.K. Institute and Ben Greenfield’s message was quite a bit different from the USDA advice. I switched to a Paleo Diet, then a low carb Paleo Diet. My body started to heal. My gas subsided, my face cleared up. Over time my allergies went away and then my asthma disappeared. I went from a size 16 to a size 12 with the Paleo diet. I dropped from a size 12 – a 10 following a low carb Paleo diet.
At the Become Superhuman Conference and met Peter Defty from Vespa Power. We soon became great friends because of our obsession with nutrition research. Peter referred me to Esmee La Fleur’s website Zero Carb Zen. I started an on again/off again Zero Carb/Carnivore Diet. I started to feel better and dropped to a size 8.
Even though I had good results with a zero carb diet I had problems sticking to it. I had such a hard time saying ‘NO’ to food in social settings. I felt like I was being rude. It wasn’t until I participated in the Carnivore Study that I felt empowered to say no. I dropped from a size 8 to a size 6 during the 90 day Carnivore Study. I also felt WONDERFUL!!!
I returned to my my love of cycling. I train every year with a group for Tour de Tucson. The bulk of my training this year was during the Carnivore Study. I didn’t want to mess up the study results so I stuck to Zero Carb. I used meat sticks during the longer ride. I added Sports Legs, electrolytes, and salt to combat leg cramps.
Tempe International Triathlon done during the Carnivore Study. No Carbs needed.
First time getting into a Size 6 since I was about 18! I was so excited that it fit!
The lack of carbohydrates didn’t hurt me. I had a personal record at the last Tour de Tucson. My average pace in 2017 for 54 miles as a Carnivore was 18.45 mph. My average pace while still using carbs in 2012 for 60 miles was 10.06 mph.
Won the AZ State Criterium race for Master’s Women 45-49
Over the holidays I had a relapse. I ate too many chips, salsa and margaritas on a trip to Mexico. My size climbed back to a size 8. But what was most pronounced was how horrible I felt after my trip. I couldn’t believe how fast I went from feeling amazing to feeling like crap.
I am back to a Carnivore/Zero Carb way of eating since January 2nd. Since then I continue to get faster on my bike. My functional threshold power (FTP) when I was low-carb/Paleo was 135, now my FTP is 201. My FTP keeps going up!
The carnivore diet is a miracle for my health. I went from wearing a size 16 to now wearing a size 6. I had no readable hormones and no menstrual cycle to having a regular 28 day cycle. As a high carbohydrate athlete I was spending $80 a month on asthma medications. I am not on any medications now.
I keep getting faster…
I am 48 years old. I don’t have six pack abs… yet. I have never felt better in my life. I still have extra fat to lose and more healing to do. I went from a lifetime of struggling with my health and weight to feeling good each and everyday. Soon, I expect to see those six pack muscles to show up. MEAT HEALS no matter how old you are or where you start.
Listen to Stephanie’s interview on the MeatRx.com podcast below:
I was born on March 21, 1973, in Germany. Based on my parents’ accounts of my early years, I had skin issues, constant bloating and digestive problems, constipation in particular, pretty much from the start. By the age of four, I was diagnosed with severe seasonal allergies. From then on, antihistamines, wearing gloves to stop me from scratching, having my arms wrapped up in bandages because my continued scratching led to infections, and not being able to go outside to play during the spring became the new normal. I fell asleep in school because the daily dose of antihistamines knocked me out. Topical steroids in mega strength became the go-to methods of dealing with my constantly itching skin. In high school I was made fun of because my neck looked like that of an old woman.
When I was in my early 20s, I saw an alternative practitioner who told me to avoid wheat and dairy. So I went on my first elimination diet, which did not do anything but aggravate my symptoms. Lacking information and consequently not being strict enough, I was frustrated with this approach and considered her a charlatan. In retrospect, she was the first person who actually had hit the nail on the head with her diagnosis. A dermatologist scoffed at this alternative “crap”, recommended to eat whatever I wanted, and to apply more cortisone to help with the inflammation and itching. I would follow his advice for many years, almost ruining my skin in the process.
