My journey to health has been a long one… growing up as an athletic kid in California, I was a devout carbetarian. My pediatrician told my parents to allow me to eat whatever I was willing to eat because I was such a picky kid, which meant I lived on cheerios and peanut butter sandwiches until I was 11. I probably had the least diverse diet in western society. In high school, the trend continued. Being a four sport athlete, I could eat whatever I wanted (or so I thought) and I commonly would eat a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast, some sort of pizza product from the cafeteria at lunch with three chocolate chip cookies, and then whatever my mom ‘made’ (see: order takeout) for dinner. By the time I made it to the University of Colorado, Boulder, I was entrenched in eating garbage food and drinking lots and lots of beer. I was still active, but not like I’d been in high school, and so one pound became two pounds became three and so on.
I discovered Body For Life when I was in college and had relatively good success losing weight with the combination of super highly processed foods like “I can’t believe it’s not butter light” and low fat carb heavy snacks and the prescribed lifting and cardio. I never had any energy and I felt sick all the time… but I thought the way I was feeling was normal. I never seemed to look like those super ‘fit’ people in the book either.
I met my husband during our senior year of college, and we got married in 2005. Here’s a photo of him on the day we met eating dirty snow because he lost a bet with me.
We both proceeded to get fat and happy from there on out… with more short stints on the Body For Life train.
John’s dad died at 58 years old on March 4th, 2006 and we tried to take our health seriously for a period of time since there’s a major history of heart disease in his family. We did what we knew to do: eat a low fat, high carb diet and do tons of boring cardio for hours and hours… only to see our efforts go mostly unrewarded.
Then I got pregnant for the first time. I was 163 lbs. I gained 10 pounds in the first 10 weeks. Then I lost the pregnancy. I was completely devastated. So I ate and drank my sadness away. Then I got pregnant again. I thankfully was able to carry McKenna to 38 weeks, and then had preeclampsia and was induced. They weighed me at the hospital… there was the number that was a wakeup call. 212. Two hundred twelve pounds. I couldn’t even believe it. Here’s what I look like at 212:
Pretty sure a 6lb 15oz baby didn’t cause this. Eating garbage day in and day out for years did. I lost some of the weight after I had the baby, but a year later, I was still 180lbs and a size 14. My boss at the time intervened and said, in the gentlest way possible, “You’re getting fat, you need to get your a** on a bike.” I started using an app to track what I ate and set a ridiculously low calorie goal, and worked out like a crazy person. Here were the results:
I was down to 145 lbs and feeling great about my progress!
I finally found a sport that I loved and a reason to go outside and be active again! The problem was the digestive symptoms I’d been experiencing my entire adult life were still there… without ceasing. I’d randomly get bouts of the stomach flu every 3-4 months with no warning (and arguably no cause) and I’d have terrible gastric pain, bloating, gas, you name it.
In 2012 the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back occurred on an overnight flight to Shanghai, China for work… About 2 hours into the flight, I had the stomach flu again! I didn’t eat anything except plain steamed rice the entire time I was there. My guts were all messed up. I called my doctor when I got home and asked her if she thought an elimination diet might work for me. She told me to try it. I bought the book, Practical Paleo, by Dianne Sanfilippo. It completely changed my life! That book described every symptom I’d been having, and suggested trying to eliminate all gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, corn, legumes, processed food for 30 days (a Whole30 if you will). Then I tried adding those trigger foods back into my diet one at a time, one week at a time. I discovered I cannot tolerate gluten, dairy or soy at all. A sad day for this carbetarian! But then I realized I was like an alcoholic, craving the foods that were making me sick. Since that point, I’ve not looked back. My normal healthy weight now fluctuates based on my training load between 125-135 lbs and I consistently feel great. No more stomach issues (unless I accidently eat something I’m not supposed to). No more cravings. No more justifying why it’s ok to eat 6 slices of pizza. ;-)
Now I’ve discovered a passion for helping others on their journey to health and wellness, and I’ve done several more Whole30’s with folks to get them excited about how they can look, feel and think differently about food. I still greatly benefit by being extremely strict with my diet certain times of the year (and I love a good competition!)… as evidenced by our recent challenge at NoCoast:
If you’re considering giving this lifestyle a shot… I’m here for you. The coaches are here for you. I’ve probably made every eating mistake there is to make at this point. Don’t be afraid! Take the risk and jump in.