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I have been low carb since January 2016. I started with the Ketogenic Diet, and have been on the Contemporary Carnivore Diet (ebook) since October 2017. I love this way of eating but there are only so many times I can blog about how great I feel. So I decided to get other people to tell you how great they feel instead! This post is just about as inspiring as it gets. She has had so many problems, but she didn’t let them stop her. She had the belief that there were ways to help and reverse her conditions. Meat heals!
Interview with Nevada
1) Introduce Yourself.
My name is Nevada and I am 41 years old. I am a Pharmacist and Registered Nurse, currently living between my 2 favorite places Chicago and Rhode Island. My health transformation began after I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in my early 20’s. To correct this diagnosis, I followed the standard American diet and slaved away on a treadmill at the YMCA, only to ride the roller coaster of weight gain/loss and feeling overall lousy for close to a decade. In my 30’s after being told recent blood work was pointing towards a diagnosis of diabetes, I took drastic measures and started a low carb paleo diet and hired a personal trainer. I lost 50 pounds going from a little over 200 lbs to 150 lbs. Even though I was successful, I was constantly starving and low on energy. Around this time at 36 years old, I unfortunately caught a bad case of mononucleosis, that was not properly diagnosed, nor was I notified I had it until I discovered it in my own medical record. Long story short, I felt so ill I visited an Emergency Department, where a spinal tap was performed in my lumbar spine. I developed a cerebrospinal (CSF) fluid leak and received a blood patch. This precipitated 2 years of back pain and unrelenting headaches. To say I was in a medical nightmare is an understatement. A month prior to waking up essentially paralyzed from the waist down, I started to develop sensory issues in my legs and saddle area and sensations of weakness. While at work on a Monday in January 2016, I developed severe sciatica and was in the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Not realizing something was drastically wrong I went home and went to bed. Upon waking the next morning, I fell getting out of bed and realized my legs were not working properly and I was paralyzed. In addition to this, I had saddle anesthesia and loss of bladder control. Instead of calling 911, I called a friend to take me to an Emergency Department in another hospital network, where I received a prompt MRI and diagnosis of acute Cauda Equina Syndrome due to a massive central disc herniation at L5-S1 that was crushing the horsetail of my spinal cord. Within about 2 hours of my MRI and around 36 hours after severe symptoms started, I was transported to a state of art hospital that had a Spine Center where I had emergency neurosurgery. This is where my health journey and transformation started. My life was changed forever.
2) How did you eat before Carnivore.
After my surgery 4 critical things happened that gave me hope and started me on the road to recovery and empowering myself outside of the medical system. The first was hearing Shawn Stevenson on a podcast talking about how he cured himself from degenerative disc and spine disease with nutrition, sleep and fitness. Immediately I learned everything I could, starting with resources Shawn used. This brought me to the work of Dr Stuart McGill, where I had a blueprint to fix my back. The second thing that happened was I discovered Vanessa Spina, whose Ketogenic Girl program and coaching taught me how to properly do a ketogenic diet. In my research, I discovered some studies that damaged nerves have altered glucose metabolism, thus why I started keto. The third thing that happened was I found a Physical Therapist who agreed to work with me after I was discharged from home services. At our first meeting she said to me “you can move” These 3 words infused so much hope inside of me and motivated me throughout the 2 years we were together, correcting muscle imbalances, my gait, and complications that arose during this process. The fourth thing was discovering Bruce Lipton and Joe Dispenza and realizing I could use the power of my mind during my recovery, such as visualization and mirroring techniques with my foot.
3) Why did you try Carnivore to begin with.
