September 7, 2020

Fat man's Journey

Five years ago. I was having a lot of problems. I was 44 yrs old. I had just had my gall bladder out. My weight was 335 lbs and I was so allergic to potatoes that if I ate something that had a tiny amount of modified food (potato) starch, I would have massive spasms in my back and intestines that would leave me crippled for days, while also suffering from massive constipation. 

Everything I had ever done to lose my excess weight was only effective for a maybe 15 or 20 pounds that immediately came back on with extra. I had severely ruptured 4 disks in my lower back when I was 24, and re-ruptured them when I was 32, so my exercise was limited to walking and light swimming. I walked as faithfully as I could. The previous 15 years had seen me try just about everything. I restricted my calories. I went off chocolate for a whole year. I ate only lean meat and vegetables. I increased my walking to over 5 miles a day. All of these showed a small amount of progress, but I would plateau and then the pounds would come back, even if I was still keeping with those changes. I felt awful both mentally and physically.

I was at the end of my rope. I didn't know what to do. The terrible physical shape I was in had me at the lowest point I had ever been in and was only made worse by the severe allergies. Now, being both a skeptical type of person and one that would try just about everything, just to show that things didn't work, I was willing to try stuff that I didn't believe in but that others said had worked for them. I had seen multiple people try something called NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques), which as one of them said, it is complete hocus pocus that works. So I decided to try it.

I was living near Orlando FL at the time, and we went to one of the NAET practitioners there, who just happened to be one of the foremost in the field, and one who had been doing it longer that just about anyone except for Nambudripad herself. Her name was Kathy. It was really strange, but after a month of weekly visits, potatoes were back on the menu. Additionally, she said I had a huge candida overgrowth and needed to go on a candida diet. Hers was a very extreme candida cleanse diet, and instead of following it for 7 days like what here documentation said, she had me do it for 6 weeks. It was brutal. It didn't focus on calories, but it cut so much from what I was allowed to eat that it basically cut my calories down to between 500 and 700 a day. I know, this is danger zone, but I followed her recommendations religiously. After all, she had fixed my allergy problem, so she must be onto something, right. Well, I lost weight. down to 300 pounds. That was more than I had ever lost doing anything else. At the time, I was transitioning to a new job, and I really wanted to get past that 300 pound barrier. It didn't work. It was a more extreme diet than anything I had ever tried, and it still hit a plateau. I never made it to 299 lbs or lower.

Fast forward a few years. I eventually got laid off from that new job after about a year, and ended up working and moving to California. I counted my calories (1300 a day), walked 3 to 5 miles day, was always tired, had trouble focusing, and slowly crept my way back up to 335 lbs. I ended up moving to Tucson AZ, and needed to find a way to still get my exercise in during the extra hot summer months. I got a gym pass for the whole family, and in addition to using their cardio equipment, I decided, based on medical advice, that I needed more muscle mass. After all, muscle burns fat, I was told. I had been quite buff in high school, and new how to bulk up my muscle mass. I started using the weight machines and was able to work up to doing nearly full stack workouts on most of the machines over the course of the next 6 months. I also went up to 352 pounds. I had slacked off on counting my calories, but was exercising more than ever. I blamed myself for eating too much, and started restricting my eating, trying to repeat what I had done with that earlier candida cleanse. 

I also had gone into a new doctor here for a physical. My A1C (a key metabolic metric) was at 7.2, which was bad diabetic territory. He recommended a bunch of things, and I redoubled my efforts. In 4 months, I had gotten down to 327 and my A1C was down to 6.4. I continued my efforts. I got a Fit-bit. I increased my walking and tried to improve my sleep patterns. after 4 more months, I was at 327, with an A1C of 6.4, which is the top edge of pre-diabetic. My doctor insisted that while I was doing the right things, I must still be eating too many calories, and he set me up with a nutritionist, who was fairly new out of medical school. She had me change what I ate, and not focus so much on calories, but more on net carbs. It sounded a lot like a modified Atkin's diet in some ways. I had decided to follow her advice as best I could. I also wondered if my problem was endocrine related, so I set up an appointment with an endocrinologist after following the nutritionist's advice for about 6 weeks. She had me do all new labs. Following the nutritionist's plan had helped my A1C to improve to 6.0, which was about halfway to getting back to healthy. The good news is that it had improved. I also showed completely healthy endocrinologically. The bad news is that I was going back up in weight. I was up to 332. The last thing she told me was I needed to read a book called The Obesity Code by doctor Jason Fung.

Flash back about a year. My mom is an extreme fad dieter. She is also very overweight and has self diagnosed herself with all sorts of things over the years. Every so often she would tell me about some new breakthrough diet, exercise, or other health related program or approach that was going to revolutionize her health. The latest thing she was going on about was some crazy intermittent fasting thing and that her sister (my aunt) had lost a ton of weight doing it. My mom went on and on about how amazing it would be. She of course, was going to modify what she was doing. After about 6 months or so, when I saw her again, I thought "Yeah, you haven't lost anything." Just another joke program. She continued to swear by it, but I think her total loss was something like 12 pounds. She kept telling me I needed to read the book for it, which was called "The Obesity Code". I was not going to read that book for anything. I did not need another way to lose weight that didn't work.

So, back to the endocrinologist. Here this doctor is telling me to read this same book my Mom is telling me to read. I was not excited. The Dr told me about a lot of her patients who were having phenomenal success with it, but it was more than a diet program. It was a whole new understanding of how our bodies work and what makes us fat or not. I rolled my eyes discretely, took a deep breath, and committed to order the book, and read it. I dragged my feet for two or three weeks before I finally ordered it on Amazon. It wasn't too expensive, and I committed to eventually read it. It sat on my living room table for over a month. I finally figured I had better read it, since my followup appointment is not getting any further away. I read the first half of the book. I was very surprised. His explanation described my experience with precision. I had absorbed a lot of scientific data and concepts out of the book, and I put a bookmark in it while I tried to figure out the best way to implement the new knowledge so that it would help me to actually get in better shape and lose weight. after about 2 weeks, I felt like I had mentally digested the info and had applied a lot of it. I had eliminated snacking completely, but not cut my calories. I tried to keep with the earlier nutritionist's advice, while applying this new info at the same time. In 2 weeks, I was back down to 328, but it stopped and plateaued again.

I decided it was time to read the other half. I was still not excited about starving myself, which is how I viewed what my mom had described to me as the program. I finally dug into the other half of the book. It really opened up my understanding a lot. I could see exactly how everything I ever had done nutritionally and worked, and how I got to where I was. I also read the recommendation at the end of the book. My first thought was hey, wait a minute, but you just said this, and that, and this other thing. Yes, his recommendation follows from what he had said, but it really was a halfhearted application of what he had said. I decided to take the principles he documents so thoroughly, and put together my own thing (gee, sounds like my mom, only more extreme). I am now down 7 pounds in 5 days. I feel better than I have in a very long time.

My wife and daughters said I should be recording this, and documenting it. so I decided to dust off my old blog and use that. I am going to try to summarize Dr. Fung's main points, and describe how I and using them and why. I am also going to explain how my approach differs from Dr. Fung's recommendations at the end of his book. I am not recommending anyone follow what I am doing. It might not work. It is an experiment on someone who was born overweight, and was always the fat kid growing up. Dr. Fung himself says that up to 70% of our obesity ties back to genetic factors, so, I should not be considered a normal case study. I hope that it works. It might not. the last 5 days have been very encouraging, so I am going to document as I go. Who knows, maybe the data from my experiment can even be useful to Dr. Fung as he advances this new approach to metabolic health.

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