Get in shape in the gym, lose weight in the kitchen – Paleo and MS

Or how I dropped 25 pounds this year and have kept it off.

The title line of get in shape in the gym and lose weight in the kitchen is attributed to my MS doctor.  That was her response when I explained my success with my weight loss this year.

This will be a lengthy post because the topic always raises many questions in conversations.  Let me start out by saying that I wasn’t fat at all, so 25 lbs is really significant for me.  Like many in our forties, I was just starting to get a little squishy around the middle.  Now I am almost skinny again; the thinnest that I’ve been since high school!

How much does diet affect MS?  Personally, I think that the jury is still out.  Many swear that they have had phenomenal results by focusing on a particular diet.  Yet you can find two people that claim the same success with diets that seem almost opposite.  One might claim that a super low fat vegetarian diet is the key.  The next claims a high fat diet is the key.  I don’t know.  I think that diet is important for your health, the same as it is for anyone, regardless of MS.  I don’t think that changing your diet will magically cure most people’s MS.

My wife and I played around with the Paleo diet with limited success for the last few years.  We had challenges sticking to it for any real period of significance.  Then I found a book on amazon that sounded interesting called “The Perfect Health Diet” by Jaminet.

I can’t say enough good things about this book.  I started following the philosophy of the book at the beginning of the year and have steadily gotten in better shape.  I have not bounced at all.  In fact, I hit a new low this morning, ten months into it; down over 25 lbs.  More importantly, I feel great, am never hungry and have been very healthy this year, apart from my MS.

Don’t think of it as a diet.  Think of it as your new way of eating for life.  The book is a flexible, livable version of Paleo.  The theory behind the Paleo diet is that over time a society becomes optimized for a particular diet through evolution.  It makes sense in a way.  If I can function better on the food that is available, I am more likely to kill you, steal your mate and have offspring.

The Paleolithic period lasted 2.6 million years.  More than long enough for evolution to play it’s part.  Then we learned how to farm and our diets changed dramatically.  Given enough time, eventually human society will be optimized for our current diet, but it just hasn’t been around that long yet.  The book offers a variety of evidence attempting to back up this theory that we are still genetically “programmed” or optimized for the caveman diet.

The book is over 400 pages but can largely be summed up in the sentence “Eat plants and animals”.

What’s different about this book and a lot of other versions of paleo is that you can and should eat some starches.  White potatoes are good.  Sweet potatoes are good.  White rice is ok (interestingly, better for you than brown rice).  This has made it so much more sustainable for me than low carb diets.

You can also eat cheese, provided it’s the real stuff.  Wine and most alcohol in moderation is ok.  Coffee and tea is good.  Fermented foods are good.  Nuts are good but peanuts are bad.  Fish, beef and lamb are great, pork is good, chicken is ok.  Chocolate is ok.  Corn and beans are bad.  You can sit down to a nice steak and vegetables with butter and a glass of wine and enjoy it, knowing that you are actually losing weight on it.

The biggest part of your diet will be vegetables but you will still eat more fat than you think that you should.  The women that I know that have tried this struggle with that.  They just can’t get thier arms around eating a quarter pounder with no bun instead of just a salad if they are trying to loose weight.  The diet is not meant specifically to be gluten free, but it is.

What can’t you eat?  The big one is bread.  Cut it out of your life.  All of it.  No toast, pizza, muffins.  Eat your last one now and then never again.  I’ve done it, you can do it.  I still go to fast food places often.  It’s just that I get my burger protein style, which means wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun.  At Chipotle, I get a bowl instead of a burrito.  McDonalds doesn’t serve protein style so I use the bun to hold the burger but rip it off bite by bite.  Also, all of the soda that I used to drink has been replaced by iced tea.

I’ve got three of my six pack back already and on my way to finding the rest (which has been lost for 20 years).  The only negative is that I need to pay to have all of my suits tailored as they all hang on me like tents now.  For what it’s worth, four of my colleagues are also now following the book with similar success.

If anyone has questions or wants more information on the subject, please feel free to post here or email me through the site.

Best of luck to any of you that get the book and decide to give it a try!  It’s changed my life.

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