Friday, January 13, 2017

My Transformation Was So Miraculous I Went on to Coach 200 Others

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in line The version of me on the left side of this picture taught 12-16 group fitness classes per week, fueled on 6-7 daily meals made of lean protein, steamed vegetables, and healthy whole grains. I did everything right and yet found myself staring down the barrel of Type 2 diabetes.

When I saw this picture, taken by my sister while on vacation to Cuba in 2009, I didn’t even recognize myself. The abdominal weight had accumulated so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to notice it. And how does a girl like me get a belly like that anyway? The math didn’t add up: my calorie balance had been squarely and obsessively in check since my mid-teens.

Even more troubling than the weight gain was my completely unmanageable energy levels. I couldn’t get through a fitness class unless I drank orange juice the entire time. Every workout needed to be book-ended by precisely-timed carbohydrate feeds, or I’d sink into a nap that would occupy the rest of my day. My high-stress day job as an advertising Account Manager was suffering because I couldn’t make it through a meeting—an afternoon!—without nodding off or needing a nap in the car. Speaking of car naps, anytime I had to drive anywhere it became a game of chicken: will I manage to stay awake behind the wheel this time?

Kudos to my Western doctor for thinking somewhat outside of the box and declaring me “pre-diabetic.” It got my wheels turning on how everything we’d been taught to believe about exercise and diet—everything I’d ever preached in my 20+ years in the fitness industry—may not have been as cut and dried as we’d believed. Furthermore, the stress of my professional day job, she suggested, may have contributed to my body’s resistance to insulin. What a revelation! Health struggles and weight gain relating to lifestyle factors, and not simply as a result of a mismatch of calories in versus calories out.

By the way, I rejected that diagnosis. I immediately set out to reverse what the doctor declared was an inevitable descent into full-blown diabetes. Like most of us, the thirst for understanding HOW this could have happened to someone like me doing absolutely everything right lead me to Google. And Google brought me to Mark’s Daily Apple, and the Primal Blueprint book. I devoured every word of the book, the blog, the forum. It all made so much sense.

Within weeks of implementing the Primal Laws, everything in my life changed. The weight effortlessly began to vanish. My energy surged, and it has not stopped since I started that day seven years ago. My relationship with food can only be described as “effortless”—a revelation for a former-athlete-turned-fitness-professional like myself who’d battled disordered eating and body image issues literally forever.

The transformation was so miraculous that I couldn’t help but be evangelical about it. I told everyone I encountered that they needed to go Primal right this very minute. I convinced a few, but I wanted more reach.

I wanted a nutrition credential to help lend credibility to my impassioned rants, and so that I could build a legitimate business delivering the wisdom of Primal. I just couldn’t bring myself to register for a four-year degree in Dietetics, so instead I found a diploma program that offered more nutrition flexibility and wasn’t tethered to Canada’s Food Guide (our version of the Food Pyramid). In 2014, I graduated as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and got to work quitting my day job and spreading the message of unconventional dietary wisdom far and wide through my nutrition consulting and health coaching business, eat.simple.

The second the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification came into existence, you’d better believe I threw my credit card at it immediately. I was one of the early adopters of the the program, even though I didn’t open the portal or start reading the first module until a full calendar year after paying for it.

I quickly discovered that the piece that was missing from my nutrition consulting business was any hot clue how to coach humans through the process of large-scale lifestyle change. So when I got the email that the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification had evolved and grown to include a greater emphasis on coaching, and was being rebranded the Primal Health Coach certification, that’s when I logged in for the first time. I struggled through the program spectacularly, despite having a nutrition credential and dozens of fitness certifications under my belt. It challenged me, and I loved and respected every grueling moment of those mind-bending multiple choice quizzes. I could feel that I was growing; the coaching pieces built into the program, which had been lacking in every single other course or certification I’ve ever taken, were going to change the game for eat.simple.

The Primal Health Coach program is what took my business from a wobbly, uncertain start-up, to a growing and proven mini-empire that actually helps people enact massive lifestyle change in an accessible way. I no longer have the worry looming over my head “Will I be good at this, or will I have to admit defeat and return to the advertising rat race?” I’m getting set to hire eat.simple’s first employee to help me manage the workload of a client roster that just continues to grow. The clients are out there. They want your help. Go get them!

