I am 38 years of age, live in the UK and have always been involved in sports and fitness. I have been fortunate enough to run my own business for the past 15 years, training both members of the public and potential/elite sportsmen at my own small facility. During this time I have also been able to enjoy my chosen sport of surfing along with the support of international companies.
For the past ten years my surfing has very much moved in the direction of searching for and riding larger sized waves in cold water locations around remote parts of my local coastline. I have always trained for my health as well as my sport and I’ve always taken pride in “eating well” and avoiding the foods commonly considered bad for us.
Although the sport certainly offers up it’s fair share of minor injuries, my knowledge of sports therapy and rehabilitation methods always meant I could recover appropriately and move forward without long lasting effects and I always implemented training approaches to promote injury prevention.
This all seemed to turn a corner around three years ago. My body basically felt like it was rebelling against everything I attempted. Even the lowest level training sessions resulted in days of muscle soreness, particularly in the Hip Adductors and Rotators and muscles of the Thoracic area.
Surfing in any conditions above completely benign also caused intense soreness but more frustratingly severe joint immobility. This soreness would not alleviate with any conventional approaches, the only slight relief I would get was from heavy doses of transdermal magnesium, oral iodine supplementation and trigger point release, but I emphasise the word slight.
I also found that despite my very best efforts my weight and body fat were slowly increasing. One interesting dynamic that occurred was that every bit of exercise I undertook resulted in intense hunger, particularly for high carbohydrate food.
I put most of this down to the fact that I was an athlete in my mid-thirties and this was essentially the start of the end as far as my pursuit of a decent level of human performance. It didn’t feel right as I genuinely felt that so many facets of my performance were still improving, my endurance seemed to get stronger every year but over the past few years I had pretty much resigned myself to surfing less and training at a reduced workload.
It was around 18 months ago that I discovered the Maffetone method and the premise of “Carbohydrate Intolerance”. So much of what Phil Maffetone said made sense to me and echoed my experiences. I implemented both the training approach as well as the recommended eating programme and I have to admit the initial results were pretty good.
However I attribute most of this to the extremely low level of intensity and the associated low impact on the body. I also found that the prescribed re introduction of carbs really messed me up and affected both my muscular integrity as well as my gut health.
I also continued to suffer from a very strange phenomenon that was both frustrating and also a bit worrying. Every time I attempted to stretch, regardless of the methodology I adopted (from yoga to PNF) it actually caused my hips, glutes, hamstrings and upper back to effectively lock up. I couldn’t get any sensation of relief or mobilisation despite spending hours on foam rollers and stretching. The postures actually felt like they were damaging and shortening my range of motion.
I was surfing so infrequently it was shocking, even the act of sitting astride my surfboard would result in cramping in the water and days of discomfort. Not exactly the best of situations when amongst icy water and fairly severe ocean conditions.
Because I felt a positive effect on the very low carb Maff test I began researching different approaches to food. The Keto approach made sense but something prevented me from giving it a go. It was during this time that I first discovered Dr Shawn Baker and his advocation of the carnivore way of eating.
I initially though this was crazy, but I have always had a pretty open mind when it comes to essentially waving a middle finger at conventional “medicine” and the fact that Dr Baker was coming from a traditional medical background really intrigued me.
The further I researched, the more I nodded in agreement. After a lot of reading and listening I took the plunge around three months ago and adopted a true carnivore approach, eating when I am hungry and not being restricted by traditional meal times.I had almost immediate success. Within three weeks my weight and body fat levels were back to the levels I would consider my optimum.
I also found that my sleep patterns and energy levels improved dramatically. This actually coincided with me relocating my business premises and undertaking both demolition and construction work on top of my usual workload, which I anticipated would result in high levels of fatigue.
My first couple of training sessions were pretty humbling experiences, I suffered intense muscle cramps while performing low intensity movements on the Skierg and light barbell work. Interestingly though these weren’t in the normal hips/glutes/mid back but felt more like deep in the bellies of the quads, hamstrings and the abdominals. Since those sessions however I have experienced a really positive step forward.
My strength levels and lean muscle mass have improved and functional exercises have become so much easier. I feel like I am still enduring the adaptation phase regarding cardiovascular training however I am now feeling real progress.
The thing that has truly blown my mind however is the progress related to the muscle/joint pain phenomenon I was experiencing. I no longer wake up with hips that refuse to articulate properly and a thoracic spine that I could only describe as an iron bar. I now find trigger point therapy and stretching bring such a feeling of relief and release that it is euphoric!
My ROM after a good session feels incredible and my brain/body connection seems to be re-learning movements I have been incapable of for a long time. I am now so optimistic that I can restore correct movement patterns with a combination of hard work and the carnivore diet.
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and there was definitely some pudding consumed this past Friday. The perfect combination of swell, wind and tide combined for one of my favourite surf spots to light up for a few hours of good sized waves in the cold Atlantic Ocean. The spot demands a substantial cliff descent and long paddle out through masses of white water and currents and even the first move off the beach is a test of strength and endurance. The wave itself requires you to be on top of your game as the conditions are testing at the best of times with very little let up.
Medical/nutritional experts would advise that a person consuming a 100% meat diet would potentially have compromised their wellbeing by attempting this. Well, not only did I get through it, I felt amazing! My strength and endurance were great and most importantly my body remained supple and responsive throughout, resulting in an awesome session.
My post surf experience was phenomenal. No soreness, no fatigue, I just felt energised and strong. A hot bath, a plate of steak and a light stretch that evening felt incredible and the feeling of recovery was such a welcome sensation!
It was after this session that I felt inclined to contact Dr Baker and say thank you for tuning me into this Way of Life.
All the best,