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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