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Hi there! Long story, just happy to be alive!

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  • Hi there! Long story, just happy to be alive!

    Hello everyone,

    I'm Glen, a 46 year old guy in Alberta, Canada. Please skip to the bottom for a TL;DR if you need...

    I've been eating LCHF for a year now, and am investigating primal/paleo just to be more informed.

    A little about me ... I used to be quite athletic (football, cycling, and 400/800m running) but started suffering major spinal issues in about the year 2000.

    In 2005 I had ruptured two discs, and after physiotherapy and every treatment imaginable was still in serious pain, so they sent me for MRI's, at which time I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis (both bilateral foraminal and central canal) and degenerative disc disease (basically nothing left between L4/L5 and L5/S1).

    I was 40 years old and told I had the spine of a 90 year old. Nice to hear. The neurosurgeon I consulted with about spinal surgery said it looked like I'd had a spinal injury years ago, which never healed properly and as such caused the mess we were now seeing. I told him of a cycling crash I experienced during a race in 1990 (a few of us went down at about 90km/h ... I suffered a concussion, fractured ribs, shoulder and knee injuries...) and he said it was quite likely something undiagnosed at that time.

    He also said that I'd have to lose at least 70 lbs before they'd even consider me for surgery.

    Well, with this great news I got depressed, really depressed. I wasn't moving - there were many days I was in bed 24hrs due to pain and medication. I worked about 2/3rds of my scheduled days, and due to lowered income we ate cheaply - which meant processed carbs.

    You can probably see where this is going. I got pretty fat. 320lbs was my heaviest. I was in constant pain and miserable. Not only did I get fat, but because of all the bed-rest and narcotics, I had considerably less musculature than most obese people get. I was a fat weakling who could barely move.

    Then things only got worse. A year ago TODAY (happy anniversary?) I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I had fasting blood glucose of 14.8mmol/L (that's 267mg/dl for you Americans) and an A1c of 12.1%. Both of these are extremely high - roughly DOUBLE the amounts where Canadians diagnose Diabetes.

    At the same time I was hypertensive, had high cholesterol/trigs, etc. and to make matters worse, the day of my diagnosis I find out my Dad was being scheduled for his 3rd bypass surgery - this one a quadruple bypass. In fact, my family history of heart disease is so bad, if I make it to 50 without a cardiac event, I'll be the first male member of my family in 4 generations to do so. No joke.

    I had to seriously evaluate things and see if there was something I could do. My doctor wanted to put me on Metformin, Insulin and possibly other glucose-lowering meds as well as medication for blood pressure and (naturally) statins.

    I hate drugs. I was sick of my narcotics for pain, and didn't think any more drugs were that beneficial.

    I realized I could either live, regardless of how hard it would hurt, or die (not even slowly at this point) while drugged up...

    I chose to live.

    After some research I agreed to be put on Metformin - but that was IT. I refused everything else and told my doctor that if things weren't improving in three months, I'd consider more.

    That day I hit up a local 'freecycle' newsgroup to see if anyone had a free - or dirt cheap - exercise bike. I found one and we picked it up.

    It was a piece of crap that probably barely supported a 150lb person, let alone my bulk. But it was free. The first day I rode 10 minutes. I had to stop - a combination of back pain and exhaustion.

    I hit the internet and researched weight-loss diets as well as diabetes diets. I quickly discounted the vegan theories after reading their studies (although I work in I.T., the majority of my educational background is health sciences, and I do know how to read a research study... it was amazing the flaws in the vegan studies...)

    After only two days of research I decided to adopt LCHF. I also plugged some figures into a BMR calculator, and decided that I would eat no less than 2,000 calories (the BMR figure for my 'healthy' weight) and no more than 3,000 calories (a little less than my requirement if resting 16hrs and at my job 8). I'd try for at least 500 calorie deficit daily.

    Two days later I did another 10 minutes on the bike. A week later, I could do 10 minutes TWICE a day. After two weeks - I was up to 1/2 an hour, and could do that TWICE a day on the weekends. But the poor crappy exercise bike was falling apart (quite literally) under my weight... So we broke down, used our Amex card and bought a spin bike at Costco.

    A month after diagnosis I could ride the spin bike at a pretty hard pace for an hour. I'd also lost 30 lbs. After two months, I could ride for 90 minutes straight, or do two 1-hr sessions in a day. After the end of three months I could ride for two hours straight, and had lost almost 60 lbs.

    My 3 month blood test - A1c result came in a 7.0% - my doctor was ecstatic. I wasn't so pleased and kept working. My blood pressure was still high (for a diabetic) but my doctor wanted to see what three more months would do... so I kept at it.

