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When It All Comes Crashing Down - From Carnivore Failure to Carnivore Warrior

Kyle Tucker 50 Days What?

On July 25, 2023 I made a declaration to myself and just about everyone I knew. I stood up and yelled that enough was enough…NO MORE YO-YO DIETING and THIS time will be different! I got my pen and pad and got to work. The perfect plan had been percolating in my mind for over 10 years. It’s time had come.

 I spent weeks devising that plan to utilize all possible avenues of leverage that I could think of, the most important being: the risk of all-out public humiliation and failure. I mean who wants to make a fool of themselves in front of just about everyone they know and a boatload of people they have never even met? Well, me apparently. I mean, if you are going to go down…might as well be in a Hindenberg-esque ball of flames right? I specialize in that. 

 “I will use a carnivore diet for at least 1 year to lose the weight once and for all!” I shouted it from Facebook’s virtual rooftops and spilled my guts about my past attempts, failures and childhood demons that still haunted me at the age of 50. I could not fail. I would not fail. I was determined, and looking back, I even admire myself for taking that plunge back then. It took some balls. I have never been so transparent in my life. 

It was all uncomfortable. It was sort of scary in fact, as the potential failure hung over my daily processed food urges like a looming storm cloud on the horizon. Everyone supported me, even amidst my colossal failure (which I will dive into momentarily) and encouraged me to get back up, dust myself off and keep going. But I was so embarrassed for myself. I let myself down…again. But you know what? I would not, in a million years, change a thing. 

I lost a bunch of weight, gained some back but I have also met some of the coolest long time carnivores, struggling carnivore wanna-bees, and chronically stumbling, self proclaimed processed food & sugar addicts just like me. It feels good to find friends like that. There are even some vegans I have had some friendly debates with and then there have been some other vegans who have been, quite frankly, nasty. So, I put them to the curb. Eat all the weeds you want if it makes you happy; just dont bring your anger to me. 

My only regret during that time? I sincerely wish I had better documented my implosion on a more regular basis so others could learn from my struggles. So why waste time and energy now lamenting on my past mistakes? Only one reason really: to learn from them. After all, here I am dissecting what is easily the most embarrassing, and yet strangely empowering period of my life. Never before have I been forced to look myself in the mirror with such scrutiny and been driven so strongly from deep inside to find answers, the final answers, the ones that actually lead to…change. 

Failing in the shadows is one thing, which I have done repeatedly throughout my life…I had a goal and I did not achieve it: One. Full. Year. Carnivore. No exceptions!. In the dark one can wallow, transparently, silently, all alone. One can simply sit in the anger, frustration and shame and let it be…then begrudgingly let it all dissipate over time until the strength reappears to give it another go. 

But now? In the light of day? In front of everyone I know? Exposed. 

On top of that I felt as though I had let down those who follow my journey in hopes of learning more about themselves and how to succeed in their own lives. We are all fighting the power of Big Food and their relentless addiction model that preys on a trusting public, and unfortunately, a fairly uninformed public as to the depths of the misinformation and lies we have been told for decades. I hate to let those warriors down who are in my corner, even for a minute. We are in a fight for our own health, our country’s health, even our world’s health.  

But alas, it all came crashing down. 

Originally, the leverage I created was there to provide additional reasons to stick to Carnivore 100% and it worked for a while…but after my implosion the leverage has provided something quite unexpected and magical in my eyes. Somehow, this has all transcended from a commitment to my original goal of “one perfect carnivore year” to instead providing me with somewhat of an obsession to do the work needed to succeed reflect, dig deeper, carve through the mess of emotions, feelings, addictions, & stresses to see what truly is underneath and what I missed during that whole shit show. It has driven me to continue which in and of itself is a miracle and something I have not done before. Usually when it is over, it is over. 

It took some soul searching but I learned a valuable lesson, one that is not that earth shattering by any means but it has hit home for me. 

The only true way to fail is to quit. 

Now that the dust has settled, I remember feeling like my journey was coming to an end… like my failure was absolute and inevitable. It was as if I was staring at a lifeless body in an ice cold morgue and wondering how my carnivore dream could perish like this? So short, muted & just plain ordinary. 

