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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

rebuilding my life with paleo: gluten free, grain free

In amazing body transformations, inspirational, paleo on July 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm

My health journey has been a long arduous road to regain what little health I still had. In some areas I feel better than I ever have. Other areas still need improvement, which I hope comes with time and my determination to continue working as hard as I can, while pushing my personal limit’s as much as I can without setting myself back. So the history goes like this: In 2008 I found I’d had testicular cancer. I had the affected jewel removed only to find that the cancer had travelled into the lymph nodes which needed radiation treatment. I’d left the lump too long unattended to. I like to call it “stupid idiot syndrome”.  I ended up very sick around new years 2009. I was home sick in bed with what felt like the worst flu/stomach bug I’ve ever had, and I’m sure know what comes with a stomach bug! This is already graphic enough, I don’t think I need to explain. I also had major canker sores in the back of my throat. All the antibiotics in the world were doing nothing for me at home!

By the time I ended up deciding to go to the hospital, my brain wasn’t functioning as it should. Having to be told “you should go to the hospital”, I did, only to pass out in triage. I do remember though trying to answer the skill testing questions when being admitted. I failed. “What is your name“? Troy Villeneuve. [I got that one] “What is your date of birth?” No problem, I got this one too. “What is your age?” Apparently I was off by 3 years too many, and that was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was someone telling me to breath over and over again. Then I remember taking one very deep breath and everything went dark. The thought came to me that this was the last one. My last breath. Three times I had to be intubated. I came to once during the second or third time thinking this guy is choking me. I recall trying to struggle free only to pass out again. I held a grudge against that guy for a long time while in the hospital. I know now he saved my ass! I cannot believe I am still on the surface of the planet! So thankful!!

OK so fast forward a bit cause this is going to be long if I don’t condense as much as possible. There were many diagnoses and treatments throughout my stay in hospital; none of which were very helpful. When they finally got to have a look at me, they found I’d been at home slowly bleeding to death from an intestinal bleed that they could not find. I also presented with complete ulceration of the GI tract from top to bottom, sepsis, multiple organ failure among other things.

Eventually, after being transferred by air ambulance to the second hospital in Toronto, Ontario, where they did all the same testing, they narrowed things down to my colon. But they still could not pinpoint it clearly enough to fix the affected area internally, so the suggested method to fix the problem was to remove the whole colon and give me an ileostomy. I gotta say that I was devastated! Took me a few days of mulling it over in pain. As well as dealing with the whole loss of blood issue and all that comes with that and the past treatments for the ulceration issues and other bunch of associated symptoms. I was treated with heavy doses of antibiotics, steroids and even a round of chemo (steroids) – which seemed to be what kept me going.

I don’t remember exactly why Chemo, but it kicked the shit out of me on top of what I was already dealing with. I was so being fed up with being sick, I said. “OK, let’s get this done”. In retrospect I have to say that it was the right choice because there was no repairing what they did find once they cut into me. My official diagnosis was Radiation Enteritis, but this didn’t seem to fit the presenting symptoms of complete ulceration of the entire GI tract due to where the radiation actually contacted. Only that tissue should have been damaged or affected. Much of the upper ulcerations were gone, which, from what I believe, was due to a TPN diet. Food through IV was letting my body fix some of the damage.

So after that it was to start rebuilding. I was sent back to Sudbury where I was to do rehab.

Learning how to stand and walk and do simple tasks were completely horrifying and hard to do. I remember being asked to stand as long as I could. I managed about 2 minutes before feeling fatigued and shaky. I pushed till just under 3 minutes before I just had to sit go back to my room, where I fell  asleep to try to recover from the stress I‘d just created. After a month of that, I was sent home on May 19th 2009, with a walker, a wheel chair, a cane and bath and toilet rails. Being as stubborn as I am, not wanting to have to use them at all, I refused to use the wheel chair and eventually the walker when I was able to move jumped pretty much to the cane. Balance was a tricky thing for a long time. Putting on pants was interesting, to say the least.

