Hello and welcome to Life with Aniela! My name is Aniela Pikulinski and I’m from Michigan, more specifically a very small town northwest of Ann Arbor. I have created this section so my readers can have a little history about me and get to know who I am.
Growing up, I was a competitive gymnast for about 10 years. I finished my career as a level 10. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it is the level before you become eligible for the Olympics, which is called elite. After gymnastics, I went on to pursue a degree in Automotive Technology at Henry Ford Community College. I participated in the Ford ASSET Program, where I alternated 8 weeks of college courses and 8 weeks of working at a dealership, as a technician, for 2 years. I worked as a technician, specialising in engine performance, automatic transmissions and electrical, for about 4 years total. Within one year of becoming a technician, I was already certified as a master technician. In 2006, I graduated with my associate’s degree and moved on to pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan.
I originally wanted to do engineering but I couldn’t decide between electrical and mechanical. I had 2 years to pick my major and in 2008 I had to make a decision. With the automotive industry in trouble, I opted for a broad-spectrum degree and majored in Physics. In 2011, I received my degree in Physics with a minor in Philosophy. If I was able to have taken one more class in Psychology, I would also have a minor in that but that’s how it goes.
After graduating, I took a much-deserved break from everything before searching for the next thing. I considered going back to school to either do a master’s degree in engineering or a Ph.D program in medical physics. I came to the conclusion that 8 years of college was more than enough and began searching for a job. I ended up at Nissan as an Electronics Design Engineer. During this time, I met that handsome German guy you see in many of my photos. His name is Christian and he is absolutely perfect. We’ve been together since January 1st, 2013. Anyways, I worked at Nissan for about a year and a half before I was transferred to Ford to be a Core Audio Engineer. I left that job in September 2014 and have yet to find the next perfect position.
About me…I like to travel. My favourite destination, so far, has been Tahiti in French Polynesia. I like photography, however, I’m not that good yet. I’ve owned my Nikon D5200 for about a year and still don’t really know how to use it. I’m obsessed with my cats, Misha (Bangle) and Demon (30+ pound Tabby). I love French food and hopefully I can master cooking it someday. I really enjoy wine; more specifically dry white or sparkling wines. I love cheese even though I shouldn’t eat it. I think it would be pretty cool to open a restaurant one day but not with me as the cook. It’s probably obvious from my schooling that I like cars, particularly German engineered cars. My dream is to own a Porsche someday, hopefully before I turn 35. I love every minute spent with Christian. We like to do a lot of outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and swimming. He makes me stay active, it doesn’t matter even if I don’t feel like it. In addition, I’ve always been interested in languages. I’m currently learning French while still trying to perfect my German, since we are planning to move to Germany in April 2015. If you are interested in knowing anything else, feel free to contact me.
Life with Aniela
The inspiration for Life with Aniela came after reading an article in the Lifetime magazine about the Food Babe. I could really relate to everything mentioned in the article and it made me realise that there are a lot of people out there who are going through the same thing I am. For the longest time, I would keep gaining weight and I was experiencing a lot of inflammation in my body. I tried everything to lose the weight, eventually I gave up. I’ve also tried numerous medications for my health issues, some with very unusual side effects. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the root cause to everything. It was the food I was eating. Even though most of it was healthy, I was sensitive to many things, thus the reason I have returned back to the Paleo Diet (with modifications). I was on it once before but at the time I didn’t have a good reason to believe that such a restrictive diet was necessary. Now I have my reasons.
After reading that article by the Food Babe, it really had me thinking about designing my own webpage. That article appeared in the October 2014 Experience Life magazine. I did a lot of thinking about whether or not to pursue a webpage. After winning the 90 Day Challenge and having so much success, I decided that I really wanted to pursue the idea. I didn’t just want to focus on what’s in the food though. I wanted it to be much more. I wanted to share how I’ve learned to cook and exercise differently. With us leaving to move to Germany, I also wanted to have a way to share with my friends and family our experiences. So after months of running through ideas and defining what I wanted, Life with Aniela was born and is a combination of food, fitness, health, weight-loss and life.
Since September 2014, I have learned how to manage my conditions better, get healthier and lose about 40 pounds (the right way) in the process. I want to share this with other people, who may be struggling with similar situations. I’ve learned to have fun in the kitchen by trying to find different ways to make meals based off of what I can and can’t eat. There are a lot of things that I make, which are complete experiments or inspired by something I’ve seen somewhere. I would say most of the meals I will provide will be Mediterranean or French inspired. I like garlic a lot so many recipes will probably have it. I plan to share the workout tips that I’ve learned and that have changed the way I workout forever. For added entertainment, I plan to share some of my traveling stories and my experiences with living in Germany.
What can you expect? I plan to post a new recipe every Monday and Friday. Friday’s recipe will be a French inspired recipe though. On Wednesday, I anticipate to post something related to health or fitness. This will be anything ranging from discussing vitamins or protein shakes to tips on how to workout more effectively or discussing what to watch out for in food. Once in a while though, I’ll probably throw in an extra post about something random in my life or something that caught my attention. All posts will additionally be posted under their appropriate categories in the menu bar above.
