This is the third in a series consisting of an introduction, 19 Chapters, and 2 apendices. Over 165,000 words in total, about 400 pages in book length. The whole thing is already completed in draft with almost half of it through first-pass editing. I’m issuing it chapter-by-chapter for Members of this blog. Join here. The publishing schedule is not formal, but an average of a chapter every couple of weeks is a reasonable expectation.
This chapter was tossed in early editing with intent to publish all this as a book. Now that I'm releasing in informally—and having read it—I concluded it would be better to include it for a blog. I think it makes a nice inclusion, especially for the reminiscences of all the readers who were in the gut-health trenches with us throughout. I've limited a last-pass editing to just a bit of style stuff.
- A Collaboration
- The Book
Roughly a year before Tim Steele and I began this writing project, he showed up in the comments of my blog at FreetheAnimal.com touting something that became known as “The Potato Hack.” You may recall from media reports sometime back that a gentleman by the name of Chris Voigt had eaten 20 potatoes a day exclusively for 60 days, lost about 20 pounds and all of his health markers improved. And Tim “Tatertot” Steele was here to tell my readers and I that he’s tried it, and it works.
One thing led to another, the posts drew substantial interest, and we were soon speculating over why it worked so well. During that process, our interest increasingly focussed on the gut biome and what’s required to keep it in optimal health. A friendship and a collaboration was born.
We have a few things in common. First is that we both grew up in non-urban settings and were familiar with things like gardening, raising animals for food, hunting, and fishing trips. We both learned a lot of passed down wisdom from our parents and grandparents—even a great grandmother in my case, who was around until I was 29—who'd grown up similarly as can-do, self-sufficient people without a lot of formal education. ...Nor did they typically have the sorts of jobs where one sits at a desk all day, shuffles papers, and makes phone calls.
On my father’s side, the family was all first generation immigrants from post WWII Germany; on my mother’s, home grown Idaho and Texas Americans for some generations. Tim came from a line of second generation German and Czech immigrants; farmers and coal-miners mostly.
We both ended up pursuing careers in the military. Tim enlisted in the Air Force at 17, and over a career that spanned 21 years, attained the highest rank in the enlisted corps—Chief Master Sergeant (E-9). And typical for a global military, Tim was stationed all over the world and saw a lot more of it than that, on various temporary assignments.
I was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy. During my 8 years of service that began in 1984, I spent only about a year of it in the U.S. Five years were spent living and working in Japan—while not at sea about half the year on average—and two in France as an exchange officer with the French Navy. Like Tim, I saw far more of the world than that—typically in hundreds of port visits throughout the Western Pacific Ocean, South China Sea, Yellow Sea, Indian Ocean, North Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, and even the Black Sea.
I was still “lean & mean” upon separation from the Navy in 1992, but my path to ill-health would converge with Tim’s in the early years of the new millenium. Things would come to a head in 2007; for Tim, in 2009. We wouldn’t know one-another until 2012, but we both suffered from the same sorts of problems guys in their 40s do—indeed, that people in their 40s and earlier do, now. Obesity, high blood pressure, alarming blood glucose regulation, allergies, chronic inflammation, GERD, sleep apnea, and the list could go on.
We both ended up independently doing the same thing about it. Given the increasing availability of information on the Internet—along with tools to locate the good stuff—neither of us consult with doctors. Rather, we scoured for information under our own well-developed sense of authority and competence. The next step was an obvious one. We tested things that appeared to be plausible. We experimented on ourselves. We made of ourselves human guinea pigs, lab rats, and test subjects. Our ultimate success was our own “fault.”
Tim lost 90 pounds. I logged 60. Both of us got off bottles of prescription medications, turned our clocks back, and exchanged shame for pride in our personal appearance.
Most books have an “about the author(s)” section on the back flap of the dust cover. That’s OK for professional book authors, but we’re not. Our own personal experiences—from how bad it can get, to how good it can get—with attention to our own ability to read, understand, test, and implement is essential to understanding why we’re the two guys to write this book. You see, our quest never ended. Even though both of us achieved enormous health improvements, we were both equally left with nagging issues that would not resolve themselves, even after months and months of “getting more serious,” and all the other things people will do within an incomplete paradigm, thinking the problem is with them.
Those nagging issues involve not being able to drop that last 10-20 pounds—short of outright starvation—having unusually high fasting blood glucose readings, large glucose spikes and hypoglycemic, “coma” inducing blood sugar dips, disturbed sleep, and a few other things. In short, the sheen had worn off a bit; and independently, we both came to realize that perhaps there was simply a piece of the overall picture that was still missing.
This is the story of how we came to figure that out, and how it led to our collaboration—first on my Free the Animal blog with many posts and thousands of comments from fellow experimenters—and eventually, this book. Ironically, what we found is that it’s not a story about us at all, per se. But we’ll cover who or, more actually what this story is about in the forthcoming chapters.
Here are our individual stories.