Paleo or Bypass Surgery – Jennifer’s Story


Written by Jennifer Eidahl

Just over a year ago, I weighed 298 pounds. At 5’ 3” and 35 years old it was not a question of if, but when, I would develop type 2 diabetes and other weight-related problems. The media is riddled with gastric bypass success stories, and I began to think that was my only option. A piece of me wanted to try once more to lose the weight on my own. So, I made a deal with myself; lose a significant amount of weight in the next year or have the surgery.

I hired a personal trainer and he required me to read The Paleo Solution. Over the past thirteen months, I have followed the diet and exercised. It has been quite a journey, and there have been many learning opportunities along the way. In the beginning, it was difficult to give up grain, soy, and dairy. Paleo meant more time in the kitchen and increasing my food budget, but it did not take long to start reaping the rewards and that kept me going. I derailed many times but I never gave up. When I needed inspiration I referred back to the book or read other Paleo success stories.

Everything in my life over the past year has focused on one goal, losing the weight and, ultimately, saving my life. The Paleo Solution provided the information, but I had to provide the commitment, hard work, and time. During a particularly tough time I developed, what I call, the five S’s; Sustenance (food), Stress, Sleep, Strength (exercise), and Supplements. When I feel like my weight loss is stalling, I ask myself if I am paying enough attention to all five S’s. It was difficult to increase my food budget and start buying supplements, but I told myself that I could pay for those things now or the medical bills down the road when I started to have health issues.

Treating my workouts as an unbreakable appointment has also been helpful. Honoring those appointments in the same way I would honor a doctor’s appointment or school conference is important to me. This mindset keeps me from making excuses and missing workouts for reasons that are not important. Exercise not only burns fat and creates muscle,  it also reminds me that I am a different person now, a person who values my health.

Happily, I am no longer considering gastric bypass surgery. All of my hard work has paid off with a 100 pound loss. In fact, based on my current health and body fat percentage, I no longer qualify for bypass surgery.  In the future, I know that there will be obstacles, but I also know that I will continue to lose. The goal is to shed 60 more pounds. Losing 100 pounds has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. Along the way, there have been celebrations and tears, but I’ve never regretted the cookie I didn’t eat.




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  1. Primal Kitchen's Family Grokumentarian
    June 18, 2012 at 4:52 am

    WOW, what a change. You look like a brand new woman! Congratulations on how for you have come. :)

  2. Ashley
    June 18, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Congrats! I wish I had done the same , when I has gastric bypass 4 years ago (at 21 years old!) I never imagined I’d find something that works like Paleo. While I am now a health 5’1 115, this is due to Paleo and not to the surgery. I am
    Grateful for the way

    • Ashley
      June 18, 2012 at 6:14 am

      Paleo has changed my life , AND YOURS! And so happy you disnt go through with the surgery as I am now a huge advocate against it for anyone.

      • Beth J
        July 25, 2012 at 7:34 am

        Hi Ashley….I also had a gastric bypass 14 yrs ago because I was 328 lbs and already diabetic and felt like it was the choice I had to make to save my life. Of course, I knew nothing about Paleo all those yrs ago. I also had an undiagnosed thyroid problem that was, at least, contributing to my inability to lose.
        I have been trying to follow the LC/HF(Paleo)way of eating, but due to the bypass(and also not having my gallbladder), my digestion does not seem to agree. I am having terrible abdominal distention and my GB surgeon says it is directly related to my HF diet(and my inability to digest fat)….

        • Dana
          July 19, 2013 at 7:04 pm

          Just as an FYI to whoever comes after and reads this:

          I did the math. I was curious to see what percentage of diabetic people die from the disease in any given year, versus how many people die from complications of gastric bypass.

          What I found is that the death rate *as a percentage of population* from gastric bypass is actually much higher than the death rate from diabetes.

          And this is not widely known and does not get people’s attention because the *total number* of people getting bypass is rather small, whereas there are quite a few people with diabetes, so their deaths are more often noticed. As it was, I had to dig around quite a bit to find death numbers for bypass patients whereas the government is keeping official numbers for diabetes deaths on its official websites, a much easier Google search.

          So. Even if bypass sometimes cures diabetes, a claim its supporters are now using to browbeat patients into requesting it? In sheer numbers it is not worth the risk and the diabetes would actually be safer if one ate to compensate for it.

