It's easy to look at people and make quick judgments about them, their present and their past, but you'd be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What people shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often than not, it's lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their souls.” ~Rach K., Age 31, Alberta, Canada
Eating the Carnivore way has changed my life in so many ways! And, yes, I am going to try to list them all here. Some may roll their eyes as my family members use to. Some may not believe all these things have been treated if not cured with lifestyle changes. And some of you may not believe this at all, but here it is… my story.
Childhood – Always the Big Girl
Lets start at the beginning shall we... childhood.
Growing up, I was always the big girl even though I was a very active, outgoing, and friendly kid. My size never hindered me in any way at the time. Unfortunately, this was back in the day when “low fat, moderate protein, and high carb” was the recommended diet. Like most parents, mine based our diet on that recommendation. While this may work for some people, it didn’t for me. I kept getting bigger and bigger.
Pre-Teen Years at 360 Pounds
At age 10, I was an adult size 10. At 11, I got my first period and, oh my God, it was so painful. I understand that having weird, unregulated periods is normal in the beginning but, for me, it wasn't. Though it was a sign of things to come. I basically bled for two months straight and had the most debilitating cramps I had ever experienced. Even 20 years later, I still remember them because they were traumatizing. My own mother has a memory of me crying and begging for the bleeding and pain to stop. I told her, “If this is what puberty is going to be like, you can keep it." Could the 360 pounds at the young age of 13 be the cause of extremely painful periods?
Adolescent Years – The Diet Roller-coaster
I was in my third year of dieting at the age of 13. Yup! As I got bigger, my parents made more changes to my way of eating. They wanted to be good parents and help their daughter. After all, what good parent wouldn't try something to help their daughter be healthy?
My first diet was the Weight Watchers Points System, and I would also run 10 blocks a day. Seems crazy to me now but, at the time, it made sense. Next on my diet docket was Canada’s Food Guide, then Lean Cuisine, and more fad diets. Unfortunately, my diet had become more and more carb heavy and lower fat. All the while, I’m thinking that I am doing right by myself. Neither my parents nor I understood that we were creating a very unhealthy and ultimately dangerous relationship with food. It would spark a 20 year torture-and-reward food mentality as well as binge and emotional eating. I was also beginning to dabble in drug use.
I started having thyroid problems soon after. By my fourteenth birthday, I had somehow managed to lose 140 pounds in six months while eating absolute garbage – all the processed junk my teenage stoner hands could get a hold of. When I got the munchies, I would make a whole roast chicken meal with all the fixins. Looking back, the weight loss I was experiencing probably shouldn’t have happened, but I think that it was because I pretty active that helped. Sadly, being active was always something I would fall back on. As long as I was active, I was okay.
History of Autoimmune Disorders
At the age of 14, my doctor suspected that I had thyroid disease. After all, I have a family history of it. He was right! Even so, it took another four years before I would be properly diagnosed and treated. Because I didn’t have an actual diagnosis, I suffered from continual pokes, prods, and tests for several years. Nurses, resident-practitioners, doctors, and specialists were intrigued with my condition due to the weirdness of my health issue. They were so focused on my thyroid, they didn't see other problems that were happening. I’ll get to that stuff in a minute.
Just before my eighteenth birthday, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease superimposed on a toxic multi-nodular goiter. Graves’ Disease is a multi-system autoimmune disorder that is characterized by hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. At this point, I was so tired of the doctors touching me and spending time in hospitals for hours on end. Plus, I was literally exhausted from the symptoms of my illness. I was so ready to be done with all of it. Because I had finally received a diagnoses, I could finally get treatment. Everything would be so much better, and I would be cured. Right?
It wasn’t too long before I started showing signs of a thyroid storm which is a life threatening health condition. Heart palpitations! Cold sweats! Hot flashes! Fainting spells from the heat! My body was in disarray and couldn’t handle anything anymore. Within a few weeks, I was sitting in the waiting room of one of the best teaching hospitals in Canada – a place that I thought would change my life for the better. IT DID NOT. It was the start of a journey that would nearly take my life and change the way I view the medical profession forever.
