Turns out way more than just crossfit fanatics can enjoy this lifestyle – your whole family can. (Photo: Stacey Toth)
Almost five years ago, as we welcomed our third baby boy into the world, we took a look around at our life and could clearly see where we were likely going — that is, if we didn’t make any changes.
Matt, my husband, and I were obese. We felt miserable and exhausted. Here we were with three beautiful young boys that needed our attention and energy, and yet walking up the stairs was a challenge for me. Seasonal allergies and depression were impacting Matt’s well-being. Our oldest son was already trending towards a higher than average weight and showing signs of behavioral issues. As a young toddler, our middle child had early indicators of attention disorder. And with the arrival of the youngest, I was determined to avoid the colic that my first two boys were plagued with from the gut irritants that were being passed through my breast milk to the babies.
Sure, Matt and I wanted to lose weight. We had done it before and knew that it would improve many things. But we didn’t want to just change our weight, we needed to change our lives. We needed to create a better environment where the boys could thrive.
Find a Diet That Addressed Our Needs
While looking for answers on how to easily eliminate gluten and dairy, I came across the word “paleo” during a Google search for dairy-free ice cream. I went to the library and checked-out every book available on paleo, which wasn’t much back then. I ate up every bit of science I could get my hands on — from food intolerances and why, to how they affect the gut, how to heal and nourish the body, to what homeostasis within the body looks like and how that affects weight — it all made sense and convinced me that adopting this lifestyle was the way to tackle our laundry list of health challenges.
I adopted the paleo diet first, and within a few weeks Matt joined me. After Matt was on board and in a routine, we transitioned the kids in. We outlined our full process, along with the recipes we used throughout the transition and beyond, in our third book, Real Life Paleo.
The changes came quickly. The weight came off (I lost 134 pounds, Matt lost 66), our behaviors, moods, sleep — the list could go on and on — all improved. Best of all, none of us felt deprived. Matt and I didn’t feel like we were in diet-mode, and we were able to make choices that made us feel “normal.”
Everything about our new lifestyle felt sustainable. This gave us the momentum to continue fine-tuning and adjusting our lives. Sticking to our diet also improved our sense of community. We began buying our food from local butchers and farms. We developed an exercise routine that we could do as a family. And we made the time to find recipes that appealed, not only to our taste buds, but to our busy schedules.
The Bumpy Road to Good Health
Sure, we have experienced bumps on the road throughout our journey, and we have enjoyed some of the foods we originally eliminated (primarily dairy) from time to time, but we have been able to evolve as life evolved. As our lives have changed, our boys have gotten older, our interests have transitioned (I’ve traded walks around the block for Crossfit, and am now a Strongman competitor!), so too has our diet and lifestyle. However, our template for healthy living has remained the same. The very same things we discovered in the beginning regarding sleep, sunshine, nutrient density, and balance have remained as our pillars, but we also stay flexible to ebb and flow with life.
From our experience, perfectionism is not the key to success with your health goals. Awareness and flexibility have been our best tools. We consistently note how we feel, what is working, what we like, and what we don’t like. At the same time, we roll with life. For instance, 99 percent of the time we don’t eat dairy, but when we travel to a state that has THE BEST ice cream shop in the whole world, we stop and enjoy a cup of that ice cream!
This article originally appeared on EverydayHealth.com: How a Paleo Diet Helped Our Family Get Healthy
By Stacey Toth, special to Everyday Health
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