Testimonial written by: Mike Rickman
Hello and thank you for reading my total body and mind transformation (still in progress). This letter is coming to light later than I planned, 1 year to be exact. Last year as I approached my 1 year paleo anniversary of living a clean healthy lifestyle, I finally began to see my choices of diet and fitness having a profound impact on all facets of my life. My gratitude to the Paleo and Crossfit communities is unmeasurable. As I think to why I delayed this reflection my first thought was that I had illusions of what I “should” look like or what the scale “should” say before I sent this letter along with my before, during, and current transformation pictures. I don’t like to use the phrase “after pictures” because my journey is on going with no end in site. Secondly I was afraid of failure, sharing my story can’t be taken back. I’ve lived my whole life in a constant “dieting” state, particularly every Monday since my wife was pregnant with my oldest son. That son is going on 17. Now with 5 beautiful children and a supportive wife, I don’t fear failure, I embrace success.
On Friday, I will be celebrating my 2 year anniversary of clean paleo living. This celebration won’t have your typical or predictable “cheat day”. I won’t be cerebrating with pizza, cake, and ice cream to reward myself (my old go to). I won’t be eating any other foods that will set me back to the darkness I once was at. You see, I’m an addict! Like an addict who can’t imagine living without drugs or alcohol, I too am an addict. My addiction is food and food is my drug of choice. Being able to identify and face my addiction was the first step to my current success.
Knowing and believing this makes it all good. For the first time in my life I know what I’m capable of and what I’m not. I’m not capable of having one slice of pizza, a hand full of chips or a scoop of ice cream. I tried that for 40 years and it doesn’t work for me. Moderation is for people that can moderate. Just as you shouldn’t tell an alcoholic to just have one beer or a cigarette smoker to moderate their smoking to a cigarette a day. So should we tell a person the struggles with food addictions to moderate something that is obviously out of their control? No one wants to be miserable but it turns into a cycle. If I were capable of moderating I wouldn’t have been 240 lbs in 7th grade or 306 lbs at my heaviest. What I’ve learned for me in the past two years is to stay away from my “triggers”. I took the philosophy of paleo and stuck to the plan. No justifications, celebrations, or excuses, just follow the principals. The only thing that was keeping me from the healthy person I wanted to be was my mind. I could justify anything and everything when it comes to my bad eating habits.
I have a great set of supportive parents and two biological brothers that have struggled with obesity their whole lives. I also have another brother that is a healthy, mentally well rounded, and an avid marathon runner….jerk! 🙂 At 6’ foot tall and 306 lbs I was sometimes known as the skinny one..lol. My dad, a loving, caring, and hardworking role model for my family growing up, also is a triple bi-pass patient, double amputee, diabetic, and is currently on kidney dialysis. The laundry list of other heath problems continues. (The ugly side of addiction). He and my older brother Ron are 5’ 7” and fluctuated between 310 lbs and 365 lbs their whole adult lives. I’m proud to say my brother is down to 245 lbs and also is eating paleo (some of the time). COME ON RON, LET’S KEEP GOING!!! So I understand the “I have bad genes”, I have a “Slow metabolism” and other excuses I’ve used in the past along with a lot of other overweight people.
Paleo started with a snow ball of perfect timing in my life. It was time for my 40 year old physical. I turned 40 on November 7th, 2012. and was 290 lbs at the time. I had a stress test, blood work, and the normal work ups. Facing pre diabetes, gout, sleep apnea, and having a heart cath to check out the irregularities of my stress test (Which checked out fine…Thank God). You would think that this would have been enough of a wake up call for change, but it wasn’t.
As I was looking at my dad in a hospital bed (after his second foot was amputated) I pictured it as if it were my oldest son looking at me in another 30 years from now. This vision only lasted for mere minutes but let me tell you that was extremely painful. I was angry. Angry at myself for my poor choices and angry for allowing this to happen. I wanted, needed to break this cycle but didn’t know how or where to start. What to fix or focus on first. All my previous attempts and great ideas for losing weight were epic failures.
At that time I was working as a building inspector and I over heard friends of mine talking about “The 30 day Paleo challenge”. A coworker was doing this at her local Cross-fit gym. I asked a couple questions and that day I started. At the time I didn’t know what I could eat, I only knew what I couldn’t eat. I was given some paleo sites that were helpful and I was on my way. I started living paleo on November 14, 2012. I had a rough 2 weeks. I went from eating 1 1/2 gallons of ice-cream per week to zero sugar, not even fruit. I went through a 14 day sugar detox that wasn’t easy. I had a couple of rough days during my detox that were defining moments. At that point I knew I was an addict and I have a problem with food. After getting a month under my belt I felt great! I had more energy, I didn’t ache, and I didn’t get mad if I dropped something. You know, because I had to bend all the way down to pick it up…ha. I started Crossfit at Mighty Warrior Crossfit in July of 2013. I go 3 days a week at 6:00am in the morning and sometimes I’ll workout or run on my off days. Since then 2 of my kids have shown an interest and go as well. It has been a great family experience from the start of this journey. My family and friends have been super supportive throughout this process. Now, people ask me for advice. What? I’m still adjusting mentally. Sometimes I still feel like the unhealthy overweight person I once was.
Through educating myself and leaning hard on a few websites like Mark Sisson’s, Mark’s Daily Apple, The Paleo Mom, and Robb Wolf to name a few. These sites helped me get to where I’m at today. My appreciation goes to the people of the paleo world, especially to the ones I’ve leaned on the most (mentioned above). I know there is not much to sell here, there are no magic potions or pills that you can profit off of. Its pure passion and all information which is given away for free to your readers. I don’t know what I would have done without your interest and passion for this community. I just want to say Thank you for your selflessness of your time and efforts to keep a person like me you never met on the right track. Your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed!
For the people that may read this, I also have nothing to sell you but I can give you honesty and hope by sharing my story. Give yourself 30 days and I promise it will get easier.
Paleo isn’t for everyone, but it works for everyone.
Thank You again,