A Paleo Success Story

Hi there! I’d like to introduce you to our latest paleo success story, Karen. I heard Karen’s story and, as politely as I could, approached her to see if she’d be interested in inspiring and encouraging others with her story. She graciously agreed and sat down to answer all my questions. Thank you, Karen!

Here is Karen’s summary:
Time on paleo: 7 months
Results: 
60 lbs (goal) down in 5 months, 67lbs down total
Essential advice: 
Give it the thirty days they recommend.

paleo success story, paleo diet, paleo

Karen, tell us a little about yourself.
I am 45 yrs old and I live in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. I am a federal government employee and I am required to travel occasionally. Some of my hobbies include walking, reading, house-sitting and spending time with friends & family.
How long have you been paleo?

I started my paleo journey on November 13, 2012.  I had been reading about paleo since late October 2012 and felt that it was the right choice for me but I was going out of town and thought it might be hard to start it off with that challenge (I did try it out at a couple of restaurants!).

What prompted you to make the change?

I have made the weight loss journey a couple of times in my life and had always fallen back to old bad habits.  With both prior journeys, I had always become obsessed with the exercise part but never really developed correct eating habits (‘I can have that cupcake because I’ll just work harder tomorrow at the gym’) so when I wasn’t able to maintain my gym routine my eating habits were still the same and the weight came back.

This time I wanted to work on my eating habits before doing the gym/exercise obsession.  I had gained back almost all the weight I had lost on the prior journey and was in a real ‘funk’ so I decided I wanted to get out of the funk and get healthy.  I had already started being more conscious of what I was doing in my life (got into the housework routine again and making sure I puttered around the house each evening after work rather than sitting watching TV all evening) and was starting to feel good mentally.

Then one day I was getting my daily dose of news off MSN and I saw a blog about the paleo diet.  I read it and thought it sounded like something I could do.  My doctor told me years ago to stay away from bread so I thought maybe this was the answer to how I was going to do this.

What problems were you experiencing before you went paleo that you wanted to address?

My biggest concern was to lose weight.  I have always battled my weight and this time I wanted to do something that would be more of a lifestyle change and something I could do for the rest of my life. I had also noticed lately that I had been experiencing bad heartburn and just generally felt uncomfortable in the evenings.  After reading about paleo I was really excited about trying it to see if I could start feeling better.

It wasn’t until I was about four months into my paleo journey that I found out more about how this diet helps people with autoimmune disorders.  I have Polycystic Ovarian Sydrome (PCOS) and there was a booklet in the Primal Kit that was recently on sale and it was an eye-opening read for me.  I should have read it 22 years ago when I was first diagnosed.

How did you do it – gradually or cold turkey?

Cold turkey, I jumped right into the paleo way of thinking.  A lot of people asked me why I didn’t wait until after Christmas and I told them that there is a switch that goes off in me and I was not going to ignore it.  I did, however, tell myself that I would enjoy some of my mom’s turkey stuffing because no one makes it better, plus it helped that my 30 days would be completed by then.  I have tried hard to be faithful to my new lifestyle (no birthday cake at work, no Yorkshire puddings, no lasagna or other old favorites). The cravings are definitely gone (I don’t crave the salty snacks like I used to).

What do you feel has been central to your success?

Everything I read in the beginning talked about planning your meals.  I decided that if I was going to succeed I had to master this technique.  I am a fan of soups, stews and other ‘prepare ahead of time’ type meals.   I decided I would cook a batch of turkey soup and chicken stew to freeze for my lunches.  Not being known for my cooking skills caused me to request tips from my sister (she makes awesome stews) and brother-in-law (soup master).  I am also a person who likes routines so I found a breakfast option that works for me.  I know that the paleo lifestyle allows you to think outside the traditional breakfast box but for me eggs, raspberries and a banana work.

What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

I love my family dearly and knew that I could not convince them to change their eating habits along with me.  I live with my sister, brother-in-law and niece and we try to eat dinner as a family.  My sister has been supportive and tries to include things that I can have but there have been times that I feel tested.  My brother-in-law is a trained chef and he likes to cook.  I remember one afternoon coming home and he had made lasagna and it was sitting on the stove.  Damn, it looked good but I did not have any.

We are going camping this summer and two month ahead of time, I am already thinking about what will work for me. If I know about the events early enough, I can plan for it and that is so important.

What does your average day look like?

As I mentioned earlier, I am a routine person so breakfast is two hard-boiled eggs, a cup of raspberries and a banana, lunch is either turkey soup, chicken stew or paleo cottage pie (from Well Fed) and dinner is usually a stir-fry (my sister laughs at me for being able to make any meat into a stir-fry).  I don’t eat out nearly as much as I used to but my favorite is a local Chinese restaurant that makes a great Almond Guy Ding (altered a bit to exclude the peas, corn and much less sauce).  If I snack, it’s an apple or a small amount of almonds.

Are you at goal or do you have further progress to make to achieve your health goals?

On April 23, 2013, I was at my goal weight of 180lbs.  Everyone tells me that I don’t need to lose anymore but I would like to lean out a bit more and maybe try for 170lbs.  I am now working on my strength training (although purchasing a pedometer in January has helped me walk more and definitely take more stairs) and my weekly totals for steps and stair climbing are well above the goals I set. I recently received my 500 mile badge from Fitbit. (Yay!)

How have those around you responded to your changes – both your lifestyle changes and your results?

