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In January, 2012 my son (and trainer) Eric Allen asked if I would come to Crossfit Continuum to take some pictures of their athletes doing their WODS. Thru the lens of the camera, I saw something that stirred my inner core and jarred old memories awake. I watched as a group of athletes performed pull-ups, sit ups, and squats while a clock on the wall ticked off time.  I’m not sure what left the biggest impression on me that day..whether it was the degree of interaction between trainer and athlete,  the intense level of focus on the face of the athletes, the spirit of competition, or  the sense of “team” that I recognized from years of being an athlete myself. Whatever it was, it started calling to my soul.

After photographing a few rounds of the WOD, I left the gym, but the gym didn’t leave me.  On the drive home, memories of me as a physically fit athlete flooded my brain, and tears spilled down my face.  I compared myself to the people I had met that day…young working mothers, a college teacher, former college athletes..all working toward a common goal. Sadly, I realized that the one thing I lacked in common with them was their commitment to health and fitness.  A spark of desire ignited that day. I wanted that back in my life.  Encouraged by the passion my son Eric had developed for CrossFit and personal training, I sought his help and advice.

The first leg of my recovery began in the kitchen on February 5th. Weighing a shocking 215 pounds, I bid farewell to potato chips, cheese, pasta and bread.   I literally hauled the trash can up to the pantry and began throwing things out.  Fortunately, I had met Loren Cordain years prior when he gave a guest lecture to our department, so I had an understanding of Paleo basics.  Educated as a Biological Anthropologist, the principles of the Paleo lifestyle made sense to me.   For the next two months, I tried new recipes, shopped on the outer edges of the store, walked briskly past the bakery, chatted with the butcher about the meat selections, replaced my old spices, and fell in love with avocados, sweet potatoes, and butter again.  With each passing week, my clothes became looser, and my confidence more visible. I was averaging a 2 pound per week weight loss by simply converting to the Paleo nutritional lifestyle.  Repairing my damaged self-esteem while building a solid nutritional foundation for the rest of my life and the changes to come, I felt in control of my life for the first time in years.

In early March I joined the weight loss challenge work, and committed to weekly weigh-ins along with before and after bod-pod assessments.  Imagine my shock when I discovered that even though I had lost 18 pounds by then, I was still considered obese and my body fat percentage was a whopping 40.6%.  But rather than let that knowledge defeat me, I allowed it to motivate me.   I broke thru my denial and posted my weight, body fat percentage, goals and determination on FB for the whole world to see.  I also joined the 30 day Paleo challenge at CrossFit Continuum. Tracking my meals, sleep and hydration levels gave me additional insight into my deficits, and inspired me to correct a few more old habits.

I set a goal to begin CrossFit on 1 April, 2012.  By the last week of March I had lost 22 pounds, and with that came the confidence to walk thru the doors of Crossfit Continuum once again, a week ahead of my goal.  Walking back into the gym, I was immediately welcomed as a team member by trainers and fellow athletes alike.  The first few workouts left me dizzy, nauseous, and exhausted, but filled with a desire to compete..not only against the clock,  but against the unhealthy person I had allowed myself to become.

On May 14th, I took a second bod pod assessment. My overall body fat percentage was now down to 38.1%. I was no longer considered obese and I had converted 10 pounds of fat to lean muscle mass. Clean eating and CrossFit were working their magic.

The differences that I feel and see between the 215 pound photographer who saw hope for her life through a different lens and the athlete I’m rediscovering overwhelm me.  I’m proud of my fitness and that serves to re-inspire me daily. When I am unable to make it to our box, I hike in the beautiful Colorado mountains, work in my yard or do home WODs. I’ve also added Yoga to my workout schedule.

I’m forever grateful for the athletes, my teammates, who inspired me that January day. I also owe Eric a debt of gratitude for never giving up on me and for continuing to guide me gently in the right direction toward the life I deserved until I was ready to climb over the wall of self-doubt.

Fifty pounds lighter, my focus is no longer on a number appearing on my scale, but on the number of people I can inspire to seek out a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their families. Please allow me to share my recipes, my lifestyle, my triumphs and my lessons learned on my new blog Paleofcourse.

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