The Tao of Paleo: Finding Your Path to Health and Harmony

CHAPTER TWO: OUR STORY

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” ~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

JS: Yep. He’s right, that’s for sure.

JG: Who’s right?

JS: Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

JG: Anthem Brillo who??

JS: (Sigh) Look up, Jason.

JG: I can’t look up. We’re two-dimensional.

JS: Look at the top of the page, dude. At the quote. See it now? The guy was a famous French chef from the eighteenth century, and he basically said you are what you put into your body.

JG: You’re right. He is right.

JS: Unfortunately, using Brillat-Savarin’s axiom, people who eat the Standard American Diet are unhealthy, because they eat things that are innately unhealthy for humans to eat.

JG: Agreed, Joe, and until recently, we were both just like them. We ate the Standard American Diet and we got the standard American results - poor health.

JS: We also followed the “standard,” of what we had always been told was healthy exercise - lots of cardio to burn calories and to build a healthy heart. If Brillat-Savarin were a trainer, he probably would have said something like “tell me how you exercise, and I’ll tell you why you feel like garbage.” I was a big runner - covering miles and miles each week.

JG: I used to run thirty miles a week. If I didn’t, I just knew I would morph into the pudgy, middle-aged guy I dreaded becoming. Not to mention I would drop dead of a massive heart attack.

JS: I rarely lifted heavy weights. I didn’t want to get too bulky. Weight lifters were big beefy guys in tank tops and stretchy shorts who waddled around injecting each other with syringes.

JG: I never walked. Walking was a waste of time. It was for old people, or people who couldn’t run.

JS: Back on the dietary front, I ate “healthy” food - lots of whole grains, “heart-healthful” oils and polyunsaturated fats, and lean protein. I ate pasta and rice, and I drank 6-8 glasses of water every day.

JG: I was partial to eating those protein bars chock-full of whey or soy protein, and a whole bunch of ingredients with six syllables and lots of x’s and y’s in the name. Polysorbalox Dylathanol was one of my favorites.

JS: Dude, you just made that up.

JG: True, but doesn’t it sound delicious?

JS: No. I was putting away those bars like nobody’s business too. Anyway, even though I was “eating healthy” and “exercising right,” I felt terrible. I had been diagnosed with ADHD and it was getting worse. I couldn’t stay on task or concentrate on anything for very long without my medication - prescription amphetamines.

JG: I slept terribly, no more than six hours per night. I tossed and turned and woke up constantly. I would get out of bed in the morning exhausted and sore. I used to dread going to sleep.

JS: I had awful seasonal allergies that just seemed to get worse every year. I was developing digestion issues. Physically, my muscle tone was poor and I had a layer of fat around my waist that wouldn’t go away no matter how much I ran. I was addicted to running and I felt great as long as my body was pumping adrenaline and endorphins into my system, but as soon as I stopped I felt terrible…and I didn’t even know it because it was a gradual onset and progression of malaise.

JG: I had the same ring of chub around my belly. I thought I could get rid of it by working out harder. I’d go to the gym and do an hour of circuit training, never stopping for a rest or a drink. I’d lie on my dining room floor afterward, nauseous, thinking to myself that this was the price I needed to pay to stay in shape. Later, I’d have a salad with a small scoop of tuna or a protein bar, convinced that if I just restricted calories and trained harder, I’d have the fit body I really wanted.

JS: I was running half and full marathons, and I absolutely LIVED on “healthy” grains. Meanwhile, my ADHD wasn’t getting any better. My ability to plan and execute projects was only functional because of my meds, which I loathed taking because of the unpleasant side effects. The hearing in my right ear was deteriorating and I just chalked it up to getting older. After all, things just start going downhill after 35, right? That’s just life.

JG: High blood pressure and heart disease ran in my family, and I had always been pre-hypertensive, no matter how “fit” I was or how “healthy” my diet was. And it seemed to be getting worse - my systolic pressure would creep up into the low 140s if I had a rough few days and I figured it was just a matter of time before I needed to look at medication - which by the way, would have put me out of my job, because we aren’t allowed to take it. My “healthy” diet was hard on my digestion. I had frequent and embarrassing bouts of gas and indigestion. After a protein bar I typically steered clear of human company for at least an hour or so.

JS: I just got to a point where I was no longer satisfied with the concept of my life deteriorating. I was ready to find a different path - a better Tao.

JG: Let’s talk about what that means. It’s the first time we’ve mentioned it, and it must be important because it’s in the title of this book.

JS: “Tao” (pronounced “Dow”) in Chinese philosophy implies a way, or a path…but it’s much more than that.

JG: It means a code, a way of being, that puts you in harmony with yourself, your surroundings, and the universe.

JS: Of course, there are different “Taos” for different things, and for different people.

JG: Agreed. Just like paleo, which is isn’t a cookbook, a diet, an exercise plan, or a fad, and it isn’t the same for any two people.

JS: Nope, paleo is a path, a way, a method to bring your body and yourself into harmony with your surroundings and the universe.

JG: In other words, it’s a Tao - .Now let’s get back to talking about how you found your Tao.

JS: A good friend of mine, a fellow named David Storey, had suggested to me that I try paleo.

JG: As I recall the story, Joe, he suggested you try it eight or nine times before you finally listened to him.

JS: Jason…

JG: Stubborn dude that Joe Salama. Probably was even worse when he had ADHD.

JS: May I finish?

JG: By all means.

