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Still booting it…

July 15, 2012

Six weeks ago today I was sitting in an MEA Clinic getting fitted for a boot. A week later, I visited the orthopedist who told me my recovery would be about four to six weeks. Tomorrow, I see him again and I am certain it will only be bad news.

Aloha Mr. Pain!

I’m with my brother at the top of Diamond Head. I usually wore a flip flop with my orthopedic sandal but as I was leaving, I grabbed the left flip flop instead of the right so hiked with one bare foot.

I was so good staying off my foot for the first four weeks, but around four weeks I headed off to Honolulu for a vacation with my family, parents, siblings and their families. We were celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. My doctor had given me an orthopedic sandal to wear to the beach as an alternative to the boot. After a day or so in Honolulu, I switched to the sandal and after about three days I ditched the crutches. I felt pretty good and managed to walk around and keep up with my family. I hiked up Diamond Head with that sandal and even took surfing lessons with my oldest son, but at the end of the 10 days, I was hurting again. By the time I was home, I realized that I had undone any healing I had accomplished during those first four weeks. I put the boot back on and returned to the crutches.

I am depressed. When you have an injury and you are depressed, no good comes from reading WebMD and related sites. I read about folks with similar injuries who required surgery, spent 20 weeks or more in a boot, and ended up with bones that deadened and caused a them a lifetime of problems. To top it off, I have begun to notice a similar pain in my right foot. Probably from all the compensating I have been doing to stay off the other one.

Pregnant with grief
I feel hopeless and I hardly leave the house. It’s not just that it takes great effort to go anywhere with this boot, it’s also that I hate the attention that I get clunking around on crutches. It’s like when I was pregnant and strangers asked me when I was due and what I was having. They meant well, but questions grew tiresome. Now I get, “what happened to you,” “how’d you hurt your foot,” and “how much longer do you have in the boot.”

Actually, being pregnant is worse. No one has yet to come up to me and pat my boot. And nothing felt worse than a stranger telling you that you like you’re about to pop when you still have another three months to go. Grrr! I did have one guy at Kroger stop me and tell me about his brother who was 40, broke his foot, got a blood clot and died. Seriously? That’s like telling a pregnant woman a horror story about your cousin’s stillbirth.

Living through my kids

Enjoying some shaved ice on the North Shore in their bare feet.

Since I can’t be barefoot, I have been barefooting vicariously through my kids. They’ve hardly worn shoes at all this summer—something I was never allowed to do when I was their age. Even some of their friends have gotten into the act. Being barefoot is what summer is about. And their little muscles, bones and ligaments are reaping the benefits. I hope the strength, flexibility and balance they are gaining by being barefoot now will help keep them from having foot problems as adults. I know that if I had spent more time out of my shoes when I was younger, I wouldn’t be dealing with these stress fractures now.



From → Travels

  1. Paul E. von Savoye permalink

    Marci, Your Mom said to tell you that she has worn shoes all of her life. She is almost 72 years old and has never had any foot problems. People have been wearing foot protection or shoes of some type since the begining of time. Most of us do not have problems with our feet & we have worn shoes all of our lives.. Don’t believe everything that some goofy folks say about problems caused from wearing shoes. You can get more and better information about the benefits from wearing good shoes than you can about not wearing shoes. Get your shoes back on your self and those sweet little children to protect their feet & yours. I love you Marci with all my heart. Please don’t believe everything that you read & hear that is someones opinion about being bare footed, it is just their opinion & does not mean that their opinion is correct.. I love you my darling daughter with all of my heart, with or without shoes. ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Mike Berrow permalink

      Hey Paul, we are not ‘goofy’ at all. There is plenty of strong science behind what we say. In particular about child foot-health and development. Just ask and I will share the links and material.

      • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

        Hey Mike, thanks for your response to my post on Marci’s blog. I am sorry if I offended you or any other of you bare footers. Please see my response to Paul who responded also to my post on Marci’s blog. Like I said, I am an old man from a different generation, when we were all taught by our parents & doctors the importance of wearing proper well fitting shoes. This bare foot idea is totally new to me. I have read that it is a new trend that is increasing in popularity and has caused a huge increase in injuries to people that are just starting this practice. Seems that they tend to push themselves too fast & hard before their feet have become accustom to going barefooted. Which Marci says was the problem in her injury too. Thanks again Mike for your interest and concern & again I am sorry if I offended you or anyone else that enjoys this practice of barefooting. With best wishes, Paul (Marci’s Dad)

      • Mike Berrow permalink

        Hi Paul, Don’t worry, I am not offended. I take your point about the dangers of rushing things rather than making changes gradually. Yes, we were nearly all taught the ‘conventional wisdom’ of “wear shoes all the time with very few exceptions”, but many of us have discovered that this perspective is far too extreme. I have been going barefoot whenever I can for about twenty years now and my feet feel very strong and healthy. I particularly love barefoot hiking. However, if the ground is just too rocky or too hot, then of course I will put my sandals on. Anyway, thanks very much for sharing your perspective and we are all wishing Marci a speedy recovery.
        I will look forward to seeing you again when you are next in California 🙂
        Take care.

      • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

        Thank you Mike. I did not realize that it was you that I was talking to. I don’t think that I have ever heard your last name so it just did not click with me that I was chatting with Mike & Cherie’s neighbor. I feel very bad about Marci’s foot injury & I guess I became a little defensive of her comment that she was not allowed to go barefooted as a child. She is right though, we always bought the best shoes possible for our kids as that is the way that we were taught. Mike & Marci’s oldest brother Greg still gives us a bad time about the fact that he had to wear “Edwards” (brand name) shoes to school when he was a child when the other kids were all wearing Converse tennis shoes to school. Here again this was a carry over from the way we were taught about the importance of good shoes that fit properly I am learning a lot from Marci’s blog. You may even see me in Concord without shoes??? Thanks again Mike for your information and concern. Paul.

  2. Except that the problems I was having with my hips and knees disappeared when I stopped wearing shoes…

  3. Matthew Medina permalink

    Hang in there, Marci. I know how it feels to be sidelined with an injury – my entire adult life I would attempt to get in better shape, only to overdo it and end up with some kind of injury, undoing all the hard work I had done up to that point. And yeah, like you, once I started going barefoot many of those health problems went away. I’ve been barefoot now for the better part of the last 20 years, and can only tell you it’s been wonderful for me, physically and mentally. I hope you continue to make a good recovery, and will back to full health again soon. Whether you rejoin us “goofy folks” or not, I hope you’ll find what works for you in your life and for your health.

  4. Nicole B. permalink

    I’m sorry you’re still in pain and discouraged at this point. That stinks. Hoping the news is better than you anticipate at the doctor tomorrow. Sounds like you had a lovely time in Hawaii! Totally jealous. Happy healing! xoxo

  5. Paul E. von Savoye permalink

    Foot protection is very important and without this protection serious problems can & do develope as you have already experienced, in your bare foot adventures. Foot protection is not only important for humans but even for working animals. Have you ever seen what can happen to a riding, race or working horse, mule or ox, These animals can become crippled beyond recovery & must be put down because of hoof damage if they are working hard & not properly shod. There is lots of information about the benefits of proper foot wear & the hazards of bare foot running here is just one example. I love you my sweet daughter. Dad

  6. After spending most of my life in shoes, my bones are not as strong as they would be if I had spent most of that time without shoes. And then I tried to do too much, too soon. Had I taken it slower and allowed my body more time for recovery, I wouldn’t have gotten injured. This is a common problem for all runners. It’s in our competitive nature.

    Now, allowing my kids to go barefoot as much as possible is actually supported by the American Podiatry Association. By going barefoot they are strengthening their bones, muscles and ligaments in their feet and ankles and helping them to form properly.

    Since going barefoot my posture, balance and flexibility have improved significantly. Additionally, the horrible aching I dealt with almost daily in my hips and knees disappeared. I felt so much healthier and better without shoes.

    So, Dad, feel free to scold me all day long about teaching too many high impact aerobics classes without taking a break, running too much and not scaling back when I felt a little pain. That is where I went wrong. That is where I need to be scolded. But I’m not listening to this nonsense about my feet needing protection.

