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What Was Your Wakeup Call? And A Review Of Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"
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September 7, 2011
4:06 am
Forum Posts: 2045
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February 22, 2010
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"Why Are We Hungry?" will return next week.

Note that if you're new to my ongoing blockbuster series "Why Are We Hungry?", it's best to start at . Otherwise, if you haven't already, you should read the latest installment, —because like the previous article , it both presents important information and ties together a lot of issues that are currently vexing the community. And we're not done yet!

Finally, I note with pleasure that several readers and regular commenters are already starting to pull together the Big Picture on…

September 7, 2011
5:21 am

Well I started leaning towards v*an-type of diet and tried to find some kind of scientific justification beyond claims such as "meat is rotting is your intestines". Obviously, I haven't found one, but started reading the top "paleo" blogs instead.

In retrospect I think I might have ended up just like Jeff, being very tall, lean and sugarholic, and becoming prediabetic before I knew how and why. I did have any problems, except a kind of permanent lower energy during the day. All my father's sisters and his parents are T2D, he himself being prediabetic, but exercising a lot. What is sad is that I must admit that we are a family of sugarholics and breadholics, except for me, that is. Now I am often met with blank looks when I say I don't eat the stuff anymore and neither want my kids to eat it. Sigh

A nice quote from your mom, I'll remember it.

September 7, 2011
5:22 am

edit 2nd paragraph
"I did NOT have any problems"

September 7, 2011
5:30 am

My wakeup call was of a slightly different nature. It took me a long time in my life to realise what you're saying - that people will put up with a hell of a lot if it means they can stay in their comfort zone.

I'm 35 and only just discovered this in the last 12 months, ironically as I started reading about paleo diets & health. For me, making changes has always been easy (maybe too easy at times, as it resulted in me going vegan for a few months), so to see the total resistance to change in others was quite an eye opener.

I've always been relatively healthy and slim, but once I discovered the whole "paleo scene", I saw a chance to improve my health even further. Well didn't that set the cat among the pigeons! "But you're already skinny, you don't need to worry about what you eat" was the most common response when I told friends of the changes I'd made to my diet.

"I'd love to try it, but that sounds way too hard, I could never give up bread" was probably the second most common, and usually from people trying to lose weight.

And therein lies the rub. If you keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, doesn't that make you insane?

September 7, 2011
5:30 am
Halifax, UK
Forum Posts: 364
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
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I didn't really have a wake-up call - I found paleo quite by accident through finding barefoot running, again quite by accident.

I've always eaten well - good, real food - just too much of it and/or not enough activity. I set a date to do something about it by increasing activity and when that date came, I started. I did exactly the same giving up smoking ten years previous.

I guess that date came about when we were away on a little holiday in the Welsh hills and I said to my wife that if we lived down here I'd go up the nearest mountain every week. She laughed. Recalling that I live at the top of the highest point in our part of the world, going anywhere would mean going back up, home. Like climbing a mountain in reverse.

I knew I was fat, but didn't have any real ill side-effects; just as when I stopped smoking, I didn't have any problems - I just knew I'd have to do something about it sometime and to me, there's no time like the present. No point procrastinating - just get on with it!

My first walks hurt like hell, a combination of getting used to activity, the wrong footwear and a misguided belief that pushing through the pain barrier was a good thing. Looking for sensible footwear, I was attracted to minimalist shoes and really, I just needed a little tweak in the footwear department to make that transition.

Likewise, paleo. The transition was easy. Without finding paleo, I would have had no idea whatsoever that the amount of carbohydrate I was eating was keeping me fat - I had always thought that was sugar and fat, and had all manner of other misguided beliefs. Good God! I even tried tofu ... once!

Paleo has been a real eye opener.

I now know that I was tolerating all manner of foods which do not agree with me and while I was managing to tolerate by masking the problems with medication. For me, it was gastric reflux.

Paleo has fixed me - again, I didn't know it would. I am thrilled that it has and I am now understanding exactly which foods caused me that grief in the first place - grain, essentially.

