Health is a Choice {by Laura McElduff}

Editor’s Note: Happy weekend! This guest post comes to us from Laura of NJ Paleo Runner. She has been through the same trajectory that almost all of us can relate to–starting out with running/cardio and a “low fat” diet, seeing some results, but still not feeling anything “click.” Luckily she eventually found weight training, and then Paleo, and you will love the last line of this post!

PS, you can check out Laura’s blog right here!



I grew up in the South with typical Southern food — you know, lots of sweet tea, biscuits, fried food, and the few vegetables were cooked beyond all recognition. Almost all the women in my family were some degree of overweight (with resulting diseases). Being “fat” was considered our family curse, and I was warned repeatedly not to let myself get fat. Of course there was no instruction about how to go about that.

When I went to college, I started walking and doing weight machines at the gym, and despite the college diet of junk, I stayed slim. Through my 20s I would walk/run, and eventually my husband got me a gym membership as a present. I went to what I knew — cardio machines and weight machines. After awhile, one of the trainers offered to teach me to use free weights. I was terrified — that’s the section with the musclehead guys — but the trainer said to give it 8 consistent weeks and if I didn’t see a difference I could go back to the machines. Needless to say, I never went back to machines! He taught me more dumbbell exercises than I knew existed, and I put on some awesome muscle.

Unfortunately, I had to give up the gym membership as we were saving money for a house, but I convinced my husband to buy a little weight bench set and recumbent bike from Kmart. I worked out with those and with workout DVDs through 2 pregnancies and while my kids were young. Nevertheless, I put on unwanted body fat in my 30s.

When I was 36, I had a Labor Day Resolution (weird, I know) to run consistently 3 days a week. I thought that would help with weight loss. I only lost 2 lbs but things weren’t nearly as jiggly as they used to be. After Christmas, I increased it to 4 days of running about 30 minutes at a time and started watching my diet. Of course, it was conventional wisdom healthy diet stuff….but I did lose 2 dress sizes and about 15 lbs! I started doing 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and eventually full marathons.

13.1 NYC 2013

But somewhere around age 41 I started to put on some weight again with my SAD runner’s diet. Increasing mileage didn’t take off weight, it just made me more hungry.

There’s a cool unconventional gym in my town where a lot of my friends go, and I won a gift certificate for 10 free classes! The gym is not a CrossFit affiliate, but we do all the same things. I got hooked. I put on 4 lbs of muscle and fell in love with the barbell. That’s where I was introduced to the paleo diet, and after initial resistance I took the plunge. I immediately had less GI distress and soon started seeing strength increases again.

This January, I bought my own big-girl barbell set and started the Wendler 5/3/1 training in my garage. I love it, and now my friends at the gym are scared to work out with me on partner days but I encourage them all to challenge themselves. Also, I have a few people who asked me to help them train for races, and I LOVE that! I make clear to EVERYONE that they can choose to live a healthful, active life too! Some people make fun of me, but others ask for help or advice. And I believe it’s my responsibility to teach my children the importance of health and fitness too — it’s one of the greatest gifts I can give them.

Now I’m 43 years old and am more fit than I’ve ever been. Age is irrelevant, and health is a choice.

  • Jennifer

    I didn’t know NJ had name..! ;) Thought she was just “NJ” hehe.

    Laura, you are full of inspiration and seriously when I hear some of your comments or read your posts, I’m thinking if you are doing that and you are a little bit older than me, there is no reason I shouldn’t be pushing myself even harder!!

    I am in awe that you can stick to such strict paleo all of the time while maintaining such an active lifestyle. It’s inspiring, and quite impressive. Hard work has definitely paid off for you!!


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