Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Sep

A Primal Woman Looks at 50+

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Some things take a half a century to get right. . .

Background info:

We’ll start with 1976: 16 years old and a very happy childhood. Mom stayed at home and cooked everything from scratch but is Italian and pasta found its way to our table at least 3 days a week. I was definitely born a Type A – anxious, shy and fretful in my childhood and teens. College through the mid thirties was out of control—spent partying, always looking to alleviate some type of an edge. Nutrition was mainly home cooked and minimally processed foods but not Primal.

In my mid thirties I began making healthy lifestyle changes. Fitness and competitive obstacle course competitions replaced the wild lifestyle. Nutrition transpired to low fat, moderate protein and moderate carb (bodybuilding type diet). I felt better, more in control, body composition changed radically and confidence developed. The edge was still there but not as bad. Exercise had become a lifestyle; in my early 40’s in a quest for continued health & fitness it led to an even more functional training style. Nutrition on the other hand took a nosedive with a 3 ½ year vegan/vegetarian stint. Health slowly but steadily declined and anxiousness increased along with aggressiveness and anger to an all time high despite high level of fitness training.

At 44 after much reading and researching I decided to pull a 180; I had read Metabolic Typing and every “test” I took indicated I was a “protein type” that I did better on lots of meat/fat and very little carbs. I doubted it but desperate to feel better I decided to give it an 8 week try. Within 1 week of taking out excessive carbs (both whole grain and refined) and replacing with red meat and butter I felt like a completely different person. Within 1 month most of the edge was gone, for the very first time in my life. 3 months later I discovered CrossFit, after 2 weeks w/this combination there was no more edge. I was not anxious, I was not angry, no matter what life chose to put in my path, over, under around or through I would go. I could speak in public now, I could compete under pressure. Those things did not bother me anymore. Bring it on world.

I continued on this path, I experimented and gradually made more changes adopting my own personal interpretations as I discovered Paleo and WAPF principles. I found Robb Wolf then I found Mark’s Daily Apple. I spent months pouring over back posts and articles. About 9 months later I took out grains completely. Like anything else I had ever done is my life it was 110% effort, moderation and mediocrity were not in my nature. I embraced this new way of life and eating wholeheartedly; I bought primarily local, organic, seasonal produce, procured my meats from pastured farms, located a raw dairy source and rendered my own lard and tallow. If fat is good for you, more is better and no need to count calories. I love to cook and I love to eat. Life was good. I was happy, completely.

Well, at 51 years of age and post menopausal I woke up one morning this past spring and decided to try on my bathing suit. I don’t know why I just did. Most likely because it had been cold, spring was around the corner and I had been hiding out in my sweats enjoying mass quantities of comfort foods – I didn’t gain much weight – the scale could not be right. If I had gained it had to be muscle. Well, I put on that swimsuit, grabbed a mirror and checked my rear. I almost threw up. Dear God; the junk in the trunk was appalling. That could not possibly be my body looking back at me, what the hell had happened?

I am a CSCS and owner of a CrossFit facility that eats “right” and exercises year round. I am passionate in my efforts as well as my nature. I practically get on a pulpit and shout it from afar. I workout an average of 3-4 days a week consisting of 2 to 3 high intensity weight lifting and 1 day of some type of sprinting with mobility work interspersed throughout the week. How in the world could I have gained 12 pounds? And 10 ½ of it was in my rear – that’s pure genetics there. Could it be my age, I am 51? Could it be because I am post menopausal?

In my “youth” I often laughed and rolled my eyes at my older female friends who complained of life disrupting hot flashes and “inevitable” weight gain around the middle once they hit menopause. It seemed to be the scapegoat for whatever ailed them. My answer was always the same – “stay away from the donuts and do some wind sprints – it’s what you eat and whether or not you move your arse. You can look nearly as fit at 50 as you can at 30”. They did not appreciate it and most of them responded with “wait till you’re my age – you’ll see”. Well, life rolls along and here I am 51 and post menopausal. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my entire life at 126 lbs, 19% body fat and I had a roll around the middle. How could that happen; I follow all the rules laid out in the Primal Blueprint. Could I possibly have been wrong? Does the body change? Well of course it changes as we age but was it really out of my control?

First off I don’t even like the sound of the word “menopause”. It seems to be looked upon as a disease of some sort. For many I will admit there is definitely some dis-ease. But what exactly is the cause of that dis-ease and is it preventable through proper nutrition and exercise? I don’t believe it is something that necessitates a “pill” or a “replacement” for. It is a natural transition in a woman’s life, not something to be afraid of or looked upon as the end of life as once known. I have firmly believed if one eats right and exercises throughout their life – while there are definitely changes related to aging – one can do so gracefully, embracing this chapter of  life and avoiding the inevitable weight gain and other common issues. A few years prior I did experience a few “warm moments” in the spring and fall but nothing that disrupted my life or lasted very long. Until this spring and the roll in the middle I have felt basically the same as I have for much of my adult life. I decided to test my hypothesis: was this weight gain inevitable or reversible through lifestyle modification? I said reversible.

