Paleo Success Story: I Don’t Ever Have To Live Like That Again


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Our success story today comes from Cheryl who was extremely sick and getting sicker with each passing year. As she says, she has “a long and sordid health history”. But, as you will read, she’s an extremely smart woman and has turned it around for herself.

I love her stance of putting herself front and center and her determination to sort her health out, once and for all. Should we but all do that.

I’ll move over and let Cheryl take over but before I do, please remember that those who share their stories do so to help others find success (really, they are saving lives), so please share this story via your preferred social media outlet. Trust me, your friends will thank you! Sharing buttons are to the left and below. :-)

Here is Cheryl’s summary:
    Time on paleo: Began paleo October 2011, so it’s 22 months now – strict 90/10 autoimmune paleo for me
    Results: I lost that ‘final 15 pounds’ that I still carried around. My fibromyalgia and nerve pain are gone. My migraines are 100% gone. My anxiety, blood sugar dysregulation, adrenal fatigue are completely gone. My markings for metabolic syndrome are all perfectly normal now. My severe allergies are 90% improved (after a lifetime spent on allergy meds, allergy shots, breathing medications, etc.).
    Essential advice: Just do it. If you can’t cook, learn how to do so. Get organized and plan ahead. Don’t talk about paleo to other people unless they ask you specifically what you are doing and/or why you eat the way you do.

cheryl1Tell us a little about yourself (location, occupation, family, hobbies, etc.)
I am 44 years-old and live near Seattle, Washington.   I’m originally from Denver and that’s where my family still lives.  I moved to Seattle 17 years ago and am now officially vitamin D depleted.  🙂
I am a legal assistant for a law firm in downtown Seattle.  I’ve been a legal assistant for over 26 years now and enjoy it for the most part. Recently, I decided to give my adrenals a break and get out of the high stress world of civil litigation.  I’m very glad I did – and so are my adrenals.  🙂 

I am married to a wonderful man from the Czech Republic and am incredibly lucky to also call him my best friend.  We are working towards moving to the Czech Republic in the next several years and hope we will be able to do so.  It’s a matter of trading a certain standard of living for a (hopefully) better quality of life.  Not entirely sure we will pull the trigger on it, but I remain hopeful that we will. 

My favorite hobby has always been cooking.  I used to cook with my dad as a little girl and have fond memories of making biscuits and gravy!  Of course, that’s a big no-no for me now (gluten AND dairy?? Um…no…).  I love to cook, which is a good thing because, honestly, I don’t know how people survive (or thrive) on paleo and do it properly without cooking.  I love being paleo, but it’s most assuredly not convenient.  🙂 

My other non-active hobbies include pen-palling (is that the correct phrase?) and tutoring English as a Second Language (ESL) to refugees through a community outreach program.  I started the tutoring after obtaining my TEFL Certification to plump up my resume in anticipation of my move to Europe so that I can teach English as a Foreign Language there. Now, however, I tutor ESL for the pure joy I get in helping the people that I tutor.  Living with someone for whom English is his second language, I very much “get it” that this service is of the utmost importance for these refugees to become productive, integrated members of society.  It’s very rewarding and so much fun!  Thankfully now that I’m paleo I have the ability to focus and energy to get through 12-14 hour days.  🙂