The ultimate lightning strike in this feel-good story happened in 2016 when the Primal Health Coach team announced it was growing, too, and put out a call for resumes for folks with fitness, nutrition, and business backgrounds to come and work with the Primal team. I was hired as the Client Care Lead, supporting students and graduates through the Primal Health Coach program and afterward, as they set out to build their businesses. That I now get to call Mark Sisson my boss? “Dream come true” does not even begin to cover it, my friends. I know you know.

Back to that before and after photo. The picture on the right was taken in winter of 2016, on yet another tropical winter vacation, this time to Belize (it’s how we get through those long, cold, dark, Canadian winters). Once again I was taken aback: “Is that me?” I had to ask. Seven years later and my relationship with food, fitness, my body, and my metabolic function has become so effortless that I forget to notice how good it looks. But there’s no denying how good it feels. Not one day goes by when I don’t celebrate my own good health and that of the over 200 clients I’ve coached toward Primal living in the last three years.

I feel remarkably blessed that I get to live my authentic truth in life and in work, every darn day. Primal has changed my life, just as I know it can change yours.

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Does the impact of the Primal Blueprint in your life move you to consider coaching others to share the promise of health and vitality? Visit the Primal Health Coach website to learn more about the program, and be sure to check out our free information session.

The post My Transformation Was So Miraculous I Went on to Coach 200 Others appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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What Happened When I Got a Fecal Transplant

Guest post written by: John Fawkes

 

Childhood was a tough time for me.  For starters, Exo-Squad got cancelled after two seasons.  Also, I had a lot of physical and mental health issues.

For starters, I found it near-impossible to make eye contact with anyone.  I had OCD symptoms, and refused to eat anything but chicken, pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  In early childhood I was a hoarder, to the point where I would refuse to throw away bits of plastic shrink-wrap.  I found it very difficult to empathize with other people, and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome after initially being misdiagnosed with ADHD.

Once, in high school, a girl gave me a card for my birthday.  After reading it, I thanked her and threw it in the trash.  I had trouble understanding why this hurt her feelings.  Ironically, I had thrown the card away because I was trying to stop hoarding.

There was the IBS, which would usually flare up a few times a day.  Add to that severe onset insomnia, as well as the near-constant itching I experienced all over my body.  I actually wore a bald spot on the top of my head from scratching so much.

As I grew older, the OCD and anger issues mostly went away on their own.  My other symptoms started to improve in my early 20’s, which I believe was largely because I started making an effort to eat healthier.  Two other things happened in college that would put me on the path that would lead, years later, to me getting a fecal transplant.

First, I had a severe allergic reaction to some antibiotics which caused my itching to get about ten times worse, gave me severe diarrhea, and could have killed me.  This lead me to suspect that many of my problems may have had root causes somewhere in the digestive system.  Second, I read Robb’s guest article on Tim Ferriss’ blog, followed by his book The Paleo Solution, which introduced me to the concept of leaky gut syndrome and convinced me to give the paleo diet a try.

The results were mixed.  Going 80/20 paleo- cutting out most of the grains, dairy, junk food, soda, and other crap, and adding in more vegetables- did produce a noticeable decrease in all of my symptoms, along with some fat loss and muscle gain.  On the other hand, going full paleo produced little or no added benefit beyond this- it wasn’t the full solution I’d been hoping for.

As I continued researching leaky gut syndrome, I started researching fecal matter transplants.  I read numerous stories about patients making dramatic progress with IBS, autoimmune disorders, and even autism following FMT procedures.  After getting my own gut biome tested with uBiome and finding out that I was missing several types of gut microbiota; my biome was closer to that of a typical alcoholic than a typical paleo dieter, despite the fact that I rarely drink.

After seeing how depleted my gut biome was, I decided to undergo an FMT myself.  Since I couldn’t get one done in the U.S., I went to the Newbury Clinic in Buenos Aires.

I had to follow an anti-inflammatory diet from 2 weeks before the procedure until a few days after, as well as taking a low dose of prednisone to suppress my body’s immune response against the transplant.  As the doctor explained to me, the newly transplanted microbiota would initially fight with those already inside my intestine before settling into an equilibrium; the prednisone was intended to blunt this response by my existing gut bacteria so that more of the transplanted microbes would survive.