    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Like I said before, I love you with all of my heart, with or without shoes. I will not bug you again about this subject, at least not for a while. Hope your foot heals well and completely. We loved being with you & your sweet family in Hawaii. Right now Mom & I are looking into doing a month on the Big Island in January. With love and my very best wishes, Dad

  7. PaulL permalink

    Howdy, I just stumbled across your blog from a link on FB. Neat stuff! Here’s a great link to an article in Podiatry Management, a leading journal of medicine specifically geared towards podiatrists. It’s written by a practicing podiatrist, who also happens to be a consultant to the footwear industry:

    I’m sure your Dad means well in his posts above, and has nothing but concern and love for you. However, I’d like to point out that shoes are a relatively recent phenomenon in the history of human beings. We’ve been around for about 2.5 million years, yet we’ve only been wearing shoes in the modern sense for a few thousand at best. From an evolutionary perspective, we are not actually designed to wear shoes, nor are animals. They are entirely a human creation. Sure, they have their occasional uses, but they are a tool, and like all tools, should be used only when appropriate.

    I think the articles above regarding “barefoot running injuries” need to be taken with a modicum of salt. They are written for magazines which primary concern, like all media, is to sell copy. Taking medical advice from a running magazine like Competitor Magazine is like taking nutrition advice from the local network affiliate. They are not doctors, they are reporters. They are writing an article with a certain agenda, to sell copy, and they thrive on the latest fads and controversy, so they will obviously seek quotes from professionals which support their agenda.

    Is barefoot running for everyone ? Possibly not. Many people who have worn shoes all their lives may well have damaged their feet to the point where being barefoot even just to walk around the house is too painful or uncomfortable. Injuries incurred from barefoot running are more often than not the result of 2 things: first, almost no research into proper running form is ever done by those jumping on a “new fad”, and second, they jump into it entirely too quickly.

    But the idea that running shoes are required for proper running (or anything else) is as ridiculous as saying that we must wear gloves all the time because we might get our fingers caught in a door. The fact is, the human gait must change appropriately when walking or running, in order to accommodate being shod or barefoot. That’s just a simple fact of bio-mechanics. Shoes extend the length of the leg, add weight to the bottom, swinging portion of the leg, and encourage a heel-strike gait. Being barefoot does none of these things, and is, in fact, much more natural. But as a result, we need to shorten our stride and land mostly on our forefoot with our heel just “kissing” the ground. There are lots examples of entire societies which go through life barefoot, and run incredible distances without any type of shoes, in modern times.

    As an aside, running in general, barefoot or otherwise, it one of the most injury-prone athletic activities there is. In general, it’s not normal for humans to run so much, shod or barefoot. Runners have more life-long debilitating injuries to ankles, knees, hips, and backs than most other sports. And, as a subgroup, marathoners and long-distance runners have the highest percentage of death due to heart attacks and cardio-vascular disease as compared to any other sub-group of society. So, it’s actually a fairly high-risk sport when you think about it. And those statistics are all from runners who wear running shoes. Barefoot runners, as a sub-sub-group (and this is pure personal opinion here) in my experience, tend to be significantly healthier over-all and far more educated on things like proper nutrition and running form/technique. As a result, I would expect barefoot runners to come out slightly better on the curve than the average shod runner who runs hundreds of miles/week and eats a Standard American Diet.

    I don’t know what caused your stress-fracture, but there are plenty of cases of people getting stress fractures from running even with running shoes. So, superficially, there isn’t much evidence that it’s a shoes vs. no shoes injury. Rest up, relax, heal, and don’t do too much before you’re completely healed. On average, I think you’re better off barefoot than not, after all, if Mother Nature intended us to require shoes, we’d have been born with them 🙂

    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Thanks so much Paul for your thoughtful response to my post on Marci’s blog. I am almost 72 years old and have worn shoes all of my life. I am sorry if I offended you or any one else with my comment of “goofy folks” going bare footed. This idea is completely foreign to me and most in my generation. We were raised with our parents & doctors stressing the importance of good well fitting shoes. Thank you for this great response and your sincere interest in Marci’s foot injury. I do appreciate your concern and for sharing this information. With graditude and appreciation, Paul (Marci’s Dad)

  8. Marci,

    I think you have an awesome Dad.

    Without a doubt shoes are tools, and there are times when it is prudent to use them. The problem is that we Westerners over-use shoes way too much, to the detriment of our foot / body health. I have a stack of peer-reviewed scientific papers (inches thick) on all the studies demonstrating how shows negatively affect us. So while we need shoes to protect us from extreme temperatures and terrain, under most everyday situations we would do better to go barefoot. As Marci knows, years of wearing shoes debilitates the feet, so reverting to a barefoot-by-default lifestyle requires a rehabilitation process. I am convinced, however, by my research and personal experience, that once you make it through the rehab process your feet will be stronger and healthier. BTW, the absolute best “rehab” for your feet is simply walking barefoot (not running) in a safe environment.

