I was skeptical the first time I sacrificed traditional carbs like grains, beans, and legumes for abs. In fact, I promised myself that if I didn’t notice a difference after 30 days, I was allowed to gorge on a dozen doughnuts as a reward for the punishment. What I’d end up learning is that “going paleo” didn’t end up being as bad as I thought. Sure, some of the cravings were severe (I literally drooled on my phone looking at food porn tags on Instagram), but the self-inflicted torture morphed into a drastic lifestyle change, complete with not only a defined midsection, but fewer gastrointestinal and insomnia issues. On top of these major accomplishments, I was also full of energy, my skin looked better, and my endurance in the gym increased tenfold. Frankly, I couldn’t wrap my head around how quickly my body could adapt to the drastic changes. Was I secretly Superman all along?

Renowned paleo chef Michelle Tam, author of the award-winning Nom Nom Paleo blog and her latest cookbook, Ready or Not!, shared a similar life experience. Once a self-described “drug dealer,” the former pharmacist and food scientist opted for a paleo diet after seeing the positive impact it had on her husband, co-author and illustrator Henry Fong.

“Once I started, I felt like I was in The Matrix,” says Tam. “I [felt] so much better. How come no one said that what you eat can affect how you feel?”

Two kids, a New York Times bestselling cookbook, and thousands of recipes later, the hilarious, informative, and uber-intelligent Tam has managed to build an empire (along with her creative and insanely artistic hubby) surrounding the diet and its touted health benefits.

“People think paleo is like eating tons and tons of meat and eating like a caveman,” she says. “Paleo, to me, is eating more like your ancestors ate. Eating real, whole, and unprocessed foods.”

We sat down with the queen of paleo cooking (our words, not hers) to discuss her journey, inspiration, and how anyone (seriously, if I can do it, anyone can) is capable of incorporating the diet into their daily routine. Check out the video above and be sure to pick up a copy of the dynamic duo’s cookbook as both and entertaining and educational resource for mindful eating.

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