I have a large family. I have always been very influential in my family, especially with my brothers and sisters.
I am also the most fit and perceived as the most "healthy" (it's very difficult for me to say that at the moment) amongst my brothers and sisters. Word is spreading even beyond my brothers and sisters about my success with eating healthy foods and getting ripped.
So what happens when you have a lot of siblings that see your physical appearance and are encouraged enough by it that they want to duplicate it? Well.. naturally, they come a'knockin for advice.
I have 2 full blood brothers and 2 full blood sisters (same mother and father). They ALL have made serious 'corrections' to their diet based on my recommendations. As I've eluded to in other posts, one younger brother is a large guy. He's 6 foot 2 inches and was 260 pounds. In June, he sought my advice and I put him on low carb Paleo. He's in Seattle. He's doing great. Lost 30 pounds since June and still losing weight like a bandit.
My sister, in Virginia, is 5 foot 4 inches and 210 pounds. She wants to be about 160 or better. All week we've been exchanging emails and I am recommending low carb Paleo. She wants to go all in.
This "question" would seem pointless at this point.. like a story... like.. "ok great Jack.. thanks for letting us know, but can you make this into a question, because I don't see a problem here."
Everything seems fine right? How can you go wrong with low carb Paleo?
Given my results that I shared this morning, I need to be careful not to lead my family down the wrong path. I think losing the weight is first and foremost important, and if they were unrelated "friends", I wouldn't be reluctant at all. I believe in this stuff. I STILL believe that the foods I eat and the foods I am recommending to them are good and healthy, but these are my bros and sisters, so I bet they'd have at least similar if not very similar reactions that I've had. What if we all have genetic familial hypercholesterolemia?
If I told them about my concerns, what if that inhibits their confidence and ruins their motivation to lose the weight? Each day brings new questions from them. Each day I answer based on what I've learned and they believe that I know what I'm talking about. I have given them multple articles from Harris, Kresser, CMast etc so they know where I am getting my info, but they are not up on the intricacies of individualism yet like I am. They are looking at things as many 'new' people look at them... like "here is what humans need to eat", which is the way most of the information out there is presented.
Can you imagine how vexed I am about this? At this time, none of them know about my labs, because I don't want to scare them into thinking that I'm a whack job and giving them terrible advice, but maybe I am!
What should I do? If you were me, what would YOU do?
10/12/2011 - UPDATE including Thyroid issue information! - My brother has now lost 40 pounds!! My sister began following a LC Paleo protocol Oct 1 and has already lost 7 pounds.
She sent me this email this morning. If anyone has any great ideas for her please post an answer.
Alright, so the Endocrinologist called it Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. It's an autoimmune disease, which means my body is producing antibodies that are killing the hormones my thyroid is putting out. He spelled it out like this:
There's the T3, T4, and TSH. When everything is normal, all 3 of these are in a normal range. When the T3 and T4 don't produce enough hormones, the TSH kicks into overdrive to make up for it. That's why my labs showed lower than average results for T3 and T4, but higher than average results for TSH.
He gave me the same prescription that the primary care doc chose: 50mg Levothyroxin (daily).
The meds will never fix the problem. They'll act like insulin does for diabetics. For the rest of my life, these meds will supplement what my body isn't making. And as the problem worsens, the meds will increase. It's possible that eventually I'll have to get my thyroid removed, in which case I would then rely solely on meds.
On the upside, he said this isn't a life-threatening condition, and that the symptoms are more annoying than anything else. Some of them may be helped with the meds, and some may not. But apparently, this is often the cause of symptoms like fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, dry skin, forgetfulness, and depression. Aside from depression, I have all of those, so I'm hoping the meds help at least one or two of them.
He sounded like he knew what he was talking about. He was actually really impressed with my food log (he was impressed with my cycle and ovulation log too!) and told me to keep it up. He said this is one of many prescriptions I could try, and that we can change it later with no problems. Since there was a difference between my labs in July and my labs in August, we did some more today to check the progression. He made me feel better about the meds, and since we can change them with no problem, I started taking them this morning. I have more labs in December and a follow up appt in January to see if the meds are working and at the level prescribed.
