I’m Bailey. I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and had your standard, run-of-the-mill upbringing. One thing made me different than everyone else, however. I was always the biggest. Ever since I can remember I was the biggest kid in class, biggest girl in the group and soon I grew up into always being the biggest person in the room. I remember being a size 12 in women’s jeans in 6th grade and 230 pounds in 10th. I tipped the scales at 293 pounds at the time I decided I needed to get my health under control. I was binge eating, having joint pain, crappy sleeping patterns, shortness of breath and a general lack of enthusiasm for my life (and I mean really, what healthy 22 year old has ankle pain when they get out of bed in the morning? Clue #23238534 that I needed help). That was April of 2015, at 22 years old. I was also in nursing school and working in a hospital. I realized I was in school learning to care for patients yet neglecting to care for myself. I felt hypocritical being at work helping patients, a lot of them who are there due to lifestyle choices, get better while I was making myself sicker by the day and headed right for the bed they’re in. Almost two years later, I’m down 125 pounds and have finally started living a life I’m designing for myself – not one where I’m held back from experiences because of my size and poor overall health.
Baaaack up a second. How did you do that?
Oh hey, good question. One day in early April of that year, I made the two block walk into work from the parking ramp to the hospital. Out of breath and sweaty by the end of it, as usual, but this time I felt a sharp pain in my chest. Every once in a while I would get this, but this time it was enough to jolt me into action. The fact that I had become accustomed to feeling heart-attack like symptoms was terrifying. I began researching sustainable ways to get my health in-check. Then, like some divine intervention from the universe, my best friend told me about this thing her hairstylist (of all people, right?) was doing. The Whole30. Intrigued, we bought the books Whole30 and It Starts With Food. You can read more about my experience and reviews of them here.
After successfully completing my first Whole30, I had dropped 22lbs and honest-to-goodness never felt better. My sleep was amazing. My energy was that of a 12 year old after downing a dozen pixi-stix. I was getting shit DONE, man. My clothes fit better. I had quit smoking. Hell, I was even nicer to people. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “she’s already crazy super nice, how could that be?” But I swear, everything about life was just.. clearer.
And I ain’t even bein’ over dramatic.
After those glorious 30 days, I knew I needed to keep going. I had caught a glimpse of how good I could feel and realized how downright awful I felt before. Funny, huh? You don’t even realize how bad you feel until you see how you should feel. I used to use my days off in between work being a bum and “recovering” from my work week. During that month I had the energy to actually use my time off as, well, time off to DO things and not sit on the couch, too physically and mentally exhausted to do anything with my time. I saw myself having the opportunity to have a life that wasn’t centered around when my next meal or nap would be. I took it.
Through more research, I learned how close in terms of nutrition and food groups that the Whole30 and Paleo are. More research. More. More. More. I soaked up every bit of knowledge that our trusty ol’ internet could scrounge up for me. I continued eating Paleo and continued educating myself on why. I’d never learned how to care for myself nutritionally so I felt a huge sense of control (and relief, actually) realizing that this was all up to me.
I spent the first 6 months googling everything. Every little question I had went in the Googlebox. “Is ____ normal during weight loss/paleo?”, “Why are legumes/corn/soy/etc. bad for you?”, “Paleo poop”, “sodium and Paleo”, “understanding the lactose protein”, “white potatoes and Paleo”, “What the eff is kohlrabi?”, “What is carrageenan/pectin/xanthan gum/etc.?”, “effects of blood sugar on weight gain”, “Paleo alternative for ____”, “why DEAR GOD WHY is bread the devil?!” You know, stuff like that.
I would spending hours in the store and meal prepping. Using vegetables I’ve never tried before, which were many. Learning.. and losing. I lost over 50 pounds the first few months. I wasn’t exercising yet. I went from eating massive quantities of highly processed foods to doing a complete overhaul of my diet and my habits by ditching the junk and cigarettes. I was in extremely unfamiliar territory and until I got the hang of it, I didn’t want to do too much too soon by introducing exercise – another thing I was extremely unfamiliar with. I slowly incorporated using the elliptical for an hour a few days a week.
Since then, I’ve done some awesome stuff. I’ve packed as much memory making and new experiences into the last year and a half because, well, because I can now. I take every opportunity I can to move my body and was able to rock climb and kayak for the first time ever because I was below the weight limit. I ran my first half marathon and bawled happy tears across the finish line. I did a 10k solo hike over mountains in Italy. I enjoy spending time playing in the kitchen and feeding my loved ones nourishing, satiating meals. I treat myself like I love myself and fuel myself like I do, too.
It wasn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, a lot of times it SUPER sucked. Saying “no” to all of my old favorite things and comforts. Declining invitations to go to the bar or out to dinner because I knew I couldn’t handle it yet. Using my free hours to meal prep when I would have rather done, like, absolutely anything else. I had to adopt the learn as you go method and accept that I wouldn’t always be perfect, know everything, make the best choices 100% of the time or sometimes just straight up want to quit. I learned the hard way that failure is part of the process.
A huge hurdle was having to deal with my binge eating tendencies. This habit and coping mechanism is a large reason I woke up one day so unhappy and unhealthy in the first place. Finding other ways to deal with my stress and boredom was tough, but worth it. I put tons of mental work and self-reflection in those first months to figure my crap out and understand why my eating habits where what they were and how they got that way. Equally as important, finding ways to undo it and find coping mechanisms that didn’t try to kill me.
So, that’s how it all first started. I kept at it and found myself inching my way towards being in the best health, both physically and mentally, I’ve ever been in. Ever. Here I am now, with newly developed passions and interests that I never in a hundred years saw coming before this. Things like finding the best-tasting ways to put all the best-for-you foods on my plate (and yours!), running, hiking, being present.. Taking responsibility for my health gave me the ability to have these passions. I often say that finding Paleo gave me ‘me’ because I’ve never felt more like who I’m suppose to be than I do today. But really, I like to think that these pieces of me have been there all along, I just hadn’t discovered them yet.
Thanks for being here and discovering them with me!