Paleo Success Story: From A Size 20 To A Size 8


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Today’s success story is about Kathy, a mom and grandmother from Chicago.

Her story is below, but let me tell you, Kathy has been so successful with paleo that her daughter and son-in-law were persuaded to try it and next week I’ll be sharing their story.

Man, this family’s lost a *huge* amount of weight and sounds like they gained so much more in the process.

Don’t forget to share these happy stories, they really encourage and inspire other people! Buttons are to the left or at the end of the post.

Here is Kathy’s summary:
   Time on paleo: Eighteen months
I’ve gone from a near 20 dress size to an 8, a 65lbs loss
   Essential advice: 
If you want to feel good as you age, you need to put food into your system that is going to help it, not break it.

paleo success stories, paleo, paleo diet, kathyTell us a little about yourself:
I live west of Chicago and I have lived here since 1987.  I been the Executive Assistant to the County Board Chairman for 15 years.  I was married for 29.5 years when my husband decided he wanted to “see what is like to be with another woman”.  Needless to say, I was somewhat shocked. 
I have three children, two daughters, ages 26 & 28, and one son, age 34.  I have five grandchildren – four girls, one boy, ages 2 – 6.  I sew, garden, love to go camping and read.  I am learning how to knit with my best friend as well.  It was my best friend who got me into paleo. 
What was your health/dieting/workout experience *before* paleo? 
I was overweight and depressed because of the bombshell that was dropped on me by my husband.  I am a stress eater so needless to say I was eating my way into a size 20 (I am now size 8).  I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.  This was probably for at least the last 5-10 years.  I had managed to keep my weight/health in check after I had my kids and managed to be about the size I am now, though my health was not what I considered to be “good”.  I didn’t feel as good as I feel now, even though I was small.  I was hungry all the time.   
What was the “clincher” that persuaded you to jump on the paleo bandwagon?
There was a couple of things that happened to get me to go “paleo”.  My mother was hospitalized four times within a four month period and is now ingesting 24 different kinds of medications, including injecting insulin for Type II diabetes.  Also, after eating my way into a stupor, because of the divorce I was going through,  I decided 2012 was going to be totally about me.  I was afraid I was going to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become as unhealthy as she is.  I remember her saying “I just wish I felt good enough so I could enjoy my grandkids and great grandkids”.
Unfortunately, because she is following the advice of her physician with the Standard American Diet, she will never improve.  I didn’t want to become my mother!!!  Of course my siblings and mother all think I am crazy and since I haven’t gone to medical school I don’t know what I am talking about. 
So back to paleo, I went camping with my best friend.  She was already into paleo and suggested I look into it.  She didn’t push me but recommended I read a couple of books.  After my divorce became final, I decided to check it out.  I read, of course, Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution (that was the book my girlfriend recommended) and my favorite book Primal Body/Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas.  I like her book as she has great reference material for research that you are also able to look up. 
My girlfriend got into paleo because the son of a friend of hers was in medical school.  They were taking a nutrition class and the professor had the class study 25 different diets and had them research which was the best overall die – the best nutrition and the most sustainable. Paleo won hands down. The whole class went paleo. Good enough for me. :) 
How paleo are you? (80/20, 90/10, autoimmune, etc.)? 
I would guess I am 95/5.  I am almost always paleo, unless eating out and choices are limited.  I have been paleo since January 8, 2012. 
How did you find the transition? 
I will tell you that first month SUCKED!!!  Sorry, but I felt worse than I ever have.  I felt shaky, hungry all the time and did not sleep well at all.  My kids say my mood was horrible as well.  THEN… can physically feel when the sugars have left your system.  It felt like someone lifted a film of saran wrap from by body.  Unless you have experienced that, you don’t know what I am talking about.  It was an amazing feeling.  Everything just became clearer.    Also, I never get the sugar shakes of the past.  You know, when you are getting hungry and you start shaking or feeling light headed?  I never ever get that anymore. 
What helped you when you were struggling?
Nuts!!  Protein helped keep the hunger at bay.   I probably ate too many at first, but, at that time I felt it was more important to stick with the good foods than to try to limit anything. 
What, if any, exercise routines do you do? 
I have a very active dog, Brittany Spaniel/German Shorthaired Pointer mix.  I try to walk her daily.  I also ride my bike when I can find a partner to go with me.  I walk at least 40 minutes each day, if not longer.  When I was at my heaviest, I did nothing.   
What has been the reaction to your paleo success from those around you? 
Most are generally amazed at my transformation as I am now a size 8 (from almost a 20)  Most say ” I could never go without pasta and bread”.  I thought the same thing at first but now will never eat differently.  I do not feel deprived at all.  It is all just a matter of finding the foods that you like.  At first I was skeptical as I never ate too many veggies.  I LOVE THEM!!!  Your tastes do change, though it takes time. 
How has your life changed? 
I find people are “afraid” to invite me to dinner because they think I eat strange.  Of course, some of the decreases in invites could be because I am now single. I feel better health-wise.
What activities do you do now that you didn’t do before? 
I try to at least walk every day, without excuse. 
What books/blogs/support groups did you use to help you? 
Besides Robb Wolf and Nora Gedgaudas, I read Mark Sisson, your blog, Gary Taubes blog and books (another favorite) and Dr. Mercola.  I tend to lean more to the research so I have scientific “proof” so to speak on the reasons to eat this way.  I think 2012 was all PALEO.  I don’t think I even read any books just for pleasure and I am a ferocious reader.  I need to know the whys before I get into anything and with paleo, everything just makes sense to me.  I also surf the web looking for information and recipes.
Besides weight-loss and/or “losing” your health problems, have you lost anything else (good or bad?)
I was on medication for high cholesterol and another for my bones.  I no longer take them.  I am still on my blood pressure meds which I would love to get off of, and my blood work is starting to look better so I know I am doing something right. 
You could say “I lost a ton of clothes”.  I got rid of 6 different sizes of clothes.  The bad part was that I had to buy all new clothes and that has stretched my budget.   
Have you experienced anything negative as a result of your changes? How have you dealt with those negatives? I know my daughter mentioned that one of her husbands’ friends won’t have anything to do with him any longer because he won’t go have a beer with him.  I haven’t had that problem. If someone is not receptive to me because of the way I eat, I just don’t tell them about it.  I eat paleo for me, not them.  I do avoid restaurants that don’t serve “clean” food.  I try to at least eat organic when possible. 
What three practical tips would you give based on your experience? 
1) Learn the foods you like first before going on a shopping spree.  My daughter and I bought a lot of foods, items we don’t now use.  Neither of us are a fan of coconut flour.  Just don’t like it.  We prefer tapioca flour and almond flour.  Also, as you move forward, you find your tastes truly do change.  I never would have believed in a million years that I would be eating the veggies I do.  Hated squash, sweet potatoes, greens etc.  I now LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.  We have fun experimenting making new foods.  We have found we can make almost everything we enjoyed in the past, just differently.  My daughter even makes a pretty good paleo bread as her family all loves sandwiches.  I haven’t missed the bread and therefore I don’t make it. 
2) Keep a bag of foods that are paleo with you at all times in case of emergencies like fresh veggies/fruits, nuts, dried fruit and jerky.  These can hold you over until you can get what you need. 