    In June I bought a road bike - and went outside. The bumps were a little hard on the old spine, but the feeling of sunshine, warmth and fresh air more than offset the discomfort. So did a carbon seatpost. I started really pushing it.

    By the end of June I'd ridden a metric century (100km / 62.5 miles) ... but not just anywhere - I did it in Alberta's Rocky Mountains - up 14% grades, never once getting off the bike to walk. In July I did 110km through the mountains (up over 7200ft in elevation, again with 14% grades) in just over 4hrs.

    My A1c came in at 6.0%. I'd lost a total of 70lbs. My blood pressure was now only 'borderline' and my lipid profile was vastly improved.

    I slowed down the riding a bit as the cold weather came in... (wind chill, brr.) but at the Chronic Pain Centre in Calgary they started me on a walking program... which turned into a jogging program, because I just couldn't help myself.

    As of now, here's the results: My A1c is now 5.4% and I weigh 230lbs as I write this. I'm 90lbs lighter than I was. My pain levels are reduced dramatically (likely the result of not only weight loss, but much less inflammation) and I can jog a 5km - albeit slowly at about 27minutes for my best so far.

    I love the changes, but I'm hoping to do more - including some weight training to try to build back muscle.

    I atrophied so much, especially my upper-body that I'm still very weak. Except for my legs. With the cycling (and eating LOTS of calories) my legs exploded. I'm rather off-balanced as far as upper/lower-body strength, so hoping that with so many of the paleo/primal crew being into not only healthy eating but fitness (cross-fit, etc.) that I can find some support/encouragement and advice here.

    I apologize so much for the lengthy post, but it's the only way you can know me.

    More than anything, I'm happy to be alive, and looking forward to living a healthier life as each day progresses.

    For the TL;DR folks (Too-Long;Didn't-Read for those that don't know) here it is: Bad back/Spinal Injury. Lots of Pain. Got fat, really fat, 320lbs. Got diabetes. Got mad. Fixed it with LCHF and bike-riding. Looking for more info.

  • #2
    Wow! Impressive story! Have you read the primal blueprint? You don't mention much about your diet. Exercise is wonderful but it will only take you so far. LCHF is the way to go. We may have suggestions if you say more about your typical day's food.
    Ancestral Health Info

    I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

    Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.


    • #3
      Haven't read the primal blueprint yet, no. I've asked my wife to bring it home - she's a librarian. Libraries ROCK!

      I do eat LCHF, though not "primal" per se.

      Typically I eat:
      2 eggs
      bacon or ham (nitrate-free from a local butcher shop that sells organic)
      1/2 slice sprouted grain toast with natural peanut butter and no-sugar jam
      some berries or 1/2 a Granny Smith apple.

      Protein shake:
      sugar-free Whey powder
      1/4 cup Heavy cream
      1/4 cup berries
      handful baby spinach leaves

      Chicken Salad (as all natural as possible)

      Meat - preferably organic/free-range/pasture-fed etc.
      Big pile o' salad
      and if I feel really bad, I'll have some potato skins w/ cheddar, bacon & green onion

      Night-time snack

      typically nuts and cheese

      Typically I eat anywhere from 40g of carb up, depending upon my activity level (I've been known to bike for 5 hours, so I may have as much as 150g of carb on those days).

      I aim for a little over 2,500 calories minimum (I don't count anymore though - I have a pretty damned good idea after several months of doing so) and up to 5,000 depending on what the day holds. Today will be about 3,500.

      Thanks for the welcome!


      • #4
        You're an inspiration! Have you though of swimming for exercise? Great for building upper body strength and SO easy on the back. Have a look at the last 4 or so posts on my Primal blog - I couldn't walk at all due to ankle and back pain but I am swimming 90 mins 3 days a week and 75 mins another 3 days. Sometimes I don't have a day off for a couple of weeks. And I have absolutely no back pain now and I can feel my muscles getting stronger. BTW I only started this regime mid August and have also lost 10kgs (8.33% body weight). I am to lose 20kgs this year and have already lost 2!
        F 58 / 170cms / SW 131.5 kgs / Current 112.4/ GW 65
        following Primal Lifestyle and swimming my way to health

        My Primal Blog / Photo Blog / RedBubble shop / My Calendars / My Facebook


        • #5
          Your food sounds fine to me, even if not exactly primal. I eat peanut butter and potatoes. I don't consider them "20%" - IMHO they are good food. But, of course, they are not primal, especially the peanut butter.
          Ancestral Health Info

          I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

          Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.