From the May 2011 issue, I Inspire

 

Ethan Kaminsky

Ethan Kaminsky had always struggled with his weight and making a commitment to a regular exercise program. At his heaviest, he weighed 296 pounds, and though he had tried various workouts, trainers and diets over the years, he was never able to make any real progress.

Fast forward to June 2010. Weighing 268 pounds, Ethan was about to turn 40 and says “I knew I needed to get it together for my health, happiness and personal life.” A client told him about Desert CrossFit and he checked it out. “It was a fitness program and gym like no other I have ever experienced,” Ethan says of the gym. “I met with Cheryl Cohen, the owner, and discussed the program and how I could work it into my life. The traditional avenues weren’t working for me, so I figured, what do I have to lose?”

Over the course of the next six months, Ethan found himself evolving from just trying to eat better and doing CrossFit a couple times a week to getting addicted to the program and increasing his workouts to three to four times a week. Cheryl had also made a special concession and allowed Ethan’s 12-year old son to workout with him and that made a big difference. “Our workouts have been a great father son activity and have enabled additional bonding time along with a little competitive spirit.” By December he had dropped to under 250 pounds.
When the Desert CrossFit Paleo nutrition and fitness challenge rolled around, the big question was would he participate. “I travel for work, lead a very busy life with little regularity and I wasn’t sure I had the time or discipline to commit to the challenge and found every excuse in the book not to do it,” he recalls. However, with the support of his son and the encouragement of his girlfriend, he made the choice to participate.

The Paleo challenge was a three-part competition that looked at inches lost, performance improvement and points. The challenge was set up with a benchmark CrossFit workout and 52 members of the gym participated. Ethan’s workout, named “Cindy”, involved doing as many rounds as possible of five pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats – all in 20 minutes. In his first run, he managed six rounds and weighed in at 244 pounds. Participants also earned points for eating and living the Paleo lifestyle and score sheets were due weekly. And while some people find switching to a Paleo diet is a big adjustment, Ethan loved it from the get-go. “I really felt great the entire time. Giving up the alcohol was initially the hardest part but before I knew it, my cravings subsided and I was eating clean, raw and less in quantity. I found myself with more energy, more strength and a building desire to train harder, lose more and get fit.”

At the end of the challenge, Ethan had lost a total of 8.25-inches and 12 pounds in 6 weeks. He had also improved to 10 rounds during his challenge, and along with the weight-loss and his points, earned first place out of all the men. Six weeks later and he’s at 223 pounds, down an additional nine pounds, and is still doing his best to live the Paleo lifestyle.

“My ultimate goal is to land and maintain something in the 210-215 range. I have never been stronger, leaner, looked better or received more compliments and it’s all because of Desert CrossFit, the Paleo lifestyle and a whole lot of hard work. It’s now fun, easy and I’m addicted. I couldn’t have done this without the amazing community at Desert CrossFit, lead by Cheryl Cohen and the support of my son and girlfriend. One thing is for sure, I will never see a number over 225 on my scale again.”

 

Renee Ross

When we first heard Renee’s story, it was easy to tell she was hooked on the Paleo lifestyle. We asked Renee some questions and found out exactly how, at 48 years old, Paleo changed her life.

PM – What got you started on the
Paleo diet?
RR – Having already been sugar and flour free for over a year, it was a natural progression when the other members started talking about it at our CrossFit gym. I
wanted to get the artificial sugars
out of my diet and I was seeing such amazing results with CrossFit I wanted to get even healthier. I thought, why not try a 30-day challenge and see what happens? I did the 30 days and just kept on going.
PM – Did you feel better immediately or did you have a sort of “detox” period when you cut out the grains and dairy?
RR – I felt better immediately. The most amazing thing, that I didn’t even consider happening, was the change in my body. I became much more defined, especially in my mid section. I could see muscles and curves that weren’t there before. People kept saying, “Are you losing more weight?” I’d say no, I’m getting more tone and buff from not eating grains and dairy.
PM – You mentioned you are working on getting the whole family eating Paleo. How’s that going?
RR – As long as I’m cooking the meals, it goes great. They’ve enjoyed the meals since I’ve been using recipes from Everyday Paleo. The problem is when they are on their own and need snacks. They grab whatever is quick and easy, usually cereal. It’s been really hard to get them away from bread and milk so I’m really working on having Paleo treats sitting around. Things like nuts, fruits and cut up veggies. My 15 year old daughter has eczema really bad. She’s finally agreed to do a 30-day challenge with me so we’ve been working on foods she can take for her lunch and snack on when she gets home. She has seen me completely change my diet and she is my biggest supporter.
PM – What have been the biggest challenges?
biggest challenges?
RR – I think the biggest challenge was just getting flour and sugar out of my diet. Sugar is in everything!
Also figuring out what to eat and making sure I have the food on hand. I CrossFit in the morning before work so I have to pack breakfast, lunch and an after school snack (I teach kindergarten). Sometimes I feel like all I do is cook. I always try to make large quantities so I have food ready to go.
PM – Are there any other aspects of the lifestyle that you find challenging?
RR – I have been flour and sugar free for so long now it doesn’t even bother me being around the foods that I don’t eat. Once I got where I was pre-making enough food and have a good routine, it’s become easy. I guess one of the challenges is trying to fit in all the activities I want to do. I tried snowboarding this winter with my kids. I really got “Cool Mom” points for that one!
PM – What’s the best thing about eating Paleo?
RR – How I feel. I feel amazing! I went from couch potato to energizer bunny. My body looks amazing, I’m strong, my skin is clear and my joints don’t hurt when I get out of bed in the morning. I’m in a smaller clothing size than I’ve ever been, although weight wise I’m not at the lowest weight ever. I think this really shows what a difference it makes what you put into your body. I can’t even imagine ever giving up this lifestyle!