After being on a ketogenic diet for a better part of 2 years, I noticed I was naturally eating meat and going long periods without eating a vegetable. I noticed I felt better and being the avid podcast listener I am, I heard Dr Shawn Baker on Joe Rogan talking about how all he eats is steak. At first I thought this dude is nuts. As I listened, and began to think about how I was eating anyway I thought there might be something to this, so I began researching and reading N=1 stories about the carnivore diet on meatheals.com and on Shawn’s Instagram and podcast. He accepted me in his facebook group World Carnivore tribe and I was able to learn more about it and find some really good resources to start, such as Dr Georgia Ede. At this point in my recovery I had regained a lot of motor and sensory function, but still had some deficits, such as sensory and motor issues in my right foot after having foot drop. I was hoping this would improve on a carnivorous diet. So after educating myself I made the leap.
4) How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet.
When I first started, I failed and went back to keto. The mistake I made was I was not eating enough. After learning what I was doing wrong and through trial and error, I started again, this time with success. My personal approach to the carnivore diet is to keep it simple. I don’t track macros or my ketones anymore. My meals mostly consist of steak and eggs, although I also eat ground beef, bison, lamb, bacon and salmon. I try to eat good quality meat such as grass fed, wild and pasture raised. To prepare and get the fats I need, I cook my meat in butter, ghee, and animal fats such as lard, tallow, duck fat, and bacon grease. I stopped using oils. In addition to this I drink bone broth, a gallon of water/day, and indulge in a butter coffee (still a vice) if I need the energy boost. Imported cheese is an occasional treat as well. I have been a carnivore for a majority of 2018.
5) What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet.
The benefits I have seen have been nothing short of miraculous! My PCOS disappeared, with my last ultrasound not showing any cysts, no diabetes, my eczema disappeared which I didn’t even think about because I have had it for so long. The best improvement has been in the nerve damage from cauda equina syndrome. I was able to regain more motor and sensory from the waist down and minus not being to feel 2 toes in my right foot, I am considered fully recovered. Besides the health benefits, I had fat loss and a complete change in body composition, losing 16 pounds additional this year. My focus now is achieving my bodybuilding goals.
6) What negatives have you found with the Carnivore Diet.
The health benefits for me outweigh the only negative I have which is the mad brussel sprout cravings I get. I also miss my occasional glass of red wine which I have discovered I have almost zero tolerance for alcohol now. Brussels and cabbage are the only vegetables I loved. Being pain free and feeling great is motivation to not cheat.
7) Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do.
Absolutely! I walk everyday which keeps my back flexible/pain free and treat myself to a 5k run once a week. I also like to lift weights and train functionally, building upon McGill’s work and Arnold’s bodybuilding book. My role model is Erin Stern. I mostly train at home because it is easy and I never miss a workout, however have a gym membership as well. I find eating steak and eggs has given me more strength and improved endurance.
8) What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet, but hasn’t taken the leap yet.
Do your research with quality resources, empower yourself, keep it simple and just start! You have to believe in yourself.
9) Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet.
That would be amazing, but probably not in my lifetime. Healthcare is big business and it will take a long time to change the standard of care and provide the patient education needed to create a new standard. I am grateful for all of trailblazers in the keto and carnivore space working toward this because without them I don’t believe I would have personally recovered as well as I did. Just to educate myself over the past 3 years I have read over 500 books and papers. That is a lot of catching up for someone like me who works in the healthcare system, trained in the standard of care. I am grateful for the N=1 because at least this way people see they have options and can take control of their health. Unfortunately in most cases that has been done outside of the system. Seeing more prescribers helping patients with a ketogenic and carnivore diet is encouraging, but I think we still have a long way to go. I hope sharing my story and knowledge contributes to the growing movement for a new standard.
10) Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow your journey.
I can be found on Instagram @thepaleopharmacist. I hope to start a health blog and write a book in the near future. Currently I work independently with people coaching them and providing resources in fitness and nutrition. I earned a Personal Trainer Certificate during my recovery and believe fitness/nutrition can work for everyone despite your circumstances. I like the challenge of coming up with solutions and plans that people can easily implement and customize to their lifestyle to be successful.
I hoped you enjoyed this interview post. If you haven’t already, check out Nevada on Instagram.
You can shout out and be proud of the Carnivore Lifestyle, by checking out the below T-Shirt and others on Etsy.