Wellington… Yes, hello. We are coming to you to talk about food and to drink coffee in your fair city. We’ve even been putting in some high-wind landing practice by flying into Hobart recently.
Whenever we run a workshop, the success of it hinges on having passionate people on the ground, squirreling away, convincing people to take a punt to come and listen to us for a day. In Cairns we had Marlise of Paleo Cafe fame; in Toowoomba, Jo Mass did an outstanding job of getting half the town there; Mel Curry got us down to Hobart, and of course, my good friends Adrian and Rona had us well looked after in Christchurch. In Christchurch we were privileged and honoured to have a small group come down from Wellington – Phil, Pam, and Greg. We must have said and done something right as no sooner had we finished the Christchurch workshop, the discussion began on when we would come to Wellington. That “when” is set for June 9th, 9am-5pm. See here for all the details.
Why come along?
We’ve heard lots of reasons as to why people think they might not get anything from the day. They’ve read the book. They already do Paleo. It’s a full day. It costs too much.
Yes it’s a full day – and we barely scratch the surface in terms of all the factors which influence your health. We make it a big day as we want you leaving with a good understanding of the factors which influence your nutrition and your health.
The common feedback we get regarding cost is that $100 to have two highly qualified speakers talk for a full day, imparting information which could significantly alter your health and therefore change your life, is a bargain. Having attended a few full-day workshops myself over the years, paying anything up to and over $300 a day, I’d have to agree. But – we do have a deal coming up (keep reading).
As for having already read “It Starts With Food” and already “doing Paleo”, we can only balance this out by the most common piece of feedback we get… “I’ve been Paleo for a while now, and I’ve read ‘It Starts With Food’, but I learned so much more in your workshop.” See Fiona’s comment below.
This workshop, and the information which underpins it, can and does change lives. We have already shared Tim’s and Pam’s stories (both of whom continue to do extremely well). Now I want to share three more just to show how significantly our Good Food story, and the Whole30, can impact a person’s life…
Unlike a lot of people, I was pretty familiar with the ‘paleo concept’ prior to the Whole30. I had read The Paleo Solution, listened to Robb Wolf’s podcast each week for over a year and had several family members who were strict paleo. I was familiar with the concepts, but had never taken the next step to changing my own diet. Why not? Simple; I ate healthy and I mean legitimately, honest to goodness, healthy food. I ate whole foods, drank less than one standard drink of alcohol per week, exercised regularly and hard and ate ‘takeaway’ once every two to three months.
It should have been a recipe for health, well-being and fitness; but it wasn’t. In the past three years, I had been steadily gaining weight, despite the exercise I was doing and the foods I was eating. I put it down to getting old, to being a new dad, to stress; what else could it be?
A year ago, I got sick of it. I hunkered down in my garage gym and at a local Crossfit box, I restricted my diet further and I started getting very frustrated when my numbers on the scale just didn’t shift. I got stronger; I got fitter; I got faster, but my gut just wouldn’t shift. Now, if it was just the gut, I probably would’ve just kept going with it, but there was something else happening.
Prior to the Whole30, I experienced gastrointestinal distress about 3-5 days a week, usually several times in a day; my morning ‘bathroom schedule’ was about 30-minutes on the toilet. This was especially the case if I had not ‘toileted’ within the first hour of waking. In times of high stress, I found I had increasingly bad gut irritation. I kept a packet of Immodium in the cupboard and needed my wife to bring it to me (at work, at community events etc.) several times.
I went to the doctor, got my blood work done and got the frustrating diagnosis; everything was fine. Cholesterol was within acceptable levels; thyroid was working perfectly; testosterone levels normal. According to the tests, I should have been shedding weight. I left the doctor none the wiser, with only a “you’ve probably got irritable bowel” to go on. My wife and I spent days spinning our wheels and puzzling over the results, until I saw the Paleo Café/Whole9 South Pacific Whole30 challenge on my Facebook feed. I’d done everything conventional wisdom said I should, and nothing had worked – I literally had nothing to lose except my persistent gut and irritable bowel symptoms. I decided to do it.
I had a pretty atypical Whole30, in that I never experienced any of the side-effects people talk about. There were no headaches or nausea and I didn’t have the food dreams or rage days. This doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle to let go of milk and bread (or ramen noodles), but my aversion to processed foods pre-Whole30 stood me in good stead here. During the first week of the whole30, I experienced gastrointestinal distress (GID) 3-4 times over 7 days, but still often felt like I was going to have diarrhoea, even if I didn’t. During the second week, I had 3 incidents of GID and still often felt like I was going to have diarrhoea, even if I didn’t.
Ultimately, weeks 1-2 were better than ‘normal life’, but not incredibly so and not enough to convince me that my whole grains were at fault. I like to finish what I start though and I continued with the program. I’m glad I did, because by the end of Week 2, I had noticed changes in my body composition and energy levels during workouts.
