I Married My Two Passions—Baking and Fitness—To Change My Life

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

 After a “chubby childhood,” an eating-disorder ravaged adolescence, and then an up-and-down, yo-yo dieting young adulthood, I dedicated myself to finding a way to live healthfully and — most importantly—HAPPILY with who I am and to realize my inherent potential: physically and emotionally.

I have spent the last seventeen years working toward a state of health that is not only optimal but sustainable. I graduated with a degree in psychology, hoping to someday use it as a foundation to help other people who had struggled as I had.

Through it all, I have still battled the ups and downs of pounds lost and gained, the frustrations of injuries confining me to the couch, and the struggle to really “figure ‘it’ out”—what formula was I missing?  What pieces of the puzzle were eluding me, to finding that perfect balance of fitness and health and ultimate life satisfaction?

For me, a huge turning point came in late 2014, when I tried a Whole30 Challenge, completed it, and began a Paleo way of eating. When you hear that body composition is 80% diet, it is no joke (and I have the self-experimentation, documented in my blog, to back up that statement).

Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself suffering yet ANOTHER running injury, feeling completely pitiful and depressed, when my now-husband hands me an issue of Outside Magazine containing an article about this guy called Mark Sisson. I glanced at it….left it on the counter for a few days….and then threw it into my bag to take to work and read when I had time.

I will admit, I was skeptical. I was a chronic cardio junkie, but what HAD been working really was NOT working for me anymore (and I was eating a whole food diet!). You mean I could train less? I needed to sleep more? More fat? (Aside: now, I knew that fat was not “bad”….but that Standard American Diet had been instilled into me from the youngest age, and while I now ate whole foods and really did eat a healthy diet, I still struggled with the “calories in, calories out” mentality.)

That was in the winter of 2016, and it still took me being laid up with a sprained ankle (ANOTHER running injury?!) to fully dig into The Primal Blueprint, order all of the books, and immerse myself in this incredible multitude of research and information. That was in July, and I became hooked. I was already a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, and I had visions of getting my Fitness Nutrition Specialization, even though I was currently working a government job and not training any clients.

While I loved my government job—the job itself—the interpersonal dynamic was incredibly toxic (stress?!). In January or 2017, I decided to go for broke: I enrolled in the Primal Health Coaching Program AND my Fitness Nutrition Course and completed both by February. Little by little, I decided I was going to make a change and make this my career.

But bills need to be paid, and my husband and I had a hefty mortgage. So I labored away at my job, spending my down time developing my future business.

I finally launched my LLC in May of 2017, but it still did not really go anywhere. I had transformed my life and way of thinking, adopting the Primal lifestyle to a “T”: honoring sleep, managing stress, moving and exercising sensibly. I had so much knowledge and nowhere to put it!

Finally, on a warm, Sunday afternoon in June, I was destressing by baking a (traditional) graduation cake for a friend; I have always loved to bake, even if I do not eat the traditional fare anymore (a taste of ice cream cake once in a while is about all I can tolerate). My husband turned to me and said, “You are so good at this! You are such a great baker, and you LOVE it! Why don’t you try Paleo or Primal desserts?”

I rolled my eyes and said, “That’s too hard!”

But a seed was planted. I asked myself, “Why am I doing all of these sugar-laden (yet delicious) desserts for the people whom I want to help? I am enabling, not helping them…..and I DO love to bake….and even I don’t eat this stuff….hmmmmm….”??

A few weeks later, my husband deployed for a seven-month stint in Africa, and I decided to take that time to learn how to create Paleo and Primal sweet eats. My goal was to make things that were not merely “less unhealthy,” but were actually nutritious in themselves: provide nutrition in every bite; craft items from the ground up. And you know what? It was fun.

And I WAS good at it. In fact, it was so much fun, and I was SO good at it, that I took a leap of faith and quit my comfy-yet-stressful five-figure government job and launched a dessert line to go alongside my fitness company.

Nalls Picture (2)Within three months from picking up my first sack of almond flour, I had a full line of good-for-you goodies, and I was selling them to the hungry hoards in coffee shops around town. I was completing personal orders, and I was loving every minute—my worst day doing this job was not even remotely comparable to the very best day at my old job. I have done tastings and been able to talk to people not just about my desserts and way of eating, but also about my lifestyle, my goal to help those with a sweet tooth have something at hand that was not merely an empty-calorie sugar-bomb. I had a woman stop me while I was dropping off an order at a coffee shop in town and personally thank me for what I do: “You have no idea what this means to me. I have dietary intolerances that lead me to a Paleo lifestyle, but I sometimes miss a good Pumpkin Muffin. Thank you so very much for bringing ‘Paleo’ to us!” I was—AM—truly helping people, and I am also able to provide fitness and nutrition advice AND promote the Primal way of living as a whole.

