Pamela’s story will be familiar to many: In her forties and diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and celiac disease she suffered daily pain, weight-gain, and energy issues. With a young child, as Pamela has, that is no place to be.
But after committing to 100% paleo, her life has changed immeasurably and, as you will see, she looks (and feels!) darn fine and good.
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Here is Pamela’s summary:
Time on paleo: Two years.
Results: Amazing! 65lbs lost, 4 dress sizes smaller inside a year, I look, feel, act ten years younger.
Essential advice: Baby steps! It is not within human nature to make instant changes that last. Take it one decision at a time until good choices become a habit.
Tell us a little about yourself (location, occupation, family, hobbies, etc.)
I am a SAHM and part-time Human Resources Consultant in addition to blogging at Pamela’s Paleo Life.
What was your health/dieting/workout experience *before* paleo?
Typical conventional practice. Dabbled in vegetarianism and joined a health club – none of these things worked for me. In 2006 or so I found myself suddenly fat, sick and miserable; was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) Thyroiditis in 2007. I had suffered significant weight gain, severe fatigue, hormonal imbalance, sleep issues and pain in my joints, muscles – essentially all over.
My doctors were of very little help beyond initial diagnosis and prescribing Levoxyl. The medication helped, but only a little.
Robb Wolf’s revelation that my gallbladder removal indicated undiagnosed celiac disease (p. 81 “Full of Bile” in The Paleo Solution
) was very powerful. My surgeon told me I nearly died during that operation at the age of 27. If I had only known! I am not exaggerating when I say this information saved me. I’ve had a few close calls in my life that can now be attributed to gluten/celiac issues: nearly ruptured appendix, serious complications during gallbladder surgery, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) Thyroiditis.
I was searching for help with my Hashi’s when I came upon Marks Daily Apple
where I learned about Primal/paleo for the first time.
What was the “clincher” that persuaded you to jump on the paleo bandwagon?
story in The Primal Blueprint
. She recovered from so many health issues and as another woman, inspired me to give it a go. I was so fortunate (and thrilled!) to meet her in person this May at the Minneapolis Primal Blueprint Seminar! I also had incredible motivation in the form of a young child that needs me and that made me determined. So in September 2011, I decided to give Paleo a go – and WOW did it work! And it was not nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be!
How did you approach going paleo – gradually or dive right in?
It took me a few weeks to wrap my brain around the concept of preparing meals without any grains. I started cutting back, and then one day decided it was time to eliminate them. I took it ONE decision/meal at a time, and that was two years ago. About 6 months later I also cut out dairy and other cross-reactive foods. In addition to the paleo dietary recommendations, I avoid nightshades due to my autoimmunity and follow(ed) recommendations from GAPS (bone broth, probiotics, etc.).
What improvements have you noticed in your health?
I no longer suffer. I look and feel great at 65 lbs less than my heaviest/sickest point. I went from a size 16 to an 8 in one year; I look 10 years younger with my hair color/texture returning. Additional benefits: no body odor (I now use magnesium oil as my “deodorant”) and dramatic improvement in my mood, hormonal balance, and marriage! I am 45 years old, 5’10” tall, size 6/8, and weigh just under 160 lbs.
In February 2012 I discovered I was pregnant at age 45! The statistical chances of that happening were less than 0.5%, given my age and missing a tube from an ectopic pregnancy over a decade ago. Sadly, I had a miscarriage in early April, but I believe this information should give hope to women struggling with infertility. Diet DOES matter and can restore your health in ways you never expected!
These past few months I have focused on healing. I had complications with the miscarriage that resulted in heavy blood loss, a round of antibiotics and subsequent adrenal fatigue. Ever since the antibiotic therapy, I have been sensitive to many things that I had not been before: eggs, nuts, chocolate, coffee, etc. My focus has been on gut healing and rebuilding my gut flora.
How paleo are you? (80/20, 90/10, autoimmune, etc.)
Probably close to 100% most of the time. I have Hashimoto’s and Celiac – both autoimmune disorders – so I pay the price in pain if I eat most foods deemed non-paleo. My downfall is sugar. I try to consume it in its natural form only – fruits and honey in my tea – but that’s the one area I occasionally “fall off the wagon”. I am currently following an autoimmune protocol in an attempt to heal my gut, rebuild healthy flora, and hopefully reintroduce some of the troublesome foods (eggs, nuts, chocolate, etc.) that were fine before the antibiotic treatment this spring.
I am eating liver – the best source of bioavailable iron – I find it most tasty when cut into small strips and sauteed in lots of ghee with Himalayan salt. I’ve also had plenty of bone broth, egg yolks and red meat. Additional vitamins and minerals come in the form of Himalayan pink salt, vegetables and fruits, with a boost from a multivitamin
and fermented cod liver oil / high vitamin butter oil
blend, plus probiotics and lacto-fermented foods are also on the list, including my favorite Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles
. They are the BEST!
How did you find the transition?
As I shared in my story above, once I changed my paradigm, the transition was MUCH easier than I expected it would be. I had conquered my sugar addiction a year before going paleo, and eliminating grains and dairy was easier by far.
Tell us about “A Day in the Life Of Pamela” – a typical day especially from an eating and exercise standpoint:
- Wake up before my alarm most mornings around 6:30am.
- Get breakfast for my boy, dog and cats.
