Dana’s Paleo Journey: Unexpected Life-Altering Results!

*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!





  1. Jenny says

    Congratulations! I love that last photo of you, it’s a great portrait and you look so happy. I just signed up for EP Life Fit and am really loving it.

  2. Jaime says

    Great post Dana! Like you, I wasn’t sick but wasn’t really happy with the direction things were going. I have always been active but now realize I was just doing a bunch of stuff with no real direction. EPLifefit has helped me set (and reach!!) fitness goals I didn’t even know I had and I have learned more about Paleo from the amazing EPlifefit forums than I had in a year trolling the interwebs. I love being a part of this community!

  3. Cindy says

    Amazing story! I had the same “ah-ha” moment as you did the first time I really cheated on my Paleo lifestyle. I could not believe how BAD I felt. The feeling in my gut…that hurt, ache, discomfort…unbelievable. And to realize that I used to feel that way every day…AND thought it was normal. No way was I going back to that. You look amazing! Congrats on everything you have accomplished and good luck on reaching your goals!

  4. Heidi says

    Thank you for this post. It is great to hear from someone who wasn’t sick as I think it is harder for us to keep motivated. I’ve eaten Paleo since January but have really fallen off the wagon as of late. I need and want to get back on track and I’m hoping your post will stay with me to get back on the wagon. I know that cupcake will make me feel sluggish – but will also taste so good. I’m committing myself again to eating right. Thanks for your story!

  5. April says

    Thanks for sharing that! I also was not sick, but wanted to be healthier so my boyfriend and I started Paleo November of this year! I NEVER expected to loose weight but did so without even trying. Diets are hard work! Good thing this isn’t a diet but a way of life. I have been putting off buying new pants but can’t for much longer as they are literally falling off of me!

  6. Carolyn says

    Oh no! I think you wrote this post just for me. I can completely relate with all you said concerning not having any major health issues and your reasons for starting your journey on Paleo. My body type is a lot like yours (pre-paleo conversion). I just started looking into this whole world of paleo last week and am wondering if it would be worth the effort… because after dappling in it for a week, I realize the massive amounts of dairy and grains I rely on! Thank you for sharing your story. After reading it, I’m ready to try harder and commit more fully. I am a mother of four little girls 7, 5, twin 2 yr olds. I’m tired… so you helped me realize I can change that! Thanks. Now on to the hard work…

  7. Deb says

    I loved your story Dana, what an amazing journey. EPLifeFit is awesome and it can make all the difference. How beautiful, healthy and happy you look ….so glad you shared this with us..:)
    I can’t wait to hear what this next year will bring for you….. :)

  8. says

    What a beautiful story. I especially love that you are focusing on “life” photos rather than pics in workout clothes. This is what it is all about, right? Getting healthy and living life. You look absolutely beautiful.

  9. Rebecca says

    This post was basically the story of my life. I went to Puerto Rico in January and didn’t want to have my picture taken in this tropical destination. After returning, I began a vegetarian diet and doing Zumba and NiteClub Cardio, and started feeling better, but still felt sluggish and lacked the energy that I hoped for. In March, I then started bootcamp three days a week, and after focusing on diet and exercise for five months I felt that I’d made very little progress. Oh, and I decided to start eating meat again after 3 months without, and all 8 pounds that I’d lost came right back. So last month I began my Paleo journey, and although the first few weeks were tough, I am feeling better than ever! I’ve lost 9 pounds in 5 weeks, and have already dropped a pants size. Better yet, I have unlimited energy, never feel sluggish, and am loving life!

  10. Turning Troglodyte says

    Awesome. Tracking my own family’s ventures in Paleo now too in a blog. 3 months in and my weight only 7lbs lighter but significant body shape change. Total converts!!

  11. Laura says

    Thank you for sharing your story! Your transformation is amazing — congratulations! You look so much happier as your journey has progressed. My story is somewhat similar to yours — I thought Robb Wolf was out of his mind, I’m not sick, etc. But I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot, and I was surprised at the results. And like you, whenever I had a cheat moment (a slice of pizza for example) I’d feel like garbage later — so not worth it!

  12. Ashlen says

    Dana, you are a wonderful friend, and you were totally the spark I needed to start my paleo journey. Your vibrant health and energy is contagious.

  13. says

    Love this! Congratulations. I have a similar story, as do most of my clients. I lost 50 pounds going paleo, and feel and look the best I’ve ever felt and looked. It’s really a remarkable transition and so much fun. Plus, I loved that you shifted your mindset from “losing weight” to “feeling good.” This is really the key to getting what you want for your body. Feel good now! Choose good food now! Do it not to “lose weight” but simply to feel good and it will be easy.

  14. Jennifer G says

    Wow, your before/after pictures are AMAZING!! I love the one at the end of the post. I have been researching Paleo for a while now. I haven’t gotten up the courage to try it yet. I am diabetic and pregnant. I am having a very difficult time keeping my bloodsugar where the dr’s want it and I am afraid I will be put on insulin within the next couple of weeks. And my husband has “random” aches and pains caused by “aging”. I wonder if Paleo might be the answer we are both looking for. I think we will begin phasing in Paleo and phasing out all our junk foods (phasing because I just spent $100 at the grocery store yesterday). If it helps us both feel better with the added benefit of looking better then why not?

  15. Sarah says

    Well done!! :) The paleo lifestyle is astounding. I have been working out 3-4 times weekly for around 7 months now… and I have lost one entire kilogram. My emotionally insecure female self didn’t really understand this until quite recently when I saw a holistic personal trainer and he was baffled at my diet – for the last 4 years I have been quite ill – always bloated and sick and suffering from a very unhappy digestive system. GP’s were all “less meat and more fibre!!” Veganism didn’t work well. Then they were all “More fish and more vegetables (than the 8-9servings everyday already). All the gastroenteroligist had to say was that I suffer from IBS and perhaps lactose intolerance too… stop eating dairy. That helped a lot…. but not enough to live a normal life. It was only until I cut out grains and bread and pasta and slowly increased my meat intake to an amount that my poor IBS and lactose retarded ridden tummy can handle that I haven’t felt sick.
    Nuts with banana and berries and almond milk for breakfast? Favourite. Tuna or organic ham through a garden salad for lunch? Perfect. Baked chicken breast alongside steamed greens drizzled in coconut oil for dinner? DIVINE.
    PALEO FOR THE WIN!! Energy and wellness and awesomeness is MINE now!!!

  16. says

    What a transformation Dana! You do, indeed, look wonderful. I wish I could convert my colleagues to this style of eating. I am still rather on the outer as they tuck into the seemingly endless morning teas! They are the ones who are yawning in the afternoon as they reach for yet another diet coke!

  17. Edd ken says

    Wow, you look so beautiful and happy. I want to make this lifestyle change as well and hoping I can be motivated enough to stay paleo at least for 30 days.

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