I love to read; after perusing MDA and loving all the articles I figured Mark definitely seemed to be on the top of things. I am very opinionated but I couldn’t find one thing I didn’t agree with. So, I ordered the Primal Blueprint. No coach knows it all. Those that aren’t willing to learn will stop improving.

I established a goal: 115 lbs and approximately 12% body fat. I chose a start and end date: 3/15-6/1. I kept a detailed food log for 3 weeks in; changing not a thing for an honest assessment of what I had been consuming. If I did not know what I was consuming and in what amounts I would not know what I needed to change. Here’s what I found. . .

The macronutrient ratios were near ideal. The foods were all from quality sources and home cooked. But my average daily caloric intake was 2400-3200 calories a day and my “indulgences” were averaging 2-3x a week coming from homemade ice cream, 70% organic cacao bars and grits; my largest meal eaten late at night. So maybe that’s why all that junk was in my trunk?

I knew what to change and now had a plan. I adjusted Mark’s advice for Kelly Korg based on my stats/circumstances and cut the calories and fat. Calories ranged from about 1700 to 2000 a day with an occasional high or low day. Never a chronic cardio girl and always a sprinter I was already exercising Primally. I just changed my portions, took out the “indulgences” and the fat began melting off my arse.

I lost about 1 ½ lbs per week the first 3 weeks, then about 1 lb per week thereafter. After about 3 weeks on 50 g a day of carbs I added back in sweet/white potatoes every 3rd or 4th day, cycling both calories/carbs. It seemed to help with energy in my heavy weight days and sprinting. Last 2 weeks, I did drop the calories to about 1300-1700 to get the final body fat off; ending up at 112 lbs and 12.1%.

That was fine for about 10 days but it’s not to be maintained; I like to eat too much. I settled in at 115 lbs and 14-15% bf. I eat moderate portions all week and enjoy a splurge meal on the weekend. Splurge meal is usually a nice piece of fatty meat, a potato of some sort, maybe grits (yes I know that’s corn and corn is a grain but this is the south and I am not perfect) and some homemade ice cream from raw cream, maple syrup and egg yolks. Seasonal adaptations are more fruit in the summer, less in the winter and more fatty meats in the winter, less in the summer. Life is still good and I am even happier now that I fit into my size 3 short shorts.

So thank you Mark, for the knowledge, for your blog – for the time and efforts you put into the research and writing. I linked my site to yours, I send my friends and clients here and your book is a must read for all new clients embarking on the Primal Lifestyle. Best to you and yours in health & fitness!


Visit CrossFit Jaguar and their Facebook page.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great Job Paula. You are surely an inspiration for all the folks at CrossFit Jaguar and beyond.

    Tim Huntley wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Well put Tim! Paula, you’re a true inspiration. Keep it up!

      Bob Ewing wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Wonder Woman! For real!

      correcty fairy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  2. Wow, 50+? Way to go! My respect for your hard work and commitment is enormous. Congratulations!

    Alison Golden wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I know! How incredible for over 50!!!

      Crunchy Pickle wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • For over 50!? Heck she looks incredible for a person in their 20s!

        Ben wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • Incredible at any age. Way to go.

        Jack wrote on September 25th, 2011
  3. Congratulations on your success!

    Tyler wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  4. Paula, very impressive!
    I also am in menopause and weight loss has stalled so I like the idea of taking an honest assessment for several weeks. I am 100% Primal so I have often wondered if it is my age (52) that is making this so difficult, but I’ll do the assessment and see what surfaces.

    I’m in nursing school and time to exercise is at a minimum so I’m wondering just how many hours a week you work out?

    Melissa wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • You’re in nursing school at 52?? Good for you. I just went back to school to work on my teaching licensure and was feeling a little silly (in two years when I finish, I’ll be 47)
      I get up at 4 to get my run in before my kiddos go to school… then it’s to the books for me.

      Milemom wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • I am 46 and finishing up school for a new start in life. We are never too old!! :-)
        Thank you sooo much Paula for sharing your story! I need to do this, as well. I think I need to adjust my caloric intake a tad…otherwise, I am like you–I eat primaly and weight-lift. I try to do aerobic walking a few times a week. I’m pretty sure the calories are what is doing my in. At our ages, we probably just don’t need as many calories as we used to. I am so glad to see that one can look as great as you in their 50s. You rock, Paula!!