Things progressed slowly at home. I was still feeling horrible and sick as time kept passing. I started thinking “OK boy it’s time to start taking care of yourself”. I started noticing that, after I’d eat, I’d feel horribly unwell and had horrific sinus issues and blocked ears. I started by going to get some allergy testing done. I was also worried that if this happened now and I still don’t feel like I’m healthy then I may not be here very long. I didn’t feel like I was really healing or living well. My results came up: Wheat, Rye, Grass, Birch and Maple. The allergy doctor said, “Just try and stay away from the things you’re allergic to. Try to get someone to cut your grass and stuff.”

Disgruntled, I posted my new found issue to my face book wall saying “What’s next now I’m allergic to wheat?” A friend of mine piped up asking did I have celiac disease too? I said I don’t even know what that is! Then I got mad that the doctor didn’t suggest it was or should be something that we should be looking into. I researched celiac, then I asked for testing to be done. Three blood tests later there was still no diagnosis, so when I went for a follow up scope with my GI doctor in Toronto, I asked them to do the biopsy’s to look for it. They had a peak while checking me out. The doctor said afterwards that he could visually see the damage to my villi. He said “Oh yeah, that’s Celiac”. He took biopsies anyway, and they came back positive. So 3 negative blood tests with complete villous atrophy, was there something wrong with the blood tests?? They gave me some basic “Gluten free guidelines” that tell you what you have to remove from your diet after this diagnosis, and what you should replace things with. (I now know that they were horrible guidelines!!!)

Still not educated in what was good for me to eat nutritionally, I went on my merry way eating up all the gluten free substitute foods I could get my hands on. I’d even travel to find the best tasting stuff. My weight was taking off like the Space Shuttle. I went from 196lbs to 215 in a very short amount of time. I remember thinking that gaining weight at this rate I’m going to explode like the space shuttle too, so I need to stop this or I’m going to end up back at my original weight which was 287 lbs, or worse! My health did improve some, but recovery stalled.

Talking with a friend of mine who had also been diagnosed with Celiac had mentioned it could be more than just Wheat, Barley, Rye and Oats. She suggested removing corn! So I’d continued my research, all the while thinking, Why only some of us in the world’s population? Why only me and not someone else? It just did not make sense to me. I started by removing corn after some additional research, and my recovery sparked up again. Many symptoms improved temporarily but only to stall yet again. I was still not feeling like I was doing well so I continued my search for alternate inflammatory foods to my system. I removed virtually all processed foods, only to include those with rice and other less popular grains like Teff. Which incidentally removes virtually all processed foods, even gluten free stuff. My recovery got kicked into high gear yet again. There was more improvement in symptoms,  which was great, but there was still more information that needed to be found.

This was the point when I’d started thinking, “Okay, what did man eat before we started farming?” I was still not completely convinced I should remove dairy and legumes from my diet,  so I continued to eat cheese and beans. But systematically I started removing things one at a time, with continued improvement as each item was removed. At this point my diet was pretty strict Paleo. Removal of all grains, legumes and dairy seemed to work best for me, with the addition of limiting eggs and nightshades (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers). Looking back, it seems as though I had multiple issues going on at the same time or that one seemed to help promote the other. Thinking back I’d always had symptoms of Gluten sensitivity since my teen years. IBS, fatigue, gut cramps and pains, joint pain, the list goes on.

This is a breakdown of how I figure it all went down: I always had gluten sensitivity since my teen years. My poor diet led to a shitty immune system and testicular cancer. The radiation treatment damaged gut flora even further. Then, besides the gut flora killing, processed foods made of grains, while damaging the already weakened colon and intestines, lead to the actual autoimmune flare of Celiac disease. So not eating a healthy paleo type diet and repopulating my gut flora properly after radiation treatment, is what I believe led me to full blown celiac disease and my body’s inability to repair damaged cells due to severe nutritional deficiencies and damaging effects of those toxic foods. I hate to even give them the credit of being called food any longer, to me they are now poison! I should add that antibiotic use also affects gut flora in a negative way, and that in the past I’d been on them time and time again without ever repopulating the colony.