The procedure consisted of five transplants, conducted over the course of a week.  It was…uncomfortable, to say the least, but not as gross as I’d feared, and not painful at all.

The doctor had warned me that contrary to some of the stories I’d read, results typically take 2-3 months to manifest themselves.  Indeed, I didn’t notice much of a change immediately after the procedure, other than a lower frequency of IBS flareups and a slight improvement in sleep.  Psychological symptoms were harder to gauge since I was backpacking through South America alone at the time, but it did seem I was a bit less anxious as well.

Over the course of the next three months, I gained weight, presumably due to improved digestion.  I gained about 5-6 pounds of muscle while losing 2-3 pounds of fat, which isn’t bad at all for a guy who was already 155 pounds at 10% body fat.  Of course I was working out a lot at the time; if I hadn’t been, I don’t doubt that the same improvement in digestion could have caused me to gain fat rather than muscle.

When I got back home three months after my FMT procedure, the full extent of the effects became clear.  The symptoms improved a bit more: IBS flare-ups now happen only a few times a week, vs once or twice a day before the procedure, and several times a day when I was a kid.  I now regularly sleep 7+ hours a night, compared to 5-6 before the procedure.  I no longer feel abnormal levels of anxiety, or engage in repetitive fidgeting, unless I consume way too much caffeine.

I’ve become more sociable.  I no longer find it especially difficult to start conversations with strangers, work the room at parties, or go on dates.  Most surprisingly, this became apparent the moment I got back to the U.S., even though I had barely spoken a word of English for the previous 3 months.

On the other hand, the itching doesn’t seem to have improved, and that was the one symptom I was most hoping to get rid of.  All things considered, FMT produced a noticeable change for me, and was definitely worth doing, but wasn’t the miracle cure that it’s been for some people.

For anyone reading this and considering a fecal transplant procedure, here’s my advice.  First, get tested with uBiome to see what kind of shape your gut biome is in.  In my opinion, FMT is most useful when you have whole types of gut flora that are totally absent in your gut.  If those same microbiota are heavily depleted in your gut, but not totally extinct, you can probably restore them with dietary interventions.

Second, spend a few months trying to fix your gut biome through diet.  Cut out the crap and eat more fiber and vegetables.  Go strictly paleo for a while, and consider experimenting with ketogenic, organic, and anti-inflammatory diets as well.  Then get re-tested with uBiome.  If you haven’t improved, that’s when it’s time to look into FMT.

If you do opt for a transplant, don’t take the DIY approach- you need a donor who’s healthy, has been following a good diet, and most importantly, is properly screened.  Also avoid clinics that use antibiotics to weaken your existing biome prior to the transplant- after all, what if the transplant doesn’t take?  Talk to a few different clinics, and select one that has a good procedure in place for selecting donors and takes the time to answer all of your questions.

Fecal matter transplantation is a great procedure, and one I expect to become a lot more common in the next few years.  It’s helpful for many, useless for many more, and a miracle cure for a select few.  For people with intestinal or autoimmune disorders, it’s well worth looking into- after other, less radical options have been explored.

 

About the Author

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John Fawkes is a health and fitness coach who helps people lose weight, build healthier habits, and kick life in the nuts.  He writes fitness stuff on his website, Facebook, and newsletter, and sings a totally sweet cover of Rebel Yell. 



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Contest: Share Your Success Story

win6The Prize:

A year’s supply of Primal Fuel. That’s 12 months of my ultimate, low-carb, high-fat, high-protein shake mix delivered right to your door! Primal Fuel serves as the perfect post-workout treat or meal replacement; curbing hunger with healthy fats, helping build and maintain muscle mass with 20 grams of whey-protein isolate; and improving digestion and immunity with the addition of prebiotics.

Go with Vanilla Coconut Creme or Chocolate Coconut…or alternate between the two. Winner’s choice!

The Contest:

We’re just a few days into the 21-Day Challenge, but I know many of you have seen amazing results going Primal leading up to the Challenge. Weight lost, muscle built, complexions cleared, even meds kicked. Now’s the time to share it! This means you have the opportunity to show the rest of the community who you are and what you’ve accomplished. In the process you’ll inspire thousands of people to take control of their health just as you have. I don’t know about you, but I get a kick out of that.