        Sue wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Lol! The longer i hang out at MDA, the more people I find that have stuff in common…I am also in graduate school, and started when I was 42. I only go part-time,so its a long way to graduation!

          Hopeless Dreamer wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • I love all these replies. I am 46 and currently battling Lyme’s disease and co-infections. Haven’t been able to work out much and lost my 6-pack abs. Not only am I looking forward to restored health and exercising, but I too plan on going back to school. NP, PA, or something like it.

          This post is SO inspiring and gives me hope that I can achieve my goals

          Kristina wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • Frankly, I’m not surprised so many are going back to school. This lifestyle is completely life-changing. When you realize you won’t be spending the rest of your life with increasing aches and pains it’s like being re-born!

        Tracy wrote on September 24th, 2011
        • I am 51 and will finally graduate with my Master’s in Nursing as an FNP in – count ’em – 7 months and 10 days. Encouraging to read this story AND the replies.

          Nanna wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • I’m 46 and in law school, so Grok on, ladies!!

        I’ll be 47 when I take the Bar, and may be 48 when I get sworn in as a new attorney. Good grief!! I’m not sure I would have done this if I was better at math! 😀

        Julie wrote on September 24th, 2011
        • It will be great; I went to law school at 43, so I was also 47 when I actually passed the bar and got sworn in. Now, these few years later, it is great! As they say, you’ll be 48 ANYway, whether or not you go to law school, and this way, you’ll have an entire new profession for the rest of your long life.

          ruth wrote on October 9th, 2011
      • I found that being older made learning, or at least making the grades, a whole lot easier. When I returned to the U in my late 40’s I joined a group on campus called “Students Older Than Average”. There were a few white haired folks in that group. Anyway, I found that older folks have life experience to relate the classroom lessons to. They called us ‘curve buster’ in some of our classes, and all we did was show up and listen. We didn’t even have to study in some classes because it all related to things we’d seen or done.

        So, anyone who’s been holding back on being a student again, go for it. It’s easier now!!! You’ll see.

        WJ Purifoy wrote on September 26th, 2011
        • I totally agree. While I’ve been a physical therapist for 26 years, it wasn’t until 2006, when I discovered a mentor (though she doesn’t know it), that it changed from a job to a profession. I then went back to school and, in 2010, earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy (I was 57). I found that “making the grade” was beside the point, and hence easy. I’m sure it would be even easier now that I’m mostly primal (that 20% sometimes grows). Life is good!

          Chris Johnson wrote on January 13th, 2012
    • 3-5 times a week for 20-50 mins. Max effort strength days are closer to the 50 min mark.

      Paula wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  5. Thanks for proving calorie restriction works.

    Kelly wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • That’s what I was thinking…calories matter.

      Kim wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Yep, but it works best when you get your hormonal ducks in a row via Primal eating, exercise, sleep and play!

      Uncephalized wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  6. Holy muscle definition, Batman!!
    Well, being of the exact same age, this gives ME some ideas on how to get those last bit of jelly to roll off.
    Thanks for sharing, Paula and WOW!!!

    peggy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  7. Somewhere Mark said that calories do count, not to obsess about it,just be honest about what you are treating yourself to…one of many good things about the 30-day challenge is REALLY assessing yourself. Paula, you look MAH-velous,and I hope I can look so good. Only a few years to go until I’m 50!

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  8. I think most women in their 50s, certainly myself, would be satisfied to have a body like your before pictures, but your after pictures are incredibly inspiring and should be on the cover of Shape Magazine or something!

    How tall are you? It would be good to know what height looks that good (not too skinny) at that weight.

    Chowstalker wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Thank you! I am 5’3″

      Paula wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • That result is fantastic. I’m 52, and like you I am paleo and CrossFit 4 – 5 times a week. My size now is a little bigger than what I would like, although still a good deal less than my highest body fat, and easy to maintain – but I’d love to get your really lean look! Well I’m inspired. Tighten up on food, and I could look really lean by summer (i.e. New Zealand summer – Christmas time)

        julianne paleozone nutrition wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Wow, that’s horrible. I never thought about it, but you guys have to deal with Christmas cookies and bathing suits at the same time.

          Sarah wrote on September 25th, 2011
  9. Paula, you did an excellent job. Congrats on the transformation!

    Justin Wright wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  10. Fabulous, Paula! Post-menopausal women can get ripped! I’m going to be smiling all day!

    rose wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  11. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not sure I agree with her “wanted to throw up” assessment of her middle photos.

    I can understand being dissatisfied with the way one looks but I know MANY women who would LOVE to look like those “junk in the trunk” photos.

    I applaud Paula for her accomplishments and admire her greatly for them. She inspires me on many levels to strive for improvement.