What was your health/dieting/workout experience *before* paleo?
I have a long and sordid health history.  Although, as is probably typical with a lot of paleo people who have made significant health gains, I didn’t think I was all “that sick” until I no longer felt “that sick.”  I hope that makes sense.  🙂
Let’s start at the beginning.  I was a very, very sick child.  I was born premature and was in an incubator for awhile after birth.  Upon coming home, I then “failed to thrive” and was hospitalized several times for being unable to keep the feeding formula down and gain weight.  Of course, this was back in the day when heaven forbid we breastfeed our children!  How unseemly! 
Then, as time went on, I developed severe asthma and was hospitalized 12 more times by the time I was age 4 for pneumonia and other bronchial infections.  I remember lying there in an oxygen tent and crying for my mom, but watched the nurses drag her away because I was too sick to be touched.  I’m sure they would do things differently now days, but back then, human touch wasn’t considered as much as it is now.  But I digress…
From ages 2-12 I was under the care of a team of allergy and lung specialists.  I was shot full of steroids, allergy immunizations, and other medications on a daily/weekly basis.  During that time I would get horrible infections and be placed on antibiotics and invariably wind up in the ER and subsequently be admitted to the hospital.  Having experienced this so many times, I’m not entirely sure there’s anything more frightening than not being able to breathe.
Once I got to puberty, it’s not surprising that I was fairly overweight and my mother decided to put me on Weight Watchers.  That was back in the days before the “healthy whole grain/low fat” bandwagon, so I actually improved health-wise – and lost weight.  No one really knew why I was healthier – I suppose no one really thought about it and put 2 + 2 together.  As is the always case, hindsight is 20/20, right?
I lost 20 pounds between 7th and 8th grade and my life improved from being the sickly little straight A bookworm (because I was too sick to do anything but read!), to being healthy(ier) and socially more popular.  I remained relatively healthy and medication-free until my early 20’s – right around the time the revised food pyramid came out and we were encouraged to eat more grains, foods without cholesterol, and consume low fat dairy.  I was exercising with Jazzercise 5-7 times/week and doing step aerobics.
When I hit my early 20’s, I began having these terrifying episodes of almost stroke-like symptoms that would paralyze part of my face and cause a “scooped out/hollow” feeling in the back of my head.  Needless to say, these episodes scared me half to death.  I finally called an ambulance and was transported to the ER after collapsing on the floor one night and being partially paralyzed. That particular ER doctor diagnosed me with complex neurologic migraines and sent me in for further testing (EEG, CT and MRI scans) to confirm that I didn’t have MS or a brain tumor.  Again, I was put on horrible medications with terrible side effects.  I’m one of the unlucky 2% of patients when it comes to the bad side effects of almost any drug I take, which is why I abhor medication (and even herbs) of any kind.
These medications wreaked havoc with my metabolism and I gained 85 lbs. in just under 3 months.  I was terrified and so very sick much of the time.  It was frightening being so sick.  I could manage to go to work (so I could keep my health insurance) and then would go home and sleep. That was my existence for 3 years.  Then, a neurologist gave me yet another medication and I managed to “up my quality of life” for a few years after that.
During that time, I decided to starve myself to lose weight and, unsurprisingly, that method didn’t work very well.  Probably because I decided I couldn’t really live without food. 🙂  Therefore, I decided that I should try the Atkins diet craze that was sweeping the nation at that time.  Not surprisingly, I did very well on meat, fat, and vegetables and, of course, the prepackaged junk food (Atkins bars, Atkins shakes, etc.).  But I missed my lovely fruit and yogurt desperately.  I managed to stay on Atkins for about 6 months but after watching most of my hair fall out I decided that I should maybe give Weight Watchers another try.