DEC 16,2011 - UPDATE - So my sister tested for TSH at 5.59 in June, then 9.29 in Oct, and has been on 50mg Levothyroxin (daily) since Oct now. She just got her thyroid tested again and her TSH came back at 14.19!! Yes, that's fourteen point one nine. Her Endo is gonna "adjust the meds". I told her to not be passive with this and to diligently work toward a solution. She said her thyroid looked completely "jacked" on the monitor.
By the way... my brother has now lost 60 pounds since June. He is at 190, and feeling excellent!
DEC 20,2011 - UPDATE: Doc upped her Lev prescription from 50mg to 75mg. Whew. That was a close one. Now I can surely sleep better at night. [face palm]
If your sister gave you the same news, what would you tell her?
First, I would ask the question: do the pros of leading your siblings down the road you have gone (i.e. getting in shape and "ripped" with the resulting other effects) outweigh the cons (i.e. remaining overweight)? Put another way, is presuming the "worst" (i.e. genetic familial hypercholesterolemia) better than the possible improvement?
I don't think I would get into the weeds with those new to the diet with blood tests and hypercholerolmia). Introduce the concept of lowering carbohydrates, eating "clean," non-processed foods and getting some exercise. Then, after some progress has been made (like with your brother), you might suggest getting regular blood tests just to make sure all is going well.
Your sister needs to get off of all wheat permanently. I can't really conceive of circumstances under which Hashimoto's arises in the absence of gluten/WGA. The tricky thing for her is that taking iodine will actually exacerbate it, though selenium supplementation may be OK (not totally sure) to upregulate the conversion of T4 to T3.
On the subject of thyroids, did you ever measure your oral temperature upon waking?
She shouldn't be taking straight t4, she needs a combination of t3 and t4. People who are hypothyroid can not convert t4 effectively and it can actually make you more hypothyroid(which seems to be happening to your sister). Check out this article by Peat http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/thyroid.shtml
I don't know how great a low carb diet would be for hypothyroid person either as if she goes to low carb it can down regulate T3, something like PHD would probably be cool. A peat style diet would be best in my personal opinion from what I've seen with my mom who suffers from a autoimmune disease.
I have been wondering about this too, is it possible to get genes tested? I have these strange lipid results and i am also worried it might be FH. Should i go low fat, fish, high tuber, kitavan style diet? I was essentially on this kind of diet before higher fat paleo, and my lipids and all measures were perfect. Or if one has FH would it be possible to see it from the old blood tests?
Jack, why don't you take a complete dietary 180 and consume a high "safe starch" diet? I was never able to get tested when I was on a super high fat diet but I did have a lot of weird symptoms, such as a small gulping feel in my heart, and some chest pressure here and there. Now most of my calories come from safe starches supplemented with veggies and lean meats. I get most of my fat from coconut milk, and always drink it in between meals, separately from my other meals (I don't know if this matters). Either way, most of my annoying symptoms disappeared. I just wish I could have been tested to know what was going on in the inside.
What if you all have genetic cholesterolemia ? THey need to do tests before starting the diet, then follow it 6 months, then do the tests again. NO guessing. Use numbers. Numbers don't lie. Simple.
Plus, cholesterol is not risk factor for woman.
Also, you need to tell them that they need to do it on their own, you are there to put some directions.
Yeah, I struggle with the same issues. My little brother's a textbook case of ADHD, but I'm still pretty torn about medicating it.
It's easy to write off medication from a paleo perspective, merely from an idealogical viewpoint. It's important to remember the legitimate viability of medication in the modern day, however.
(My advice would be to) Give the medicine time. If the increased dosage seems to be correlated with these adverse symptoms, obviously: take her off the meds.
Mind you, I have no medical training whatsoever. My advice is to follow the apparent correlations between the two.
It might not hurt to voice her concerns with the doctor.
Sounds like your advice has been a god-send for your siblings! Thanks for serving as a great example for both your family and the community here!
Compared to family dynamics, nutrition is easy.
Take all the warring nutrition paradigms, as intense as they are, and come to terms with the fact that they are way less complex than the politics of family.
Would you agree that most of the challenging issues related to your family, predated any serious consciousness on your part regarding nutrition?
My point: It is possible to love your family without feeling the need to save them from their lifestyle choices as adults.
More than possible. It's crucial.
Holidays are a fantastic time to get this straight.
Take a deep breath....
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