Interview with Patrick and Marrisa
1) Introduce Yourself
We’re Patrick and Marissa. We’ve been married for 12 years and have 3 kids. We currently live in Northeast Ohio and dream about moving somewhere that’s more consistently sunny and warmer with the sounds of the ocean nearby….
2) How did you eat before Carnivore.
We’ve been together since college so we started our lives together with the traditional college way of eating (pizza, Applebee’s half price appetizers, and other processed/packaged foods). We’ve always been open to experimenting in the kitchen so we thought that, after college, we were eating fairly healthy with traditionally balanced plates (roughly “appropriate” protein portion with a grain and vegetables was pretty common), but we weren’t against eating out occasionally. We continued eating this way for years and thought that we were doing pretty well considering we were in pretty good shape still.
After our 3rd child was born Marissa had some inexplicable health issues that wouldn’t abate including terrible itchy rashes and bruising resulting from scratching them all the time. We discovered that there was a version of celiac disease that manifested in the skin rather than internally. It’s called dermatitis herpetiformis. DH is exacerbated by soy. We began to critically consider what we ate and what was in it as we needed to avoid all forms of soy (proteins, oils, lecithin) and gluten to keep it from causing the lesions, rashes, and pain across her skin. This began our journey to a better way of eating.
3) Why did you try Carnivore to begin with.
We had separate reasons.
I (Patrick) had successfully lost most of the “sympathy” weight from 3 pregnancies, but the downward pull of middle age in America was evident. I was carrying more weight in my mid-section than I preferred. My recovery time between workouts was longer than ever. I could tell something wasn’t right and I began to read and research probable causes. I began tinkering with biohacking after reading Tim Ferris’ book “The 4 Hour Body” and listening to Dave Asbury’s podcasts and reading one of his books. I began personally experimenting through supplementation and seeing some success with it. This opened my mind to the possibility that something we were doing or not doing was a cause or contributing factor to the middle age decline. I greatly improved through supplementation, but it was expensive and far more difficult than I preferred. I started looking for a more efficient, less expensive way of increasing nutrient density and eating “optimally.”
Marissa was convinced out of desperation for a result. After finding out about the allergies and medical conditions, she focused on eating “clean” but started to hate mealtimes as nothing tasted good (for example, a go to lunch would be roasted broccoli, carrots, or such topped with olive oil and some lean protein like chicken or fish). To top it off, this “clean” eating from mainstream conventions of understanding was leading to weight gain, sluggish mental abilities, and insomnia. Mind you, during this time period she trained for 5k races as well as kept three kids active daily. Marissa agreed to try carnivore for a month to see if we could eat that way and somewhat out of desperation (since trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insanity).
4) How do you personally approach the Carnivore Diet.
When we first started we had to go through the growing pains of finding the right amount of salt, hydration, and fat so that we felt good. We eat about 95-98% carnivore (which we consider eggs, meat, cream, and cheese). We don’t shy away from seasonings so we can still experience flavor variety, but we typically only want salt on steaks. One thing we began to reincorporate this past summer (after about 4 months of strict carnivore) is small servings of high quality gelato on days where Marissa goes running. While this isn’t strictly carnivore, this small treat keeps us from wanting to have a cheat meal and hasn’t negatively impacted either of us. Now after 10 straight months we are probably at 93-97% carnivore in a week – our “cheats” would be the gelato, alcohol, dressings, or sauces on some dishes. Mind you, even these cheats are clean of soy and gluten, which means they tend to be extremely low on sugar as they pull from fat for flavor.
5) What benefits have you seen since starting the Carnivore Diet.
I (Patrick) have seen pretty impressive results. I lost my middle-aged belly entirely, increased my strength in the gym, recover from heavy weight work faster, sleep better, and have felt a rejuvenation that makes me feel like a teenager again.
