Do you know how people talk about putting on a few "love pounds?" How when you just become so happy, and feel so fulfilled, you stop worrying so much about what you weigh, and before you know it, you can't fit into your jeans?
This really is all your fault, you know.
I know this is a blog about DIYing furniture, but at the heart of it all, I believe we are simply DIYers in general. We DIY dinner and kids and solutions to all life's problems, whether it's with a saw and a drill or with whatever's in the fridge or whatever you can remember your Mom telling you. We do things ourselves, and that's what brings us together.
And while I've been DIYing furniture, helping with the Momplex, and everything else that goes along with being a Homemaker, I've been quitely DIYing something else: my health.
If you are one of those lucky people who never have to worry about your health and weight, know that you are indeed lucky, and that there will be lots more furniture plans posted - you don't have to read this. I myself have been going back and forth for months now on whether or not to share with you my health journey, as it is deeply personal and revealing, but in the end felt that if just one person can improve their life from my experiences, it is worth it.
For as long as I can remember, I've always been gaining and loosing weight. It's been a constant struggle for me to stay in shape. I've done just about every diet out there, spent months running on tread mills, tried pedometers and even went 14 days without eating a single carb. And it was torturous, somedays I'd be so hungry I couldn't fall asleep at night, dreaming of food. And then would come the fateful day where it would all become too much, and I would gorge myself on junk food, and gain it all back again. This was the vicious, excruciating cycle of gaining and loosing the same 10-15 pounds several times a year. For years and years and years.
Then along came you.
When I started blogging, two things happened. One, I started sitting. Alot. And two, I became so fulfilled and happy, with friends that accepted me for who I was inside, that I stopped caring as much about my weight. You couldn't see what size jeans I wore, and nor did you care. You made me feel valuable, regardless of my size.
With the support of my beautiful family, a job that fulfilled me and that I loved, and new friends that accepted me, I made a very bold decision. I decided that I was no longer going to worry about my weight, and just focus on being happy and healthy.
For a year, I did not weigh myself. Happy and healthy was the goal. I skipped the donuts and ice cream and instead ate lots of whole grains, brown rice and fat free foods and took daily walks. I ate vegetables and oatmeal, never skipped breakfast, ordered skinny lattes with sugar free syrup. I ate less for dinner, said no to desserts, and enjoyed an occasional glass of organic red wine. Never did I let myself go more than a couple of hours between meals, never letting myself get hungry.
I did what all the experts say, followed the pyramid to a tee, and this is what happened to me:
When I first got on the scale, I did not believe the number that showed up. Unconvinced, I went to my neighbors house and weighed myself. But the scale was not broken.
I gained 20 pounds.
At first I was in disbelief. I thought, how can this be? I've been doing everything right. I eat healthy. I exercise. Is this the weight I'm supposed to be? Is this my normal?
Unwilling to go back to torturing myself with diets and punishing workouts, I decided to accept my new size and continue to focus on health and happiness. My weight was still in the "healthy" range, and I decided to love myself regardless of my size.
So I got a new wardrobe in larger sizes, started fixing my hair and smiling more, and kept focusing on happiness and health. I kept eating whole grains, religiously ate breakfast, hungry or not, and watched my fat intake.
This was in April of 2011. By July of 2011, I decided to get back on the scale and see if my healthy habits and positive attitude had paid off.
The number on the scale shocked me.
I had gained more weight. I was now knocking on the door of becoming overweight. What was next? Would I gain 20 more pounds next year? And every year after that?
And I was doing everything right.
Or was I?
My goal was to become happy and healthy. But was I?
I was tired all the time, sleeping sometimes twelve or more hours, but still waking up tired and grumpy. I had headaches all the time, and had trouble focusing. My skin was covered in pimples even though it was dry and required moisturizer constantly. I was irritable and disorganized, my days a blur of brain fog, doing the bare minimum to survive and get to a spot where I could lay down and nap. I did not feel good.
And as I looked around my house, it did not look like the home of a happy healthy person. Dishes were piled in the sink, clothes molding in the washer, piles of paperwork left unsorted, toys scattered everywhere, nothing put away or organized. I could only do the housework that had to be done right now. I had no extra energy to do a single thing more.
I was not happy and healthy.
A few days later, I can remember being at my sister-in-law's house one late afternoon, and watched as she mopped floors with her baby on her back. I could not remember the last time I mopped my floors. I simply did not have the energy to even sweep or pick up to get to the point of mopping. I felt lazy watching her. When she finished, she grabbed an apple, and started eating, and said, "I haven't had a chance to eat all day, I've been so busy!"
And I looked at her, thin and full of energy, organized and clear thinking, and thought, You mean you skipped breakfast???? How can that be? Thin healthy people eat breakfast. They never skip breakfast! They have oatmeal and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning!
Or do they?
Once I started questioning what a healthy diet is, I started questions everything I had learned about health. If I eat the healthiest whole wheat bread ever, on a sandwich made of veggies, hold the mayo, and end up with a headache so bad I have to take a nap ... is that sandwich good for me? If I'm not hungry, but force myself to eat breakfast anyway because the happy smiling people in the oatmeal commercial tell me to, and I feel lightheaded and irritable, is that good for me? If I do everything the experts say, and find myself overweight and tired and unhappy, am I healthy?
As confused as ever, I decided to just go back to basics. I decided to eat the foods that made me feel good afterwards. Meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. I reasoned that these were the foods we were intended to eat, not processed or packaged.
And I started listening to my body. I started asking myself, am I hungry? What am I hungry for? What food will give me the most energy? How did that food make me feel? Am I full or do I need seconds? Am I thirsty or hungry?
I found my diet took on a simple pattern:
Coffee in the morning
An apple or grapefruit for mid-morning snack.
A light lunch of salad, leftover dinner, always with lots of veggies.
Homemade dinner of meat and vegetables.
Because I was trying to shed the twenty pounds I gained, for a couple of months, I avoided sugar and starch. And always, I avoided any processed food. Yes, sugar, flour, oatmeal, cereal, even milk and dairy - these are more processed than meat or fruit or vegetables.
Most importantly, I avoided gluten. It started with a suggestion from a friend that I may have a gluten intolerance, and I suddenly noticed whenever I ate gluten, I was immediately rewarded with a giant headache and overall feeling of tiredness and brain fog. I also noticed most grains, with the exception of rice, had this same effect on me. Yes, the whole grains that had been the basis of my diet for the last year were the worst of the worst.
My body responded by shedding the twenty pounds within a couple of months. But it wasn't the pounds that inspired me the most. With the new simple diet, I was most startled by the mental change in me. Suddenly, the brain fog and headaches were gone, and I could wake up early and think clearly. You probably noticed I started writing my posts in the morning about this time because I could think so clearly. My skin cleared up and my hair became shiny and thick. I was alert and felt good for the first time in as long as I can remember.
With the headaches gone, I could do more than the bare minimum around the house. I found myself not just doing the dishes, but organizing them as I put them away. The house was suddenly clean and organized all the time. Laundry was folded and put away. My car was clean. When I worked in the garage, I didn't just put the tool down. I now had the energy to put the tool away.
As I emerged from years of being burdened by health issues, I could suddenly see how bad it had been. It was almost like I had ADHD issues my entire life.
Over the next year, I continued to avoid processed foods, choosing natural whole foods. I ate to appetite, and listened to my body. Sometimes I had treats like cheesecake and ice cream on occasion (and chocolate probably more often than I should!) but there was no way I was going back to feeling tired and sick all the time. And it occurred to me that I could stick to this new lifestyle because I was motivated to be my best self, the best mom, wife, and friend I could be, rather than trying to simply loose some vanity pounds.
But guess what?
Here's I am a year later:
The weight has not come back.
But more importantly, it's how I feel. I'm alert and happy. I have so much energy, I can't sit still. My house is clean and organized. Dishes are done, laundry is put away, floors even get mopped (once in a while) and I no longer feel overwhelmed and tired all the time.
I know this is a terrible iphone picture taken by my six year old in poor light, but I wanted to show you a picture of me in the same dress for contrast.
When my birthday came around last fall, my family asked me what I wanted. And guess what I said?
I asked my family (Jacob and Grace) if they would eat like me for three days. You see, for a year, I had been making separate meals for us. My family continued to eat as I had previously, and it was alot of work to make two separate dinners every night. And I wanted them to experience how difficult it is to fight this battle alone.
So for three days, they ate like me: meat, fish, vegetables and fruit - and nuts and healthy oils. And after three days, my husband was convinced, and stuck with it to go on and loose ten pounds himself and feel dramatically better. We also noticed a marked behavior change in our daughter. Now we eat as a family, and maybe I do get a little complaining on why we are eating cookies made with squash or the meatloaf is full of vegetables, but everyone understands the importance of what we put in our bodies.
With my family on board, things changed. When I was just cooking for me, I ate simply. But Grace and the Ram, they wanted cookies and brownies once in a while, and I honestly wasn't ready to say I'm done baking for the rest of my life.
I tried the gluten free mixes, did some gluten free recipe googling, but it seemed when they take the flour out, they replace it with weird ingredients, chemical additives, and you guess it: sugar. And it just tasted terrible. Grainy and gummy and artificial. And I decided if we are eating junk food - it better be good, and it better be at least somewhat good for you.