I still, to this day, have issues, even after 3 years of being released from the hospital and sorting out as much as possible with my diet and lifestyle. I will continue to tweak and change things as I go to try to feel optimal. I continue to see improvements in how I feel and perform as time passes and I look back to see how far I’ve come in these 3 years of being reborn. I feel lucky for being able to try again and do this right. I feel much stronger mentally now than I ever have. I feel liberated. I feel healthier and stronger than I’d ever thought I would be after my ordeal. And I feel optimistic that I will continue to heal! I now feel like I am not deteriorating and on a path to destruction as I once was so fearful of! All good feelings, I assure you, even though I am still not exactly where I’d like to be with my health, I am happy with where I have gotten. Considering the amount of damage my body had sustained, I have to say I wasn’t sure I’d ever get this far. I’m quite proud of my accomplishments. Oh by the way, I’m not looking for sympathy. I hope this post inspires people to keep pushing for their optimal level of health. It is Sooo Worth It!

Written and shared with permission by Troy Villeneuve
Also see Troy’s blog:

katey loses 100lbs, rediscovers herself

In amazing body transformations, motivational on July 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm
Katey wasn’t always big. In fact, she was on track to be a model. But when the agency told her she had to lose 8 pounds, dropping from 118 to 110 pounds, she scoffed and started to eat more….

“You can’t focus on weight loss – that’s not something you can control. What you CAN control is the PROCESS. Your choices. And enough good ones built up over time will lead you to your goals. Work hard and accomplish the healthy behaviors, let the rest fall into place.” — Precision Nutrition

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sammi jo’s transformation

In amazing body transformations, inspirational, motivational on June 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm


“I was 78kg at my heaviest when I decided one night that I had to do something, that my weight was out of control and I didn’t like the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. I’m 152cm tall and small framed so that weight looked horrid on me. I didn’t like that I had no nice fashionable clothes to wear. I felt alien in my own skin, I felt older then I was because I was dressing older then I was. Still getting around in maternity wear long after my baby was born. At that time my clothes were getting tighter and I refused to buy more in a bigger size.

I had a bag full of ‘skinny clothes’ to inspire me and get me motivated. Stuff that I wore when I weighed 59kg’s, before I had my two children, clothes that I had held onto, believing someday I’d get back to wearing them. Well I managed to fit into those clothes but didn’t get to even wear them for long because the weight kept coming off so I passed them on to a friend that was also losing weight at the time. That was a moment when I realized how well I had done. I have a whole new wardrobe of clothes now, size 8 and even some size 6, beautiful, sexy, feminine, in fashion clothing…and some ultra-cute gym wear (I just love Lorna Jane)

So that night at 78kg, I had decided, enough was enough, I was going to make changes, I was going to lose weight and get healthy. It all came down to choices and changes. The direction of your life and of your health can depend on the choices you make. You’re faced with them every day. Eat that cake, don’t eat that cake, do some exercise or stay on the couch, just settle for take out again or prepare a healthy home cooked family meal. I always took the easy way out. I’d try to exercise, but in the end it just felt too hard, I’d rather settle in front on the TV then get up and move my body.

I was an emotional eater, I binged on sugary junk. I over ate, my portion sizes were ginormous. If there was junk in my house, I had to eat it, and I had to finish it. It was not uncommon for me to chow through a whole packet of biscuits or tub of icecream in just a few days. I’d try to hide my overeating, carefully disposing of packaging so my partner wouldn’t see what I had done. But there was no hiding the fact that food disappeared. I hated the shame I felt after I binged. I’d eat while he was at work or in the middle of the night. I had no energy; I felt sluggish, lazy and in a way unsatisfied with my life. Although I had all I could ever dream for, a loving partner and two beautiful kids aged 4 and 1, I had no motivation. I was making all the wrong choices. I needed re- programming and I knew that I was the only one who could change me. My Dad was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I knew I was heading that way if I didn’t do something. I’d tried in the past, and sometimes I succeeded in losing a few kilograms, but then I’d have a little set back, have a pig-out and it would be all over. I was the Queen of self-sabotage; I was always blowing it and then waiting for a ‘Monday’ to start again.

So I decided to enter a ‘12 week challenge’ that I had been following in a magazine for years, reading all the monthly success stories and telling myself ‘that could be me’, if I could only follow through for once. I had entered a couple of times over the years but could never finish. Never really even get passed the second week! This time when I entered it something clicked, I wanted it, I made that decision to commit, I made that decision to get healthy, I wanted to be a good role model for my kids. I wanted to finally feel good about my body. I wanted to be a yummy Mummy, not a frumpy Mummy.