I do not recall when I first knew that I was experiencing every month is premenstrual syndrome. For a while, I just assumed it is normal to turn into this vicious hulk without any control over my temper. Breast pain, forgetfulness and mind fog, pimple outbreaks, worsened eczema, water retention, constipation, sugar cravings from hell, and mood swings comprised the collection of my symptoms. Pretty much ten days of each of my cycles were spent like this, every single month, for more than 30 years. Another hint at a serious hormone imbalance was the way I used to store body fat. I have always been lean, but whatever fat I had I predominantly stored around my hips, butt, and thighs. I could train as hard as I wanted – I was an avid step aerobics and dance aerobics instructor – and it would not shift my body composition.
In 2006, I moved from Germany to Los Angeles for my postdoctoral studies, met my husband, and stayed here. I still shudder when I think about all the crap I used to eat after I got here: cookies, fast food, soda; free food was always available on campus and it still is. Over the years, I had times where I paid a bit more attention to my eating habits, but mostly, I just did what everybody else did, until the fall of 2013. Around that time a friend of mine told me about LCHF and her success with it, which led me to start the classic journey from the standard American diet via low carb and keto to eventually zero carb. Over the course of this almost 5-year dietary experiment, I cut out the usual suspects like flour, grains, sugar, and in conjunction seed oils. I of course baked all sorts of low carb bread, cookies, cakes, and other sweet goods and used dairy, coconut oil and low carb sweeteners in abundance.
Over time, I had been able to weed out serious offenders, while still clinging to almond and coconut flour, sweeteners, and dairy. After reading that dairy could be a culprit for chronic coughs, runny nose, and weepy eyes, I performed a dairy elimination experiment. After an entire month of dairy abstinence, I started coughing immediately upon reintroduction. My runny nose and weepy eyes returned as well, putting the nail in the coffin for diary. The following year, I experienced my first spring without seasonal allergies!
With dairy gone and my base line much lower, it was easier to track my skin condition and bloating. Over the course of another 1.5 years, I learned that sweeteners, coconut flour or any kind of coconut products, and almond flour either bloated me or made my skin itch like hell. I also learned that PMS causes eczema flares, especially around my eyes. The next natural step was to eat meat and veggies. At this point, I suspected as much but still did not want to face the fact that all the yummy low carb veggies I liked hated my guts, literally.
When I came across Shawn’s tweets about eating only meat I was at the same time intrigued and disturbed, but mostly intrigued. Following him on Twitter was probably the best thing I could do. Not only was he documenting his progress, but other people who tried it out chimed in with their successes and improvements. Rationally, it all made sense to me. Taking the leap and trying it for myself took until the first 90-day carnivore challenge with Nequalsmany. I knew I did not want to compromise my data collection, so the challenge was a good incentive to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Coincidentally, my period started on Aug 15, 2017, the first day of the challenge. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to observe how my PMS issues would behave. I was blown away with the almost complete lack of any symptoms during the first cycle. Barely noticeable breast tenderness and some eczema around my eyes were the remainder of my symptoms. My hope for reproducibility was not disappointed. Now, six months into zero carb, I have zero PMS. Zero! In addition, I can observe my body composition changing; my thighs are getting more defined, my quads getting visible, and my hips and bum are getting slimmer. I hypothesize that my hormone imbalance has been resolved.
Bloating after eating is a thing of the past, as is chronic constipation. I seem to be more resilient toward colds. In the past, I used to catch everything that was going around. I am observing no sunburns (in SoCal) and easy and quick tanning, just like when I was a kid. My mood has been even keel; zero carb serenity is truly a thing and keeps the hulk in check. I get less or not sore at all after workouts. My training is more intense. I have explosive speed for kickboxing despite the lack of carbs. My eyesight has been improving recently. I had to start using my previous pair of glasses (-3/-3) because my most current one had become too strong (-3.5/-3.25).