This is also about the time I met my wonderful husband.  He was incredibly encouraging about whatever I wanted to do to try to lose weight and get healthy.  We started walking a lot so I could attempt to maintain my ever-fluctuating weight.  When we met I was about 15 pounds overweight – I ballooned by 40 pounds after we married (love = food, right?). And I loved to cook and show my love!
I decided to go on Weight Watchers yet again and also began snowshoeing and hiking and lost those 40 pounds I gained after we met.  This is the time I became a WW Lifetime Member and held onto that Lifetime Weight for the following 4 years – but I held onto that weight by the skin of my teeth.
I was working out 12-18 hours/week by doing 90 minutes of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill almost every night during the week and then on the weekends I would hike or bicycle for 4-8 hours per day. It was crazy! I was exhausted… and, unsurprisingly, felt ravenously hungry much of the time.  I was counting points and trying to figure out what I could have for dinner and snacks while I was eating lunch. I became food obsessed and noticed that I my anxiety was spinning out of control!
The anxiety became so bad that I almost had to stop hiking for my fear of “falling off the trail” though logically I knew I would be fine. I finally went to see a psychiatrist and learned “relaxation techniques.”  Until this point, I’d never had anxiety in my entire life – ever.  Despite being unhealthy and sickly, I was always a very positive, good-natured person.
What was the “clincher” that persuaded you to jump on the paleo bandwagon?
As I was gaining momentum on the “healthy whole grain low fat dairy bandwagon” and maintaining my Lifetime Weight Watcher’s weight, my allergies grew worse and worse and I developed MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity disorder).  I was at my wit’s end because I was taking up to 4 allergy medication/day to survive and my MCS was out of control. It was so bad that I dreaded going to get a haircut because of the smells in the salon.  Even riding the bus to work was an effort of sheer will power as I felt sick every day for 90 minutes each way to work. 
Fortunately, I was super lucky that my law firm went ‘scent free’ and was supportive of me.  Of course, the building I worked in was a “sick building” so I’m sure that’s what triggered my MCS – it started on the first day I stepped foot in that office building.  I wound up on four allergy medications just so I could make it through the day in that office building. 
Eventually, due to the fact I was so fed up with my overall health (fatigue), my allergies and MCS getting worse and worse, I finally decided to break down and seek out treatment by a naturopath.  I chose a naturopath because the allergist just kept wanting to do the standard protocol of drugging me up with antihistamines and steroids while giving me an immunization regimen that made me feel even more sick.  After just seven injections from the allergist, I managed to get so sick that I had 2 secondary bronchial and sinus infections and was down for almost six weeks and gained almost 10 pounds (likely from all the inflammation).  At that point I was truly done with Western medicine and decided all the doctors I saw were quacks and sought out the holistic approach instead.
I was so incredibly pleased when I went to see the naturopath because she had emailed me an 8-page medical questionnaire which was very thorough.  I spent over 90 minutes discussing my health concerns with her at the appointment.  She decided to do some blood work and see what that showed.  In the interim, she decided to focus on liver detoxification with the hope that might help the MCS issues.  She then asked me if I was willing to go on a 3 week elimination diet protocol with a protein powder that contained liver detoxification enzymes and supplements.
I was surprised by the focus on my liver as I don’t drink and never really have, but at this point, I was willing to do ANYTHING to feel better and signed up for the program.  I started taking Thorne Research MediClear Plus and cut out all wheat, dairy, corn, soy, and nightshade vegetables.  I felt immensely better in just under a week.  At the end of the three weeks, I went off all but one of my allergy medications.  I also had an incredible amount of energy and just generally felt so much healthier I could scarcely believe it.  I decided that I was going to take it a step further and started doing some research on the internet.

