Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Aug

The Beginning of a New Life

Hi Mark,

I’ve been Primal for about two weeks.

In that time, I’ve learned more about how my body works, how ill-informed doctors can be, and how important movement is to health than in all my 38 years combined. This is both mind-blowing and humbling for me.

I’ve always lived in my head. I never had much use for my body, because I was a chubby kid and I became a more-than-chubby adult. I ignored warnings about high-sugar food, went on every diet known to man at the time (from the 600-calorie-per-day no-fat diet to Weight Watchers to the Water Diet, where you ate… wait for it… water and nothing but), you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Exercise hurt and made me sweaty, which meant I had to shower, which meant getting undressed and looking at my body, which I didn’t like doing. It was just easier not to exercise. I hid in books and, later, computers and the Internet. By trade, I’m working on being a sociologist and a statistician – lots of head-work, but not much field-work. (I used to say that that was the advantage of sociology over anthropology: you don’t have to go out into the fields to do your field-work.)

Every now and then I’d have a spurt of “I’ll try to be THIN!” but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks. And it always involved cutting out fat and sugar, but still eating lots and lots of those supposedly “healthy” carbs and grains. In high school, I weighed 200 when I started freshman year and, despite four years of marching band, I weighed 280 when I graduated. When I got married the first time, I weighed 340. I thought surely I was as big as I was ever going to get, right? When my first marriage broke up nine years later and I went vegetarian, I was at 370. I maintained that weight for eight years. Sure, I got told I was a diabetic two years ago (with what I argued at the time was a single and unrelated anomalous blood sugar reading of 127 when I was completely stressed out), but although I took the tester and strips, I didn’t bother to follow the program, and I insisted that one could be heavy and healthy at the same time. (And I’m still a fat activist for the rights of fat people, because as most of us know, so many fat people aren’t aware that they’re being told all the wrong things about weight and health and food that I can’t really blame them for their lack of knowledge. I tell those I can, when I can, and let the rest of it work out on its own.)

So I thought I was doing pretty well. I was in graduate school, I had two beautiful daughters and a strong relationship with my husband (he and I married last year when it was legal for us to do so in CA), I was bright, I was articulate, I’d graduated from undergrad with honors. Oh yeah, and I was a hell of a good cook.

Then, in January of this year, my father died of cancer and diabetes complications (inoperable gangrene in his feet). You have to understand about my dad – he was the most important person in my life next to my husband and my kids, and when he died, I went a little nuts. More than a little – I started eating everything I could get my hands on. Ice cream? Check. Pie? Check. Hi-carb snacks, chips, dips? Check, check, and check again. Bring on the mashed potatoes and the rice pilaf, and add a hot fudge sundae in there, for good measure.

Six months after my father died, I was up to 397 pounds. Essentially, I was 400 pounds. I’d gained 200 pounds in 25 years, and I wasn’t skinny at 200, but I was six inches shorter then.

My doctor got on my case on the 7th of August. Nicely, but firmly. It was time, he said, for me to stop pretending I wasn’t an impending diabetic and get with the program. I came home and didn’t eat anything for two days. Then I started testing my blood and was shocked at the numbers. 192. 178. 217 (after a high-carb meal at my brother-in-law’s)! Even my morning “fasting” numbers weren’t great: 144, 148, 152, 139.

So I dove into research, and among other sites about diabetes and low-carb ways of eating, found MDA. And reading the success stories here, I decided I was going to go low-carb. Not to lose weight, but to get my sugars back under control.

I’ve been low-carbing since August 13, and I started with a goal of no more than 80 carbs/day. Now I’m down to a goal of no more than 40 carbs/day, and I hope soon to get that down to below 20/day as I figure out what affects me and what doesn’t. Although my morning numbers are still annoyingly high (mid-140s most days), my daytime sugars go down all day long, and by the end of the day my average is sitting in the mid-110s, which is a hell of a lot better than the mid-180s!