    Marci’s Dad… I hope one day you recognize that we wear shoes by-and-large for cultural reasons, not physical reasons. Until then, thank you for loving Marci with an unconditional love! I will strive to do the same when my children latch on to a wacky idea!

    – Daniel

    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Thank you Daniel for your very kind reply. Your thoughtful kindness has touched me & I feel that I already know & like you through your very pleasant response to my post on Marci’s blog. I am becoming educated by all of you regarding going barefooted. I was brought up in a different generation when we were taught the importance of good well fitting shoes. The barefooting idea is therefore totally foreign to me. I am sorry if I offened you or anyone else with my comment regarding “goofy folks”. Everyone seems to speak of the rehabilitation or adjustment period of going barefooted. How does one know when this rehabilitation has taken place? How long does this take? When does one know when they can resume their normal active physical lifestyle barefooted? Thanks so much Daniel again for your kindness and concern. I appreciate your very warm concern and kindness. With my gratitude and best wishes, Paul (Marci’s Dad) .

  9. He is a great dad. I love him with or without shoes, too!

  10. Paul E. von Savoye permalink

    Thank you Marci. I love you so very much. I hope that I did not embarrass you or offend the nice folks on your blog. I was pleased and surprised by the many kind responses that have been posted. They all seem to be kind helpful and concerned. With love, Dad

  11. Marci’s Dad, I love that you are listening to something different. You may never want to go barefoot yourself, but I’ll just add my experience. I’m a bit overweight, and most of that weight is in front, so to speak (I never lost that ‘baby fat’). That made me rather off-balance, but once I went barefoot for about 2 weeks, I realized that I started feeling much more stable and able to climb and walk without fear of stumbling.

    A short time later, I changed my diet (gave up all grains!) and dropped 30 lbs in 3 months, and that helped, as well. I’m not sure if I hadn’t already gotten some better stability from barefooting, if I would have taken the plunge to change my eating habits, too.

    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Ericagott, You may just convince me to become a barefooter, I too am over weight. Mine too is in the front with what some would call a beer belly, but I do not drink beer so I would just blame mine on too much good food. As I have gotten older I have found my balance is not good and I find myself hanging onto things as I step down or up. Some thing that I never did when I was younger & had great balance. My problem going barefooted is that I find that my feet hurt when I try walking even a short distance bare footed. When I slip on a pair of sandals or shoes my feet do not hurt. Most of the time I wear my Asics Gel running shoes which I have been wearing for years. The gel in the sole of the shoe is so comfortable I hate to take them off. I don’t even like wearing my dress shoes on Sunday to go to church. As soon as I get home from church off go the dress shoes & I replace them with my gel soles. If I could improve my balance by going bare footed it may be worth a try, but I am an older man & I may be too old for going barefooted and still get the benefits that you have indicated. If I try the bare foot thing, I think that I will have to ease myself into it slowly as I have been wearing shoes & even very comfortable gel sole shoes for a very long time. Thanks so much Ericagott for your coments. You have given me a bit of hope to improving my balance.
      Many thanks again and my best wishes to you, Paul (Marci’s Dad)

  12. Dad, I don’t think you’ve offended anyone. And I think most barefooters are used to the opposition to their footwear decisions. It’s nothing they’ve haven’t heard before.

  13. Paul E. von Savoye permalink

    Thanks Marci. Your bare foot friends all seem so very nice. I love you, Dad

  14. PaulL permalink

    Hi Paul,

    Have no worries, I was not offended in any way! I completely understand your point of view, as we all tend to view the world from our own unique perspectives which are obviously formed by our own unique experiences. It’s a rare person that can first push their own experiences and views aside to look at things from the perspective of another, especially when confronted by something which is so totally foreign to everything they have thus far encountered in life. Too often this results in feeling threatened which can often turn into a aggressive attack on the foreign ideas. I commend you, sir, for a) keeping first and foremost your daughter’s health and well-being in mind, and b) to remain open to discussion of new ideas that are foreign to you.

