Deb’s story.

I wanted to share with you my friend Debbie’s story. We’ve been friends since our gym days in Dunedin back in 1998, and this is a real life, transformation story with no photoshopping or embellishing at all. Stories like this are exactly why I now advocate the whole food / paleo approach to diet as opposed to the ‘moderation’ message.


I feel like I have been on a “diet” of some sort most of my adult life. Before kids, Glenn (hubby) and I were gym bunnies and trained every day. We even did body sculpting and ate rice, tuna, chicken, egg whites and veggies for 12 weeks. Never again!! My weight was pretty stable back in those days. Then came a big change: kids. No more gym – but lots of walking. After Ben (our first child – now 10) my weight went back to “normal” pretty quickly but after Ruby (7 ½ years old) it took a lot longer – and it was much harder! However I would make changes and would lose weight to a place I was generally happy with. THEN in November 2011 I broke a bone in my foot!! Arrgghhhh 6 weeks in a cast!!! Oh my, 6 weeks of no exercise…. While I thought I had better watch my eating…. it was Christmas time and I felt so distraught that eating chocolate was a good way to cheer me up in the short term. So to cut a VERY long foot story short – the 6 weeks turned into surgery with a screw inserted, 6 months of being in a cast and moon boot, 7 months of being stationary!!! This was not good – I was very unhappy – just ask my family! Even after I got the go ahead to move again, it was a very slow walk and only 20min to start with. As a result I had put on quite a few extra kilos!!

I tried to lose weight and a typical ‘good’ day for me started with eggs on Vogel’s toast, or muesli. During the day I would have pita breads, salad, meat, or sushi/subway for lunch and was always watching what I ate, choosing all the low fat options (such as low fat yoghurt) and plenty of fruit! Somedays a sweet treat/cake/bickie (or two) might be eaten, but that’s ok its just one right?? I craved diet coke in the afternoon, and often snacked on the kid’s food (such as McDonald’s fries) etc. My lattes in the café were always a bowl size – and obviously always made with trim milk. I was not seeing any results or feeling very good.

Mikki had always helped me out but this time I knew I needed drastic action – my weight was making me feel very unhappy, to the point that every time we went out I would lack confidence in how I looked. I was wearing (and they were fitting tight) size 12 clothes. I just never felt comfortable. I had chatted to Mikki and arranged to meet up for coffee in December last year. Instead of the usual brainstorm around low fat food options, Mikki revealed she had a different food concept for me. I was very keen to hear as I was very unhappy with how I felt. I listened as Mikki talked about the “Primal Blueprint” while quietly thinking ‘can I do this?…. No gluten, wheat, grains or processed sugar!!!’ And I had to stop eating all the “low fat” yoghurts/milk/ cheese and less fruit. OMG!!! And eat fat!! No more trim milk?! BUT I totally trusted Mikki and was keen and ready in my mind to commit to a different lifestyle. After all, my usual eating plan just wasn’t working and I needed to do something as I was so unhappy. As it was the week before xmas, I chose boxing day as Day 1 – cold turkey (excuse the pun). Let’s do it!!!!

So I enjoyed xmas day – my last “supper “– and woke on Boxing day with the excitement of change. Surprisingly I found the switch of eating pretty easy, and don’t really remember any withdrawals from sugar. I downloaded the Easy Diet Diary App and entered everything I ate into it which was a good to track. With some foods I was surprised at how high in carbs they actually were (tomatoes were one that I remember). What I do remember is that the change in eating pattern was easy, satisfying and very quick to see and feel changes. I kept a food diary to send to Mikki and in regular contact about “can I eat this or that”, but very quickly got my head around it and felt fantastic. I was always searching the web looking for ideas and different receipes. The results within the first few weeks certainly gave me a boost. Mikki saw me again (from the unhappy me the week before xmas) after 3 weeks of going primal and could see a much happier person already.