The most recent success is the remission of eczema. As of today, I have no visible signs anymore after 44 years of constant itchiness and severe discomfort. Even my scarred neck is healing, something I had thought not possible (see attached picture, no make-up, no photoshop, no moisturizers). It took about six months to get to this point, with sometimes going one step forward, two steps back. This feels new and fragile. I am fully aware that any kind of missteps, may it be food (chicken is a suspect) or the fabric of new clothes, can trigger a flare; however, I now have the opportunity to really figure out all my triggers and to fight habitual scratching.
Thinking back how I had, unknowingly, mistreated my body over the years, I realize a couple of things that might be of help for others who are at the cusp of starting their journey. First off, I wish I had taken the alternative practitioner seriously. I was out for instant gratification, but that is not how resolving decades of health issues works unfortunately, in most cases anyway. Secondly, the human body is an amazing machine that can withstand a lot of dietary abuse, for a while at least. It has incredible repair capabilities if one lets it and gives it time to do what is has been evolved to do with the right nourishment. I am looking forward to discovering what other health benefits this way of eating will bring.
I have 6 children – 6 thru 42 – and the one joke I hear all the time is about my ‘diet’: ‘So what are you eating now, dad??’ All my life, I’ve been curious to try different foods and regimens, to see what works for me and doesn’t. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent reading and researching over the years; even now, at 65, it continues all the time. Fact is, there wound up being an overall direction to it (if a bit meandering), and it doesn’t change quite as frequently as perceived, but they do have a legitimate critique.
I’ve been through lots of ‘phases’: when I was in my teens I followed some of the early Atkins ideas, then in my late 20’s, early 30’s, I followed a strict vegan regimen: used to make my own bread with organic stone ground wheat. tofu and sprout sandwiches, supplemented carefully with spirulina, brewer’s yeast, etc. After (as near as I can remember) a year or so, I had some trouble with fatigue when I was 30 – I was running 5+ miles every day, and I finally started to add in some dairy. Not sure that was the issue, but things did get better, and then I followed a pretty strict vegetarian diet for several years. One of my children, born during that time, is still vegetarian.
I had struggled with seasonal, then year round allergies since I was 19, and chronic (worsening) headaches in my 30’s, and 40’s. Additionally, my weight fluctuated: I would ‘buckle down’, count calories, or restrict types of food; over those years my weight ranged between about 165 and 220. And I had bad sugar cravings: chocolate, sweets, a genetic predisposition for sure, but I would work so hard to cut it out, and then one evening, I would implode and clean out every sugary treat, every half-opened, age-whitened chocolate bar, or frosted over long-forgotten reduced-to-goo ice cream from the back of the freezer. Why? I always felt helpless, and made up my mind again, till the next binge.
With a lot of reservations (shifting from years of veggie to red meat?!) , I tried the re-packaged version of the Atkins diet that was popular in the late 90’s – I was well into my late 40’s. It defied everything I had believed for decades, but sure enough, I lost weight, felt better. I shifted to South Beach (a bit hipper version with lean meats, and more ‘correct’ foods), and had the same results. I couldn’t keep my results, though – I would drift back into the weight roller coaster, gird up, lose some weight, then stumble and start again. But I noticed that on the ‘induction phase’ of both these diets – when I was eating NO grains, I always felt conspicuously better. After those initial couple of weeks, as I added back in the brown rice, whole wheat (NEVER processed), that good feeling dissipated.
A few years ago, my wife mentioned a conversation she had about the Paleo diet: no grains, no processed food. I jumped into that, researched everything I could. Dropping the grains was a positive move – can’t speak for one other person on Earth – but for me there was a palpable difference. I generally felt better, much less stomach and gut goings-on, and I was better able to control my weight and my diet. For a couple years, I was doing well.
But I continued to read and explore: I came across more and more about the ‘keto’ diet. As usual, I first thought it was ‘too radical’, and I was just plain afraid to try something that out of the norm. But I was piqued, and in September 2016, I jumped in and followed a rigorous keto diet, no more than 25-30 net carbs per day, huge leafy green salads, and of course no processed foods, no grains, no sugars, etc. I recorded my weight and every ounce of my food every day.
