Hello. My name is Anthony. At an early age I realized I was different from the other children that I went to school with. I had more “energy” and no one else seemed to make the same noises I did (impressions, I’d mock sounds I heard and general gibberish when I got excited). I usually had a small group of friends or acquaintances depending on how many kids didn’t notice, tolerated or were entertained by my “strange” behavior. High school was tougher and I had less close friends. My friends were almost always a little younger than me as I seemed to relate to them better and could just be a bit more childish and open with my energy bursts. Although I do have tenuous ties to a few people from that time I’ve always struggled to make and keep friends. I partied relentlessly after not really drinking til I was 20 or so (legal age was 18 where I grew up). At the age of 19 I was in the backseat of a 1980’s Mercury Bobcat when it was rear-ended in winter. I have chronic neck pain to this day.
Through adolescence and into adulthood I found several ways to disguise my tics or just store them up til I was alone somewhere; at home or in my car. This takes a lot of energy to do throughout the day and it’s something that I still do so that I can blend in and not attract unwanted attention. Attention is something I’ve always sought, yet did not know what to do with when I received it. Most things that I did had some sort of pattern in my head that I needed to adhere to. Whether this be a pattern that I needed to tap with my feet, my hands or not allowing myself to do something until some arbitrary threshold had been met (one example is not allowing myself to smoke for two hours minutes between cigarettes when I still smoked). I’d also run countdowns waiting for stressful situations to end. When the end did not come when I hit zero I would simply count up again. In my mid twenties I read a book by Oliver Sacks called The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. In that book was a case study of a Neurosurgeon in Nelson BC who had Tourette Syndrome. I related to and had 100% of the “symptoms” as they were described but to a lesser degree (meaning I could hide mine where I believe this fellow had no choice but to release them upon the world). I now had an explanation for the behaviors that had vexed me and made me feel disconnected from the world as a whole. Armed this information I made sure to do what I would usually do with a challenge; put it in my back pocket and ignore it. Tourette Syndrome is a badge I sometimes wear defining a uniqueness about myself and other times it’s something I am very frustrated with.
The reason I mention the Tourette Syndrome is twofold; to explain how/who I am and to set the stage for the changes I have made in the last year and what effect they have had on it. At roughly the age of 32 I tried to quit smoking for the first time in earnest. I compensated by eating anything with sugar on my coffee breaks that would keep my inside and not outside with the rest of the smokers. My entire life I had been rail-thin. In adulthood at 6 feet tall I had never weighted over 160 pounds. After quitting smoking in just a few months my weight jumped to 195 pounds. This was something I really needed to adjust to and was completely foreign to me. Seeing as I am affected by the slightest tactile input (tight clothes, clothing tags, some forms of touch and food consistency) even sitting down after gaining the weight was odd to me; having the fat around my waste move and jiggle. I carried this weight and more until two years ago when I changed my diet radically and my wife and I bought our first dog. Let me digress a moment and tell you about my wife. I met her when I was 30, skinny and cocky. She is the strong-willed woman I’ve always needed that doesn’t let me run away with myself. She has always been supportive and encouraging in everything I do. This comes in handy now as we do the Whole30 together! She is my best friend, confidant and the only one who truly understands me. The diet change I made was based on multiple visits to a Naturopath and “conventional wisdom”. I cut out red meat, limited my fat intake and changed to “good” grains (mostly rice replacements of things like pasta). I did go from roughly 215 pounds down to 185 pounds over the next 6 months, along with the help of walking our puppy in the range of 6 and 8 kms a day. My overall feeling of wellness did not greatly improve and I was still tired a lot of the time. I also plateaued at a weight that I felt was still unhealthy for my frame and lifestyle. When we got our second puppy about 6 months later, I quickly fell out of my routine and stopped walking as much (shame on me for the dogs’ sake). I also fell hard from the way I was eating. I waded back into a ton of sweets and grains.
After my wife telling me many times about The Primal Blueprint and Paleo eating in general, I started eating mostly that way last September while my wife was out of the house for a few weeks. Being on my own I could completely change my habits overnight without having to completely upset her life as well. I started getting up at 5AM to walk the dogs with no distractions (the dogs are a easy to distract and they are not small). Here are before and after pictures from February of last year ( I weighed a bit more than September 2013, but looked pretty much the same). The After picture is the day before we started the Whole30(sorry for the underwear shots in the Before; I wasn’t thinking of public consumption when they were taken).