    But it occurs to me that some women won’t take that away from this. I certainly wouldn’t have just a few months ago. Some will look at those middle photos, read Paula’s self-assessment and judge themselves in a way that benefits nobody.

    I’ve decided to actively put aside the self-hate since that’s not what PB is about. Just my 2 cents …

    Charon wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I agree. I though the middle set of photos were the “after” set, and I thought she looked great! I sometimes feel like this site promotes a very limited definition of ideal and what healthy looks like. For a woman to have under 20% body fat in her fifties…that in itself is enormously unusual. So many women struggle with body image and the saturation of our media with images like this…seems counterproductive. I like it when MDA focuses on how people feel and health benefits versus dramatic (and for many, unrealistic) weight loss pictures.

      hollyherbie wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • As far as health benefits go. . . I forgot to mention I reversed autoimmune disease after 1 year grain free.

        Paula wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Bingo! Really…this is the most important information to take from this. Looking great means very little if you’re battling health problems. May I ask which autoimmune disease have you been fighting?

          Elisabeth wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • What type of auto-immune disease do you have? Did you cut out any foods like eggs or dairy or nightshades? Or did you just do standard paleo?
          (I’m asking because I have auto-immune issues, joints and thyroid)

          julianne paleozone nutrition wrote on September 25th, 2011
        • Hi Paula,

          Again thanks so much for sharing this. Also I find your experience about getting anxious when on a grain-type diet interesting; I was a vegetarian from age 12-~23, and only lately (now at 38) have kicked off (most) grains…when I was a teenager I was absolutely terrified of public speaking to the point that I would be nervous for months before a planned talk. Perhaps by changing my diet (and joining Toastmasters, too!) I now love public speaking and am less anxious in general than when I was a teenager. Interesting stuff…

          Lisa wrote on September 26th, 2011
        • Paula, you look great! Kudos to you for all your hard work and your fantastic results. That’s great about the reversal of your autoimmune condition. May I ask what disease you reversed?

          NicholeK wrote on September 27th, 2011
    • Hi Charon, maybe I should have phrased that differently; there’s no self hate there at all. I’ve always been rather “well endowed” in the rear and am sensitive to how that area looks. First place my weight goes and I like it better smaller and tighter.

      Paula wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • Hi Paula! Thanks for clarifying. I’m one of those who carries weight there too so I can relate! High school was pure hell. No bustline but plenty of “junk in the trunk” as it were.

        Fortunately I’ve come to like my body a great deal and PB has also helped me reverse a TON of gastric issues which had me hospitalized multiple times through my teens and twenties.

        I look very much like your middle photos at present so I’ll completely own my oversensitivity on this one. :)

        Thanks again for your inspiring story. You make me look forward to the big 50!

        Charon wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Agreed with every point in your post 100%.

      Deannacat wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • It’s all relative, people.

      Obviously, and obese person will look at the second set of photos and think how nice it would be to look that way.

      A person who has maintained healthy weight and fitness has a whole different perspective.

      Paula is allowed to dislike her “heavy” pictures, just like a severely obese person can dislike theirs.

      Striving to reaching our personal goals is what this is all about.

      And yes, let’s be honest…lean and toned is what most people generally find attractive, and wish for ourselves.

      Peter wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • It is good to be vigilant. I was considered underweight (125 at 5’8″) up until I got pregnant. That was the beginning of having to battle excess weight. It is insidious, accepting 10 extra pounds leads to “well a little more will be OK” etc. Good for you Paula, you are an inspiration.

        bbuddha wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • So folks like Paula shouldn’t submit their success stories and photos because someone with less self esteem might feel bad?

      HillsideGina wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • That’s not what was said at all. Just that the body in the middle pictures was not the disgusting pile of fat she thought she was. Being unhappy with your body is one thing, but saying that 19% body fat and a perfectly normal body weight is too fat… it’s just a little frustrating for those of us who have struggled for years to overcome obesity. Even on the Primal path, my body wants to hang on to all the fat it can.

        halek wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • It is all about perspective. Paula was obviously used to be leaner so having that extra weight was new to her.
      I have been around 125 pounds since high school (I’m 5’4″). I was around 135 pounds and a size 8 when I saw a picture of myself from behind and “wanted to throw up” because I knew that I was well beyond a healthy weight. It had nothing to do with self hate. It is more about disapointment in myself because I knew that I had not been taking care of yourself.
      I for one think that level of honesty with ones self and holding yourself to a higher standard is important in all aspects of life. Perhaps it is the perfectionist in me but I am inspired by people that continue to strive to be the best person they can be. I don’t ever want to stop trying to be better, that doesn’t mean I don’t take pride in my current accomplishments.
      Thank you for the story Paula! You are an inspiration and reminder of the potential of the human body!