    You’re about the same age as my own parents, so I’m somewhat familiar with some of the things your generation grew up with. Interestingly, at least with respect to shoes, my parents were told when I was a baby that I had something called “wind-blown hips” and that I needed to have special shoes which were connected by a steel bar in order to force my hips into the correct position. Sadly, this “conventional wisdom” of the day resulted in a deformity of the second metatarsal on each foot. Because of this, I ended up with over-pronated feet making me think I needed extra arch support. In fact, what I needed was to just be left alone as a baby. But, as parents, we always seek to do what is right for our children, and we do so out of love for them. Often times we make mistakes, as my parents did. They trusted the doctor they spoke with and did no further research on the subject themselves. I can not fault them for that, my dad was working two jobs and getting a college degree at night while my mother worked part-time as well. There was no Google or internet, and they had no time to spend days in libraries wading through medical journal haystacks looking for a needle.

    Your generation grew up trusting authority, whereas my generation, and those of the post-Watergate era have grown up to grossly mistrust pretty much all authority. Sadly, neither is ideal. We must trust those with expertise in specific areas, but simultaneously be willing to question them when what they say doesn’t make sense. For example, barefooters are often confronted with someone in an authority position in the form of a store clerk or manager, telling us we must have shoes on “because it’s the law” or “for health reasons”. Clearly, those making such statements have never actually thought about either statement. They’re just spouting conventional wisdom, repeating what they believe without actually learning the truth.

    So, I commend you for being such an awesome Dad to Marci and keeping her well-being and health as the highest priority, and for being willing to change your perspectives as new information is provided to you! And, on that note, with respect to your comment about having a “beer belly” and lack of balance, I’d like to offer you something else which may well fly in the face of everything you know. I ask only that you remain open to receiving it in the same way you have with Marci’s barefooting.

    The cause of your “beer belly” may well be wheat gluten sensitivity. I won’t go into all the science behind why the so-called “staff of life” may in fact be slowly degrading your health (unless you ask me for it 🙂 but instead refer you to Dr. William Davis, a preventative cardiologist who recently wrote the book “Wheat Belly”. I highly recommend you get this book from your local library and read it. And, upon completion, I remain more than happy to continue that discussion, either hear on Marci’s blog, or privately (I’m sure Marci can extract my e-mail address from her blog for you).

    Here’s the URL to the Amazon listing for Dr. Davis’ book:

    I apologize for being so long-winded.


  15. Paul E. von Savoye permalink

    Paul, Thank you so very much for your interest in my health and well being. I started to look on Amazon to buy the book, but right under the book, when I searched “Wheat Belly” I found this article which suggests that Dr. Davis research for the book was flawed. Take a look at this article Paul and let me know what you think.
    The book is not expensive as I saw Amazon offers a hardback used for only $12. I have found their used are brand new when you actually receive your order.

    I do not eat a lot of breads or grains, in my diet. I think in my case I have continued to eat as much as I always have, but my activity level has slowed greatly as I have gotten older. I believe my problem is that I am burning fewer calories whch has resulted in my body storing those excess calories as fat in my belly and on my body.

    I want you to know, I have found those of you that read’s my daughter’s blog to be wonderful caring people. Thank you so much for your interest and concern. It is marvelous to have people like yourself who I have never met, interested in my well being and health.

    Thank you Paul for your interest and marvelous suggestions. I real do appreciate your kindness. My gratitude goes also to Daniel Howell, Erica Gott, Mike Berrow to you Paul and of course to my darling daughter Marci for all of your kind words of encouragement and sound advice. I am impressed that you “bare footers” are the most kind, caring and wonderful people ever. Thanks be to you all for your expression of caring and kindness. You have all given me a new appreciation for the benefits of being bare footed. Many thanks…

  16. PaulL permalink

    Greetings Paul,

    I had not seen that article, so thanks for passing it along! My thoughts on it… First, the reason I recommended Davis’ book is because I think it’s an easy read with enough science in it that makes sense that that the average person can read it and understand it make small changes to it. I know enough of the science and have read and researched this topic enough to agree with the author of this article, however, that some of Davis’ claims seem outlandish. In fact, there were parts of the book where I found myself thinking, “Wow, this guy is really getting into tin-foil hat territory!”