Marissa could fill paragraphs with the benefits. Mostly after having three kids, and finding out she has battled DH (most likely) her entire life, she finally feels healthy. The insomnia is gone, the weight has steadily fallen off (more than 20% of her starting body weight, which is just over 30 pounds), the “mom-brain” phenomenon has just about disappeared, and dreaded monthly issues surrounding endometriosis have all but vanished. She now is training for a half-marathon while focusing on time, not just distance. A surprising change is her skin tone is slightly darker – what used to be on the white side of porcelain is now a pale Mediterranean shade, which we think can be directly attributed to the improved nutrient profile and awareness of how her body responds to soy and gluten.
One underappreciated benefit is how good we’ve gotten at cooking meat in different ways – grilled, pan fried, roasted, smoked, etc. There are so many ways to introduce flavor and texture.
6) What negatives have you found with the Carnivore Diet.
We were criticized at first by family and friends. Some were generally curious, and some even tried it after seeing our results, but what other people think doesn’t matter that much to us. The biggest hurdle we’ve found was that it can be difficult and expensive to eat out (triple meat at Chipotle is just barely enough for Patrick since we’re not loading up on rice and beans). We see this hurdle as inconvenient at most. We’re more conscious of what we’re eating and how it makes us feel so we don’t want to eat out.
Marissa’s biggest negative is the loss of appeal that some socialization events now have because of their tie to food. For example, going to the movie theater does not hold the same appeal as snacking on candy or popcorn sounds disgusting, so why even spend all that money to sit in a chair that a ton of other people have sat in?
7) Do you exercise on the Carnivore Diet, if so how do you find it and what do you do.
Marissa is a long distance runner when the weather is agreeable in Ohio. She achieved a huge running milestone for her by competing in a 10 mile race over this past summer and placing in her age group (as the oldest in it). Running on carnivore isn’t super common, but she’s found it to be agreeable with her as her performance has only improved on it.
Patrick prefers to workout in the weightroom. He primarily works on olympic lifts, but also incorporates accessory lifts to maintain an overall athletic approach and purpose. Patrick has seen solid strength gains since starting, which is partially attributable to intentionally designing a lifting regimen, but also due to quicker recovery so the next workout can be at a higher intensity.
We also have a century home with a fairly large yard that keeps us pretty busy in addition to our workouts. Not to mention coaching our kids sports and keeping them physically active is a workout on it’s own most days.
8) What piece of advice would you give someone who is interested in trying this diet, but hasn’t taken the leap yet.
Don’t be afraid of salt. I think every carnivore “veteran” will say something similar, but we all find out in the first few weeks that we aren’t getting enough salt. Leg cramps, lethargy, headaches, even nausea when eating carnivore can be caused by not getting enough salt. You’ll also need to forget the old way of thinking about portions. After a hard workout in the morning, it isn’t uncommon for me (Patrick) to eat a 16-18 oz. steak at dinner and want more when finished (and that’s after eating lunch too). And water … drink lots and lots of water. Oh… which means you probably want to be more aware of where the restrooms are…
Also, we suggest to avoid trying to “convert” people to this idea of eating simply because. Of course we see the benefits, and we would love for all of our friends and family to enjoy them too. However, we know if someone had told us to try this three years before we started, we would have laughed. Just keep eating in a way that allows your body to be the best it can be, and others will ask. Let them come around to it.
9) Do you think Carnivore will ever be accepted as a mainstream diet.
Possibly given the nature of our generation and those younger to question what we’ve been told is true. As the internet has grown to be such a significant part of our lives as a culture the information is out there about how beneficial it has been. This is true of other diets as well, but Carnivore isn’t really a “diet” as much as a way of eating.
As more people find it and profess their own experiences more people will be exposed to it. How mainstream it gets will really fall to those of us that have seen a net positive from it and how willingly we will share that with others. If we continue to thrive eating Carnivore then others will eventually ask how they can thrive like us. I can foresee the community growing as we share the why, how, and to what end parts of our experiences.
10) Anything you would like to add, and where can people follow you.
Marissa is the social media person in our family, however she avoids most of her health journeys online. But if you’re ever interested, you can find her as Marissa Writes on most social media platforms (instagram, Twitter) where she shares all things books and literature. (Instagram: marissa_writes website: www.marissawrites.com )
You can follow our carnivore journey on Instagram at neocarnivorecouple.
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