Caitlin Weeks BA, NC, CPT is a full time blogger and author of 4 cookbooks including Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. She has many years of experience as a Certified Nutrition Consultant, C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach, and professional personal trainer in San Francisco, CA. Caitlin has had success conquering obesity after a lifelong struggle with her weight. Since 2009 she has been winning the battle against Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis using a Paleo diet. She truly believes in the mind-body connection for healing and is certified EFT practitioner. She is committed to educating others about the benefits of traditional/ancestral foods and efficient exercise. She has a new found passion of ridding her home and personal care products of chemical by replacing them with essential oils. In 2015 She moved back to Nashville, her hometown to be near her family and is loving spreading health and wellness in the Southeast.
My journey towards health:
I have struggled with my weight all my life, starting at the age of 6, when I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting. At age 12, I was enrolled in a weight management class at a local hospital for adolescents. I was a sugar and carb addict,, stuffing myself with cookies, candy, chips, and ice cream. I have always been tall and as a child, I looked older for my age, so I grew up fast. I starved myself in high school, limiting intake to diet cokes and frozen diet microwave dinners to lose a little weight. I got a thrill from seeing how long I could go without eating, which was never more than eight hours. Then I would run to the candy machine, famished, and devour peanut M and M’s.
This yo-yo dieting went on until I went away to college in August of 1996. When I left for college I was a semi-healthy 175 pounds, but by Christmas I packed on 20 more pounds. Over the next three years my weight just went up from there in a haze of beer busts and drive-thru eateries.
The most depressing point of my weight struggle was in May 2000, when I graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I will never forget the mixed feelings I had as I made my way across the stage to accept my diploma. On one hand, I was feeling proud of my accomplishment, but at the same time I was at my heaviest weight – 238 pounds – and I felt deeply ashamed. I wanted to be happy but being so fat made me want to run and hide from the world.
My “ah ha” moment:
The day I walked across that graduation stage was also the day I decided I was done being overweight and unhealthy. I was determined to make a change so I could enjoy better health, have more energy, and feel good about myself.
I joined Weight Watchers shortly after graduation. I followed the food plan diligently and exercised by walking around my neighborhood every day for 30 minutes. In six months I lost 60 lbs. Over the next two years I lost 20 more for a total of 80 lbs. It was the first time I learned about light eating and not starving myself to lose weight. Old habits die hard, but I became increasingly committed to the Weight Watchers lifestyle by working out and making low calorie food choices, which included limiting sugar, bread, and fat.
Following a mainstream low-fat diet:
I continued on a very low-fat and low-calorie diet for the next several years and kept the weight off. I was still eating a lot of packaged, processed foods, but since they were low in points, I thought it was fine. I was doing well with my diet but being a young adventurous girl of 27, I was ready for more. Life in my hometown felt stagnate both personally and professionally. In 2005, I decided to move to the West Coast so I could be with all the healthy and fit people. I decided San Francisco would be perfect for me, a place where I could be lean and green.
During this period, I became fanatical about every calorie and fat gram I put in my mouth. This obsession led me to a profession that would ensure my adherence to my diet and exercise regime. In 2006, I became a personal trainer and continued to exercise nonstop. I was doing marathon training or strength training seven days a week. I became very muscular and fit. I was pushing myself to the limit in all aspects. While I was keeping up with my strict exercise routine, I also was not sleeping much because I had clients five days a week starting at 6 a.m.
I adopted a plan to eat five low-fat, complex carb meals a day to help regulate my blood sugar. This sounds good in theory, but I was like a hostage to my stomach and food cravings. I became a carb junkie, constantly craving fruits, whole grains, and low-fat treats. I was afraid to leave the house because I would get shaky and light-headed if I didn’t have access to food. If I could not find something to eat every two to three hours that was low-fat or low-calorie enough for my program, I would freak out. My blood sugar would drop very quickly and I would lash out at others. All the people close to me knew the signs; it was like living with a live grenade.
In 2008/2009, I tried being a vegetarian to save the animals. I ate tofu as my main source of protein, which I liked as long as I seasoned it up with plenty of Bragg’s or tamari sauce. I read many books about vegetarianism, which reinforced my bean-eating, tofu-loving lifestyle. I was convinced I was on the path to nutritional enlightenment.
Something was not quite right:
After being a vegetarian for about six months, I suddenly started feeling really tired all the time and became obsessed with sleeping. The low energy continued and I also gained 20 pounds in two months. I began having terrible constipation for the first time in my life, along with erratic bloating.
I went to a holistic nutritionist who was a believer in the Weston A. Price principles. She told me I had to choose between being healthy and being a vegetarian. I couldn’t save the animals if I wasn’t around anymore, she said. After a few sessions, I decided to focus on eating pastured (humanely raised) animals and real whole foods. I only chose to eat foods if I could pronounce the ingredients. She also urged me to eat a lower carbohydrate diet for blood sugar regulation, which was a lifesaver. I felt like I was out of hypoglycemic jail. I could go four, even six hours without eating. I could participate in life with other people and not be chained to my kitchen. I could eat out without being fat phobic.