    I feel Davis’ has a lot of credibility backing him up, though. First, the guy has been a cardiac surgeon/doctor for 25+ years. During that time he’s personally collected a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence which was too overwhelming for him to ignore what he perceived as a repeating patterns. But because it was all anecdotal, he needed medical studies to back up his observations. Is he guilty of cherry-picking studies and data to support his claims ? Probably. But that makes him no worse than just about everyone else who has ever cited studies. (Consider Ancel Keyes who did the original 7 Countries Study and actually threw out data which didn’t support his claims, or The China Study in which exactly the same thing happened, but is now held up as the Bible of Vegetarianism!)

    Davis faced an interesting problem. He has observed over a significantly long period of time, a non-random, repeating pattern among a very select group of patients, all of whom were more or less identical in their basic health. But he had no scientific data to fall back on. There have been no randomized, control studies which have done exactly what he observed. He had to fall back on studies which at best, approximated what he had observed but were done with a completely different subject base and with completely different intentions. He was trying to shoehorn his anecdotal data into something more formal the best he could. So, sure, there are going to be major problems when you do that.

    The thing I keep coming back to, however, is how many different, unrelated people have come to the same conclusions and the same anecdotal evidence but had absolutely no connection to each other and completely different backgrounds from one another. Consider this list of books and authors for a moment:

    – Boyd Eaton : wrote the seminal paper on Paleolithic Nutrition in 1985
    – Loren Cordain – Stumbled across Eaton’s paper in 1988-89 and wrote The Paleolithic Diet in 1992
    – Robb Wolf – Stumbled upon the Paleolithic way of eating after getting increasingly sicker after having spent a good portion of his life as a vegetarian. Eventually studied under Cordain as a research biochemist and wrote “The Paleo Solution”.

    So, there’s a tentative connection between Eaton and Cordain, and a definite influence of Cordain upon Wolf. However:

    Mark Sisson – author of The Primal Blueprint and runs the blog Mark’s Daily Apple is a former Olympic-level marathoner/tri-athlete
    Michael Pollan – author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, “In Defense of Food”, and “Food Rules” is a journalist who eventually got into researching diet and nutrition.
    Gary Taubes – Author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, and “Why we get fat, and what to do about it” is also a journalist who has exhaustively researched the food industry, health, and nutrition
    Dr. Barry Sears – Author of “The Zone Diet” was a pharmaceutical biochemist searching for cholesterol reducing drugs and cures for cardiovascular and heart diseases.
    Dr. Robert Atkins – physician and cardiologist most famous for the “Atkins Diet” which first became popular in 1972ish.
    Dr. Weston A. Price – Dentist, among many other things, traveled the world in the 1920s and ’30s to study primitive cultures, wrote “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” in 1939

    None of the above gentlemen had any connection to each other as far as I can tell, and all came to the same conclusions independently. That conclusion being: wheat, gluten, sugar, and highly processed carbohydrate-based foods all lead to various and chronic auto-immune diseases such as osteo-arthritis, Chrohn’s and Coeliac disease, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart and cardiovascular disease, most forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, IBS, and a whole host of other problems.

    So, along comes William Davis who has similar, but completely separate, and unconnected anecdotal data as all of the above people and he writes a book about it. He attempts to back his claims up with the best science that exists, but fails in a few places, and is likely to have cherry picked or mis-stated some data to back up his claims. If what he were saying were completely opposite all these other folks, or, if he were the first one to make such claims I’d probably write him off entirely as a complete quack. But there’s just too much other corroborating information out there which lends credence to what he has observed and claims in his book that I’m willing to give him a pass on some of the things this article takes him to task for.

    Now, onto other things. You said:

    ” I think in my case I have continued to eat as much as I always have, but my activity level has slowed greatly as I have gotten older. I believe my problem is that I am burning fewer calories whch has resulted in my body storing those excess calories as fat in my belly and on my body.”

    This is a common belief, and what is referred to as the “Calories in-Calories out” model. It is essentially based on the the belief that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics, that energy can neither be destroyed nor created. However, this belief is flawed by the fact that the second law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems. The human body is not a closed system. It is a system driven by hormonal feedback loops, and is also a self-regulating, homeostasis seeking organism. The reason we end up storing fat is because the body is in survival mode. Ideally, your body wants to burn fat. We actually operate better as fat-burners, but unfortunately our society has turned us into carbohydrate addicts. Consider the fact that there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, yet we will die without protein and fat. Human beings can actually live of protein and fat alone (the Inuit and Massai both do so) with zero carbohydrate intake (i.e. all meat no veggies!)

