My world changed.
When our coaches gave us the whole Paleo “spiel,” I was even more intrigued because I thought “Wow, I can really lose some weight if I do this” AND be healthier. Admittedly, I have never been over-weight, or close enough to consider myself having a weight problem, in my life. So what can possibly be so life-changing about all this? Let’s go back in time a bit, so you can understand how Paleo and CrossFit have changed my life. This is my Paleo Fabulous story.
I was in 1st grade when I started worrying about food and my body. I was a pretty healthy eater (or what was thought to be healthy):
I loved fruits and vegetables.
I wanted a salad with every meal.
I didn’t eat a lot of meat.
I preferred wheat over white bread.
I never liked sodas.
That’s basically what the SAD Diet says to follow, yes?
Unfortunately, my desire to be skinny overshadowed my desire to be healthy. I was a very lanky little girl but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be skinny and I became extremely aware of my body and food’s effect on it. I would notice my thighs when I sat down and think “they are so big.” I would look at my stomach as soon as I was done eating and think “I look so fat.” I was WAY too young to notice or worry about things like this.
My childhood was not stable, to say the least, and my mother was constantly in the mirror calling herself fat, although she never once told me and my sisters such--it did the same damage. A combination of this and the instability of my childhood in general made me want to be in control of something—anything, and the only things I could be in control of were my thoughts and my body. As a result, I got caught up in a vicious cycle of restricting, binging, and punishing myself well throughout my life. I would restrict what I ate, or rather how much I ate or ultimately giving in and binging, then punishing myself through exercise to “make up for it.” In high school, my daily routine went something like this: I would drink a Slimfast for breakfast, then one at lunch along with 6-8 Wheat Thins--because they were “healthy", then at the end of the day reward myself for the day’s struggle with a “just a spoonful” of fat-free frozen yogurt or sometimes ice cream. But often times, I would end up standing at the open freezer door, eating right out of the carton almost to the point of being sick. A lot of the time I would then attempt to purge but was never successful, so then I felt like I had failed at that, too.
I have always loved to exercise but it appeared I wanted to turn it a consequence of my failures. I was a runner all though school and ran and worked out every day. That wasn’t enough for me though, so to punish myself I would put my tennis shoes back on and run (and run and run)until it was time to go home. Before bed, I would do crunches and sit-ups or whatever else I could quietly do without anyone hearing me.
Then do it all again the next day for years and years.
I couldn’t starve, I couldn’t quit binging, I couldn’t purge. By this time I was a teen and my Grandparents were raising my middle sister and me, which was great because we had a great and stable home life but by this time the pattern of self-destructive behavior was set.
I hid my problem very well. I never got “sickly thin” so my family and friends were unaware. As I got older, the pattern didn’t stop but I became more and more interested in health. I started doing lots of research on my own and really learned about hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup were, for example, and tried to avoid them. I also started eating more like a vegetarian most of the time because it was less fattening. I was also committed to eating organic wherever I could afford it. I started doing those 7-day “body cleanses” that require you to eat only raw fruit and veggies for a whole week, along with these special “cleansing” supplements. As my sister Jade can tell you--we lived together at the time, this was not good for anyone! I believe I told her one day: “Do not look at me, speak to me, or breathe near me for the next week or I will end your life.”
When my Grandfather passed away in 2005 I coped/mourned by repeating the same cycle only in a hard-core way… I worked out like a machine, not human anymore and it was going to ultimately be GREAT for me… I thought. He seemed to notice to excessive exercise in the past, and deeply disapproved of it. But I felt like now was the time to make up for it; I began putting in about 3 hours of cardio per day and
I would often do “two-a-days” and afterward go on a walk or jog with a friend.
In addition to increasing the amount of exercise I was doing, I was reducing my calorie intake more than ever. I started getting a protein shake from the gym before I would leave at night. I would split it between dinner that night and breakfast the next day. Before long I had made friends with one of the workers at the gym, she would let me stay and workout while she closed shop. She also gave me the protein shake recipe. So I bought some whey protein and started making them myself, except I cut the recipe in a quarter AND made two “meals” out of it. I literally counted every fat gram and calorie. I was freaking crazy!! I was taking in about 500-600 calories a day and burning off way more than I needed to and while I did get pretty skinny, but guess what, it wasn’t enough for me. One day I was shopping with a friend at the mall and she said “Brittany, you have gotten WAY too thin!” My response was, “Thank you! If only I could lose about 5 more pounds, I’ll be happy.”
I have always been a night owl. I was in college at the time so I was up late studying and working full time, but only getting about 4 hours of sleep a night because I thought that was enough. Now I like to get 9 hours like a bear in hibernation. If you wake me before then,it’s trouble, just ask my husband.He told me one time that he tried to wake me up and I used the words “snap” and “neck” in the same sentence so he (wisely) let me go back to sleep. I started having blood sugar issues around this time also… I wonder why? I mean, I was only eating fruit for every freaking meal?? I once almost fainted during a highlight (I am a hairstylist) and the client had to go home with her hair half one color, half another because I couldn’t see or stand straight enough to finish her hair. After a while, my weight started to get back to normal but I “rebounded” to a few more pounds than normal and then I would repeat the cycle to get back down again and yada-yada-yada, so on and so forth. You’ve figured out how this see-saw process goes.
I continued this for a few more years and then got married in 2008. I’ll spare the details, but you can imagine the psychosis that was my pre-wedding workout and nutrition plan. I started gaining weight almost instantly after getting married (but to an actual healthy weight for my body) and had several “IMSOFATOHMYGOD” meltdowns, my poor husband thought I was insane and had gone totally crazy and most likely feared his own life. One night about a year or so after we had been married, I came clean to him about all of it and left him in total shock… The kind that men get when you see the Christmas credit card bills: Shock, dismay, anger, fear, denial, then acceptance. Casey was incredibly supportive and wanted to help me stop the pattern of destruction I had set for myself. That was the beginning of my journey to end this for once and all! I began reading all kinds of books, magazines and online articles. I felt like it was getting better but then I would obsess in a different way… like leaving one bite of food on my plate at each meal just to show how “in control” I was. But just like always, I thought if I could get my body to look like I wanted, then I could stop and the problem would be fixed.
In 2011, along came CrossFit and Paleo. Exercise began to be fun for me again and I was around like-minded people, people who generally cared about being healthy and eating healthy, it was a positive influence every day. When we started The Paleo Diet in February, I could feel a difference mentally and physically within weeks, I knew that I was getting healthier. Until this time, I had no idea how much food controlled me and that I was supposed to be eating to sustain my body instead of deprive it. Casey also realized how much power food had over him; he gave up soda and all the other junk he had been unknowingly addicted to. Things were changing in such a good way and I couldn’t get enough knowledge about this newfound lifestyle. I began reading about and researching Paleo every spare moment I had, and to this day I encourage my family and friends to make the same change.
So I guess I do have just a touch of obsessive personality disorder. I’ve embraced that. It’s been a year now and I feel and look better than I ever have. I have met some amazing people who are unconditionally supportive and encouraging. I am coming clean about this now because I have finally overcome my fears and learned through CrossFit and Paleo how to "B"unapologetically me!