My story is similar to many women who’ve discovered Paleo and CrossFit. Growing up, my mom always took time to put a home cooked meal on the table, but we weren’t healthy. We ate the typical SAD diet, until around the time I was in middle school. My parents both went on Weight Watchers and both lost a lot of weight. We cleared out the more obvious junk food and cleaned up our diets. This was around the point I became a vegetarian. I began running cross country and lost weight too, but I was depressed, anxious, an insomniac, had horrible PMS, a horrible body image, and would binge eat to make myself feel better. Throughout high school and college, while I had friends, a good family, and got to do some amazing things, I could never shake these ailments. On top of that, I had a lot of knee pain and muscle pain. I was active (rock climbing, running, hiking, kayaking..) but couldn’t keep the pounds from creeping back on.
After I graduated college and moved to a new city to be with my boyfriend, I was stressed and busy as I started grad school and didn’t take the time to care for myself. I gained around 30lbs and was still feeling awful. After moving again, still in grad school, I an epiphany one January night after I realized how much weight I’d gained and how unhappy I was about my health. I vowed to myself that I would lose the weight and start taking care of myself. Since Weight Watchers had worked for my family, I decided to do that. Over the course of a year, I lost around 25 lbs, but I still didn’t feel well. A year of under eating (1200 calories a day) and overexercising, I hurt and was still feeling bad.
The following spring, a friend and I decided to do a sugar free challenge for 2 months. After doing some research and realizing that food like bread and grains are basically sugar, I decided to go grain free as well. This changed my life. I had finished grad school and had some free time on my hands, so I became obsessed with whatever health info I could get my hands on. I read anything I could find about going gluten free, paleo, and sugar free. However, I wasn’t feeling all that great still. I had overcome the sugar cravings and had lost another 5lbs, but was having trouble eating enough food. I didn’t want to admit it, after listening to an Underground Wellness podcast with Susan Schenck (author of Beyond Broccoli), I realized many of my symptoms were due to deficiencies from vegetarianism. I did some serious soul searching and some serious research (I’d never liked meat, but was also concerned about animal cruelty and the environmental impact of factory farming), I decided to add meat back into my diet. I took a lot of adjusting and time to figure out how to eat meat and how much to eat to make me feel good, but eventually I learned how to incorporate it into my diet.
After I began eating meat again (still grain and sugar free), I began working with a naturopath to begin to work on feeling better. I learned that I was on my way to hypothyroidism and needed to get my vitamin and mineral levels back to normal. I started looking at other things that were affecting my health, and stopped taking my birth control pills. I was worried that I would feel as horrible as I did before going on the pill (pain so bad I couldn’t leave the house), but I felt amazing. My pain was pretty much gone and my PMS symptoms were so much better. I stopped working out like a crazy person and began to nourish my body. I took time to rest, heal, and work on feeling happy and healthy.
Now, I’m completely Paleo and doing well. I’m still working on reversing the damage I did to myself after being a vegetarian for 14 years and abusing my body. I feel so much better than I ever have been. I know i will never stop learning and improving myself. Recently, I joined CrossFit and have been slowly working on building strength (it was hard to gain muscle mass as a vegetarian) and am having fun learning new things and meeting new people.
Before & After