“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 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, please email my team at [email protected]
Sunday, June 30, 2013 – My son had recently graduated from a local university. We were moving him down to Florida for post-grad school. Loaded up the u-haul and the car, drove down, and unloaded his stuff to his new destination. I carried a box up several flights of stairs, was completely out of breath, and my knees were killing me. His school wouldn’t begin for another week, so we all headed back home. Last week with him and the typical mom thoughts flood my mind. Where did the time go? Have I prepared him for the real world? So happy and sad all at the same time.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 – My 14-year-old daughter was in a local production of “The Sound of Music” this summer–13 performances. I was finally able to schedule a much-needed eye appointment. The assistant came in the exam room to do the usual “prep” for the doctor–setting up all the equipment and taking vitals. She took my blood pressure, and I noticed her eyes widened. So I asked, “Is it okay?” She replied, “Do you have high blood pressure or are you taking meds that cause it to be this high?” I responded, “No, I’m not taking any meds and didn’t realize it was high.” So I asked, “What is it?” She says, “Let me take it again. Maybe it’s the cuff, so lets use a bigger cuff for you.” First sting! She left the room to get what I call “the fat lady cuff” and try it again. Evidently, it was the same, so I asked, “What is it?” She said, “It was 153/110 and that is very high. You really need to go see your doctor.” Sting number 2! I responded, “OK, but I’ll be fine; its probably just a little white coat.” She replied that this is nothing to play around with and it was selfish not to do anything about it. Wow! Third sting, and boy, did it sting! SELFISH? Something I’ve never been called.
Thursday, July 4, 2013 – At the theater for a matinee performance and off to the lakes for a 4th of July celebration. The stings still stung. My thoughts–“I’ve got way too much to do right now–Allie’s play and Briggs leaving–I’ll just deal with me later.” So I ate and drank to try and drown the sting.
Sunday, July 7, 2013 – The day had arrived. Briggs was leaving. The joy and sadness emotions crept back in, and the sting wouldn’t go away. He pulled out at 1:00 p.m. I didn’t have too much time to emote as Allie had to be at the theater at 1:30. Got her to the show and got home around 5:30. I collapsed. I went in Briggs’ room and cried for an hour. I cried over him leaving, I cried over the stings and being called selfish. I finally got control over myself, got pen and paper, and began being honest with myself. And I wrote. Forty-nine-year-old mother of two (about to be 50), 270 lbs, size 24 (and its very snug), suffering from diverticulitis, horrible knees (I’ve had 13 operations), beginning of macular degeneration in my eyes (way too young), a funny lump in my right side, and now high blood pressure. I am a ticking time bomb. What can I do? I want to live. I’ve been on every diet known to man and they work for a while, but then I get bored, hungry, and end up cheating. SO WHAT CAN I DO!? I picked up the phone and called my sister Jolyn. She had been doing something new called Paleo and was looking fabulous. I simply asked what can I have to eat and what do I steer clear of. She began explaining what I could have and told me about an app called Paleo Central. It would tell me the food do’s and don’ts. I went to the grocery store and bought meats, veggies, and fruits, came home and loaded up the fridge, and threw out all the temptations. I decided I would give this a try. I didn’t really care how it worked or why – just tell me what to eat. I would definitely begin tomorrow. Hope was on the rise.
Monday, July 8, 2013 – Day One of diet! How would this one be different from the rest? Hmmmmm. Well, I would just take it one day at the time. I wouldn’t look ahead nor look back. I would be thankful for today and live accordingly. I would weigh only once a week so as not to get discouraged by the scale.
The week went great. I stuck to the diet without cheating. I could feel my body detoxing from all the sugar I craved. The play was winding down and we were leaving Tuesday, July 16, for the beach for almost a week. Could I survive the beach? I weighed for the first time before we left. So shocked that I had lost 12 lbs! I think I can do this. I think I can survive at the beach!
Briggs’ school was located near the beach so we got to see him after his classes. We also had his girlfriend with us. While at the beach, I began walking in the mornings. I couldn’t go long or far as I am in horrible shape, but I have to start somewhere. The kids (Briggs, Allie, and Mary Beth) were so encouraging all week and surprisingly I did not cheat.