Luckily, I hadn't gone that far down the line that I broke through my highest level of tolerance. I say lucky because often things have gone too far by that point. I also say lucky because as I said at the top - I found paleo quite by accident.

You are right - people often do not do anything about their issues so long as they are tolerable. Another way of looking at it is if you put your hand in a container of water and heat it up, you can tolerate much higher temperatures than if you simply put your hand into an already hot pan.

I wonder how people can be made to take that look at themselves before it breeches their threshold? More importantly, how to get them to take action.

Living in the Ice Age

September 7, 2011
5:42 am

My wake up call came from the hunger shakes. Around the same time I had been thinking about why my body composition was so poor given the amount of exercise I did and the low fat/complex carb nature of my diet. I questioned my health because I couldn't understand how I was exhibiting a crash when I was doing EVERYTHING we are advised to do to be healthy.

I occured to me that the way I was eating was VERY different to how I would eat if I was stranded out in the wilds - a concept I eventually stumbled across in print on Tamir Katz' website (whilst looking for info on bodyweight exercises). Something 'clicked' with me about this paleo approach and it was reassuring that others had already trodden this path. I started trawling the internet and quickly found Art Devany's paper on Evolutionary Fitness (which to me was the most pivotal paleo article of my life). Five years in and I am pretty happy with how things have panned out!

'Paleo' has given me more than health. It has awoken my political anger and led me in to the fields of medicine, biology and also issues of sustainability and agriculture/farming. What really pisses me off is the vested interests that maintain the status quo; doctors paid to sell medical products, medical products geared towards managing rather than curing illness, research controlled by big business, governments financed by agri-business, well paid NGOs failing to offer robust health advice....


September 7, 2011
5:47 am

Oh, this is juicy. Reminds me of what a late dear friend of mine would repeatedly tell me whenever I kvetched about anything, "You deserve what you tolerate." So much wisdom in those five words.

September 7, 2011
6:04 am


May, 2009: I was visiting the city I used to live in and was at my (attractive and, um, well built) ex-neighbor's for dinner. And drinks. As a neighbor, I never put the moves on her....which I found out much later I should have. So there we are on her couch, me have gone years w/o sex, and before long, the Holy Grails of much previous admiration were before me.

Instead of pushing for consummation, I let her playful resistance stop the fun. Why? BECAUSE I WAS FAT AND VERY EMBARRASSED! Once trim and fit, I was horrified by the thought of taking my shirt off. And so what should have been joyful was, instead, my wakeup call. I weighed 285 pounds on a light 6'3" frame.

When I returned home I decided to do something about my self-loathing. I came across Mark Sisson, bought his book, became wrapped up in my Paleo lifestyle, and by late summer I was at 210 pounds.

I've regained and relost some of that weight several times since (and need to relose a bit again), but I've never forgotten what "woke me up."

And if I ever get back to Denver............

September 7, 2011
6:06 am
anand srivastava

For me it was when I found a logical way to lose weight.
Before it was always eat less exercise more. It did not make sense to me. Eventually I started swimming, because that is what I did enjoy, but it caused no reduction in fat, and frankly I wasn't surprised by it. It was sort of intuitive.
Then I read a cheesy website truth about six pack abs. Behind that cheesy site there was some core truth that made sense. Eat less, but occasionally eat more. Eat healthy fats, but reduce sugar. Do weight lifting and give adequate rest. It all made sense.
Later I found Paleo, and then losing weight was much more easy.

