December 20, 2014 at 6:35 am #17521
Dear Matt Stone/180 Degree Health gurus:
Over the last year or so I’ve been suffering tremendously from what I thought was Post-Finasteride Syndrome or PFS. Finasteride is the drug in Propacia, the hair-loss medication. However after coming across 180DH videos and blogs, and reading Matt Stone’s books, I now believe that I’m suffering from a hard paleo crash.
I was an overweight kid throughout my teens which made me horribly self conscious throughout my life, and I struggled with an eating disorder as a result. When college came around I decided to lose weight without any professional guidance. I managed to lose around 50 lb. with intensive cardio and a low fat diet (not knowing any better).
This gave me the dreaded skinny-fat appearance; thin arms, legs and shoulders, but high body fat % and love handles that just wouldn’t go away despite my best efforts and pin balling between different strategies and approaches to diet and exercise.
In my early 30s I became more determined than ever to lose the skinny-fat look and stumbled upon Timothy Ferris and the 4-hr body. This is when I began experimenting with the “slow-carb” and paleo diets, combined with 5/5 basic hypertrophy muscle training. It would go well for a while, but my cheat days were at a self destructive level, and I would always fall off the wagon after several months for weeks at a time.
Despite being in slightly better shape, my doctor told me that my cholesterol was very high, so (stupidly) I decided to kick things up a notch and go strict Paleo without allowing cheat days; fruit and sweet potatoes allowed only after work outs. I lost around 12lbs almost instantly so I figured I was on the right track.
Then I discovered a fitness blogger named Anthony Mychal (http://anthonymychal.com/2012/02/solutions-for-the-skinny-fat-ectomorph-part-iv-nutrition-intermittent-fasting-carb-cycling-and-hormones/) who focuses specifically on curing the “skinny-fat syndrome”; and I learned about carb cycling and the “lean gains” method. Many of the approaches go against 180 Degree Health advice, but it was the first time I started to notice some breakthroughs. I relaxed the plaeo diet just a tiny bit, and applied these methods along with intermittent fasting.
Finally I began to see muscle definition. My body composition was changing. Hallelujah! People started commenting on my looks. My love handles shrank down significantly and for the first time in my life I could even see some abs beginning to appear.
My exercise improved a lot when I decided to quit the gym and do strength training at home, once I realized that going to the gym just wasn’t good for my schedule. I focus on pull ups, push ups, lunges, farmer walks, kettle bell swings, goblet squats and things of that nature.
Somewhere along the way I began to notice frequent urination, sometimes 5 times or more within an hour (most frequently when training). I would also have trouble emptying my bladder after a bowel movement. I figured my body was just doing its thing and adapting to my new way of living. Then my sex drive seem to just disappear, almost entirely.
My doctors first thought it was a prostate infection, and gave me Tamsulosin (with one other drug), which caused dry ejaculations; I would try to masturbate around once/week just to make sure everything was still functional, and it was. But I was never spontaneously aroused or got much enjoyment out having an orgasm. My morning wood and nocturnal boners went away entirely and now I couldn’t ejaculate. This put me in a dark place. Few things are as fucked up as a horny 33 year-old guy in LA who can see hot women everywhere and feel nothing.
My mood swings felt severe. I’ve had a bad temper for years. My friends would never know this because I’m highly positive, but when I’m alone or frustrated at work I feel like I want to destroy everything. I’ve punched two holes in my wall that I have to get fixed now. It’s bizarre because I’m a very loving and non-violent person. I don’t believe in aggression, but I sometimes find it difficult to control my rage.
But my sexual side effects where what really scared me so I went to the doc and got some blood tests. They showed normal testosterone levels, but high cholesterol and a low white blood cell count. No problems were found with my thyroid (although I had strange little pains for years in that region). I was fairly shocked that I still had high cholesterol and I was told I have to begin a statin (40MG), which I am still taking now. The doc also told me to stop smoking weed and see what happens.
I then visited the urologist, who suspected that Finasteride (generic brand of Propecia the hair loss drug), which I’d been taking for around 4 years on and off (1.25MG/day), was the main culprit. Then as I was researching this I learned about Post Finasteride Syndrome (PFS) which sometimes causes permanent sexual dysfunction among other horrible things. I was terrified that I’d never be back to normal.