Weight loss and Health Journey
For most of my life I was very skinny, which was probably because I was a gymnast. I was lucky. After quitting the sport, I ate and drank whatever I felt like. I spent nearly everyday of my first two years of college eating lunch at places like McDonalds, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. I hardly exercised, yet I didn’t gain weight. This luck naturally didn’t last forever though. I started my fifth year of college, in 2007, weighing around 100 pounds. When I graduated, in 2011, I was up to almost 135. I decided to start working out as the weight was packing on. I thought I knew what to do and how to do it. After all, I had been taught this as a gymnast. I managed to lose some weight but hit a plateau. I kept increasing my training but nothing. I typically did an hour on the elliptical and a 5k, 5 or 6 times a week on top of strength training. It didn’t take long to get frustrated and burn out, which led to gaining everything back.
Near the end of 2011, I began having health issues. I was diagnosed with dermographism. I also experienced random pains, headaches and lymph node swelling but no one could find a root cause for most of these issues. Finally one of my doctors ran a blood test that revealed I had a very high IgE value, which causes a lot of inflammation in my body. My doctor experimented with various antihistamines but they all caused me to gain more weight. I even tried taking myself off of them…bad idea! It was recommended that I try a paleo diet. I saw some results but after a month it felt too restricting to be a long-term solution.
In 2013, my weight began to edge closer to 150 pounds so I joined Lifetime and decided to try the 90 Day Challenge. My boyfriend and I had planned to spend the holidays in Tahiti so I thought that would be excellent motivation for the challenge. I began at 148.5 pounds and I got down to 141.8 when I hit a plateau and eventually went backwards again. I never made it to the final weigh out because I got frustrated and quit. I actually went to Tahiti weighing about 152 pounds.
I had stopped weighing myself for almost a year so I had no idea how much I gained. After seeing the picture of myself on my Ford badge, I realised I had to do something, I was at 165.1 pounds. So I decided to do the 90 Day Challenge again but this time for myself. The day I registered, I decided to get a personal trainer. I learned about the food sensitivity test and out of curiosity I signed up for it. It explained why the Paleo Diet caused some weight loss and why I struggled to lose weight the other times. I was highly sensitive to 35 of the 96 items on the list. I returned back to the Paleo Diet and eliminated all of these foods. I also decided to do the metabolic coaching because there were so many days where I did hours of cardio but never saw the results.
By knowing the foods that I’m sensitive to and the proper way to workout, I was able to drop about 40 pounds in 4 months. I was also successful at wining the 90 Day Challenge at my club. As for my skin, I have noticed that it isn’t as sensitive as before. Unless I eat something I shouldn’t, it hardly breaks out in a rash. The headaches are gone. One other plus, I am now also capable of running a 5k in under 30 minutes. I feel way more healthier and confident than I’ve felt in a long time. My success motivates me help others who have also struggled for a long time and teach them how to achieve these goals. It wasn’t always easy for me but with the right knowledge, anyone can do it!
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet is also known as the Stone Age Diet, the Caveman Diet, the Hunter-Gatherer Diet and the Paleolithic Diet. Even though it has been labeled as a fad diet, I personally think this is an excellent diet to use as a base (explained here). I was originally introduced to this diet back in early 2013. My rheumatologist suggested that a lot of my inflammation was probably due to the food I was eating. Given my skin sensitivities, I would have a very hard time doing a typical allergy test so he suggested using this diet as a way to remove all of the toxins from food. I thought this was a great idea; after all, my doctor was also on it.
Where did the idea of this diet originate?
The term “Paleo Diet” was originally coined by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegin, in his 1975 book, “The Stone Age Diet”. He believed that humans would achieve perfect health if they ate like our ancestors ate prior to the industrial and agricultural revolution. His writings didn’t initially produce a huge amount of reception but, as time went on, this diet began to generate popularity. Eventually, there were people like Dr. Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf who helped this diet gain its current popularity. Today, you can search the web and find thousands of pages dedicated to this diet.
Basis of the diet
The supporters for this diet believe that by following a diet that mimics our ancestors that we can lose weight, improve our health and minimise our risks of diseases. The diet focuses on eating more protein, reducing carbohydrates and increasing the intake of important nutrients. You can eat almost all forms of meat and fish but you should opt for all natural, grass-fed or wild caught versions. Almost all fruits and vegetables are paleo. Wait for it…there is a huge but coming. The diet recommends eliminating nightshade vegetables and those with a high starch content. So this would eliminate things like bell peppers, eggplant, paprika, pepinos, potatoes, hot peppers, goji berries, pimentos and tomatoes. If you do some searching around the Internet you may notice that there are many paleo websites, which give recipes with these ingredients in them. Many of these are actually known to cause inflammation and additional issues for some. It’s a borderline topic but if you truly follow the paleo diet, these guys are out. The diet also eliminates legumes. These include all beans, peas, peanuts, mesquite, soybeans, lentils and tofu. Most sweeteners are also not paleo. The biggest items removed in this diet are grains, anything processed and dairy. Alcohol is also not paleo, however, there has been some dispute over wine. For a full list, I highly recommend the Ultimate Paleo Guide.