Hello everyone! Today is Sunday. A day of inspiration. A day to relax and be grateful for all that you have. Read this success story and then contact me if you have one to submit yourself. All comments, questions and concerns are greatly appreciated and can be left below. Grok on!
Well hello there! My name is Jason Masterson. I have been dabbling with Paleo for about 3 months now and I’m here to tell my story.
You can find my blog, WhatAboutJason, HERE. It has been a great tool for me to really step back and look at what i have been doing on my Paleo journey. You will also find some other random posts on there. Hopefully they will give you a laugh or two.
If you follow my blog’s Facebook Fan Page HERE, you will find I tend to post pictures and comments on new Paleo discoveries and recipes I try.
“What’s up big guy?” That is the catalyst for my story.
I believe there is an old saying that goes “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will send me to therapy.” Luckily the latter isn’t exactly true, but you get my point.
What is it about a person that gives them the guts and the guile to be so blunt? All of my life I have had just the right amount of marshmallow fluff around the midsection for the term “big guy” to be thrown around. What does “big guy” even mean? I am obviously smaller in stature to you and the last time I checked I wasn’t exactly ripped with muscle. So is this just nice way of saying “What’s up fatty?”
Back then, I chalked my squishy physique up to my DNA. My mom’s side of the family struggled with weight, and I seemed to be blessed with those pesky fat retaining genes. No matter how hard I worked out I never really got any less squishy. I did have one brief stint of success, while living on the Atkins diet for about 7 months. But like everyone else, as soon as I tasted the sweet succulent flavor blast of bread, the weight fell right back on. Like yeast expanding in the oven, so did my waist line.
The story of my success comes in stages. There are three distinct phases of my life that I can pinpoint that led me to where I am today. The fourth phase is currently being written, fueled by a grain, dairy and digestive issue free Paleo lifestyle.
I find it quite odd that I am writing a “success” story. I didn’t survive some horrific dolphin attack and miraculously recover to win the Boston Marathon, I didn’t lose 400 pounds while saving a family of pandas from forest fires, and I didn’t end up on an episode of Oprah.
However, what I did do is get my health and dietary lifestyle back into focus, lost some weight, and inspired a few people along the way. Getting people off of the couch and thinking and eating differently is the REAL success story.
Because in the end taking care of one’s self is a priority, but helping and inspiring others is when you really begin to understand this thing we call life.
Here’s how I got there…
Quite the Cook
My story begins at a company “Holiday” party. While making the normal small talk one makes at a social gathering, someone turned to me and my wife and said “Boy Jason, your wife sure must be feeding you well.”
At first I wasn’t really sure of what to make of this comment. I doubled checked to make sure my wife didn’t bring a portfolio of her entrees she has made and was showing them off to the dinner guests. Nope. Come to think of it, she never made such a thing. So I guess this was just another polite social way of saying “Hey, you’re getting kind of fat.” This must be an upgrade from “big guy.” It’s ok though. I ordered the most expensive item on the menu, left it on the company tab, and went home.
“Sometimes it takes a blunt word punch to the mouth to bring reality into focus.” -Jason Masterson- (that’s me)
Around this time I was having health issues. I thought I was having heart palpitations and was experiencing a ton of digestive problems. It actually got to the point where my wife convinced me to go to the emergency room. Once there, the doctors and nurses said everything looked fine. There was nothing wrong with me and it was probably just stress. In fact, they blamed it all on my wife being very pregnant at the time. Is that what seven years of medical school teaches you? Just blame it on the baby and make sure you pay your co pay on the way out.
Since modern medicine wanted to blame everything on my unborn child, I decided to take a holistic approach. This is where things finally started to take a turn for the better. I took a food allergy exam and learned I have gluten intolerance. Bingo. Those “heart palpitations” turned out to be nothing more than digestive/ heart burn problems cause by reaction to gluten and other intolerable foods. We adjusted my diet, I dropped a little weight, and instantly began to feel better.
Though my holistic exam was an eye opener, I never really bought into the lifestyle. Somewhere along the line, I figured I could do what good brand advertising tells me to, and began to eat “healthy grains” again.
I would start my day with a bowl of Honey nut Cheerios. That’s good right? I mean that little Bee tells me it will help lower cholesterol. I also began eating sandwiches on “whole grain breads” and thought it was ok to enjoy things like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and yogurt. Come on…yogurt has to be healthy right? I mean that lady talks to her friend on the phone in the commercial about all of the delicious flavors she’s eating while losing a ton of weight. Plus it has “good bacteria” and that just sounds like fun to eat.
Miraculously, throughout this time I never had the “heart issues” again, but weight and digestive issues slowly crept back up on me. So I decided to challenge myself and that’s where phase two of this story comes in.
