It’s no secret, I am a carnivore. In fact, if I go without meat for a day, I get cranky and I start raiding the fridge for protein, not to mention regarding my pets as a cougar might regard a delicious rabbit (kidding, mostly).
This commercial pretty much sums up my feelings about meat:
It actually earned me the nickname “Hubert” for a period of time.
But I digress.
Recently I was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. This didn’t come as a great surprise, considering how bad my snoring is (sorry to all of the people who have to share a cabin with me at LARP, and especially to Mike, who calls me Snorlax sometimes…) What WAS a great surprise is the fact that the doctor I saw basically looked over my sleep study results, said “Get a CPAP machine” and then left.
I should mention that my usual doctor, whom I love, and who is extremely thorough, is on an extended leave of absence (I have no idea why, or when he will come back) and this was my first encounter with this new doctor. Needless to say, I left feeling upset.
Mike and I have joked a lot about my having to get a “Darth Vader Machine” as we call it, but in reality, it’s totally impractical for someone like me who spends so much time away from the house (and away from electricity for that matter). CPAP is not designed to CURE the apnea, it is something you are expected to use for the rest of your existance. Apnea is a life-sentence.
You’re just going to give me a “treatment” instead of solving the root issue?
So I did what I usually do when presented with information that I didn’t really like or agree with. I started researching. What I found is that in cases of mild apnea, 82% of patients found their symptoms decrease or disappear with weight loss. It didn’t even have to be tremendous weight loss.
I’m going to interject again. My regular doctor has been after me to lose weight for a couple of years. I know I need to shed some pounds. Right now I am still healthy (meaning my blood pressure, heart, blood sugar, etc. are all good) enough that I don’t have to worry about accommodating medical conditions while I try to get fit. I do suffer from chronic Achilles tendinitis, which is hard to deal with when it comes to an active lifestyle (although clearly not active enough). However, I am aware that getting down to a reasonable weight would help that, not to mention my bad knees (old athletic injuries from high school) and whatever else is ailing me. I am fat, I get that, it’s no surprise to me that weight loss would help apnea.
I can sherpa a 60lb backpack up a mountain with the best of them, so it’s not really the exercise part that is difficult for me (in fact people are often surprised at how strong I really am). I have a hard time with the food part.
I love eating, and I love junk food, and I love chocolate. I have horrific eating habits (at least according to the whole “3-meals-a-day-and-don’t-miss-breakfast” standards). Sometimes I don’t eat until the afternoon. I drink coffee. I eat late at night. If I try to count calories or restrict parts of my diet (especially the MEAT part) then I get irritated and feel ravenous all the time. I can drop 5 or 10 pounds here or there, but my weight has been about the same since my second child was born.
Conventional weight loss techniques haven’t worked, so what to do about this weight issue and this apnea thing?
Recently I’ve seen Paleo-style eating mention on a number of backpacking blogs, and although at first I dismissed it as just another “fad” it’s not really like backpackers to get all hung up on any mainstream fads. Nor diets. No, backpackers are not infallible, they are regular people, but in my experience they do have a slightly different way of looking at the world. Not everyone thinks that “getting away from it all” should literally mean “getting away from IT ALL” so they are something of a different breed.
If backpackers think it’s good, well maybe I should take a second look (backpackers are also very interested in nutrition and performance on the trail, with less concern on being “thin” or “attractive”).
So I picked up a digital copy of The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and read it over the course of a couple of days.
I am not going to delve too much into the contents of the book, but what it boiled down to, for me, is that it made sense.
Never one to accept a singular opinion, I also went around and read a lot of independant reviews of the book and of the diet plan in general, and for the most part, the science behind it is pretty sound. For me, it’s far easier to follow (at least in theory) and way less complicated that previous plans that I have tried. There aren’t a lot of “rules” to remember, no song and dance about when to eat, how much water to drink (I already drink tons) and there is no hokey nonsense that seems designed purely to make your life difficult.
So I am going to give it a try, and see how I feel, how I look, how my snoring changes, how my performance changes, and probably I will post about it here somewhat. Don’t fret! This will not become a “Diet Blog” or a place for me to obsess about my thighs or talk down to anyone about how much better primal eating is than anything else. I may share some recipes (mainly centered around backpacking food, which is still something I am not sure how to accomodate, but I have all winter to figure it out) and some struggles, but this site will always remain focused on enjoying the outdoors!