It's (probably) Not Your Fault!

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I know it can be difficult to make changes in your lifestyle in order to improve your health.  These typically involve diet changes because your doctor tells you to lose weight and/or improve your cholesterol or fasting blood sugar.  I know because I've been there and felt the frustration.  In fact, I had gotten to the point where I felt it was impossible, I didn't have the willpower and couldn't figure out how to lose the weight or improve my cholesterol or blood sugar.

In retrospect, now that I have learned and practice a better lifestyle approach to health, I can see that there are probably three scenarios why people might be having trouble.  For the most part, in these scenarios, any failures in seeing success are probably not your fault.  Here are the three scenarios as I see them.

You are following the recommended approach to the letter

In this case you've listened to your doctor tell you that your cholesterol and/or blood pressure and/or fasting blood sugar tests are getting too high.  You're told that you may need to start medication soon but you can give lifestyle changes a try.  You're told you should lose some weight, you should follow a healthy diet (and a specific diet may or may not be suggested,) and you need to exercise more.  All of the suggestions, at least in my experience, are pretty vague, and may leave you without much to go on for how to proceed.  But, you take on the challenge, thinking you really don't want to start new medications and be stuck on them for the rest of your life, and you rigorously follow the "My Plate" guidelines (or DASH diet, or whatever.)  You might start walking regularly (great!) or join a Gym and "work your butt off" four or five times a week. The result: probably little or no positive change.  You've likely lost little to no weight or you may have even gained weight, you don't really feel any more energetic, and you may or may not have seen any change in your lab tests.  Or you've seen positive changes, but then over time your health results degrade once again, even though you rigorously follow the recommended action plan.

Your doctor may say that you need to try harder, and/or give up and prescribe medication to improve your "numbers." This implies that you just didn't try hard enough and with just a little more willpower, you could make progress.  But you know you've done what you've been told, to the letter, and you still aren't seeing the results you would like.  You assume this is due to the genes you've  inherited or that it's just a part of the process of growing older.  The problem is not you, it’s not your genes.  Your genes want you to be healthy and fit.  The problem is the advice you’ve been given.

You're trying to follow the recommended approach,
but have trouble sticking to it

In this case, you think you are starting off well.  You're eating what's been recommended, you're even exercising.  But after that workout at the gym, you stop in for some ice cream.  (Hey, you've earned it, and after all, you chose the low fat frozen yogurt!).  You end up hitting the fridge for a midnight snack, or giving in to a rich desert at a business dinner.  I've been there too!  The thing is, after I would give in to that temptation, I would feel guilty and maybe even tell myself I wouldn't do that next time.  Of course, I would indeed give in to the temptation the next time.  After going through that cycle, it only leads to frustration and guilt, and an even lower level of willpower.

Again, I think this is not your fault!  The current conventional wisdom regarding a healthy diet requires a huge amount of willpower.  Some may be able to do it, but for the people who most need the help, this diet causes the cravings, and makes it virtually impossible to succeed.  Just look at the levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes.  That conventional wisdom doesn't seem to be helping, and I don't believe that most of these people are lazy sloths that have no willpower and ignore what the health care system is telling them.

You don't want to try to change because it looks too darn hard, and besides, you've probably inherited it

OK, so maybe this one is partly your fault.  You need to decide to make a change if change is going to happen.  But you may have been misled.  1. You've been misled about how hard it is -- you've seen "Biggest Loser" or imagine people constantly working out at a gym and the hell those people go through to lose weight ... or 2. This problem runs in your family so why should you try to fight it since it would be a losing battle.

While I know it can be hard to make changes in your life, following a good plan of eating real food, and strictly limiting consumption of grains, sugar, and sugary and starchy fruits and vegetables, if you give it a real try, can make it much easier once you've made the adjustment.

Except for maybe a very limited few, I also don't believe that it is pre-ordained in your genes that you should become obese and sick, even if that's the fate of your parents or siblings.  I truly believe that for most everyone, your genes want you to be healthy, and you just have to give them the right raw materials and environmental signals to work with.  If this wasn't true, I don't think we'd be here as a species, we would have already died out.

So it's (probably) not your fault!  There is a way to turn things around with your life and health.  You just need to find and stick with what works, and I'd strongly suggest that the advice on these pages give you a real advantage in making that work.

Change can be daunting and I know it does take some willpower to get started.  So, find someone who has done it and succeeded and find out how they've done it, or find a coach you can trust.  The Primal Blueprint Certified Expert program is now available to start providing these experts. (If you're in the central Tennessee area, I may be able to help.) Use the information on these pages, or the references I've suggested.  Just don't give up.  The conventional wisdom has conspired to make it seem like it's your fault, but there is a way to change things to your advantage.

Very short story why LCHF works

Building on my previous post on how I do a LCHF diet as succinctly as possible, this post describes why I think it works.  Maybe not as brief as the last post, but tried to make it as simple as possible, while still describing how it works.  Here goes.

  • Human bodies have evolved to be very adaptable and survive eating many different things -- we're omnivores after all.
  • Highly sweet fruits and highly concentrated starches rarely were found by our ancestors, and when they were, there was a healthy portion of fiber along with them.  (Well, in the case of honey they came with lots of bees.)  These were things which moderated the availability of these concentrated carbohydrate calories.
  • We adapted to use any of these concentrated energy sources when we found them, burn what we could immediately for fuel, store some in the muscles and liver as glycogen, and store the rest as fat.
  • Because of that we have several hormones that balance all those energy sources a help to keep things in our bodies stable.
  • When we ingest sugar (or carbohydrates which almost immediately turn to sugar) insulin is released in our bloodstream to tell our muscles and fat cells to open up and take in the sugar.
  • In our current society, we have an endless supply of sugar and carbohydrate that we consume far more of, far more continuously than our bodies evolved to handle.
  • Over time, our muscles become insensitive to the insulin signal that seems to never end, and don't take in the sugar because they have plenty already.  This is called insulin resistance.
  • Eventually, our bodies can't produce insulin very well, leading to pre-diabetes and full-blown diabetes.
  • The sugar has to go somewhere and the fat cells take it in since they don't become insulin resistant as quickly.  In any event, we pump out more insulin into the bloodstream to make sure the sugar gets taken care of.
  • This causes a drop in blood sugar and the brain thinks; "it's time to eat again!"  Starting a vicious cycle.
  • Fat cells release a hormone called leptin.  The more fat cells or the more full those cells are with fat, the more leptin is released.
  • Leptin is supposed to signal the brain that "we're good here, we don't need more to eat."  It also signals that our bodies have plenty of energy and it will trigger the urge for activity, movement, and generally increased metabolism.
  • Here's the key: Insulin blocks leptin!  That means, if we're consuming lots of carbs, that signal to the brain is shut down the brain doesn't get the message that we don't need to eat more. (In particular, if we have insulin resistance we're in that vicious cycle and are continuously consuming carbs and keeping insulin high.)
  • So when I significantly cut carbs (only takes cutting it below 100 to 150 gms/day or so) the high insulin goes away, my leptin signal was unblocked, and I naturally ate less -- my body's natural control systems start working again.  That leptin signal also told my body to move more -- giving me lots of energy I didn't know I had.

So admittedly, this is still a little complicated to explain, but certainly not rocket science.  This is the mechanism that allowed me to reduce my weight and enjoy renewed health and lots of energy I thought I had lost for good.

I welcome your feedback!