I’ve also noticed a few other things. It’s no longer a struggle to buckle my seatbelt. My shortest belt is too long to really keep my pants up. I saw a doctor last week and I’d already dropped five pounds – and that was before I got seriously into the Primal way of doing things. I feel better. I sleep better. My teeth don’t bleed when I brush anymore (and that was just a lifelong thing for me, the bleeding teeth). I walked a half mile (round trip) to the store the other day – something I NEVER would have done before – and although I came back in a muck sweat, I was so proud of myself. And I’m working out, gently, every morning. I’m up and moving for thirty minutes before I do anything else, and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel.

I want to live a long, long life. And the image of my father’s feet is all I need to keep me going, even when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But if I hadn’t come across the Primal way of living, I’d probably be sucking down my little pancreas-killing hypoglycemic sulfonurea drugs right now, eating 60% of my calories in grains, and wondering why the glucometer stubbornly refuses to get out of the 250s.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some steak and wilted spinach for dinner. I promise to post the recipe, too.


You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. My mother is pre-diabetic (in fact doctor wants her to go on insulin), and my family has been large through generations. I’ve been working to get her to try Primal eating, but she’s stubborn and still doesn’t believe the glucose meter has anything to do with what she’s eating (I mean she eats “healty” oats for breakfast, whole grains and low fat…right?). I’m going to share your story with her. Hopefully, eventually, I can break through. Thanks for giving us something to share!

    nina_70 wrote on September 11th, 2009
  2. How are things progressing, Griff? I think it’s a fantastic idea to ignore the scale and to just stay in touch with how we feel and the messages our body is giving us (some of us for the first time ever). I am amazed at how much better I feel, how more clearly I can think, and how my horrible heartburn has gone away within, literally, less than a week. By the way, us Chubs CAN run — now. In water. I am very overweight and still recovering from a broken back in 5 places, with Harrington rods in place. And I run for my life…in the swimming pool at a local gym. If *I* can do it, so can you. :) I highly recommend any and all kind of water exercise. Best wishes. I’ll be following your progress. (BTW, I’ve gotten my best friend since childhood, who is very fit (marathoner) and who suffers from overexercise/overuse injuries and complaining about how much he aches, to Grok On and go primal with me, too. He’s already ordered 4 books for his whole family. LOL.)

    Ginger wrote on September 17th, 2009
  3. Progress that I can report:

    According to the scale, I have dropped a total of 26 pounds. I put on a pair of jeans that always fit me tight yesterday, straight out of the dryer, and the opening overlapped by a good inch and a half – so they’re three inches too big in the waist. I’ve lost a total of nine inches off my waist (haven’t measured anything else) and it shows.

    My blood sugars have dropped about 12%, and I hope to keep improving that – this is a difference between averages in the 120s just two weeks ago and in the 110s now. That, to me, is remarkable. My ultimate goal: averages in the 80s, like any other normal person.

    @Ginger: Unfortunately, there’s no pool available to me, but that’s okay – I’d actually prefer to dance than run! I’m also lifting weights – not big ones yet, but working up to it. Overall, things are going very well!

    Griff wrote on September 17th, 2009
    • How are you doing? :)

      danielle wrote on July 12th, 2010
      • My sugars are never above 120 any more, even after big meals, and most of the time my averages are in the upper 80s to low 90s. I’m down to 305 last time I weighed (90-plus pound loss). So I’m doing really well. :) Thanks for asking!

        Griff wrote on July 12th, 2010
  4. I am in health care and it is good to see that there are people out there who are trying to make their lives healthier. I have been unknowingly living the Grok lifestyle for over 35 years and it really works. I am 55 and am constantly getting comments that i look like I am in my early 40’s. this is a lifestyle not a diet to go on to loose weight. Most of the patients we do surgery on are people who are not active and live the american diet of high carbs and low activity. It is a killer, a slow and painful killer way of life.

    Sue Plesha wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  5. Mazel Tov, I’m glad it’s working for you. I took the 30 day challenge last Sept. I’ve lost about 25 lbs, and feel and move so much better. I need to work harder on my exercise program. Now I need a new T-shirt to show off my new look.Keep up the good work,wishing you much success in your future.

    Postermama wrote on February 20th, 2011
  6. WOW!!! Your story has inpired me completely!!! That is such a great feeling. Feeling in control again!! Don’t stop and keep your story going!!!

    Athena May wrote on September 15th, 2011

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