Running is for Olympians and Purse Snatchers
I hate running. Well I used to anyway. Why would someone want to run and pound their joints and bones into a pulp when they could just walk or use an elliptical? I wanted to lose the weight I put back on after reincorporating grains back into my diet. My wife and I spent a good deal of time walking before our daughter was born. We actually took regular walks of at least 4 miles.
I finally decided to challenge myself and conquer this whole “I hate running” excuse. I started slow, a half a mile at a time. Before I knew it half a mile turned into a mile, a mile in two, and then three. I was feeling great. I was able to drop a few extra pounds and felt all around healthier.
I convinced myself I would need to continue to eat the whole grains to fuel my body for running. My wife and I ran two 5ks and then set our sights on a half marathon. We ran the Disney inaugural Wine and Dine half marathon in October of 2010. What an amazing accomplishment! This was the guy (and girl) that wouldn’t be caught dead running a few months prior….especially in the summer in South Florida. And here we were now finishing 13.1 miles.
It didn’t stop there. We caught the bug. In January of 2011 we ran the Disney marathon. 26.2 miles all throughout the 4 theme parks. It’s an awesome race. I can’t even begin to explain the sense of accomplishment crossing that finish line. It was truly a euphoric experience. If you’re looking for a fun atmosphere at your next race, I suggest any Disney event. They are really well done.
So here I am, running marathons and feeling great about it. But something was wrong. All throughout my training I was running upwards of 30 miles a week. That’s a ton of pavement pounding. On top of that, in my eyes, I was following a really healthy lifestyle. Whole grains, low fat dairy, lean meats, lots of veggies and beans, and only diet soda.
For some reason, I wasn’t losing any weight. NONE. How could someone be putting that many miles in, combined with a healthy diet, and not drop any weight?
Talk about frustrating. On top of it all, I would still have random unexplained digestive problems. So since I was “dieting” and keeping fit through running, the only thing left to try was a full body work out.
CrossFit isn’t just a giant sandbox for A-holes/A Prehistoric Revelation
As a last ditch attempt to lose my marshmallow fluff, I signed up for CrossFit in February of 2011. I had major reservations about this. All I had heard about CrossFit was it consisted of a bunch of D bags yelling and screaming at each other and comparing ab muscles in the mirror.This was not my bag. I’m your typical go to the gym, work out, and leave kind of guy. I don’t want to talk about protein ratios or marvel at the size of each other’s delts.
One thing I did find in common with CrossFit videos on YouTube was everyone was in amazing shape. So I sucked it up and signed up. In the beginning, the only way I could describe a CrossFit work out would be “voluntary torture.” It is a very humbling routine.
Even with all of the marathon training I had been doing, I didn’t have enough stamina to keep up with the workouts.
I think I threw up after every workout for a solid month. But I stuck with it. After a month or so my strength and energy had increased tenfold, but something was still wrong. ZERO weight loss. I kept pushing on and 2 months into the routine I was left with the same results, muscle tone but zero weight loss. I would have been happy if my clothes fit a little better, but I couldn’t even reach that goal.
One day after another insane workout, the coach asked me if I had lost any weight yet. I of course said “nope, not a single pound.” He told me to stick around for a few minutes to talk about nutrition.
You can guess where this is going.
The Zone and Paleo diets are staples in the CrossFit culture. The coach gave me a basic run down of what the Paleo diet entails and promised I would see results in as little as a week.
So I bit. I went home that night and watched as much as I could on YouTube about the Paleo diet. It seemed that everyone doing CrossFit and following a Paleo lifestyle all had the same thing in common, they were in amazing shape. And not just physically on the outside, but they all said they felt really clean and full of energy on the inside. People were talking about being ill for years and clearing up all of their symptoms just by changing their diet. I was hooked.
The diet just made sense. There is so much crap in today’s food. Even the health foods are laced with chemicals I can’t pronounce.
The very next day my wife and I took a trip to the local grocery store with a list full of Paleo goodies. It was an exciting time. I love trying new things. It turns out that there are so many different things you CAN eat while still following a Paleo lifestyle. The biggest challenge was trying to figure out what that was and meals we could easily prepare to fit our busy schedule. The first two weeks into the diet were rough, but I expected it.
Cutting carbs cold turkey is probably just as hard as giving up cigarettes or worse. The Paleo online community was my saving grace.
There is such a wealth of knowledge out there of fun and interesting recipes to try. It helps to keep the everyday menu interesting. I am the type of person that will get into a groove and eat the same foods every single day, so it is nice to find some different options out there.
Two months into my prehistoric adventure, the results were clear.
I dropped 20 pounds and it felt like I wasn’t even trying. 20 pounds in two months!
This is the same person who couldn’t lose an ounce while training for a marathon and doing body breaking CrossFit workouts. Needless to say I am a believer. Now that I am getting closer to the 3 month mark, my whole mentality has changed. It’s great to see weight loss, but I am more into the big picture now.
Cutting out processed foods, grains, dairy, and sugars has morphed me into a new person.