Somewhere in this new quest to develop a lifestyle that our family could live with for the rest of our lives, I stumbled on the Paleo Diet and baking with Almond Flour. This really was the game changer for my family. Suddenly I could make chocolate chip cookies that were the best EVER, so delicious and moist and chewy that everyone (even outside our family) loved them, but made with ground up almonds instead of white flour. I could make cupcakes and brownies; for the first time in a year, I could make a blueberry muffin and eat it myself! I could have battered fish and pancakes, made with a superfood!
So why am I writing all of this?
Well, plain and simply, I feel cheated out of 15 years of my life. If someone could have told me what I know now 15 years ago, I'd have spent my late teens, twenties and early thirties awake and alert, excited about life and happy and healthy. But instead, I've had a headache and brain fog for 15 years. It's like I've had a hangover for 15 years ... without the partying. I know I'm still young, but I still can't help but feel cheated that my youth was wasted by being so darn tired and yuck feeling All. The. Time.
If this one blog post helps just one person out there, battling the same issues I had, it is definitely worth my time to share. And if you are a mom like me, controlling what goes in the bodies of your growing children, if I can share anything that will help you feed your family better, it is worth it to me. And hopefully, my openness (trust me, it's painful to share that before photo of myself) is valuable to many of you, because I'd love to share some of my recipes and ongoing healthy lifestyle journey with you as well.
Congratulations, Ana! Your perseverance and openmindedness has brought you, and your family, to a wonderful, healthy, happy place. I, too, have battled weight all my life. I finally found what works for me and, with my doctor's okay (I'm a couple decades older than you!), I instituted it slowly. Results may be slower, but it's something I can stick to, and it shows. By the way, you are a stunning woman no matter what your weight!
Hi Guerrina! Thank you! I'm glad to hear you are on track to your best health too! Thanks for the compliment - it's been an acceptance journey as much as a health one! Best luck with your battle as well!
great post :)
I too have made the same discoveries as you this past year and this past christmas definitely proved my point. I spent the past 6 months eating more vegetables, less processed foods, cutting out gluten and dairy and was blown away with my energy. I hadn't realized how much I had until Christmas came along and I ate all the sugar desserts, and side dishes and spent 2 days laying on the couch with a headache doing nothing. My christmas holiday was a disaster because I went back to my old ways. Never again! I'm now fully convinced and now fully understand the relationship of food and energy..........
I loved reading about your journey :) thank you for sharing!
Hi CB! I'm with you - I got to the point where I no longer cared enough for my personal vanity to fight the weight loss battle. But our lives are just too short to spend with a headache, aren't they? So glad to hear you are on the veggie, less processed food train too! Thanks for commenting and the encouragement! Ana
We Diy supper and jokes and results for all life's issues, if its with a saw and a drill or with whatever's in the ice chest or whatever you can recollect your Mom letting you know. seoafterpanda.com
I thought people were crazy when I first heard about Paleo. Give up my breads and pastas? Never! I always had pretty severe allergies. When my husband and I went on a trip to Las Vegas regular doses of allergy medicine and nose spray got me through but I was miserable.
I found a website Multiplydelicious.com that gave you a weeks meal plan, and thought I can do one week. Since it was just the two of us, it was enough food for two weeks. I felt so much better, but I thought it was just from all the veggies and meat I had been eating not avoiding the grains. The following weekend was my father in laws birthday; we went out for Italian food. I had a big piece of lasagna and rolls to go along with it. The next morning I felt so hungover even though I hadn't drank any alcohol. That proved to me the Paleo diet works for me.
Thank you so much for getting the word out that people aren't crazy for eating the Paleo way. I love your site and your book!
I thought people were crazy when are first heard about Paleo. Give up my breads and pastas? Never! I always had pretty severe allergies. When my husband and I went on a trip to Las Vegas regular doses of allergy medicine and nose spray got me through but I was miserable.
Ana - Thanks for sharing! I am definitely interested in the same healthy journey...and there is a lot of DIY involved in that! However, I agree it's well worth it. Wouldn't mind seeing a post or two here and there with your others about this topic. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. :)
Hi Alison, thank you! More energy = more time to build, right?
Ana, I love you for writing this. I met you at your first Home Depot visit in Atlanta on your book tour and thought you looked great! Katie Bower blogged about meeting you there too and how you introduced her to the idea of going gluten free. Ever since then, I've been intrigued. For the past year I've been having some health issues and I've been wondering if cutting out gluten will help me. I eat a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread every morning for breakfast, I don't know what I could replace it with! I'm afraid to try anything else because if I don't eat something hearty like then I get weak and feel like I'm going to pass out.
Can you tell me approximately how long it took you to notice positive effects after cutting out the gluten? What do your husband and daughter have for breakfast? Thank you!
Hi Maira, thank you for coming to meet me in Atlanta! What works for me may or may not work for you, but it sounds like you are on the right path listening to your body. If you feel great with the peanut butter sandwich, keep doing it! But if you feel tired and get headaches after eating, it may be a clue to change things up. I personally don't eat breakfast - just black coffee, and then fruit when I do get hungry and it works for me. I tend to eat more for dinner, which tides me over in the morning.
It took me about two weeks to start feeling really good and get tons of energy. I've read that your body needs time to get rid of your cravings and sometimes processing fat can make you feel awful because toxins are stored in your fat.
If I can say anything that has worked for me it's simply to listen to your body and eat what makes you feel like doing jumping jacks at 6AM :)
Thanks for sharing this Ana, I discovered something similar not too long ago and have been on a similar journey to health. I've read some fantastic books and while it hasn't been easy with all the 'temptations' everywhere, especially for my kids. I definitely believe that a lot of our problems are food related but we are so disconnected from our food in this society that most people don't realize that and they just see it as a means to an end and not a way to really live a more full filled life. I'm glad you finally came to that realization even if it took you 15 years to get there.
Hi Aisha, thank you! I agree with you - we have been working also toward being closer connected to our food sources with raising chickens, hunting moose, bear, and caribou, fishing and gardening in the summer and gathering wild berries. It's been a journey, hope the next 15 are better! Ana
Although my husband and I don't eat meat or dairy, we noticed a huge change when we eliminated dairy from our diet. For years I suffered from adult acne, bloating and an extra few pounds and found out I was gluten intolerant. Once I removed it from my diet I felt amazing and my skin completely cleared up!
Isn't it amazing when you find what works for your body? Nice work Ana! Enjoy the new you!
Hi Amanda! I almost didn't put the word Paleo in this post because I don't believe anymore in "diets" but rather believe in doing what is best for your own body and health. I seem to do well on meat, but share the dairy issues with you. When I reduced my dairy (still have occasional dairy and organic butter) and gluten, the first thing I noticed was my skin was clear and smooth and moisturized. It's amazing, isn't it? Here I thought I wasn't buying the right acne medication! Thank you for the encouragement! Ana
Congratulations to you! I have gained a lot of weight over the last couple of years and have always struggled with my weight. It is kind of ironic that you posted this because as of the New Year I was just starting to implement these changes into my diet. I am really hoping I succeed as I have much more weight to lose than you did. :(
I have been following your blog for a very long time. I love all that you do and you are an inspiration to a lot of people. I am waiting for the day when the mom-plex is finished. I have loved watching it all come together.
Do you have any more big projects in mind after that? :) I love to to wood working projects but that is a very big project you took on and I applaud you! You are doing a fantastic job!!
Have a great day and thank you for all the posts!
Hi Mrs T! Thanks for reading for a long time! We have a goal of mother's day on the Momplex! We can't wait too! Thanks for following along!
We are outgrowing our house now with Grace getting older, working from home, and considering more kids .... so I think next we'll start thinking about upgrading from our starter home to something a little bigger. But we can't do anything until we finish the Momplex :)
Good luck with your health goals as well - keep at it, it's the little things that we do every day that make the difference in the long run!
Way to go! This is very inspiring! I never knew you struggled with this...not just the weight but the tiredness and fog. I always thought you were perfect building houses, raising an adorable daughter, looking beautiful...you had it all! Not to say that you don't but sometimes, it seems a little unattainable when I'm looking up to you and your perfect life. It makes me realize that even the people I look up to have struggles and it's okay not to be perfect. The most important thing is to feel good and enjoy life...if that means modifying my diet, that a sacrifice I'm willing to take. Seriously, great job. You look amazing (and always have!).
Hi Allyson, I want to first apologize if I've put a perception out there that we are anything but normal people with normal challenges. I am so sorry - it's hard to publish a post with a not so great looking picture of yourself for the whole world to see, you know? But I really wanted to be open in this post because I have secretly always felt like being healthy was for people born with the right genes - just like building had initially intimidated me. But I now believe being healthy is attainable by all, and I agree, feeling good and enjoying life is the greatest inspiration to good health! Best luck to you and thank you for your kindness! Ana
I'm so glad you shared this and hope that you continue to share more with us (specially the recipes). I too made changes last year and noticed a really big difference once I cut out the wheat. My "eureka" moment ocurred after I read Wheat Belly. My husband was not a big fan so I was cooking two meals also. Finally, after watching the documentary Food Inc, he's changed his ways and I couldn't be happier. 2013 is gonna be great!!! :)
Hi Paulina, I can't wait to share with you how we make moose tacos or bear sausage quiche! I haven't read Wheat Belly yet, but I really want too - hear it's a huge eye opener! So glad to hear your hubby's on board, it is so hard to fight the food battle on your own! Everything is easier with a partner. Somedays, I feel like eating junk ... and my husband will say, let's eat healthy, we'll feel better. Here's to all of our best year's yet! Ana
so excited that you have found your path to health too! very awesome to see someone so visible sharing their story- makes the rest of us ' food weirdos' a little more acceptable to standard society. We are gf/df for our health, too :)
Thank you Chris, glad to hear you are gf/df too! It's hard sharing this kind of stuff, but honestly, so many of you are friends, I felt compelled to share as I would in person. And who knows - maybe someday enough people will open up and eating different won't be so different? Here's hoping! Ana
Love to hear that you're Paleo, Ana! Congrats on your results!