In November 2010 I joined the local gym, and I went as much as I could, but without conforming to a strict routine. I changed it up, weights some days, cardio others. Sometimes I participated in the gyms classes. Same with diet I didn’t set myself any strict plan, I just made healthier choices and limited my carbs, especially with dinner. I started doing a grappling martial art called Brazilian Jiu jitsu. It’s my new found passion and it’s an awesome workout too! I use to do Jujutsu as a teenager and I enjoyed it. I had always wanted to go back to martial arts, but my weight had held me back. When I found out the gym I joined held Jiu Jitsu, I was excited and pushed myself to go, although I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up! The class instructor was great and he pushed me from the start, I use to really struggle to do just few sit ups or star jumps!

When that 12 week challenge was over I had lost 9kg’s! I felt fantastic but I still wasn’t ‘there yet’. So on the 27 March 2011, I started my second challenge, an 8 week one my gym was holding. It was a ‘couples’ challenge, my partner was a girl I had met at gym. My start weight was 62.2kg and body fat 24.3%. During that challenge I changed my workouts a touch, I added in some heavier weight training to build some muscle. I did about 3x cardio sessions a week during the first 4 weeks and then stepped it up to 5x a week for the last 4 weeks. The cardio I did was mainly gym classes and walks on the treadmill on highest incline or I used the spin cycles. I also tightened up my diet, making sure it was clean and adding it a lot of protein. At the end of that challenge I weighed 54.7kg and body fat was at 19%. I’m very proud to say that my partner in the challenge also had a great reult and we came first in the competition. We won a great prize that included free gym for a year, 20 free personal training sessions and a makeover & photo-shoot. But I still wasn’t ‘there yet’.

I felt I wanted to lean up just a little bit more. By this time my life was completely different, I felt like a whole new woman. Full of life and energy and feeling like I could achieve ANYTHING if I put my mind to it. So when my gym advertised for another challenge, a 10 week one, I entered yet again. I was at a healthy weight and looking great, people couldn’t understand why I’d want or need to be doing another one. But I had my 20 free Personal Training sessions to use, and I still wanted to tone a bit more, and I had a goal of getting me some abs for summer. I wanted to challenge myself, but it wasn’t about trying to win this time, it was about pushing myself to new limits and seeing what I could achieve, how far my body would go. I stepped up my cardio, I started to run. I had always had made excuses not to run, I use to say, oh I CANT run, I have asthma, I just CANT run…. but I found out I can run, and I enjoy it. I’m still only beginning my running journey, but now I can run 10km on the street in just over an hour and 10km on the treadmill in just under. That’s a huge achievement for me. For my cardio I also did short intervals with high bursts of intensity. I changed my weights training to lower weights at higher reps. I used two sessions of Personal Training a week, and my trainer Paul was fantastic, I don’t know If I could have done so well without him. We did a lot of circuits with supersets and plyometric training.

Last week I completed that 10 week challenge at 51kg and body fat 16%. My abs even came out of hiding! I’m very, very proud of myself. I feel like a super woman. I feel strong, I feel fit. I’m in the best shape I have ever been before. And most importantly I feel like now I’m a good role model for my kids.

It took me just under a year to get to where I am, and now at my goal weight, so what next for me now? I’ve decided I want to become a Personal Trainer so I can help and motivate others. I’ve started my certificate in fitness and I’m going to put a lot of my time and energy into getting that completed.

So, to all the ladies out there that have struggled for years like I did, yo-yo dieting….I say to you…You can lose weight without starving! You can lose that weight without fad diets, diet pills or living off meal replacement shakes. You can do it with a good clean food, and good old fashioned exercise. Indulge in that chocolate or ice cream every now and then. Everything in moderation is the key. Hey, go for it, if I can do it, so can you! ……

No more excuses.” — Sammi Jo

michelle’s primal journey

In amazing body transformations, inspirational, motivational on May 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

In her words:

“My weight struggle began when I turned 21. I got really stressed out at my job, and in turn I became depressed and very anxious to the point that my Doctor put me off work. That was the beginning of my search to feel well again…so here’s my story.

