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Paleo Tales of Success

I find that many people don't really grasp the essence of the Paleo (and Paleo-like) way. They approach it like they approach other diets, focus on what you can't have, and eventually go on in their endless quest for some silver bullet.

To my mind, the paleo way is about two things, primarily.

1) To obtain not just sufficient or even good nutrition from food, but to obtain optimal nutrition from food. So, with respect to that piece of bread, pile of rice, dessert — or any of the other things we don't eat — we're eating, in its place, an additional piece of meat, fish, more vegies, fruit, or what have you. Over a week, or even a day, were you to compare your nutrient intake to any other average diet, you would blow it out of the water. Big time. It's not even close.

2) Hunger normalization. The problem with this one is that most people have no idea that their hunger it totally berserk. They consider the idea of fasting, for instance, and it's horrifying. Yet, people on the paleo way embrace fasting naturally. Why? Because hunger is a hugely different experience for someone on the paleo path.

Here's three testimonials that touch on one or both of these crucial elements.

Diana Hsieh emailed me back in Septamber to thank me for the blog. She'd been following it for some months, used the information, and benefited. And now look.

Diana-compare-sm

So after years of following various iterations of the low-fat, chubby face diet, look. She's taken a good 20 years off her appearance. You can read her whole story here.

I'm really thrilled with my weight loss. I've been battling my slowly-growing layer of fat since 2004. For four long years, I exercised daily: I did the standard regimen of 40 to 60 minutes of cardio. I attempted to eat "healthier," mostly meaning less fat, less calories. I was often ravenously hungry; I often felt deprived; I desperately craved sugar. Worst of all, despite some occasional success, my weight continued to creep upwards. I felt like I had no control.

And I'll bet Diana's former diet was about as healthy in terms of nutrition you can get on a low-fat regime. Her husband, Paul, is a physician and Diana is months away from obtaining her PhD in Philosophy. They live on a farm. I doubt she was eating junk food all day. Notice how she used to look pretty much like an average American, nowadays. Now, as with all paleo people who've been on the diet a while, she looks lean and healthy. Far above average.

Now, of course, I love when someone documents success like that and it turns out I had a role in it. At first, it seemed unbelievable that people would actually take me seriously enough to try some of these methods, but you know what? I guess that sometimes people can recognize genuine when they see it. Dr. Dan of At Darwin's Table has only been blogging a short while, and like me, much of it is about his own path in losing weight and gaining health through optimal nutrition from food. Yet he already has an amazing reader success story and I'd highly encourage everyone to read that.

Confessions of a Carb Addict

I really, really used to think I had an eating disorder. Here I was at 30 years old – 108 kilo on a 5′2″ inch frame (that’s 238 pounds and 158 centimetres respectively) and massively unhappy with my body, my appearance and dieting like a fiend. I didn’t try the proverbial “everything” to lose weight, but I tried a great number of things, the Gillian McKeith “You Are What You Eat” diet, Weight Watchers, Intuitive Eating, food combining, vegetarianism, I even took part in a special addiction workshop because I was convinced I was addicted to food. […]

…I was never, ever full. Never. EVER. […]

…That of course meant I had blown the diet and so all food became fair game, but then no matter how much I ate I WAS NEVER FULL! NEVER. EVER. FULL! […]

I don’t remember how I found Dr Dan’s blog, but because of him I read Loren Cordain’s book, tried it out for about one month, cutting out dairy and grain and have never looked back since. I’ve lost about 4 kilo after about 6 weeks of practice and – although I can’t claim the paleo way has saved my life, it has most definitely saved my sanity. All those feelings of fear, desperation, anger, and madness have disappeared. I’m calm for the first time in my adult life. I’m eating well and slowly but surely letting my disordered patterns go. I’m not totally free yet, I’m scared about the amount of food I can put away, I mean, dude. I can EAT. But I keep reminding myself that my body is playing catch-up and I am healing my body, NOT hurting it. My knees and hips have stopped hurting and you know what? I’m hungry right now but…it’s cool. This is the first time in my whole life that I have not felt like climbing the walls when I’ve been hungry. This is a different kind of hunger, it’s not sickening or acidic – this is a different way of living my life because after an eternity, I AM CALM.

Get it? She's getting optimal nutrition, losing weight, getting control of hunger, getting healthier. That's just a bit of her story excerpted. Go read the whole amazing thing.

And now, Keith Norris, already a well-established Paleo eater and experienced exerciser finds that last bit of success in intermittent fasting (with photos). I have blogged extensively about fasting myself, and can attest that Keith has it right on, and also with some of his own unique takes on the methodology. There's too much to do a good job of excerpting, so just go take a look at his photos and read his story.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

11 Comments

  1. Natalie on January 20, 2009 at 02:27

    Hi there! It's the Natalie from Dr Dan's blog…I wrote the confessions of a carb addict you link to in this post. Are you surprised I read your blog too? You shouldn't be, because your blog is OSSIM. (I like the fact you say what you think, unmitigated. It's refreshing, hardly anyone does it.)