I immediately stopped taking Finasteride and Tamsulosin per the urologist’s advice. Over the following weeks and months this would restore my ability to ejaculate, and my sexual appetite would increase from about 10% up to 40-50%, so I took this as a good sign and began a new supplement regimen; Macca, Fenugreek, DHEA, Horny Goat Weed and Diatomaceous Earth in addition to what I was already taking; a probiotic, whole food multi-vitamin, vitamin D3, fish oil (just quit after hearing Matt’s take on it), alphalipoic acid and melatonin to help me sleep.
I also began taking Alprazolam (generic for Xanax – 0.25MG/night) to help me sleep and restore my nocturnal erections. I read that this was important to avoid structural problems in the penis which can occur after long periods without night and morning wood. It definitely made a difference, and I hoped to avoid what’s known as a “post finasteride crash”; some experience major improvements for a number of months then all of the symptoms return worse than before. The average recovery time for PFS is 40 months. Some recover much faster, while others have never recovered and ultimately committed suicide.
So, I tried to stay positive and practice some meditation. I continued with paleo and daily fasting around 16 hours/day, and around 20-24 hours once/week. I trained at a high intensity, took creatine and ate carbs after lifting. But despite noticeable improvements in some of my functionality, my frequent urination persisted and I was sick of spending 20-30 extra minutes on the toilet to empty my bladder in little amounts after taking a shit (sorry for the graphic detail). It’s been quite miserable.
I was also still perplexed over my high cholesterol. My theory was that it was caused by my life long junk food addiction/binge eating disorder. Sometime after my fitness breakthroughs I’d begun having cheat days again. I thought, fine, I’ll do it once/month or so and immediately fast for 24 hours while I beat myself up. But eventually I had to do it weekly. I truly felt powerless, and even ate to the point of throwing up.
I must have consumed thousands of calories in less than an hour sometimes. It wasn’t always that bad, but the depression and self hate that followed my “cheat days” was almost unbearable. I also started to find it impossible to avoid the snack jars at work which are filled with wheat thins, cheezits, pretzels or salty snack mix. I was like I lab rat on cocaine, just hoping nobody would ever observe the patterns in our security footage.
I didn’t understand how this could be such an impossible challenge for me, so I consulted a nutritionist. She trashed the paleo diet as a fad, but it was hard to take her seriously. She blamed my high cholesterol (which has dropped rapidly since beginning the statin) largely on cooking with coconut oil and advised me to use canaloa instead.
“Natural food stores just want to sell their products, which aren’t even FDA approved,” she condescended. This was right before she tried selling me her book, which was out on display, at a cheaper price than if I order it online, by the way. When I told her that I don’t have blind faith in the FDA, she said that without the FDA I’d still be damaging myself with Finasteride? Right? Or maybe I wouldn’t have taken it to begin with? What was this idiot talking about?
Anyway, I didn’t take away very much from that conversation, and not once did it occur to this certified nutritionist (a one-time $60 visit under my insurance), that my supposed PFS symptoms or binge eating disorder where actaully caused by my restrictive dieting, fasting and over training. I was pretty much lost at this point, just hoping to get better and wishing that I could break the vicious cycles.
Then gradually I started to notice that my body was happier and more satisfied if I had a little hot chocolate or coca after lunch or dinner, by itself, or in some decaf, with a little cream. Something about this just worked for me so it became a regular thing.
Finally, just a few weeks ago I came across Avishek Saha’s review of “Eat for Heat” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJYQe3KGXDM) and immediately began researching Matt Stone and 180 Degree Health. Over a few days I read Paleo Myths, Diet Recovery 1&2 and Eat for Heat. Oh.My.God.
So now I’m on my 3rd week of RARF. Over the first couple days I had pizza for dinner and some ice-cream for dessert. This didn’t trigger a bender. I just ate a lot of whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and stopped all of my hard training.
I almost immediately noticed significant improvements in my libido and urination patterns. A lot of my hope has been instantly restored. I’m carbing it up every morning, and having sexual urges on a daily basis. I’m finally starting to feel a little more like myself again.
That said, I wish I had more time to study, meditate and master the principles behind this approach to metabolic recovery, because it’s very challenging. I have a real as shit body fat phobia and I feel the pounds returning with a vengeance just after a couple of weeks. I’m trying not to think about it and have faith in the fat-proofing process. It’s just hard not to be terrified that the fat gain won’t stop and re-distribute itself as Matt describes, filling the rest of my body out when my metabolism returns to normal etc. I’ve worked so hard, and I so don’t want to be skinny-fat anymore.