JS: Anyway, I decided to give it a try. I jumped into it head first not knowing that much about it until after I started. Although I had a bit of a rough start with carb and glucose withdrawal, it wasn’t long before I was feeling very different. I had lots of energy. I was sleeping soundly. By then I had made my way through Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, and was completely disgusted with grains. I couldn’t believe what I had been doing to my body by eating them. My allergies also started to abate – both my food and seasonal allergies. One day, I finished a project at work in record time, and absolutely nailed it. I thought to myself “thank goodness for my ADHD medicine” then I realized I hadn’t taken it. Major epiphany.

JG: Go Joe!!

JS: (bowing) Thank you. I started to change the way I exercised, too. No more steady state cardio - I learned that it just increased my body’s production of cortisol, a hormone that caused me to retain belly fat and actually burn muscle. In retrospect, this explained what I wasn’t getting thinner despite logging so many miles each week. Instead, I started a paleo regimen of weightlifting, leisurely walking, and interval training.

JG: You started exercising and eating like humans are meant to do. You got yourself in harmony with yourself and your universe. You found your Tao.

JS: Exactly. The results were stunning and they happened quickly. Within four months, my body became leaner and I rapidly built aesthetically pleasing muscle. My aches and pains vanished. And people noticed. My friends started to tell me I looked fifteen years younger. I was so excited about paleo I wanted to start paleoing it forward to share what I’d experienced. I started to do what David did - I began to tell people about my transformation, and I recommended that they give it a try. Now, two and a half years later, I have over 600 converts under my belt.

JG: It must be pretty crowded under there.

JS: There’s a lot more room available after all the fat loss. Let’s talk about you.

JG: This is where I come into the story. Joe mentioned to me on several occasions that I should try the paleo lifestyle, and I politely ignored him. After all, I was fit. I was healthy. I was a former college athlete. I knew what I was doing.

JS: How did that work for you?

JG: Not too well. But it took a major event to get me to finally listen to Joe and give paleo a try.

JS: It was a girl.

JG: Yep.

JS: It’s always a girl with you.

JG: (moving fingers and thumb in a talking motion) Joe, this is what you are doing. (pressing fingers together) This is what I want you to do.

JS: Ok, ok. Fine. Go ahead.

JG: Anyway, I was totally in love with Rachel. I thought I had finally met “The One.” For several months we spent every waking minute together. In my heart I just knew we were going to live happily ever after.

JS: Until she dumped you.

JG: Via email no less. At any rate, this very unpleasant experience forced me into a lot of serious self-reflection. I realized I wasn’t just unhappy, but that I wasn’t feeling very well either. All my “fitness” and all my “healthy eating” wasn’t making me very fit or healthy. I decided to make a radical change. I needed to find a new Tao.

JS: You decided to listen to me.

JG: I decided to try a 30-day course of strict paleo. It was as if my body had been waiting for years for me to figure it out. I was rewarded with almost instant results. I developed a steady reserve of calm, clear energy. My sleep improved dramatically. My stomach settled down. After the first 30 days I decided to change my workout regimen.

JS: Just like I did.

JG: Exactly. I dropped the cardio and shortened up my circuit workouts to a more reasonable twenty minutes or so. I started lifting heavy weights and added walking and sprinting to my schedule. Combined with the dietary changes, it was like alchemy. The fat melted off my waist. Instead of feeling exhausted during and after my workouts, I felt energized by them. I developed amazing flexibility and suddenly I could do headstands, handstands, cartwheels, you name it. I caught my reflection in the mirror one morning and I actually saw my abs. I almost cried.

JS: You cried over your own abs. That might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. And also the saddest.

JG: Laugh if you will, Joe. It takes a real man to cry. Over his abs.

JS: Back on topic, please. Tell the blood pressure story.

JG: Sure. About six months after starting paleo, I was walking through the supermarket and I saw one of those fancy blood pressure machines in the pharmacy section. I figured, what the heck, I’d see how my BP was doing. After all, I felt pretty good, and maybe the ol’ blood pressure had gone down a few points.

JS: You were in for a surprise.

JG: I sure was. My systolic pressure had gone down by thirty points, my diastolic by fifteen. I thought it was a mistake. I must have spent a half an hour at that machine, testing my blood pressure again and again. It was true. My blood pressure was normal. No medication. Just clean eating, good rest, and proper exercise. My doctor tested me half a dozen times at my next physical a few weeks later. He didn’t believe it was possible.

JS: But there it was.

JG: That was the icing on the cake. Or the grass-fed butter on the steak. That’s much more paleo.

JS: Anyway, that’s the story of who we are - and much more importantly, what The Tao of Paleo did for us.

JG: We just want to remind you that our stories aren’t rare in the paleo community. Not by a long shot. WE are but two of thousands who have undergone this fundamental metamorphosis of body, mind and spirit. We finally made the decision to stop fighting against millions of years of evolution and start eating, sleeping, playing, and working out like humans are meant to do. We decided to follow our Tao - to be in harmony with ourselves and our surroundings.

JS: That’s right, and it’s important to remember that you can make the same choice as we did. If you find your own Tao of Paleo, it’s a cinch that you can achieve similarly positive results.

JG: Maybe even better.

JS: Absolutely. And now that you know who we are, and what we’ve done, it’s time to start telling you what The Tao of Paleo is all about.

JG: Hold on – it’s going to be the ride of your life!

JS: Always with the drama. This is a book, not a roller coaster.

JG: Thanks, Buzz Killian.

JS: -_-



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