Here it is ... my Primal Journal! I hope to post occasionally, at least during my initial months of Primal adaptation! I'm going to write a background post to start, and going forward I'll keep a record of some of my food choices and my struggles and successes.

Throughout my childhood, I was the world's pickiest eater. Despite my poor food choices, I was never overweight. I was a healthy 125 lb. at my 5'3" height when I began high school; at the end of high school I was at 140 lb. I was not dissatisfied with my body; compared to many people I encountered every day, I was slim. I figured I was average. I missed being 125, and I had gone through several phases of trying this or that to slim down a bit, but I hadn't gotten serious. Through the first couple years of college, it was the same; my diet improved slightly thanks to healthier options offered at my school cafeteria, but I always tended toward the SAD.

Between my junior and senior years of college, I had a lot of anxiety issues. I've always been very Type A, but my stress levels began to escalate until I experienced panic attacks. Because the attacks were interfering with my ability to manage my life, I went to the doctor, who prescribed me paroxetine. She cautioned me that the pill may make me gain weight, but I told her I didn't care--I just wanted to gain control of my life again. I guess I didn't think it would affect me, because my weight had been stable since the tail end of puberty.

In my junior year of college, still on paroxetine, I happened upon a pamphlet from PETA quite by chance, and after looking at the pamphlet and learning about factory farming, I was instantly transformed into a vegetarian. At this point, two things started happening. I began gaining weight like crazy--and I didn't notice; and my sleep patterns and energy levels went haywire. I couldn't sleep at night, and I'd crash during the day with exhaustion. I felt like I was floating through someone else's life. I began falling asleep during lectures and showed up late for class for perhaps the first time in my existence and I was actually written up at my tutoring job for missing a shift because I never woke up from my nap. That's when I knew something had to change. I called my doc and said I wanted off of the drug. Against her advice, I cut it cold turkey. Luckily, I avoided all the associated crazy withdrawal symptoms.

My weight gain slowed, but I had no idea how to be a vegetarian. I was such a picky eater that when I stopped eating meat, I simply started eating more pasta, cereal, and peanut butter sandwiches. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Gradually, I began to introduce new, "weird" foods, like lentils and beans, veggie soup, stir fries, and even tofu! And as my palate adapted, I grew to love those foods. My diet was drastically better than it was before. But I was still overweight. At 160 lb., and after the foggy weirdness of the paroxetine faded, I realized that my pants were too tight and that my face had become a round, pale moon, and that the girl in the mirror wasn't me.

It was time to lose some weight. I had no idea how to do it. When I got home that summer, I started by jumping on the elliptical at home and counting calories. I would take low-calorie soups and 100-calorie packs in to work with me to snack on. Artificial sweeteners and nutrient-bereft fluff is what it was. I remember priding myself on the days when I came in under 800 calories. And I started to take diet pills, too ... By the time I went back to school after my break, I was down to 145.

It was my senior year. Then the real work began. I would go to the gym three times a week to run like a hamster on the elliptical until my hip was killing me and I had blisters on the bottoms of my toes. I continued to take the "weight loss" pills and obsessively count my calories. Once in a while I'd skip eating all day. When I had an excuse, I'd binge, usually on sugary garbage, which backtracked me. I was always busy: I was a school tutor and a private tutor; I was researching my senior thesis; I was preparing a separate honors thesis; I had other projects and senior classes; and I decided to learn a third language, German. German became my stress relief from the stress of thesis-writing--I studied to avoid studying!

Let's just say that I hit that coveted goal weight of 125 in February, 2011, having lost 35 pounds in 9 months ... but not in a healthy way. I looked good in my dress when I was up there giving my presentations, but my tummy was still rather soft, and I was still way too focused on food, food, food.

At that time, my now-boyfriend was my anchor. He coaxed me into visiting him for movie marathons and dinner dates. My friends were great, but he was really the one who helped me relax now and then. I owe a lot to him and his patience. When I went crazy with stress and told him, "I just want to go to Ecuador and volunteer as a teacher!" he told me to just do it, rather than laughing it off. So I did.

When graduation came, I was at the very top of my class. I moved to Colorado to spend the summer with my aunt. I had a delicious adventure. We cooked together and ate out at the most fantastic restaurants. I was so excited by the variety of food to be found versus what I had at home that I tried new things every week. I ate to my heart's content and I gained a couple pounds. Then I went to Ecuador to volunteer. In Ecuador, meals are very carb-based (either rice or bread at every meal) but the food was amazing! I made friends and had awesome adventures and enjoyed myself to the fullest. It was the perfect break!

When I moved back to Iowa, I was back to 135. I ended up working three part-time jobs while looking for a "career" job. I would get up at 4 am to make donuts at the gas station; then I'd cashier til 2:30; then go home and nap; then I'd tutor my other boss' daughter in English at the restaurant and go right into waitressing until 11pm. The shifts varied, but some days I did all four things. I went crazy and quit about the same time that I decided to go vegan.

Despite my Holy Grail vegan diet, I didn't lose any weight. I never had time to cook. I subsisted on peanut butter and apples and soy patties, or something. I honestly can't remember what I ate. I was so depressed living at home ... my anxiety about the future and my disappointment because I was still at home was just a black plague of gloom. There were days when I'd just cry for no reason. It didn't help that my boyfriend was four hours away in Minnesota, in the same situation.

Then, I got a job in a bigger city, out-of-state. I moved. My boyfriend found a job pretty quickly and came to live with me. I love my job and I love being closer to my man. I'm so happy with my life right now! And it was much easier to live as a vegan in the city than it was back home--I had access to all kinds of organic stuff, tofu, tempeh, lots of produce.

But I still had a ways to go before finding the "ideal" lifestyle and diet.