I first met the Stallman family in the greenroom at The Dr. Oz Show in New York City. The whole family was together, reflecting on the experience of finding out in front of the camera, Dr. Oz and millions of viewers, that they were sick – really sick. Hearing that your blood sugars show you are diabetic (when you didn’t know it) or that your C-reactive protein (CRP) levels show extremely high levels of inflammation are not things any of us wants to hear. Especially when we know that the root cause of being sick is our diet or our lifestyle.
Knowing my passion for helping people to understand the root causes of their problems, Dr. Oz asked me to help the Stallmans get healthy. I reviewed their medical histories and their lab tests. They were victims of our country’s toxic food environment and were all hooked on sugar and starchy, processed foods that science has shown are biologically addictive. They were not only overweight, but also had a host of medical problems driven by their diet. Food caused their problems and food could cure them.
My recent bestseller,The Blood Sugar Solution 10–Day Detox Diet, is designed for people like the Stallman family – hardworking, honest and busy people who trust their government leaders, medical community and media to accurately inform them on healthy eating guidelines. The truth is that the Stallmans have been duped into eating a diet that has made them sick. They, like many, believed that “low fat” and whole grains were healthy and that diet drinks helped them lose weight. They didn’t get the tools or information they needed to care for themselves, so they kept on eating convenience foods that tasted amazing, were affordable and were easy to make.
Looking at those concerned faces in the greenroom, I understood how each member of the family was feeling – that they were utterly desperate to get healthy and lose weight. They were fed up with feeling sick and tired and overweight. Before we filmed our segment together for the Dr. Oz show, I filled them in on the plan. My team and I would help them get healthy, lose weight, and teach them how to make and enjoy delicious, fresh, whole, real food, and show them how to detox from their addiction to sugar, flour, and processed foods. The best part, I explained to them, is that it wasn’t going to take long. In fact, they would notice results in just ten fun, life-changing days!
I had the Stallmans assess their degree of toxicity by taking my Toxicity Quiz. And we found out immediately what Dr. Oz suspected – this family needed my help. Their toxicity scores told me they needed a major reset – and so we set out to have them do The 10-Day Detox Diet for at least a month.
They left New York City and flew back home to Florida with a plan. I assigned my nutritionist, a Registered Dietitian, to help them overhaul their entire kitchen and pantry, as well as provide them with the fundamentals on whole foods nutrition, proper nutritional supplementation, and lessons on meal planning for a large family with diverse food preferences.
The Stallmans have amazed me. For the past month, they have followed my program earnestly and have celebrated several successes and have worked through some hurdles as well. In the last couple of weeks they have learned how to create low glycemic (sugar) meals that remind them of their Italian and French heritage but without the flour, dairy, sugar, alcohol, or other toxic ingredients they once relied on.
They have discovered exercises that clear out their stress hormones and instantly improve insulin sensitivity (which immediately starts the process of fat burning, not fat storage). I have taught them about the role of deep relaxation in lasting weight loss and why our obsession with technology is a deal breaker for wellness. They have learned how to effectively cope with difficult emotions and challenging people or situations without relying on food. They have started to keep journals and have begun to gain insight into their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings as they relate to lifestyle decisions that impact their health.
The results in the first three weeks were incredible:
- Total pounds lost by the Stallmans: 97
- Total points decreased in blood sugars: 145
- Total inches shed from their waistlines: 11.5
You may feel you have a lot in common with this family. Maybe you want to lose weight and get healthy, or maybe you want to be a role model for your family. On the flip side, you are concerned about having the strength, perseverance, and commitment like the Stallmans. This family is fighting for their lives. Every day they have to remind themselves why they are saying no to the cake, happy meals, and pumpkin lattes. While they have each other to lean on and rally as a group, sometimes the group can get the best of them.
For example, life got in the way of their detox program during a church bake sale. As the sweet aromas of chocolate and sugar wafted through their home, they struggled with cravings and resisting temptation. It was so difficult for Brigitte, the loving mother, to have her drug,“sugar” in the home, that it actually brought her to tears in the middle of the night.
As she explained to me, it was like forcing an alcoholic just a few days into abstinence to go to a party in a bar. Brigitte is exactly right – it is unfair to expect her to not struggle with that as a recovering sugar addict. Yet, Brigitte and her family brought the brownies to Church the next day without even sneaking a bite! But next time, I suggested, they should contribute to their Church in ways that don’t include food or at least addictive sugary foods!
It is not only the food that takes adjusting to, but also the lifestyle. If you are intimidated about exercise and seem to find every excuse in the world for why you can’t get moving, then I want you to know you are not alone. The Stallmans, while highly motivated, are still struggling with finding the type of exercise for them.
Right now they are deciding between joining a gym or finding ways to get on the treadmill they recently dusted off. My advice to them or anyone who finds exercise challenging is this- just lace up and start. Lacing up those sneakers and initiating exercise is the hardest part about it – no one ever regrets a good workout after the fact – especially if it is fun!
Choose something that distracts you from feeling like exercise is a chore. Get outside and enjoy nature with a hike, play a game of basketball with your buddies, dance around in a live or an online Zumba class or go for a walk with your dog. When you are happy exercising, you not only release feel-good endorphins but you also lower stress hormones that improve insulin function. This is what exercise can and should be about!
While the Stallmans still have some work left to do to get healthy, I am ecstatic about their initial progress so far. It takes years to become toxic, sick, and overweight and it takes time to completely reverse the course of diabetes and other conditions of diabesity.
Their motivation and hard work is a testament to the inner health warrior lurking inside each of us – regardless of what we look like on the outside or how we feel on the inside. We all deserve the opportunity to take back our health from Big Food, Big Ag, Big Pharma and all the Big Corporations hijacking our right to a healthy life.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a condition brought on by junky food and poor lifestyle choices, then I urge you to learn from the Stallmans that the time is now to get serious, get focused, and get real about your health. Join me in my passion to bring health back to America and follow the same program I have the Stallmans on, The Blood Sugar Solution 10–Day Detox Diet.
And please continue to tune in to my site every day for updates and blog posts about the Stallmans. When you do, you will quickly see why Dr. Oz and I agree that it is hard not to fall in love with this family.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD