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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 10, 2013

Concrete Reasons to Continue on the Primal Path

By Guest
77 Comments

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!

Mark,

I want to start by saying THANK YOU. Without you (and several thousand years of common sense), I was on the road to a significantly shorter and less fulfilling life.

My Primal success story was unintentional, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. My father was one to hop on random health crazes for a few weeks in order to lose weight, and the Primal Blueprint was his newest of many…or so I thought. I didn’t take it very seriously when he talked about it, but I figured I’d go on it with him for a week or so to try to keep him motivated.

This was me before that.

Heather - Before

In August 2010, after just three days of completely Primal eating, a persistent and very frustrating rash that I’d been trying everything to get rid of for the last year disappeared. I didn’t immediately make the connection, but I loved the way that I felt while on the diet, so I kept going. Since I wasn’t totally serious about it, I still occasionally ate wheat products. Every time, without fail, the rash came back. Once the rash was officially diagnosed as a form of gluten intolerance, I had a very concrete reason to continue on the Primal path.

On top of the rash, I’d struggled with abnormally high blood pressure (typically around 150/110) since I was 18. It was almost overnight that I went from normal to hypertensive, and I had no family history and no debilitating habits like smoking that might have caused it. By the time that I started eating Primally, I had cut down my salt intake from ridiculous (adding salt to ramen ridiculous) to practically tasteless, and nothing changed. I was also on two different blood pressure medications that had done nothing, and I discontinued them around October of 2010. Eating Primally made a very tiny dent after a while, but I still didn’t see the results I was hoping for based on the success stories I’d been reading on Mark’s Daily Apple. I WAS losing weight, though, so I figured I just needed more time. I even started my own Primal recipe blog, Heather’s Primal Recipes.

Initially, I lost about 15 pounds (from 145 to 130). I couldn’t escape that plateau at 130, and I frequently got discouraged and spiraled into binge eating things that made me break out and feel awful. (Chinese takeout, anyone?) From August of 2010 to June of 2012, I went up and down on that roller coaster. Even on my best days, minimal exercise was a challenge. Thirty seconds of sprinting left me feeling winded and dizzy. To boot, my doctors (who were already angry at me for my newfound eating habits and lack of medication) didn’t want me to raise my heart rate too high, fearing heart attack.

In March of 2012, I finally listened to the one doctor who DIDN’T think my eating habits were unhealthful and got a renal duplex ultrasound. It turned out that I had a relatively unknown disease having NOTHING to do with eating habits called Fibromuscular Dysplasia, which causes arteries to grow like strings of beads instead of tubes. Unfortunately, because so little is known about it, it’s often confused with atherosclerosis (aka plaque). It was easy enough to point out that I had been following the SAD for several years WITH arterial stenosis before adopting this “artery clogging” diet, however. 😉

Angioplasty

In June of 2012, I had balloon angioplasty to reopen my nearly closed renal artery. Within minutes of surgery completion, my blood pressure dropped to 117/67.

After about a week of bed rest and surgical recovery, I started to really pick up the Primal exercise plan, since I was now “allowed” to raise my heart rate. The weight couldn’t fall off fast enough. From June to September, I dropped from 130 to 118, (in total a size 10/12 to size 2/4) and I’m still going. I’ve never felt better.

Heather - After

Heather

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77 Comments on "Concrete Reasons to Continue on the Primal Path"

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Erin
Erin
3 years 4 months ago

that is very interesting… fibromuscular dysplasia. I have never heard of anyone having it. At least you caught it early! Amazing story!

Anne
3 years 4 months ago

Heather, I can’t imagine dealing with symptoms like those, like not being able to exercise for fear of a heart attack! I’m so glad you found your way to a smart doctor who could figure out what was really going on.

You look terrific! I can hardly believe it’s the same you. 🙂

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 4 months ago

Great turnaround–and way to keep on top of your health!

Nicholas Smith
3 years 4 months ago

Wow, congrats on figuring out what was wrong and getting healthy. You look amazing!

Kurt
Kurt
3 years 4 months ago

Its telling that most of the doctors put you on meds instead of looking for an underlying cause. You’d think blood pressure that high in a teenager would be a red flag. I’m glad you found a doc who found the underlying issue.

Also, you look adorable in your after photos. Any chance you are single and live in central florida? haha.

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

I was passed from doctor to doctor and they were all very confused about the reasons behind it, but they gave up quickly and assumed I was lying about my habits or that I had family history I didn’t know about. The doctor that finally caught it said that the meds can actually be harmful to FMD patients, so I’m glad I stopped before then…

And thank you…haha. Living in NC and married. ;p

Ion Freeman
Ion Freeman
3 years 4 months ago

Can you imagine that as a ‘how we met’ story? “Oh, I posted to a blog, and he posted a comment ‘Can I haz date?’ I found it irresistable.”

