My Story

dumbell push press @ cfto- courtesy of john vivian

The road to a fitter and healthier me…

I am Cindy

woman.daughter.sister.aunt.wife.friend.teacher…

more recently…

CrossFitter.nutrition enthusiast.cook.blogger…

and now…

author!

The shorter version: (less detail)

What a life changing journey these past several years (decade+) have been! Wow! I can’t believe it has been that long.

In March 2003, my world was shaken by the sudden death of my dear mom.  She was a nurturing and generous person, someone who always put others first. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with diabetes in her thirties and she became insulin dependent.  As time went on she also developed other related conditions.  At the age of just 56 she suffered a massive heart attack and left our world far too soon.

Living through this has been heartbreaking. After taking time to grieve and deal with this loss, I realized that I had to re-evaluate my own life, including my food choices, level of physical activity and my personal goals. These were all areas that I thought I was in control of, but in reality I was overweight and sedentary.  I learned from my mom’s death that I had to turn my life around and take the reigns of my own fate.  When I was finally able to gain my ground, I was infused with strength I didn’t even know I had!  Sure, there were ups and downs, but I found the motivation to get back on track.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my wonderful mom.   I thank her for giving me the willpower, determination and the focus to embark on a new lifestyle.

By drastically changing my eating habits, exercise regime, sleep patterns and overall outlook on life (in various stages), I have witnessed astonishing results.  Not just in the way I look, but more importantly in my performance, mood and function.  I am seventy(ish) pounds lighter, a heck of a lot happier and much, much stronger!  I wake up every morning with a channeled energy.  I feel that I have a heightened sense of purpose and passion for what I believe in. I am thriving.

MY STORY - transformation

In February 2009, I reconnected with a close friend, Tyler Touchette of Caveman Strong. As my road towards greater health continued, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Tyler has been, and still is a major player, as well as countless others in bringing me to where I presently am.  During our conversation at that time, he told me all about the Paleo lifestyle and the strength and conditioning program he was involved with.  Without hesitation, I (we) decided to join the CrossFit Toronto gym.

MY STORY

It has now been over 5 years since my husband and I experienced those “deer caught in headlights” days in the boot camp.  Every day I become more and more in love with this way of life.  My passion for cooking and eating “real food” has grown remarkably. I never realized that making a few changes could make such a huge difference. This journey is far from over, and perhaps only just beginning.  I hope to continue to thrive, and in the meantime share some delicious recipes and tips along the way.  Life is precious, live it!

____________________________________________________________________________________

The longer version: (more detail)

When I finished my degree at university, I moved to Toronto to start teachers college. Shortly after doing so, I met Dustin (my now husband), and we moved in together. About a year later, in March of 2003, I lost my mom to a massive heart attack. This is what I call the catalyst. This was the incentive; this was the spur that I needed to start making change. However, I had to experience a dark place before this was possible. It was a bit of a roller coaster before coming to terms with everything and realizing that major adjustments were needed.

After my mom’s passing, my anxiety worsened, and I started to experience full-blown panic attacks. During this time, I also injured my neck really badly and had difficulty with much exercise of any kind. Dizzy, puffy (as I call it looking back in photos), depressed and down-and-out, I went to the doctor. Guess what? He quickly prescribed medication to “help” with the anxiety, but things actually got worse for me. The side effects weren’t worth it, so I weaned myself off.

Another plan was needed. In 2005, Dustin proposed to me. We started preparation for our wedding, which was scheduled for the summer of 2007. The celebration of this happy time was just what I needed to get out of this black hole. I began the Weight Watchers program. With that, I experienced much success with losing weight, but I also gained the attribute of becoming overly concerned with the scale. I was constantly counting, weighing and calculating. During this time, I thought I was eating real food, but was I really?

No. Hardly. Low-fat this, and reduced-fat that. So called heart-healthy this, all the way back to reduced-calorie that. I combed the grocery store shelves and filled our cart with 100-calorie snack packs of who knows what (actually counting their points with my calculator as I shopped), microwave dinners, pre-boxed items and bags, all of which carried glowing health claims on their packaging. The outside was made to look good, but most of what was inside was just a distant cousin of the food
it declared it was. From a physical standpoint, I had lost weight, but I still wasn’t healthy. My digestive issues were at an all-time high. I was definitely wearing the rose-colored glasses, and I was completely mesmerized by what others were telling me healthy was supposed to be. I was under their spell and believed all the hype and hoopla. This up and down diet wasn’t sustainable for me. It truly wasn’t a lifestyle; it was a numbers game of empty calories in and calories out that I no longer wanted to be a part of. I didn’t know what to do. I think many of you can probably relate, as this is where most people find themselves stuck. (Even though you might not realize it at the time).