This was the first time, I think, that I was finally able to control my sugar cravings – I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘cheat’ meal since then. I had started mountain biking with a friend a few years earlier, and I use an app that records every ride, my heart rate, etc. (I’m ridiculously fastidious about recording things.) My buddy is a really strong, experienced mountain biker, and 15 years younger, so I can never keep up completely, but it paces me and I managed to improve. I had started at 200/210 lbs., and with the keto diet, careful calorie counting, and meticulous supplementation (electrolytes, vitamins, etc. – about a dozen pills a night, plus electrolyte powders and regular fiber supplements), I managed to methodically drop my weight into the mid 150s by December 2017 – less than I’ve weighed since before puberty. My biking got stronger, and I also got to the gym when I could, so my upper body strength didn’t drop off too dramatically with the weight loss. Along the way I implemented intermittent fasting, which, again, improved my stamina riding, and my health, mood, etc., got better again.
But I had read about ‘zero carb’ – at first it just had a morbid fascination: here again I was looking at something that defied everything I thought I knew. This created more fear: what about scurvy, would I be painfully constipated, somehow permanently ‘ruined’? I toyed with it, looked into it, but never seriously considered taking that leap.
When I happened to watch Shawn (Dr. Baker) on the December Joe Rogan podcast, it suddenly felt down to earth, not so scary. I made up my mind to try it and started December 11, 2017. I wanted to be very clinical about it, and not confound my results, so I determined to drop, on that day, all my vitamins, supplements, psyllium husk (i.e. fiber supplement), and I also decided to drop my long time nasal spray, which I had taken for decades to address my chronic headaches (I have NEVER been able to stop that without vengeful headache repercussions). The only things I continued, at first, were my morning coffee, and my Claritin. I’d taken the Claritin for decades, year round – for headaches and allergies, and had never been able to stop it. A few days without it in the past caused severe itching all over my body, and I just assumed I’d take it till I died.
I continued and participated in the January study on Track-Well.com, and then just kept going. I tapered the coffee completely, as well as the Claritin. As of today (2/19/2018), I have been free of the Claritin for about 4 weeks. I tentatively planned to go back to my keto diet – I still have fat bombs and low carb, homemade bread patiently waiting for me in the freezer (which my family probably won’t eat) – but as of now I have no plans to stop the carnivore WOE (way of eating).
I eat mostly beef, occasional pork, a little chicken, eggs every few days, occasional cheese, but I’ve felt better when I drop the cheese entirely. Aside from that: water. I eat when hungry, surprisingly never get tired of the steak (or hamburger for economy), and it usually happens about twice a day.
I realized that, generally speaking, as I cut out carbs at every ‘phase’, I just felt better. Suddenly it didn’t seem unreasonable to cut them out entirely, and just see what might happen. Of the three ‘macros’ (carbohydrate, protein and fat), only protein and fat are ‘necessary’. Hey – tomorrow I may decide on a different route, but as long as it goes this well, I’m staying on track. Here’s what I’ve noticed:
Weight: my weight dropped in the first couple weeks from 153 to 147, but since then it’s slowly built back up to 162. Most is muscle weight, not fat – my waist, etc., hasn’t really changed.
Joints: I’ve had some chronic problems with neck/shoulder pains since my 40’s, but those really disappeared almost immediately after I started keto. I’ve had occasional twinges in knees and joints since, nothing to complain about, but since starting carnivore, these are rare and temporary.
Headaches: these diminished pretty quickly, and the minor ones I’ve had seem now to be associated with dairy, especially cheese. This is a kind of ‘elimination diet’, and as such, it becomes easy to isolate ‘trouble’ foods. (I’ve had multiple MRI’s and CAT scans, as well as several types of doctors working on this issue for me over the years. If this diet eliminates that lifetime issue, it’s really huge for me. Allergy season could be an issue, but I’m going into this spring sans meds and willing to see what happens.)
