A Real “Genesis Experience”: 6 WLS Patients and How Paleo Changed Their Lives

03 Sep

Well Hurricane Issac came our way and thankfully we were spared any significant weather.  Many folks south of us are still struggling, and I ask for everyone to pray for their safety and a quick resolution to the chaos that has come into their lives. On top of the hurricane, much has been going on…where to begin…

Several months ago two of my friends and I decided to try something new.  All three of us follow a Paleo lifestyle, participate in CrossFit (each on very different levels as William is part owner of our local gym and one of the it’s trainers, and Sam has been attending CrossFit for much longer than I) and have a passion for helping others.  William Albritton is an engineer by trade, but spends all of his spare time as a CrossFit trainer and health coach.  Sam Bledsoe is somewhat of a rarity as I’m almost certain he is the only Paleo Bariatric Surgeon in the country!  He identified a group of his successful weight loss surgery (WLS) patients who had stopped losing weight after surgery, or plateaued.  He and William devised a plan to put them in an 8 week program based on strict Paleolithic nutrition and consistent application of CrossFit…lucky for me they asked me to join in the fun!  In total, there were 6 lucky participants.

Looking back at our first meeting it was pretty comical.  They really did not know what they were getting into, and we had to completely define the term “paleo” to them.  We set about explaining to them what and why we eat the way we do, and in the process I think I may have broken a few hearts.  Who knew what a stronghold someone’s oatmeal could be!  Regardless, they are all people of integrity, and they committed to our program by trusting our judgement.

So lets just look at this for a moment.  How much more difficult of a challenge could we ask for?  Here are 6 individuals who have fought their weight their whole lives, and who have lifelong food relationships that often were unhealthy.  When you have WLS a certain amount of weight loss is almost automatic, but the last of the loss is much harder.  Here is the thing though, each of these individuals was working hard through traditional weight loss regimens.  Low calorie, low fat, exercise at the gym when you can, walk when you can’t get to the gym…it just was not working.  There is a misconception that overweight individuals are inherently lazy, and this group of people blow that mold out of the water.  They were all trying, they were just trying the wrong things.  One of our group members had already lost 120 pounds since surgery, but had only lost 5 pounds in the 6 months or so before our challenge.  Bottom line is that they did not necessarily “get” what we were telling them, but they were willing to try something new.

So began the process, some form of exercise 5-6 times a week, half of them being CrossFit WODs, and the other days much more light walks or runs.  All along we held them accountable to following a Paleo regimen by turning in weekly food logs and helping them sort through the best choices to make.  Each had their own issues at the start, but they all worked hard to get through the beginning, and quickly began to thrive.  Their group workouts became a source of encouragement and our consistent interaction with them kept their eyes open at all times.  Slowly the magic started to happen, but they did not know exactly how much magic.  Why?  We strictly prohibited them from weighing themselves over the 8 weeks.  It was time to worry about health, not weight!

The results of our 8 weeks was amazing, and I’ll let two things do the talking.  First is a chart of the results.

The numbers in the first row are where each person started, the middle row is their end measurements, and the bottom row is the difference between the start and finish of the 8 weeks.  You are reading right, each person averaged around 20 INCHES of loss over the program.  Now THAT is results!

Please notice that even though overall weight loss was not earth shattering for all, the number of inches lost and overall improvement in body “tone” was awesome.  We did not have one unhappy participant!

Second I’ll let everyone read an essay that one of our participants wrote at the end of the program.  He is an amazing gentleman whose transformation following WLS and our program is nothing short of remarkable.  Here is what he had to say…

At the end of our journey we had a little get together at my home where we were all able to talk and share about the program, and we enjoyed some amazing Paleo food (including a healthy dose of @FitPaleoMom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies).  It was so inspirational to hear everyone’s stories about the struggles over the years, and the positive light that our program was able to put on their circumstances.  All six participants have officially joined CrossFit, and the road ahead will be nothing but success for them.  As a physician is it easy to get discouraged in the day to day grind of taking care of people.  I can honestly say at the end of the 8 weeks we owed, and gave, a heartfelt thanks to each participant for giving their all, and reminding us how much of a difference we all can make.  It was one of the most enjoyable journeys in both my personal and professional life.

So what do we do from here?  We have decided to spread the wealth and open our program to all comers in our area. [] We want to keep attracting people who would never consider coming to the gym and helping them revolutionize their lives.  People looking to “forge elite fitness” will find the gym, we need to go out and FIND everyday people who stand to benefit so much from a dramatic lifestyle change.  As a physician this is what really excites me, changing lives that have been abandoned and failed by the “system”.  If 6 WLS patients can see these changes, anyone can!

Hope all are well…



Posted by on September 3, 2012 in General Paleo Discussion


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7 responses to “A Real “Genesis Experience”: 6 WLS Patients and How Paleo Changed Their Lives

  1. Whitney

    September 3, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I had WLS in 2005 at 284lbs. I lost 80lbs in 5 months and got pregnant (!) with my 4th child. I never lost another pound. I have struggled since then. I have very uncontrolled hypothyroidism. I started researching thyroid and diet. I came across Paleo. I started on May 18th 2012 at 227lbs. I was all in, no excuses. Today on Sept. 2nd I weigh 177lbs. 50lb loss. I am working out and eating better than ever in my life. The control I have over the food I choose to put in my body is powerful. I have never had that before. My thyroid is working again, and we are trying to find my optimum doseage. It works. ~~Whitney~~

  2. joy4all

    September 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

    This was and continues to be a true life changing experiance!!!!

  3. deniseregina

    September 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I had weight loss surgery in 2005. Originally, 276# @ 5’3″. Lowest weight:148# Still not “normal” for my height, but since I was 55 when I had the surgery, I considered this a success. Stayed good for about 5 years. Over the last 2 years, regained 30#. Seeing 200# again in the not too distant future. Felt totally unable to control my eating. Started reading: paleo, Wheat Belly, Whole9. Kept thinking: this is too hard. Won’t be able to do it.

    Well, I’m on day 29 of Whole 30! Feel great. I know I’ve lost weight; “muffin top” is less. But the real epiphany for me is how empowered and liberated I feel. I CAN do it.

    One of the daily supports I received during this time: thinking about the NEXT 30. For me, it will be exercise/ activity. What I’ve read about CrossFit intimidates me. But, heh, that’s what I thought about Whole30!

  4. Sarah

    September 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Truly wonderful work, Dr G. Really love hearing about this, and more than anything, that there are docs out there who are taking this on and rallying for patients; moving away from SAD and into the realm of REAL food. Most docs will never challenge a patient to be healthy without pills, YOU and your colleagues are rare! VERY rare — pioneering rare!

  5. Jeanne

    April 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Nice to see that people are able to get better.


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