The years following 2009, until the present, is when the true magic happened. Upon meeting up with Tyler Touchette, going to several nutrition workshops led by Robb Wolf and Mathieu Lalonde, attending numerous Ancestral Health Symposiums, it started to become clear to me. The waters became less cloudy. The haze was lifting and I was learning what I needed to do to actually become healthy. In its simplest form, I needed to eat what I now call ‘really real food’.

The benefits started rolling in when I cleared out all the refined and highly processed junk, grains
and legumes and replaced them with really real whole foods. I ditched the restrictive counting mentality and started to concentrate more on nourishing my body with healthful foods. I began a reciprocal relationship with food where I started to pay attention to where it came from and what it actually was. In return it started to show me some love back.

When I did so, it was life changing. Literally, I call it miraculous—digestive issues: adios; skin: much clearer; hair: shinier; anxiety: no longer; panic attacks: bye-bye; inflammation: farewell; mood swings: cheerio; sleep: like a baby; energy: hello there! I was out from hiding underneath that umbrella of what and how I thought I was supposed to feel. I was actually feeling like everyone deserves to feel—how we are meant to feel both physically and, more importantly, mentally.

Here’s to a healthier and fitter you. Welcome to my blog… Have a blast reading my tidbits on health, fitness and how to thrive when eating nutrient-dense foods, while making some of my delicious recipes. Enjoy!!!


59 Comments

  • Reply Jo-Anne Sexton March 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Dear Cindy

    This is amazing! I have learned some helpful information. Your accomplishment are to be applauded and I am one person in your life who is clapping the loudest! I look forward to visiting this site with great anticipation. Perhaps one day you could be my food and fitness coach.
    Your loving Mother in Law

  • Reply Cindy Allinson April 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Cindy. I enjoyed reading your blog and especially love reading people’s success stories. I wish you well in your blogging and look forward to reading it daily.
    Cindy.

  • Reply viki April 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    three cheers to a great role model and inspiration….YOU! I am extremely happy, fortunate and blessed to have crossed paths with you and ‘the duster’ and hope to grow older, wiser, stronger and fitter with you both!!!

    super proud of you! toughest little package i’ve ever known!!! :)v

  • Reply Hillary April 9, 2010 at 12:24 am

    What a great site Cindy!! I look forward to making some of your recipes. You really have inspired me. First by suggesting books by Michael Pollan and now this. Chad and I will be following your blog for sure!

  • Reply Alan Butler April 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Hey Cindy,
    Such an interesting story! It is great you have such a sense of purpose and passion in your life!

  • Reply Jen April 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Hey Cyn,
    wow…what a transformation…you should be very proud of yourself! It’s amazing to me what unexpected changes in our life can lead too…as you know my life too has been a journey these last few years, allowing me to find strength I didn’t know I had, exploring new interests and discovering what I really value! Thank you for sharing your story too…I think it will inspire many! Congrats to you, life changes are no easy feat! What a pleasure to know you (and Dusty too!)…keep in touch!

  • Reply Chef Chow April 10, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Hey Cindy, cool blog! I definitely respect this lifestyle and have a similar passion for eating and cooking “real” food. I’m hooked on Jamie Oliver. Have you checked out his Food Revolution program?

  • Reply Amy April 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Hey Cindy,

    I LOVE your blog! I’m a Paleo Registered Dietitian – check out my blog if you get a chance!!

  • Reply cindy April 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    All of your comments mean so much to me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You are all so kind and generous in your words.

  • Reply Mary Anne June 4, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Dear Cindy: I love your blog. You are an inspiration to us all. We have so little control in our lives why not eat what makes us feel energetic, happy and healthy. I want to learn more and try your recipes. Thank you so much. Jo-Anne is raving about you. xoxoxo ma

    • Reply cindy June 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm

      MA…your words are so kind…thank you so much! I love to share my experience with anyone who is willing to listen ;) Hope you are doing well!

  • Reply passions, goals and blt’s… — PALEOdISH November 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    [...]  I thank Tyler Touchette of Cornwall CrossFit  for introducing me to this way of life (see my story).  I also thank John Vivian of CrossFit Toronto for training me and recognizing my potential. [...]