It was during the third week of the Whole30 that the switch really flicked in my body; I still had one incident of mild GID, but no ‘symptoms’ of irritation. During the fourth week, my gut felt like what I assume ‘normal’ feels like. I still occasionally had some indigestion, but haven’t had any negative effects, despite stress levels being high.
During week 3, my grandfather became ill, was hospitalized and died. He was the only father figure I had ever known and, as power of attorney, I had to make some tough decisions about his final days and then work with my grandmother to organise the funeral. I took the week off work and was getting up early to write lessons for my classes and was travelling to Innisfail daily, sitting at the hospital and ferrying elderly relatives to and from the airport.
If I were to say that it was tempting to abandon the Whole30, it would be an understatement. Comfort and convenience food abounded and it would have been so easy to give in, but I made a decision to stay on track; I had committed to a whole-life reset and if I caved in during this stressful situation, I knew it would de-rail everything I had worked for.
It’s hard to think that the Whole30 journey is over; it’s been amazing. I’ve lost 5 kilos, seen changes in my body composition, general well-being and, most importantly, intestinal health. I’m doing a gradual re-introduction protocol and will tinker with my paleo diet to find the balance between strict low-carb paleo and a more ‘everyday’ approach. I can’t ever see myself missing my toast in the morning … not when the results of living paleo are so damn fantastic!
I was always the awkward fat kid at school, with the obligatory uselessness that goes with not being able to play sport. The way my parents cooked, in retrospect, did not seem to help. The first time I remember being hungry, and recognising the feeling for what it was, was in grade 7. I did not understand that we have choices when it comes to food and eating. You do not always have to eat (and finish) the big overloaded plate that was put in front of you.
The path I travelled down so far was scenic, but it wasn’t good for my health. At uni the bloat started despite moderate amounts of exercise. Graduation was followed by high stress type work, relocating overseas. Changes in work environment and really bad eating habits lead to massive weight gain over the years. The heaviest I ever weighed was 146kg.
On my birthday a couple of years ago I had a good look at what I had become. I was a fat, constipated, bloated and stretch marked, unhealthy, overworked and stressed beached whale. This realisation motivated me to make changes, and over the past four years I lost a fair portion of the blubber around my abdomen. Despite vigorous exercise up to 3 times a week with a trainer, my weight seemed to hang around 130kg. Way too much to be healthy.
One path that is possible, is for me to continue as is, eventually gaining more weight and be at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; metabolic syndrome.
But this is not the path that I choose.
The road that I choose to go down was opened up by the palaeolithic way of eating. The Paleo café and the community that has sprung up in Cairns have shown me that healthy living isn’t just for a select few. At first I thought there is a trick somewhere. Surely it cannot be that easy. My better half and I went to the Whole9 South Pacific workshop – the science checked out and then some. We decided to give the 30 day challenge a go.
In the past month, I’ve gone from always tired to having a steady energy level. My sleep has improved and I rise easily, without the wish to fall back to sleep. I enjoy food more, and now look forward to a hearty meal 3 times a day, not skipping big meals and surviving on high sugar refined products that pass for food these days. The constipation that has plagued me for years is gone and I am now as regular as the Swiss railways.
The 30 day challenge was quite an interesting experience. I missed full cream milk in my coffee, but have now become accustomed to coconut milk. Perhaps this is part of the honeymoon period, when everything new is bright and shiny but I am happy to continue eating in the paleo way. I’ve not weighed myself, but I can tell that I’ve lost weight, my clothes feel looser and seem to fit a bit better.
With the Palaeolithic way of eating, I have solid information on which foods are scientifically proven healthy and which foods can harm bowel health. The awesome thing is, with this knowledge comes the power of choice of which path to follow.
I accepted my fat a long time ago. For as long as I can remember I have been overweight. I now see photos of myself as a child and think I was not that overweight. I was active and we ate meat and three veg most nights. As the years rolled by my weight fluctuated. I believed I was a number on a scale and had to see it lower every day. At times I could never understand why it wasn’t – I was eating low-fat foods, I sought out frozen items with the Heart Foundation Tick. Through life’s ups and downs I saw my body shape change. This corresponded with numbers on a scale that doctors seemed so fascinated with.
A few years ago, as part of a mental health plan to help deal with my anxiety, I was referred to a dietician. Here I first learnt of low-carb eating. I joined a gym. I enjoyed pumping weights and saw my body shape change again. But it was still covered in fat and nothing seemed to want to shift it. I tried Bodytrim – the low-carb program where once a week you can eat whatever you like as long as you only eat protein the following day. I lost some weight. I was extremely constipated! As soon as I stopped the weight came back. And some.
Around this time I decided I needed to accept my fat. This to me now is another diet myth. There is nothing wrong with accepting yourself as a beautiful human being, but I will not accept an unhealthy me. Early last year my GP noticed my blood pressure was a little high. In November I strapped myself to a blood pressure machine four times a day for a week. Two thirds of the readings were high. In December I sat down with my GP and we talked about medication. He told me that he wanted me to see if I could make some lifestyle changes over the next three months to see if I could lower my BP without medication.