I was also speaking with one of the attorneys at my office that had just started CrossFit and told me that my new eating plan sounded a lot like paleo.  I decided to research the term “paleo” and as I did so, found Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution. I downloaded it the next day, and read it over the weekend.  I also read Mark Sissons The Primal Blueprint right after that. 

It was like a light bulb went off over my head!  It all made SO much sense to me!  I now realized why I felt better a certain points in my life where I changed my diet and consumed no dairy or gluten.  I kept thinking – could it be this simple? Could something as “easy” as changing my food choices change my life? Yes.  It was that easy.  No, it wasn’t “easy” making it happen, but it was definitely that simple.  

How did you approach going paleo – gradually or dive right in?
Because I was already in the midst of an elimination diet, I just dove right into the whole paleo thing.  I went whole hog with a Whole30 and never looked back.  Thankfully my husband was on board from the beginning, although he didn’t give up his steel cut oats or dairy at first.  That was fine with me.  He was on board with everything else, so I was delighted by the support and happily made him rice porridge for over a year until he was ready to give up his sweet breakfasts. 
What improvements have you noticed in your health?
This question is easily a setup for a 2 page write-up as to how my health has improved which, I suppose, is the point of this article.  🙂  You’ve already read a lot about me, so I’ll try to be as brief as possible here. 
  • The first thing I noticed was my allergies clearing up.  After spending decades on and off allergy meds, I now only use Flonase and that’s more for fluid build-up in my ears due to my MCS (which is the only thing that hasn’t improved with paleo!). 
  • Anxiety – GONE!
  • Fibromyalgia pain – GONE!  I was never officially diagnosed with fibro because I didn’t want it in my medical records for fear or being denied long-term disability insurance or pre-existing conditions.  I also thought fibromyalgia was a “made up” disease of modern civilization, honestly.  I didn’t like being labeled with it though I had every trigger point listed.   No more chronic pain! This was HUGE!  I lived with severe chronic pain for almost a decade that never really went away.  I could get it to reduce in severity but never did it go away entirely, even with anti-inflammatories.  Now, I haven’t hurt in my back/shoulders/nerves for almost 2 years.  It’s been very liberating!
  • Anemia and other vitamin deficiencies – GONE!  I had been taking prescription iron supplements pre-paleo and could never get my ferritin/iron up to therapeutic levels.  Now, without any supplementation, my iron is 91.  Crazy!  Same with vitamin D – I was supplementing with vitamin D and now I don’t and my levels are fine.  I will also attribute some of this particular change to Mark Sisson’s advice early on for me to go out and get vitamin D in the form of sunlight.  Gee, who’d have thought?  Though it’s still very difficult to do that in Seattle.  🙂
  • I had every marker for metabolic syndrome.  All of those markers are GONE! 
  • I had horrible blood sugar dysregulation problems and was borderline pre-diabetic.  Now my blood sugar is extremely stable and I rarely feel truly hungry anymore.  I used to have to eat every 2-3 hours or I’d get shaky, weak, nauseated, crabby, etc.  Now, when I travel especially, I can go up to 24 hours without eating without feeling any ill effects.  The ability to go for long periods of time without eating has been incredibly liberating!! 
  • My thyroid test results went from 4.45 down to 2.28 at last testing.  Western medicine doctors aren’t concerned at all until thyroid numbers hit 4.50.  My naturopath likes thyroid results to be 2.1 or lower, so I guess I’m still a bit high, but I’m not so incredibly fatigued like I used to be (whether that was iron deficiency, thyroid issues or both, I’m not sure).
  • Adrenal fatigue – completely under control.  I no longer have any adrenal fatigue-related issues unless I allow stress to overwhelm me.
  • Effortless maintenance of my weight loss –  with the caveat that I keep almost all glucose out of my diet.  I can eat 1 or 2 sweet potatoes a month, perhaps even have some rice once in awhile if I’m traveling and/or eating at a restaurant, but if I go over half a cup per week I immediately start gaining weight.  I purchased a glucometer/diabetic home blood monitoring kit and tested every single starchy or carb-y thing I ate to see what my body’s effects were with that certain food.  I found that I do great with fructose (real fruit, not syrup!), I am okay with small amounts of sucrose (dark chocolate!!!! even small amounts of honey), but my body is not happy with glucose (bananas, sweet potatoes, taro root, winter squashes, etc.).  Knowledge is power and the glucometer helped me figure out what foods screwed up my blood sugar the most.  Now, I simply avoid those particular foods unless I’m going to be extremely active after consuming them.  This all made perfect sense because of the genetics in my body waiting to happen.  In other words, my entire family on my mother’s side are Type 2 diabetics.  I do not want to end up like them; hence the ability and willingness to be super strict about my glucose intake. 
  • The only thing paleo hasn’t cured is my MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity disorder).  It has helped it immensely, but it’s not cured and I don’t know if it will ever go away.  I wish it would, but I don’t think it will.  It’s a long, involved story as to how it came to be, but I think I’ve made a bit of headway as to what helps and continue to work with my paleo doctor to investigate my options. We shall see. I remain hopeful.
How paleo are you? (80/20, 90/10, autoimmune, etc.)
I am arguably 100% paleo, 90/10 autoimmune paleo.  I am fortunately able to handle eggs with no trouble, and I eat a couple dozen eggs every week.  I pretty much figured out a couple of years before I went paleo that tomatoes (and sugar) were not my friends. 
I would get horrible muscle/nerve pain in my neck/upper back when I would eat tomatoes (sugar and citric acid gave me similar symptoms).  It was freakish to say the least, and I hardly believed it myself, but this was probably one of the things that made it so easy for me to believe that food could have such a negative impact on how I felt physically.
I don’t find paleo to be all difficult as nearly all my sugar cravings have evaporated… well, that is until I get a bit overboard with the dark chocolate and the terrible addiction starts again.  I must keep my dark chocolate habit to one small square of 90%/day. 
How did you find the transition?
Because I was on the elimination diet to begin with, I found the transition quite easy.  I was a little perplexed at first as to what to have for breakfast – what, no oatmeal or yogurt??  And it was a lot to contemplate about what I could and couldn’t have for lunch.  But seeing that I was never big into sandwiches, giving up bread never really bothered me.  Mind you, I also gave up caffeine at the same time due to severe adrenal fatigue – which honestly was vastly more difficult than giving up sugar, bread, etc.!!!  🙂 
Can you tell us a little about “the day in the life of Cheryl” especially from an eating and exercise perspective?
I am one of the odd people who doesn’t mind eating the same thing every day if it’s delicious and satisfying.  I typically eat 3 hard boiled eggs smothered in melted ghee for breakfast along with some fermented veggies.  Paleo has been extremely liberating in that I am not starving/shaking if I wake up and have to do something before I eat.  Now, I can go 17 or more hours without eating and no ill effects – which comes in handy on long flights to Europe. 

