It’s not often that I come across a teenager who is willing to step outside the norm and do something they truly believe is right for their health. So, when I do, it’s important to me to share their story and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Mikelle is a 16-year-old who deserves such recognition.
I got to know Mikelle about a year ago when she decided to do her science fair project on the effects of a “primal diet” on skin health and acne. She and her mother had attended a paleo talk I did at our local CrossFit gym (her mom’s a superstar “paleo transformee” as well!) and she reached out afterward to gather more information for her project. I was immediately impressed with Mikelle’s work and commitment to eating healthy at this stage in her life, and I made every effort to support her and be there during her first round of presenting.
Not only did Mikelle impress the judges with her project, she also gathered great self-experimentation feedback for herself, noticing significant improvement in her skin when she eliminated inflammatory foods. Her everyday food choices then became more than a school project as she continued to see benefits to her health.
As some of you know, I am part of a small group who created and manages a mobile app that guides people through 30 days of paleo (Paleo Challenge). Every now and then we run a challenge for our social media followers (the app is designed for users to be able to organize, create, or join a challenge with their family, friends, co-workers, etc.), and Mikelle decided to join this year’s summer challenge. Not only was she one of our youngest participants, but she ended up winning the challenge!
Following the challenge, this is what Mikelle had to share with us:
Primal Peak: What’s been the biggest change you have made with your food, or lifestyle choices?
Mikelle: The biggest change I made with my food choices was eliminating artificial sugars. I used to eat a lot of them.
PP: What motivated you to make a change?
M: Honestly, I wanted to have more confidence in my physical appearance. I was never “overweight,” but I did want to look more fit and a little bit skinnier. Also, eating on the Paleo diet has helped improve my athletic performance.
PP: What keeps you motivated?
M: The same things that motivated me in the first place, keep motivating me. Especially seeing the physical appearance attribute. Now that I know what I look like after I’ve lost 15 pounds I never want to go back!
PP: What’s been the best part of changing the foods you choose to eat?
M: I love making paleo lunches! Since that is the only meal I had to make myself, I got really crafty with it. Lunch has become my favorite meal since I went full on “paleo.”
PP: How do you feel now?
M: I feel great! I feel like I can think clearer. My sleeping habits have also improved. When I ate a lot of sugar I couldn’t sleep very well.
PP: What do your friends think about how you eat? Do they notice anything different? Is there pressure to eat a certain way around your friends? If so, how do you handle it?
M: My friends call me a “health nut.” They often tease me about my healthy eating habits, but I just tell them that I’m going to look and feel better than them in 30 years! My best friend noticed a change in my body more than anyone else, and complimented me a lot. There is a lot of pressure when I’m around my guy friends because they all think that as long as you exercise you are good to go. If I do get pressured sometimes (when I’m not doing a challenge) I give in. If I’m doing a challenge, I just tell them about what I’m doing and they think it’s kind of cool. If there is a paleo option in a “pressured situation” I eat that.
PP: Where does your support come from?
M: My support comes all from my family! Especially my sweet mama!
PP: How do you think other teens could benefit from seeing your example?
M: I think all the super competitive teams at my school (basketball, football, track) should have to eat on this diet to improve their athletic performance. It would really benefit my friend who has at least one RedBull (if not 2) a day! He also eats a can of Pringles, two mini bags of pretzels and a banana for lunch with a RedBull every day.
PP: What’s your favorite meal these days?
M: Spicy pork tenderloin with mango salsa!
PP: How has the Paleo Challenge App been a helpful tool?
M: The app has helped me keep track of what I eat. It has also helped me come up with the food to eat.
PP: Do you have anything else to share?
M: The paleo diet is life changing. I don’t like to call it a “diet,” it is more of a lifestyle for me now. It has helped me so much. Not just with physical appearance, but with sleeping, patience, and athletic performance. Thanks Shannon for bringing this amazing lifestyle to this community!
Making healthful food choices can be tough for all of us as we are surrounded by convenient, addictive and overly processed options. As we are in the midst of the holiday season and the new year draws near, put a little piece of Mikelle’s enthusiasm in your back pocket to help you stay motivated. And if you know someone who may be inspired by this young lady, please feel free to pass along this post and help to spread the real food message.