Since last September I have eliminated eating all grains (I would usually have 2 beer on the weekends when watching hockey to unwind(also to cope with being a Maple Leafs fan)). I have walked a minimum of 6 kms throughout the day with or without the dogs. I always get up early and walk before work, take a break at lunch to walk and one good walk after supper. The grain-free diet, with all of the exercise, has greatly lowered inflammation decreasing the impact my neck injury and arthritis have on my daily life. I didn’t mention before how I stick to some strict routines. This is a compulsion I have that actually stresses me out (and can sometimes anger me) if not adhered to or if they are disrupted. Routine is also a great tool that has aided me in getting as far as I am today. If you look through my Whole30 post, you’ll notice how I eat the same breakfast everyday. I also eat whatever leftovers from the day before (thanks Honey for all the delicious suppers!). I have absolutely no problem eating the same food everyday. I actually prefer it;. It lessens the stress of deciding what to eat, what groceries to buy and lets you focus on other things. But being married to someone who can’t eat the same thing twice in a month I’m trying to adapt and break my routine when I can.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and candy since eating Paleo. While my tics can lower or subside for a time, I still need to make some lifestyle changes to help with them. I still struggle from time to time getting my sleep straight. I nap when I feel I need it and tend to sleep more on the weekends “to catch up” like I used to before. I am trying to get up at my regular time to walk to dogs, get them fed and create a healthier routine but I have yet to reach a high level of success on that front. I do still have outbursts but I am working on mental techniques to recognize when these are happening and try to adjust. These are issues I’ve battled my whole life and I am happy at the progress I have made. It encourages me to keep growing and try to be the person I deluded myself into thinking I already was; kind, patient , loving and protective. I will continue to work with someone on these changes and journey down this health change path.
This brings us to the beginning of our Whole30. The Whole30 was also brought to me by my wife (forever researching for us), she has made great strides for herself and I ride her coattails eating some incredible meals that I would never make for myself. I could eat a piece of meat and broccoli for supper and meat and salad for lunch every day. We are currently on Day 14 and going strong. I will continue to add more vegetable variety to my repertoire and try to embrace more change. I started last September at 207 pounds and before the Whole30 had plateaued at 171 pounds. I believe with the Whole30, raising the bar with exercise above and beyond the walking and continuing to learn through osmosis from my wife my life will greatly improve. I already feel better than I did in my late twenties and early thirties(how bad did I fell then!!!). I will stay Paleo after the Whole30 is done. Coconut milk has easily replaced cream and sugar for me and my two beer on the weekend may change to a few ciders. I have no doubts of finishing the Whole30 as I just feel so much better.
Hopefully I’ve been able to keep a few people interested until the end of this “quick” bio and maybe a few of you can relate. And just for fun, here are some pictures of our pups!
I finished my Whole30 on 4/8/2014. I weighed in the morning of 4/9/2014 and was 159.8 pounds. This is about 12 pounds less than the weigh in of 171.8 pounds. While I wasn’t looking necessarily for more weight-loss, I was carrying residual fat on my back, hips and haunch for the last few months of living primal (with the 20% being a beer on weekends, cream and sugar in my coffee). By eliminating my “cheats” and eating 100% “paleo” my body responded by using up the last of my excess body fat. Now for the first time in my life I am dangerously close to having “abs”(at the spry age of 44). Although the most workouts I achieved in a week was 2, they were effective. My arms are getting more defined and growing, my waist is shrinking and I am starting to see definition in my legs (The walks I do monitor add up to about 50 kms a week). We are starting another Whole30 on the back of this one, but I definitely won;t be trying to remember what I ate each day and post it. Once we get these lifestyle changes to be second nature it just won’t be called The Whole30 anymore! I’l get some “after” photos soon just for fun.
All today since starting to eat paleo, and drastically raising my exercise level, I have lost 47 pounds, had my blood pressure go from “high” to actually a little low. I have noticed having far fewer tics with my Tourette Syndrome. My energy levels are remarkably higher. I laid down for a nap yesterday (mostly out of habit and because I had the time) and I just dozed and relaxed. I never actually slept; my body and mind didn’t need it!
While we start another Whole30 our goals are to make the food more interesting, keep moving away from poor habits (wanting “dessert”, eating snacks between meals and eating enough at those meals) and getting more effective exercise other than walking. My goal will be to get 3 workouts a week in and continue to make them more intense.