#Paleo: My Evolution

Many come to the paleo lifestyle through other diets: the Atkins diet, the Protein diet, the Low-Carb diet. I discovered paleo when I did the Elimination Diet two years ago.

Diet, diet, diet… But it’s not only about losing weight. It’s about GAINING health. Once that mental switch gets thrown, evolution begins.

EVOLUTION 1

Pretty sure I’m not the only one and I hope some of you will confirm that in the comment section. In my search to leave my “feeling like crap” behind me, it started with the desire to lose weight. Surely, if I lost 20 pounds, I’d feel better. There would be less pressure on my joints, I’d have more energy, I’d LOOK better. Therefore, I’d FEEL better.

I tried so hard. Trained at the gym 4 to 5 times a week and counted every calorie that crossed my lips. Result? A miserable 5 pounds loss after one year.  ONE YEAR!

EVOLUTION 2

After a year of crazy training I was fighting off depression. I felt like a huge failure. My negative inner voice got out of its cage and became a berserker! So I consulted with this weight-loss doctor who tested me for hormone imbalances.  He prescribed a low-carb, high protein diet. It worked for a while, I loss a bit of weight but I struggled with joint pain, mood swings, brain fog, menopause symptoms and depression. Result after one year: I gained 5 pounds.

EVOLUTION 3

By then, my motivation was in the dumps. Why couldn’t I lose any weight? I did everything right. Right? A friend gave me a book on thyroid issues by Dr. Datis Kharrazian: Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Test Are Normal. I devoured the book, found a practitioner on the author’s website, made an appointment and went gluten-free right away, without waiting to see if I had Hashimoto’s disease.

I believed my hypothyroidism was under control until then. I’d seen many specialists in the past, and my lab tests alway were always within range. My new practitioner, Dr. Davis, tested me for overall health and confirmed I had Hashimoto’s disease. His suggestion was to go on the elimination with the goal to heal a leaky gut and a probable insulin resistance.

Four months into the process, I’d loss 15 pounds, without strenuous cardio workouts. For a while, I was blinded to my other health issues. I’d loss a lot of weight! I looked so much better!

EVOLUTION 4

I re-introduced new foods, but I reacted too many times. My diet (in the sense of what I ate, not reducing my calorie intake) was super limited. My progress stalled. I gained back a few pounds but I stayed within a weight range I hadn’t seen since my twenties.  I struggled with one question: what’s the next step?

I delved more deeply into the paleo world and discovered nutrient dense foods to help me on my quest: fermented foods, bone broth, ghee, coconut oil. I also discovered the auto-immune protocol and eliminated all night-shades. Already a cook-at-home aficionado, I learned to homemake everything. Even skin care.

EVOLUTION 5

One part of paleo lifestyle has nothing to do with eating and training: it has everything to do with managing stress.

Stress is the worst ailment that can assault the body, cause hormone imbalances, elevated heart rate, headache, poor sleep and depression. Stress is personal. Stress is not reserved only for those working 9 to 5, it affects people in every phase of life, including this writer living an otherwise great life in South Carolina.

A few months ago, I undertook meditation. Not the one sitting in lotus position for an hour kind of meditation, but 10 minutes sitting comfortably, guided with positive affirmation.

It works. It helps. It got me through the stress of having our very livelihood threatened by my husband’s previous work.

EVOLUTION 6

This is where I’m at right now. The sixth part of my journey. I knew paleo and cross fit were intimately linked, but I had no desire to lift heavy weights in a race against the clock. I’m too old, my back is too messed up. I happened upon Jason Seib and Sarah Fragoso’s Fitness lifestyle podcast and every week I listened to their advice, which is basic: lift heavy weights and walk.

I started walking. And a funny thing happened. Before, I’d look upon walking the dogs like a chore I did because I love my pets. I’d walk around the block, a 15 to 20 minute walk, approximately 3/4 of a mile. I forced myself to walk further. And further. And now, if I go for a walk, it has to be for at least 1.5 to 2 miles. Or else, it’s not worth it. And I enjoy it!

On my birthday, my husband gave me an awesome gift (click here to read that post): a trip to Portland, Oregon, to be evaluated by Jason Seib! I came back late Saturday night and my motivation is at its highest peak.

FUTURE EVOLUTION 7IMG_2299

I met Jason on Wednesday at 4 pm. Matter of fact and direct, he ushered me into the gym and evaluated my form in general. With one look, he pointed out a major hip deviation and asked me if I sat on the couch with my right leg underneath me. Guilty, your honor.

He showed me stretches to realign my hips and lower back and recommended I do them aggressively everyday in the next few weeks. All this to prepare me to lift heavy weights without hurting myself. The evaluation lasted one and a half hour and I left with my head swimming.

IMG_2309

Portland got hit by a rare snowstorm while I was there. Just my luck, right? Everything closed down Thursday afternoon. My next appointment was Fridaymorning and I was afraid the gym would be closed. It was no joke for Portland, that snow. There are steep hills all around and cars were sliding down with no control. My hotel was a mere 8 minutes away from the gym.