Thank you Renee!
Ana, thanks for sharing this information. It couldn't have been easy putting this "out there" for everyone to see. I have recently been convinced that gluten-free is the way to go for my husband and myself. We resolved to implement this new lifestyle here at the time of new beginnings in the New Year. Realizing it won't be easy to change eating habits of a lifetime (I am three decades older than you), I turn to you and many others for inspiration. Thank you so much for your story.
Hi Linda, I'm pretty sure publishing this post was one of the dumbest things I've ever done! But so many of you are friends, I just want to be open and honest and who knows, maybe save someone else 15 years of headaches. If I can suggest anything, try just for 30 days. I found setting a short term goal really helped me, because I could count down the days and encourage myself that this is only a 30 day thing. But then after 30 days, I found myself never wanting to go back. Good luck with your new beginnings this year! Ana
Thank you for being so open about your weight issues. I have to admit, you're one of those bloggers I kind of put on a pedestal (she's gorgeous and knows how to use tools), so I would never have imagined you deal with the same problems I do (I know, shame on me). Your post is very encouraging, so I do hope you write more about it (especially the chocolate chip cookie recipe).
Hi KW - I am so sorry if I've given the impression that I am anything but perfect - but thank you for thinking nicely of me! An eye opener for me was when a friend of mine, who I'd always thought just had skinny genes, confessed that she diets and works out daily. This confession let me believe good health and being in shape was attainable to me (and everyone else) as well, and gave me courage to be open and honest too. Will share the chocolate chip cookie recipe - if I can get the family to stop eating the cookie dough first! Ana
Thank you so much for sharing this. Your "before" story sounds exactly like me! I'm a healthy weight and I feel like I eat good homemade foods, but I'm always so tired and cranky. It never occurred to me that gluten might be the problem, but perhaps I should try cutting it out and seeing what happens. Thanks again for sharing your story! I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and discoveries.
It's so funny how when I talk about health to others, so many people have the same issues as me. For a year, I ate "healthy" foods and I just kept gaining weight and getting more tired and more brain fog. It might very well be gluten for you too! Thank you for reading, and best luck with your health journey as well! Ana
Ana, thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. I'm so happy for you and your family, for the healthy choices you've made. My family and I are about to do something similar, and I'm so looking forward to feeling vibrantly healthy again. It has been a long, long time, and I miss it.
Thank you for the reminder, for the encouragement, and for the example. And, for what its worth, I've ALWAYS thought you slender and beautiful . . . :o)
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. -- W. Edwards Deming
Hi Annalea! So great to hear from you! I can't wait to hear how your family does on your own healthy journey. And for the record, I've always thought of you as bright and energetic. Thank you! Ana
You remember who I am? Let me add "amazing memory" to that list. ;o) Have a wonderful weekend!
Wonderful, wonderful post and honest evaluation of your body and health.
Thank you Donna!
Ana it seems you have blossomed as a person right about the same time your blog/website did. Funny how everything in life is connected: body, mind, work, home so when one takes a positive turn so do the others. Now you must please post about the meat in your diet because I'm so curious how the Moose plays into all of this! You look fabulous in the black sundress (even if it is winter in Alaska!).
Hi Jaime! You know, it is really true - the friendships I've made since blogging have given me the courage to just be myself. Thank you for being a dear friend and helping me become better. We are getting ready for our yearly does of vitamin D ... so had the dress handy :) Will have to blog some good ole moose recipes! Is it crazy that we are contemplating carrying a cooler of moose steaks to Hawaii? Hope all is well! Ana
WOW! Great story with a happy ending!
You could be describing me. I have always ate healthy (like your two years of gaining) and my 'symptoms have gotten worse and worse. I even tried adderall for a while (I had never been on a prescription drug before). I hated the adderall, realized i needed to get off it but I knew I needed to make a change. I had read about Paleo (some) but had decide to go a more vegetarian gluten free rout and then my chiropractor told me yesterday not to stop eating meat- my thyroid is sluggish and I that I need the amino acids from meat. I am inspired by your story- I will give it a try:)
Do you have an Paleo resources (to learn about) you recommend?
thanks so much for sharing!!!
Hi Meljoypip - thank you! It's so frustrating to be doing everything "right" but everything being so wrong, isn't it? If there's one thing I've learned, it's simply to listen to your body. I tried eating less meat, but was just so tired and hungry all the time. But other people thrive on vegetarian diets. My suggestions is to just pay attention to how you feel after you eat. I hope you give it a try!
There is alot of resources on Paleo Diets, and it really helps explain why you may be reacting to gluten or grains or dairy etc - one of my favorite posts is this one - but I found there is no substitution for you listening to your own body.
Best luck with everything!
I've been looking into the Paleo diet for a while, but maybe I need to quit thinking about it and just do it!! Your story was very inspiring, thanks for sharing, I know that it takes courage to post photos of ourselves on the internet that we feel good about, let alone the ones we don't!
Hi CGCouture, there's no time like the present! If you can just commit for 30 days, just 30 days, it's alot less intimidating than committing to never eating pasta again. I hope you give it a go - you'll never know unless you try! Best luck! And thanks for understanding on the photo - man was that tough to publish! Ana
Ana, thanks for sharing! I was the first in my family to go gluten-free, and ten years later, my insurance paid for the blood test and showed I have the celiac gene. We found out my son has it, and he got it from my husband, who has a different celiac gene than I do! My Mom has it, my Grandma has it, my Sister has it. My brothers won't be tested. I love the way I feel now, and I am thrilled to see my son (three years old) thriving. We are gluten-free, but I just bought a Paleo cookbook and plan to start weeding out the sugar in our diet. Did you know 40% of Americans have one or the other celiac gene? It's crazy!
Hi Jo, my sister in law who is a nurse suggested to me years ago that I might be celiac? But I thought I just was eating too much sugar and had destroyed my metabolism with dieting. Never did I think it could be the gluten. But after a year of whole grain "healthy" eating and seeing the results, I am certain bad guy #1 is gluten and grains. We still do some sugar (hard not too with kids in the house) but find eating more fruit can keep sugar cravings down. We have quite a few Paleo cookbooks - Eat Like a Dinosaur is a great one for kids and I love how they mix in fruit for sugar!
Thank you for sharing. I went through a big health crisis about four years ago, and I healed myself in a similar fashion, no sugar and flour for a long time. I'm better now and do eat those things on occasion but as a general rule I try to eat as little of them as possible. I also love almond flour! You can make really good brownies, pumpkin cakes, and banana bread or muffins out of it, too. I just sort of eyeball the ingredients. I'm sure you've stumbled upon a lot of blogs that are helpful. I really like Chris Kessler. Also, for a mind-blowing read, buy Natasha Campbell-McBride's GAPS book (sold on Amazon through other sellers). It explains the science behind why going low grain returns us back to health! It's so cool.
Hi MLK - I will have to check out Chris Kessler and the GAPS book - sounds like very helpful reads! I'm so happy to hear you've healed yourself!
Woops, I meant Chris Kresser, he is great. Congrats to you and thank you for being such an inspiration in all aspects of life.
Yay Ana! We made the switch to Paleo last year and have found the same results. (I feel cheated, too.) You are gorgeous! Congrats!
Yay!!! Another Paleo - can't wait to swap recipes! Thank you!
I thought there was something majorly wrong with me, always walking around in a fog and forgetting everything. My teen age kids are always telling me things 5 and 6 times so I don't forget. It's been a difficult time and with a tougher work schedule, I don't even make dinner anymore, we're always eating out. Needless to say it hasn't helped with my weight and I've been overweight since my youngest son was born 14 years ago! I've been to several doctors about my symptoms and NONE of them mentioned a food allergy or gluten sensitivity.
I'm convinced after reading this post and the comments by others that this is what I need to tackle in 2013. I'm considered obese and I'm now getting to be borderline diabetic, it's way past time to do something about it, but it's so wonderful to see you come out on top of the same battle that I have to undertake. Now I know it can be done, whats even more important, I know what's wrong and I can at least start somewhere!
Thank you for sharing Ana, it truly is amazing all you do and I'm hoping that I can turn it around for myself and start feeling good!
Hi Tracy, That's exactly who I've always been - knowing there's something very wrong with me, but not able to pin it down to anything! So frustrating!
But you have the will to be your best self, and that's a powerful thing! If we feel good, we can build more, right? I hope you give it a go - going grain free and dairy free - to see if that helps!
Thank you for reading and being a friend!
My sister discovered last year that she also cannot tolerate gluten. She is now gluten free and is eating almost entirely whole foods. She loves to bake and one thing she found is Maninis Flour. It's made out of ancient grains (no rice, sugar etc). She can bake regular recipes with it and it has made substituting much easier. So happy you have found what you need to be healthy! Thanks for sharing your story with us. I'm sure you will help way more than one person!! http://maninisglutenfree.wordpress.com
Hi Megan, thank you for the tip on Maninis Flour I will have to check it out!
