Meet Diedre Park…
My Name is Diedre Park and I’m from NL, Canada. I started my journey into the Paleo lifestyle when I was 21 and I became diagnosed with PCOS. At the time of my diagnosis I felt depressed and the doctor told me I was 199.5 lbs and overweight.
It was a terrible sinking feeling to be so close to 200 lbs when I was always a fit and thin teenager. I knew then that I had to change so I started going to the gym and I cut out wheat/grains and dairy.
I never went full paleo until a few years later but I’ll get to that.
Fast forward to 2012, I’m 24 years old and maintaining 160 lbs. I’m healthy enough to control my PCOS and I’m fortunate enough to get pregnant with my daughter. After she was born I started to let things slide again and things started to get worse for my health.
I was very intent on breastfeeding but found I was never producing enough so I would eat more and eat unhealthy foods… I once told someone “Pizza makes the milk come in” in defence of my poor eating habits.
My turning point came after my daughters first birthday and I saw a picture of myself in loose billowy clothing, not realizing that I was trying to hide my size. I got a gym membership, stepped on the scale and looked down… 198 lbs.
At 5’9 it’s easy for me to carry weight without really noticing a difference, even though I had gone from a size 6 to a size 12, I didn’t feel like I was bigger until that moment so I had to get back to basics and pick up the pieces. This time I did some research and found that a low carb diet was best for women with my condition and that is why Paleo works so well.
I focused on my diet and started going to the gym again: 3 days a week at first. I would just walk on the treadmill for an hour and do 15 minutes of weights. This helped me drop down to 170 lbs just in time for my trip to Cuba. I felt good but I knew I could do better. We got a dog and she loved to run so I saw that as an excellent opportunity to start running.
I started off running 1 minute then walking, then two minutes, then three until I could run 5km. I said to myself ‘I’m going to train for a 10k’ but then 10k passed and I kept running until I ran my first half marathon. At this point I was 160 lbs.
By the following year and my second half marathon I was down to 150 lbs. After my last half I hung up my running shoes and started to focus on building strength, The shift has been difficult but I feel like if I can run non-stop for two hours I can do anything so today I stand at 137 lbs and so much stronger, healthier and faster.
What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?
I was very sedentary both times I put on weight; it’s remarkable how easy it is to forget to just move.
I loved hiking and walking and being outdoors but those things just weren’t a priority and without activity in my life I turned to food, drink and sedentary activities like watching t.v. or reading books.
I used to eat grilled cheese sandwiches every day WITH fries. I just didn’t realize what I was doing to myself.
Where does your motivation come from?
My health and my daughter are my two biggest motivators. I want to be healthy and strong so I can always have the energy to play and go outside and keep up with her.
If I don’t eat well I get sick and depressed and that’s not the type of person I want to be so that keeps me motivated to stick with my lifestyle.
What Does your daily diet look like?
The paleo lifestyle works best for me because I like to take a very holistic approach to my health, some people swear by calorie counting or IIFYM but I really enjoy never knowing how many calories of grams of something are in my food.
I just avoid wheat/grain/legumes/dairy and eat as naturally as possible and that has helped me shed pounds and feel great. It took some time to fine tune the details of what foods I can/ cannot and can sometimes eat but I feel really good with my current guide.
I aim to eat as local as possible because then I can be sure there are the least amount of chemicals or antibiotics in my food.
I eat a lot of wild game: Rabbit, moose, bison, char, salmon, and trout. I will often prepare a big chowder or stew when I get a fresh salmon or rabbit then I’ll have that for several days. I also aim to eat many of my vegetables raw if possible.
So I’ll pair my meat with a salad of spinach, sprouts, broccoli, radishes and any other vegetables I have on hand. I’ve attempted and failed for the past two years to grow my own vegetables so I’ll often turn to farmers markets. In the winter there are no markets here so I make sprouts in my kitchen.
It’s very easy and nutritious. Typical snacks for me are :
- Bone broth
- protein shakes (I use vega sport because I try to avoid whey)
- apples and nut butter
- boiled eggs
- homemade cookies and bars
- and cold meats.
I also drink kefir, despite being dairy because I like to add probiotic foods whenever possible.
I take collagen supplements as well as probiotics and mixed greens powder every morning after a glass of apple cider vinegar/water to get my systems going.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
The running has helped me shed a lot of weight but the biggest change I’ve felt has come from weight training. I still run 5k about twice a week but even my running time has improved since I added weights.
Running long distances has been a great starting point and has given me an amazing work ethic which is why I’ll always consider myself a runner.
I train 6 days a week, I started with a program from my sister who is a personal trainer but as of lately I’ve just been doing my own thing. I work best with goals and deadlines but I still feel like I need some leniency and to listen to my body which is why I’ve been following my own plan.
As a mother who works full time, and goes to school part time working with a trainer isn’t as easy as I’d like so I do what works for me. I still hit the gym 6 days a week, 5 days of weights and one day of yoga.
When I have the time I’ll go back to the plan but fitness should be about what fits your lifestyle and your goals so that is what I’m doing.
How has your life changed since the transformation?
There are so many differences I don’t know where to start! The energy is the biggest difference; from the moment I wake up I’m ready to go. I love coffee but I really don’t even need it anymore.
My mental health has also improved significantly; it’s amazing how eliminating sugars and toxins can clear up your way of thinking. I feel much more clear headed and peaceful. I don’t stress, even when I probably should I just don’t feel stressed like I used to.
I think I’m a better parent than I was before, I have the energy to get out and do things with my daughter and she appreciates that. She loves being outdoors and I love being out there with her. It’s a good feeling.
I don’t think I have a favourite quote from someone else but my favourite one to tell people when they ask about how I do it is: The secret is… there’s no secret. Just work.
If anyone wants to see what some of my meals or workouts are like you can follow me on instagram @diedredarling, I like to post about food, fitness and general everyday life.