My baking business is currently bigger than my fitness business, but I have kept both fires burning: I blog as much as possible on my fitness site (also see me on Facebook: BFit BodyFit) and still offer coaching and nutritional planning to anyone who needs it.

My mission has always been to help others. I love food. I love nutrition. I love fitness. But I had clients and friends who were trying to eat and live well—and especially those trying to adhere to a Primal or Paleo way of life—tell me that they struggled with desserts, and that they were “tired of fruit.” I have never wanted to “enable” a person who needs to address a sugar addiction, but I DO want to help those who fight to stay in line with their goals and ensure that EVERYTHING they put into their bodies is truly good for them.

Mark’s Daily Apple—and of course, Mark himself—inspired ME, a Paleo Personal Trainer, to step back, REALLY evaluate my life, and make a change for the better. I started to sleep more; I dialed back the cardio. My job was the most stressful thing in my life, to the point where I was physically ill quite a bit (side note: I have not been ill AT ALL since I quit that job). I took all of the knowledge I had gained from the Primal Blueprint, my other studies, and I married it with my two passions—baking and fitness—to change my life.

I now bring Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, and Vegan good-for-you sweet eats to the people of Alexandria, VA (and beyond—I do ship! Check out Brianne’s Blissful Bites on Facebook or email me at [email protected]). I did this because I was inspired by Mark Sisson, who helped me step back and inventory my lifestyle beyond diet and movement.

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30 thoughts on “I Married My Two Passions—Baking and Fitness—To Change My Life”

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  1. Could you figure out a way to make primal pemmican pie; maybe with some wild berries and a suet based topping that looks like those pictures there on your website… could you imagine.

    Congratulation on earning your survival. Unfortunately, too many people are too comfortable to take the risks that you did… that you do! You are a great inspiration! Especially love the part about how your worst day now doesn’t even compare to the very best day at your old job.

  2. Wow Brianne what an inspirational story. I don’t have a Facebook account, I’ll have to have my daughter log on to check out your offerings. I try to gently suggest to my wife (who resents anytime I bring up the subject) to address her sugar addiction, these would be great substitutes.

    1. Thank you so much!! I would love to help your wife kick the habit….in an easy way. 🙂 Email me, and I can send you a menu!

  3. Hey All!! Thank you for the wonderful comments and suggestions! I just want to note that I just discovered my website is not working properly. If you want to get more info, a menu, or place an order — or simply ask a question — hit me on Facebook or send me an email at [email protected]!

  4. I’m not a big Paleo dessert guy anymore, but dang your stuff looks outrageously good. Thanks for the great story.

  5. This arrived at such a good moment. I’ve been following an autoimmune paleo diet for the last 10 months and have only been able to reintroduce a few things. My daughter wanted to get me a special treat for my birthday in two weeks and I didn’t know what to tell her. I live in the DC area too so this is great. Thanks Brianne and thanks Mark!

    1. You are so welcome, Carmen! Hit me up if you want to order some healthy sweet eats! Especially as you are in the area!

      1. Brianne – my husband got me your treats for Mother’s Day and my birthday this past week. They were terrific! I haven’t had a cookie or cupcake in 9 months. And while I don’t plan on going back to my old ways, it was really nice to celebrate. Thank you!

  6. Thank you for your story, it’s nice to witness that you had already put incredible effort in changing your life but that you didn’t move forward much until you got the ultimate spark of inspiration that made things happen and gave you enough confidence to ditch what was toxic to you. It clearly tells everyone who is struggling that they should be on the lookout for that spark, and that openness and daring is they key to make it manifest. So many of us just go right aside it for innumerable reasons, most of them rooted in fear. Bravo!

    1. I agree. I remember very clearly that the morning I made my ultimate decision to tender my notice at my job, I had just read a quote posted on Facebook by one of my supervisors (let me note that my work leadership were — ARE — amazing people. It was my colleagues who were not so kind): “When you can no longer stand something, that is when change can occur.” It was so apropos….and I seized upon that and made the change! I do not regret it one bit.

  7. This is wonderful- congratulations! We really need your cookbook here in the UK… when’s it coming out?!!! ; )

    1. My husband has been nagging me to write a cookbook, so let’s just say that another seed has been planted! He is pretty good with that….and he really DOES have the “green thumb” in this family. 🙂

  8. Such a beautiful story, Brianne! I love how you not only embraced the whole primal lifestyle…but also brought primal creativity and flavour into your work life! Makes ALL of life so much more inspired and inspiring!

