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Act Like a Lady, Eat Like a Caveman: My Personal Paleo Struggle

Act Like a Lady, Eat Like a Caveman: My Personal Paleo Struggle
Jamari Hysaw

My Personal Paleo Struggle

I know people say they’ve tried every fad diet, but I’ve actually tried every fad diet.

And I most certainly am not afraid of a diet pill either. While these diets have taught me that I have incredibly strong will power, they have, of course, never produced any long-term success. So here was my problem: I was pursuing a “diet” and not a “lifestyle” (I know it sounds pretty corny, but go with me here). As a Black woman, even though I am young, I’m very aware of the higher risk for future health complications such as diabetes and heart disease, so why not begin a healthy lifestyle now, and maybe get some added weight-loss benefits? I thought to myself “how hard can this possibly be?” Then I found The Paleo Diet, the answer to my question and the hardest thing ever.

The Paleo diet lifestyle, also known as the caveman diet, encourages us to remove food of the modern day and return to a simpler time in human history. Essentially you eat like a caveman. No, I don’t mean ripping raw animal flesh off the bone with your teeth (unless you’re in to that kind of thing). I mean removing the grains, processed sugar, dairy and legumes that were presumably not apart of our ancestor’s diets and sticking to the meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds that our bodies were originally designed to digest. I know: this is scary.

paleoimage1Switching to a Paleo diet was hard, and eliminating processed sugar from my diet felt like breaking an addiction. But it worked. When I first started it I went full on; for weeks on end I cut all of the non-Paleo foods out of my diet and stuck to a strict Paleo diet. I effortlessly (relatively) lost 10 pounds within a few weeks. I was not starving myself, I ate regularly and I ate a lot. This was great! But what was more important than the weight-loss, was the way I felt. I felt amazing, energized, and saw the change even in my skin and nails.

At first I ate the obligatory, and sad, foods you would expect. Chicken breast with salad. Broccoli. The dreaded kale chips. But that was because I didn’t do my research, living a Paleo lifestyle doesn’t have mean depressing food options. There are many recipes for delicious and nutritious food, some of which offering healthier recipes for foods from what we in the Paleo community like to call the S.A.D, standard American diet (Paleo Nutella anyone?). I’ve learned so much about food as well. Did you know that blueberries are basically the best food ever, having more antioxidants than any other fresh fruit or vegetable tested to date? Or that avocado is not just a great source of healthy fats it also has anti-inflammatory properties and can impact cardiovascular health (and it does wonders as a mask for your hair, oh-kay?). But most importantly, I can whip up a mean batch of muffins without using dairy, sugar, or flour (magic ingredient: coconut milk).

You may be thinking, “Oh wow so many Paleo friendly recipes! Curry chicken with cauliflower rice, Paleo donuts! How hard can this be?” Well that’s what I thought too until I went back to the real world (read: college). I began my “lifestyle change” when I was home during summer break, which wasn’t too hard. I had plenty of time to spend cooking, and packing my lunch for work, you know basically I had time. When the semester started again, I had no time. Yes, I feel off the Paleo pick up truck. But it’s so easy to order pizza when you’re studying late, or to eat that free donut in the English department, and you have to support the bake sale, right?

When I eat too much gluten or sugar or dairy, as delicious as it is, I feel it. So, I’m trying again. Which is a huge undertaking considering the holiday season is in full swing. But, I figure that an 80/20 rule will keep me sane and healthy. If I stick to the meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds 80 percent of the time, I don’t have to miss out on those Christmas cookies or the mac and cheese we all love.

What do you think? Have you heard of The Paleo Diet? How will you be keeping in shape during the holiday season? Leave me a comment!

 Jamari Hysaw

Fashion and Beauty Associate

  • Jeremy Britton

    Great work! I love the “staying sane” objective :) I dropped meat & dairy 8 yrs ago, and dropped grains for a 30-day trial last year. Since the trial I have done 14 months of no grains, BUT, I do allow myself to have fun 20% of the time. A slice of chocolate cake or gluten-free cheeseless vegetarian pizza is OK once a week, and then back to whole raw fruits & veges. Skin, hair & energy levels all spectacular on wholefood diet: doing my best to spread the word :-)

    • Jamari

      I love to tell everyone about Paleo and eating clean! But that chocolate cake once a week is essential :D!

  • Bree

    I love this!! I have been considering for awhile now starting the Paleo lifestyle, but the actual change has been very intimidating. I am a college senior so I can definitely identify with you about the stresses and time constraints that a college students have, this has been one of the major factors to me gaining weight and not being able to sustain a lifestyle that will get and keep the weight off in college. But your 80/20 idea is awesome and I think that I will really give it a try. Would you suggest committing to the Paleo Lifestyle all at once or maybe taking things out of my diet item by item?

    • Jamari

      It’s so easy to gain weight in college, trust me I know! I would suggest committing to the Paleo lifestyle all at once for at least a 30 days. That way, you will begin to see the changes and feel the difference it makes for your body. After that treat yourself some of the time! So when you do you know how well you feel on Paleo and won’t be tempted to go over board. I find it’s easier for me too cook most of my meals for the week on Sundays. I encourage you to try it!

  • Christelle

    Beautifully written. I love you jamari 😀

    • Jamari

      Thank you! 😀

  • Toni Sparx

    Point me in the direction of this.. What are some of the resources you use to guide you/provide you with recipes?

    • Jamari

      A lot of information can be found at, and I personally like “PaleOMG” and “The Paleo Mom”. Also, for almost anything you want to make there is more than likely a Paleo alternative recipe that is easily found on Google! Many of the Paleo blogs also post regular recipe ideas. Some of them offer meal plans and weekly shopping lists so food doesn’t become too repetitive. As I’ve gotten the hang of it, I have figured out how to adapt food and recipes to make them Paleo-friendly. I encourage you to look into it!

  • Monica Bravo

    Hey Jamari! Thanks for sharing my blueberry muffin recipe. Email me at if you’d like to share your testimonial on my blog!