Why would anyone want to put any of that sludge into their bodies to begin with? As soon as I cut those foods out, all of my digestives issues fizzled away. I NEVER EVER experience any stomach aches, heart burn, or bloating while eating Paleo. It is clear to me now that I truly have an intolerance to these types of foods. The lack of weight loss and digestive problems was simply my body’s way of telling me I’m hurting its feelings. I don’t think living completely off of grains and dairy is the best solution for everyone, but I challenge you to give it a try.
The best part about this lifestyle change has been giving my body the chance to show me what it REALLY likes and doesn’t like. Not what I think it likes. I have slowly tried to reincorporate things I used to eat and found there are a few things I can handle in moderation and others that just plain give me a stomach ache. There is one thing I want to stress, live life. There is no way I am never going to not eat another slice of pizza again. How could anyone resist a piece of cake or an ice cold beer for the rest of their lives?
It is important to splurge a little from time to time. It is the only way I have personally been able to stay sane.
I just go in knowing I am eating crap, and most likely I am going to feel like crap afterwards. It’s a great reminder of why I gave it all up on a daily basis in the first place. But at least eating it every now and then keeps me from lusting over every Carvel commercial I see (man I love that Fudgie the Whale.)
Like I mentioned earlier, I know I have accomplished some pretty amazing things in the past few months, but for some reason I don’t feel as though it warrants a success story such as this.
However over the past two months or so I have slowly started to notice a trend. While my wife and I were training for our half and eventually full marathon (all while going through the trials and tribulations of becoming new parents) there seemed to be more and more people giving us support and chiming in on our run updates. It is pretty hard to put in all of those miles while trying to care for a newborn. We use a free service called The Daily Mile which is great for keeping track of all types of fitness workouts. We would post our updates to Facebook to keep people who were interested in our training up to date.
Throughout that time, more and more of our friends were telling us that we were inspiring them to get up off of the couch and start running. Even people who thought they could never run do to old injuries were getting out there and pounding some pavement. We even inspired a few of our closer friends who hadn’t run half a mile in years to go run a 5k. Others have signed up for their first half marathon.
I get a lot of joy seeing the results I have put up after all of my hard work, but it doesn’t even come close to feeling I get when someone tells me I have inspired them. Once people started to see the results of my Paleo lifestyle, they to decided to take the caveman challenge. So now I have people running and eating caveman style all because of my inspiration. That’s pretty cool. Though I’ll have to admit, I do feel quite a bit of pressure.
How bad would it look if I fell off of the wagon?
The Next Phase
The Paleo lifestyle has been such a blessing for me. I am in the best shape of my life, I’m improving in my Crossfit Workouts, I’m logging faster times on my runs, and I feel great. My weight loss hasn’t been as rapid as the first two months but I’m still slowly losing fat while gaining muscle, getting ever so closer to that 30 pound mark.
My wife and I signed up for our second marathon. We are going all out on this one. We decided to run the 2011 NYC marathon for charity. We signed up with a group called Fred’s Team which is the primary source of support for The Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, a fund that benefits ongoing research on childhood cancers, including leukemia, neuroblastoma, brain tumors, and certain forms of sarcoma.
Running a marathon is an amazing achievement, but running a marathon while supporting a cause such as cancer research is truly doing something great. If you are interested in learning more you can visit my website HERE for more info on how you can help us get to the starting line in 2011.
As for Paleo, I came across the holy grail of cookbooks. If you haven’t picked it up yet, check out Everyday Paleo. This book has provided me with so many new options, especially in the snack department. That’s right I said SNACKS! I thought I had to give up things like cookies altogether, but it turns out there are some pretty easy recipes for Paleo style treats. My wife and I made cookies and muffins and you can read about the results on my blog.
My blog has been an excellent outlet for me to write about my Paleo adventures as a source for my own inspiration, as well as some other really random topics I like to talk about. You can check it out HERE!
I’m trying to keep my friend’s new found Paleo inspiration alive by having “Paleo Parties.” All of the food and snacks we cook are 100% Paleo and it always ends up being quite a tasty gathering. We even had a Paleo tailgate at a recent baseball game we went to. It’s been a lot of fun helping people out with their new found workout and diet routines. I hope I can continue to provide inspiration to them and others.
One of the hardest things during my switch to the Paleo lifestyle was finding fun foods to eat. Here is a list of my favorite things to eat in caveman mode:
- Bok Choy Stir Fry
- Cucumber salad
- Coffee with Vanilla Almond Milk (Just grit your teeth and bare it. Coffee isn’t exactly Paleo, but it’s a nice pick me up in the afternoon. In time you’ll learn to love it without all of the sugar)
- Celery and salsa
- Dried cranberries w/ small chips of dark chocolate (not recommended until you go 30 days hardcore)
- Smoothies! (check out Primal Toad’s awesome recipe book)