So for this contest I want to hear your story. Write it up and include a photo. Including both pre-Primal and post-Primal pics is even better, but not required. Don’t worry if you’re not a chiseled Adonis. This isn’t a “who’s the most ripped” competition. Whether you’ve lost 100 pounds over two years of Primal living or you’ve simply managed to kick that Diet Coke habit, just tell me what going Primal has done for you. I’m looking for interesting and personal tales. Details about your health history, how you found MDA and the Primal Blueprint, what has worked and what hasn’t, what differences you’ve seen in how you look and feel, and anything else you think readers might be able to learn from and you’re open to sharing are welcome. It doesn’t have to be a thousand word diatribe, but hopefully more than a couple paragraphs. Feel free to be creative with your story format, too. Remember, good stories usually have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and honesty is king.

I’m sure many of you have thought about sending your story in, but just haven’t gotten around to it. There is no better time than now. I’ll be featuring reader stories during the 21-Day Challenge and beyond, so get yours in soon!

Email me your story along with any pictures. Please use the subject heading “My Primal Story.” Otherwise, there’s a good chance I may completely miss your submission.

Examples:

One of the most memorable stories published on MDA: The Unconquerable Dave. If you haven’t read it, do it now. You won’t regret it. YAWP!

View other Success Stories here for ideas on how to write your own story.

Eligibility:

Anyone in the world can enter.

Additionally, everyone who has submitted a Success Story to Mark’s Daily Apple since the last year’s Challenge is automatically entered to win, so don’t worry if you emailed me just a few days ago. You’re entered!

The Deadline:

January 22, midnight PDT.

How the Winner Will Be Determined:

An executive decision will be made to determine which stories and accompanying photos get published on MDA. The winner of the prize package above will be chosen at random from those that are submitted.

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3 Easy Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

Those shiny new appliances you received as holiday gifts need spots in your kitchen, so it’s time to organize. Here are three tactics to get you started, without being overwhelmed by the task.

Declutter, then donate

Decluttering can be daunting, especially if your entire household’s stuff ends up in the kitchen. So focus on tossing out extras of the following items; you’ll be energized by the fact that you will have a couple of bags to donate in no time.

  • Matching dishes – Two plates, two bowls, two glasses for each family member. Use disposable when you need extra for a party.
  • Silverware – Again, two spoons, forks, and knives for everyone. They can wash dishes, right?
  • Reusable water bottles – Each family member needs only one. Done.
  • Kitchen utensils – Toss anything cracked. Nasty bacteria builds up in tattered spatulas. If it pains you to part with that cool doohickey from your dear neighbor, think how much joy someone else will have from finding it at the resale shop.
  • Plastic food containers – They should all have lids, and all fit neatly inside each other. Toss the misfits.
  • Pots and pans – You don’t need six sauté pans. Here’s the pots you do need and how to organize them.

Condiment and spice reorg

If you haven’t used that bottle of special sauce in six months, you can probably get by without it for another six. Check the corners of your fridge and your pantry. Purge those little packets of restaurant soy sauce and parmesan too; they’re loaded with salt anyway.

For spices, designate a whole drawer to your freshest favorites and alphabetize them. Not sure if a spice is fresh? Do the sniff test. If pricey jars don’t smell, they can still be saved if crushing the spice between your fingers produces aroma; just use it up quickly.

Savvy freezer storage

To avoid pale, freezer-burned zombie food – and food waste – one of the best ways to keep your small or large freezer organized is to keep an inventory. First, take everything out of the freezer, toss items which are older than six to eight months, and make a quick list of all remaining food. Then place everything back inside in an organized fashion; make separate spots for: 1) fruits and vegetables, 2) meats, 3) packaged foods, 4) leftovers.

Now, take your list of foods and use it to start a freezer inventory (fancy templates can be found online.) But the basics are simple. On the inventory sheet, note the type of frozen food and date. Cross the food out when used and don’t forget to add new food to the inventory. Keep the inventory list on a clipboard near the freezer. For freezer-friendly food tips, see The Basics of Freezing Food.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.