Hi Ana! My husband regularly stalks your site for plans...we just made a kitchen for our boys for Christmas...our first project together...and they LOVE it! He had your site up and I just happen to click on a link and found myself here. I'm 21 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child (and first girl!!) and have been feeling so run down. I've gained a lot of weight already with this pregnancy, as I did with the previous two. I had no trouble losing it afterwards and actually found myself a size smaller after two kids than before. But I never really felt good. Like you my house was always disorganized and cluttered and I just didn't have the energy to do anything about it. I've been really down the last couple of weeks and find myself so unhappy with the way I look and feel right now. I'm worried that I won't be able to get back to a healthy weight after baby #3 and I desperately want to be a healthy, happy, energized mom. Thank you for openly sharing your experience and what has worked for you! I'd love to see you share some recipes here! We have eaten healthy for years...lots of fruits and veggies...my kids LOVE them! But we have never cut out grains or tried a Paleo style diet. Maybe that's what has been hampering my energy. Looking forward to your recipes and advice!
Congrats on baby #3 and thank you! I know you are going to bounce right back after baby #3 is born - you must be so busy being pregnant and having two more! Of all the things that I've noticed impact my energy it's this: sugar and starch. I'd definitely try decreasing grains and sugar and see if that impacts your energy level - it sure does mine!
Are you excited to do girl projects? Congrats!
that paragraph about how you felt really resonates. i feel like i have had these symptoms all my life. i got my thyroid and vitamin levelschecked- normal. i went to a therapist- not depressed. what's wrong with me? i've been pretty obsessed with fresh bread most of my life too though but if going gluten-free will change this feeling, the fog, the sleepiness, the inertia and lack of focus, it would be incredible. i'm going to try. please post more about your daily diet and recipes. i'm not sure where to begin.
Hi Jasi - man that sounds alot like me. I didn't put this in the blog post, but I also went to many different doctors trying to find out what the heck was wrong with me and they check thyroid, pcos, depression, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, chronic fatigue .... and it was like I could never get a straight answer. And then I would beat myself up about being lazy and not motivated enough to get everything done. Wish I'd known a few diet tweaks could change everything. Hope you find the answers you are looking for as well and can't wait to share some of my recipes and more.
Thank you for detailing your journey. I have just recently learned about the Paleo diet and am easing myself and my husband into. It's good to hear of a real person having the same benefits that the PR spits out. Good that you discovered this at your age instead of mine (almost 60) !
Hi Cyndi, thank you - it's so tough to pull the truth from the marketing, isn't it? I actually learned about paleo a year after changing my diet to a hunter/gatherer diet, and it just fit perfectly with what my body was telling me. I hope it works for you as well!
Thank you for posting this! I'm trying again to go grain free. I have the brain fog pretty bad, and a pain condition that none of the doctors I've been to can tell me the cause of. I'm hoping that cutting out gluten may help. Previous attempts have been derailed by Thanksgiving and travel for work, but I'm determined to stick with it this time, even if I have to go with the 80/20 rule at first.
Have you checked out www.marksdailyapple.com or www.elanaspantry.com? MarksDailyApple has tons of research and recipes and Elana's Pantry is a Paleo recipe site, especially good for baking recipes. Both Mark and Elana have several cookbooks each, in addition to all the recipes on their site.
Hi Beth! It is SO tough to stick to a restricted eating plan during the Holidays. After my book tour eating out (even healthy food can have not so healthy additives when you eat out) for weeks ... I was such a mess when I got home. But it gave me perspective and got me excited about getting back on track. I'll admit, I've been more like 60/40 over the holidays as well - but it's a lifestyle, not a diet, so you can't blow it- you can just try to do better the next day!
I have Elana's cookbook for baking with Almond Flour and love it! Some really great recipes in there! And I will have to check out Mark's Daily Apple, thanks for the tip!
Thank you for posting this! I have tried to cut out grains before, but both attempts were derailed - the first by Thanksgiving, the second by traveling for work. I am determined to stick with it this time!
Marks Daily Apple (www.marksdailyapple.com) and Elana's Pantry (www.elanaspantry.com) are both excellent Paleo/Primal sites. MDA has a lot of articles and research. Both sites have a lot of recipes. Elana's Pantry has a lot of baking recipes. Both Mark and Elana also have multiple cookbooks out.
Scott and I went mostly vegan (following Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live plan) this year and I feel the same way you do -- I wish I'd known this 15 years ago! How great it would have been not to spend all this time feeling crappy. I actually blogged about it a few months ago. Here's a link: http://thefriendlyhome.blogspot.com/2012/10/lifelong-struggle-over.html
My only problem with Paleo is that so many people who do it don't know where their meat is coming from. I know you guys hunt and I think that is awesome. You're eating clean, humanely raised and humanely slaughtered meat. But conventional meat? Nasty stuff full of stuff people shouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. I just hope that the Paleo trend doesn't make things worse for the environment, farm workers, slaughterhouse workers, and animals.
So glad you found something that works for you!!
Hi Hillary - I had no idea you and Scott are vegan! We are very fortunate to have wild, humanely harvested meat - I am thankful every time we eat dinner to have fresh fish and meat to eat, hunted or gathered by our family. But one thing I have noticed about eating Paleo (in my case anyway) is I still eat the same amount of protein, just my vegetable and fruit intake has increased dramatically. Good point! Ana
I am dropping a note because your story is so similar to mine, although I began DIYing my diet long before furniture. I am so glad you finally found relief!
For those who think they may be gluten intolerant, I encourage them to give GF a try. The symptoms are so varied that it's like living in a house of mirrors until you just drop it and feel it clear up.
Some symptoms that are not commonly known to be associated with gluten intolerance are: psoriasis, eczema, aching shins ala shin splits, low back pain, sore joints, arthritis, wheezing, asthma attacks, ADD. ADDHD, depression, swinging moods, weak brittle nails, bloating, (within 20 minutes I look like I gained 15 pounds!) thinning hair, weight loss, weight gain, heat sensitivity, cold sensitivity and it goes on and on!
Also, it is really common to be both casein (diary) and gluten intolerant or celiac. The molecules are very similar and over time the body can begin to react to diary as if it is gluten. For those suffering, it can be so confusing because it seems like life is just about feeling like crap!
For those who are interested The China Study, which is the longest nutritional study to date and advocates veganism, was attacked repeatedly by statisticians who sought to invalidate the study's claims. Regardless of anyone's personal choices regarding plant based diets, the one correlation the statisticians could not break is the link between wheat consumption and heart disease in the citizens of China. It is a new staple in the Chinese diet. Those who consumed it in mass quantities, like westerners, had higher rates of heart disease, like westerners.
For those who are meat eaters, any paleo diet is gluten free. The basics are no grains.
For those who aren't meat eaters, be careful of mock meats and any meat sub. A popular choice is Asian foods, but soy sauce is not gluten free so much of the cuisine is not.
When I first went gluten free, I ate high raw foods because it was just easier for me. I am not much of a meat eater. And I have to say I felt great! I have slipped of late, but I can say green smoothies are a must, especially if you have lost essential nutrients due to celiac or gluten reactions.
Anyhoo. I thought I'd chime in and say "hey, me too!" :)
If anyone has any questions, just drop me a note!
All the best!
Thanks Ariesgal for all the super helpful information! The best to you too! Ana
Ana, I'm both proud and awed by you. I went through the same thing a few years ago and I totally understand what you're talking about. My problem is that my family doesn't want to join in on the healthy eating which makes it difficult to continue on with it for myself. Fortunately I'm about to move out and live on my own, so I can eat how I want to. For anyone skeptical whether or not you feel so drastically better when you eat a healthy diet, I can honestly say you'll be floored by how amazing you feel. Congratulations on finding a healthy lifestyle that works for you and your family!
Hi Logan! Thank you! It is so hard to eat different than your family. I remember once my husband cooking a wonderful meal of pasta and french bread and being offended when I didn't eat it. I had to tell him that I wanted to eat that food so so so bad, but if it meant being tired and feeling ill, it wasn't worth it to me. After a year and a half, finally, my family has stopped offering me cupcakes and has accepted my eating habits. It is hard. But congrats to you for taking the challenge on, and thanks for the encouragement! Ana
I've also been coming to this conclusion over the past few months. Struggling to change my diet (especially breakfast!!) but I'm a believer. Have you read 'Wheat Belly'. It might not be just the gluten, but wheat in general that is making us all fat and sick.
Thank you for sharing. I've always kind of thought of you as the gorgeous chick who kicks butt in wood shop and has it all! It's humanizing to hear your story :)
Hi Gupps! Well, thank you! Yep, last I checked, definitely human here! I haven't read Wheat Belly yet - it's on my list - but I can say this: I'm a different person when not eating it. Hope you work through your diet changes - here's to the best year yet! Ana
I am yet another reader so thrilled that you shared this post. I've always known I have a dairy sensitivity, but I'm getting do sick of the fatigue and "funk" from my diet. Now that we're finally moving back into our own place (after living in my mom's house full of diet "foods") its the perfect time to overhaul our pantry. Why not start from scratch when you're filling it up?? First step: a paleo cookbook! I need to bring in more fresh fruits and veggies! And with a little one it's best to instill good eating habits early.