Sunday, July 21, 2013 – We were all packing up to leave the beach–loading up, time to leave. I watched Briggs and Mary Beth say good bye, both holding on tight and crying. My heart burned. I saw how madly in love they were, and I remembered those days. And my thoughts were “she is the one.” Tears of joy flooded my face. We left the beach, got home scared to death, but I did it…. I weighed. I had lost 3 lbs at the beach. That put me at a total of 15 lbs–I was ecstatic! That night I began realizing several things. One, we would have a wedding soon. And two, this wasn’t a diet, but a journey. One I would walk on daily. I got up and went up front and started downloading music I could listen to while I walked. I uploaded some of my daughter’s songs to my phone. Little did I know the most poignant song in this journey would be there. Little did I know the words to this song would literally carry me through some of my toughest days. You ask the name of the song. It’s “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical “Wicked”. And that’s just what I did, am still doing, and will continue to do.
August, 2013 – It’s been almost a month since I’ve started Paleo and I’ve lost 30 lbs. Still haven’t cheated and I have so much energy. I haven’t felt this good in a very long time. I am walking more. I have a circular driveway and ten times around is a mile. I’m up to eight laps. I actually purchased some walking shoes (Skechers’ Go Walk) and they are awesome. No knee or joint pain. I’ve also started swimming some at my friend Francis’ house. Allie and I have been going over there almost every day, and I’m swimming laps, too. Francis gave Allie ice cream one afternoon and knew I couldn’t have any, so she offered me fresh blueberries she had picked. I was so sweet hungry I said, “Yes, please.” She had frozen them so she brought me some and said it won’t take long for them to thaw out. I was so hungry I ate them frozen and they were delicious. It was like eating Dipping Dots ice cream. What a life “savior”! My wedding anniversary is at the end of the month, and I’d love to hit the 40 lb mark by then. One of my dear friends Susan asked me if I would like to borrow her book, The Paleo Solution, and I said absolutely. I was coming out of my “desperate stage” and was curious as to how this Paleo diet worked and why. I began reading and my eyes were slowly opening to the hows, whats, and whys. I learned about grass-fed meat, began looking for it, and found some in Publix. Living in a smaller community in South Georgia, it is not as easy to find, but I can do this.
My Allie started back to school and it’s just way too soon. I cried all the way home after dropping her off. My baby was starting high school.
Twenty-seventh wedding anniversary is here and I hit my goal of 40 lbs. So proud and excited, I decided to go buy a new outfit. I went to Belk and began trying on…very scared and very surprised by what size I am. Pants are an 18W and a top to match that is a 2X. I started at 24W and 3X. John and I were going out to dinner to celebrate and to hear my sister Jolyn play and sing. Jolyn stopped by my house beforehand and I met her at my front door. She stopped on my walkway and started crying and squealing. She saw me in my outfit and just couldn’t stop saying how good I looked and how proud she was of me. That was so uplifting and encouraging to me.
October, 2013 – Almost three months and I’ve lost 50 lbs. I am walking more. I’ve worked up to 2 miles a day and I’ve actually ventured out of my driveway. It’s my birthday month. I’ll be 50 on the 16th. My goal is 60 lb by then, but I know it is going to be tough. One day at a time.
The week before my birthday, my husband, family, and dearest friends had a surprise birthday party for me. It was a blast! And… I hit my goal “60 at 50″. Best news–I stayed away from my mom’s homemade pound cake. My friend Francis had ordered “a fruit tree” so that “saved” me from the cake. My mom wanted to give me a gym membership for my birthday, but I just wasn’t ready to be around a lot of people, and I really enjoyed being outside. I knew from reading I needed to add more to my walking. I needed to workout as well. My younger sister Nancy is a personal trainer and has a home gym. So I asked my mom to pay for sessions with her. I started with Nancy at the end of the month and realized how weak I had become. It frustrated me at first but I thought, “One session at a time. This change wasn’t going to happen overnight.”
