How would you feel if a close family member died suddenly of a complication related to an undiagnosed diabetic condition? Did you even know this could happen?
Today, we have Stacy’s story. And this happened to Stacy’s father.
Stacy’s father, unexpectedly while on vacation, died from a complication of diabetes he had no prior knowledge of . This was, understandably, a huge shock to Stacy, but his gift to her was the lesson of the importance of good health and especially, great nutrition.
She went paleo after her trainer kindly told her what results she should be getting from her workouts and why she wasn’t, and she’s realized that while she was headed down the same road as her father, she’s shifted onto a different path.
She’s lost pounds and pants sizes but gained energy and a love of life. And the best part from my perspective is the tiny point she makes close to the end about what she’s doing with her kindergarten class. Search for it. She only mentions it in passing but it is important.
Here is Stacy’s summary:
Time on paleo: I started 14 months ago with the change gradually occurring. I have been eating a paleo lifestyle for the last 10 months.
Results: I have gone down five pants sizes and dropped close to 50 lbs.
Essential advice: Plan your meals ahead of time. The easier it is to eat paleo food when you walk in the door, the easier it is to stay on this journey.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am located in Michigan. I am a kindergarten teacher who loves teaching others about how to be a better person in society. My family consists of my husband and our two dogs, both of which we rescued from a puppy mill situation. I enjoy blogging about food at Paleo Gone Sassy
, reading magazines, and cooking in the kitchen.
When I was 25, my father passed away unexpectedly from diabetic ketoacidosis
while on vacation. Unknown to him or my family, he did not have diabetes and lived a care-free lifestyle when it came to eating.
After he passed away, I resorted to food as my healer for several years. I was constantly baking or cooking junk food. My family life was not what I knew it to be and my job was changing with a shift to a new building and grade level change.
What was your health/dieting/workout experience *before* paleo?
Prior to my paleo lifestyle, I ate anything in sight at any time of day. I thought that if I ate small meals (of anything), then it would be OK. I was working out because in my brain at the time, I thought I could eat unhealthily and just burn off the calories at the gym. Needless to say, this did not work out very well.
What was the “clincher” that persuaded you to jump on the paleo bandwagon?
At the beginning of the year, I started it with a 21-day detox to let my gut restart back to normal. In this 21-day detox, I eliminated foods with eggs, dairy, gluten, corn, soy, sugar and legumes. After the twenty-one days, I felt AMAZING. My energy was high and I was seeing great results with the scale and in my clothes. From there, I had heard about PALEO, but did not fully understand it. I did more research and loved what I read. My research was from cookbooks, books explaining it, magazines, and through bloggers.
How did you approach going paleo – gradually or dive right in?
I dove right in. In my mind, “gradually” would have never come. Just like the saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and does tomorrow ever come?
What improvements have you noticed in your health?
Going paleo has been an amazing journey! We will start with my complexion: I now have ‘almost’ flawless skin. Occasionally, I will get one zit, but this is rare and when under stress. The skin on my body looks healthy and has a glow to it. I have energy from sun-up to sun-down. I use to get migraines and I have not gotten one in over a year.
How paleo are you? (80/20, 90/10, autoimmune, etc.)
I would say I am 95/5. That five per cent sneaks in when I go out to eat with friends. I am very strict about not consuming gluten. Gluten does cause my digestive system to have horrible cramps. However, occasionally I will let a little dairy into my meal if at a restaurant. Our house is filled with 100% paleo ‘approved’ items. The longer I am into my paleo lifestyle, the less I have food cravings. I find myself craving the fresh vegetables and fruit (things I use to dread eating).
How did you find the transition?
I credit my journey to the paleo lifestyle to my trainer at the gym. Her name is Carrie and she encouraged me to eat healthily. She did not put the “paleo lifestyle” on me, rather had me explore it. I admired her processes in getting me here. If someone told me to “go paleo”, telling me it would fix a lot of my problems, I would have laughed.
I also give her credit for knowing when to approach me about it. I had worked with her for about 6 months and was content giving it my all at the gym and then eating everything in sight, but one day she so kindly mentioned how hard I work and what should be showing (and wasn’t).
From there, with her encouragement, a few friends jumped on board with me and next thing I knew we were all cooking meals in my kitchen. We met every Sunday for three weeks and created our meals for the week. This helped TREMENDOUSLY to have support from friends and food already to go when I got home from a busy day.
Tell us about “A Day In The Life Of Stacy” – a typical day especially from an eating and exercise standpoint *before* you went paleo:
I would wake up, get a nut bar into my stomach, and drive to the gym. Give my workouts my all, shower at the gym and then head off to work. I would then have a bagel for breakfast at about 7:30am and by 9am I was munching on anything in sight (from potato chips, goldfish crackers, muffins). I would always eat my Greek yogurt at 10am with my students, during their snack time. That would hold me over until lunch at noon. At lunch I would pack a meal or grab fast food (Wendy’s or Subway). In the afternoon I would have a snack, normally something with a lot of carbs (crackers with cheese, Oreos or other cookies).
Please tell us about “A Day In The Life Of Stacy” – a typical day especially from an eating and exercise standpoint *after* you went paleo:
I wake up and eat a scoop of coconut oil, prior to heading to the gym. I also prepare my morning breakfast, a smoothie. I LOVE my Vitamix blender
. For my protein powder I use VegaOne Berry
and then fill the blender with coconut milk
, coconut milk concentrate
(for fat), fresh berries and a piece of fresh ginger. I then head to the gym for a workout. After my workout (about 7:30am) I will consume the smoothie I made prior to my workout.
About 9am I have a hard boiled egg. Then at 10:30 I eat a nice size snack. Normally this is chia pudding I make or lunch meat. I eat lunch at noonish. In my lunch is normally leftovers from my meal the night before, a fresh fruit option, a fresh crunchy vegetable option, a glass of bone broth (I heat up to sip) and a piece of dark 72% chocolate.