I'm so happy you found a solution. I know you feel cheated, but just think of all those who never reach your level of health and wellness. Better late than never!
Hi Brooke! So I've always seen you as healthy and fit! Interesting to know you are listening to your body as well! We have the Eat Like a Dinosaur Cookbook for Gracie and she loves the recipes in it! Nothing like cupcakes made with beets! How cool you are moving in soon! Huge congrats to you and your family!
Really get you on the fresh veggies and meat thing - I did this last year and it is amazing how quickly I felt better. Since I'm not gluten sensitive, I was able to add whole wheat pasta and soba noodles to allow for more vegetarian options. I've also learned to cook with lentils and started using more varieties of beans to make the budget go farther.
Never made the connection between gluten and headaches though - interesting! My husband gets really bad "tension headaches" that we always thought were caused by simple sugars and/or caffeine addiction/withdrawal so I might try cutting the gluten for awhile and see if he does any better. Good thing we love rice and lentiles so much! :-)
My personal vice is sugar in the breakfast coffee and sweet, simple, carbs (white flour, sugar, etc.).
Hi Kaila, one of the things I did not mention in this post is I started drinking black coffee a year and a half ago. Before, I added soy milk (and before that half and half) and I wonder if that had some effect. As a blogger ... you can probably guess how much coffee I drink :)
I've got a sweet tooth too .... it is tough, and honestly, I didn't care enough about being skinny to give up the sweets ... but I do care enough about being happy and healthy and that's how I keep turning down the cupcakes.
Best luck to you although it sounds like you are already on the right track!
Are you kidding me? Dumbest post you've ever written? I think not! I think it just might be the smartest! Although I am currently not eating as I should (holidays=weak), I know diet (not to be confused with being on a diet) is key to the majority of health issues. I am middle age and I am so tired of seeing peers pop pills for ailments that can easily be corrected with diet and supplements. (When I say supplements, I am under a Naturopath's care, so I'm not just winging it.) I am thankful you posted this and I hope you feel better doing so with all of the positive feedback you are getting. I am happy you have found a healthier lifestyle and feel great because of it. I have heard about the Paleo way of eating but have not tried it. I have had good results with Eating Right for Your Blood Type but will look into the Paleo to compare. As others have posted, a lot of times it's wheat and not just gluten that can cause issues and it's best to get the healthiest meat you can, not just the regular hormone and fat ladden type stocked in the grocery store. When I shop there I try to get the organic type. I just wish "the powers that be" out there would do the right thing, get rid of hormones, pesticides, etc. If everybody was doing it, the prices wouldn't be so high. Here in the midwest hunting is pretty big so although my hubby doesn't hunt, if I get a chance to get my hands on venison, I jump at it. Again, I'm happy for you Ana and thank you for posting. You did the right thing!
Hi! Thank you so much, I'm so glad to hear your side! I've done the Eat Right for you Blood Type, and as an O, it's actually pretty similar to the Paleo Diet! I just didn't like the restrictions on certain fruits and veggies and the complications of cooking for the whole family with different blood types involved. We are so thankful for the fresh meat the Ram provides for us (he hunts, I personally don't have the heart to hunt, but go along to help out) and I am very much looking forward to posting some of our moose recipes! Thanks for reading and the encouragement! Ana
We share the same blood type. I've become so undisciplined as of late, maybe I should do the Paleo at first and ease into the Eat Right for Your Blood Type with it's more restrictive eating. You are indeed blessed to have all of that fresh meat. I wouldn't have the heart to hunt either, but I give you kudos, because I couldn't stomach helping, either, ha! I have to giggle, because "moose" recipes sounds so foreign to me. Regardless, I am looking forward to reading them. Thanx again Ana for all that you do!
Oh Ana, thank you for this. I was just having this battle in my head THIS MORNING. I went to the gym, then to Lowes because they open at 6 am (HURRAY!) and I can get 2x4s without my 3 kids in tow. I have so many projects planned for today....too many to finish before company comes tonight...and I felt so defeated because I resigned to this being ANOTHER day that I didn't eat properly. Thus, ANOTHER day that I'm tired and crabby, and ANOTHER night that I will have insomnia. Seriously, I had that conversation in my head 5 minutes ago!
I already believe everything you've written about a grain-free diet to be true, but it is a great encouragement to me that EVEN Ana White struggles. And with that knowledge, I will be a little more empowered today, not that I wish ill for you, but that someone I admire identifies with my struggles. And if you can make THE CHANGE while doing all this other amazing work, then I CAN TOO!
Hi Sunny! It's always that first day of getting back on track that is the hardest, isn't it? I find once I can go a day, I get rid of cravings for sugar and starch. I also have been struggling after the Holidays to turn down the chocolate leftover from Christmas and get back on track. Here's to tomorrow being better, right?
You know, one thing that really helped me was recognizing that most people - even people we may think are "naturally thin" - work hard at being healthy, consciously or subconsciously. I know there are some lucky people out there, but I believe good health and fitness is attainable by all!
Glad to know I'm not alone too!
Thanks for the inspiration. I have been dieting with a book called The 17 Day Diet, based on the same principles you mention and have lost 17 lbs since Thanksgiving. I fell off the wagon a little bit over Christmas vacation, but will get right back on. I too dieted and exercised for years, not losing a pound until I found this book. Makes sense and it works :) Happy New Year to you and your family. :)
Hi Payton, I haven't heard of the 17 Day Diet, but I'm definitely going to look it up! That is awesome that you lost 17 pounds since Thanksgiving!!! Congrats! It's hard to stay true to your eating/lifestyle habits, and honestly, I think it's good to take a little break and eat a a few truffles or a slice of cheesecake and then get back on track come the New Year! Happy New Year to you as well! Ana
Thank you for sharing your story Ana. My story is similar, but the solution was very, very different. For the past 6 years, I have followed a GF, Paleo, low-carb type of diet, off and on, with the longest period of GF lasting 18 months. Unlike many of the readers here, I didn't feel better, and actually felt worse on that type of diet. I have discovered that I feel much better eating wheat (fresh ground and baked) than I do on rice or any type of Paleo diet. No, the weight isn't magically falling off, but my moods are better, I have more energy, and I FEEL good. I simply follow a whole foods diet, plenty of homemade breads, grass fed meats and dairy, organic fruits and veggies. Very little processed foods, very little food like substances, and almost no chemicals that I can't pronounce.
Hi Kathleen, I've heard a few other people tell me the same thing - that they do better on a wheat diet. I believe in listening to your own body - DIY dieting for sure! Congrats on your success and energy and eating healthy for you! Ana
First, you have been such an inspiration to me since I've found your sight. I have told several of my friends/aquaintances about your site and they have all found loads of inspiration from you too. I had no idea you have gone through the struggles that you wrote about. I have ADD... or do I? lol. Since I've started taking medication a year and a half ago, my life has changed so much for the better. Now I question if I really do have ADD though. Maybe I've just been eating wrong all this time! The way you describe yourself before the diet is a mirror of me before I started taking meds. My results with meds have been the same as your results with eating the Paleo way. I know you cannot advise me, but I might just give this paleo thing a shot. I would hate to be dependant on medication forever. Maybe ADD isn't even real! Well, this is kind of exciting! Thank you for being so open and honest, and, btw, you are beautiful in both pictures! I'm very glad that you feel better and happy now though. Also, thank you for all of the hard work you put into your site and plans. Remember to take breaks though ... we will all still love you and still follow your blog. We want a happy and healthy teacher! Thanks again for opening up so personally... I think your post can help so many people!
HI Abbey! It's funny that I did not ever see myself as having ADD or ADHD symptoms until after I started eating gluten/grain/sugar free. Then I looked back and was like, wow, I was a mess! We also noticed my daughter calmed down dramatically and became more focused and less "figidity" for lack of better terms with the diet changes, although she still eats some gluten/sugar/grains, but it's hard to say if she's simply growing up, or I'm parenting better because I feel better, or if she is affected by diet as well.
I'd say give it a try! I don't know alot about ADD medications, but if you have a sensitivity to gluten/sugar etc, the medicines aren't fixing your issues, they are just making you feel better now. Hope this helps, and thank you so much for the encouragement and support.
Thank you for sharing your journey. I suffer from terrible eczema, most prominent on my hands, which puts a crimp on doing a lot of things with my hands (but it doesn't stop me from building!) :) Anyway, I have done a lot of reading on the connection between diet and eczema, and there seems to be a link between gluten and eczema. I think this post is the push I have needed to at least try to go as gluten free as possible and see if that helps me. Thanks for that push!
And also, I bought your book right after it came out (pre-order, actually), and it's wonderful! Congratulations to you on such a great achievement. There are definitely things in there that I will be building. :)
Hi Sheela, I had acne all the way up until I stopped gluten. I just thought I had "oily" skin and it was genetics. It wasn't bad, just always one or two annoying pimples. But when my skin completely cleared up, I was like, wow, you mean I'm not predisposed to pimples? For the last year and a half, no breakouts! It has to be the diet!
I have also decreased significantly my dairy so that could be a factor too. I'd say give it a good honest try and see if you see any changes.
Thanks for preordering the book - glad you like it!
I love it, please continue to branch out and share about yourself! I'm so glad you've found a solution that works for your body. I wonder if the struggles you had with Grace when she was a baby had anything to do with your diet? I have several friends who modified their diets while nursing to achieve happy baby...