  • Reply Erica April 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Love the site- wish you had an RSS feed! (Or maybe I just can’t find the button on your site?)

    • Reply Cindy Sexton April 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you! I used to…thought I did, but you are right, I don’t see it there now. I will look into it. =)

  • Reply Brenda April 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I totally can relate to you Cindy! My Mom was my best friend and the best Grandma in the world! She had many health problems, including Chron’s disease, osteoporosis, and many more. She had a major heart attack at the age of 57 and my world has not been the same since! It’s horrible to lose your Mom, no matter what age you are! I don’t want my children to have to go through life without their Mom. I have been doing paleo for about a month now and am trying to convert my family as well. I don’t want to be plagued with health problems! I want to live a happy and healthy life and I truely believe this is the way to do it!

    • Reply Cindy Sexton April 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      Hi Brenda! Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I couldn’t agree more. Good for you for making the change. Others will catch on! ;) xx

  • Reply Tim Swart May 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Great site Cindy!! Not sure which other Paleo type site directed me here, but you are bookmarked for sure :-)

    I began the paleo lifestyle 8 days ago, and have already lost 11 lbs. I look forward to following your site and will definitely check out the books you’ve listed here. I am a sponge with it right now and can’t get enough, there are so many great sites for information. I wish this was more readily available 10 or 20 years ago, i’m, 42 now and was diagnosed 3.5 years ago with Type 2, and have struggled with it. I am a big man, (shrinking though :-) ) and have been all my life. I started at 312 lbs this time around and as I said have lost 11 so far, but have struggled with weight my entire life.

    Since going paleo, my fasting sugars have come down 50 points in just over a week, and I even hit some normal ranges under 120 at certain points during the day…I know this works and I am truly motivated now to keep this up for the rest of my life…I’ve eaten more veggies & fruit in the past 8 days than i’ve eaten ever!!

    I’m going to experiment with some of your recipes, and looking forward to following your site.

    You’re an inspiration!

    Tim

    • Reply Cindy Sexton May 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      THANK YOU SO MUCH for the kind words Tim. Congrats on the progress that you have made so far and please provide me with any feedback if you do decide to try any of my recipes. I also have a FB page of you are on there as well. Take care and enjoy the journey in becoming a healthier you! =)

      • Reply Tim Swart May 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm

        Thanks Cindy, yep clicked Like the other day on your FB page!! You guys rock!! :)

  • Reply Jeannette Rebelo May 27, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Hi Cindy!

    We see each other every day, and every day I am amazed by how inspirational you are. I want to be like you when I grow up!!!! Thanks for inspiring me to be a “fitter and healthier me”. Your blog looks great the recipes look yummy. I’ve told all my friends about your blog and they love it.

    • Reply Cindy Sexton May 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Awwww…geez thanks! Fully blushing…you are so sweet! Thanks for passing my blog along. What are we going to do after next year??? ahhhhhhh lol!

  • Reply Paleo Comfort Foods: Paleo Power Couples Heads North | PaleoComfortFoods.com October 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

    [...] Cindy had a very personal motivation to start a paleo lifestyle (you can read more about her story here), and both Sextons have realized a whole new healthy life by implementing a paleo lifestyle. [...]

  • Reply Marta October 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Cindy, I’m a 35 year old single woman who’s just gone Paleo. I live in downtown Toronto and I’m looking for other Paleos to connect with, who can tell me where to get the best prices on grass fed meat, etc. Also for support – maybe even have a meal together. Do you know of any groups around? If you’d like to connect, please let me know how. Thanks and great website!

  • Reply Laura December 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Love your site!!! Been Paleo for a month now and absolutely loving it!! So excited to try some of your recipes =)

    • Reply Cindy Sexton December 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Laura! Thanks so much!! Best of luck on your journey. Contact me if you have any questions…I may be able to help! =)

  • Reply shannon gillespie December 15, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Hi Cindy, I also lost my mom to diabetes. She was such a wonderful woman! I love your blog and I wanted to know if you only do crossfit workouts or olympic style weighlifting? Thanks

    • Reply Cindy Sexton December 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Shannon! Sorry about your loss. THANKS so much…I am glad you like my blog! I enjoy sharing and blabbing away on here. I have cut out any long metcon style workouts (crossfit-esque) and have turned my focus to getting stronger through mainly weightlifting now! Let me know if you have any other questions!!