      FoCo Girl wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • “But it occurs to me that some women won’t take that away from this. I certainly wouldn’t have just a few months ago. Some will look at those middle photos, read Paula’s self-assessment and judge themselves in a way that benefits nobody.”

      Yeah… my highest weight is literally twice hers…240 pounds. Her highest weight is below what my ideal weight is. I completely understand that everyone has body issues and that 19% may seem like a lot to someone who has always been small… but I’m sitting here with my 40% body fat at 210 pounds wishing I had the body she had when she was “fat”. I never have been so small, even as a child.

      halek wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I’m taking this as inspiration for making positive changes. I’m happy with her “before” as a goal (well, close, I have a different body type but am aiming for something equivalent for mine) and most of us “get” that this is her profession as well as her lifestyle, so her goals are more stringent and a little different than those for most of us. In my younger days I trained alongside bodybuilding ladies and knew the goals for our end results were different but similar enough that I could be inspired by their hard work and dedication. It’s nice to see what the “ultimate” can be for a body even if most of us won’t go to that extreme, actually encourages me that I can get to my own goals.

      Jellerose wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I agree too. I saw the middle photos and was like – wow she looks great and thought that was her after! But I’ve never been one to love seeing lots of muscle so I’m having a hard time getting on board the low body fat percentage. I just don’t care to go that low. In fact I just think women look better with a little softness to them. At least that is what my husband says, lol.

      Gretchen wrote on January 21st, 2015
  12. Paula, even though you had some extra fat in your before pictures, it was’t “middle age lady fat”…know what I mean? That back view looks like you could be in your 20s right after you gained the Freshman 15.
    Good job trimming off the excess. I’m starting to see 50 on down the pike and I’ll keep you in mind for inspiration.

    Milemom wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  13. LOL I’m 23 and I want to look like your “what the hell happened” pics

    Amby wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • LOL, me too!

      Issabeau wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  14. Congratulations on your hard work; your discipline is inspirational.

    I really like the “fatty loses 200 pounds” stories, but it’s also great to see the stories of relatively healthy people who’ve experimented with the Primal Blueprint and tailored it to their own specific needs.

    Felix wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I completely agree. I often wonder if my own struggles with weight-loss via going Primal/Paleo are because I am in the category of wanting to lose 10lbs for aesthetics. I have family members who have gone only mostly Primal and trimmed down with ease. But for some people, as Mark has said before, some more tinkering is required.

      I am sooo glad to hear that calories do in fact count, and that even an already Primal chick can get to her ideal body composition by being honest about what (and how much) she eats, and adjusting accordingly.

      Thanks so much for your post, Paula. Inspiring!

      Eryn wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  15. Hi Paula! You look GREAT. That is awesome isn’t it. I am trying to lose weight and I was not tracking anything except in my head and I was not losing ANY weight hardly. Then I rediscovered fitday through this site, i entered what I was eating and wow I was blown away by the number of calories and carbs I was ACTUALLY eating. No WONDER I was stuck!:)
    But now using fitday to lower those cals/carbs I have lost almost 9 lbs since Sept 1.
    Again congrats on your success and your before pic even looks good.

    Gayle wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  16. Incredible! Paula, you look ten times stronger, healthier, and more beautiful than your teenage picture. What an inspiration.

    The more I read success stories like these, the more I look forward to reaching my 50s!

    Timothy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  17. You definitely look astounding for 50+. Great job!

    cTo wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  18. WOW! what an inspiration you are… i am 49 and hope to be you when i grow up! but you didn’t get there by hope… you worked and made the right choices… good for you.. you are amazing!

    Jojo wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  19. I’m 57 and a lot of this rings true for me, although I look more like the middle pictures than the end pictures! I agree that Paula actually looks fine in the middle pictures. I am 5’3″ and I weighed about 137 when I started PM a year and a half ago. Now I’m down to 130 and still slowly losing weight.

    I hit a couple of plateaus on my way down. I got over one plateau by getting some Low Blue Light glasses and using them in the evening, and going to bed earlier. That’s how I went from 133 to 130 in about a month, with no other changes!

    I also like to indulge in corn sometimes. I grow field corn in my garden, and I have a lot of it. I grind it for cornbread and hoecakes. But I think I might be allergic to it: it exacerbates my rosacea.

    ONe problem that I’ve had for years has disappeared since I began to pay attention to glycemic load: my stress incontinence which started after the birth of my son. I did kegels a lot, but to no avail. When I stopped eating high glycemic foods, though, it went away. The other day I ate a lot of native persimmons and it came back for a little while. Wild they might be, but they are high glycemic foods.

    shannon wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  20. What I see among my friends is that they lament their 50+ year old bodies (men and women). They ask what I do, but none of them really try hard, at least based on what I see. They just moan and resign themselves to it and continue the Dr. Pepper and donuts. They see it as inevitable and tell me how they “just can’t give up…(insert favorite garbage food here)
    They all complain together. Misery loves company I guess.