In 2002 I was prescribed Antidepressants, which at the time I definitely needed because I was not in a good place. However, this increased my appetite like crazy and I really started gaining weight. I ballooned up to 87kg and I’m 5’6”, so my ideal weight is something like 60kg. I searched online for an answer and I came across Atkins, so I started it straight away. I was really successful with it and I lost a lot of weight. I got right down to 54kg so I was thin…great, ah not really. I didn’t emphasise health enough.
Veggies weren’t a large part of my diet, but diet coke and artificially sweetened chocolate was. I kept the weight off for a wee while but I was still having anxiety and depression. So in my search to find a cure I did more research online and came to the conclusion that low carb was exacerbating the problem….
In 2005 I started eating whole grains after what I had read, and I was convinced that they were the key to healing my body… boy was I wrong. I was so stubborn that I had found the answer that I just kept eating and eating, hoping that one day my anxiety would vanish. I still can’t believe how much faith I had in eating this way.
2008 This is the year where I reached my lowest point and my highest weight. I was now considered morbidly obese and I was extremely unhappy. I was eating every 2-3 hours and even before bed just to keep my blood sugar “stable”. I would eat whole grains, protein and “good fats” thinking I was eating well, but I was constantly hungry and just getting bigger and bigger I was so stubborn and convinced that this was the right way to eat. My anxiety levels were not good, and deep down I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea just how misinformed and misled I had been.

I knew that I was large but you see what you want to see in the mirror, and although I knew I was fat, I was definitely in a state of denial for months. I remember buying a size 20 pair of jeans and thinking “oh they must be a big sizing” until I hopped on the scales and saw 107kg!! And even then I thought the scales were giving me the wrong reading. Then my husband suggested he take a photo of me. I was so shocked that I was actually that size and I remember just sobbing, and being so angry with myself.

In Oct of 2008 I started my online search again Knowing that Atkins had worked in the past was my main motivator, but I was a bit apprehensive. Now there had been a lot more research done, so I managed to find some great websites and blogs that were very informative, which helped me make my decision. With the combined ideas of Atkins, Protein Power and Paleo, I cut out all my whole grains and started eating plenty of veggies, protein and fat, and quickly started dropping weight. No diet coke this time, just water, soda water and herbal teas. I started feeling energised and so great. I still had a little anxiety, but nowhere near as bad.

Once I’d lost about 10kgs I came across Marks Daily Apple and was glued to the site for days!!This is what I had been looking for. It helped me to change my mindset, and to realise it is all about lifestyle, not just about dieting. Since then I have lost another 25kgs and now I weigh 72kgs, and fitting a size 12! I joined the gym to start weight training about 2 months ago and I’m hooked! I’m really looking forward to changing my body composition. My anxiety is far more manageable now and I finally feel like I’ve got it sorted. I now know what works and what doesn’t for my body.

The primal way feels so natural, coming from a person who had to eat every 2-3 hours otherwise I would be lightheaded and sometimes even dizzy. Now I can do the odd 24hr Intermittent Fast with no problems, and if a meal is late it’s no biggie. I finally feel freed from my obsession with food, and the handcuffs of my eating timetable. That is one of the best things about going primal.

When people ask me “what’s my secret?” I don’t talk about it like it’s a diet. This is just the way we were meant to eat. Hopefully I can help others to realise it’s all about mindset, feeding yourself with the best fuel, and using that knowledge to maximise exercise and movement. I’m definitely a bit of a preacher when it comes to Primal living, and talk about Mark Sisson like he’s my best buddy. I started a blog so I wouldn’t drive my friends and family crazy talking about it.

So, it can be a tough pill to swallow when you realise there is no magic pill, and you have to make some major changes if you want real results. Now, when I’m in a situation surrounded by unhealthy foods I have to make conscious choices. Most of the time it’s easy because eating primal foods are so satisfying and makes me feel so good that I never feel deprived. And holding onto my old pair of size 20 jeans is a great reminder and motivator of just how far I’ve come!”

Michelle’s success story is featured in the updated and expanded edition of The Primal Blueprint 2012, by Mark Sisson

Michelle Matangi has been blogging since 2009. She has loads of recipes and food inspiration on her page:

Mark’s Daily Apple