Stamina/strength: Within the first few days, my energy jumped considerably, even over the keto diet – I just wanted to go work out. When I could make the time I was sometimes working out in the gym, followed by a pretty strenuous kettlebell or rowing workout, and then, in the evening, a couple hard hours of mountain biking. Since then the energy has settled somewhat, and I realized I was doing TOO much for an old man, but I still feel as good as ever, and my biking and workouts are all improved. I track all my weights in the gym, and they’ve steadily improved since I started, and much faster than any time since college. My recovery time seems shorter as well. In terms of cardio shape and stamina, I can climb familiar hills, gulleys, etc., that I sometimes couldn’t climb before. ‘Burst’ (anaerobic) energy is just as good or better, not just aerobic exertions.
Intestinal: whereas I had been supplementing with psyllium husk to get a consistent 30 grams of fiber a day and a daily bowel movement, I suddenly cut this out entirely. Now I am very regular, though less frequent, and the bloating, rumbling, and gas I always had before is pretty much gone. I never feel constipated – I’m never aware of my digestive track at all, really. It just works. I spend a fraction of the time I used to in the bathroom (stopped even bringing my phone in…. ).
Coffee: In the past I had given up coffee for stretches, but I had to taper over a few weeks because I’m very sensitive to caffeine withdrawal. It seemed much easier on this diet, and just took a few days.
Skin: I notice I usually don’t need deodorant now (could change as summer approaches, I’m open to friendly feedback), and I also notice my skin is generally just a little better hydrated. I rarely use (or need) soap on my skin anymore. I have always had some chronic skin breakouts on my chest and back, dermatologists had tried to address over the years, but early on I noticed this was entirely gone. Some things happen that you aren’t expecting, and it’s a pleasant surprise.
Mood: I noticed that I generally had become a good bit calmer and less reactive (my family’s observations may vary..), even on the keto diet, and that continued on the zero carb regimen.
I’ve learned, over the years, that ‘conventional wisdom’ is often 99% convention, and 1% wisdom. The money and resources spent these days on persuasion, the stakes being high as they are – it’s more important than ever to avoid confirmation bias and the emotional sort of ‘cult’ identification (‘I’m a CARNIVORE!’ ‘I’m a VEGAN!’). I try to avoid ‘us-against-them’, whether it’s carnivory, or veganism, or any labeling that artificially divides us by point of view, or way of eating, etc. And there is SO much conflicting ‘research’: I can support any view now by simply Googling the results I want, and the ‘debate’ is endless. I don’t have the time to spend or interest in researching why that’s so (I have theories ;-), but I responsibility for my own personal health rests with me, and I’m reluctant to cede that authority blindly to another person or institution. When possible, I test for myself; I prefer ‘evidence-based’ knowledge over authoritarian-certified dogma. Trust, but verify – rather than trust alone. If one option makes sense, but the other is based on a ‘study’ I opt for the one that makes sense – and when possible, test. I trust implicitly the true scientific method, but I don’t automatically trust every claim paraded noisily about as ‘science’. Sadly, I know so many people who could possibly be helped by changes in diet – with joint issues or autoimmune conditions, but who are intimidated by the shrill, alarmist voices out there, scaring them off. There’s a treasure chest of good information supporting the carnivorous and LCHF diets out there now, enough to help a reasonable person ask good questions, if they have a true interest in open minded learning.
Thanks to Shawn and Matt and everyone else who’s made this interesting, and a bit humorous at times, but mostly for giving people confidence – without arm-twisting – to experiment for themselves and share. It’s all fun to try new things, and learn.
As per interest and requests I thought I would sit down and talk about my story of approaching and reaching my carnivore diet. Even though I like to never look back or put any focus on my previous ill health, I know that by doing so it may help others. Warning… I’m a number of things, but not a writer. So, read on at your own risk!
I was born March 22, 1973 to an engineer and a physical therapist. My mom’s dad was an M.D. with an emphasis on OB/GYN. He was a great man, but followed the norm of doctoring. He suggested the healthy diet of “cereal and low-fat milk” to snack on in between the standard low fat meals.