December, 2013 – It’s been 5 months and I’m still going strong. I’ve lost 85 lbs, I’m working out 3 days a week with Nancy, and walking 7 days a week. I feel so much better and I’m getting stronger, too. Nancy and my friend Diane have introduced me to Dr. Mercola. I began following him on Facebook and getting newsletters. I’m becoming so much more educated about my body and what I am putting in it. I feel like I am learning every day and refining my food intake to a much cleaner way of eating. I’ve also decided to stop weighing. I get too frustrated if I don’t “drop” like I want and I feel like I’m becoming a number on a scale. And I don’t want that.
December 7, 2013 – One of the toughest days I’ve had in quite some time. My “mother-in-love”, “Bootsie”, passed away. She was so incredibly special to me and my children. Always laughing and ALWAYS sacrificing for those she loved and cared for. This was such a relief for her as she had been suffering with Alzheimer’s but such a great loss for all who knew and loved her. My group of besties–Melissa, Diane, Beth, and Susan–rallied and rallied quickly. Everything was taking place at my house so Melissa “took charge”. She ordered food, got everything we needed, and delegated to the others what to do, when to show up, and what to bring. They made sure family was fed, served, and plenty of food flowing through my house.
I was searching for comfort. I needed my comfort food…NOW! Candy specifically….the movie-sized box of “Bottle Caps”. I drove to Walgreen’s and sat outside debating… do I go in or not? Beth just happened to call to check on me. I broke down and told her where I was and what I was thinking about doing. She talked me out of it and stayed on the phone with me until I got home. Sugar for me is alcohol for others. It is a terrible but very real addiction.
A friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in a long time sent me a text and said she had heard I had lost a lot of weight. She asked me to send a picture. Wow! I actually took a selfie. I sent it to her and did something I have never done before. Not only did I post it on Facebook but also made it my profile picture. Diane called me. She was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She had seen the picture on Facebook and made this observation: “I’ve looked through all your profile pictures and that is the very first one of just you. She said that makes me sad but also so proud of you.” I am beaming and becoming confident in me!
January, 2014 – Six-month anniversary and stronger than ever. My besties had flowers sent to me and they are beautiful. My friends are amazing.
My son Briggs has purchased an engagement ring for Mary Beth. He wanted to give it to her at a time when family and dear friends could share in this time with them. I suggested Mystery Ball which is always the 3rd Friday in February. Mystery Ball is an annual dance that has been going on since the early 1930s. It is called this because the members of the club are in costume with masks and you cannot tell who is who.
In the meanwhile, the “mass” on my right side was either getting larger, I was getting smaller, or a combination of both. It is not going away so I really need to do something. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a plastic surgeon about what was going on. She told me to stop by and let her take a look. I stopped by on a Monday morning. She had not seen me in quite some time and was asking me a lot of questions about my weight loss. I showed her the area in my side and, while I was there, I also asked her about all the excess skin sagging down from my stomach. She looked at my side and didn’t say too much. Then at my skin. She told me it looked like I had lost at least 80 lbs and that the excess skin needed to go. She asked if I had a general surgeon in town. I said no but knew of one through my mom. She stopped out of the room and called his office. Voices were muffled but I did here her say, “Tell him to call me on my cell.” Hmmmm…. She said my office will call you with an appointment with the surgeon, then you call me if you want to set up a tummy tuck. he was very calm; but I was not. Her office called me within the hour. I had an appointment with the surgeon Friday at 9 a.m. Wow, that was quick! Wonder what it could be.
Friday morning came, the surgeon took one look at my side, and said, “You have a very rare hernia called a spigelian hernia. He said, “You really need to get this repaired ASAP.” While waiting to schedule the surgery, I looked at my calendar. The engagement was about a month away. I couldn’t take a chance and miss that special occasion, so I scheduled the surgery for the week after the dance, February 26. I called my plastic surgeon the minute I left the office. I told her his diagnosis and she was not surprised. She said, if I wanted to do the tummy tuck, she worked well with the surgeon and I could be operated on once. She would open me up, he would repair the hernia, she would finish up and close me. I told her I would need to discuss this with John, but I would let her know. That night John and I discussed everything, every scenario, and he said it was my decision and whatever I decided he would support me 100%. So, after a lot of prayer, discussion with friends and family, I called the plastic surgeon’s office and was scheduled for a spegalian repair and a partial abdominoplasty February 26. I was told I had to stop working out but I could continue to walk. Disappointed but knew I just couldn’t take a chance.
