I was in 2nd grade. Oh yeah, it goes way back.
I was sitting in the Nurse’s office in excruciating pain; I could barely keep my eyes open. Walking there had taken an act of God. She took my temperature, it was normal, so back to class she sent me.
My eyes welled up with tears both out of frustration and because it also felt like there were ice picks being hammered in AND out of my head; but to add insult to illness the nurse told me to stop making up stories to get out of class.
I took a few tentative steps out of her office, and BAM! Projectile vomit all over the front desk – How’s that for ‘making it up’?
And so it began – a lifetime of battling pain and illness while doctor after doctor told me it was all in my head and completely psychosomatic. I’ve been prescribed every medication and coping pain killer under the sun. I‘ve had so many blood samples drawn that I speculate I was actually keeping a small town of vampires alive.
You learn to live with all of the symptoms and misdiagnoses, and begin to wonder if indeed, it all is in your head. Pain becomes your normal and you are led to believe that you have to start your day with pills to get through it.
By age 23, my body decided to turn up the volume in an attempt to warn me that something very real was wrong. I spent that year with my skin completely inflamed from head to toe. Anywhere my skin was touched, an inflamed print would leave its mark. I went back to the doctor and still didn’t get any answers – just more prescriptions. The steroids I was put on to reduce my skin’s reaction left me a pile of depression on the floor, gaining weight rapidly with more tears in my eyes.
My 24th year brought on what I’ll call the ‘growths’. Growths that I was led to believe were the Big C – Cancer.
Again, I had more tears in my eyes, but this time instead of pain, I felt angry. Really angry, and helpless. I’ve had enough!
The next time my doctor came at me with a needle, I may have told him to fuck off. Actually, that’s exactly what I did while I physically pulled the needle out myself and pushed it away. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and on top of that, feeling like the marvels of modern medicine had forsaken me.
And so began the realization that it was all up to me. It was time to take my health and diagnosis into my own hands and find my own answers.
By the time I turned 25, I had done my research and sent out my OWN lab work. One thing I learned is that standard blood tests can be up to 60% inconclusive. Dude, talk about room for error!
When the results came back, I was taken aback (for a moment). I discovered I was a Celiac*, in addition to having a severe Casein and Soy intolerance. News like this is the opposite of winning the lottery unless you have a positive outlook on food and its potential to make you healthier.
*What is a Celiac? The word “Celiac” has a Greek origin – It comes from the word ‘Koiliakos’ which means hollow and refers to the way an individual with Celiac disease can eat but remain malnourished when gluten is present in the diet. The root word made more and more sense as I learned that there is so much in our accessible and daily food supply that cause this ‘hollowness’ in our digestion. Greeks, they are just so dang eh-smart!
I finally had answers, or at least partial answers, to what the root cause of my ailments over the years.
Being the Type-A woman that I am, I took my diagnoses as an opportunity to immerse myself in the world of modern American food and learn how what we eat today affects the human body. I took it as a challenge to come up with ways to circumvent the problems that these modern foods present. What was the conclusion of my extensive research, medical study reading, and late night Googling? I learned that all of my allergies and ailments could effectively be ‘cured’ through the adoption of the Paleo Diet. Based on meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, tubers and seeds, this way of enjoying food is about getting your digestive system on track, and is not at all restrictive – as some people tend to assume.
Simply changing the way I ate, without the use of any prescription drugs reversed my sickness and symptoms. Within months, a lifetime of pain and sickness began to disappear. Migraines, inflamed skin, nausea, hives, depression, digestive, muscular and joint pain all gone.
Oh, and Heeeey, I lost almost 30 pounds just eating Paleo! By ‘just eating paleo’ I mean tripling my calorie intake from good fats and not changing my fitness intensity one bit. Effortless weight loss! Who doesn’t like that?!
Once I began regaining my health, sharing my story, and reinventing favorite dishes from my childhood the requests from well-known personalities and professional athletes for private chefing and coaching came rolling in. During this time, I was also a working the Corporate Grind at a tech job that I loved but I decided to go all in with my journey to becoming Mary, The Paleo Chef since I was living proof of the power that real food has when it comes to health and vitality.
The rest, as they say, is history. Mary, The Paleo Chef was born.
Today, you can find me gallivanting about Los Angeles spreading the word about Eating Clean, Playing Often, and Crushing Life!