I was born quickly without any complications. Things went the way they typically do with hospital births. She nursed me, weaning me off breastmilk completely by the 3 month mark. I reacted to every formula and every food they gave me. They ended with the least reactive combination for me.
Growing up, I always had rashes, asthma and allergies. I was allergy tested at 4 after having a scary breathing situation at nursery school. I was sensitive to almost everything. But my diet was never looked at as an option to cure it all. Instead, I got shots for years. I hated every single one. Never got used it. It always seemed wrong to me.
Because I was an only child, my parents wanted me to have opportunities to do things with other kids as much as possible. So, I went to a lot of camps – which I absolutely loved. However, one of the many camp trips is most likely when I was bitten by a deer tick. I remember tick checks every night and removing them with tweezers when found. I don’t remember having a specific rash or period of flu-like symptoms. I had my share of colds, strep and flu every year and would always catch whatever was “going around”, so nothing stood out when I contracted Lyme.
In the meantime, my health kept deteriorating. Beginning at age 8 I developed trichotillomania. Sores on my eyelids and eyebrow lines made me want to rub/pull at the lashes. I had times when I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. This lasted all the way through grade school, middle school, high school, college and my first couple years working.
Whenever I went over to my friends’ houses (everyone had pets), it wasn’t long before my parents would get a call to come and get me because I was wheezing or developing hives.
Once I started to mature around age 13, the acne I developed was cyst-like and extremely ugly and painful. They would look like craters. I had them all over my face, neck, inside my ears, shoulders, back, chest and arms. Between hardly having eyelashes/eyebrows and having this acne, I was very self-conscious. I was not obese as a kid, but I was always heavier than the norm and carried my weight in a weird sort of way in my hips and butt. I remember having cellulite at age 12.
By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped completely. None of the OB/GYN doctors had any answers. My diet was the typical low fat, high complex carbs, high vegetation and low sugar. So, OBVIOUSLY my diet wasn’t causing it.
College days were fun, but continued my downward health spiral. The extreme fatigue really set in at this point. I started out having a double major of Mathematics and Studio Art. What kept me from successfully majoring in Mathematics is I could not stay awake in class. I would fall asleep after a couple minutes of class starting and wake up when it was over. I needed naps throughout the day and I would always be the first one to sleep in the dorm by hours. Depression and darkness started overcoming me. I pushed friends away more and more due to my fatigue and depression.
I started working out hoping that would make me feel better about myself (and my floppy physique), but it just made me more tired and angry. I didn’t give up working out until years later. (I even became a PT on the side of my professional job.)
I ended up graduating cum laude with math and psychology minors, and studio art major.
After graduating college, I got a job working in the Industrial Design department at Navistar, which was a dream as an Art major, loving automotive design and working at the same company as my dad, cousin and uncles.
The most dramatic downturn in my health happened next. The stress of working and being around clay modeling, paint spraying and all sorts of chemicals quickly sent me downhill fast. Honestly, at this point life is a blur to me still.
My lifesaver was Joe. Wonderful, talented, funny, interesting, 100% compatible with me, Joe! It’s almost as if I was waiting to meet him before my life which was heading downhill fast would make a turn for the better. But it was going to get worse before getting better.
My list of health conditions grew: eczema all over my hands (to the point of second degree burns), tinnitus, worsening depression, worsening fatigue (fell asleep at work all the time, at meetings, at church, and driving a car), lower back/pelvic and sciatic nerve pain (couldn’t sit at all, worked standing up, constant pain with occasional howling-pain spasms; MRI revealed degenerative disc disease in 3 areas), systemic edema, blurry vision (eyeglasses were worn beginning in high school, worsening every year), paralyzation at times in hands and feet working its way into my torso (Joe had to be called to carry me out of work several times), allergies/sensitivities to all things (food, pollens, chemicals), continued amenhorrea, weight gain (at my heaviest 50 pounds overweight), inability to concentrate (couldn’t understand a sentence spoken to me in time to hear the next in a conversation), diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (treated with cryotherapy), migraines, heart pains, indigestion/reflux, bingeing (and at the end, vomiting – luckily only a few times), muscle twitching (over 100 twitches in 1-minute’s time), lumps in my breasts I was too afraid to have checked out, and one of the last but most difficult for everyone around me was my irritation and rage (a complete reversal of my laid back and sweet nature everyone knew me to have growing up).