          And the premise for gastric bypass is based on mythology anyway. We see overeating associated with obesity because when people are gaining weight, their adipose tissue is growing and storing energy and they still have to have energy for their lean tissue. A person who is maintaining their weight, no matter what weight they are, is not going to eat excessive amounts of food because they’re in energy balance. What needs attention in an overweight person isn’t how much food you are eating but what kind of food it is.

          And the diet a bypass person must follow post-surgery is pretty much a low-carb diet in the first place. I tell anyone who’ll listen now that they’re better off cutting extraneous carbs (grains and starches, not veggies) and paying attention to their nutrition instead of opting for surgery because they will be much better off in the long run.

      • hilarydanette
        September 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm

        Hi Ashley,

        I had lapband surgery in 2008. I lost only 30 lbs and then regained it all plus 10 extra pounds. The lap band made me throw up all the time because I couldn’t get food down and I had no energy. My surgeon said I should only be eating 900 calories a day! Right now, I’m only down 17 lbs from my highest all time weight. I truly regret having the lap band surgery. It is not a shortcut or a solution! I have recently discovered the Paleo lifestyle. I’ve been on it for 38 days and have not lost any weight. However, I’ve seen huge improvement in my cholesterol profile. I think the weight must start coming off soon.


        • Laura C
          October 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm

          It must be frustrating for you that you are still not losing. Have you had your thyroid, etc checked?

          Assuming everything checks out okay, it comes down to the dreaded c word, calories.

          Sometimes there is a misconception that going Paleo means no longer counting calories. For some of us, (sort of) a yes, for others, no. :(. My husband lost weight, frankly weight he did not need to lose. I lost a little bit but have gained some of it back. Get your self some sort of tracking device, so that you can track your calories in and calories out. I am all for the Paleo diet, (though I take exception to the consumption of bacon and other pork products). We started first with cutting out sugar, all carbs except for the berries and granny Smith apples. I highly recommend the book maximized living to get started, 14 days of the advance plan. I am in need of doing this again myself.

          Best of luck to you. :)

  3. Patti
    June 18, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I get choked up by stories like these where someone figures it out and takes charge of their life. I’m so happy for you, Jennifer, and wish you continued success. Kudos to your trainer for making you read Robb’s book.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Congrats on a great change! Your 5 s’s remind me of something I do. I dont have a cool pnemonic but anytime my mood is out of wack or my weigh tloss has stalled I ask what am I missing sleep, food, or exercise and 95% of the time its one of those three. Good luck in your future healthy life!

  5. Stephanie
    June 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Go Jennifer!!!!! Amazing story. Keep up the great work.

  6. Crunchy Pickle
    June 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Wonderful story!!

  7. Mary-Anne
    June 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Wow… fabulous job. You are doing great! I’m with Patti… a little choked up at the moment. (with happiness at your success)

  8. Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan
    June 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    That is totally awesome. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story! I hope you’re going to keep us posted on your progress as you continue. So excited for you!

  9. Bill W
    June 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration Jennifer. Action speaks a lot louder than words, and you have sure acted. Keep up the good work.

  10. Barb, RHN
    June 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Awesome story and incredible success! You are an inspiration, not only for your weight loss, but for taking control of your situation and not caving in to the bariatric surgery. I hope that if anyone out there is considering the surgery, that this story reaches them in time so that they can stop and reconsider.

  11. Rachael l
    June 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Well done on your amazing transformation. You are glowing in your after picture.

  12. GB
    June 19, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I am really proud of you! Stay the course, kiddo!

    Blessings on your efforts!

  13. Amy B.
    June 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Jennifer! You look fantastic!
    Wow — you look so much more *vibrant.* You can see on your face that as big as the change is on the outside, there must’ve been some big changes on the inside, too. (Good ones!) It always amazes me how much younger people look in their “after” pictures — even when they’re as young as you to begin with. You’ve really done a great job!

    And thanks for the tip about the 5 S’s – I’m going to remember that.

  14. Wendy
    June 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I wish I could transmit what you have to to my daughter, who needs it. She’s considering the surgery. I had to get to a point where I realized it was my hand putting food in my mouth, and that I had the power to change how I looked and felt, that I wasn’t a victim. Thankyou for sharing your story, you are uniquely qualified to help those who come after you, and an inspiration to us all.