One Saturday in the new year, my partner and I visited the Paleo Café. We were both a little sceptical about what it was all about. Staff explained the basics of Paleo to us and we bought a book (Rob Wolf – The Paleo Solution). Crawford read it first and told me the next day I had to read it. I did and could see it made sense. We bought a couple of other books and booked ourselves in for the Whole9 South Pacific seminar. In the lead-up to the seminar we sort of tried to eat Paleo, however at the seminar it was clear that what we thought was 90% Paleo was really only about 50%!
Come February 1st I was determined to give it 110%. The first few days were tough. My head ached. I was so thirsty. But I stuck to it. I also committed myself to going to the gym at least twice a week. I found myself reading the sides of everything in the supermarket. I was shocked to discover that cartons of chicken stock list sugar as one of the first three ingredients! I changed the way I cooked a little bit, but also discovered that I did not need to change a lot. Of course there are things that I used to cook that I would not dream of cooking now, but there are also lots of new dishes I have discovered that have become family favourites. In week two and three I still found the Paleo lifestyle challenging.
I went to lunch with a girlfriend and she ordered a hamburger and chips and I ordered a steak sandwich without bread or cheese! I found it easier to tell her I was gluten and dairy intolerant. Another day Crawford and I went out for brunch at a different café. Again I ordered a steak sandwich with no bread or cheese. The waiter clarified and said that I basically wanted a steak salad. I agreed. A gorgeous looking plate appeared full of quinoa! I ate the steak off the top, making sure the quinoa had been brushed off, and salvaged a bit of rocket and watermelon, but left most of it. The staff were really apologetic. I could hear my mother chiding me over the starving children in Africa at the same time being so proud of myself for putting my body first.
In week three I also noticed how pleasant moving my bowels was! It was like shitting silk! I couldn’t remember the last time I was so regular and also so consistent. Week four has been when it has fallen into place. I baked cupcakes for my son’s birthday without licking any bowls, spoons or fingers or trying any. Yes, they smelt nice and apparently his class loved them, but they had little appeal. As for me, the 30 days seem like the beginning. The destination is not 2 March 2013, it is the rest of my life. I have so much more energy than I did 30 days ago. I feel alive for the first time in years.
I no longer have weekly breakouts (perhaps they were because of hormones, but not the ones I originally thought!) and I have not had a migraine or severe headache for the whole time. Crawford tells me my moods have been so much more consistent and my anxiety levels are so much lower. Last Thursday at the gym, my trainer took my measurements. Since he took them on 8 January, I have lost 10 kg. That number didn’t impress me. It was just a number. I have lost cm off my bust, waist, hips, thighs and biceps. Again, not that impressive to me – I don’t need numbers to tell me how good I am feeling.
The measurement that struck me the most was my blood pressure. On 8 January it was 140/99. Now it is 112/82. We took it three times to be sure! I am not expecting to stray too far from the new lifestyle I have found. It is like something has been switched on deep inside me helping me feel the best I have in years! 30 days was not a challenge for me. The rest of my life will be, but it is one I am embracing with all that I am. I am so fortunate to have the support of Crawford and the wonderful Paleo Café staff. Writing this has been very cathartic and I am going to pin a copy to the fridge so that I can read it in the months ahead and remind myself why I have made these changes. I no longer see my journey as one of weight loss, but rather health gain.
Every workshop we have people come to us with the same words – “we thought we were doing things right, we thought we had read it all, but we can see that we still have some things to change.”
So if you are in the Wellington region… heck, if you are in either Auckland or Christchurch too, then we’d love to see you at our Wellington workshop – the full-strength, all-singing, all-dancing workshop on understanding how your body is affected by food and what you can do to nourish it optimally. And because we believe good health should be shared with a friend, we have an added incentive for you. Go to our Eventbrite page and purchase a ticket each for you and a friend, use the promo code “Bring-a-friend” to get $50 off. That is, buy one and you get one at half price. Boom. There are only a limited number of tickets allocated to this deal, so don’t be a typical Kiwi and wait until the last-minute, else you might miss out.*
We hope to see you all in Wellington soon!
*Just a short note on our events. We generally do not organise our own events. Rather, we come to a place when we have been invited and hosted by an individual or group. These hosts help us with the logistics, organising or providing a venue, and hosting us on the basis that they have a good core group of people who are keen to come along to our workshop. To get to most places we are hosted requires us to commit 3 days (typically including a day off from our main jobs), the purchase of airfares, sometimes a rental car, and at least two nights of accommodation. As you can imagine, this is a big commitment upfront. If we don’t see tickets being sold well ahead of the workshop, we just have to assume that people aren’t interested and we will unfortunately be forced to cancel the event.
So if an event is booked in your area and you want to come along, show us your commitment by buying a ticket early. It is disheartening for us to cancel an event only to receive messages from a lot of people saying they were going to attend.