How Going Paleo Saved My Life
I have been fascinated by the entire Paleo and Primal movement that has exploded over the last few years.
Initially seen as a fad diet craze by most, similar to the Atkins Diet, it has gathered momentum and not a little medical support.
It has also been adopted by a great many athletes, which can be seen as a litmus test for such things as you don’t easily persuade triathletes and other endurance athletes to switch from tried and tested ‘carb loading’ prior to events.
I experimented with going Paleo in 2010, but never stuck at it even though during my research I couldn’t find anybody who had stuck to it and had a bad word to say.
This is somewhat of a break from the norm of my typical guest post, but I found it interesting and I hope you will too because this story is a long way from being rare.
This is a guest post from Kimberly Brown.
How Going Paleo Saved My Life
“Kimberly! Wake up!
Like a distant echo, I heard my husband, through the hazy fog between sleep and awakening.
“Are you okay? Do we need to call an ambulance?”
I could hear the panic in his voice. I wanted to respond but I could not move. It felt like a ton of bricks were holding me down. My heart raced as I felt trapped in my own mind.
Slowly, I snapped out of it, soaking in sweat, with Brandon looking at me worried and deeply concerned.
It wasn’t my first panic attack as I’ve had several prior to this. But it had gotten from bad to worse over the years.
I have battled depression, anxiety, and panic attacks since I was a teenager. I always blamed it on genetics – many of my family members suffer from depression, too.
I took medication when I felt an attack coming, which stopped it in its tracks. However, the medicine made me numb and totally emotionless, I HATED it!
After this last attack, which was the worst by far, I realized that it wasn’t going to get any better. I refused to believe that there was no alternative. I began looking for possible solutions.
Managing my depression and anxiety attacks with medication is not an option that’s going to make my life better. There must be another way to heal my body!
I ate the standard American diet. Burgers, fries, pasta, bread and lots of sweets. Desserts frequently found their way to my dining table and my stomach.
Oh, I’ve tried their less guilty cousins too, like low salt, low fat, or sugar-free versions of them. It eased the guilt a bit, but my body was telling a different – and more honest – story.
I’ve tried every fad diet you can imagine, they all came short of the results they promised.
I continued to develop a list of health problems. Amidst the anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, I was also Anemic and suffered with IBS. Constant mood swings and heart palpitations joined in for good measure.
I was a tragedy waiting to happen.
Doctors never asked about my diet when I went in for consults to cure my attacks and depression.
No one asked if I was addicted to caffeine or if I ate a lot of sugar. None of them offered advice on natural cures.
I got tired of being told by the doctor that there’s nothing wrong with me.
There’s was an elephant in the room and no one was talking about it.
The only solution to clear the elephant in the room was Xanax, which left me zoned out and devoid of emotion. It might as well be a stun gun – I was numb to the world when I took it.
I don’t know which was worse, the feeling of helpless panic or being removed from what’s happening around me.
I was drained and quickly losing myself and I knew Xanax was not going to get me out of my darkness.
One of our best friends was into Crossfit at around the time I was researching on alternative ways. I noticed significant changes in their health and weight.
It was impressive. It turns out that paleo was a big part of their journey to wellness.
After some serious begging from Brandon, I decided to give it a shot for him. I had no idea my life was about to change so drastically.
I researched the diet and began reading success stories from Mark Sisson’s website.
Tim’s Note: I actually interviewed Mark Sisson’s in 2010. A fascinating guy, you can check it out here after you have read this post.
I cried while reading each entry because I realized I wasn’t alone.
There are people out there who are debilitated by fear, anxiety, and depression.
And then there were inspiring ones about families beating obesity and cancer through clean eating. They were not isolated cases, so there must be a lot of truth to food and diseases.
Why isn’t diet the first thing that we turn to when we try to heal our bodies? What if doctors gave us a cookbook on real food instead of prescribing Xanax?
