“Real People, Real Paleo” is a series of posts written by real people who were inspired to share their paleo story with you. There is such diversity in the challenges that bring us to a paleo diet and lifestyle and in what we hope to achieve by adopting them. These stories are intended to be a place of inspiration, written by real people, showing the diversity of our needs and our approaches to this way of eating and living, and explaining how each individual’s implementation of paleo meets their needs. By sharing these people’s stories with you on my blog, I hope to redefine what paleo success is. I do not believe that eating paleo is purely about losing weight, gaining muscle, and having 6-pack abs. I believe that paleo is about being healthy enough to thoroughly enjoy life, whatever that means for you, and about sustainability for our entire lives. If you are interested in writing up your story, use the form on this page to contact me.
My Path to Paleo
Hi! My name is Evan Brand. Before I begin my story, I want to give you a quote to remember and keep close to you at all times.
Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.
That quote sums up the past four years of my life. I began my journey to Paleo and towards a deeper sense of what life is about in 2009. I was observing an increasingly insane society. People running around with coffee and a child in each hand. This couldn’t be the way we are supposed to live.
I can’t accept the fact that 70% of the U.S. is obese and that depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people ages 15-44 (source). This isn’t the way we are supposed to live. Are all healthy people happy?
This is where Not Just Paleo began. I came from the opposite side of Paleo than most. I started my transformation when I was 5’10” and 120 pounds. I felt fragile, lethargic and desperate for a positive change. I then followed my incredibly fit friend around the gym for a couple years and started to figure things out.
I was taught to eat plenty of whole grains, pasta and anything else that had high carbs in it. Because, carbs equal energy and health right!? Not at all.
I had the meats, veggies and fruit nailed down, but I was still off track. For some reason, I never made the connection between grains, wheat and bowel issues. I ignored diarrhea no matter how often it occurred. I didn’t discover until 2011 that gluten was the issue for many of my problems.
As a young man, you wouldn’t think any joint problems would be possible. I had knee pain, back aches, fatigue, poor sleep and was pretty irritable most days.
Into my life came the book Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis. So, pasta and bread could be the problem behind brain fog, fatigue and body aches? I experimented by eliminating these foods, just as I did with many other supplements at this time.
As soon as I eliminated bread, bagels, pasta and became more aware of wheat on ingredient labels, my problems were gone.
No more diarrhea, no more back aches and no more joint pain. This was the AHA moment! I had figured it out. I had to help others realize how great they can feel with just a few simple changes. But is diet the answer for health and happiness?
I still struggled with mild depression and irritability, maybe it was just my job, so I changed jobs. No, still felt the same. In came meditation. I read so many articles on meditation that month you could’ve called me Buddha himself.
Who would’ve thought looking internally for happiness was the answer? Not anyone who paid attention to all of the shiny car and cell phone commercials.
After learning how to breathe, my life was transformed. It sounds simple right? I discovered that a large percentage of people take shallow, tense breaths, including myself. This directly affects digestion, stress levels and overall happiness.
You can learn to separate yourself from stress and let the problems work themselves out by following this technique.
Lets do a simple breathing exercise together. It’s really simple.
- First, turn off any sounds. Your TV, radio, iPod, or anything else making noise right now, silence it.
- Now, the breathing routine takes place with your eyes closed. Put your focus on your chest and stomach. Allow them to expand.
- Breathe in through your nose counting to 3, hold it for 1 second and exhale through your mouth counting to 4. Repeat 4 times and whenever necessary.
- Add a little force to your exhale and visualize all your problems escaping.
If you took the time to slow down and try that, you’re that much closer to everyday contentment.
Fast forward to now. I host a podcast in the top 100 of the fitness & nutrition section on iTunes where we discuss..Not Just Paleo (pun intended).
After you check out the podcast, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive my eight week course on health and hapiness.
The goal of the show is to change the way you look at every moment in life. I want everyone to realize that health and happiness doesn’t have to be so difficult. Also, I encourage everyone to slow down a little bit and listen to some great conversations. Life seems to be speeding up faster everyday.
I believe success and health takes three things. The courage to make change even when it’s uncomfortable, the willpower to push through even when you want to binge or give up, and the reminder that you are in control of your health and your life. No one is coming to save us, it’s up to us to make these positive changes and we can do it!
I didn’t mean to turn my story into an advice column, but I just get so excited when I know that others are always searching for a better life. “I want more time, I want better sleep and I just want to know where to start”. You can do all of those with the Paleo and Primal lifestyle.
We should all be proud of ourselves for getting this far down the road to health. There weren’t flashing lights to lead us here, but hopefully we can be the lights for those around us that need help too.
P.S. Now I’m at a comfortable 160 pounds, sleep great since I reduced the lights in my room at night, and have great digestion. I thank the Paleo diet and everyone in this community. I look forward to growing this movement each day.