Bestselling cookbook author, Paleo food blogger, and former roller derby star, Melissa Joulwan is a pioneer within the Paleo community. As one of the first Paleo bloggers, Melissa has spent the past seven years sharing her innovative, yet accessible Paleo recipes, along with her triumphs and tribulations in the gym, the kitchen, and in life through her blog, Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed. Bringing a range of multi-cultural flavors to the traditional Paleo diet, Melissa’s delicious recipes have spurred two bestselling cookbooks: Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love To Eat (2011) and its follow up, Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat (2013). Melissa’s third cookbook, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less, debuts on November 1st, 2016.
ROLLER DERBY ROCK STAR
Growing up in a rural Pennsylvania town, Melissa was a chubby child who spent her days reading, playing the piano, roller skating, and helping out in the kitchen of her parents’ restaurants. Although she shied away from sports, Melissa secretly admired the athletic kids. Her overwhelming desire to be thin and confident led to years of yo-yo dieting, fitness regimens, and viewing food as “the enemy.” In 2001, a desire for a change of scenery brought Melissa to Austin, Texas where she discovered her passion for roller derby. Under the skate name “Melicious,” Melissa and a group of like-minded women formed the Texas Rollergirls, the world’s first Flat Track Roller Derby league. As a roller derby trailblazer, Melissa helped to redefine what it meant to be stylish, sporty, and sexy. During this time, Melissa appeared on multiple national television shows, including ABC’s Good Morning America, where she taught Diane Sawyer how to be a rollergirl. She also added ‘author’ to her resume, penning Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track (2007), the first book written about the modern roller derby resurgence.
THE JOURNEY TO PALEO
After tearing her rotator cuff during a roller derby practice in 2007, Melissa hung up her skates and sought a new adrenaline-filled activity. She signed up for an outdoor CrossFit bootcamp, where she came in last in every challenge. Melissa pushed herself harder and learned to embrace challenging workouts. Eight months later, she was finishing every bootcamp workout first and was ready to advance to indoor CrossFit classes. Despite her success and commitment to daily workouts, Melissa felt a lack of strength, both emotionally and physically. Insomnia, allergies, and stomach aches prompted Melissa to consult a doctor who discovered a nodule on her thyroid. Facing a high risk of cancer, Melissa underwent a thyroidectomy which left her sluggish, foggy-headed, and anxious about re-gaining the weight she fought so hard to lose. In her quest to remain healthy, Melissa discovered the Whole30 and the Paleo diet.
Once Melissa committed to Paleo she made a point of getting eight hours of sleep every night and worked with a doctor to find the correct doses for her thyroid hormones. Though she was nutritionally fit, the overwhelming physical stress of her daily workouts and beat-the-clock CrossFit training exhausted her. She was then diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. For Melissa, the detection sparked an interest in how diet affects hormones, body composition, mood, and motivation. Self-experimentation to achieve optimal health resulted in a new routine, which includes daily meditation, gentle yoga classes, walking, strength training, occasional sprints, and short, high-intensity workouts. Melissa also rediscovered her innate talent and affinity for cooking. Using simple, fresh ingredients combined with a range of multi-cultural flavors, Melissa began crafting recipes that transformed everyday dishes into a new, fresh, and exciting experience. Although Melissa occasionally indulges in a glass of wine or other non-Paleo treat, her commitment to and appreciation for the Paleo diet has never wavered, teaching her how to eliminate cravings and curb emotional eating. The solid foundation provided by following the Whole30 guidelines also made it possible for Melissa to measure other health and quality-of-life markers.
WELL FED MOTIVATOR
Melissa created her blog, Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed, as a way to share her adventures in the kitchen, the gym, and in life with others, and in turn developed a loyal following. Each day thousands of individuals flock to Melissa’s site in search of her tongue-in-cheek humor, uplifting antidotes, and unconventional, yet delicious Paleo recipes. The staggering support and positive feedback that Melissa received from her blog led to the self-publishing of her first cookbook, the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love To Eat (2011). Melissa’s follow up cookbook, Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat (2013), was a Washington Post bestseller and named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon.