This is the results of a cholesterol panel for an 180 pound 5’2″ female whose typical meals look something like this:
Breakfast: bacon and eggs
Lunch: salmon, egg, and almond meal pancake with raw veggies
Snack: Protein shake made with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard protein powder, whole milk (sometimes raw), and a banana, or cottage cheese with raisins (or, let’s be fair, sometimes skittles!)
Dinner: steak and veggies cooked in pastured butter, or beef and veggie fried rice made with lots of coconut oil, or roast chicken (skin on, please) with creamed corn (my latest favorite)
Supplements: fish oil, vitamin d, calcium/magnesium/potassium, creatine.
Those of you who know me personally know that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2009. I was tired all the time, had serious joint pain in my knees, hands and feet (toe pain is the worst!), and just felt all around crappy. My rheumatologist wanted to do aggressive treatment, since I was young and the research suggested that early, aggressive treatment could put the disease in remission and stop the likelihood that I would be disabled in old age.
When he said the word disabled, I freaked. I am not going to be disabled, thank you very much. So, I started exercising and eating better. More whole foods, less refined stuff, more exercising.
In the later months of 2010 and the early months of 2011, I at a lot more grains and sugar, things that we’re told are healthy – breakfast every day was oatmeal with peanut butter and dried fruit, lunch usually had rice in it, I ate rice cakes for a snack, and dinner was quesadillas, whole grain pasta, that sort of thing. I was also doing couch to 5k, albeit very slowly. Over time, I had lost about 40 pounds, going from 215 or so to 175. At my physical, my doctor said to keep it up – my cholesterol was normal, but not great, and if i kept at what I was doing it would only get better.
I also started feeling better – my joint pain lessened, my labs were showing somewhat lower inflammation, I wasn’t as tired all the time. Neat!
It was about that time, in early 2011, that everyone and their sister on the internet was talking about crossfit/paleo/low carb/keto etc etc. People I trusted and respected were sending me all sorts of links and studies and sciency things about the benefits of lifting and eating more meat and less carbs. Since it was working so well for them, I thought I’d give it a try.
Now, in 2012, I’m no longer seeing my rheumatologist. I have no rheumatoid factor and no detectable inflammation (c-reactive protein) in my blood work (this is rare, even for healthy people). I’m no longer taking methotrexate, which made my hair fall out and put me at risk for organ failure and leukemia. I’m not tired any more. I’m not in pain. My lab work is amazing. I’m competing in my second Crossfit competition on October 6th.
I found what works for me, and my body, and my health, and I couldn’t be happier. Bacon and eggs, who knew?
This won’t work for everyone. Some people have high cholesterol levels that are greatly affected by their diet. Some people don’t eat meat. That’s all OK. I truly and deeply believe, though, that not being afraid of fats and consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible is the best path to health.
That also doesn’t mean you can’t eat things you enjoy. I strongly support the notion that eating food should always be a pleasurable experience and that it’s OK to overdo it once and a while. You saw my Taste of Hudson post, after all.
I could talk about this all day, but I’m going to stop here. I’m not trying to be preachy. I just wish people would stop being afraid of whole foods.
If I had to sum up how iI feel about health and wellness, it would be, “Eat foods, as much as you want, mostly nutrient dense ones, and lift heavy shit. Often.”