    DB wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  21. I’m afraid I find the “after” pics are a bit over the top. Paula is happy with her shape and that’s great for her, but I personally wouldn’t want that body at any age. Looking toned and healthy is great, but that’s just not natural nor attractive.She looked better before.
    Sorry Paula.

    Margaret Chambers wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • What! As a guy I can say She DOES look attractive. And fit. And healthy. And confident.
      I don’t like the women muscle bound look like the female body builders, that is gross, but she’s not approaching that.
      Are there ANY guys here who think she isn’t “attractive”?

      DB wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • There are so many versions of attractive, and as a guy, I can say that she is attractive, differently in before and after pics (even though attractiveness is not the point of this post, imo). Also, how she “looks” to one person or another is highly subjective and one should not use their “feelings” to judge the effort she has put in to attain what she desired, which is the whole point of this post

      Sagar wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • she is attractive because you can clearly see that she FEELS attractive and radiates joy and confidence.

      that’s all that matters.

      bee wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • Hear hear!

        Charon wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • mate; you said it……i agree…she thouroughly radiates an energy that touches us all through her photos….

        energy does that….its able to transcend time and space…she is doing that…

        joy and confidence…but mostly JOY….


        zephaniah wrote on September 30th, 2011
    • It’s amazing to me that people feel the need to post such opinions in response to someone’s personal story and sharing of personal photos. Loser.

      Hillside Gina wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • And it’s amazing to me that on a site that promotes unpopular truths, somebody would be taken to task simply for stating her opinion.

        Personally, I’m with Margaret. I think she looks feminine in the before pictures. In the after pictures, she’s getting dangerously close to female bodybuilder territory, which I don’t find attractive. And I know I’m not the only one.

        On a more positive note, the fat loss between the before and after pictures is very impressive.

        HalibetLector wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • It’s not about how YOU want to look or what you find attractive. It’s not about NOT stating an opinion. People submit their success stories and sometimes they might look like a body builder and some folks don’t like that look on a personal level, but it’s not about them.

          What if others started posting “opinions” like, “Eew, you still look to fat to me!” Would that be an acceptable opinion?

          There is a distinct negativity here towards those who are into being buff that I don’t understand.

          At the least it’s just plain rude and insensitive to the person putting themselves out there with pictures and all.

          HillsideGina wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Hold on, isn’t she a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist in addition to owning a CrossFit gym?!?

          Of course she’s ripped, more so when she is careful with calories.

          Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, she looked beautiful in both the before and after, but one’s own standards for how they want their body to look are just that. Their own! If my lifestyle revolved around fitness, I would want my body to reflect that. In her after pics, Paula looks like a perfect model for a fitness magazine, and there is nothing wrong with that!

          Paula, you look inspiringly attractive. Thank you again for sharing your story.

          Eryn wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Reading comprehension fail: those are Paula’s “cut” pictures–she actually maintains at least 3% higher bodyfat, which would give her skin a smoother, more feminine appearance. Still, the muscle def is impressive (and that’s the whole idea behind taking “cut” pics).

          correcty fairy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • i’m sure if that was a man, you would be okay with him looking like a bodybuilder. and attractive to boot.

          bee wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • Agreed!

        Tracy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • I was agreeing to what Gina wrote… not Hlibetlector. 😉

          Tracy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Double agree!!!

          Vanessa wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I agree. This is what my 15yo fit and athletic daughter said when she saw the photos “Ew, I would never want to look like that and that’s not what guys like either.”
      I applaud Paula’s hard work, determination and tenacity but seriously the first thought I had was of those anorexic runway models that everyone bemoans because of the unrealistic body image they set forth for young women.
      I am a big advocate for limiting and even eliminating grains, for WAPF traditional foods and preparation methods, for CrossFit training and for being STRONG and fit but… the “from all causes” death rate RISES in people with such minimal body fat and this is definitely an example of minimal body fat.

      Bebe wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • Do we really care about what guys like? Really? If a guy doesn’t like a toned, athletic body because it’s not “feminine” enough, that’s messed up.

        Primal Yogini wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • Guys do like toned, athletic bodies, why do you think so many are (how do I put this gently?) homosexuals?
          Especially the greek, no?

          “Not that there is anything wrong with that.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

          Arty wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • she looks nothing like an anorexic runway model. she looks strong and fit. she looks like someone who can deadlift three times her bodyweight.

        ridiculous analogy.

        bee wrote on September 24th, 2011
    • That’s a mean comment. Rude, rude, rude.