    1. Thank you, Dana! I learned — the hard way (I can be stubborn, and my introverted personality makes me resistant to change) — that living well really IS about more than just diet and activity. I have Mark to thank for that! Primal is a lifestyle, and it is so vital to embrace the importance of managing stress, sleep, and finding time for enjoyment.

  9. I’m not into desserts, but I admire your willingness to branch out into something new. Ina Garten (a well known Food Network chef) did much the same thing. She quit a government job to open a restaurant business and has since done extremely well. I hope your endeavor works out similarly. Good luck to you!

    1. I love Ina Garten, and I am familiar with her story. I also had the opportunity to meet her at a cookbook signing several years ago. I am happy to report that she is as sweet in person as she appears on her programs. 🙂

  10. I just went back on the Paleo/Keto wagon yet again the beginning of this month and have been doing well and feeling great. After I read this article, I placed an order for 2 items. As Brianne stated in the comments, there were some problems with her website, but she has been patient, pleasant and very helpful in getting my order straightened out and itemsdispatched. Looking forward to trying her delicious sounding, program compliant treats! : )

    1. Thank you, Cee! Yes, there are issues with the website. It might be due to an uptick in traffic, but the best way is to simply email me ([email protected]). There are also items that I create that are NOT listed on the website, which you will have access to via email (I can send you a full menu). I am trying to get the website kinks worked out this week, but my developer does not feel the urgency that I do….so for now, please email me or reach out to me via the Facebook page.

      Also, for those of you interested, I also blog on my fitness site (www.bfitbodyfit.com). I did a series of posts between December and March regarding some self-experimentation I did with diet (including KETO, etc.). If you want to read about my own experiences and what I learned, check it out! It might assist you in your journey.

  11. Hi Brianna,
    Great inspirational story. Thank you! I will be starting the NASM nutrition specialist course in a month. Their CPT course emphasizes low fat and whole grains in the nutrition section. Is the specialist certification like that? If so, did you still find it to be worth it? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Debra,

      Yes, you have taken the same track I did — NASM is the BEST for CPT that I have found, and it was recommended to me by another CPT who is exceptional. The FNS does emphasize the same things, so I just glazed over it, memorized what I needed to for that portion of the exam, and took the REAL nutrition stuff from the Primal Health Coaching Course (and all of Mark’s books, naturally) as my true nutritional foundation. However, I still think it is worth it, since most of our population (still) is not on board with abandoning the SAD….but they DO like to see the “FNS” after your name. Either way, if it makes you effective at what you do and gives you the opportunity to reach and educate more people, it is always worth it! 🙂

  12. Everything looks so good! I did a lot of baking and even competed before I started eating paleo about a year ago. I thought that I was pretty much done. But I’ve been finding a lot of great resources and recipes and even won a blue ribbon for a paleo banana bread recipe! Thanks for the inspo and I hope your website is back up soon because I want to see more of your goodies ?????

    1. Hi, Aimee,

      Email me at [email protected], and I will send you a FULL menu, which includes things that are not even on the website! Emailing me is the best way to order, anyway. 🙂 Thanks for your note and vote of support — and congrats on the banana bread! I just developed a “Carrot Cake Muffin” that is doing very well in the shops. It is my third favorite of my muffins so for (followed by the Double Chocolate and Five Seed & Nut). 🙂

  13. Oh wow! Thank you so much for sharing!!! I have been toying with the idea of doing this course for ages now. I’m also in a full-time job, but am a PT, and pilates instructor (and yet don’t instruct or ‘PT’ due to lack of time!!). I’m so inspired to read your story, it’s stories like this that make you realise that the market isn’t in fact saturated (like ‘loved ones’ keep telling me!!) and that you can love what you do AND help people! Thanks so much for sharing… I live in the UK, otherwise would become your biggest supporter!! xo

    1. Hi, Janice,

      YES, do the course! Even if you do not use it right away (like me — I was still in my job another nine months), it is so worth it to have as a back-up….and the education alone is invaluable. I actually did most of the course work AT my job, during my down periods (I had an office that encouraged extra education).

      I CAN actually ship some things overseas — I have learned what has longer shelf lives, etc., as I shipped a bunch of stuff to Africa while my husband was deployed last year. The only draw back is that shipping would probably be prohibitive for you. :-/

      Good luck on the course, and feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] (for the treats) or [email protected] (to discuss health coaching and other fun stuff like that)!

  14. Great story, keep up the good work. One by one makes together and together is how we change the world.

  15. Wow! What an inspirational story. It’s really great to know that you have contributed your 18 years to find how to live healthily. This shared article is very informational and the mentioned suggestions will definitely be going to be helpful for many.