*Note from Sarah: This latest post comes from Dana, our EP Director of Operations and my Personal Lifesaver. Dana’s Paleo journey has evolved in so many ways over the last 1 1/2 years… Today’s post is a snapshot of her journey, and I’m sure that her story will inspire you to start and/or continue on your healthy path!
Dana’s Paleo Journey: Unexpected Life-Altering Results!
We often read stories from people who started eating paleo for very specific reasons; autoimmune issues, life threatening illnesses, serious medical problems, etc. What isn’t often talked about is the folks who hear about paleo and decide NOT to give it a shot simply because they think, “Hey, I’m not sick, why should I change how I eat?” I happened to be one of those people and not until I wanted to change the way that I looked did I give paleo a shot; consequently stepping into a journey that would change my life forever.
How did it all begin? Well, let’s rewind the tape back to January 2011. I had been working out faithfully for 8-9 months with a local boot camp program and was really loving it! I was glad that I was finally back on track with an exercise routine and was feeling energized. However, another feeling that kept creeping up was frustration. How come I wasn’t getting more results?
I really wanted to see some aesthetic changes happening, and the fat I wanted to lose simply wasn’t budging, and all I could think about was: It’s only 3 months until we go to Hawaii! I wanted to wear white shorts and look awesome! I wanted to wear sleeveless tops and see some muscle definition! I did not want my thighs to wiggle when I walked around in my bathing suit and I wanted as little cellulite as possible!
Then I remembered this “Paleo” thing my boot camp trainer had told me about and I checked into it. I went to Barnes and Noble and read a couple of chapters of The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Once I got to the “But I Like Bread and Pasta!” section (pg. 97), I slammed the book shut, declared that Robb was whacked, and stormed out of the store. You see, up to this point, whenever I lost a pound or two per week on my various Weight Watchers, Herbalife, or other “fun” regimens, I would “reward” myself to a pasta and bread dinner to celebrate! I wasn’t about to give THAT vice up!
But now, with my Maui vacation looming, my aesthetic motivations were getting the better of me. Maybe I COULD take this whacked paleo guy’s 30 day challenge. I can do ANYTHING strict for 30 days, can’t I? Who am I to call Robb Wolf crazy if I’m not strong enough to take his dare and conquer it and just see what happens?
So I did it – I followed the meal plans in the back of The Paleo Solution. I bought coconut oil, almond butter, and several other ingredients for the first time and started eating them. I committed to more time meal planning, shopping, chopping and cooking. Eventually I found our very own Sarah Fragoso and her awesome book Everyday Paleo, which also helped me plan and make tasty meals! Although skeptical, my journey had begun.
Below you’ll witness my physical transformation after committing to paleo, but rather than showing the typical “before and after” posed-in-workout-clothes photos, I want you to focus on my “life” photos before and after, and later I will explain why….
Pre-Paleo (RARE to even have any pictures of me!)
Pre-Paleo picture, trying to scrunch up against my husband and hide as best I could, while watching our kids run around and play.
RESULTS: After over 3 months on Paleo, here I am in white shorts and no sleeves in Maui, having a great time!!
Here’s the kicker, after our Maui trip, I thought, “Now what?? Do I have any new goals?” I noticed while on the trip, when I ate any crap, I felt like crap. Slice of pizza made me sluggish. A few bites of pasta and I wanted to lay down. Ice cream in Lahaina and I got a sugar headache plus a tummy ache. Too many tropical drink mixers and I had a constant headache. Food was beginning to sabotage my much needed vacation! Fortunately I learned quickly and stopped the poor food choices and proceeded to have a great vacation! This was my first major paleo epiphany!!
When we got home from our trip, my husband and I decided to convert our whole household! We could no longer feed ourselves or our kids toxic foods when we were reading more of the science and continuing to experience drastic changes in our own bodies. I was consistently feeling better than ever and wanting more – even though when I started this paleo journey I did not consider myself to be sick. When I first read the Paleo Solution, I related most to the section titled, “Yeah, But I’m Not Sick.” (page 95) But, since I had decided to take this dare from Robb, “Completely remove these Neolithic food from your diet for one month, you will notice a dramatic improvement in how you feel and perform. Why? Because if you are consuming these foods, I’ll wager you have gut irritation and other systemic inflammation issues.” The “whacked” guy was right. Even though I had no major health concerns and only aesthetic goals that prompted me to try paleo, I could not believe how much better I felt without even realizing that feeling better was possible!!
Here’s the key: After starting with weight loss in mind, I was having a dramatic paradigm shift: If I feel this great now, how much BETTER can I feel? Can I be stronger? Can I build up more stamina and play harder? And what about lifting weights, how would that help me? It was a cascade effect of good health.
Fast Forward to December 2011 when Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness was launched. Between May and December, I had the privilege of attending a workshop with Sarah Fragoso and I also visited with Jason Seib at Clackamas Physical Conditioning. My family was trucking forward with our new Paleo lives and feeling better than ever.
My next shift came when I committed to lifting heavier weights. My goals were simple: I wanted to be stronger, more energetic, and healthier than ever. I had a new understanding that workouts needed to include heavy lifting, metabolic conditioning, and mobility movements. Here’s a picture of me, committing to going to the gym for my eplifefit workout, even in the snow. Why? Because the endorphins of this new regimen kicked in and I was feeling even more amazing! Had to Do It!
And here is a vibrant, happier me after nearly a year of Paleo and a few months of eplifefit workouts:
And ya know what? I’m not even going to tell you what size these jeans are! I WILL say that sizes melted off but pounds did not! For more on that, see Deb’s story. Mine is much the same.
The reason I show these pictures is this: I hope you can see a difference in me: In my face and body. I can keep up with my 11 and 9 year old boys now. I thrive on being active and cooking fresh, delicious foods. I can lift heavy things in my day-to-day life without a second thought. My mind is clearer, body is stronger, and I can’t even tell you the last time I had a sniffle. It’s no longer about wearing a certain pair of shorts – Because really, after that, what do you do next? Go back to eating crap and feeling like crap? No Way! I KNEW, after our trip to Maui, I wanted to push forward to my best, healthiest self, and I am still committed to that same ideal today. I’m still not as strong as I want to be, but I now have specific fitness goals unlike the silly “white shorts goals” that I used to have and I know I can get there thanks to the supportive community on Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness, helping me with all aspects of my Paleo life daily.
Like me, you can start this journey for what might seem like an insignificant reason (white shorts in Maui), not be diagnosed with any particular ailment, and even be a regular exerciser, feeling pretty darn good. BUT IT CAN BE EVEN BETTER! It doesn’t matter why you start… Just that you Do Start!
I am so inspired by everyone’s stories, whether they started out sick or not. For me, it’s no longer about aesthetically pleasing photos… The overall goal is health, strength, a clear mind, and setting myself and my family up for a disease-free future. Give it a shot: Once you experience it, I guarantee you’ll never look back!