Stephanie Holbrook

I hope someone reading this will learn from my trials. I will have succeeded if one person takes action. I don’t want anyone to experience the pain and struggles that I have gone through. Since I was 12 years I have been on a perpetual diet. I hit puberty and plumped up. My family had an obsession with being thin and my mom was always on a perpetual diet. At 12 I started that rollercoaster too.

My parents thought they were being helpful when they told me that they didn’t want me to get fat. According to the 80’s nutrition advice that meant I needed to cut the fat from my diet. I took the USDA’s advice and avoided ALL FAT. I have a family history of heart disease, so I avoided red meat and especially saturated fat. I ate cereal in the morning, sandwiches at noon, and pasta at night. I never reached my goal of being thin but I held of being super fat out of sheer will and determination. My whole life I never remember feeling good. I didn’t even know what feeling good felt like.

I stayed on that trajectory through college. I was always watching my weight. I was on a ROTC Scholarship and in the Army National Guard. The thought of of losing my scholarship was terrifying. After my commission I joined the National Guard. I didn’t want to lose the GI Bill that was paying part of my tuition. I stuck to the low fat diet and counted calories.

I met and married my college sweetheart. When I found out I was pregnant I decided to leave the National Guard. I didn’t have to watch my weight. I ended up gaining quite a bit of weight being pregnant. After having my son I never got down to where I was before becoming pregnant. Four years later I had my second son. I was even heavier than after my first child.

When my youngest started school I decided to train for a marathon. I believed that running a marathon would make me thin. Life would be perfect if I could run myself thin. I trained for the marathon and followed the prescribed carb rich diet. I didn’t end up losing any weight during my marathon training.

After the marathon I thought that I needed to do a triathlon, then I would end up thin. Nope, I was still fat. The triathlon training made me realize that I liked riding my bike. I took up cycling. I rode my first century bike ride. I was able to cover the distance but I was still fat.

I enjoyed endurance training. I made many friends and loved training with them. I figured that I needed to ramp up my training. Of course, that must by why I was still fat. I wasn’t training hard enough. I started training for the 70.3 distance triathlons, then I worked up to an Ironman. After the Ironman I was STILL FAT… UGH! WTF!

If the calories in/calories out model worked, I would be super thin. I was training 20 hours a week and eating less than 1500 calories per day. I had mild asthma that soon became chronic and uncontrolled asthma. I felt cold and exhausted all the time. I developed reactive hypoglycemia. On top of all that I still FAT.

It became clear to me that I was doing something wrong. Hours and hours of endurance training and eating a low fat, high carbohydrate diet was not making me thin. I must be doing something wrong. I started reading about Scott Jurek, and ultra-marathon runner and vegan.

I thought that was the answer, I needed to eat a vegan diet and train for ultra-marathons. The vegan diet was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The vegan diet made my health worse. My asthma and allergies were worse. I added to my health issues horrible gas, injuries, and giant boils started erupting on my face. The one thing that stayed the… I was STILL FAT!

At that point, I sought alternative medical help. According to my regular doctor I was completely “normal” and nothing was nothing wrong with me. It is “normal” to have chronic asthma, a poor complexion, chronic injuries, and to be fat after doing an Ironman.

A concerned friend referred me to Naturopathic Doctor (ND). She order a slew of blood tests. I was almost afraid she would say that there was nothing wrong with me. I thought if she said that I was healthy like my primary care doctor, then I must be crazy. I didn’t think it was normal to feel as bad as I did.

The ND didn’t think I was healthy or normal. She measured my hormones, and informed me that I didn’t have any. My hormone levels were so low that they were not readable in the test. I hadn’t had a period in about year, and I thought that was from my birth control. But it was more likely from my poor diet and excessive training.

Thought this process I became obsessed with learning how the body works. I became a ACE Personal Trainer, and read everything I could on health and nutrition.

I gave up on endurance sports and tried Crossfit. That is where I learned about about the Paleo Diet and Robb Wolf. I also learned that Crossfit was doing nothing for my health. My hormones were still a mess. After 18 months I still felt like crap and decided to ditch Crossfit.

I wanted to figure out how to feel better. I started listening to podcast. I found Ben Greenfield’s podcast. He talked following a low carbohydrate diet with endurance training.

I joined Ben Greenfield’s Become Superhuman Coaching program. I took courses and certifications with the C.H.E.K. Institute. The C.H.E.K. Institute and Ben Greenfield’s message was quite a bit different from the USDA advice. I switched to a Paleo Diet, then a low carb Paleo Diet. My body started to heal. My gas subsided, my face cleared up. Over time my allergies went away and then my asthma disappeared. I went from a size 16 to a size 12 with the Paleo diet. I dropped from a size 12 – a 10 following a low carb Paleo diet.

At the Become Superhuman Conference and met Peter Defty from Vespa Power. We soon became great friends because of our obsession with nutrition research. Peter referred me to Esmee La Fleur’s website Zero Carb Zen. I started an on again/off again Zero Carb/Carnivore Diet. I started to feel better and dropped to a size 8.

Even though I had good results with a zero carb diet I had problems sticking to it. I had such a hard time saying ‘NO’ to food in social settings. I felt like I was being rude. It wasn’t until I participated in the Carnivore Study that I felt empowered to say no. I dropped from a size 8 to a size 6 during the 90 day Carnivore Study. I also felt WONDERFUL!!!

I returned to my my love of cycling. I train every year with a group for Tour de Tucson. The bulk of my training this year was during the Carnivore Study. I didn’t want to mess up the study results so I stuck to Zero Carb. I used meat sticks during the longer ride. I added Sports Legs, electrolytes, and salt to combat leg cramps.