I’m doing my best not to let these concerns raise my stress levels but it’s psychologically trying. I can see the belly fat and love handles returning. I even feel like I’m getting slight man boobs suddenly, which I miraculously didn’t have at my skinny-fattest. I only had moobs when I was fat-fat almost 15 years ago. So I’m hoping that I handle my recovery properly so that this process unfolds as it’s supposed to, and I end up with a more desirable composition. It’s going to be scary as hell but I intend to see this through.
It’s hard for me to figure out how long to continue incorporating the “junk foods” on purpose. I know it’s not supposed to be a hard set rule, but going on the advice to stalk the fridge with trigger foods at first, I’ve made it a point to eat some pizza, ice cream, burritos and chocolate every week. I’m wondering how long I should wait to begin a healthy balanced diet, without going out of my way to include “junk foods”. How long should I continue the RRARF process? Until I feel that my libido is fully restored and I’m usually at 98 degrees or higher? I’m currently in between 96 and 98 throughout the day. My goal is always to get it up to 98 and haven’t been able to get it much higher.
I’m also wondering how much I can train/exercise. I want to maintain some of the muscle I’ve gained to offset the returning belly fat, so I’ve continued with some exercise a few days/week; some chin ups and pull ups, push ups and squatting exercises: body weight, goblet or kettle bell swings, but not going to failure for the time being. I also try to get outside for a 15-20 min walk almost everyday, 30-50 min when I can, and I stand at my computer stations most of the time. Those are habits I’d already taken up a while ago, and I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do so I practice some kicks and routines just for enjoyment because it feels good.
Is this a reasonable amount of exercise? And how long before I can safely switch back to more high intensity, progressive strength training? I don’t care if I’m perfectly ripped, but I’m very determined to not be skinny-fat for the rest of my life, so I don’t want my exercise “rehab” to last longer than needed. I will say that I’m finding it difficult to squeeze in even this reduced amount of exercise as I’m trying to increase my sleep and fight off the feelings of fatigue that have kicked in.
It also feels harder to exercise on a full stomach now. I had grown accustomed to working out in a fasted state. I know 180 Degree health advocates eating within the first half hour of being awake, and eating a lot in the first few hours of the day, but is it ever okay to make working out the first thing you do after waking up, or make this a habit once again? Or should I adapt to working out after I’ve eaten and stick to that?
Getting enough sleep is probably my greatest challenge. I work a swing shift and my neighborhood’s a little noisy at the wrong times. I wear ear plugs, an eye mask, and I keep my room as dark as possible. I very rarely get 8-10 hours at once. I seem to be waking up most days after 7 hours and urinating. So I’ve been eating a snack (PB&J or some oatmeal with whole milk) and then sleeping for another 1-1.5 hours and going to work (also been trying out the salt/sugar under the tongue method). On weekends I’m trying to get naps in and always striving to sleep a full 8 hours/night.
So I guess my final question is, how many supplements should I continue taking if any? The list once again is a Bio-K probiotic, whole food multivitamin, D3 and alphalipoic acid. Of the new supplements I’m still taking DHEA and Horney Goat Weed. I’m down to my last Alprazolam (Xanax) which I plan to stop taking now to see what happens. I’m still taking the statin, which I’d like to stop as well, but I’m not sure what to do as an alternative to cure my high cholesterol.
Any advice based on my personal circumstances and condition would be highly appreciated, and I will do my best to educate myself as I continue on my recovery. I will also do my best to let go of my self-image disorder and obsession with looks so I can create a healthy relationship with eating and exercise. Another one of my issues is that I want to start dating again, but now I’m bloated, tired, gassy and more self-conscious about my body. But I realize the key to attracting someone I really like is being absolutely happy with myself no matter what shape I’m in, because confidence can’t be faked.
Thank you for helping people like me who have been on the verge of losing hope due to the horrible side effects of dieting and over-training. I’ve wasted a lot of money and time on medical professionals who couldn’t help or diagnose me, and I wasn’t sure where to turn.December 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm #17524TinaTParticipant
I found I could up my metabolism without gaining weight (but also not losing… which is my eventual goal) by feeding my cravings… and stopping when satisfied – but eating REAL food, not processed, packaged junk.
I went from 97F on a daily basis to 98.6F consistently by indulging my love of salt and fat… by eating cheese. :)
I also stopped getting low-fat anything. I go for whole cream, full-fat yogurt (I like Nancy’s yogurt… just whole milk and cultures, no gums, gelatin or other ‘stuff’) and real cheese. I also try to eat at least one avocado a week, and cook with coconut, olive oil and REAL butter.