  15. Jenny
    June 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Not only can you be proud of loving yourself enough to make these changes, and reaping the benefits, you can be proud of inspiring others to do the same. Congratulations, I wish I could buy you a celebratory margarita! : )

  16. Cathy
    June 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    You look beautiful!

  17. einstein
    June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Very inspiring story. I was always wondering why do all those people go for surgery when there is a simple way of loosing weight which brings other numerous health benefits too. Glad you did it. Now the others have no good excuse not to do the same :-) Congrats!

  18. Dana Ross Martin
    June 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    You are truly an inspiration!
    Thank you for what you have taught us.

  19. Kerry Mills
    June 21, 2012 at 5:32 am

    This is an inspiring story… Congratulations to you x
    UK PALEO FOLLOWERS! The millses

  20. Jennifer Eidahl
    June 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I am honored by all of your encouraging comments. When I was asked to write this I jumped at the opportunity, and then started to regret it a little. After reading what everyone wrote, I am very glad that I did it. If you would like to follow me on Facebook you can find me at: I just started the page and plan to use it as a blog where people can find support, recipes, and encouragement. Thanks again for your support and inspiration.

    • Beth J
      July 25, 2012 at 7:40 am

      What a great story! You look wonderful and like a brand new person…I DID go the route of a gastric bypass 14 yrs ago…It did save my life, at the time, but I knew nothing of the Paleo way of eating, etc…I also never lost all my weight(due to being undiagnosed with hypothyroidism….I am now trying to eat LC/HF, but it does not agree so much with my altered digestion. I have even considered a reversal of my GB(I did not have the RNY and my GB is reversible. It just scares me, that I would start regaining if I undid the surgery)…
      Anyway, CONGRATS on all your success and avoiding the surgery! :-)

  21. Susan
    June 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

    You are truly an inspiration. Keep it up!

  22. Sharon Lee Gates
    July 11, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Congratulations, Jennifer! You are truly inspiring and you have wonderful priorities. I am constantly amazed by people who tell me they can’t spend the money for organic, free-range, grass-fed, almond milk, etc. but they don’t flinch at buying pop, prepacked unhealthy snacks, etc. Of course, the bariatric surgeries are now even covered by Medicare, so this is one reason people select it. They feel hopeless and have tried so often on diets they couldn’t stay on, so they despair and turn to something that all the hospitals and doctors are advertising like mad (at least here in Florida) and who say that it will “cure” diabetes, etc. Now they are publishing accounts that many who have this surgery are becoming alcoholics in year two after the surgery. Also, many of us, even those of us who are losing weight on Paleo Diet, such as myself, have another problem you didn’t mention in your testimonial. Some of us find that our mental health issues cause us to feel despair at the loss of the comforting feeling we got from eating sweets, in particular and have to develop other coping mechanisms. For many of us, we had been using food as a drug which was not illegal and is socially acceptable until we got fatter and fatter. Yes, it’s true, discrimination is rampant not only against older people, but against fat people, so then we have become not only fat and unhealthy but also socially unacceptable. Jennifer, I commend you for taking charge of your life at a young age, and also caution you to keep employing your strategies every day one day at a time.

  23. Gail Owens
    July 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Jennifer
    Thank you for sharing your story. I too have a similar story, I lost twin girls late in pregnancy 23 months ago, then just two months later, I had to have my appendix out. The Dr performing the anaesthetic basically looked at notes, and said to me shift the weight or you’ll die, are you too lazy and selfish to want the best for your son. My son was 8 at the time and has moderate learning disabilities. I was at the time 242lb or 17 stone 4lb. I went out of the hospital a very different person. I started walking and then moved onto exercise video’s.

    About six months ago I came across a gym facility where the personal trainers do small group personal training. The trainer gave me a diet sheet where I now know was paleo diet. Boy did I struggle but with the diet, and the rigorous exercise regime, I shed bucket loads of body fat, I’m half the woman I used to be. I had a 48 inch waist, I’m now a 24 inch. I am no longer an addict at my high point I ate 26 bars of chocolate a day, along with cake and biscuits (cookies. I am no longer a slave to food, I live a normal healthy balanced life.

  24. Anne
    July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Your commitment is an inspiration and I am sure your story will help others. Be proud of yourself. Love the way you use the “5 S’s”. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  25. Sandra
    August 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Dear Jennifer,

    Your story is a blessing to those who have a dramatic choice to make. I had gastric bypass surgery 7 years ago and lost only a minor amount of weight. What I did gain was a plethora of health problems, mal-absorption, vitamin deficiencies, and hospitalizations. Here I am looking for a solution for me and my family, as I don’t want my children to go down the same path I did. Thank you for sharing your story, you are amazing.