I was caught in the storm that only severe addiction can cause, but one beacon of light flickered in the distance guiding me through the crashing waves and the darkness to deliver me to the place I so longed to be. That beacon is, and always has been, my kids. I had to keep going… for them. They were the real reason I was in this to begin with… My true “WHY”. 

So what happened? What caused my fall from grace? 

It’s simple. Stress. But not the everyday, ordinary stuff. The bigger kind. 

I thought I was ready. I was wrong. 

My mother has had quite a hard nineteen years since her traumatic brain injury and she cannot speak except for a few small phrases. Communication, to say the least, is difficult. This past autumn was the worst I had seen her since her tragic accident all that time ago. She was unable to stand up, unable to explain to us what she was feeling and she stared back at me through vacant, clouded eyes. I knew something was wrong, really wrong. 

The doctors discovered a previously undiagnosed UTI and due to my mother’s inability to relay any information, it had festered for weeks, spreading through her body. It caused a laundry list of serious symptoms. Any longer and it could have been deadly.  

She looked so sad laying there in the hospital bed, just waiting for anything to break up the gloom and monotony that hung in the room. I remember standing over her in the quiet and drifting back through the years to when she was an absolute rock star. Her life was once so big & vibrant before her brain injury...she was in fact a pioneer in her field, but more importantly she was a spreader of joy, support and love and ironically a big time talker… but now? That had been stolen away from her by one, senseless, stupid accident that was no fault of her own. As my mind came back to the humming of the machines in her hospital room, I thought that maybe she was giving up. Her energy was so low and her face expressionless. 

Luckily, these days, one of the only things she is able to say when she grabs my hand is…”I love you.” What a gift that is. Of all the phrases that could have remained for her, what a blessing it is. 

Sure, the hospital was stressful, but nothing compared to what was to come after being discharged. She went to physical rehab and was unable to get out of bed on her own, unable to shower, unable to go to the bathroom, unable to even clean herself. I have never seen her in such poor health and so despondent, but I was still hopeful that she could rebound. 

Not long after, I received a phone call one afternoon thinking we were all finally on a good path when the rehab administrator relayed to us that they were denying my mother’s medicare claim and she would need to go home… after only two weeks. If we had to pay out of pocket the costs were astronomical. She was still a shell of herself and we were concerned that she may never make it back to an acceptable state of health. Thoughts of death, pain, loneliness, hospice, all plagued me about my mother who has, since the day I was born, always been my biggest supporter. It was time for me to be hers. 

We, as humans, can handle just about anything in the moment, but what we can’t fix is the future. No matter how hard we try, intense worry is the worst form of stress because it takes place in an uncertain time down the road and we are left helpless. We can wrestle with it, try to eliminate it, but it is still there simply growing in intensity the more energy we give it. My mother’s destiny was all of a sudden in serious doubt as we would have no ability to take care of her in her present state and yet also no means to pay the exorbitant amount of money on inpatient rehab that should have been provided. My father and I were dumbfounded, and absolutely, unequivocally, stressed to the breaking point. 

We went through the arduous process to appeal this decision and with every hoop we were forced to jump through I lost a little more of my resolve, not to mention belief in a virtuous humanity. The nights of running from work, to the hospital, then home, neglecting my kids, my wife, then back to work and back to rehab afterwards were adding up. My spirit was being shredded and yet, mercilessly, I still hated on myself for not being stronger inside. God, why do we treat ourselves this way? As I hit “submit” on sending the plethora of documents to the review board, I let out a deep breath. I wanted to have faith so badly that things would work out but there were so many unknowns floating in the air they just seemed to smother all hope. Sitting quietly at my work computer, alone, my head in my hands, I broke down and cried. 

That was the moment I cracked and I gave up, everything. Over the coming weeks I coped in the easiest ways possible - I ate everything I wanted and constantly said “I’ll start again tomorrow”. I did it mostly alone, hiding from just about everyone - including my support systems in place. With every 

tomorrow came another excuse, another reason to delay the work, another reason to simply quell the uncertainty and sacrifice my health, yet again. 