      • Reply shannon gillespie December 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm

        Thanks for getting back to me Cindy. Hope you had a great holiday! Wanted to know if you could give me some ideas with lifting heavy. I love deadlifting, squating, and bench pressing. I’d love to hear what you typically do when you train. Thanks. Shannon

  • Reply Kelly Crigger January 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Cindy – I’m sending out advance copies of Sarah Fragoso’s new book, Paleo Pals, and would like to send you one. Please send me an email so I can get one out to you.

    • Reply Cindy Sexton January 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      Hi Kelly! That is fantastic – THANK YOU!! I am sending you a PM now!

  • Reply Tom Corson-Knowles January 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Cindy, I love your blog and all the awesome info you’re sharing on health and nutrition! You’re an inspiration :)

    • Reply Cindy Sexton January 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      THANKS! I really appreciate your comment!!

  • Reply Dr. Doug February 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Hi,
    I came across your website/blog while doing a search for related blogs.

    I am a Chiropractor and Clinical nutritionist in NYC. I have a forthcoming book, “Quantum Paleo”, due out in hardcover,paperback,Kindle and Nook in May of 2012.

    Here is a video I just completed this week that you may be interested in seeing titled.

    What is Paleo?

    http://paleosoul.com/?p=525

    Let me know what you think and if you would like to connect in some way. The video is free to post and use. I only ask that you put my byline on it, so I get a reference.

    To Your Health!

    Dr. Doug

    • Reply Cindy August 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      hi there! i will def check it out. thanks for letting me know about this resource. feel free to contact me at paleodish@gmail.com and we can chat further! congrats on the book!!!

  • Reply Casey Dunne March 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I’m loving the recipes on here. Such a broad range of options. Paleo has changed my life – no more heartburn, no IBS, LOWER cholesterol and blood pressure. I’m glad I have this website to help me stay creative on this food journey!

    • Reply Cindy April 1, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      THANKS SO MUCH Casey for the kind words!!! CONGRATS to you on changing your life. Enjoy the site and feel free to email me if you have any specific questions!!! ALL THE BEST…

  • Reply Chris Jax April 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Cindy,

    I added your blog to the ‘Paleo Canada’ page – http://primalcut.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/paleo-canada/ – I’m trying to start a list of links specific to Canadian Paleo/Primal blogs. Take a look and let me know what you think?

    Stay primal,

    Chris

    • Reply Cindy August 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Great – thanks so much! I will check it out!

  • Reply Jaclyn June 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Cindy,

    i just found your blog.
    You’re inspiring. I’m constantly struggling to stay on track with my eating so I’m always looking for new paleo blogs with recipes…And you’re local.

    • Reply Cindy August 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      hi jacklyn – thanks so much for the kind words! let me know if you have any questions.

  • Reply Michelle July 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Cindy
    I just stumbled on your blog. I’ve been paleo for a few months now (switched from 5 years of Pescetarianism after reading Gary Taubes and then reading some paleo books and blogs.) I also live in Toronto (near Fiesta Farms) and am trying to compile a list of Toronto stores/butchers and Paleo friendly brands – best place to buy free run omega 3 eggs, where to buy macadamia nut oil, etc. Any interest in posting a resource like this on your site that we can contribute to?

    I’d be interested in seeing where else you shop (have you tried Vince Gasparro’s Meat Market at Bloor/Roxton? Great Mennonite chicken and sometimes grass fed beef. They tell me all their meat is antibiotic and hormone free). Also, where we Canadians can easily acquire some of the items only in the US (a girlfriend is bringing me some Kerrygold butter later this summer as it’s not allowed to be sold here, their cheese is sold here though).

    Do you know of any other Toronto-based paleo websites or blogs?

    Nice to meet you!
    Michelle

    • Reply Cindy August 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      sounds really interesting. do you mind sending me a personal message at paleodish@gmail.com and then we can chat further there! that would be terrific!!! :)

    • Reply Neil November 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      for grass-fed beef and raw dairy, your best bet is to get it from a cow-share. they make deliveries to the city every week to different locations. I’ll usually get milk weekly and buy bulk beef and freeze it.

      let me know if you want a supplier to contact.

  • Reply Phalakone Mysay July 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Hey Cindy,

    Just found your blog randomly since I was looking for a Crossfit Gym in Toronto to try.