As my husband is from the Czech Republic and we typically eat our big meal at lunch time.  It’s difficult to do so at work, obviously, so on the weekends I cook “big” and make all of our lunches for the week.  Lunch consists generally of protein (beef, pork, chicken – fish doesn’t tend to re-heat well and it’s almost banned at work! LOL), lots of veggies, healthy fats – I tend to use coconut oil and ghee, once in awhile olive oil.  I always finish with a piece of fruit.  Basically, I eat the same thing every day for lunch for 5 days and mix it up on the weekends.  Sure, I spend 3-6 hours in the kitchen on Saturday or Sunday, but then the rest of the week I don’t have to cook.  It takes some organization and planning, but it’s well worth it to me. I don’t typically eat much, if anything, for dinner.  I might have a handful of macadamia nuts, perhaps another hard boiled egg, maybe a small salad, but that’s about it.  Generally, I’m not  hungry when I get home from work, which is helpful because then I can exercise without having to wait for any food to settle – or eat too late because of my workout. 

My workouts vary, depending on the weather.  I live in Seattle and go outside to get some exercise if it’s not raining or too cold.  That could be anything from long walks along the trail system, riding my bicycle (my favorite), playing badminton, hiking, snowshoeing, etc.  If it is raining, I have my bicycle trainer for inside training.  I also use a variety of aerobic, dance, and boot camp video workouts.  Contrary to the teachings of Mark Sisson and others, I’m still a cardio junkie at heart.  🙂  I don’t do CrossFit as I see that as one big injury waiting to happen to me.  I just recently began incorporating weights into my routine 3x per week.  I don’t love weight-training, but I can see the benefits and will continue to do so. 