*** NOTE: To learn more about autoimmune disorders, you may want to read Autoimmune Symptoms Linked to Glutathione Deficiency and Inflammatory Conditions Healed by Keto Induced Autophagy.
Physical Crisis at the Age of 18
I remember it like yesterday. It was January 3rd of 2005. There I was at 18 years of age and making my first major decision to my treatment plan. I didn’t have any knowledge of what might happen. Nor did I know the consequences or side effects that may take place. I had nothing and nobody to help me make an INFORMED decision. And, why should I? My doctors knew more than I did. After all, they spent years learning and training about health related problems. Right? Boy, oh boy! I shake my head to this now. After this day, I learned the importance of doing my own research and being my own advocate. I will never forget so that I don’t make the almost fatal mistake I did on that one horrible day.
Due to the severity of my thyroid disease, the endocrinologist prescribed a double dose of radioactive iodine. For the next three days, I got a taste of things to come. My first thought was, “This is going to be a piece of cake!” Because I figured that the iodine was my cure all, I became cocky and left the hospital room thinking I’d just chill and go on with life as normal. WRONG! By the second day, I felt like everything in my being was sucked right out of me. I was no longer boiling hot but freezing cold. No longer did I have my on fire energy but wanted to sleep all the time. My constant, voracious hunger even turned into feelings of sickness when I thought of food. My hyper thyroid levels were supposed to decrease relatively quickly, but they didn't. It took 18 months for my levels to drop low enough before I was put on any kind of medication.
Once I got to go home, it was the start of an 18 month journey of hell. I was only 18 and should have been living an active and fun life. Instead, I couldn’t get out of bed most day. All of my energy and life left my body. I was just lying there awake, listening to life pass me by and wondering why I was like this now and if and when it would change for the better. Even though I felt I was on my deathbed, people who had no idea what I was going through told me I would be fine.
Abuse on Top of Being Deathly Ill
While I was deathly ill, I was also living in a very mentally abusive environment. My mother's partner was a very, very sick man. He had major drug addiction issues as well as being a diagnosed sociopath with severe rage problems. To him, I was possibly the worst person on the planet. He hated everything about me, including the way my face looked when I was watching TV. During a time when I was already in physical crisis, I was now in mental crisis.
This man tortured me with a constant barrage of insults, screaming in my face and yelling such horrible things. I wasn’t even allowed to touch most of the foods in the house. Though I barely had energy to shower, I was forced to get out of bed and clean the house which I did the best I could. It totally wore me down.
I couldn’t blame my mom as she was dealing with a heck of a lot more with him than I had to. Both she and I did what we had to in order to survive the day. Living in constant fear, as well as being ill, made me mentally pack up and leave. Not only did I have pretty bad mental health, but my physical health got even worse.
More Physical & Mental Diagnoses
Over the next four years, I accrued more diagnoses with medications piling up. At one point, I was taking up to 27 prescriptions a day just to feel normal. Unfortunately, I never did feel normal. Instead, it was like the thyroid treatment I previously had as it unleashed an avalanche of hell. Let me just list them as it'll save me about six paragraphs of writing and reading for you.
My Physical Diagnoses
- Graves’ Disease Superimposed on a Toxic Multinodular Goiter
- Hypothyroidism (after treatment of Graves’ Disease; still have some symptoms of Graves’)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Insulin Resistance
- Full Blown Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Morbid Obesity
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Acid Reflux
- High Cortisol Levels
My Mental Diagnoses
- Severe Chronic Depression
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Bipolar and Schizoid Tendencies
- Suicidal and Homicidal Ideation
Suicide Attempt to Veganism
At 22 years of age, I was no longer living with the mental abuse of my mom’s partner. Rather, I was living with a roommate and things were regrettably not good. Even though I was doing everything the doctors and shrinks told me to do, they just weren’t working. In a fit of despair, I made a decision to end my own suffering. Because I had a ton of prescription medications, I grabbed one of my anti-psychotic medications and downed it with a bunch of vodka. Due to my weight and passing out on my stomach, nothing happened! Luckily, I only slept for a few days which was badly needed anyway. When I woke up, I attended my therapy appointment and haven’t tried to do something so crazy again.