I literally could go on, but I don’t want to waste any more time or bleed my heart out anymore than I have.
I went the conventional doctor route, with absolutely NO success. Each one made me sicker, weaker and with more symptoms. Most concluded it was all in my head and I was crazy!
Joe was always interested in body building and happened on Vince Gironda. His way of eating to be as strong and sharp as possible intrigued Joe. Almost as soon as he researched this and similar diets (many authors delving into the low/carb free approach to health long, long ago) he started eating low carb/high fat. Instantly it appealed to me and I tried experimenting with low carb foods and recipes (I loved to cook and bake). It was not an immediate win for me, but certain things instantly started to turn around (allergies and asthma in particular as soon as I removed grains). I also started unmasking the low carb foods (vegetation especially), which would send me into terrible fatigue spells.
When Joe and I married August 8, 1998 (this is part of my love of the number 8), it was one of the best days of my life (other than the days of giving birth to my two sons). It was bittersweet though. I felt bad despite the adrenaline. We were the first ones to leave our own reception, not because we couldn’t wait to be together, but because I was so wiped out from the whole thing.
On with the positive turn!
Soon after I was diagnosed with Lyme disease by an alternative M.D. At least that gave us something to focus on and be able to look at as reasons behind some of my issues. I decided to quit my job to focus on getting well and reducing my stress level (I was working, taking MBA classes, finished my PT and nutritionist licenses).
More research quickly led us from looking at low carb to virtually no carbs. We experimented so much in such little amount of time that we realized we’d better start journals of everything we ate, how we felt, what worked and what didn’t. All we wanted was consistency.
The fish and oil diet was the first diet I can remember being the first try at a zero carb diet. It relieved a lot of my symptoms, but not all (still had amenhorrea, edema, trichotillomania, acne, eczema and excess weight). We probably spent about a year experimenting beginning with the fish and oil diet, quickly switching to free range eggs and poultry, and occasional lamb and beef.
As SOON as I switched to animal fat as my fat source instead of “healthy” oils, I ovulated and had a period two weeks later. I couldn’t believe it!!! Why in the WORLD didn’t someone tell me years ago about the importance of animal fat?!? I’ve been more regular since then than I ever was as a young teenager. I’ve had two healthy boys (no complications for me; home births too; mid-wife with Charlie and unassisted with George)!
We experimented with pork only to find that it activated symptoms. Ground meats, no matter what type also did.
We continued researching and looked at our wins and fails. It led us to Blake Donaldson who suggested a steak and water diet for his patients. That made a lot of sense to Joe and I. We started with pemmican only for some time, introducing steak eventually. Sure enough, as soon as I decided to go all beef, EVERY SINGLE ONE of my symptoms vanished!!! I couldn’t believe it. Whenever I tried to share my success and happiness about this, it was met with more questionable stares, anger, fear, and rolled eyes than you would ever imagine. So, it was our little secret. And that’s how we kept it until we found others with our point of view.
Also, I quickly found the more I ate meat only, my face shape changed and especially my body. I went from needing to work out religiously and strenuously when eating poorly to giving up exercise completely in order to not become too muscular or masculine-looking.
Even when others put our interview out a few years ago, it was met (by some) with so much anger, that we pulled it. It was slated to be run in National Examiner magazine. Boy, would that have been a disaster in many respects.
These days we eat ribeye steak, since it’s the fattiest. And we drink spring water. That’s what we do. We don’t think about it. We don’t really even talk about it. To us it’s like talking about why the sky is blue. Yes, there is scientific reasoning behind it. It’s nice to understand, but it’s beauty is really all it comes down to appreciating!