*Note from Sarah: Check out the latest and incredibly inspirational post from our very own Jason Seib and make sure you check out his soon to be released AMAZING book, The Paleo Coach now available for pre-order on Amazon!
I recently gave you what I believe to be The Secret to success, and today I want to show you what that looks like in real life! You will find a wealth of information based on this concept in The Paleo Coach, but more proof, stories, and testimonials roll in all the time, so I will keep sharing the information I receive with you until I can win you all over; if I haven’t already. Now, please enjoy this awesome testimonial demonstrating a healthy perspective.
Like most people, Cheri has had some struggles with fat loss in the past. “It goes all the way back to when I was just out of high school,” she told me. “Looking back on the pictures, I was probably pretty fit, but my body image was messed up so I tried everything.” Through college and service in the military she maintained her post high school fitness level, but she wasn’t satisfied with her body.
After two pregnancies in a relatively short period of time, Cheri’s body was no longer cooperating. “The way I had controlled my weight didn’t work anymore,” she said. “Starvation, sometimes as little as 500 calories per day, and running FOREVER; none of it worked. When the boys were toddlers I started hiring trainers because nothing was working on my own.” All the trainers Cheri worked with during these frustrating years used the same techniques she had been accustomed to: caloric restriction and a lot of “burning calories.”
At a local big corporate gym, Cheri actually made it onto their success board. “I was eating 1000 to 1200 calories a day, and counting not just the calories, but also the carbs, fat, and protein. I called it bondage because I hated it.” To make matters worse, when Cheri decided she just couldn’t be miserable any longer she gained back all the weight she had starved off. I wish it weren’t so, but most people reading this will find this story all too familiar.
“So,” Cheri said, “I decided to stop hiring trainers and start doing triathlons because if I could do a triathlon I would have to be fit.” At this point she was beginning to let go of the idea of being a size 2 and she was starting to shift her goals toward fitness and health. She was on the right track to getting her perspective right, but a head full of mainstream brainwashing had her doing all the wrong stuff. “So I did triathlons and I was just a fat triathlete. I finished them, and they were fun, but I didn’t look different, and I may have even gained a little more weight.” You can imagine her frustration. How could she be working so hard and not seeing results? Hopelessness often sets in at this point, but there was one more turn left in Cheri’s downward spiral.
“I went down the road of reconstructive cosmetic surgery and spent an ungodly amount of money trying to shape my body under the knife,” she said. “That’s when I realized I had a problem and it wasn’t on the outside, it was on the inside. Something was wrong; there was a disconnect somewhere. So I started doing work on me, not my body.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Cheri had finally come to a point, albeit through a painful and frustrating process, where she could find some clarity.
“I gave up,” Cheri said. “I just didn’t want to do any more work on my body. I had worked so hard in the gym, I had done everything every trainer had asked me to do, I had done the triathlons, I even got a black belt in tae kwon do and that didn’t get me thin.”
Cheri admits that she was addicted to her scale, and she reached her highest weight over this last summer (2012). She felt terrible about herself physically, but she was learning a lot about herself psychologically. She said, “I was such a people pleaser and I realized I only ever wanted to be small because people expected me to be small for how active I was. I felt like I was failing them. It was all a big lie. Nobody ever cared what I was doing.”
In the mean time, Cheri’s husband John was slipping deeper into poor health, too. He had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and he was not controlling it very well. Of course, his doctors answered by increasing his doses of his medications. This shifted Cheri’s focus to John and away from herself. She just wanted to help him get healthy again. “Something in my gut told me that food was our medicine,” she said. “But I didn’t know which foods and I felt like I had tried it all.”
As luck would have it, I happen to train the principal of the elementary school that Cheri’s kids attend. When school started last fall, Cheri saw his results and asked him what he had been doing. He said, “I go to CPC and I eat Paleo.” Since Cheri had never heard of paleo, he recommended that she go to Costco and buy Sarah’s very excellent Everyday Paleo. “I just connected with Sarah for some reason,” Cheri said. “I loved her testimonial and her focus on families.” From there, she just started reading everything she could find on paleo, mostly because she was hoping it would help her husband. Eventually she asked John if he would be interested in checking out my gym. At first he wasn’t interested, citing the the considerable amount of money they had spent on this stuff in the past, but they finally decided to give it a try.
When she first came to me, Cheri didn’t appear to have any of her own goals. She no longer believed that she had the power to change her body and she was only there to support John because she was worried about his health. By chance, she fell in love with the process. “In just a couple of weeks we started feeling better,” she said. “We were having fun and it was something we were doing together; something we could dedicate to each other. And we were setting a good example for our kids.” For the first time she was exercising and changing the way she ate without focusing on her body image at all.
In just six weeks, Cheri went from “pushing a size 16″ to a size 8 and she looked like this:
I said Cheri “looked” like this because she is constantly making more progress.
OK, let’s recap. Cheri spent most of her adult life pursuing aesthetic goals, trying to find a way to be happy with her appearance, and never achieving anything sustainable except more and more frustration. Then, after giving up on ever changing the way her body looks, she focused on her health (mostly on John’s health, actually) and found herself achieving her old goals purely by accident. All it took was a change of perspective.
“John and I were at a basketball game recently and we ran into some people we hadn’t seen us in a while,” Cheri told me. “They said they couldn’t believe how good we looked and asked what we were doing. I told them we were doing paleo and they asked, ‘Well how much longer are you going to do it?’ I said, ‘Forever. It’s working and we feel great!’” The methods Cheri employed for years were not sustainable because they were tricks used to change the way her body looked with no consideration for improving her health. I know I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once, but sustainable improvements in aesthetics will always require an improvement in health. Now that Cheri has come to understand this fact, she has no desire to give up her new lifestyle. She isn’t merely trying to force herself to be miserable as long as possible before returning to her old body; she loves the way feels and she loves the process.
How can you learn from all of this? Well, you can trust me and make some changes in your head before you lose your desire to continue chasing your tail and give up entirely. You can either focus on your health or you can continue yo-yo dieting, but I can assure you that tricks and gimmicks, like severe caloric restriction and hours of cardio, will leave you wanting. Even paleo will probably not be enough if your motivations are extrinsic or introjected (see the post I linked in the first sentence). But you don’t need to wait until you feel hopeless like these exceptional people who figured these things out on their own. You can consciously change your focus to something healthier by focusing on improving a body you love instead of trying to escape a body you hate.
Go forth and be awesome.