February, 2014 – The engagement was beautiful. They were able to share this special moment with family and friends. Best thing–it remained a secret and Mary Beth was so surprised.
The weekend was so exciting and so much fun but Monday is here and surgery is Wednesday. My biggest fears are (1) someone serving me non-Paleo food and (2) a menopausal hot flash waking me up in the midst of surgery.
February 26, 2014 – Surgery began at 2:15 p.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. I was only having to spend one night in the hospital – thank goodness. I woke up in my room to my older sister Missy looking at my tummy saying, “Oh my gosh; it’s so flat. We are going shopping for a two-piece bathing suit.” And John saying to her, “No, I personally prefer a one piece.” Diane was in the room as well and I remember her saying, “I’m leaving on that note. I just had to come make sure you were okay.” My plastic surgeon came in a few hours later to talk to me. I was pretty sedated, but remember what she said… “The surgery went well; your surgeon did not have to use any “mesh” to repair the hernia but, your abdominal wall is in bad shape resulting from a C-section, hysterectomy, and long-term obesity. Because of this, you should never lift anything heavy again.” I remember asking, “What is heavy?” She replied, “Nothing over 30 lbs.” Wow… lots of thoughts and questions but just too sleepy to think and to ask. She added, “You did all the work, Lang. There was no fat in the excess skin.” She said, “From the looks of everything, you probably lost at least 100 lbs.” My thoughts…I’ll sleep then process this. My sister Missy stayed the night with me. She slept in the chair. She woke up every hour on the hour with me. She talked when I wanted to talk. She chatted with every nurse that entered the room. And she answered all my questions. I think I asked the same ones over and over but she always remained patient.
March, 2014 – Recovering nicely from surgery. My friends and family were nothing short of amazing during recovery: bringing Paleo food for me, making sure John and Allie had meals, driving me to and from doctors appointments, and sitting and visiting with me.
Two weeks out of surgery, I had to go see my general surgeon for the first check up since surgery. He really frightened me about the condition of my abdominal wall. He told me I could begin walking but I was to lift nothing heavier than a half gallon of milk for 6 weeks and not to try any workout programs for the first 2 months. He went on to say, because of the condition of my inside, I run a high risk of re-herniating. I left, got in my friend’s car, held it in until I go home, and I cried. I hadn’t felt hopeless feelings since last July. My thoughts were “I was just starting to work out, getting so much stronger, now what can I do.” am very independent and this means I am going to have to rely on others more–Ugh! I want to become strong again. I’ve developed “saggy arms” from all the weight loss. How am I supposed to get rid of them if I can’t lift? I cried more. I screamed and yelled. I had a 3-day “pity party”. I finally decided I reversed so much bad in the past 8 months, I can do this, too. I pulled myself together, began focusing on all the positives, and started researching. I prayed and read scripture. My favorite verse came to mind and it has become part of me since. Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I couldn’t find much on the internet about reversing this, but I did find that it can be completely rebuilt at Temple University Hospital. Not something I want to do, but it is comforting to know there is a place I can go.
I did start walking and this helped my mental state so much. Definitely couldn’t go for a long period of time, but at least it was a start.
I began searching for more info on Paleo, looking for more tips, recipes, and such and I came upon a sight on Facebook called “The Paleo Mom”. I “liked” the page and followed it on Instagram. I ordered the book, The Paleo Approach, and it became like my bible. I worked on eating as clean as I possibly could. I want to be as healthy as I can for my abdomen and the less fat I’m carrying around, the better off I’ll be.
March 19, 2014 – My “baby” Allie is 15 today and I just can’t believe it. We go to the DMV and get her learner’s permit. She is also starring in her high school play “Nunsense” as Sister Amnesia. So very proud of her.