September 7, 2011
6:09 am
James Schipper

It's truly disgusting and I would go so far as to say criminal, what the medical establishment is doing. There isn't even anything secret about the ADA and their drug and factory foodlike company involvement. They've got the general public so stupefied, that it's listed right there on their website:

September 7, 2011
6:29 am
eddie watts

i found it by mistake. i had been doing the whole get fit thing, typical BB splits and cardio sessions that were basically jogging for a set distance and aiming to improve my time.

got bored of doing it; hypertrophy work gets repetitive and takes a long time to get any visible benefit.
i found crossfit and started doing that, from there i learned a lot about nutrition and eventually learned of rob wolf and from there paleo.
i started reading rob wolf and later marks daily apple, did not implement it for a long time. but i quite wheat and found a massive difference in weight loss and body composition, i'd always been stable around 15 stone (6'4") but suddenly i managed to drop lower than that.
then i played with rob wolf's skinning the zone and dropped carbs almost entirely (breakfast and pwo only) and upped my fat and lost another half stone within 6 weeks. all while maintaining and improving my wod times.
my sister and mother found they were wheat and dairy intolerant too, solving my sisters crippling IBS and other stuff including skin conditions. i am less affected than they but still feel better with no wheat.

the thing is i felt fine anyway, it was just an interest in weight loss and fitness that caused me to experiment with myself that led to all this stuff.

i've been doing more mass building work recently and enjoying it again as i'm doing other stuff on the side. getting others to listen though is hard, sometimes i just give up. my facebook is mostly posts about nutrition and how evil sugar is, some get comments which reveal that many people do read my posts. some of which direct people here, i know my brother has read eat like a predator and started being interested in what he eats.
he read the ingredients on sausages the other day and has since stopped buying them: 40% meat!!

September 7, 2011
8:08 am

At age 35 I accepted that my body would look increasingly terrible as a consequence of aging. But I wanted to get back into playing soccer. So I turned up for the company soccer team's practice. I tripped on the ball and promptly broke my collarbone. In six places. That was the last straw for collection of bizarre symptoms (ataxia, rash, fatigue, etc., including what appears to have been osteoporosis that led to the broken bones)ultimately led me to a self-diagnosis of celiac. While I realize doctors miss things, it's criminal to my mind that half a dozen doctors missed this. (At least half a dozen...I started picking up hypochondriac diagnoses starting back in '97.) Genetic testing confirmed my diagnosis and I started various elimination diets. Now I look pretty good, having lost 80 pounds. And I play soccer 5 times a week. So I thank celiac disease every day for giving me the gift on "inability to tolerate."

September 7, 2011
8:22 am
Jan's Sushi Bar

My wakeup call? Good gawd - where to start...

My mother, who was a lifelong smoker and yo-yo dieter, jumped on the low-fat bandwagon in the late 70s, and was riding it with a vengeance by the early 80s. Her joy that she could eat all the sugar she wanted as long as she avoided evil fats was only exacerbated by her six-pack of Coke-a-day habit. She would bemoan the fact that she had to eat almonds in order to enjoy sickeningly sweet shredded coconut bathed in milk chocolate.

Mom developed an aeortal aneurysm at 46 and died of a massive heart attack 2 months after her 51st birthday.

I'm the oldest of her four children and each and every one of us was following in her footsteps - all overweight smokers. By the time I reached my mid-40s I was terrified I was going to go the way Mom went; it actually became a major source of stress for me. So I quit smoking the day after I turned 45, nearly 4 years ago.

However, I still felt like complete crap every damn day. I was always tired and had absolutely no energy; the prospect of walking a quarter mile was not only daunting but simply un-doable. I suffered from headaches and odd stabbing pains in my back, shoulders and chest. The arthritis at the base of my thumbs was so bad I literally could not touch my thumbs to my small fingers. My hair was dry and listless and I suffered horribly from insomnia. Still, it took me another year-and-a-half to decide that I needed to do something about my diet.

I finally sat my husband down and said, "Look - I'm going on a low carb diet and the rest of the house is going on it with me. No more chili-cheese Fritos and Heath bars. No more potato chips and oatmeal cookies. No more Ben and Jerry's and Little Debbie snack cakes. I can't live like this anymore and YOU and the boy don't need that crap, either." Surprisingly, he agreed. And since I am the way I am - I don't do *anything* without researching it to death - I started reading, and found myself with a copy of Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions.