      Tasha wrote on September 23rd, 2011
      • I agree. Incredibly rude thing for Bebe to say, as well as all the other naysayers who have nothing positive to say. Recall this is the Friday Success story post. Every person who puts themself out there by sharing their story should be lauded. If Paula’s “before” shots were in fact someone else’s “after” I would be just as impressed. You do not like figure/bodybuilding types, go express your opinion elsewhere. Honestly. As a 48 year old man, I find Paula gorgeous. Well done!

        Christian wrote on September 23rd, 2011
        • i’m female and it’s disheartening to see how most of the negative comments here are by women. we seem to enjoy tearing other women down.

          bee wrote on September 24th, 2011
    • Only positive opinions are allowed, eh? What a joke.. I have to agree, I liked the before photos better.

      Brian Kozmo wrote on September 26th, 2011
  22. I think she already looked good in her before pictures. But the after….wow.

    She looks better at fifty than most of us (including me) at twenty. I bet this makes a lot of women less frightened of aging. I’m hopeful again :-) Thanks for sharing Paula!

    Anna wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  23. … and then there’s the “well that just doesn’t work for me…” excuse. They even make fun of me and say “are you sure you don’t want a donut”? I stay away from those toxic people now in favor of the bunch at Crossfit. Nice people those are!

    DB wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I’ve been called a “health nut”…and, not in a nice way, either. I just know I need to do what works for me. Thanks to Mark Sisson for having this website where we can all support each other in our personal “health nut” goals. :-)

      Sue wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  24. whoa!!! i want to be as sexy as you are when i’m 51 (i’m 40 now).

    great story.

    bee wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  25. I’m 51 too and prerty much where Paula is at with the junk-in-the-trunk pictures. Those of you who are heavier and trying to get to those “before” pictures – don’t feel bad or judge those of of us who want to be thinner and fitter. Everyone is different. I was always like the picture of Paula at the beach – a skinny minnie. Menopause hit me with a bunch of excess weight just like Paula in the tummy and butt. For us, this is the biggest we’ve ever been and we go from there.

    I am starting to do a more strenuous workout (for me) with kettlebells and I am seeing a difference. I also need to get on Fitday and count my calories. I think menopausal women should be in a special needs category, LOL. Our hormones are whacked and most of us do not work out that much I imagine. To get back to bikini heaven, if that is your goal, I now believe, after 8 months primal, that calorie restriction is necessary.

    Way to go Paula. Any gal who can look that good and be that healthy at our age is a SupahStah!

    (Chocolate and grits, LOL!)

    HillsideGina wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  26. Whoa. I’d never guess your age from seeing that last set. GREAT work.

    Self-control is da bomb.

    Vidad wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  27. Thanks for sharing Paula. Do you think the diminishing “edge” was all lifestyle change, or partly life experience?

    @Anna, it does make me a bit more optimistic about aging!

    Ella wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  28. Great Job, Paula! I’m still trying to get to your “before” pictures, lol. It is definately a journey, with lots of learning along the way.

    Catherine wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  29. Hah, I knew I recognized your face somewhere! I’ve watched you on YouTube; the first video I saw was your how-to-make lard tutorial. When you dropped the p-word (pastured), I knew there was a strong chance that you were primal. And then you came out from behind the counter so that your body was visible, and I was like “Yep, she’s primal”.

    Reiko wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Hi Reiko! Yep,that was me in the lard video. I love cooking with it and keep a nice supply in my freezer:)

      Paula wrote on September 24th, 2011
    • Wow, I just found the YouTube video. Paula you are beautiful!

      Lisa wrote on September 26th, 2011
  30. Alright! Alright! I hate keeping track of what I eat but Paula, you just may, I say may, have convinced me to track my diet on fitday.

    Thanks for the inspiration and you look fabulous.

    Sharon wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  31. Great work Paula…As I am 45 yrs young, I completely admire what you have done for yourself…Rock Out with your Grok Out!

    Dennis wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  32. Paula, you ROCK!!!

    Jackie Kessler wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  33. Hey! Good story for us menopausal women! I also was not losing weight, and then noticed, during one week of eating less calories by mistake, that was when it started melting off! I think we just don’t need so much anymore. Metabolism (mine anyway) is low. Eating light partic at dinner/eve was the big key for me. As well as yogurt – gave me the tummy pooch. I also started noticing how things made me feel after I ate them. Anything not right went on the bad list. YOU LOOK GREAT! I need to work out more that’s for sure! CONGRATS and thanks so much fr sharing.

    golden wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  34. Congrats Paula! You look great! (Just ignore those judgmental comments! :-) Yeah, your junk pics are where some of us would like to be, but everyone has their own journey and their own goals and that’s fine!) Thanks for keeping such close track of your intake and telling us about it. The specifics really help. I’m just wondering, though, did you feel hungry or have cravings during the very low carb or low calorie times? Did you eat to satiety, or did you eat until you reached your calorie limit? Did you find that all the exercise you do increased your appetite? Thanks for sharing!