Carnivore would have to wait… and my goals? They were now on the back burner. 

The only silver lining I could take from all of this was my absolute refusal to blame myself for succumbing to the intense urges for processed foods. Please understand, I take full responsibility for my decisions. I knew what I was doing but I did not and do not blame myself and there is a difference. It is important to mention because without this, I would never have made it through to the other side. Without grace and some understanding it is tough to move on. If you have not read it already and you struggle with this I encourage you to read my previous blog post going into more detail on this: “It’s Not Your Fault - How I Stopped Blaming Myself For Weight Loss Failures”.  

Thankfully, I am happy to report that we did win the appeal and my mother was able to stay in rehab until she was strong enough to come home. She’s doing much better now and as always is an absolute trooper in the face of adversity. For myself however, the damage was done.

My dietary self destruction may seem straightforward but as I have said often during this quest, weight loss does not occur in a vacuum no matter how much we would like it to be that simple. It is never ALL about food. Life, unfortunately, is just never that clear. It is usually murky and takes time and energy to sort through the muck of our pasts and our psyche. Mine is quite the pit I can assure you. 

 The truth is, there was something else going on here… a real mystery that possibly no one knew about in the back corners of my twisted, delusional, and sometimes childish “wanting it all” mind. I tried my darndest to deny that it was even there and I pretended it wasn’t… even though it was hiding in plain sight like a kid playing hide and go seek under a blanket with her shoes sticking out plain as day. 

In my first blog post ever, "Fat Drunk And Tucker - Stumbling My Way To Better Health With A Carnivore Diet" I wrote about being on the edge of a cliff. I wrote about needing to jump one last time and for this time to make it count. The only problem was... I was wrong.

Yes, that leap of faith to take my carnivore quest public was pivotal. It raised my sails and sent my ship to sea. It sent me on a journey that has already changed me in so many ways and brought me to a new level of self awareness and self-appreciation for what seems like the first time... but it has not been without its fair share of turmoil, self doubt, frustration, anger and lastly some, if I may be so bold... wisdom.

I was so arrogant in my assumptions that one jump could be the final decision…the final act of triumph. Somewhere inside I ignorantly thought that the jump was the hard part, and the rest would be …dare I say… easy? While it certainly had power, I never, even for a moment, thought that I would be confronted with so many additional cliffs to both climb, consider at length, debate, debate, debate and then either retreat or jump to an uncertain fate. 

Well, now I am climbing once again and for anyone that knows me well, you will understand that this cliff lies somewhere between the top of Mount Everest and the moon. In all honesty, sharing this part of my life is one of the more difficult things I have considered doing. 

Perhaps it is one of the worst kept secrets in history, and it may come as no surprise to anyone that while I may have been happily married for almost 15 years, I have had an absolute love affair with someone else since I was a teenager. Ok, maybe not someone…but some…thing: 

And that thing is, Alcohol.  

I have tried to share this many times. I have written and deleted so many paragraphs about it that I could probably have an entire, albeit extremely repetitive and boring book, dedicated to it. 

Somewhere over the past 5-10 years alcohol has started to play a larger role in my life (and in my mind) than I would like, even after an extended 7 month break not long ago. I had read about the “tipping point” with addictions many times, especially alcohol, but never even saw this as a possibility. The act of tipping is so gradual that it is imperceptible in day to day life muddied by convenient excuses we tell ourselves - “I had a long day, the kids are being rough, I just want to relax.” Somewhere along the way I started drinking wine, every night. And I loved it, until I didn’t. 

I remember taking those breaks from alcohol in the past and being absolutely fine for months at a time, but now, all of a sudden it feels like it is a struggle to abstain for even one day…it is a struggle to not think about it. We can make rules like “no drinking during the week and only on the weekends” but within a month or so those are broken and we are back where we started. 

