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The Fattest People in Paleo

I’m from the internet. I know things. I know how paleo is perceived out there by the non-believers. I hear “The Paleo Diet is only for super athletes.” Why wouldn’t people think that when one of our heroes is Mark Sisson? I also know the insidious fat hatred that lies in the dark underbelly of the paleo movement. We all know that many vegans like to find all the fat people who eat meat and make fun of them, but I’ve heard our own paleo people commit the same kind of character assassinations on their own allies. Frankly, I’m tired of it and I won’t engage or acknowledge it anymore.

Stacy and I changed our lives by changing our diet. We started a website to share the fact that this is possible to do for anyone. If a pair of slobs like us can crawl our way back to health this way, then anyone can. Once the kids came on board and changed their lives, too, we were convinced that there were many people out there that needed to have this information.

We’ve spent a lot of time and energy on this, not because it pays well (it doesn’t; Stacy will never be able to quit her job or even take time off because of what we do), not because it boosts our ego (I can hardly handle social situations so it’s actually a hardship for me), but because we’ve started to see the impact it’s having.

People email us (daily) about how much benefit they’ve seen, how we inspired them, and how grateful they are for us being there. People have improved life threatening health problems by going on this journey with us. The children are the most impressive though. People get their kids to eat vegetables for the first time after seeing them in Eat Like a Dinosaur; we’re told that their kids are excited about a healthy dinner for the first time ever. To everyone that lets us know what we mean to them, thank you. It is only because of you that we have the strength to carry on in the face of the criticism we are sometimes faced with.

Criticism? you ask. Why, yes – and it’s not just us. I read people responding to the much talked about Ancestralize Me post about leanness in women with comments such as “This just sounds like a fat chick trying to justify her fat ass.” That’s not helping anyone. Once Durian Rider pointed and laughed at us saying, “This chick has more fat and muscle than the guy lol!” And just the other day this troll emailed us to say:

Stacy looks a mess to me, despite her weight loss, and eating meat x3 meals a day is NEVER going to make you healthy. full stop. Even the idea of it makes me feel ill.
when I found your website I thought it was good to start with then I realised it was all about selling some book and making money. Shame really. I really don’t want to hear one more word about ELaD, especially when it’s followed by a post written by Stacy saying how shit her health is. How is Paleo so great if your health is still bad???????????

Believe it or not, Stacy responded kindly to this person who then e-mailed again with more insults. Wow! I’m super stoked to have our very own hater! Does this mean we made it? It must be all those nonexistent piles of money from working tirelessly on a non-monetized website devoted to helping people get healthier that means that we made it. Or maybe it’s the adrenal fatigue my wife has from staying up late so many nights putting together a book and website. They must be after us to ensure we don’t fulfill our evil ulterior motives… trying to help families eat and live healthy, happy lives.

But the real question here is, how are you going to tell somebody who’s lost 135 pounds that they are a mess? To begin with, Stacy is perfectly aware that she is not yet where she wants to be health-wise (yet). More importantly, how can you say something so awful to someone invested in figuring out her own path to health? Clearly, Stacy is a person who has been working on getting healthy. Why would anyone want to discourage that?

Look, we’re the fattest people in paleo still.

Stacy, as she’s noted, hasn’t lost weight in six months and is still around 200 pounds. I stepped on the scale today and I’m 175 lbs. I could be leaner, if that was a goal. It’s not the goal for us though. What’s important for us is the tremendous improvements we’ve all seen in our health – and our kids’ health – over the past two years. We are by no means perfect specimens, but we believe that we’ve discovered the secret to our own good health and want to share it with as many people as we can.

We do this by being as honest as possible and revealing as much of ourselves as we can. This is not easy for us to do, but we feel it’s the most powerful tool we have. After being morbidly obese for an entire lifetime, will Stacy have lingering health issues, extra skin and stubborn fat? Yes. Do we look forward to having thousands of people think and talk about us behind our backs – or attack our inbox or Facebook wall? No.