I found eating real food and loading up on things like bell peppers (dipped in real sour cream!) fed both my cravings and raised my metabolism.
I also find eating junk food (cheetos is one of my favorites) makes me want to eat more junk food… so I think there is something in the processed foods which is addictive in nature.
So – feed yourself all the real food you want, and I think you’ll find yourself feeling even better, and satisfied without adding fat to the frame, too.
One thing I found very helpful is a complete shift in my relationship with food. I FEED myself good stuff to make myself healthy. I don’t restrict anything, I never feel guilty about eating anything, especially things like chocolate cake (I let myself ENJOY it!!)… what I do now understand, is NOT eating is denying my body the nutrients it needs to thrive.
As for your other questions – I think you’ll have to answer a lot of those for yourself. Every body is unique and will react to different scenarios differently… so run experiments on yourself and find out what works for YOU.
Good luck on your journey!!December 26, 2014 at 9:00 am #17531
Thanks so much for the input TinaT! I appreciate the advice. I would still really like to get some help regarding my supplements and medication if anyone has that kind if knowledge. I want to quit my statin but I’m not sure what to do as an alternative.
I also stopped taking the Xanax, which I was using to help restore my nocturnal erections – a recommended treatment for post-finasteride syndrome, which I thought was the cause of my ED before I learned about Matt Stone. It would be helpful to know if I should request another refill (doctors’ opinions means very little as they’ve been basically clueless about my issues thus far). It really helps with sleep quality, although I think I may be experiencing a little withdrawal, it’s been difficult for me to get a full 7-8 hours since I stopped. I wake up feeling anxious and struggling to get back to sleep.
Thanks again for the tips! Just finished my 4th week of RRARFing with plenty of junk food in the mix as Mr. Stone recommends. Now I’m going to back to primarily eating “health foods” without being restrictive when it comes to my cravings. I feel ready to change gears on that level.
I really want to start intensive strength training again, but I think I still need more rehabilitative rest. I haven’t gotten my sleep patterns under control as I mentioned, or been able to get a full 8+ hours on a consistent basis. I do enjoy the light exercise for fun method. Just anxious to make it more rigorous because I regained a significant amount of body fat.
I know, I know, I’m not supposed to be sweating that. I want to see the fat-proofing process all the way through as 180dh recommends, and use some of Jon Gabriel’s mental strategies. It’s just difficult not letting the belly fat stress me out after a lifetime of struggling with body image.
CheersJanuary 3, 2015 at 3:58 am #17536
I wish I could get just a little more feedback here. I bought four of Mr. Stone’s books and read them all, but for further guidance I’m a little bit stuck. My doctors aren’t exactly hip to most of these ideas and probably won’t help me stop taking the statin, for example.
Can anyone help me with the remaining questions I outlined in my second post? Or does anyone know if Mr. Stone still takes phone calls once/week like he use to?
Any additional help will be appreciated :)
ThanksJanuary 5, 2015 at 7:28 pm #17537TinaTParticipant
A friend of mine plotted his cholesterol and glucose levels when his doc put him on a statin… cholesterol dropped like a rock – as desired – but glucose went through the ROOF.
When the Doc suggested a diabetic drug next, he told him he’d rather stop taking the statin… so that’s what they decided to do. Cholesterol levels went back up a little after that, but not to their previous levels.
You can listen to your Doc’s advice, but it’s still YOUR health.
Don’t forget that cholesterol is a necessary building block of life… including being used by the brain for all sorts of cognitive functions.
From here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/cholesterol-friend-or-foe/
“Memory loss is one of the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs.”
As for the other questions and help from more people – this forum isn’t very active any more… I’ve turned to reading books and doing my own experimentation – and really listening to what my brain and body are trying to tell me about what they want me to do.January 11, 2015 at 12:32 pm #17558
Thank you so much TinaT. It’s a shame the forum isn’t more active today. It’s just really hard to get through all of this one my own. All my docs are pretty much useless, and I have such a busy schedule it’s hard to really focus on this, study and do it right. Your feed back is helpful though and I appreciate it. I will follow your advice and do my best.
CheersDecember 7, 2016 at 11:41 am #17891hibParticipant
Hey, How have you been doing lately? Just curious how you’re getting on..
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