Finding help from alternative practitioners:
My nutritionist also urged me to visit my doctor and have her run some tests to see what was behind my low-energy symptoms. After a terrible experience with my OB-GYN, who told me all my lab tests were normal, I found out I had some issues with low thyroid and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. My naturopathic doctor (ND) later confirmed my lack of thyroid hormone. I consulted an ND for more testing and reassurance. She prescribed some natural thyroid hormone replacement and in a few weeks I felt so much better. My doctor thought high stress and excess soy consumption were a couple factors that led to my energy crash.
This life-altering healing process taught me that low fat/high carb diets cause blood sugar imbalance and insulin surges that, over time, can wear out your thyroid. Eating a diet high in soy foods can also dampen thyroid function. Another key is that many people who have hypothyroid really have an autoimmune condition, where the body is attacking itself.
I learned that allopathic (mainstream) medicine does not really have the answer. Healing is more complex than just taking a pill. You must consider the whole body as a system, with diet and lifestyle being the first steps toward balance. I also learned that pushing myself to the limit with “the more exercise, the better” approach was only pushing me further from my goals. Sometimes the best exercise is none at all. Sleeping for eight to nine hours a night is the best medicine. Calories don’t count as much as eating nourishing food that satisfies your body inside and out.
Now I eat a diet of whole foods, including grass-fed meats and organic vegetables (and dark chocolate). I work out three non-consecutive times a week with weights, doing full body interval workouts. In between, I walk around my neighborhood enjoying the sunshine and listening to my favorite health and business podcasts. In 2015 we moved back to Nashville to be near my parents and sister. It has been great finding new friends and reconnecting with the old ones. We bought a house and enjoy cooking in our big kitchen.
This healing journey has taught me to slow down and not take on too much. I am almost back to my ideal size, but if I don’t get there, it is okay. I am not going to be obsessive about weight. I accept myself the way I am, because the beauty of my eating and lifestyle plan now is that it is sustainable. My weight does not go way up and down because of carb bloat. And I don’t have to spend hours on the elliptical trying to burn the calories I overate yesterday. I can just eat high-quality fats and proteins until I am satisfied, and then not eat until the next meal, four to five hours later, without constantly watching the clock.
I was inspired by my wise mentors to continue studying my passion and become a nutrition consultant myself. In 2010, I enrolled in the Nutrition Consultant Program at Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. I graduated with honors in 2010 as a Certified Nutrition Educator. I specialize in thyroid health, weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and resolving food allergies.
Being a personal trainer and nutrition consultant allows me to consider the whole person when dealing with health and fitness issues. I am able to counsel people through day-to-day food challenges. Because of my own health struggles and triumphs, I have great empathy for my clients who struggle with weight and health issues. I’ve been there! I can help you love your body and feel the way you did at the happiest times of your life.
I strongly believe we all need to slow down and be present in the moment. By learning how to reduce stress with simple techniques, we can be our own healers. By eating in peace and chewing thoroughly, we can listen to that inner voice that tells us how much we really need. Smart weight training will get a person to their goals faster than endless mind-numbing cardio. Exercise can never make up for eating poor quality food or excessive eating. I also think the diet needs to be fine-tuned before you throw supplements in the mix. Supplementation may not help if you are still eating a standard American diet of processed sugar, flour, and rancid vegetable oils.
Cooking for yourself is a way of loving your body and in exchange, it will love you back by shedding what it does not need. Shopping at farmer’s markets is a way to connect with your food and get to know the people who grew it. This world is full of love and new adventures waiting for us to discover, if we are open to learning and growing.
Credentials and Education:
National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
National Personal Training Institute Internship 2006
CPR and First Aid Certified
Speech Communication B.A. University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Certified Holistic Nutrition Educator, Bauman College, Berkeley, CA 2010
Nutrition Consultant, Bauman College, Berkeley, CA, 2011
Member of the Metabolism Society
Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 1 by the Chek Institute, Vista, CA June 2011
Certified Level 1 EFT practitioner
Raindrop and Vitaflex Certification with Essential Oils
Continuing Education :
Paleolithic Solution Seminar taught by Robb Wolf, March 2011
Blood Chemistry Seminar, Understanding Gluten Sensitivity, Healing Leaky Gut, Brain Gut Axis Seminar by Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 2011
National Association of Nutrition Professionals Conference, April 2011
Paleo FX Convention March 2012
Low Carb Nutrition Seminar and Cruise, with Dr John Briffa and Dr. Eric Westman, 2012
Weston A Price Convention, Santa Clara, CA 2012
Personal Trainer, University of California, San Francisco, Bakar Fitness, 2007-2008
Personal Trainer, Gold’s Gym, 9th and Brannon St., San Francisco 2006-2008
Nutrition Consultant, National Personal Training Institute, San Francisco, CA
Owner, Grass Fed Girl Personal Training and Nutrition Services since 2008
Printed and Digital Books:
(Printed) Author Mediterranean Paleo Cooking 2014
Contact form: here
My husband, the Grass Fed Chef
In 2006, I met my husband, Nabil, in a café in San Francisco. After an incredibly romantic first date, we clicked very quickly and married later that year. Nabil is a classically trained chef from Algiers, Algeria. He grew up eating a Mediterranean diet, rich in fresh, locally caught fish, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, and seasonal organic produce. He first started cooking at age 16 and continued when he moved to the US in 2004. He ended up enrolling in a well-known culinary arts program and graduated in 2010. He currently works as a chef in a downtown San Francisco hotel. Contact him here.