Frankly, I have a hard time standing it. I’m an anxiety-ridden freak. I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t think I’ve made it clear enough how serious I am about social anxiety. Ever since we started the blog, I’ve become increasingly paranoid about being recognized in public (which happens regularly) while doing something not paleo. It’s as if I feel like there are paparazzi representing the Paleo Police following my every move, just waiting for that slip up that they can nail me on. My paranoia has grown to the point that I can hear every criticism I know people are making.  I imagine people whispering about how I’m still not ripped, pointing out the few pounds I’ve gained this winter. Is he relapsing? Does he even care about his health? Is he eating subs with potato chips for every meal? It’s hard to bear, trying to be a beacon like this.

In contrast, Stacy is the bravest human being I’ve ever met. She’s the face of the blog. She’s recognized more often. She’s willing to put herself out there more, yet knows more than anyone exactly how far from the end of her journey she still is.

All our blogging and book writing pursuits are because Stacy feels that paleo saved her life. You know our story. She was beyond morbidly obese and the paleo diet helped her crawl back from the precipice. It was her idea to post the infamous underwear photos. By most people’s standards, Stacy is still just  fat. And that will be the whole story for them. I can’t imagine what that feels like to know that people are actively noticing and commenting on the most embarrassing part of you all the time, without you knowing. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

Yet, despite knowing that she wasn’t at goal, or as lean as she wanted to be, Stacy walked right among the most beautiful and fit people at PaleoFX. Somehow, despite the fear of humiliation, braved the comparisons and stood proud for who she was, what her motivations are and where her journey has taken her.

We realize by virtue of putting ourselves out there, we’re allowing ourselves to be judged. And often the standards set by the paleo community are pretty high. When you compare Stacy and I to people who started off fit and became fitter, or normal and became fit, or even overweight to normal, we will be found wanting. We were both obese, after all. Before we came along, the female representation of paleo life change didn’t even start off weighing as much as Stacy does now. Most of the famous paleo success stories did not even lose as much as my comparatively paltry 65 pounds.

We’re healthy. We’re happy. That should be enough. If not for this blog we’d have no reason to not feel thrilled and content with exactly where we are right now – no comparisons.

Coming to terms with your limitations and accepting them is hard. Learning to not care if others accept them is harder. We’ve both damaged our bodies in the past to the point that we’ll never look as good as the leading lights of paleo. And that is OK! It does not mean that we don’t have our own perspective, our own voice to add to the conversation. Nor do your flaws mean that you can’t join in either. So what if haters gonna hate? Think about the overall positive impact that’s being had, instead.

I think there’s not a single person on this planet that wouldn’t be better off with some version of an ancestral diet. So many people are sick or fat or out of shape and don’t think there will ever be a solution for them. There is not a kid out there that couldn’t use more vegetables and less crackers and candy. I will never tire of hearing reader’s near miraculous turnarounds from incorporating a real food diet for their family.

If connecting those people with the answer to their desperate pleas means that someone is going to call me ugly and Stacy fat, so be it. I’ll live with that knowledge.

Can we all agree that this system of living has benefits for everyone, not just the super athletes at the annual Crossfit Games? Then let’s accept all our brethren in the movement, regardless of size and shape. Let’s stop trolling each others’ inboxes and Facebook walls, or posting on Reddit and Paleo Hacks. If you wouldn’t say it to their face – don’t say it! There’s room for a variety of voices in this movement, because in order for the world to get on board – we need identifiable people all around.

We’re ignoring the chatter and criticism for us and our book not optimizing performance and our paleo(ish) treats being replications of neolithic disease. Let’s all drop the in-fighting and start figuring out how we can save the world – the general public – one person at a time.  In the meantime, Stacy and I will continue to be the fattest people in paleo. We’ll continue to try to inspire people by putting ourselves out there and braving jerks who clearly aren’t yet happy and fulfilled with their own lives.

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