This is an odd statement to use in this particular situation, but here goes: I was a vegetarian for most of my life, and it actually didn’t completely ruin me.
Yep…I started abstaining from meat when I was about four years old, oddly enough, for moral reasons. The rest of my family ate meat, but as a child and a teen I could not stand the thought of eating animals. It didn’t cause any apparent issues for me; I was always relatively lean and pretty athletic. My diet was based around soy protein, dairy, veggies, fruit, legumes, grains, and pretty much anything that did not bleed. I was a very talented martial artist and became a CrossFit athlete at the age of sixteen, but strength did NOT come naturally to me, and neither did endurance. My deadlift was stalled for about two and a half years at a whopping 155 lbs., and I could barely squat 140 lbs. after two years of CrossFit. My fastest 400m sprint was 1:31. I would often stay sore for days after workouts. I didn’t care or really notice that much…at the end of the day, I was thin and carefree about my health.
Then came the hell years. When I was seventeen years old I got involved with a major record label in LA (I was one of their artists in development), and got sucked into the world of eating disorders, and man did I fall fast. What started with anorexia and diet-pill popping made a quick transition to bingeing and purging which then took a turn directly into bulimia. These issues lasted me about a year. Despite my multiple attempts to regulate my eating habits and weight, I wound up gaining about twenty pounds over the course of a month or so after the anorexia died out completely. Stubborn weight, paranoia, heart palpitations, depression, insomnia, and exhaustion hit me all at once. I stopped having a period. I had a constant buzzing feeling in my head, and all I could think about was food. I craved foods that were highest in calories- bread with jelly, cereal, ice cream, etc., and these were no normal cravings. I was hungry all the time, and I would eat until the point that I felt sick before I ever felt “full” or “satisfied.”
I tried everything, and I even talked to a few people (despite the embarrassment) about the experience. My coaches, doctors, family, and friends all seemed to be at a loss as far as what to do. I too was lost. Then one day, I contacted a homeopathic doctor from my hometown. She pinpointed the issue immediately: I had caused some major metabolic damage which sent my cortisol levels through the roof, and I also showed signs of extreme adrenal fatigue and issues with thyroid regulation. She told me that I would need to start eating some animal protein to get my body to function normally again.
From that moment on, I started researching cortisol and thyroid issues like a mad woman. When I was a vegetarian, I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of Robb’s work (surprise surprise); however, the more educated I became, the more Robb’s work and the paleo movement just made SENSE. I listened to podcast after podcast after podcast. I read articles from medical journals, blogs, and scientific texts. A few months later I attended Robb’s Paleo Solution Seminar, and I was sold. I realized that there are plenty of humane places to get meat nowadays, and I was done sacrificing my health for an obsolete moral objection.
It has been a year since I attended Robb’s seminar, and look how far I have come. I have decided to study biochemistry at a top-tier university; I hope to one day take Robb’s work further and hopefully be able to help young girls with similar experiences to mine. I am now a CrossFit/strength coach and a powerlifter. To this day, I still buy only free-range meat from humane sources, and I have managed to thrive on it. Thanks to my dietitian, Amy Kubal and my coach, Jacob Tsypkin, I am now capable of deadlifting over 200 lbs. at the age of 19, and I feel like Superwoman.
I wish everyone could be so lucky as to find the amazing support and knowledge that exists in this community. I am so blessed to have discovered this lifestyle at such a young age. Keep up the good work, my fellow Paleos.