April, 2014 – Spring Break! I took Allie and three of her friends to Universal in Orlando, Florida. My sister Missy lives there so she graciously allowed us to stay with her. I am 6 weeks out of surgery and I can lift a gallon of milk, maybe?! Missy and I dropped the girls off at Universal and she took me to Bloomingdales. She had scheduled an appointment for me to have a make over. The feelings I had flowing through me were almost overwhelming. I felt complete. All this work I had done, and it was like an artist putting the finishing touches on this canvas. When I was given the mirror for the first time, I scared myself. I didn’t even recognize me. What a great day!
May, 2014 – Researching online for a workout program. One that will help me get leaner and stronger but not be too much for my tummy. I ran across an article from Dr. Mercola’s page about H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training). I continued searching for a program that integrates H.I.I.T. and that would specifically help me with problem areas; specifically, my arms. I stumbled upon a program called “Go Sleeveless”. I liked the way it looked and what he said and how he included H.I.I.T. in the workouts. Not being able to see “all” the exercises and concerned it would be too much for my stomach, I wasn’t quite ready to make the investment. So I kept looking and found a modified version available on Kindle for only $9.00. I made the investment and began studying the program. At 9 weeks post-op, I sent a list of the exercises to my doctor, and she said it was fine to start but know I would be very sore. So this new program I began.
I had my annual GYN checkup… when I walked in the office, the girls up front and nurses hugged and congratulated me over and over again. Then… I weighed… and peeked…. 130 lbs total weight loss. Who in their right mind every enjoys the annual trip to their GYN?! I DID!
And I’m loving this work out program. I’m going to give it 6 weeks and if I like what I see I’ll make the full investment.
Sunday, June 8, 2014 – It’s my 11-month anniversary and I’m headed back to the beach. The journey has been an amazing one filled with peeks and valleys, but I can honestly say each day I’m so deeply thankful for. As I reflect back while sitting on the beach in a two-piece bathing suit (never thought this could ever happen), I’ve lost 130 lbs and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in a very long time. I’ve learned so much over these last 11 months. A lot about sheer guts and determination and never, never quitting.
I must add this. Could I do this on my own? Yes, but it would have been incredibly difficult without a support system, and that I have. First and foremost, a loving God. Second, a patient and supportive husband. Third, two amazing children and future daughter-in-love. Fourth, encouraging parents and sisters. And last, the best group of friends who have been fabulous cheerleaders.
July, 2014 – It’s one year! Very surreal. I love the way I feel and I’m getting healthier and stronger. Also love this Go Sleeveless program. I’ve ordered it.
One of the besties, Susan, planned a dinner celebration for July 8. It was incredible. Dinner and the perfect card… and inside the card a gift card to a local boutique–$1 for every pound. They are the best.
Oh–we are having a wedding next June. So very happy to be gaining such an amazing young woman as a daughter-in-love. We are truly blessed.
The lump in my side–a hernia–has been surgically repaired. I’ve reversed the diverticulitis. Blood pressure is 110/70. The macular degeneration hasn’t progressed. I’m in a size 8. I think I can truly say I’ve defied gravity! And I still am!
What started as just a new diet that a desperate, middle aged, menopausal woman tried has turned into a way of life for me. Paleo literally saved my life. I am constantly reading and searching trying to eat as “clean” and pure as I can. I love helping others. I get told often, “Please help me but I don’t know if I can do what you did.” And my response is this… “It’s time to trust your instincts, close your eyes, and leap…it’s time to try defying gravity.”
Could you use some expert 1-on-1 support to get your health back on track?
ThePaleoMom Consulting is a mechanism for you to get the support and customization that you need to be successful in your health journey. My nutrition and health consultants see clients from anywhere in the world, and services range from a simple single session (for you to ask questions that don’t require a complete review of your history) all the way to a Six-Month Transitions package geared to support you every step of the way. ThePaleoMom Consulting also offers functional medicine evaluations. If you’ve hit a roadblock and are doing everything right, this can be a very powerful way to figure out what the missing piece is.
For more information or to book a FREE 10-minute informational consult with any consultant, see the bios section of ThePaleoMom Consulting website. Can’t figure out who you want to talk to? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll help you figure that out.