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Things I’m Afraid To Tell You

My heart is beating hard as I sit down to write this. I don’t even know what exactly I am going to say yet! I recently listened to episode #186 of The Lively Show where Jess did a podcast about feeling disconnected from her community because she was holding things back. The podcast was actually a followup to a post she wrote in 2012 on the same topic that sparked a wave of similar posts in the blogging community. Jess’s post had me thinking because I have also felt less connected to you guys.

When I started blogging almost ten years ago I shared everything. Why wouldn’t I? You guys are my friends, and I didn’t see any reason to hide. But the older I’ve gotten, the more the internet has grown, and the more changes that have come and gone, the more I have pulled back. This post is an attempt to put it all out there, and I sure I hope feel relief at the end.

Here are things I am afraid to tell you…

Sometimes I don’t feel like a healthy living blogger anymore because my eating has gotten so normal. Normal in a good way because the focus is off the food and on life. Because I am eating when I’m hungry, enjoying myself when I am out, and generally feeling great. But normal in a less-good way because my diet isn’t as consistently plant-based, I am am not eating as many hugh jass salads as I used to, and I definitely am not lighting a candle and putting out a placemat anymore. Some of my meals consist of chips and leftovers eaten standing at the counter. Normal. Obviously the meals you see on KERF are real, but in my professional opinion I am not eating as healthy as I did five years ago. What I can’t decide is which way is “better.” Eating healthier but being way more aware or eating intuitively but a little less nutritious?

On that note, I have a feeling half of you would say I drink too much and half of you would say I barely drink at all, depending on your normal, but according to health standards and this post, I’m overdoing it. I don’t drink a lot at once, but last year I got in the routine of a glass of wine (or, um, two) almost every night. I am changing this habit though (because it’s a habit, not an addiction), and have already made positive changes this year. It took a week of mocktails (because it’s easier to add than subtract!) to get over the desire for a glass of wine, and now I’m feeling normal again and drinking only on the weekends or nights out. I am planning to do a follow-up post to Practice v. Preach soon.

When Matt and I first broke up, I had to convince myself that I might never get married again or have more children. I gave away or lent out a ton of my baby stuff, and I regret doing that now. At the time I convinced myself that having one precious child was enough, and holding onto my baby gear was making my heart heavy. I now know deep down that I want at least one more child, and I wish I still had all of Mazen’s things tucked safely into the attic. (However, I am happy that my friends have gotten good use out of them!)

Matt and I are on very good terms, and while 2016 was an awkward year, I think we have come out happily on the other side. I am afraid to talk about my new partner because I fear you guys will think anything positive I have to say about him is in direct contrast to Matt, and that is not the case at all. Matt is a wonderful guy, and I don’t regret the time we spent together. I would never say anything bad – directly or indirectly – about him on the internet.

Matt and I both started dating right away because part of the trouble in our marriage was that we felt we had missed out on our 20s. We met when we were 18, the first semester of college, and hadn’t looked back. Aziz Ansari, in his book Modern Romance calls the stage of life we missed “emerging adulthood.” When we split, I let go of all expectations of finding another husband and just wanted to date around for the fun of it, knowing it could take me years to remarry, if at all. I dove into dating, and it was fun to meet new people! But I wasn’t in the dating pool for the years I had mentally prepared for because I met someone who stopped me in my tracks…

Which brings me to something I’ve been hinting at for months now – I am in looooooove!  His name is Thomas, and I couldn’t have sketched a better partner if you’d given me a blank piece of paper and a Sharpie and said “draw the man of your dreams.” While I could list the many reasons why Thomas is a great guy (he is very good looking and an impressive soccer player!), what I love most about him is how he makes me feel when we’re together: safe, secure, respected, loved. He is also crazy about Mazen, and Thomas’s family has been so wonderful and welcoming to Mazen and me.

What you haven’t seen online is that we’ve traveled together, we’ve shared countless fun date nights, and we’ve spent a long time getting to know one another. I didn’t know how or when to share that I had someone new in my life, and I still don’t know if or when he will become a part of the blog.

And lastly, I’m afraid to tell you how often I am covered in dog hair and drool and don’t seem to notice or care : )

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