About 3ish I have an apple to hold me over until dinner. I normally make sure dinner has a lot of protein and vegetables in it. I try not to eat anything two hours prior to going to bed. If I go to bed with a full stomach, I wake up starving the next morning and it takes about 24 hours to get my system back on track.
Since living the paleo lifestyle, I always have snacks with me. Actually, it has been joked that when I go to trainings, people know they will not leave hungry. It is not ‘easy’ to stop and grab clean items on the go. I normally have a pack of Justin’s Almond Butter
, an Epic bar and trail mix in my purse. Then when I get hungry, I have quick options. Planning ahead, leads to greater success!
What helped you when you were struggling?
When I was struggling, I had a great support network. I had amazing friends who were in on this journey with me. My husband was, and is, a great cheerleader. I told him he could jump on board with me or fend for himself in the cooking world. He jumped on board and hasn’t looked back. My trainer was, and is, a great coach! When I started she was just ‘another trainer’, but now she is a dear friend who pushes me to be a better person physically, emotionally and nutritionally.
What, if any, exercise routines do you do?
I exercise 6 days a week. I do a high intensity training class. The class is 30 minutes, occasionally I will stay for 2 classes and go for a hour.
What do you think are three critical factors to being successful with paleo?
- Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time.
- Taking control of your body and not letting anyone judge you for the choices you make. In the end, most people will be jealous of the transformation they see happening to you.
- Remember results come with time. For me, eating paleo is a lifestyle change, not a diet. A diet is short-lived and going paleo may take time for it to be a permanent lifestyle change.
Were there any practical things you did to support yourself – like clear out your pantry, eat before you went to a party to avoid the buffet table?
I did not clear out the pantry, but I did not purchase any more products containing gluten or dairy after I had decided to go paleo. However, at one point I realized some food was just taking up space on my shelves and I cleared it out. I decided it could sit on the shelf and tempt me, but I hadn’t eaten it in a long time and I should start clearing my shelves of those items.
If I am going to a party, I always bring a dish to share. This allows me to eat one item I know I can have.
When I first started, I was nervous to go out to restaurants. However, over time I know most restaurants have a burger on their menu and I can ask for it without a bun and cheese. I do splurge when out with friends and get french fries.
What do you say to people who ask you about paleo?
When people ask about paleo, I love to tell them. Most people are unfamiliar with it, and I’m educating them (which is what I love doing – I am a teacher, after all!)
What has been your own reaction to your paleo success?
It’s funny, I have lost a lot of weight and my clothes are going down in sizes…but I truly didn’t see it until I ran across an old picture and compared them.
How has your *life* changed now? (More activity, promotion at work, stronger relationship, etc.)
I have a lot more energy. I rarely sit in front of the TV. I feel like my motor is always going and I should take advantage of it. In my workplace, I find I’m doing more movement activities with my students.
I will admit it, I am a sorority girl and I never thought I would be a girl who belongs to a CSA or purchases a grassfed cow from a farmer. Or that I would be going out of my way to drive to a chicken farm to get fresh farm eggs. I guess time has changed and I value my life and my body.
What books/blogs/support groups did you use to help you?
I first started off reading Paleo Coach
, which had recipes from Everyday Paleo
. I then purchased her books
and started following her blog. From there, I decided my story was similar to theirs and I loved to create meals so I began blogging about paleo under the name, Paleo Gone Sassy
. My husband is amazing and set up the blog. He is the computer genius behind the scenes. 🙂
Have you experienced anything negative as a result of your changes? How have you dealt with those negatives?
I am very fortunate for the friends I have. All were/are very supportive of my lifestyle. However, perhaps I am at the age where I know friendships are dear and cherish each one – every outing with friends does not have to be around food! Avoid food outings with friends who do not support your new life and go shopping or bowling with them instead.
There are times when I get frustrated because I just bought a pair of pants a month ago and they don’t fit because they are too big a month later. This should be a celebration, but I love to invest in nice clothes because I know they are great quality. However, when your body is changing, it takes time.
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.)
- Always take a treat with you. I have a secret emergency dark chocolate bar packed in my purse. If you are someplace with a dessert you can not have, get that dark chocolate bar out and enjoy it. I have a sweet tooth and saying “no” to sweets is hard for me.
- Give your taste buds about 30 days to fully adjust to the new tastes around them. I have found things I used to enjoy do not taste the same now. And I made meals the first week I started and hated some of them, but now they are our favorite meals to cook.
- Be happy. Going paleo is a lifestyle change. This is a change you will make for the remainder of your life. You should be happy and celebrate it. If you feel restricted on it, ask yourself what you can do to not feel restricted.
Plan your food meals ahead of time. The easier food is when you walk in the door, the more you will stay on this journey. I do all my prepping on Sundays. I start off planning our meals for the week. If I know it will be a long day at work, I will have a crockpot meal ready. After I plan all my meals, I start prepping them. Some meals I pre-cook (soups are best this way). I also bake one paleo ‘treat’ for the week. This could be cookies, brownies or muffins.
Looking back over my pre-paleo life now, I was setting myself up to be just like my father, living a care-free eating lifestyle. My body was not healthy and I was constantly getting migraines. It took me awhile to find out who I was again and go back to normal. As time went on I learned to accept who I was and where my life was going.
When I learned about the paleo lifestyle I trained my brain into baking to with almond flour and coconut flour. I gave up the white sugar and switched to honey. All these changes came slowly with time and when I was ready to accept them. Here I type today and I have lost over 50 pounds and still counting. At the age of 31, I am happy and my smile is genuine. With time came healing both emotionally and physically.