3) Don’t worry so much of the time that what you are eating isn’t 100% paleo.  If you eat as fresh and clean as you can most times you will be okay.  I have found now that it is my lifestyle. 

What advice would you give people who are struggling with health or weight issues right now?
I have come to realize that food is for health. Sure, there is a lot out there that tastes good.  That doesn’t mean it is okay to eat it.  If you want to feel good as you age, you need to put food into your system that is going to help it, not break it. I have also found that people in the medical community are not your friend.  As long as you are willing to take another pill, they will bend over backwards for you.
If you want answers, they are out there, you just have to be willing to do a little research.  Your health is your responsibility, not your doctors.  My son-in-laws aunt is a doctor and we gave her Nora Gedgaudas’ book.  She called my daughter and said “You pissed me off, you have proved that everything I learned in medical school is wrong!!!”  If you want to be healthy, you can be, it’s up to you.
Your daughter’s family joined you on your paleo journey. How have you supported each other?
By trying recipes and sharing them.  We also have created a fantastic paleo pizza that we make every Friday!

What advice would you give someone who wants a family member to join them in eating and living this way? That’s a tough one.  Other than my daughter and her family, others aren’t interested.  It is hard when I go places and all there is is mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pretzels, chips, pop and cheese pizzas. I take my own food.  My other daughter is about 60% paleo. 

How has your life changed?
It was hard enough learning to cook for one, but to learn a new diet too has been a learning experience.  I have a lot more cupboard space and less freezer/fridge space. 
What have you learned that has surprised you about your family during this process? 
Most people enjoy their junk food too much to change.  I have found that most people won’t make a drastic change like this until they are sick of being sick.  It doesn’t matter, family, friends whatever.  Until you want to change YOURSELF for the better, you won’t do it. 
paleo success stories, paleo diet, paleo, kathyHow do you envisage your family life evolving over the next few years with these weight losses/health gains having occurred? 
Like I said, even though the weight loss has been a tremendous side benefit, my health is the reason I did this.  I can see the change in my  blood tests so I know it is working.  I will be interested in seeing the changes over the next couple of years. I don’t believe I will ever go back to eating a Standard American Diet.  I feel too good! 
Also, funny story,  my granddaughter told my daughter, “Mom, I want some junk food!”   My daughter asked her, “What do you think is junk food?”  She answered, “A salad silly, you know, you throw all that different “junk” into it to make it taste good!” 
Her son has been paleo since he was born.  He has never eaten in a fast food place in his life.  To tell you the truth, I AM SCARED to try eating something from the forbidden list. 
Tough talk, and tough love from a woman who has earned every right to dish it out, IMO. Huge respect for Kathy. Turning around a negative life situation and making it work for you is a massive accomplishment. Congratulations!
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I am looking for more 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 inspire and help others by telling your story, please contact me. Thank you!

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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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