It didn’t take long to realise I really enjoyed eating the food. I don’t miss anything and have absolutely no cravings for all that sugary stuff and sweet tasting things I used to consume, including the Diet Coke!! And no afternoon slumps. After 6 months I had lost 10 kilos, but, more importantly felt amazing!! My skin and hair feel healthier (as confirmed by beautician and my hair stylist). The biggest difference (apart from the weight) is the puffiness in my face, I have always had a “roundish” face, and it still is the same shape but not so puffy – with changes especially around my eyes, they seem brighter. And the bloating in my tummy has completely gone. There is none at all which is a huge difference. My weight has stabilised and this is perhaps naturally where I’m supposed to be.

Exercise has always been a big part of my life and I had always felt guilty when I missed a planned exercise session, especially after eating something bad during the day.We all know the saying “you can’t exercise away a bad diet” but now I am eating 100% clean I never feel those guilty feelings if I don’t have time for exercise. That is a huge change. I was exercising when I could – AND still losing weight and more importantly feeling very good about myself – this is GREAT!!!

This way of eating has to be the way forward and I am not going back! No cravings and amazing tasty food. It also made me very aware of what we were feeding the kids. They have a lot less processed and high sugar food and I bake a lot more from scratch. I am always in the kitchen, baking and cooking, preparing food for the week ahead. My favourite food to eat is greek yoghurt with a spoonful of almond butter, and faux-tato (mashed cauliflower) is the best!! For a sweet treat I love coconut butter filled dates or 85% cocoa chocolate. I’ve got a couple of recipes of our go-to foods – a sweet breakfast scramble and bacon and egg pie in the recipe section of the website. Takeaways have changed – no more sushi, we now order Turkish kebabs – specially made, in a take away container, no wrap, tabouli or hummus. If we are heading out to a restaurant, I always get a menu prior so I can suss out the best options before going, being prepared is the key. I spend a lot of time on-line looking up recipes and following other primal/paleo websites/blogs.

I have my dear friend Mikki to thank and for pointing me in this direction. So ditch the gluten, wheat, grains and processed sugar – you certainly won’t regret it!!

deb b4

November 2012 and August 2013.

4 thoughts on “Deb’s story.

  1. Hi Mikki. I am interested in going Paleo but am currently a relatively poor student and flatting. Do you have any tips for doing to it cheaply? Also, dinner can’t always be Paleo as we share dinners and I’m the only one interested! Do you think it is worth doing even for just breakfast and lunch? Thanks!

    • Hi Chloe,
      In my opinion, any move towards a whole food diet and reducing processed, refined foods can only be a good thing! A paleo approach need not be expensive. While ideally we may all get our meat, fruit and vegetables from organic grocers, this is not the reality for most people. However in NZ we are lucky that our meat is grass fed (and not grain fed), and there is a proliferation of farmer’s markets around where we can get free range eggs and vegetables straight from the growers. If possible I recommend you shop around for these foods. Buying in season for vegetables and fruit will certainly reduce your food bill – and you will find the additional money you feel you are spending on these food items will be more than made up for if you are currently buying food (muesli bars, breakfast cereals) for yourself in your flat.
      Some tips:
      frittata: with chopped bacon, ham, eggs, grated courgette and carrot for breakfast or lunch
      slow cook: cheaper cuts of meat (chuck steak) with onions, garlic, carrot, potato, or a whole chicken
      mince: cheap and delicious as meatballs, meatloaf, making burger patties (lunch options)
      tinned fish: salmon, tuna, sardines
      hard boiled eggs are cheap and delicious!
      adding fruit to eggs by way of ‘pancakes’ or omelettes can add a twist to a usual egg breakfast.

      Finally, if you can only do breakfast and lunch as a paleo-approach, then it is a great start. Particularly, starting your day with a good amount of protein, a good source of fat and (activity dependent) a carbohydrate source such as fruit, kumara, potato etc will be a much better start than your standard cereal or toast-based breakfast. What you eat at the start of the day really impacts on how you feel and what you eat later on. Certainly your food choices will impact on your mood and energy levels (if what I’ve suggested is different what you are currently eating). That enough may be enough to sway your flatmates!
      I hope that helps, Mikki 🙂

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