  26. Rashelle
    September 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Congratulations, Jennifer and keep up the awesome job you’re doing! I love to hear these kinds of success stories. If only these weight-loss clinics and Dr.s would start reading about the Paleo/Primal diet, everyone could get healthy without surgery!! Good for you for setting yourself with a goal and finding your way to health!! You look amazing too;)

  27. yOni
    October 2, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Hi Jennifer. I would like to say you have made a powerful transformation that extends well beyond the physical appearance. I too have experienced powerful transformations since living a Paleo (Whole30)lifestyle. Today my doctor and I wept at the positive improvements for my health. Prior to Paleo I was in the 98 percentile for a cardiovascular crisis. Today when my doctor took my blood pressure today it was 117/70 :) I could not help weeping – my previous blood pressure reading was 180/120 and my cholesterol was through the roof. I am 47 years old and do not workout excessively, though do maintain an output of 5km a day (35km per week) fast paced walking outdoors. I am committed to Paleo lifestyle and have started building a website to support others to prepare healthy, nutritious, Paleo friendly meals for themselves and their families. Jennifer stay empowered honey…your life is yours and ain’t it great to know that for sure. Hugs yOni

    October 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Hey, I’m so thrilled I located your blog. I was searching for health & fitness-related websites when I stumbled onto this 1. I am in real need of a great workout. I am a little plump and want to bulk up and lose fat. What would you propose I look at?

  29. jeanette freeze
    October 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    iam so happy your happy some story patt your self double,,i have known several did band or complet tummy thing iam confensed paleo diet better i watch so i donot gain the 60 pound;s i lost was hard ,lot;s junk ect it work’s

  30. chyara
    February 5, 2013 at 1:27 am

    I don’t regret having the Gastric Bypass at all.
    over 7yrs ago i was a Diabetic, i was told to never do Atkins [arsehats!]
    i have PCOS.
    7yrs later, my diabetes is in ‘remission’ I have a 4yr old. So I will never regret it.

    7yrs ago i had never heard of Paleo/Primal. Not until 1yr ago.

    I am glad i am learning about this new lifestyle. Going for a more natural way of eating. Because the S.A.D. is horrible.

  31. Mel
    February 5, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Such a great story – I love hearing of success stories like this. Losing any amount of weight is never easy, but how awesome of you to stick with it and it’s so great you didn’t have surgery. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but so worth it. Keep up the awesome work and keep telling your story so people know IT IS POSSIBLE with hard work and dedication!!!

  32. Londa
    April 23, 2013 at 8:11 am

    What supplements do you take to help with your weight loss ?

  33. Sherri Lee
    May 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Congratulations to you on all your hard work and success! I am also considering gastric bypass, and have recently begun Paleo. For me, gastric bypass is as much or more about maintaining a healthy weight as it is the actual weight loss itself. Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  34. Micah
    May 21, 2013 at 7:54 am

    First of all congratulations! Losing weight is definitely not easy. I can speak from experience. I too have been looking at weight loss surgery for quite some time (since the age of 15). I am now 25. In order to have the weight loss surgery I had to lose weight. I began a diet that was paleo based and after a month added moderate exercise. In about 5 months I lost 130 pounds. I chose to still have the weight loss surgery as I have a lot of weight that I still want to lose. I can say from experience and trying out both paleo and exercise as well as recently having weight loss surgery you definitely made the right choice by not doing it. I was happier and felt more successful dieting and exercising on my own (Not to mention, I lost more weight in my first two months of that than I have in my first two months of surgery). I spent much time (about a month) after having surgery being in too much pain to exercise and I still feel like I do not know my own body anymore. It is difficult to get any kind of meat down and keep it down. I know I am only two months out of surgery so I am sure in a year my feelings will change and I do not want to sound ungrateful as I am very thankful for the opportunity to have the surgery to better my life.

  35. Christian
    September 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Very inspiring story!
    Remember: the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be!

  36. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    October 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    YOU are an AMAZING inspiration!!!! I am so thrilled for you, beyond thrilled for you.

  37. Jessy
    January 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    What a great story! Congratulations and thanks for sharing! I hope keep us posted on your progress as you continue. Very inspiring. Cheers!

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