My Paleo Journey

I want to start by sharing my journey to Paleo story. Its a long one, so grab some grass fed beef jerky and read on..
Its been 2 years since I first started eating this way. My life has been influenced by food, nutrition, and health from a young age. I grew up with a mother who is an incredible cook (a chef actually). She and my father owned a big restaurant, catering hall, and bakery when they were married. After they divorced, they ended up working together years later and owned many successful weight loss centers. My father survived multiple major cancer battles and healed himself after chemotherapy with nutrition. Today he is a 69 year old health nut. At 9 years old I was drinking fiber shakes, organizing his vitamins, and changing his IV bags. He is a fantastic cook and made things like lentil loaf and tofu pumpkin mousse. He was into alternative medicine before it was cool. So from a young age, I was exposed to the miracle of both nutrition and natural healing. I went to college at the University of Delaware and earned my Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. Then I graduated and worked both in medical research and for one of the top Nutritionally focused MDs in NYC. After a few years, I decided to become a Physician Assistant. I graduated as a PA in 2004, just before having my first son. I practiced part time in Family medicine for 2.5 years and stopped after my son was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (an autoimmune colitis) at 18 mos.

I have always been thin. Not super skinny model thin, but at over 6 feet tall, I was always considered thin. I spent most of my high school years avoiding gym class and refusing to play sports (can you say rebellion?), despite the fact that the basketball coach stalked me. I just was not into it. And in college I hit the gym a few times and giggled my way through yoga class. After college and before I got married I did start going to the gym, but mostly just to walk on the treadmill or half assedly (is that a word?) ride the bike or curl a few dumbbells. I dabbled in Pilates reformer for a while. I really enjoyed it, but mostly it was because it didn’t feel like exercise. I thought exercise felt bad. A few years and three pregnancies later (where I gained 50-70 lbs each) I had my third baby. The end of my pregnancy and the period following it was awful. I was in excrutiating pain every day with my hips being out of alignment and my core weak (I had 3 c sections and BIG babies). I lost a lot of the weight but was still about 15-20 lbs heavier than when I started having kids and calling me out of shape was an understatement. The last pregnancy left my back a mess and my hips filled with daily pain. I couldn’t walk up the stairs without gripping the rail. I couldn’t stand on one foot. After 3 months of Physical Therapy, I was cleared to start exercising again with a brace holding my hips in place. I started jogging lightly once I got clearance (with the couch to 5k program) and loved it. I started weight watchers and lost 9 pounds. But despite it all, I still felt crappy.

Lucky for me, Stacy of Paleo Parents (find her blog here) was a friend whose blog I had read for years (she and I crossed paths when our oldest boys were cloth diapered toddlers). I watched as she melted away pounds and raved about how much energy and vibrancy she had now that she was eating Paleo. I asked her once about it and she directed me to Robb Wolff’s book. I got it and it sat on my night stand for a few months. Then, by the first week of March of 2011 I was done feeling awful and ready to take control of my body. At that point I felt fat, lethargic, and my gut was killing me. A lightbulb in my head went off and I realized I had a gluten intolerance that for years I had blamed on other stuff. So I asked Stacy for help and she was more than happy to answer questions and point me where I needed to go. She even let me test secret recipes for the book she and her husband were writing. That week I went Paleo and went strong until the summer when things got hairy in my life and I let my priorities get out of whack. When my belly got bad enough, I stood back up, brushed myself off and got back on the wagon. I have been fully Paleo ever since.

For more info on Paleo, see my Paleo Basics post here https://paleofamilyeats.com/2013/09/28/paleo-basics/

By the end of the summer I enlisted the help of a personal trainer and made fitness, not thinness, a priority. I spent my whole life being “skinny fat” so I really needed to start building strength and endurance. I started lifting weights, running intervals, doing suspension training and spinning. I committed to making fitness as important as all the other things in my life. I showed up when I was tired, PMSing, sniffling…you name it. Because if I didn’t, I knew I was a step towards the quitting side of the game and I didnt want to go there. Once I started getting in shape the workouts were harder technically, but easier for me to endure. What once was painful and exhausting, was becoming fun and exhilarating. It took about 4 months of steady work and I was hooked. Its been 16 months now and I am in better shape than I have ever been. I even trained for and completed my first triathlon this summer (I will talk about that in a separate post because it was about so much more than the exercise).
Here’s my incredible trainer, Katherine, and I at the finish line!
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My outlook on life is positive and my energy is through the roof. I am so thankful to have found this lifestyle. It has been life changing for me. The before and after photo below is is from July 2011, January 2012, March 2012. The single photo is my most recent progress picture below was taken in November 2012.
For the month of January 2013 I will be doing a Whole 30 challenge. Read more about it at whole 9 life.
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