Jason was there, alone. He showed up just for me since I’d traveled from so far (thank you, Jason!) We spent more than the planned hour and a half on training, nutrition and lifestyle. I left Portland with a plan. And a firm resolution.

This was my missing link: the right fitness program. To move the right way and gain health and hopefully lose fat as a side effect.

CONCLUSION

Ancestral, paleo or primal lifestyle does not come all at once. I believe we are too engrained into the typical health advice – Standard American Diet, eat less move more, cardio workouts – to shirk what we learned all of our lives in one fell swoop. The journey is gradual. What we gain each time is so powerful, the next step comes naturally, eagerly.

I’m there. I’m at the very edge of great health, and great life.

Where are you at?


15 Comments

  1. Great story! So inspiring, and you’re right, there’s so many aspects of the lifestyle, there’s no way to do it all at once–it’s impossible. Sounds like your consultation was just what you needed, and can I say wow, he knew you sat on your leg? I also finally tackled the fitness aspect after putting it off for so long. Half-hearted attempts to do it on my own were just not working (my jump rope is still in its package and I think I used my pull up bar once?). So in January I signed up for Crossfit, and they’re being very good at scaling everything to my poor fitness level. So far I haven’t lifted any weights yet (just the bar) until I get my form and strength built up… I just got done doing a Whole30 and am slowly reintroducing dairy to see if I tolerate it–so far so good. Have no plans to reintroduce gluten… I’ve also slowly started converting my health and beauty aids to eliminate toxins from that angle…. It’s a journey, for sure, but I’m loving it!

    • writinghealthy

      What a process we go through, don’t we. But it’s worth it and I’d do it again. Sooner in my life, to avoid years of pain and discomfort!

  2. You do inspire, Carole. I’m not where I want to be fitness wise, stress is big for me right now, so I’m going to put your words into action today and do a 10 minute meditation before work. I used to meditate regularly, doing up to an hour easily and I was never in a better place than when I did that.
    Walking is something I slipped away from, life in the way, ice and freezing temperatures, but I have to find a way regardless. I do love walking. I use that time to clear my mind.
    So glad you had such a positive time in Oregon despite the snow. Way to go, DH!

    • writinghealthy

      Sharon, knowing what’s happening in your life right now, a 10 minute meditation will surely do wonders. It can’t hurt for sure.

      By a strike of madness, Portland’s snow followed me home and South Carolina is buried under 8 inches of snow. There are no salt spread, no plow truck cleaning the streets, it’s mostly stay inside mode for the next few day. And here I had some tennis planned Saturday.

  3. Tuere Morton

    Ughh, I’m between diets right now but the Paleo way looks pretty doable. I’m inspired. Thanks, Carole :)

    • writinghealthy

      Hi Tuere,

      The Paleo Lifestyle IS doable, I’m proof of that. Might I suggest some podcast to help you along? The Balanced Bites podcast, The Paleo View, The Paleo and Fitness Lifestyle podcasts, and of course, the fabulous Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution Podcast.

      Have fun!

  4. Change, even a small one, can be daunting. learning a new lifestyle takes time, and in a society where time is money, it’s easier to say, I can’t afford to take the time. Truth is, we can’t afford not to take the time to take care of our health. Carole, I applaud and look up to your efforts.

  5. Great post!

    Since I worked in the health field for 16 years, particularly with anorexia and bulimia, I have a very different perspective of health and “looking good.”

    My sincere hope is for everyone to feel good in their bodies, in their skin, feel wonderful when they move, have food that makes them feel amazing and tastes great, and to never beat themselves up for when that doesn’t happen.

    • writinghealthy

      I think when we shift our focus from losing weight (to look better) to gaining health, the weight drops off as a side effect. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by, Lani!

  6. What an interesting post. A struggler with weight loss myself, I dropped only five pounds after two months strictly watching my calories and Weight Watcher point (together–I was determined LOL) My two friends on the same plan lost 14 and 15 respectively. Discouragement made me stop. So I’m going to give your recommendations some thought!! Thanks.

    • writinghealthy

      You might have a few food intolerances, and it impedes your weight loss. You could try giving up a food group for several weeks and see what happens. And yes, it would be a food group that you absolutely love, like gluten (bread, pasta, sweets) or dairy.

  7. Great post, Carole! I have walked for years. I find the most benefit when I walk twice a day, which I did when I was living in Europe. I used to do heavy weights, but that ended when I tore my rotor cuff. I still so weights, but nothing over 10 lbs.

  8. writinghealthy

    I sure hope I keep my rotator cuff healthy, I need it for tennis! I love to walk, at least, I learned to love to walk back in the fall. Now my dogs ask for the walk so I don’t have a choice! lol

  9. Hi Carole – Great post, and good for you that you found something that you believe in and that works for you! So many people would have given up far before you did. I have also been on a diet – a journey for better health – with principles that I can really buy into. Result so far is that I’ve lost 25 pounds, but more importantly, I have a ton more energy than I did before. I live in Europe, and as Ella alluded to, the Europeans walk a lot…any time the weather is remotely decent. They believe you need fresh air as often as you can get it…and I think they’re right! Thanks for sharing your journey.

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