What helped you when you were struggling?
The biggest struggle was figuring out what to cook without my beloved starches.  I’m a big fan of “one pot” meals where everything is mixed in together with spices and tastes better the next day (i.e. hash, chili, etc.).  But I figured it like this – if I had gone into full-blown Type 2 diabetes, I’d have to do this “low carb thing” eventually, right?  🙂 It took a couple of weeks, but with the help of the Internet and paleo blogosphere, I figured it out. 
The blogosphere and amazing food-dedicated websites helped so much.  Thank you SO MUCH, Nom Nom Paleo for helping me with meal ideas in the beginning and continuing for almost 2 years!  Thanks also goes to Juli Bauer of PaleoOMG for her humor. Thanks also to George at Civilized Caveman.  I also want to thank Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry because she also has truly amazing paleo recipes on her blog.  Plus, bonus for me, she is also nightshade intolerant and I don’t have to immediately toss half of the recipes away because they have nightshades or dairy in them!  Her new book Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry is awesome!  Do yourself a favor and make the Chicken Marbella.  Delicious!
I have to admit that because I immediately felt so much better just a few weeks into Paleo Land it never felt like I truly “struggled” with anything.  I might have had some minor difficulties with figuring it out, but all-in-all, I knew in my heart it was all very much worth the effort. Truly, if I felt this good in 30 days, wouldn’t I feel even better at 90 days?  🙂 
What has been the reaction to your paleo success from those around you?
The most prevalent reaction is that most people don’t want to hear about it.  When I dropped those “final 10 pounds”, people obviously noticed and were excited to hear about what I was doing to lose the weight. 
When I explained that this wasn’t about the weight but that I felt better and it was all about eating an anti-inflammatory diet, etc., suffice it to say that was pretty much the end of the conversation.  Honestly, very few people will discuss it with me, let alone be supportive of it.  They think I’m “ruining my health” with too much saturated fat and that “everything in moderation” is a code to live by. Moderation is fine – I moderate my saturated fat intake.  😉  But there is no such thing as “moderate” gluten exposure or “moderate” dairy intake for me.
I will continue to live my “paleo life in a non-paleo world” and be happy.  At the end of the day, I feel better than I have in my entire life and I’m incredibly grateful for the paleosphere that has helped support me, even if I have lost some friends because of this incredible journey.
How has your life changed now? (More activity, promotion at work, stronger relationship, etc.)
My ability to do the activities I love without tiring so easily or “bonking” on the bicycle has been extremely helpful. I’m a much stronger cyclist and my husband swears he’s going to buy me a jersey that says “Powered By Flank Steak.”  🙂
My life has changed, more generally, in that I feel better than I ever knew I could.  I’m living a life of gratitude and wellness that I never thought possible and I’m grateful every single day of my life for finding Robb Wolf’s book and starting this paleo journey.  Again, I’m tearing up as I write this because I’m just so…relieved I suppose is the word I’m looking for.  I’m so relieved that all that pain and suffering is over.  I’m so relieved that I don’t ever have to live like that again.
What activities do you do now that you didn’t do before?
Nothing much, truthfully.  Before paleo I tried to be as active as I possibly could be because I was always struggling to maintain a healthy weight.  Through sheer determination and willpower I was able to force myself to do physically active things before even if I was fatigued or they caused me anxiety (snow shoeing, most notably). But now I can do them without any fatigue or any of the anxiety that was caused by the gluten.  Now that I’m not severely anemic I have the energy and stamina to hike for hours without any ill effects. Again, I’m so grateful for this change, I can barely express myself. 
What books/blogs/support groups did you use to help you?

My health detective wizard and functional medicine guru, Chris Kresser without whom I don’t know if I would have cracked the paleo code and understood so much about the science behind why paleo works so well.  (I love his podcasts and posts!)

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and his website.

Latest In Paleo (podcasts)

Nom Nom Paleo  – Her website and iPad application are beautifully photographed and her sense of humor is awesome! 

Elana’s Pantry  – Her latest cookbook is absolutely amazing – she is also nightshade intolerant and this is the first cookbook where I don’t have to discard most of the recipes

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo.  Very good information for someone just starting out and really good information on the autoimmune and thyroid issue protocols. 

PaleOMG  – fun blog posts and good recipes

Paleo/NonPaleo  – Obviously!  🙂  I just recently found your website, Alison, and can’t believe I missed out on it while I was trying to go paleo as the support of how to live paleo in a non-paleo world would have been most helpful.  🙂  Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. 

Marks Daily Apple

Paleo Hacks

Besides weight-loss and/or “losing” your health problems, have you lost anything else (good or bad?)

Sadly, and strangely, I’ve lost most of my social life. My friends no longer invite me out for dinner nor do they invite me to happy hour after work.  I suppose I “get it” from their viewpoint – but logically and emotionally I don’t get it, really.

I’ve noticed that the paleo lifestyle and food choices are akin to religion and politics – I simply can’t talk about it without people getting upset.  People get so incredibly defensive and dogmatic in their views on food, so I’ve learned to just leave it alone.

I would like to find other friends who were paleo, like me, because they HAVE to be paleo for health reasons. Hopefully one day I will be able to move to the Czech Republic with my husband and our niece, Tereza, will be closer – she eats very closely in line with a paleo diet and she understands and fully supports my eating choices while I’m visiting.  And I love her for it.