The Breaking Point
My husband also had a lot of medical issues, and frequent visits to the doctor did not yield any relief.
He was dealing with weight and health issues while I was drowning in my depression. We were such a sorry lot, that the Grinch would have been happy to have us!
We were both at breaking point.
My husband was fed up with our condition and wanted what our friends had. He feared that if he didn’t do anything about it, he’d never get out of it.
One day he just up and went paleo. He bought a book on it, and researched like a mad scientist frantic to find that solution worthy of a eureka moment! We decided we were in this together.
When we made the commitment to give Paleo a shot, we had no idea just how life changing the adventure we were about to embark on.
We purged our pantry, bought some paleo cookbooks and began re-writing our health story. And we did!
My husband who was once afraid to talk to or meet new people is now in leadership roles with his job. He plays bass for a worship team that plays for over a thousand people every Sunday.
My job as a mom requires me to be active, caring and alert all day and night. I have managed to be that and more.
Now, I have no fear that I will scare my kids by having an attack while daddy is at work.
How did we get here? We began Paleo 3 days before Thanksgiving in 2011. It sucked for the first 3 days!
Eventually – we detoxed and began to feel amazing – By day 5, we felt refreshed and energized.
I finally slept without tossing and turning! I haven’t taken medication in years and my health problems began to vanish! We both had blood work and full physicals and we are the healthiest we’ve ever been.
We both lost weight and have average BMI, blood work good, BP great. My anemia is gone and I’m not having heart palpitations on a daily basis.
While I still have bouts of anxiety, it tends to be from real situations and not for unexplainable reasons.
The journey was a tough one, but it was well worth all the struggle
The first 30 days were a whirlwind, but at week 3, I had a conversation with Brandon about wanting to stay Paleo forever because of the progress we’re making.
The whole lifestyle suddenly seemed more manageable.
We’ve stopped stressing about not being able to eat certain things.
It’s not just about the weight loss, it’s about how we’re interacting with each other now – because we love ourselves, we are better at loving each other!
I’m still blogging about my paleo journey. At first it was just for myself and my friend who was on the journey with me. It was our way of sharing recipes and frustrations along the way.
Now I’ve started sharing posts on my Facebook page, and I’ve had people commenting and asking for help.
My blogging has become an effective means to reach out to people, and touching them in ways I had never imagined.
I feel amazing, honored, and humbled. Being able to guide others and support them is a huge benefit of my paleo lifestyle.
Something still troubles me though – I keep hearing stories of doctors offering up medicine before even asking about diet or lifestyle.
While I respect that they are professionals in their field, I believe that including diet as part of the cure could not hurt since it’s natural!
Haven’t we been told many times that we are what we eat? Indeed the state of our bodies is affected by what we eat.
We can either suffer, or enjoy the rewards of our decision on what to eat every day.
I know from my own experiences and the people around me that there’s something truly powerful about the paleo journey – And people need to know about it.
The people whom I’ve helped have gotten similar results to ours. We’ve watched their journey and stayed in contact to support each other.
Most of them seem to be looking at food in a different way now, even if they aren’t 100% Paleo. They are making healthier choices, with a better understanding of how certain foods can harm or heal.
Oftentimes we feel stuck in life and the cards we have been dealt with. We believe things are genetically passed down to us and we settle.
Stop! You don’t have to settle! With a little motivation and some research, you too can begin re-writing your story.
If you think your weight and health problems are genetic, don’t just take it sitting down.
Question it, be curious, find out, because I can assure you – there are answers out there to help you better your life.
We are given one life, one body and one chance to make it what WE want it to be. Don’t let your fears keep you from your desires!
Kimberly Brown is a wife, mom and Paleo enthusiast! Kimberly has been blogging her Paleo journey and has even written recipes that are featured in Paleo Lifestyle Magazine as well as others.
She has a passion for coaching others in their Paleo journey and helping others reach their health and weight-loss goals. I advise you to check her out here.