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2013!
Hi Melissa, I've been thinking this too! When Grace was a baby, I tell people I was one sleepless night away from begging a mental hospital to take me in, and they laugh, but I'm actually serious! Grace was one of those babies that never slept, and was either nursing or crying or I was pacing with her - day and night. Ironically enough, when she took a bottle at a year and half, she started sleeping and became much less fussy. It's hard to say if I was less able to deal with a fussy newborn because of my own health issues as well. If we ever get the courage to have another .... I'll definitely be watching my diet more closely. Interesting that your friends noticed a change in their babies.
A happy healthy 2013 to you too!
Ana! You are such a wonder-woman to me, it makes me admire you just a little bit more to know that you have struggled with your weight. I've been struggling for years and after going paleo last year, FAILING MISERABLY, I began eating and drinking worse and more often. Since it's early January, I have jumped back on the primal train with Whole30 for this month!
Check out Nomnompaleo.com for some awesome recipes!
Hi Katie!!! I've been wanting to do the Whole30 Challenge! Let me know how it goes - good luck to you!!!
Ana, I'm so glad you shared this! And I'm super happy for you!!! I couldn't agree more. I'm making this change (not cheating!), but it's hard with my hubby and 3 kids not all on the same page. We all eat meats, produce and healthy fats but the bread and dairy is harder to eliminate. I personally wouldn't mind you sharing even more in the future! I feel pretty strongly that making healthy food choices and incorporating physical activity makes you better at everything else to do! The standard American diet definitely won't do that for anyone. Thanks again for sharing Ana ~ we all love ya!
HI Anneke! Thank you, it's great to hear from you! Some days my family is like "what can we eat?" And it's like the cupboards are bare unless you want to cook a full meal! It's definitely a challenge to eat whole foods when you have a family. It was a daily struggle until I got my family on board, but now it's much easier with them now my support system.
The next step for me is incorporating regular physical activity. I know I build and work, but my gift to myself for 2013 is going to be finally starting a regular workout schedule that I love and look forward to.
Happy 2013 to you too!
Hi Ana, I came upon your blog first through google and a search for picture ledges and then again today through the shabby2chic blog, in my endless quest for diy hints, tips and tutorials. So, firstly thank you for the amazing ideas and tutorials, your site is incredibly helpful, motivating and honest. Secondly, thank you for your bravery in writing this post, I understand how you feel in regards to posting your before picture (which, I think you still look stunning in!), I have gained a lot of weight during and since being pregnant and I am struggling to shift it. Prior to my pregnancy I was quite skinny and reasonably healthy, tried not to eat too many carbs, avoided sugar and processed foods and had even tried the raw food diet, I felt amazing on that but it is hard to stick to. And then I became pregnant and a single mother to an adorable baby and all motivation for healthiness went out the window. But reading your post today has reminded me how good it feels to be healthy and how important it is for my son that I am healthy, not only having the energy for him but also to set a good example for him to follow. The brain fog and constant lethargy is a horrible feeling and I want to get back to being clear thinking and feeling full of energy. Thank you so much for your inspiring post and congratulations on finding your healthy path. You may regret the past 15 years but had you not felt so bad you would not appreciate how well you are now and discovered how important it is to trust your own body and instincts when it comes to making decisions about your health and food rather than the millions of different pieces of health rights and wrongs out there.
Hi Susan, thank you!
It is so hard to balance it all, isn't it? And I found when I became a Mom, it wasn't that I couldn't stay thin ... it was just that I spent all my time taking care of the baby, there was no time to take care of me. But one thing I've learned is if I feel good, I can be a better mom.
You are so right - having something to contrast to definitely makes me appreciate feeling good now, and definitely motivates me to keep at it!
And I'm with you on there's no one size fits all, you have to do what works for you and your family.
Thanks for reading and the encouragement!
Ana what you do has always inspired me but this post has made me rethink how i am going to tackle the weight i have gained over the last six months.
The idea of revamping the way i eat completely is exciting and i know from past success that the better you eat the better you feel.
I did have a question though and i was wondering if there was a specific brand or type of Almond Flour you used, i looked it up briefly and realized there are a lot out there and I'm a bit lost on which one to go with.
Thanks again for everything you do.
HI Matt - I love the Honeyville Farms blanched almond flour. You can get it off Amazon. The Bob's Red Mill is a little coarse for baking :( I store mine in the fridge (or freezer for bulk).
Thank you and good luck!
Thanks for sharing Ana! I have read your blog for quite some time now but never commented. I appreciate your openness. I am going to take the challenge that you gave your family and "eat like you for three days". Here's to better health!!
Hi Amanda, thank you for being a long time reader! I appreciate that!
Thanks for taking on the challenge - hope it works for you!
Yay! And so did I. My story is like yours up and down 10lbs. Then in my 40s I couldn't get rid of it. I came down with perioral dermititis (imagine acne around your mouth up and under your nose with some around your eyes) nightmare! After 6mos I went on an elimination diet and found I have no problem with meat, veggies, fruit, nuts. Like you I realized the paleo diet was similar to how I was eating. I dug out all my skinning clothes, because nothing fits and they were baggy. Skin clear and easily thin without exercise or hunger. Blew it witheverything over the holidays so will get back on track and need to firm up! So glad you posted this! It is the little secret that fewAmericans know, but that can make such a difference.
Hi April, I too never linked acne to diet. I always just thought I got a bad gene! I think my skin clearing up was the biggest surprise of all! Yay on getting into the skinny clothes, feels so good, doesn't it? Don't beat yourself up too much over Holiday eating - there's always tomorrow to fill up on healthy nutritious food and do better! Here's to 2013 being a healthy happy one!
Congrats! I've been following your blog for a while now and would love to see healthy recipes from you. My husband and I were just talking the other day about creating a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and our family. Keep up the great work on the Momplex, all your beautiful furniture, and your healthly lifestyle!
Thank you Sarah!
Ana, it's so wonderful that you decided to write this post. It takes a lot of strength to talk about weight and health struggles. But I guarantee you, you aren't alone! In my day-job, I'm a personal trainer...and time and time again, I find that my clients who are the most successful are the ones who have figured out how to truly moderate sugar and grains. I know you've already heard from a lot of people who have had similar experiences, but for every one that comments here, there are several more who will read it and be inspired even though you may never hear from them. So thank you for using your DIY platform for spreading the word about something that affects millions of people, even if it's not a furniture-related subject!
Congrats on finding health, and managing to get your family on board as well!
Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting- it is very interesting to hear from a personal trainer that you find your successful clients are those that moderate sugar and grains.
After I started eating less sugar and starch, concluding I have an intolerance or sensitivity to pretty much anything white - I felt cheated and kept asking myself why me? Why can't I eat cupcakes? But after a year and a half, I've come to realize it's not just me. I'm just fortunate enough to have discovered how affected I am sooner than later :)
Thanks so much! Ana
Oh my goodness Ana! Did you just look inside my brain and write this!! I JUST did the same thing in October, took out all gluten after looking at a symptom list for gluten intolerance (actually for my 6 yr. old son) and noticed that it was me that had the intolerance!! I also found paleo and went that route. I've lost some weight and feel fantastic!! I was in a fog, my long beautiful hair was falling out by the clumps, had horrible muscle spasms and I was a mess. I then put my kids on the same diet and we also have noted a dramatic behavioral change in our son. Isn't it amazing!
Hi Tammy! So glad you found your solution too! It is amazing! Happy to hear I'm not alone! Ana
Ana, you rock! Thank you for the honest and inspiring article. I have noticed a significant mood and energy change myself when I eat gluten free. The thing that's been holding me back is cooking differently for myself and family, but I know I have to change this for everyone's sake. Thanks a lot!
Hi Melin! Thank you! That was the toughest part for me too - cooking separately for me and the family. It really helped when they could se the difference eating healthy made in me, and then later on, when my husband could see a difference in his health as well. Wishing you best luck with that! Ana
Ana, I know you have lost 15 years, but you are still young! I just found out six months ago by a doctor that I have the same problem and I will be 67 this month. I have had this problem all my life and feel so much better today than I did at 30 years old. Please post some of your almond recipes that are really good. I have hundreds of recipes, but hate to waste expensive almonds to try a so-so recipe. Thanks, Phyllis
Hi Phyllis, glad you are on track too! I will definitely post recipes, that Almond Flour ... it is not cheap is it? But neither is feeling yuck. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, best luck to you! Ana
I am thankful that you followed through with the grain-free information--you mentioned this in a post awhile ago and I was afraid you might decide to nix going into that here on your site. I too have problems with foods--I eliminated dairy and gluten a few years ago and had huge improvements, but still noticed problems, especially with corn. I did the home version of the Clean cleanse this summer and felt absolutely fantastic (my seasonal allergies disappeared!!) and it is pretty similar to Paleo eating (not exactly though). It made me begin looking into Paleo eating just recently. I don't really care to lose weight, although I won't miss a few pounds :) I just want to FEEL good! When I eat meat, veggies, and some fruits, I don't bloat and feel crampy, my constant runny nose disappears, and my RA symptoms in my hands with the swollen knuckles and my knees is light years better. It's not an easy way to eat, but the benefits are so many--thanks for having the courage to get the word out! I'll be looking into the almond flour baking options you mentioned.
