Hello and thanks for visiting my site. My name is Ryan Parnham and I am just an average guy in my upper 30’s from the Midwest. I am a husband and a father of 2 children. I have an extensive and diverse background in traditional medicine. I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 2002 and worked as a cardiac nurse and eventually went to grad school and received my Master of Science degree in nursing and became a certified family nurse practitioner and have been practicing now for 10 years. I have worked in a variety of settings including congenital heart disease, adult critical care and family medicine. My current role is lead of the inpatient COPD service at the medical center where I work.
OK, enough about my educational and work history. How about “why am I doing this website focused on primal and ancestral health?”
I am doing this website because our country is SICK and slowly dying from our unhealthy lifestyles. From the food we eat, the time spent sitting, ever increasing levels of stress along with less and poorer quality of sleep, we are like zombies, mindlessly wandering around, eating whatever is in sight, sitting and staring at the computer or TV yet depressed and anxious due to our poor health, time constraints, family issues, etc. Due to all of this our health is suffering. Unfortunately, our health care system is set up to where it is mostly REACTIVE rather than PROACTIVE when it comes to our health. Overweight with high blood sugar? Order a medication. Irritable bowel syndrome? Order a medication. High blood pressure? Order a medication. Depression and anxiety? Order a medication. You get it. No explanation needed. We approach body composition the same way. Overweight and out of shape? “Work out more and eat less fat and calories.” “Do more cardio.” “No pain no gain.” “Fat is bad for you”. “Sacrifice sleep and get your butt up and workout at the crack of dawn.” These methods (and many more) are pretty much the “common knowledge” in regards to losing weight and being healthy but, for the most part, do not work and are not sustainable and may not actually make you healthier.
What if I told you that our bodies LONG to be healthy and lean and the process of attaining this is easier then you might think?
Well, this IS possible and using a primal and ancestral approach is what our body is DESIGNED for.
I believe there are 4 vital elements achieving and maintaining optimum health:
- Physical activity
- Stress management
I will go into more detail on each of these on this site.
My personal health story:
I have always been an active person and playing sports most of my life including baseball, basketball .and football I went through a chubby phase in my late grade school years before growing a few inches and was pretty lean in high school (about 5’11” and 170 lbs). Up until that point I was very health conscious and tried to make healthy choices. I lifted weights and ran regularly in high school and early college. At around age 19-20 I started packing on the pounds. I was living a somewhat “typical” life for a guy that age: Late nights, too much beer, too much processed convenience foods, too much sugar, stress from college, stress from getting married (at age 21). By age 22 I got up to about 225 lbs.
I was not proud of what I had become. My blood pressure was borderline high, my resting heart rate was elevated, and I just didn’t feel great and found myself way out of shape. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and said, “enough is enough”, and from that day on I never looked back. I cut way back on the “partying”, cut back all the junk food and ate (what I thought at the time) was a healthy diet (which was “low fat” but did include quite a bit of fruits and veggies). I kept lifting weight and running and the weight melted off and I got down to the 175-185 range within a few short months. I stayed at this weight for quite a few years and felt pretty good. My blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and lab numbers were all excellent. I was on no medications and had no health issues other than seasonal allergies and some eczema. I ran frequent 10Ks and half marathon races and did fairly well.
Nutrition has always been a passion of mine and during this time period the “gluten free” movement really started to take effect. Also gaining quite a bit of popularity during that time period was the “paleo diet”. I started reading and researching this and stumbled upon Mark Sisson’s website, http://www.marksdailyapple.com , and was intrigued by all the awesome information he had on there and decided to apply some of it to my own life. I started with cutting out gluten, probably in 2011 or so. Within weeks my eczema and seasonal allergies were gone and I’ve never had them since. Also, my abs started showing. I’ve never had a rip roaring 6 pack as I don’t think genetically I am blessed in that way, but until I cut out gluten I never was able to see my abs much. I also went from about 175-180 down to about 170 without changing anything else. My vascularity improved and I felt much less bloated (I don’t think I even knew I was bloated prior to that). Now, when I started training heavily for the ultramarathons combined with the improved eating my weight really dipped and I got down to about 158 (which is way to low for me). In between heavy training I would usually range in the 165-170 range. I continued the ultramarathons for a couple of years (along with 3 days a week of weight training), completing quite a few with the longest race being a 50 mile trail run (talk about excruciating pain!).
From the outside I looked like the picture of health, but to be honest, I did not feel great. I had issues sleeping, at times my libido was not as strong as what it had been, (my wife may disagree with that), my resting heart rate was up, I was more irritable, etc. With the help of Mark Sisson and others in the primal/paleo and ancestral health community, I realized I was probably suffering from “adrenal fatigue” and essentially overtraining. I was in constant stress mode–my sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) was in overdrive and I probably had sky high cortisol (stress hormone) levels and was probably doing more harm than good. Mark Sisson had a similar experience as a former high performing endurance athlete (many others as well). I finally quit the regular endurance training and let my body recover and the stress symptoms all resolved. At this point in my life my focus went from FITNESS FIRST and health second to HEALTH FIRST and fitness second.
On this site I will tackle what it means to put health first. The “rules” are simple, but our society has made it more complex than what it should be. Putting health first allows you to also be fit and healthy without all the obsession on training, which then leads to more overall life balance. I believe in a Primal or Ancestral approach to health. Basically, what habits did our hunter-gatherer ancestors practice to stay healthy and how do we incorporate some of these practices into modern life? This site will go into more detail on these topics. I completed the Primal Health Coaching program founded by Mark Sisson to further expand my knowledge base for health coaching and am a Certified Primal Health Coach and love using this training along with my diverse background to help people achieve health and the best version of themselves. http://www.primalhealthcoach.com/.
Life is too short to be unhealthy and unhappy. We have the power to be healthy and active while preventing, prolonging and even reversing and curing chronic disease with some very basic principles. I hope to address many of these on this site. Health coaching will be available on a case-by-case basis (since I have another full-time job). Coaching can be both in person and online.