That day, my therapist said something that peaked my interest. He asked me about my diet which contained a lot of processed junk. He said,
“Did you ever think that by putting all this garbage into your body, you would feel like garbage?”
That’s when a light bulb went off in my head! I needed to lose weight. Vegetarianism and veganism would be the answer. After all, they are the healthiest diets, and that included low-fat and high-carb foods. Having no fixed identity of my own, I started to mimic the things I saw online and turned into quite the little PETA vegan warrior. Yes, I indoctrinated myself! I was working with a nutritionist and dietitian to help me with a balanced vegan way of eating. After 18 months of a whole food vegan diet not helping me, I felt I needed to get more serious and opted for a very strict vegan diet of 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fats, and 10 percent proteins. Oh my God! What was I thinking? Today, I wish I could go back and smack myself upside the head. I’m not knocking the vegan way of eating as I know it works for some, but it just wasn’t for me.
With the vegan diet, I hit my heaviest recorded weight of 400 pounds! Though I was eating nothing but nutrient-rich foods in the most natural state, I was malnourished and deficient in most all vitamins. Unfortunately, I was in the worst physically shape of my life.
Not only was I malnourished and unhealthily overweight, I was still having issues with my thyroid. Sadly, I still hadn't found the right medication or dose for my issues. I continued to suffer from symptoms of Graves’ Disease and hypothyroidism, as well as all the awful side effects from medications. I then read a book on thyroid disease which helped greatly as it discussed an old medication that isn’t currently prescribed much. Though my new doctor was helping me unload from the numerous medications I was on, she did prescribe my request for this old-new medication. After just three weeks, my thyroid levels were in the normal range and I was feeling pretty good and better than I had in a long time.
Veganism to Low-Carb High-Fat
Though I had some improvement after beginning my new thyroid medication, I wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I was lost again. I even went back to eating a standard western diet. At this point, I was still 400 pounds and desperate to lose weight and even desired to have gastric bypass surgery. My doctor said he would refer me to a gastric surgeon if I didn’t lose weight and regain health within six months of trying his recommendation of a low-carb, high-fat eating plan.
So, I gave him six weeks – not six months! I followed his eating plan to the T, and I lost 40 pounds within that time frame! Except for the sugar cravings, how could this be so easy? My doctor explained that while some people do well with whole food, high-carb diets like veganism, others do not. He told me that carbs and sugars actually cause serious health issues in some people. That included me!
Though it took several years to learn that low carb is better for me personally, I finally learned that it was the best choice for me. I lost 140 pounds over the next year. However, I still had some health issues. I was having a lot of bloating and stomach issues. Also, my gallbladder basically died so that it had to be removed. I was even taking a pretty strong diuretic for the water weight I just couldn’t shift. However, I was physically happy. After 10+ years, I went back to my doctor who was very proud of me.
After years of isolation, I started to attract people back into my life. Be that it may, I still had a sick mentality. Regrettably, I was hanging around people that were not the healthiest and got myself into an even worse head space. Again, I went back to the standard western diet and gained back 60 pounds!
With the low-carb, high-fat diet, I had gone from 400 pounds to 260 pounds. My thyroid was normal, PCOS was in remission, and insulin-resistance was non-existent. Yet, I gave it all up for eating horrible food, drinking alcohol, and doing cocaine. I gave it all up for three years of partying because I was self-medicating and hiding from my past traumas that I didn’t want to deal with.
