5 Questions with Paleoista Creator Nell Stephenson
5 The Paleoista
Candice: For those who are unfamiliar with your movement, can you explain what a Paleoista is?
Nell: Paleoista is a word I made up to combine the word “Paleo” (based on the Paleo diet) and “fashionista,” which is to convey that Paleo doesn’t have to be approached in a caveman fashion. It can be and there is nothing wrong with it, but that is not the only way of going about it.
4 Working with the Best
C: How did you end up working with Dr. Loren Cordain (creator of the Paleo Diet)?
N: I reached out to Dr. Cordain back in 2005 after I had gone Paleo for about a year. I felt that he had not only changed my life so significantly but also that of my clients so I felt inclined to write to him. I simply wrote a letter saying thank you and never expected to hear back from him but I did. He wrote back asking if he could use my post as a testimonial on his website which I agreed to. He had a chance to look at my blog and said “I like your writing style. Do you think you can write for my newsletter?” That is how we began our work together. We did the Paleo Diet Cookbook together and the rest is history. It’s been an incredible journey and an incredible gift to work with the person who got Paleo to what it is today.
3 Riding the Paleo Wave
C: When did you realize that your work was becoming so largely recognized?
N: It has kind of been an organic process. I have been in the business of fitness, health and nutrition for nearly 20 years. Once I integrated the Paleo Diet, my clients started to grow and my husband encouraged me to start a blog and get into social media. It really just grew organically over the past 8 years or so. It’s still growing and I’d like it to be a lot bigger. Hopefully, I am getting more recognized for helping people become more familiar with the Paleo Diet.
2 Ironman Training
C: You often compete in the Ironman Race (a triathlon of 140.6 miles which includes biking, swimming and running). It seems like a pretty intimidating competition. How did you prepare yourself mentally and physically for a race like that one?
N: It’s been a long process. I started racing in 1998, doing short-course triathlons and I began doing it for fun. I never thought I could do Ironman but then I went a couple of years later to watch a friend do it. My epiphany moment was when I saw some challenged athletes crossing the finish line. These are people who had to overcome huge challenges; losing a leg, losing an arm, losing both legs, in a wheelchair, have a prosthetic leg, battling an illness. They still found the wherewithal to prepare and compete in competitions like this and that was so inspiring to me. My original reason for not doing the race had no longer felt good enough so I signed up for the following year and that was back in 2001. It has been a long process; physical training, mental preparation, visualizing, working with sports psychologists—just really getting used to being able to push yourself. There is a really fine line to pushing yourself hard in order to improve and not too hard that you burn out, fall into fatigue or end up with an injury. It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy it.
1 Becoming a Paleoista
C: Do have any tips for new Paleoistas who are just now getting introduced to you?
N: First of all, don’t get overwhelmed. Sometimes people, depending on their personality, prefer to do a “100 percent-immediately—I’m doing all or nothing” approach. Other people prefer to take it step by step and that’s fine. It doesn’t matter what your approach is, as you get to a point where you do actually follow it for 30 days. Just give it a try and do it the right way. I really recommend that anybody interested in following the Paleo Diet should read Dr. Cordain’s work. Every meal, ideally, should have mostly vegetables on the plate and about a palm-size amount of wild protein and some avocado or coconut or olive oil. If you use that as a template for all of your meals, including breakfast and snacks, you will be all set.