Siobhan
Siobhan
3 years 4 months ago

Actually, I’m hoping that happens to me someday. I figure it is the only way I will find a primal partner!

Catherine H
Catherine H
3 years 4 months ago

Primalavalife.ca?

perennialpam
perennialpam
3 years 4 months ago

You look marvelous! How is your dad doing? I hope very well also.

Gayle
Gayle
3 years 4 months ago

Wow OMG you look GREAT!
Also I have NEVER heard of Fibromuscular Dysplasia. I have HBP and medication seems to help but I wonder if this might be a cause of my HBP…
I am a lot older 49 HBP does run in my family strongly. I am on meds for it and eating primal has helped my weight greatly but not my BP.
I will follow up about Fibromuscular Dysplasia with my doc, who knows it could be a factor.
Thanks so much for posting this! 🙂

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

Look into it; it could save your life! They believe at this point that FMD isn’t actually all that rare…just VERY under-diagnosed.

Linda A. Lavid
3 years 4 months ago

Wow. Enjoy many long years of health and happiness.

Jesse
Jesse
3 years 4 months ago

Glad you are feeling better! The before/after ultrasound pics are really cool. Were those taken before/after the angioplasty?

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

Yep, they had do go in and inject dye to show where the closure was, so they gave me the images after. 🙂

Alison Golden
3 years 4 months ago

Wow, that’s amazing, Heather. So great that you found a new doctor that was willing to look outside the box. You look fantastic and I’m sure you feel you’ve got a whole new life ahead of you now. Great job and great example of taking responsibility and being proactive with your health!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 4 months ago

+1…and you look just fantastic and happy! Grokettes a-go-go!

Mike Mallory
3 years 4 months ago

Great job Heather!

Mike

Luke
3 years 4 months ago

Wow Heather quite the journey. You have the vibrant glow, glad you got that heart stuff figured out.

Did your dad end up sticking with the diet?

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

He’s been back and forth, but he’s sticking with it overall. Hoping he’ll be able to send in his story soon, too! 🙂

Luke
3 years 4 months ago

Awesome well I’m sure seeing what it has done for you is a HUGE motivator! Congrats again

Stacy
3 years 4 months ago

You look amazing! What an encouragement. It’s sad that doctors can so easily get entrenched in what they “know” is the problem, rather than exploring other possibilities.

Susan
Susan
3 years 4 months ago

Congrats Heather. It makes ME feel better just reading this success stories. Thank you for sharing.

James
3 years 4 months ago

Congratulations, Heather. Keep up the great work!

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 4 months ago

wow, heather, what a change! glad you’re in such improved health! i looked at your blog–looks tasty. 🙂

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
3 years 4 months ago

Fascinating and wonderful story! What you’ve been through, and what Kurt said–adorable!

John
John
3 years 4 months ago

You look great …congratulations for perservering!

jess
jess
3 years 4 months ago

Great job Heather – and for educating us. Its astonishing (and what a relief) how fast your BP changed post-surgery.

Yet again an example of how imperative it is we all partner w/ a solid, smart, open minded Dr. who will do the steps to help you figure out why you feel “off”. Not stuff a med in your hand.

Kudos to you for keeping on it and it means good things for your life that you are persistent!!

brandon clobes
brandon clobes
3 years 4 months ago

lots of beautiful women posting these stories..am i seeing a correlation?

Cindy
Cindy
3 years 4 months ago
Oh, Heather, Congratulations! Thank you for posting this story. It’s exactly what I needed to hear today. I love my heart doc. I just wish she was open to hearing what I was telling her. She’s insistent I stop this diet and go on meds. She said that “obviously your diet is not working.” (cholesterol numbers, which I pointed out to her were 322 after two years as a vegan) I said, “I’ve lost 70 pounds, I have fingernails and my hair has stopped falling out. That feels like it’s working to me.” Your story reinforces my resolve. Thank you.… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
3 years 4 months ago

You have to be careful about doctors. Sometimes no matter how good your diet is, you still need medicine, but discouraging healthy eating is kind of weird. Also a doctor that isn’t open to anything different is not so great and there is absolutly nothing wrong with getting a second opinion.

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

Congrats, Heather!! Another Heather here. Glad you figured it out early!! Enjoy your amazing newly found health!

Cindy, check out chriskresser.com. He has been delving deep into HDL and LDL and what the research has been showing lately. It’s been some fascinating reading. Maybe there is something there that you can give to your doctor to read. I really wish these doctors would take their “population” blinders off and see the individual in front of them.
…Don’t think outside the box. Think about the box. (Can’t remember where I read that. Definitely somewhere in the Paleosphere.