The idea that not only was industrially farmed meat was so incredibly bad but fat actually good for us was an incredible eye-opener, and it gave me the impetus to find a source for locally farmed, pastured animals. From there it was just a natural progression from WAPF to paleo, since I had already decided to give up wheat and sugar. Within six months I'd lost 25 pounds, but as badly as I need to lose weight, that wasn't the best thing. The best thing was how much BETTER I felt. I had energy, and could easily walk for miles! Once I have up wheat, the stabbing pains disappeared - giving up MSG and artificial sweeteners made the headaches a thing of the past. I banned industrial seed oils from the house and my arthritis disappeared. When I stopped consuming cow's dairy, my lifelong sinus problems suddenly began to clear up.

I'll never go back to the Standard American Diet and conventional wisdom. NEVER.

September 7, 2011
8:41 am
neal matheson

I really love this Blog, the posts just get better and better.
Sadly, though I lost my university beer chub from crash diet of rice and tomaotes and standard boring cardio and weights. It might not work for most people but I never saw it as a lifestyle. I did it for three Iron willed months and then started adding real food back into my diet. I never really ate badly anyway.
It was mountain climbing that kept it off. I've always been into anthropology but only really "connected"when I read a Robert Ardrey book at university the diet slowly followed years later. I recognise alot of what has already been written, crossfit and devaney etc. I decided to go 100 percent (ish) a few months ago. I felt I was carrying too much weight for the amount of exercise I was doing and realised the wholegrain concessions to my wife were the cause.
I feel the anger too I can't really believe the ADA guidelines but I find it hard to convince people to give the diet a go. Demonic sat fat and angelic low fat has just too much sway and quite frankly, why would anyone listen to me over their doctor and government guidelines (pretty much the same here in the UK a in the US despite France being next door)? I don;t give a toss about convincing vegetarians but wouldn't have minded and AHS talk on how to convince your friends and loved ones.

September 7, 2011
10:39 am
Phil Steele

My wakeup call came in my late 20's, when I was working in an office, and I wondered why I always felt like I was starving between breakfast and lunch. At 9:30 I would have a bagel (healthy whole grains!) for a snack. An hour later I'd be starving again, so I'd have a banana. A half hour later I'm starving again, so I down a Coke full of sugar to get me over the sugar crash from all the carbs I'd already eaten. I had no idea that you can't just eat carbs, I sort of thought "Calories are calories" and of course I had been brainwashed to avoid fat.

Somehow at this time I discovered The Zone, and it was a revelation to learn about macronutrient ratios and the need for protein, fat, and carbs in certain proportions. I changed my snacking habits, changed my diet, and felt much better. No more constant sugar crash, no more constant brain fog between snacks, I could actually go hours without eating!

From the Zone, I discovered paleo via "The Paleolithic Prescription" and "Neanderthin" (although I was not trying to lose weight, just avoid the fog of sugar crash). The paleo theory made sense. Why not eat what we evolved eating? What could be simpler? I've stuck with some variant of paleo-ish diet in the decades since then, and I'm astonished that the mainstream still hasn't caught up with this most basic wisdom.

September 7, 2011
10:58 am

i'm a 56-year-old woman who's been hypothyroid all her life -- never been obese, but keeping weight acceptable has always been work! a year or two ago, my source of natural thyroid medication mysteriously dried up, and i was facing the necessity of diving back into the allopathic-medicine swamp.... i hurriedly began to learn all i could via the internet (may the gods bless it forevermore), to arm myself against the ignorance i was bound to (re)encounter, when LO -- could be i can improve my own condition, nutritionally! i strictly cut the wheat, sugar and omega6s, and added selenium, magnesium, coconut oil and t-100 to the iodoral i was already taking (Dr. Alyson proved not all doctors have tunnel vision). magically, the symptoms disappeared. i'm still tweaking, and would like to lose 20 pounds, but i KNOW it can be done in my case.

thinking of making a bumper-sticker that reads "laughing with the gnolls"....