Right before I found the Carnivore diet, I had my labs checked. Though my cholesterol levels were no longer as high as they had been previously. However, they were still high with a ratio of 6.6. My blood pressure had also improved and was 140/90. My thyroid levels were normal, but I was taking a high dose of medication to control it. PCOS was crazily out of control. I had gained 57.8 pounds, weighting in at 317.8 pounds, but I was bloating upwards of 30 pounds in a day which had my doctor stumped. And, I had given myself gout with a urate level of 650 thanks to drinking, drugs, and diuretic use for years (normal is 50 to 400). This was not good.
Carnivore-Keto as My Final Journey
The kicker! My mother was having some pretty serious health problems, and our mutual doctor put her on the Keto diet. I had always thought that Keto was too strict and that I could never do it. But, my mother asked me to help her, so we ended up doing it together in April 2018.
Grievously, I was still drinking and doing drugs when I started dirty Keto. Though I did lose about 32.8 pounds after starting this way of eating, it had stopped. I was also feeling sick while my mom was feeling so much better. I admit that I was a bit jealous of her, so I started searching online for anything about Keto that I could find to help me. After reviewing related YouTube videos and studies, I stumbled onto the Carnivore diet with Dr. Jordan Peterson. I got so intrigued!
With mostly anecdotal evidence of the Carnivore way of eating, I still wanted to try it. I even searched for Carnivore support on Facebook and found a wonderful group of people that allowed me to join them. They have pointed me in the direction of more knowledge than I know what to do with. Additionally, they have given me the support and love I needed to get myself better. The day I joined, I made the choice to quit drinking and doing drugs and really give myself a chance. That was October 23rd, 2018 which is the day my life changed.
For three weeks, I did strict Carnivore with only beef, salt, and water. Let me tell you something! I had never felt better or worse at the same time as I did during those few weeks. Alcohol and drug detox and, even the keto flu was all worth it! All I can say is “Wow!” But, the proof was in the pudding!
As of January 29th, 2019, I feel so much better in every way. Following are some of the health benefits that I received after starting Carnivore.
- Cholesterol ratio is 3.36.
- Blood pressure is 123/78.
- Thyroid symptoms are gone, and my doctor has lowered my medication dosage.
- PCOS is in remission, and I’m cycling and ovulating normally for the first time ever. I also don’t have any pain or irregular cycles of bleeding.
- Cortisol levels are normal.
- Stomach bloat as well as leg swelling went away within the first three days. I no longer have to take a water pill!
- Weight has gone from 285 pounds when I joined on October 23rd, 2018, to 216.6 as of today, January 29th, 2019 – a total of nearly 70 pounds!
- Gout is going away, and my urate level is now 392.
- Acid reflux is gone. I no longer take a prescription medication for that.
- Insomnia is gone after dealing with it my whole life.
- IBS is gone. I am the most regular person I know.
- Insulin resistance is non-existent.
- Type 2 diabetes is gone.
- Mental peace (I still have things to work on, but I’m never going back.)
The peace I have found with this way of eating is unsurpassed. After three weeks of strict Carnivore, I started adding some foods back in and have found I don't do well on most plant-based foods. So as of now, my eating consists of 95 percent animal and animal products. I do throw in very few plant foods which are mostly for flavor. I also have coffee, tea, 95% dark chocolate, green onion, garlic, blueberries, strawberries, olives, and olive oil on occasion. That's it. I am not deficient in any vitamins or minerals, and I have never felt better. Thanks to this way of eating and the mental clarity I now have, my goals are more attainable and my life ahead is less daunting because I know I am going to go through the rest of it way more healthy.
I urge anyone with questions about the Carnivore or Keto diet to look into the data and give it a try with doctor supervision. Keep an open mind. If you’ve tried different ways of eating (vegetarian, vegan, or paleo) and they just didn’t work for you, you may want to try the Carnivore way of eating. You just never know what will for you. Do the research, and take control of your body and life. This is my story and what worked for me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a steak to cook!
If you've been on the Carnivore Diet and are interested in sharing your transformation story, whether it be weight loss or health, please message Dr. Abby Campbell. Also, be sure to follow our channel, as well as like, share, and comment. You may also download our interactive and useful app to stay in tune with the Carnivore Wellness channel.