    I’m Phalakone, a new Paleo adept starting a new blog, and I just wanted to introduce myself and thank you for the recipes you made on your blog.

    I might see you in the gym or online.

    Cheers.
    Phalakone

    • Reply Cindy July 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Cool! Nice to meet you!! Good luck on your journey!!! Cheers…

  • Reply Neil November 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Hey just stumbled upon this page. Although the post was a while ago. If you’re looking for grass-fed beef or raw dairy, i have a farm who delivers downtown. Email me if you’re interested!

  • Reply Tina Kawai February 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I simply want to say I’m very new to blogging and seriously liked your web-site. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your website . You amazingly have exceptional articles. Cheers for sharing your website.

    • Reply Cindy February 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      THANKS SO MUCH TINA ~ I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you for reading my blog!!!

  • Reply http://youtu.be/FQc8zF5tGB4?t=10s May 31, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    WOW I am in love with Paleo… I’ve been on it for 3 months and have noticed such drastic positive changes…. I strongly recommend this to ANYBODY! I started the diet off by watching this youtube video for great recipes!!! here

    • Reply Cindy July 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Awesome! Best of luck!!!

  • Reply Fun times with Paleo friends, okra and peaches! | PaleoComfortFoods.com August 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    [...] easy to come by in Reno. Secondly, lots of our guests had never tried okra before! I think Diana, Cindy, Amy and a few others had never tasted these so-called ladyfingers, so I always take great joy in [...]

  • Reply Deb March 21, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Cindy, My husband and I started the Paleo diet almost 2 weeks ago. I had been following the Curves diet for months with very little results (3 lbs in 2 months) After the 12 days on Paleo I have lost 13 lbs.
    I love your site, lots of info to go over and support. I am also starting Crossfit in May, my husband has been doing it since August, with wonderful results. I can’t wait. A year ago today I had a skiing accident that left me with a broken left leg and a level 2/3 MCL tear on the right. I am no stronger through yoga and Curves, and ready to move on to Crossfit. It will be scarey, as I am a “plus” size girl…but your storey has motivated me. Thanks!
    I found out about your site through your sister.

    • Reply Cindy April 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      That’s awesome! Good for you – minus the accident part. I am so warmed to hear that my story was inspirational to you! Let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck on your journey!!!

  • Reply Corey April 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Hi Cindy,

    I wanted to share with you my delicious paleo and gluten free creation, Nomz!

    Nomz Energy Bites are yummy, gluten free and paleo. No refined sugar, no peanuts, no dairy, no eggs, no additives and no trans fats! Our Energy Bites are available in three flavours: Pecan, Coconut, and Pistachio.

    We currently have a Kickstarter campaign running in order to raise funds to allow us to rent our own facility for production and buy equipment to help us with the manual labour. We hope to expand Nomz into more cities in Canada and around the world, creating healthier communities!

    I would love to hear what you think! And if you like us, please back us and share us, and help us spread our delicious paleo snack around the world!

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nomz/nomz-energy-bites-nutritious-and-delicious

    Thank you!

    Corey

  • Reply Darren July 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    We are a new start-up that makes all-natural Paleo Compliant condiments.
    I have found your blog recently and I am just wondering if you are interested in writing a product review and share with your followers.
    Please visit our website:
    http://naturespalate.ca/

    If you are interested, Please let me know and we can mail samples to you!
    Cheers,

    Darren

  • Reply Robb Wolf - Paleo Takes 5 or Fewer October 17, 2014 at 8:01 am

    […] To read more about how switching to a Paleo lifestyle has changed my life, check out ‘MY STORY’ right HERE! […]

  • Reply A visual stroll through my new cookbook…‘Paleo Takes 5 –or- Fewer*’ | Get Fit Bookmark October 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

    […] To read more about how switching to a Paleo lifestyle has changed my life, check out ‘MY STORY’ right HERE! […]

  • Reply A visual stroll through my new cookbook…‘Paleo Takes 5 –or- Fewer*’ October 18, 2014 at 6:08 am

    […] To read more about how switching to a Paleo lifestyle has changed my life, check out ‘MY STORY’ right HERE! […]

  • Reply Guest Post: Cindy Sexton, Paleo Takes 5 -or- Fewer October 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

    […] To read more about how switching to a Paleo lifestyle has changed my life, check out ‘MY STORY’ right HERE! […]

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