Dave Lawrence started a low carb/paleo lifestyle one year ago after a combination of gradual weight gain, a heart scare and the enthusiasm of his wife Lisa who now runs the Paleoasis blog. He describes how difficult it was at first to give up things like his breakfast cereal but how, even during the very first week, he noticed improvements and has gone on to lose 25lbs, stop having to take medication and ended up feeling in much better control of his life and his health. Here’s an extract from Paleoasis…
As I approached my 40th birthday I continued happily munching away at my nightly bowl of (organic now) whole grain enriched ancient grain cereal, but was noticing a 10 lb. creep in weight annually. My midsection was getting that flabby spare tire look and feel, which I assumed was unavoidable in middle age as I looked at my friends and the world around me. I would just need to exercise more. I have been a carpenter with a very physical day for the last 15 years; I assumed that was all that was keeping me from the inevitable ballooning that most other guys my age seemed to be experiencing. But now as I approached 190 lbs. I felt I needed to do something to at least slow this process.
It was around this time that I began noticing strange sensations in my heart. When I would swallow my heart would skip beats, race, or beat erratically. This culminated with a trip to the emergency room one night with a full blown episode of atrial fibrillation. A relatively harmless , but terrifying heart arrhythmia that can leave your heart beating at up to 200 bpm for sustained periods of time.
My view of myself as an active healthy specimen was suddenly exploded. I had a heart condition. And so I set off, a naïve babe in the woods, into the world of cardiac medicine. I, of course, wanted to know what CAUSED this to happen, and assumed that is where the barrage of cardiac exams were taking me. It was only after a year of heart specialists’ tests, exams, scopes, ultra sounds, EKGs and mandatory prescriptions for blood thinners, beta blockers and anti-arrhythmics ( culminating with me lying in a cardiac ablation suite with a probe in my left atrium and a surgeon asking me if I wanted her to ablate(burn and cut ) the nerves that might be making my heart beat strangely) that I realized the doctors did not really care why this was happening, they just needed to mask or block it. In my own line of work it seemed like going to a person’s house who says they have a leaky roof and giving them a bigger bucket and some paint for the water stains on the ceiling.
It was only when I turned to naturopathic medicine did I begin to see the enormous hole in the roof of my general health.Stress, low magnesium levels, low vitamin B levels, from our largely carb based diet (red meat was not eaten at the time, by my now cavewife), an energy deficit from trying to be everything to everyone, had all been factors in my life , anyone of which could lead to heart issues. I got off the prescription drugs and started supplementing with vitamin B and magnesium. At the same time, Lisa began the switch to low carb eating, altering her diet as she began to discover the world of Paleo and all the information debunking the high-carb-low-fat mythology that had, up until now, been our way of eating.
Lisa is an information junkie, the more she dug for the truth about food, the more we learned as a family. We watched the documentaries, read the articles, listened to countless podcasts in the car. Today my kids can identify photos of Dr. Eades, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and Jimmy Moore as if they are teen pop stars. As she changed her way of eating, so did we, as a family.
I began noticing results in the first week. Getting rid of my cereal was the most unimaginable thing for me. I could not imagine life without cereal and milk. I had tried on various occasions but had been drawn back to it by what I now understand an insulin reaction. By replacing cereal with bacon and eggs I found that the daily 10 am light-headedness and crazed yearning for a donut or sugar of any kind disappeared. In fact, my hunger became less of a panicked desperate “feed me right now” that would make me cranky and ferocious. I would be hungry at lunch but could easily postpone eating if I chose. I got rid of the tradesperson standard lunch of a sandwich and instead had lettuce with sausages, nuts and berries drizzled in our high fat homemade “green gold” dressing. Again, I did not get the 3pm mind fog and exhaustion that used to send me hunting for the left- over donuts.
The more I rid my diet of bread, cereal, grains, the better I feel. My thinking feels clearer, I have more energy, and my energy level is consistent, not like the up and down of before.
My Atrial fib seems to have gone away. I stopped taking the supplements except for magnesium because our diet is very nutrient rich and vitamin B levels are no longer an issue. Within a few months I dropped From 190 to 165, where I seem to be holding steady. I notice a change in my waist, the flab ring has dwindled and my waist dropped from 34 back to 32 where it was in my 20s. I sometimes am surprised in the mirror when I see muscle definition I didn’t know I had…
More at: One year of Paleo