September 7, 2011
11:43 am

You might think that being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes would have been the wake up call, but nope. I was so happy when my then-doctor told me that I wouldn't have to change my diet, just take enough insulin to cover the meals. Oh, and actually eat MORE carbohydrates, just make them complex. Whew, what a relief, right?

Fast forward almost 10 years, another 50 pounds heavier, blood sugars out of control, arthritis, crushing depression, high blood pressure...this time an insulin pump was going to be my savior. To nobody's surprise: FAIL. An additional 20 pounds or so, triple the amount of insulin I was taking before, still no improvement in blood sugars...

My realization? I was going to die early and of any number of hideous complications.

I looked into Atkins toward the end of 2010, since I'd heard rumors that diabetics got improvements with blood sugars. From there, I went online and discovered Paleo. It was a tremendous slap in the face at first - the simplicity of the equation:

carbs equals high blood sugar therefore lower carbs equals lower blood sugar...


Starting in October of 2010, I went Paleo (well, Primal, anyway - thanks Mark). Within 6 months, I was off the blood pressure medications, the antidepressants, etc. I was using a quarter of the insulin I had been. My blood sugars were under control. Weight has been (very slowly) dropping off. It hasn't been a picnic. I have times when I go off the diet and my blood sugars skyrocket. I eat for comfort and that has been the hardest part. But I persevere. I make progress.

And now I'm looking for another endocrinologist after mine refused to treat me any more, BECAUSE I WENT PALEO. My blood pressure is normal, my depression is all but gone, my weight is dropping, and my A1c is lower than it has ever been, but none of that matters because my diet is dangerous.

Tell me, how do we win this?

September 7, 2011
12:02 pm

Great tales! I arrived here promptly six weeks ago by way of a long winding journey through sustainability. I've been an off-and-on-again vegetarian most of my adult life. When I did eat meat, it was usually with guilt and self loathing because I was well versed in the social and environmental injustices caused by industrial agriculture. As a permaculturist, I knew there had to be another way and this led me to experiment with edible perennials and foraging. I also have a keen interest in creating resilient communities in the event of the collapse of industrial civilization. I spend a lot of time pondering water, food, and shelter and knew a diet based on whole grains, somehow didn't make anymore sense than eating factory farmed meat.

Earlier this summer, I found Lierre Keith's book, The Vegetarian Myth and it all clicked from an environmental perspective. I still wasn't completely sure what to do with the information and I had no idea there was a whole above ground paleo/primal community, yet to be discovered. I attempted to get some of my veg*n friends to read her book, but I might as well have asked them to slaughter their own pet.

Meanwhile, I'm living life, but I wasn't finding it all that fulfilling anymore. I've been told enough times that I "look good for my age", so, I figured I was doing better than most. For being better than average at 42, I didn't feel so great. I was tired all day, adult acne, migraines, 15 extra pounds that wouldn't go away, depression, feeling like I was constantly in a fog, and generally all around feeling defeated. I thought I ate well enough.

About six weeks ago, a friend posted a paleo video on facebook and that's when I realized there were real examples of other humans (and a whole community!) who for whatever their reasons, were embracing what Lierre Keith had written. From there I read The Evolution Diet, The Paleo Solution, and The Primal Blueprint, and fully embraced the lifestyle. In only six weeks my skin has completely cleared up, I've effortlessly lost a few pounds and I can feel my body getting stronger. I'm thinking about getting back into rock climbing, something I had resigned myself to never doing again because I felt too old and too weak. I never want to go back and I'm so happy to have found y'all! If anyone's inclined to read further, here's a link to a post I recently wrote.

September 7, 2011
12:20 pm

[...] [...]

September 7, 2011
12:26 pm
What Was Your Wakeup

[...] What Was Your Wakeup Call? And A Review Of Jeff O’Connell’s “Sugar Nation” September 7, 2011By: J. Stanton Read the Full Post at: GNOLLS.ORG [...]

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