The lack of carbohydrates didn’t hurt me. I had a personal record at the last Tour de Tucson. My average pace in 2017 for 54 miles as a Carnivore was 18.45 mph. My average pace while still using carbs in 2012 for 60 miles was 10.06 mph.

On a carnivore diet, Stephanie is hitting new personal speed records.

Over the holidays I had a relapse. I ate too many chips, salsa and margaritas on a trip to Mexico. My size climbed back to a size 8. But what was most pronounced was how horrible I felt after my trip. I couldn’t believe how fast I went from feeling amazing to feeling like crap.

I am back to a Carnivore/Zero Carb way of eating since January 2nd. Since then I continue to get faster on my bike. My functional threshold power (FTP) when I was low-carb/Paleo was 135, now my FTP is 201. My FTP keeps going up!

The carnivore diet is a miracle for my health. I went from wearing a size 16 to now wearing a size 6. I had no readable hormones and no menstrual cycle to having a regular 28 day cycle. As a high carbohydrate athlete I was spending $80 a month on asthma medications. I am not on any medications now.

Stephanie is down to a size 6 and in the best physical shape of her life, thanks to carnivory.

I am 48 years old. I don’t have six pack abs… yet. I have never felt better in my life. I still have extra fat to lose and more healing to do. I went from a lifetime of struggling with my health and weight to feeling good each and everyday. Soon, I expect to see those six pack muscles to show up. MEAT HEALS no matter how old you are or where you start.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sholbk
Website: https://ketoendurance.co/
Email: coach@ketoendurance.co

18 Replies to “Stephanie Holbrook”

  1. Awesome Stephanie. The social aspect was definitely an issue for me over Xmas. This way of eating works for me. My goal is the visible Abs as well. Well written honesty.

  2. You’re a wonderful inspiration Stephanie. Thank you for putting out your story – it’s very powerful!!!!

  3. Love you sharing this Stephanie! I didn’t know you had struggled (as many of us have with our diets), in part because you are such a beast on the bike! The biggest thing I’ve learned is that there’s no one size fits all and different DNA/bodies have different requirements. I feel so much better on meat/good fats/low carb, but I have family members (who are much fitter than me) that do very poorly with what I eat and vice versa. BTW, you look stunning in your pic and I also love your fortitude!

    1. Thanks for the comments Sonia.

      I agree, everyone is different. My husband doesn’t eat a carnivore diet. My husband is thin and fit. He eats plenty of red meat but eats bread and other things as well. Obviously, Scott Jurek does just fine on his vegan diet.

      Just because someone does well on a vegan diet doesn’t mean they wouldn’t thrive as a carnivore. I work with endurance athletes everyday. Athletes who adapt to a ketogenic diet notice a drop in performance for 3-6 months before it gets better.

      From my experience working with keto athletes, the ones who are consistent about training and nutrition see performance gains that well exceeded their previous best times at the year mark.

      Changing primary energy systems is a big adjustment to the body. Depending how glucose dependant they are, they will likely feel very badly before they feel better.

      I think the my biggest angst with nutrition is that the USDA promotes a diet that is high in “healthy whole grains” and that saturated fat and red meat are bad for us. I didn’t find health until I ate the exact opposite of that.

      It took me a long time to get over being mad that I was lied to by an a government agency (I know this is obvious to many people), and it promotes a system that keeps people sick. It makes me upset that this is the food that is pushed on nursing homes, at schools, and in hospitals.

      It is one of the reason I get so frustrated at charities that are supposed to promote “cures” that only push more drugs. They don’t put funds into nutrition research because they don’t really care about health, they care about creating a new drug that they can sell for a profit.

      I have resolved my frustration and angst by helping as many people as I can finding health through nutrition and the way they train. If someone is healthy and happy with what they are doing, then great. That is not the case for many of us. It is nice to know that there are other options for those who want to continue to improve.

      To your health! 🙂

  4. Great article, Stephanie! Thanks for posting. I’m very close to going zero carbs, but haven’t been able to shake my daily handful of chocolate chips 🙂 But your story motivates me to finally take the plunge. I’ve been eating less than 30 gr of carbs since 12/28/18, and I’m feeling much better. I think it is time to simplify my life and take the next step: Zero Carbs! Thanks for all the posts on FB, Twitter and your blog!

    1. Hey Mary Beth,

      I think zero carb is actually easier than low carb. There is less planning and tracking. Eat meat, drink water. You can’t get any simpler than that.

      I add extra electrolytes to my water when it is hot here. Otherwise I get leg cramps. Aside from that, I don’t take any extra supplements.

  5. Awesome article Stephanie, I’m so happy for you! I know you’ve struggled for years! You look awesome!!! 👏👏👏💞

  6. Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story!! I am a little older than you…(I’ll be 50 in October). I had done a 30 day carnivore test and I noticed a knee injury that I believe was due to running was feeling so much better. Well…I stopped after the 30 days to see what would happen and added back in veggies (sadly, I’ve had a little sugar too). It’s been a month since doing this and I now have knee pain again, and have developed some hip pain as well. You have inspired me to give it another shot and see if my pain disappears again. If it does…I will definitely stick with it this time!! You’ve given me some hope with your post! Thank you again!!

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Keep it up! I have drifted away from the Carnivore WOE a few times because of vacationing. I always come back because I feel the best eating this way. I don’t even have the desire to stray anymore. Feeling good is worth it!:)

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