We’ve got a great Paleo testimonial for you today. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve probably read the other success stories we’ve shared over the past couple of months.
It’s been awesome sharing the stories of readers – people like YOU – have had life-changing experiences thanks to the Paleo lifestyle.
The story we bring to you today is no exception. Graeme was born without a thyroid, and struggled with illnesses, allergies, and acne his whole life. Because thyroid issues were a problem in his family, he had accepted that his life was just meant to be that way.
That was his approach – until he started doing his own research. Thanks to a podcast by Robb Wolf and Abel James his eyes were opened to the Paleo way of life
The rest is history.
Keep reading to learn more about Graeme’s incredibly inspiring journey.
What was your life like before Paleo?
I was born assigned female, and like a large handful of people with two x-chromosomes, I had thyroid issues, but in my case, I had no thyroid at all!
A caesarian section kid who was weaned early, I had issues with allergies and illness all my life, including constant fatigue, acne, inflammation of all kinds. If there was a banana peel to slip on related to health, I’d slip on it. Plus, I had asthma, so aside from a brief stint of high school soccer, I didn’t much get outside, and when I did, my inhaler followed me everywhere! On the even grosser side, I inherited my parents’ internal hemorrhoids (sorry, Mom and Dad!) and constant bent toward nausea.
Once I transitioned to male through testosterone injections, my acne had acne! My weight was getting out of control, my thyroid medication wasn’t working, I was constantly falling on my butt (literally!). I had migraines so bad that they had me on an opioid, a barbituate and zofran (to keep me from throwing it up) several times per day, and that still didn’t do anything for the pain.
And I was eating crap. But since other people in my family had those issues–two aunts who’d had to pursue bariatric surgery, a cousin with Hashimoto’s, a whole host of stuff for my parents and brothers–I figured it was normal and that I was doomed to a future of my body falling apart. Why would what I’m eating be a factor? Plenty of people have mac and cheese, right?
How did you find Paleo?
I started researching my symptoms, which I’d assumed were genetic due to my parents having the same problems. The consensus seemed to be that without medication, this was the best I could ever expect to feel again, but it’s super depressing to not even be thirty and feel like your body is falling apart, like you’re going to be a fifty-year old stump people put in a wheelbarrow to take you to McDonald’s, and you’ll likely still be in pain then. So I kept looking.
Then I stumbled onto Abel James’s and Robb Wolf’s podcasts and their guests were talking about having gone from conditions like mine to being able to do things with their bodies I hadn’t since high school. I don’t mean “walking shirtless on a beach,” although that sounded great, too; I mean I lettered in soccer and graduated at 125lb. So I gave prioritizing water and sleep, and cutting out gluten, dairy and legumes a shot. And it’s working!
What specifically did you change (in terms of diet and lifestyle)?
I move heavy objects twice a week and I walk my dog daily. I’ve replaced everything
dairy, grain or legume on my plate with vegetables. I divide my weight in pounds by two and drink that many ounces of water daily. I sleep adequately (except tonight, apparently, but iTunes is giving me trouble!)
What was your first step into the Paleo world?
Replacing everything else I was drinking with water was my first step; my next was kicking the pets out of the bedroom at night so they wouldn’t wake me up. My wife wasn’t happy about that one, but she’s adapted.
What was the hardest part of your transition?
The haters (including, at first, my wife) made it SUPER DIFFICULT! My wife interrogated me about gluten for two months.
I finally said, “I’ve stopped eating certain foods because they make me feel awful. Why do YOU want me to eat something that makes me feel awful?” That put it into perspective for her.
Even now, people offer me bites of tiramisu or sips of beer, because they’re still used to those being my favorite things about life, but after a few slips, I know what I’d be sacrificing, and I’d rather be doing fun sstuff the next day than stuck in the bathroom hating life.
How did you stick with this lifestyle over time?
One bite at a time. It’s nice to think, when you’re starting out, that you’ll only have to do this for a while, but then when you mess up and pay some health consequences over the following 72 hours, you get the real reminder of why you’re cutting out a major part of your former food pyramid. Robb Wolf also posted something on Facebook about the 100% rule, and I highly recommend searching for it on his page.
When did you start seeing results?
It was more, “When did I start feeling them?” I started sleeping better and feeling better within a week; within two, I noticed that my allergy symptoms had gone away. Within three, my migraines had all but ceased.
My wife started noticing I was more present for conversations; my dog started noticing the walks were getting a little longer and a little more often. My friends and colleagues asked me if I was losing weight within the firsttwo weeks.
What is your favorite thing about the Paleo lifestyle?
I have a great excuse to eat steak now lol. I was always a foodie, and people are CONSISTENTLY ASKING ME why I restrict so many things from my diet. Whoa, wait, like ramen? Yeah, there’s an exciting thing to eat… Aren’t there more fun ways to re-live one’s college experience? I get that people think that I’m restricting, but I eat so much larger of a variety of food, and I’m more present for the experience of eating it. I enjoy all the flavors and textures, the act of preparation, and the act of cooking “restrictive” foods for the haters and watching them melt with each bite. I’ve always been a good cook, but now I get to make food a mission, too.
What are some of your favorite Paleo recipes/meals?
Dr. Amy Myers’s new book, The Thyroid Connection, has some incredible recipes; even if you ignore the rest of the book, you could have fun with the meal plan for 28 days. I made the turkey meatballs tonight, and have enjoyed cooking whole chickens and making bone broth with the carcass. If I’m in a rush, though, I’ll thaw a steak, sear it to mid-rare, and throw it on top of a huge bowl of greens with some avocado, radishes, carrots and other veggies. Before bed, a baked sweet potato with some coconut oil or animal fat helps me sleep.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about starting the Paleo diet?
Although some results happen very quickly, nothing comes overnight. I’m still losing weight. But why are you making this journey? Is it just for beach-abs? Or is it because something was very wrong and no medication you were taking was helping, no amount of Ambien was making you feel rested, or your sexual dysfunction was slightly out of the reach of Viagra? Are you looking to feel better? Because even if you don’t lose a single pound (don’t worry, though, because you will!), you will feel better.
So much less of our symptoms, “family heirlooms” and diseases are related to genetics versus lifestyle. It might be frustrating to cut out your favorite foods and might be disheartening to not like what you’re seeing naked in the mirror during your journey, but I don’t even know you and I promise your life will be better for taking just a few steps and sticking with it.
If you really miss that Twinkie, have one in a couple of months and see how it makes you feel for the next three days.
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