- Have my breakfast, which is often a small cup of bone broth, maybe some bacon or a turkey/sea snax/bacon rollup.
- Sometimes I just take a couple bites of whatever I’m putting in my son’s lunchbox (carrots, apple, etc.).
- Drink lots of tea, all types with honey, throughout the day.
- Get the boy off to school or activities, then walk the dog.
- Do some household chores, food prep/cooking/baking, errands, etc.
- Computer work: email, blogging, Facebook, etc.
- Lunch in there somewhere…usually meats and vegetables, maybe fruit for dessert…
- More of the same activities in the afternoon.
- Prepare dinner for the family, including pets…meats and veggies, maybe fruit.
- Hang out with the family.
- Give son bedtime snack.
- Take a hot bath, often with epsom salts to detoxify.
- Go to bed by 9pm.
What helped you when you were struggling?
Reminding myself why I made this change in the first place: to live a long and happy life – to benefit both me and my family! Since my health crisis this spring, remembering that I’ve healed once before, and my body will do it again if I have patience and keep on.
What, if any, exercise routines do you do?
Walking and house/yard work, errands. Really, not much more than that. (No one around here believes me! Especially when I eat an entire package of bacon as a snack…)
What has been the reaction to your paleo success from those around you?
My husband and son were very happy about the physical and emotional changes in me (and their opinions are the only ones that really count.) I wish I could say it’s all been supportive and positive. I addressed the phenomenon of how people change when you do in a blog post: Transformation: the Part No One Tells You Abou
My experience was similar to both Tara’s and Orleatha’s
(both of whom you had already interviewed) in that I lost nearly all of my friends during that time. I was no longer convenient to be around. I was different – I was that person at the restaurant asking all the questions and requiring accommodations. I also suddenly looked better and younger than any of them. They hated it – and they resented me for it. And despite the fact that some of them expressed a desire to go paleo as I did, it never happened.
I recently watched a presentation on creativeLIVE by Abel James and he summed it up nicely: When you change, people get upset because your new behaviors are different from theirs and it implies that they are wrong (implicit judgment). Yes, I think that’s a big part of it. This recent meme from my Facebook newsfeed illustrates my sentiment:
How has your life changed now? (More activity, promotion at work, stronger relationship, etc.)
Everything changed. All interpersonal dynamics shifted. My sense of well-being and resulting confidence, contentment and competence increased.
I have the energy to do the things I want to do. I can keep up with my 8-year old son. I look, feel and act 10 years younger than my chronological age. I enjoy clothes, makeup and going out again. It’s all good that way.
What activities do you do now that you didn’t do before?
I have the stamina to go to all-day events. I can play with my child. I can do so many things now that I no longer have that millstone-around-the-neck fatigue anymore.
What books/blogs/support groups did you use to help you?
I have a big list, and I share them with my blog followers on my resources page
. The first two were The Primal Blueprint series by Mark Sisson and The Paleo Solution
by Robb Wolf. I have found many more helpful and inspired websites and blogs since then. I keep track of them all by “liking” their Facebook pages and grouping them under my “Paleo Pages” newsfeed. I love reading success stories and finding new recipes.
Besides weight-loss and/or “losing” your health problems, have you lost anything else (good or bad?)
I lost my negativity and removed as much of it from my life as possible.
<– September 2012 – one year paleo – down 65+ lbs.
–> This (photo) entry won me the Mark’s Daily Apple Success Story contest Fall 2012.
Have you experienced anything negative as a result of your changes? (Earlier success stories mentioned having to lose certain “friends”, others have said there are restaurants they now avoid because they can’t eat their former favorites.) How have you dealt with those negatives?
See the “reactions from others” response above. Also, eating out is rare. The restaurants that can accommodate my food allergies are few and expensive. Also, I had to shop (and pay) for FOUR all-new head-to-toe wardrobes in a year’s time. Yes, that’s also very much a positive, but it is a lot of time and money to go through – and it seems you can never find what you are looking for when you need it! (First-world problems, I know…)
What three practical tips would you offer our readers based on your experience? (Refusing bread being brought to the table when dining out, packing all lunches yourself, asking other family members not to bring home cookies, that kind of thing.)
- Definitely make your own food as much as possible. Plan ahead. Design your life for success!
- My husband is an adult and can make his own choices – away from home. Because both me and my son have serious issues with gluten and dairy, I ask him to keep those out of the house. I frame it as a safety thing.
- Take it one decision at a time – especially when you are struggling. Don’t toss in the towel because of one (or more) setback(s).
–> August 2013 – almost 2 years paleo ; pretty good for 46 yrs of age, eh?
What advice would you give people who are struggling with health or weight issues right now?
Have faith, patience, and truly take it one decision at a time until it becomes your lifestyle. And cultivate gratitude for all you DO have. Build positive karma.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
It’s tough sometimes to live a counter-cultural lifestyle such as paleo, but the rewards are so worth the effort! AND…I will NEVER go back to “Before”!!
“Counter-cultural lifestyle” – ain’t that the truth? What I took away from Pamela’s story and several that have gone before her, is that it requires leadership skills to be successful with paleo; to be committed to a goal and being willing to do what it takes no matter the consequence. And with that lies risk, sometimes great risk, as people around you are threatened by the new “you” and abandon ship. That requires personal leadership. And strength. And guts.
What did you take away from Pamela’s story? What does her example teach us? Please tell us in the comments 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!