    Kathy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Thanks! When I used to compete (back in the day) and dieted I was always hungry–it was miserable. On this “Challenge” I was never hungry, very satisfied and had no cravings, I would attribute this to the higher fat as compared to yesteryear. After about 3 weeks w/ 50 g’s I added a little sweet potato in and that righted the energy levels.

      Paula wrote on September 24th, 2011
  35. Wow you look amazing Paula. I suspect the majority of 50+ women would look at your before pictures with envy but I understand how your standards would be different working in the crossfit world and there’s no arguing the final results are outstanding.

    Great job and a good reminder that calories aren’t the most important factor but they are factor, specially when working to get sub 15% bodyfat.

    Darcy Guy wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  36. Holy Canoli! Wow! Amazing results!

    Nick wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  37. Paula, I’m 30 and I want to be like you when I’m 50! What an awesome job!

    Abby C. wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  38. Hi Paula, I loved hearing your story, thanks for posting it! I was wondering whether you had any children. It’s not an excuse, but my body shape changed after 4 kids. I’m 47 and it makes my heart sing to know that I don’t have to lose muscle and gain fat after menopause- thank you!!! I am in the best shape of my life right now, but have had a jelly roll since I was 20. I just assumed that I’d always be built that way, but I’m going to track my calories for a few weeks and see where I stand. Thanks for the inspiration!

    spincycle wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Only of the feline variety but I do have a couple of moms that train for figure competitions and have done an amazing job with the Primal diet and regaining their pre baby shapes and health

      Paula wrote on September 24th, 2011
    • Yeah, I’ve had four kids too, and the more I lose the more elephant skin I get. :( but it’s better than fat!! I have a friend that lost 60 pounds after 3 kids and her belly skin “sleeps” beside her at night!! Oh well, the trade offs we make in the name of children heeheehe.

      Tanya wrote on September 24th, 2011
  39. Thanks for sharing Paula. I am actually more inspired by people like Paula who can lose that last stubborn 5-8lb than by someone who is morbidly obese and cuts out soda to lose 50lbs.
    I look very similar to Paula’s “middle” photo. And though when I wear nice clothes, no one can tell I’m chubby, I seriously feel extremely uncomfortable in my skin every morning when I have to change clothes.
    I’ve been off and on primal for about 2 years, but I need to cut the cheat meals and get real about portion control.

    Jill wrote on September 23rd, 2011
  40. This is a great story. Paula, you look amazing! And as someone who’s been trying to get rid of the last 5-10lbs for a while now, I totally appreciate the effort you put into getting that defined. I am curious though, can you tell me just what your fat/carb/protein ratios were to get this lean? This is the one thing I can’t seem to figure out.

    Topshelf wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • Fat 45-55%, protein 25-35%, carbs 10-20% varied some but those are the general ranges. Fat is higher for maintenance

      Paula wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • Paula, I’m sure you won’t see this now that this has become some weird post about how your too ripped, but thanks for taking the time to reply. I’ve adjusted my ratios a bit and am hoping to see some improvement over the next two weeks. I’m at my crossfit gym 4 days a week, so hopefully just tightening up my diet a little more is all I need to get where I want.

        And for the record, you look amazing for any age! Not sure what all the hate in here is about, but I am blown away and big time motivated by this story.

        Thanks again!

        Topshelf wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • Thank you for the ratios. I am just starting the PB lifestyle. I have been tracking for a week. I also use Fitday. My fat is always higher than my protein. I didn’t know exactly how that stands. My carbs are higher than yours but in the weight/fat loss range. At this point I don’t have any body goals, etc. My goals are more to just develop healthy lifestyle habits. I’d like to lose fat and gain muscle tone and that will come in time. Perhaps my goals will be more body oriented when eating and exercising primally become a way of life.
        I am 51 and it was amazing to see your before and after photos. You are an inspiration. Though our journeys are different I feel we are on the same path and you give me a glimpse into the future. It confirms I am on the right path. Thank you Paula.

        Jodi wrote on October 15th, 2011
      • Could you give an example of daily meal?
        I’m new to all these. To be honest I’m still confused how much FAT should I consume, it’s so hard to believe that FAT actually helps to loose weight and gain muscle, am I missing anything?
        Thank you

        Hilola wrote on October 21st, 2013

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