One of the things that I hope will speak to other people is that my decision to transition to a paleolithic lifestyle for myself and my family has led to opportunities that I never could have imagined.
I was just setting myself up to start typing and I noticed a woman on television talking about how she responded to life after losing her job. I don’t know who she was, it was literally in passing that I evenhappened up on her story. But her story was remarkable. She lost her job and didn’t know what to do, her answer was to take her kids, sell her modern conveniences and travel internationally (with nothing but her husband and her two children ages 2 and 4) for 18 months learning how to be a mother and wife, and to live in the moment for the first time ever. This spoke volumes to me because that was me, so focused on work that my work defined me. So much so, that I lost sight of my family completely.
What struck me is that, sometimes it takes a blow to the gut to make you realize that you’ve got it all wrong.
Applying this to our own lives, I began to think about how much our lives have changed in the past 10, 5 and even 1 year. I won’t bore you to tears with my entire life story, but I want you to understand that taking a step, any step, is moving in the right direction. For me, that step finallystarted with nutrition.
As healthy as I “thought” I was, it wasn’t until I made a change that the picture of my life suddenly came into focus. We didn’t eat badly, not by the standards we’d been sold by media, consumerism, government, the food industry or public opinion. I’m sure you feel the same way. I don’t think it’s necessary to beat a dead horse about what healthy vs unhealthy really is, and this is not the post I want to delve into food myths. This post is about recovering even when you think nothing is wrong.
That was me, nothing was wrong per se. I had grown away from my husband, and attributed it to how busy we were as parents, life had changed after having 3 kids. I was a workaholic, desperate to measure my success by how hard I worked. I would work long hours, forgetting to eat, lacking sleep and living in a state of elevated stress. My kids were shuttled from home to day care and back, the end of the day was hardly relaxing as we were squeezing in meals, baths, homework, etc. I felt like someone was always sick and that only added to my frustration because I’d have to work from home instead of heading into the office. Overall, we were tired and unhappy, but didn’t even see it. We were going through the motions, living the american dream…
We had a beautiful home, gorgeous and smart children, so much to be grateful for, yet we weren’t living in the moment at all.
When I decided to “Go Paleo” my reasoning was completely for weight loss, after all, I didn’t think I needed anything else. I was motivated by the fact that I began to understand that cancer was linked to the standard american diet, and cancer has been like an unwanted member of our family. My dad, twice. His sister, twice. My grandmother, grandfather and uncle all passed from cancer only a few years apart. Cancer was just a reality for me, the only question was when would it be my time? I had been on a cancer roller coaster of “precancerous” cells that would grown then shrink for 4 years. When my brother introduced me to Paleo it seemed like it was worth a shot. Making the kids and spouse go paleo with me, was really just for convenience, it wasn’t for their health. Not in the beginning at least.
Then, something unexpected happened:
Over the course of the year, I also started to CrossFit. CrossFit taught me that I was capable of damn near anything. I suddenly was facing fears so far outside of my comfort level that I felt like a superhero. Even if I was no where near the strength or stamina of my fellow CrossFit box members, I learned more about competition and accomplishments in those WODs than I had in 15 years in sales.
We faced significant amounts of criticism. The pediatrician didn’t understand what we were doing and thought we were crazy. Most of our doctors hadn’t heard of Paleo/primal/ ancestral health until we began explaining it. Our friends, although supportive, were not ready to give up their bread. We had family members literally attacking us, our choices and our parenting style. We stood unified as a family in what we believed, what we were learning and what we were seeing and feeling with our own experience.
I started to realize how much I loved my family and how much I had fa
iled them up until this point. I also realized that I just wasn’t happy in my former life, and certainly not in my career. It was more obligatory that fulfilling. The people I was sharing my career with no longer were people I identified with. I started to very clearly see how that dissatisfaction was affecting my relationships with people I loved; my husband, my kids and my friends. I saw with vibrant color the life I wanted, and how clearly I had been missing it, until now.
Fear prevented me from leaving what I knew for many years, the same way fear delayed me from changing my diet a year earlier. However, now, for the new me, fear wasn’t a viable excuse anymore. Look at the things I’d accomplished in the past year.
Through our nutrition & fitness adventure we had cured our kids and myself of asthma, gotten rid of the migraines that had plagued me since childhood, lost nearly 40 pounds, had eliminated almost all of my allergies, made huge physical and emotional gains. All of our doctors, dentists and pediatricians, although perhaps not completely paleo themselves, were understanding and supporting the many positive changes they had witnessed and finally making the link between diet and health. My husband and I had reconnected, I was learning to live in the moment and be present with my kids. I suddenly was clearly prioritizing, doing more things with my family. I was enjoying my children, really, for the first time. Most notably to my friends, my aggression had found a healthy outlet, my mood had improved.
I started to subconsciously wean myself out of my office, spending less and less time there. Finally making the decision to focus my energy, effort and talent on things that mattered to me… changing what people know about food and health.
Scary? yes! To leave what I knew, to venture into an unknown was hard. As a matter of fact, I’m still terrified. But every step is a step forward and wasting time on someone else’s passion is no longer the way I will live. I now know that what I want most, is to inspire other people to find their purpose and to live long, healthy, meaningful lives.
My point is that, whatever your reason for going Paleo, for trying something new – don’t let anyone deter you. Sometimes, we don’t even see how much we need help or change until after we’ve taken that leap. Always remember that you are worth it, your health, your happiness – those are your priorities. If you’ve had one of those gut wrenching moments that motivates you to make a change… I congratulate you on seizing that opportunity and making the most of those sour lemons – because they make a damn good accompaniment to several paleo dishes! 🙂