What three practical tips would you give based on your experience?

1.  Don’t listen to the naysayers and ignore anyone who tries to sabotage your choice to become healthier through being paleo. You are in control of your future – and only you can determine how you feel about what others say to you or about you. 

paleo success story, paleo diet, paleo, weight loss, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, adrenal fatigue2.  Prepare your food for the week all at one time if you can.  There is pretty much nothing that is convenient about paleo.  Period.  There’s nothing in a box or a package (thankfully!) and it takes a bit of planning to get the most nutrient dense foods prepared and in your mouth.  I cut up all my veggies at once.  Same thing with my fruit.  I boil a dozen and a half eggs at a time.  I cook big pots of protein and keep emergency protein and jars of ghee in the fridge at all times. 

paleo success story, paleo diet, paleo, weight loss, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, adrenal fatigue3.  Remember  the first rule of paleo is don’t talk about paleo.  People don’t want to hear it.  People are mired in their own nutritional dogma and don’t want to listen.  They’re scared to death of cholesterol and saturated fat.  I used to be like that. You have to learn to not speak about paleo to your friends with major health conditions who refuse to give up their beloved sandwiches, ice cream and cookie sandwiches and bite your tongue in these situations, instead. It will make you crazy – learn to let it go quickly for the sake of your adrenals.  😉

paleo success story, paleo diet, paleo, weight loss, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivitiesWhat advice would you give people who are struggling with health or weight issues right now?
I would ask anyone with health issues to simply try paleo for 30 days.  Do the Whole 30 and see how you feel.  If you knew you could feel amazing after only 30 days, wouldn’t you try it?  It’s not that hard… Well, it is at first, but really, it’s not.  It’s so simple.
As for the weight loss issue … honestly, I don’t see paleo as a weight loss panacea and I don’t think people should focus on that as their goal for trying the paleo lifestyle.  Weight loss is a nice by-product for most people who begin eating a whole foods diet, but it really shouldn’t be the end goal for people. 
People do a lot of crazy, unhealthy things in the name of weight loss – I suppose I don’t like paleo to be associated in the category of “crazy diet for weight loss.”  It’s not.  It’s an anti-inflammation diet.  It’s a whole foods, nutrient dense diet.  It’s how we were meant to eat since the beginning of our time here on earth 2.5 million years ago.  It’s how we should eat now.  If Kool-Aid were even remotely paleo, you could say ‘I drank the Kool-Aid’ about paleo ‘cause I’m all in from here on out.
“I do great with fructose (real fruit, not syrup!), I am okay with small amounts of sucrose (dark chocolate!!!! even small amounts of honey), but my body is not happy with glucose (bananas, sweet potatoes, taro root, winter squashes, etc.). Knowledge is power and the glucometer helped me figure out what foods screwed up my blood sugar the most.”


This is incredibly important and Cheryl is super-smart to have worked this out. She can do fructose and some sucrose, no glucose. I can do sucrose but not fructose or glucose. I, too, have done blood sugar testing and it has been incredibly informative. If you can, do some n=1 experimentation on your blood sugar.

I think another super-important message from Chery’s story is how much she is willing to do to protect her adrenals. So many of us change the way we eat, maybe exercise more or differently, but everything else stays the same. In our go, go, go world, we sometimes have to brutally examine our lifestyle and make some significant changes, like Cheryl did, if we are truly realize the most gains.

Tell us what you learned from Cheryl, or send a message of support and thanks to her!
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Would you like to be featured as a Paleo Success Story? I am looking for success stories to feature on the blog. If you have had major health gains or inch/weight loss with paleo, or paleo and T-Tapp, and would like to tell your story to inspire and help others, please email me. Thank you!

amazon, modern no nonsense guide to paleoAre you struggling to sustain a paleo lifestyle change? Or not sure how to start? Or perhaps those around you are resistant and you're feeling undermined and unsure. The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo provides practical tools to ease the transition to a full-on paleo life. Each chapter includes strategies, tips and checklists to identify the actions to power you on your paleo journey and create sustainable change. Buy it at

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Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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