    Anyhoo … I just wanted to say thanks for the link and calling it amazing. I gave the thing serious thought before I wrote it so it's nice to know the effort's appreciated. And you're right – I am getting control of the hunger because the hunger I feel now is different. It feels like I need to fill a stomach, instead of needing to fill a hole, know what I mean?

    So, Dr Dan's site prompted me to start the Paleo diet, yours is prompting me to think about intermittent fasting…especially as I'm not losing anywhere near as fast as I would like. Who knows, perhaps in 6 months I'll write for your blog under the title "confessions of a three-meal-a-day addict"? 🙂

  2. Paul on January 20, 2009 at 05:50

    Gillian McKeith symbolises everything I hate about the diet industry. "If you're not feeling deprived you must be doing something wrong." And they are surprised everyone falls off these diets and gets fat again. Not sure if she made it over to US TV with the recent straight talking Brit invasion. (Simon Cowell et al). Lucky escape if she didn't, commiseration and apologies on behave of the rest of the UK population if she did. We aren't all that nuts over here.

    I've been doing IF for about 5 months now and following a card restricted diet for a bit longer. Its been a gradual process of removing more carbs every so often, but I keep it flexible. I'm not totally Paleo (yet). Although I've never been diagnosed with Sessional Affected Disorder this is the first winter that I haven't felt low post Christmas. Not a massive statistical data spread but I'm convinced its the diet.

  3. Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2009 at 09:10

    Good for you Natalie. Keep it up, comment when you feel like it, and keep us all updated on your progress.

    Thanks for the compliments.

  4. skinny diet on January 21, 2009 at 10:01

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  5. goldilocks on February 28, 2009 at 18:57

    This *is* very encouraging. I'm 27, and after having three kids in as many years, I've really been struggling to get weight OFF, and keep it off.

    My peak weight was 185 on a 5'4" frame, and through calorie reduction I've gotten down to 155, which is honestly still too high.

    An ideal weight for me is around 125.

    But I am currently simply starving all day! It is dreadful, and I understand why so many people resign themselves to fatness after a certain stage in life.

    After all, thought of living out the rest of my life with a constantly gnawing gut is quite depressing!

    So starting today I am cutting out bread, pasta, and soda entirely, while allowing myself some latitude with meat/egg and veggie portion sizes at lunch instead of being so stingy.

    Curious to see where that leads me.

  6. Richard Nikoley on February 28, 2009 at 21:01

    Goldilocks:

    We have to cure the hunger of it won't work. Short on time now. More tomorrow.

    Richard Nikoley

  7. Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2009 at 12:26

    How goes so far? You know, there's nothing like a high-fat, low-carb, natural food diet combined with episodic hunger via fasting to get that hunger under control.

  8. goldilocks on March 12, 2009 at 09:04

    Doing very well, thanks for asking! I'm down to 153, which was my weight before having baby #3.

    Now I've only got one more pregnancy's worth of weight to lose. LOL.

    More importantly, the SHAPE of that weight is *remarkably* better, already. People are commenting, even casual acquaintances.

    No more double chin, and the small roll of fat under my bra is gone. (thank GOD. I can take big thighs and hips– I am a mother, after all– and have even made peace with my stretch marks, but back fat is totally freakin' unacceptable!!)

    The hunger issue is well-resolved, which gives me a lot of hope. No more shaky growling desperate sensation at 4:00 PM, and no more laying in bed at 11:30 listening to my stomach rumble.

    Been eating a lot of fresh eggs (I keep a flock of backyard chickens.) Lots of fresh vegetables, spinach, beets, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans.

    Homemade mayo with canned salmon over beet greens, that sort of thing.

    Butchered my roosters over the last couple of weekends, and we've been eating some good ol' home-raised meat.

    Also bought bulk frozen steaks, which pleases my husband enormously. Too easy.

    Learning to view vegetables themselves as a legitimate carbohydrate source is a helpful insight for me. A double serving of broccoli gives plenty of carbs that aren't empty sugar like even "whole-wheat" pasta is.

    Have not tried fasting yet, since I must find a way to accomodate that with my family's need to be fed. It's tricky to fast if a big part of your work revolves around meal prep for other people, and if your family life revolves around shared meals.

    Haven't entirely eliminated dairy yet, either. Still eating some sour cream and cottage and cheddar cheeses.

    So, slow but sure! One thing at a time, I say.

    My mental state is a LOT better, which is even more important than one's physical condition, I feel.

    More energy, more hope, more patience– I'm having more fun being alive than I did at 17, and that's no joke. Yesterday I was running and jumping and laughing with the kids, instead of scowling at the clock and distracting myself till the next meal.

    So, thanks!

  9. Richard Nikoley on March 14, 2009 at 12:01

    All great news goldilocks. Here's to keeping it great, and thanks for sharing.

  10. Dr Dan on September 17, 2009 at 01:37

    Wow that is great!!!!!! It feels odd that I had a part to play. Im honoured.

  11. Unamused Mouse on March 19, 2010 at 19:46

    Have there been any more progress reports from goldilocks?

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