Heather and I were lucky enough to “meet” online and have a Google Hangout a few months ago. That interview was mostly about my story, but today I’m sharing her AMAZING story. Read on to find out how food has changed her life in a tremendous way, and if you’re not much of a reader, watch her talk about her story on our video conversation.
By following a Paleo diet, I literally don’t have to think about food anymore.
I went to college at Western Washington University and was immediately recruited for the women’s rowing team. I had not been an athlete before that, but I was tall and willing to get up at 4:15 to go to practice everyday. After my first day on the water, rowing through fog and cold crisp morning air, I was hooked.
When I joined as a freshman, our team had already won two consecutive national championships. We were a strong, successful team, with some of the fittest girls in school as our captains. I knew right away that I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be strong, fit, fast and lean.
My freshman year, instead of gaining the freshman 15, I actually lost weight because I was training so much. We would be on the water from 5 to 7 a.m. six days per week, with afternoon workouts that could last as long as two hours. I worked out as hard as I could, took naps, and ate A LOT! My diet seemed to consist of Kashi Go Lean Cereal, soy milk, trail mix, bagels, fruit and peanut butter. That was healthy, right?
At the end of my freshman year, I was one seat away from going to nationals with my team. Determined to make the varsity eight the following year, I marched into the athletic department office and made an appointment with Becky, who was a registered dietician. I knew food was important for performing my best, so I wanted to get some things straight.
After reviewing my food log, measuring my wrist size and asking my height, she said, “You should weight about 145 pounds, that needs to be your new weight goal. You should cut down the amount of fat you’re eating and aim to eat eleven servings of grains everyday.”
Mind you, I was about 157 pounds at the time, and hadn’t weighed less than that probably since fifth grade. Despite that, I took what this woman said as gospel and walked immediately from her office to the dining hall to start pounding bagels.
Fast forward to my sophomore year. I’m walking around at a regatta in my unisuit, making a concerted effort to not eat the food all the parents had brought for us. I was 5’9” and just above 140 lbs, and I looked like a bobble head. I had been calorie counting for months, aiming for 1800 calories per day, and my God the weight had come off. However, I was so far down the rabbit hole of an eating disorder, I had no idea what I was doing to myself.
Long story short, I did not make the varsity eight that year. I had surpassed my weight loss goal, and now here I was, completely consumed by the number of calories that passed my lips, and weak as a kitten. I missed two seats in the varsity eight, and two seats in the varsity four, and went to nationals as an alternate with my team. I could not for the life of me understand why losing weight had not made me a better rower.