Hi Kristen! So good to hear from you. I would have never known you also connect food with feeling good. And I hadn't connected diet with allergies like you describe. Interesting! I'm with you on eating to feel good, not to loose weight (although it's certainly a nice side effect!) I'm not vain enough to stick it out to look good, but to feel good and be a better mom? That inspires me.
It's interesting you also notice problems with corn. I sometimes eat corn (organic whole grain chips or organic corn tortillas) but it's rare - I'll usually make almond flour crackers or eat fajitas from a leaf of romaine lettuce.
For the longest time I thought I had a sugar problem, but it seems I can handle rice pretty well (makes no sense I know, but I'm half Asian) but found chili- normally low in sugar - to make me feel pretty blah. I'm blaming the beans.
To the best year yet! Ana
I can't remember NOT being tired & in a fog ALL THE TIME. I'm so tired, I can barely make it through the minimum every single day. How did you even push yourself to get started?
Hi Shelley, I am so sorry you feel that way. It is an awful feeling! Have hope, you can do it!
I know this is hard, but I highly recommend a 30 day very strict eating plan. If you just try to make small changes, you have to battle your cravings all the time, and you won't have a big contrast to inspire you to keep going. What I told myself is it's just 30 days. And these 30 days will benefit me the rest of my life. After the 30 days, you can begin reintroducing foods and see how you react to them. And I found my "sweet" meter had gone way down, so I could eat much darker chocolate, black coffee and tea, without missing the sugar.
There's a plan called the Whole30 http://whole9life.com/2012/08/the-whole30-program/ that many people have done.
Good luck and hope you feel better!
First of all I have to say how much I love your book. It was THE best gift I got for Christmas this year. And strangely enough I got two of them! :) The second best gift was the Kreg Jig so yes ma'am I will be building some of your beautiful furniture. I'm thrilled that you shared your story with all of us. I am going to try this in my own life because I have gained 20 pounds over the past two years and I'm frustrated that I won't come off despite all kinds of attempts. We'll see if I can get it right this time. Please feel free to share here. It is your blog after all and it seems like people here are anxious to hear more. Thanks for all of your inspiration! I feel blessed to have found you! Happy 2013!
Hi Renae, thank you I'm so glad you like the book! Your friends and family must know you well!
Yay, you got a kreg jig! So awesome!!!
I hear you, in my twenties, I could drop 10 pounds in a week! But now, it just doesn't come off! I actually got to the point of feeling like I could not longer loose weight and this was the weight I was supposed to be at.
That was up until I changed what I was eating! Try cutting the sugar and starch. Hope this helps and best luck to you!
Hi Ana! Your post is so inspiring! I'm going to go pick up a book I've got to read about healthy eating and read up on this Paleo Diet. I feel like I've given up on myself for my blog and I know that isn't right.
I struggle with the exact same lack of energy. No matter how much sleep I get.... I want to go back to bed as soon as I wake up. I'm the GRUMPIEST person in the morning.... I joke that I'm not responsible for what I do for the first 45 minutes after waking in the morning... my husband says calls it my demon. I'm such a witch in the morning and I have no energy to do anything more than I have to do. It makes all of my inspiration go to waste because I never have any energy to follow through! We thought it might be something in the house... like mold or SOMETHING... but maybe it's my diet...? Gluten seems to be the big ingredient that gave you true results. I'm not a pasta or grain eater... although I do have oatmeal in the mornings. I never eat out and I rarely have an occasion to drink (unfortunately!). I LOVE milk too much to cut it out :/ Hopefully dairy is NOT my issue. I'm going to look into this gluten thing though. Maybe that's my problem? Almond flour for pancakes.... got to make 'em every Saturday for my boy!
Hi Amanda, that's what my husband would say about me that I'm terrible in the morning! I feel like that year of "healthy whole grain" eating was a year I was in a coma, just barely able to keep up. Oddly enough, I could sit at my desk and work fine ... it was just anything that required physical movement was too much.
I would start trying things. Before I would just think people that were active and alert had better metabolisms than me, but now I'm convinced it's all connected to what we eat.
Good luck and hope you feel better in 2013! Than we can build more!
thank you for being honest - I know it might have been hard to be so revealing but you are a great mom and person and you deserve to feel better, and also share your story so others might who have the same foggy feelings!
I think you are awesome, and thought you were a little thin! lol....thank you for continuing to inspire so many people!!!
Hi Geneva! Thank you for the encouragement! Happy 2013! Ana
Thank you for sharing your story. One year ago I made healthy changes just like you described before you discovered Paleo and they resulted in nothing but weight gain for me (i.e. eating breakfast). I even went to the doctor in March to see if my headaches, hair loss, depression, and brain fog were related to my thyroid condition. She said no and recommended I see a counselor. I was pretty much lost and disappointed that I couldn't find a solution. You have given me hope with recommended the Paleo method. I had not heard of that before. The only good thing that has happened in the last year was I learned about Teresa Tapp's T-Tapp excercise DVD's and I really love them and they work for me without any floor exercises, jumping, or club music in the background. I can do them in front of my kids without feeling silly. Now my kids even do them too. Thanks again for your honesty. You are beautiful and I thank you for helping all of us build houses and homes.
Hi Jenni! I just looked into the T-Tapp I may have to try the DVDs. That's my goal (gift to myself) for 2013 - to do a steady workout finally!
You sound ALOT like me when I was eating "healthy" I now call it "grainfog." It's funny, doctors told me the same thing - that I was depressed and I would argue no, there is something wrong with me! Eating a diet of meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables really gives me clarity and energy and I highly recommend it. Our lives are too short to waste on a headache!
Thank you so much, best luck to you!
Thank you for posting this very personal journey. My husband has been wanting me to try the Paleo diet since he has lost 50 some pounds. I have been reluctant because it is so restrictive even though I cook gluten free for most meals since he too has a gluten intolerance. After reading this and your success and your gains (energy) I will commit to going Paleo. It is easier and better to go without the processed foods. I am happy to hear about the almond flour as I have tried several flours and you are right it is grainy and not a treat. You have inspired me to build my own shelf after I couldn't find exactly what I needed and now you have inspired me to do my body better. Thank you for your words, you are my inspiration and motivation. Kim
Hi Kim, thank you so much for the encouragement! Best luck to you and your family - sounds like you'll have a great support system! Ana
Congratulations on making such positive changes, Ana!
My health/food journey began when I entered that peri-menopause stage of life. In one year, without having changed any of my lifelong eating habits (which have always been pretty healthy) I suddenly gained 30 lbs!!!!! As a farmer I have an extremely active lifestyle. When I entered my activity levels into a "diet calculator" to see how many calories I was burning it told me I had the activity level of a professional athlete and that I should CUT BACK on my activity level. I was consuming under 2000 calories a day and still could not lose that 30 lbs. I also was sleepy and buzzy headed all day, every day. I heard something about hypoglycemia that clicked with me and did a bit of research, then went and talked to my doctor about it. She basically patted me on the head and told me I needed to join Weight-Watchers! It took me ten years to get up the gumption to insist on testing. Lo and behold, I really do have hypoglycemia!!! I also discovered during that time that I have a severe reaction to foods in the nightshade family (tomotoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) that does bad things to my neurological and circulatory systems! Once I knew what was making me feel so miserable I was able to adjust my eating habits to include more protein and veggies and cut waaaaay back on the grains and carbs. I have lost 15 lbs in the past year (and maintained my weight through Thanksgiving and Christmas - hooray!) and hope to lose the remaining 15 this year.
Keep up the good work! And keep working on getting the RAM and Gracie on the right eating track, too.
I've learned that there is a whole world of herbs and spices out there that make healthy food taste fantastic without a lot of effort. You can grow them in your greenhouse or in pots inside your house so their tasty-ness is available all year long.
Hi Pam! So happy to read your happy ending health story! Congrats on figuring it out and DIYIng your own health! That is huge, getting through the holidays and I'm sure the last 15 are going to follow shortly!
Thanks for always encouraging and keeping us inspired!
I stumbled upon your blog today while looking for adirondack chair plans. First of all your blog is awesome!! I've already started making a list of things I want to build and I can't wait. Secondly, I never knew about the connection between gluten and acne. I am 22 and have struggled with acne the last few years. I thought it was going to be a never ending battle! Seriously I have tried every prescription pill and cream out there, and was finally put on Accutane in August. My back and shoulders are completely clear, and while my face is much better, it isn't as clear as my dermatologist had hoped. When you mentioned that your acne went away once you stopped eating gluten my jaw dropped. I had no idea that gluten might be the cause of my acne. I just want to say thank you for posting this, if you hadn't I might have never found this information out. I am going to start doing some research on this and maybe have a chat with my doc. I might be going gluten-free as well. Thanks again!
This is very inspiring. My SIL has been limiting gluten and seems to like it and it's something my husband and I have discussed. Unfortunately it may not be as easy for us. My daughter has deadly nut allergies so something like almond flour is not even an option. I wonder if there are other flours that would work. The other issue is that a lot of the companies that make gluten free are not nut free. So we can't use those either. Seems like paleo and gluten free diets rely so much on nuts or nut flours. :(
Gale, I'm having the same issue. I want to try gluten free with my family, but my son is allergic to peanuts and his allergist said to stay away from all nuts. I'm hoping to find some gluten free baking recipes that don't use nut flours, but haven't been to successful thus far.