I am lucky though. I have not had the relationship with alcohol that you might think from someone pondering giving it up for an extended period of time. Alcohol has not destroyed my life and in fact it has been one of the glowing parts of it, as I said it has been a love affair and even a best friend. But sometimes, relationships need to end once they become too one sided.  

When I started Carnivore the thought of giving up all processed foods, sugars, grains, vegetables, and fruit was ok but alcohol too? No thanks. That was a bridge too far to cross for me. I trace my changing drinking habits back to my mother’s traumatic brain injury and the subsequent death of my brother two years later. Alcohol went from being about having “fun” to being that shoulder to cry on when times got tough or that simple escape to “anywhere but the present moment”. It was just easier than actually feeling all of it.  I began “using” alcohol instead of just enjoying it. This process went on for years amid countless breaks but it weighed heavier and heavier on my mind. It was starting to change me, in a way I was not ok with. 

At any point of your life have you asked yourself if you could be more? Better? Have you ever wondered about or visualized a version of yourself who truly was embracing the gift of life that you have been given but then, just a few short moments later, dismiss it as almost childish, pie in the sky thinking? This used to happen to me a lot but it was always a fleeting glimpse into an impossible future so it made sense to simply let it slowly evaporate into the ether. The thing is, now that I have taken some time away from alcohol, combined with the true power of a carnivore diet I am unable to shake that image. It is as if it is calling to me to act and the comforting thing is I do not think I am the only one. 

It seems that nowadays there is a bit of a movement happening. There is a collection of some wonderful, forward thinking people not actually hitting the well known rock bottoms, but instead they are simply questioning their alcohol use and whether it is actually making their lives better? These are some of my newest friends and we are called gray-area drinkers. 

Over the past few months I did not ask myself if I am an “alcoholic” because that term means so many things to so many people and it did not seem to help me with what I was going through. Instead there were two questions that have kept coming to mind over and over again, the first of which I heard from Claire Pooley the author of The Sober Diaries, my all time favorite “quit lit” book. Oh yeah, did I mention I have read over ten books about quitting alcohol? Hmmmm, maybe there is something going on here? 

Question 1: Is alcohol messing with my life? 

Question 2: Will I be happier in a year if I stop drinking? 

The answer to the first question, to me, is easy. It absolutely is messing with my life and almost more importantly, my mind. Not only had the constant booze chatter taken up a seemingly permanent residence there with thoughts like “should I drink tonight or not?” but it had gotten to the point where it needles you all the time. “Am I drinking too much? Too often? Is this killing my weight loss and health progress? Am I a bad person for drinking? Can’t I just cut back?”

The way I see it, once you begin to question your relationship to alcohol… you are pretty much screwed… and most certainly you will end up thoroughly exhausted by constant back and forth. And if you want to see for sure? Just take a break for a spell and see how you feel. I had taken breaks hundreds of times in the past, but now all of a sudden when I did, the voice got louder and louder, more and more annoying, until it would be unbearable and I would just sit on the couch with a glass of wine to shut that bastard up. Unfortunately, upon further self examination, this was not where the challenge ended and I began to take stock of all the things that had changed for me over the years. I did not like what I saw. 

Have you ever seen the movie “Yes Man”? It’s a light hearted, warm and fuzzy feel good, eternally rewatchable flick for me… that also happens to depict one of the greatest made-up movie bands of all time… the Zooey Deschanel fronted “Munchausen by Proxy”... I’m not your late night booty call…love that tune. Ok, I may have just been sidetracked.  Back to it…

The movie came on the other day and I watched some pieces for like the 50th time and it got me thinking… and if you know me by now, that is usually trouble. Jim Carrey’s character, Carl, goes through a seminar and then he agrees to absolutely say “YES” to anything proposed to him no matter how strange, uncomfortable or even sometimes, just plain gross. If you know, you know. 

As you can imagine, saying “Yes” to life opens up new worlds, experiences and possibilities for Carl as it also does for any of us. Not only does it lead to Carl slamming fifteen red bulls and going on a photography run, but it ends with him finding happiness, self appreciation and even the possible love of his life. 

