So when it comes to how I got here, you first may want to know how my dad got here. He was the biggest motivation in changing my lifestyle and in creating this blog. His prologue explains his medical issues that occurred in May 2010, and this testimonial explains why he says,”Heart Disease Saved My Life”.
I realize that this is a strange tag line, perhaps thought provoking, but it’s true. My current heart situation made me focus on the question, “How did this happen to me?” I mean really focus! In essence my heart disease led me down a lifestyle path that I believe will not only stop but reverse my progression of atherosclerosis (plaque) and allow me to live to life expectancy and beyond. My previous rant was written in the middle of the night in St. Tammany Hospital’s CCU unit, three years ago, about how I got to this point in my life. This process of reflection, research and study has brought me to some conclusions that are undeniable. First and foremost is that I am truly blessed! Wait a second, you have four stents and are on your third pacemaker! Yes, but I shouldn’t be here! Heart Disease is the number one killer in this country, more fatalities than all the cancers combined. Fifty percent of all guys find out they have a heart problem in a box! I am here to talk about it! If you clicked on the link above, you know I had a 90% widow maker blockage and my body miraculously created collaterals through endurance training to avoid a fatal heart attack. I have had no further plaque progression since my original stents, confirmed by an angiogram last August. Keep in mind, stents are only a band aid, the problem is plaque production. The latest theories on heart disease revolve around sub-particle LDL. Multiple VAP test have confirmed that I have had a significant shift from small particle LDL (Bad) to large particle LDL (good) strictly by lifestyle. I am leaner now than when I did years of ironman training over ten years ago, and I haven’t ran, biked or swam a mile in over three years, losing 35 pounds in the process. I am back to a 32 inch waist, which hasn’t happened since college, and at age 52 seems a lifetime ago. I know what you’re asking, “How did you do that?” We are not there yet! Walk with me some more.
OK, back to the question I focused on, “How did this happen to me?” My theory is inflammation- more specifically my body’s reaction (inflammation), to the modern industrial food supply, in which I spent a lifetime eating. In my adolescense, this inflammation manifested itself in cystic acne. As an adult it became atherosclerosis. My personal prescription was to radically change the way I eat! My first observation was by altering my consumption to only REAL FOOD for health purposes, I lost 35 pounds. I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I didn’t think I had that kind of weight to lose. But it made common sense that if you fuel your body on what it was meant to eat, that you will get to your ideal body weight. I am less focused today on body weight, rarely weighing myself, but rather monitor my waistline as a better indicator and the ability to see my abs! The second revelation, pertaining to my weight loss, was it truly ISN’T about calories in calories out. For years, I was doing an insane amount of training but am leaner now with a fraction of the exercise. I discovered the real issue is about how hormones react to the food that you eat. Mainly the blood sugar and insulin dynamic, but also cortisol and leptin are key factors. I focus on resistance training (Lift Heavy) and I walk in the woods with an occasional sprint workout. That led to a third tenant in my current mantra that everything I learned about diet, nutrition and fitness was WRONG. Hey, it wasn’t my fault entirely. I followed the masses sort of speak. But I realize how much I over-carbed in my Type A ironman-marathon phase. My younger brother David likes to remind me that I used to say, I could eat whatever I wanted because of the volume of training I was doing. If I could only do it again with proper fat-adapted fueling. But presently I truly believe less is more and that is converse to ironman thinking that more is better.
I know you know the answer to the “How I did it”, because you are reading a blog with the name of Bravoforpaleo. Equally important to the how is why. For me the focus was primal, TO LIVE LONGER. I was trying to understand how the wheels came off and make a dramatic course correction in my life. I wanted to be able to walk my girls down the aisle and see my grandkids. My personal cardiac research led me to the Paleo Lifestyle with a focus on Ketogenics. The key word is lifestyle, because although food is a key tenant, moving, lifting heavy things, sleep and stress reduction is also as important. The food journey is an extreme divergence of the current cardiac advice. I had a cardiologist tell me to forget about my manic obsession with the food. His advice was to take the medicine. He said, The cardiac cocktail of pills will get you to age 80! Later, when I had to buy all new suits for my insurance profession due to my weight loss, the clothier told me that same cardiologist, a client of his, had to have gastric bypass surgery to bring him back from the ranks of the obese. There is a problem that we take professional medical advice from someone who has to remove healthy organs, because he cannot adapt to processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Why not just change the FOOD!
My first piece of advice for anyone wanting to make this journey is, “To Make a Decision.” Don’t overlook this most important step. Decide why you want to change your paradigm in favor of this lifestyle. You have to have a compelling reason, because that is what it will take to get you through the carb fatigue, cravings, setbacks and negative reinforcement. If you don’t examine why you want to change, you will not, or not for very long. This will become another diet that will fail you as opposed to a lifestyle that will transform your life. The information about this lifestyle is Uncommon Knowledge. You CAN transform yourself! The playbook is readily available, complete with the science, the action plan and the success stories.
I wonder sometimes that perhaps this was some orchestrated grand plan. If this is what it took, what I call the proverbial gun to my head to change my life, so be it. More importantly for me to lead by example and change my family’s eating habits, and prevent my health experience from becoming their own, then thank you God for my stents and pacemaker. My mission is to also be a catalyst for others to change how they fuel, move and rest their bodies for ultimate health. The acts of sharing these ideas with others and the subsequent success stories of health and weight loss have been the most gratifying accomplishment of my life. As I tell people about the paleo lifestyle, that there is one major side effect… your increased health will cause you to look better than you ever have.
Want to be the next Testimonial on my blog? Send me your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I may feature you!