Anyone have any ideas for doing gluten and nut free at the same time?
What a wonderful and timely post!! I have been reading about paleo for 2 years, and you have inspired me to finally dive in! You are such an inspiration for me. Every time I see my dresser, bed, closet, etc. I have such a feeling of pride, and I have you to thank for it all. (I gave my sister your book for Christmas, and I can't wait to see what she builds.)
Mrs. White, thank you for your courage in sharing what you have. I've perused your site over the past year or two, but this is my first comment; I felt suddenly desperate to implore you for recipes that have worked for you, it was like my motivation suddenly turned on after all of these years. You've empowered me to resolve to lose weight, something I've not set as a serious goal for myself, ever, perhaps because I was afraid I wouldn't win the battle, that if I just continued to make "healthy" choices, everything would work together for my good and no one could see my public failure in trying and losing. Your openness and honesty and the parallels of your journey with my own have lit a fire under me I've not had. Thank you, a hundred times, for being you. Blessings to you and your family in 2013!
This is my first comment, I love to read your blog and wish I had the confidence to build furniture like you do. I think your Momplex is such a great gift for your moms. When I read your post I knew exactly what you were going to say about wheat. I too have discovered that I feel much better without grain in my diet. Wheat Belly is a great book to read. Also check out www.mariahealth.blogspot.com Some of our favorite recipes come from her and she has a lot of recipes that will satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way.
Dear Ana, for me this site would be called "Mylife.com " or help yourself in your household. There are many ideas, advice and images that motivates me to try the projects exhibited. Keep up the good work!
Thank you sooo much for writing this! I loved your website the first time I cam across it, for the furniture plans. I got a new orbit sander for Christmas, so I thought I need to check out her website again. Then I saw the post about health. It is amazing how I am hearing it from everywhere, so it is really prompting me to change my diet. My 3 year old son was diagnosed with autism last year, but I wasn't convinced, so we did a diet change for him and have seen amazing results. I read "Breaking The Vicious Cycle", and the diet in there is very similar to the Paleo diet, but you have to introduce everything very slowly. Since I saw such a huge change in him, I've been thinking " I wonder what I would feel like if I started eating like that?". Thanks again for your encouragement, and honesty. Please continue the health posts and recipes. :-) Now, I need to find something to build with my Christmas $. :-)
I just stumbled onto this blog from another and wow I am so impressed with what you do!! Amazing! However when you began talking about being so tired I couldn't believe my eyes! I feel like I need 12-14 hours of sleep and a 2-3 hour nap to get through the day. Not kidding. Whe. I'm up, I'm thinking about sleeping and how I should go get some housework dome, but just the thought would make me tired. So changing my eating to this paleo could help? How do I begin? Any advice? I like meat and veggies nut LOVE LOVE butter cheese and potatos. Any advice would be fantastic please!
Thank you so much for sharing your story. As I read the description of your symptoms, I thought that it sounded like depression. When you proved it was what you were eating I was amazed. Maybe my "depression" is caused by all the carbs I'm eating! You have inspired both my husband (who also has depression) and me. I'll let you know how we are feeling soon! Thanks again. I love your usual posts as well; I've been following you for several years and bought your book. Maybe soon I'll have the energy to actually build something!
Hello Ana !
I knew your blog recently (i am french), and i just read this post. The things you describe remind me of what my husband knew. He was ALWAYS tired and slept A LOT, night and day : he took up to 60lbs in 2 years beginning with me being pregnant, and no longer playing soccer.
Then last summer everyone was telling him he had gain so much weight that he has become obese (i must tell that it didn't seem, because as a carribean black man he was still in general good shape - except his belly ahah)...
So i began to cut with processed sugar and fat dairy (yogurt, sour and whipped cream, butter...), processed juices, and all the processed buns and cookies we eat here for breakfast and tea time + eat whole wheat bread and pastas, add vegetables with each dish, and that was it.
And he lost about 40lbs very very shortly (i didn't because i was pregnant again ahah) without craving any food, because he was eating the same meals, cooked differently. And for that reason he was very happy for dieting ;)
It's not about diet, it's about a way of living.
I just found your site last night when I was searching for counter height craft table ideas and this morning I thought I would investigate your plans further when I read about your switch to a Paleo diet. I have to chime in and shout that I am a huge propoent of this! My husband and I started a grains free lifestyle in the fall of 2011 and the changes that have occurred are invaluable! We each lost weight, we both feel better and more awake but the most important outcome was for my husband. As a diabetic for 15 years he was injecting himself with increasing amounts of insulin and it bothered him. A CEO and type A personality, he was concerned about his health and longevity, especially since I am several years younger. We desperately want to share our lives together for as long as possible. And guess what? That wish is now a reality because after just 3 months of giving up all grains, my husband's doctor took him off of insulin! Simply put, we were stunned. Ok, we were elated too but after the reality settled in we wondered why such a simple solution had eluded us for years and years. My husband even asked his doctor, "Why didn't you just tell me to give up grains and I could be free of insulin?" His response was simple... most people don't listen and very few have the commitment to follow throguh with the lifestyle change. While that may be true, we are now crusaders about the effects of grains and the outright lies that are told by companies that produce and sell the stuff as heart healthy. I could ramble on and on about this topic because it is so important to me (even my dog is on a grain free diet, which also pays huge dividends) but I had wanted to post particularly for any diabetic readers as this change could save their life. So anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I hope more and more people learn about the hazards of eating grains, there is more to the problems of grains than just gluten. The information is out there if you are willing to read about it. I look forward to following your site and trying out some of your plans, which look amazing!
I'm so glad that you've found a healthy way to loose weight and feel better about yourself.
My husband and I have been experimenting with our diet/way of eating for a little while now. I decided earlier last year that I wanted to try cutting out all foods that contained white flour. My husband was very difficult to bring on board with this because pasta, bread, cakes, and cookies was his life. We started eating just beef, chicken, fruits and vegtables, and very little dairy. I noticed a big change in my digestion issues right away. No more irritable bowel problems. My husband has had issues with acid reflux for years. He ate more antacids than he did actual food. Only 3 days after cutting flour and grains out of his diet, his acid reflux dissapeared. Completely dissapeared. It was and unexpected/welcome side effect. The holidays created a big problem for him with all the goodies that came into our house. Only hours after he started eating cakes and cookies, he was reaching for his bottle of antacids.
I wanted to comment here, not only to congratulate you on your successes with the Paelo way of eating, but to let anyone suffering with acid reflux (which can cause throat/esophagus cancer if left untreated) know that this may be the answer they've been looking for. Way too often, doctors are quick to prescribe bandaid medications that are expensive and don't work. At my husbands last physical, his doctor was ready to extend the acid reflux medicine prescription for another year without even asking how he was feeling. I said that he hasn't taken any medicine for over 3 months because the reflux problem dissapeard after cutting out gluten products. His doctor said, and I quote, "Hmm, that's nice.", and continued on with the physical. Hmm, that's nice, is all we got out of him. Unbelievable.
Anyway...congratulations on your health. I love your book (I won it from a fellow blogger's contest...Yea!). I'm a big fan of your furniture plans too. I just need to get brave enough to try building some of them.
I just found your site and am really grateful I did, and on the day you posted your gluten dilemma. My daughter has had the same issues and she's been gluten free for about 2 years. But when I read your birthday request to your family, I saw her challenge from a whole new perspective. She's a single mum with a wee boy and is such an amazing woman, like you; and after reading your post, I decided to support her by going gluten free too. Thank you for opening my eyes to her diet - she comes here at the weekend and I've heard her 'complain' but I've never really listened. I think what you do is pretty amazing too. Happy New Year to you and yours xxx
Just wanted to add my two cents and say thanks for posting this one about your health. I am yet another of your long-time loyal followers that has made the decision to go primal/paleo! I kind of stumbled onto the plan (and immediately implemented it) about 3-4 before I read your post. It is awesome to have your example to help keep me motivated. (Honestly, I'd assumed from your pics that you were just one of those lucky girls who stays skinny without working at it!!) Here's to another year of building with you, and getting healthy while I'm doing it! Thanks again, Ana, for all you do!
I'm SO GLAD you found paleo! I've been doing it for about 2 years now and it's changed my life too. Just a tip, Pinterest has been awesome for finding recipes.
And my board:
Congrats on your new found health, Ana! I was reading your post and when you described what you were eating, I thought, "Paleo!", and sure enough you mentioned it a few lines later. I have never, ever struggled with my weight. It's very simple for me to lose weight just by eating less and I've never felt what it was like to yo-yo diet so I had largely ignored any new kind of diet that I heard about. However, I did struggle with low energy levels, migraines, and acne. No amount of medication ever seemed to work for me. My FIL gave us "The Paleo Diet" book years ago because it worked for his health and we filed it on the shelf. I read last year when I couldn't find any other books to read in the house. I found that the information in it made sense so we decided to give it a try. It has literally changed my life. No more acne or migraines and my energy levels are through the roof. We've also noticed a difference in the hyperactivity levels in our young children. They aren't nearly as out of control as they used to be. It takes a while to turn around your way of thinking especially the part about eating more saturated fats. However, I highly recommend it to everyone even if you think it's just another weight loss program because it impacts so much more than that.
You should watch the documentary Hungry for Change. It's very interesting and talks all about eating the things that our body was meant to eat instead of "man"ufactured foods and the havoc all the sugars have done to our bodies.
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