    Your lack of activity may in fact not be a cause of your weight gain, but a symptom of it. Consider that if you’re not eating as nutritionally dense a diet as your body requires that you’ll essentially put it into starvation mode despite consuming a tremendous amount of food (just the wrong kinds). Your body will start converting all the incoming carbohydrates to fat in order to do two things: 1) to remove the toxic glucose from your blood stream, and 2) to store up energy for later. Since you aren’t getting enough of the proper micro-nutrients in your food, your body goes into starvation mode and stores up energy for later. Additionally, you body will down-regulate your energy output because it needs to conserve energy. Hence you feeling less energetic or tired.

    If you have concerns about reading Wheat Belly based on that article, and I can’t blame you one bit, then here are some others I recommend:

    – Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution (this actually my favorite)
    – Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint (also a fantastic read)
    – Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Answer (a newer, updated version of his Paleolithic Diet from 1992)

    I think Robb Wolf’s is probably the best one to get. In it, he even provides a basic 30-day meal plan. I would recommend getting that book, reading it thoroughly, and then do what he says. Perform a self-experiment on yourself. No one knows your body better than yourself. Not your daughter, not your doctor, not your cat or dog. You are the best judge of how you feel. Read the book. Try removing all wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy, and legumes from your diet for just 30 days, that’s it. One month. Anyone can do something for 1 month. At the end of 30 days see how you feel, check your energy levels, and compare how you look in the mirror to before and after the 30 days. If you don’t think there’s been an improvement, well, just go back to doing what you’re doing now. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying it.

    I’ll even make you a deal. If you follow exactly what the book says and you don’t think it changed anything, I’ll buy the book from you. I’m that confident in it!

    As to comments about all of us being concerned about your health, I’m fairly new to being a bare-footer myself. But what I’ve found is that most of us seem to have become so as a result of a health issue of our own. I look at my own parents who’s health is horrible. I can no longer keep track of how many medications they’re on, or how often they’re in and out of the hospital for various minor things. My goal in life to learn from their mistakes and never have any of the issues they have, all of which are completely avoidable. As such, I’ve found that I’m somewhat obsessive about learning everything I can about health, and that all starts with proper nutrition. And the more I learn, the more I want to share it with anyone who listens. I genuinely care about helping people in any way I can. If that means the father of someone on the internet, neither of whom I’ve met or am likely to ever meet, then so be it. My parents aren’t open to learning about taking care of their own health. You seem to be different. If I can help you live a longer, more energetic life with Marci, then I’ll feel that I’ve accomplished something with all the knowledge I’ve accumulated 🙂

    Thanks for reading this far, I apologize for being so long winded !


    • Mike Berrow permalink

      Hello All,
      I found another very detailed article by Dr. William A. Rossi.

      It is called “Children’s Footwear: Launching Site for Adult Foot Ills: It’s time to advocate
      shoelessness for kids.”. It was published in Podiatry Management October 2002.

      I am posting the link here since others on this thread may be interested.

      • This is a great article. Thanks for sharing, Mike. I really feel good about letting my kids go barefoot as much as possible. School is starting soon so they are going to have to start wearing shoes again. I ordered them all Vibram FiveFingers. My oldest son has been wearing them exclusively (when he wears shoes, that is) for the last year. This will be new footwear for my younger two.

      • Mike Berrow permalink

        Vibrams are good alternative when you can’t do barefoot for whatever reason. I just ordered an extra pair of classics. I really like that model, but they seem to have disappeared from stores and to be disappearing online. Also, I just persuaded my wife to try a pair. But … barefoot is best! I tend to take them off as soon as I don’t need them anymore 🙂

    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Thank you so very much Paul for your interest and concern on my behalf. I can’t even begin to express how much this interest means to me. Thank you, thank you… I just ordered Robb Wolf’s book and look forward to reading it and following his diet. I will not hold you to your most generous offer regarding buying the book from me if I am not satisfied after trying the diet. I am however looking forward to receiving the book and getting started on the recommended diet.

      I will let you know Paul of my results from the reading and the diet.

      Thank you again for being so very kind.