So, why do I bring up this somewhat obscure reference to one of Jim Carrey’s lesser known roles? Because it seems that something sad has happened to me over the past few years and at this point it is undeniable. It is not something I can simply place the blame on aging, either. 

I used to be up for just about anything, especially if it happened during the day. (I have eternally gone to bed by 9 so any plans after 8pm have always been hard to come by anyway) If you invited me to anything from 4am to say 6pm I was your man. City? Sure let’s go. Tennis? I’m in. Round of golf, round of beers, dinner and then a game of horseshoes? Hell yeah, I’m your guy. 

But now, out of nowhere, the writing on the wall is clear as day…I am somewhere within the slow drawn out process of becoming a “No Man”...always looking to subtly navigate our activities to feature sitting comfortably on our couch with a glass or 4 of wine from 5pm - 9pm and then, off to bed. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It is only when I look back that I am able to unravel this while at the time I told myself whatever excuses I needed to hear in order to keep up the ruse. 

Recently while listening to a podcast I heard the following quote and then just a few days later someone wrote it in one of the forums I frequent. Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something? 

“Addiction is a progressive narrowing of the things that bring you pleasure,

Happiness is a progressive expansion of the things that bring you pleasure,

The former emerges passively. The latter takes work”.   

- Andrew D. Huberman

When I first heard this, it absolutely hit me in the chest and it started my mind drifting over the past 11 years with my kids and all of the opportunities along the way to be a better dad that I have squandered. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do think I am a good father but that itch, that is somewhat unscratchable, persists. Be more. Be better. Those opportunities are the fleeting, high quality moments we have as they grow up so quickly, to connect at the deepest levels, not push them aside in exchange for an easy path to a simple pleasure. 

I have probably spent the last 1/2 year during my public pursuits of health & weight loss in complete denial about all of this as alcohol use like mine really does not have any place in a healthy, carnivore diet. But, on the positive side of things, it has led me to this place. I am cautious and fearful of making any grand declarations, as with every word I write, I feel a quiet tension building inside of me a little more and more at the thought of...forever. That is too much for me right now. 

A solid break? That is for sure. I look forward to sharing about this more thoroughly in the months ahead but for now I thank you for your continued support as my quest for lasting, lifelong health continues. When I decided to go public with my weight problems I told myself that I needed to be open and honest with people and fight the fear to present myself in any other way that I am. So, if I am being truly honest now I will say that I am fearful of writing about my relationship with alcohol so publicly for many reasons but mostly, because no one wants to be judged. At this point I am truly an explorer and I am far from having all the answers but sometimes a leap of faith takes just that: faith. 

I am so glad to say that the storm has quieted and the waves are now just ripples across a vast sea of hope and I could not be happier to be standing on the shore of another milestone, another challenge, another big jump. The beacon of light that was once flickering is now shining more brightly in the distance, and a little bit more clearly every day. I am also losing weight again, as I am only nine pounds from my ten year low, and easily feeling the best I have in years. 

Amazingly, I have discovered a deep resolve that has seemingly always been inside of me but for years was laying dormant under the surface. I am beginning to believe Carnivore and alcohol free life are a match made in heaven and perhaps, I wonder, my next love affair? 

Alas, I am human and filled with questions and apprehension as I do not want to get ahead of myself...I know how easy it is for any addiction to slide back into one's life. As I am sure you may ask, I do not have a target date, or an end goal in mind… but for now it is enough to live one day at a time and celebrate with you all that I am now 50 days alcohol free. I have no intentions on drinking at any time in the near or maybe even the more distant future. Only time will tell. 

One thing is for sure, when it all comes crashing down, there is only one thing you can do: build it back up again, better than before, brick by brick. 

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for joining me here. I truly appreciate it. If you have enjoyed this post or found some value in it, I would humbly ask that you consider sharing it in any way that you are comfortable with. My best to you and yours for optimal health. Perhaps you can go from Carnivore Failure to Carnivore Warrior? Join us here.

Many thanks.

T. Kyle Tucker aka Fat, Drunk & Tucker

Kyle Tucker 50 Days Alcohol Free

1 Comment

Mar 25

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