As I mentioned earlier, my family has been very supportive (that includes my ex-husband, who looks forward to my updates and hasn’t seen me since September 2012 so he hasn’t observed the transformation, only read about it) and my co-workers have noticed the change in me.  When I see someone that I haven’t seen in a while they are shocked at the change because it has happened so quickly.  When I lost 60 pounds in the past it has taken almost a year and this time around it has taken just over five months (23 weeks).

Where have you got most of your information?

The first information I got was from Loren Cordain (I ordered his books) and I have also gotten information from Robb Wolf, Nell Stephenson (Paleoista), Sebastien Noel (Paleo Diet Lifestyle), Neely and Jason at Paleo Plan, Melissa Joulwan (Well Fed cookbook) and most recently Bill and Haley at The Food Lovers Kitchen and yourself at Paleo/Non-Paleo.  I signed up for meal plans but found that I wasn’t quite ready to be that strict with my planning.

paleo, paleo diet, paleo success story, weight loss

To anyone reading this who is facing similar problems, what would you say?

You’ll never know if it works for you if you don’t give it a try.  Remember, new habits take 3-6 weeks to form so make sure you give it the thirty days they recommend.

What three strategies can you give us that have helped you stay the course?
  1. Plan, plan and plan some more
  2. Give it the full thirty days before you say it’s not for you
  3. Adopting paleo is a lifestyle change, not a diet and if you are in it for weight loss, do not go back to your old habits once you reach goal.  I have decided that once I am at goal, I will still not be eating grains, rice, potatoes, dairy and legumes.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I haven’t really craved any of the salty snacks I used to eat daily and I don’t miss the potatoes, rice, pasta, and processed sides. BBQ season has begun and green salads are my friend.  I am below my goal weight and have not been a slave to the gym. Walking has been my only form of regular exercise but I do want to work on some yoga and strength training.

Update: As of today I am seven months strong on paleo and I can’t see myself going back to my unhealthy eating habits. Since I originally wrote this piece, I have continued to lose another 7lbs, making a total weight loss of 67lbs. :-)

Karen

Courtesy of: http://paleononpaleo.com/

Benefits of a Paleo Diet

Everyone gets into Paleo for different reasons and experiences different results and changes in their bodies, mood and energy levels. But pretty much everyone agrees that eating the Paleo/Primal way makes you feel pretty damn awesome. Let’s go through a list of reported and known benefits (taken from multiple success stories, studies, books and articles).

paleo_diet_benefits

You eat unprocessed, real food

Paleo and primal diets consist of real, whole foods – except for some natural but bottled or packaged sauces, condiments and ingredients –  so you automatically eliminate a whole range of preservatives, hidden sugars, sodium, additives, colouring, artificial flavouring and who knows what else. As a result you eliminate unnecessary toxins and consume more nutrients, plus the food tastes so much better.

Paleo diet is rich in nutrients 

One of the misconceptions about the Paleo diet is that it’s all about protein and fat. What many don’t realize is that by eliminating nutrient-void processed carbs – I call them fillers – we supplement with loads of vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, berries and fruit, all of which are full of minerals and vitamins. Combine that with the improved gut health and increased nutrient absorption which happens through avoidance of irritating grains and legumes, and you get a very balanced diet. You’d be surprised that we can get pretty much all required nutrients from animal, seafood and plant-based foods.

Sustained weight loss

Most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a paleo diet and keeping an active lifestyle. Improved metabolic processes and gut health, better sleep, stress management, sufficient Vitamin D and a healthy ratio of Omega-3/6 fatty acids all aid in burning off stored body fat.

Reduced bloat (and gas)

Paleo diet provides lots of fiber, which together with adequate H2O intake and a smaller intake of sodium help to decrease the bloat many people experience on a Western diet. Plus, paleo diet helps to improve the gut flora which is essential in keeping a healthy digestion.

Say goodbye to Hangry 

Hangry is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia. This also happens when the blood sugar drops and the person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat, protein and some glucose from low GI carbs is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and you rarely experience energy drops; hunger develops gradually without the crazy mood swings.

It’s rich in healthy fats

Paleo diet promotes healthy saturated fat from grass-fed meat, poultry, seafood, ghee, butter and coconuts; lots of monounsaturated fat from olive oil, nuts and seeds and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats; no trans fats; a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids.  The right types of fat are essential in maintaining healthy arteries, brain function, and healthy skin, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation.

People following the Paleo/Primal diet experience many of the below benefits:

Increased and more stable energy levels
Improved sleep
Clearer skin and healthier looking hair
Mental clarity
Improved mood and attitude
Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties
Less or no bloating, decreased gas
Sustained weight loss
Muscle growth; increased fitness
Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer
Higher immune function and a general feeling of well being
Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity
Improved lipid profiles
Healthier gut flora
Better absorption of nutrients from food
Reduced allergies
Paleo diet is anti-inflammatory, most people experience reduction of pain associated with inflammation
Improvements in those with respiratory problems such as asthma

Are there any negative long-term effects of the Paleo diet? Robb Wolf sums it up pretty well in this video.

How long before I see results? Again, I will let Robb Wolf give you the answer.

Additional reading & references:

What’s the difference between Paleo & Primal diets?

– Robb Wolf’s What is the paleo diet?  and his book The Paleo Solution

– This study looked at base (usual) diet vs Paleolithic diet

– Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fullon

– Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

– The Weston A. Price Foundation website has lots of fantastic info

– Wheat Belly

– Grass fed meat health benefits

Paleo Diet testimonials from Robb Wolf’s website can be found here and success stories of living the Primal life can be found on Mark Sisson’s website here.

*Courtesy of eatdrinkpaleo.com