      With my great appreciation, best wishes and warm regards, Paul (Marci’s Dad)

  17. Time Traveler permalink

    A bit late in the discussion, but I think there is one more thing missing in this picture, and that is one of the best things you can do for your muscles, joints, tendons, and bones. And that is weightlifting. What you should try is toe raises – put the bar across your back, maybe without weights at first, and go up and down on your toes. Though this is primarily used to develop the calf muscles, when you do this barefoot, you will greatly strengthen the muscles in your toes and arches much faster than just by walking and running barefoot. During the 70s and 80s many of the weightlifter and bodybuilder types I knew in college worked out barefoot some of the time or all of the time, which really strengthened the whole foundation. They would only put shoes on if they were going for a max in the squat or something, but when doing higher numbers of reps with lighter weights it was often barefoot. Start light with high repetition, then over a period of a few months, graduate up to a weight that you can only do 10 times or so, and your feet will be much stronger. Combine that with waking and running barefoot, and you may get close to the kind of foot development you would have had if you had gone barefoot all the time as a child and teen, who knows, this just may work. It’s worth a try.

  18. PaulL permalink

    Hi Paul,

    I apologize for great delay in response to your last post, I’ve either been away or extremely busy with work these past few weeks and just now had the time to catch up on this thread.

    I’m curious if you’ve received Robb Wolf’s book by now, and what you think of it if you’ve begun reading it? I just started reading it again myself, and had forgotten how enjoyable a read it is, especially for a subject which tends to be somewhat dry and uninteresting!

    Anyway, I hope all is well, and Marci, I hope your foot has healed by now 🙂


    • Paul E. von Savoye permalink

      Paul, Thank you so very much for thinking of me. I did order and have received “The Paleo Solution, The Original Human Diet” I also ordered & have received “The Paleo Diet Cookbook” by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.. Professor Cordain wrote the forward in Robb Wolf’s book. The easy part is done the tough part is to live it every day. I am afraid that old habits are not easy to break for this old man. I am a believer I just have trouble putting it into practice. I think if I can get my wife to buy into the program that it would be great for both of us to do together. We will try!

      Again Paul thank you so much for thinking of me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

      Marci seems to be doing better with the foot. I appreciate your good wishes for her too.
      Sincerely, Paul (Marci’s Dad)

  19. PaulL permalink

    Hi Paul,

    I’m glad to hear to got the book. I’m curious to hear your impressions of it, and also of Loren Cordain’s cook book, which I haven’t read yet.

    I agree, change can be hard. I’ve found, though, that change is a lot easier when you’re motivated from within and it’s your decision to change. Changing because someone else wants you to, or because you think you should is never enjoyable and never easy. Changing because *you* want to, however is not only easy, but often times actually enjoyable. Figure out why you want to change, and change because of that.

    When I read Robb’s book, I was incredibly motivated, and didn’t really find the change difficult. What I did find difficult at first were applying the mechanics of the paleo diet once I figured out how to make them work for me. One thing I’ve finally realized is that everyone has their own habits and preferences. As a result, what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. So, I can’t tell you how to make this work for by telling you what I do, since what I do may not apply to your daily life.

    What I can do though, is give you some hints about making this transition within the constraints of your existing daily habits. Look at what you eat now, the types of foods, how they’re prepared, the frequency and times of your meals, etc. Focus on one meal at a time and figure out how to apply the basic paleo principles to that meal. For example, if you have a bowl of cereal, some toast, and a cup of coffee for breakfast; and you tend to sit there at the kitchen table reading the newspaper while enjoying your relaxing breakfast, figure out how to make that just a little healthier. Try having a couple scrambled eggs with some sausage or bacon and a bowl of fresh fruit with your coffee and newspaper instead. Or perhaps, you just want to have some of that left-over BBQ chicken from last night for breakfast because you’re in a hurry and need to run out the door to do errands.

    On average, most people tend to only eat about 12-18 different foods on a regular basis. Figure out what those are for you. Maybe you eat fewer than 12, or more than 18. Figure out what your frequently consumed foods are, then figure out how to make them more paleo.

    If you get really stuck, or need more ideas, I highly recommend this recently released book by a friend of mine, Diane, who’s mentor was Robb Wolf:

    And feel free to contact me directly if you have questions, concerns, or whatever. I’m more than happy to help!


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