Darlene, San Francisco, CA
Darlene, San Francisco, CA
2 years 9 months ago

I’d find another doctor, Cindy! 🙂

D. M. Mitchell
3 years 4 months ago

Way to go Heather! And I’m so glad you found a better doctor.

adina
3 years 4 months ago

this is an incredible story! so many congratulations to you, inside and out.

KariVery
KariVery
3 years 4 months ago

You’re a beautiful young lady and your recipes look divine! I have bookmarked your blog for inspiration!

Laurie
Laurie
3 years 4 months ago

Great story, Heather! You look fabulous!

Did the dr check your kidney function (serum creatinine and BUN)? My hubby has been on hemodialysis for 26 years, 13 of those years at home, so I do a lot of kidney related nursing for him. Just be sure they checked your blood work (which normally they would do with any kind of renal issues).

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

They did…fortunately no renal damage despite being undiscovered for years. Caught it at a fairly young age, compared to most others.

Laurie
Laurie
3 years 4 months ago

That’s great! So glad you took charge of your health and finally got some answers, and solution to your problem!

Pastor Dave
3 years 4 months ago

Oh the blessings! So happy for you and your transformation.

Preach it Heather– tell those who have their faces stuffed with
Pizza or Bear Claws about your Primal experience!

I’ve even slipped Mark’s Daily Apple into some of my
sermons when I preach!

Ara
Ara
3 years 4 months ago

That’s awesome…

Susan Alexander
3 years 4 months ago

Heather: You’re amazing. I looked 3 or 4 times at your before and after photos. I still can’t see that it’s the same person. Way to go! Susan

Kara
Kara
3 years 4 months ago

Your story is very inspiring. Congratulations on all your success. I will check out your blog. I actually have an 18 yr old niece who has been suffering from HB for a couple years now…makes me wonder.

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

It’s most common in young, otherwise healthy women, so you should definitely have her checked out!

Siobhan
Siobhan
3 years 4 months ago

What a great story! You look marvelous and it sounds like you feel that way too. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 4 months ago

Hearing your story makes me very happy and gives me hope!! I am so thrilled for you that a good doc checked into your issues and found and SOLVED the problem!! You keep taking care of yourself!! You look so great and so healthy. Keep it up!!

Meagan
3 years 4 months ago

Oh my goodness! I think this may be my most favorite story YET! I loved that you showed the picture of your kidney 🙂 I’m such a med school nerd!

fcby9
fcby9
3 years 4 months ago

Heather, what kind of exercise do you do on a routine basis and how often? You have the “lean” kind of look I’m aspiring for. Thank you so much for your story!

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

It’s pretty minimal, but it’s amazing what a difference it’s made. I take at least one of my dogs for a walk through my neighborhood every evening (about a mile and a half), occasionally breaking into a sprint along the way. I also follow my husband on the golf course when he forgoes the cart.

I work at a vet, so my lifting consists of carrying 32lb bags of dog food back and forth across the clinic…thinking of getting into more on that end, but haven’t had much time yet.

HillyM
HillyM
3 years 4 months ago

Oh my gosh, I LOVE that you have before and after pics of both your outsides AND your insides……….awesome.

This is yet another wonderful story of someone who perservered in finding answers about their own body, and didn’t just blindly accept that medication is the solution to all problems

Congratulations, you were beautiful in your before photos, and now you look extra healthy and happy. Well done.

fcby9
fcby9
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you! Also, did you drop from 10/12 to 2/4 all between June and September, or did some of that happen earlier when you lost the initial weight starting at 145 lbs?

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

That was overall. I dropped from about an 8 to a 2/4 from June to September.

Morgan
Morgan
3 years 4 months ago
Great story. I have to say, I have recently loosened my grip on being strictly “primal”, in the high starch food elimination aspect. I’m starting to believe that basically eliminating all grains is not necessary for most people. If grains are whole and sprouted, and do not contain gluten, I just do not believe they need to be eliminated for most healthy people. The more I read, the more it appears we might being going a bit too far with this extreme idea that all grains on all forms need to be eliminated in order to feel our best and… Read more »
George
George
3 years 4 months ago
Pretty much agree with you. Although I eliminated the bulk of grains from my diet, even my daily bowl of oatmeal, I do eat some quinoa maybe once a week, some veggie burgers made from brown rice and walnuts a couple times a week, and a couple of sprouted, raw crackers here and there made from veggies, nuts, flaxseed and oats. I would not feel too guilty eating an Ezekiel English muffin half with a little almond butter, although Mark does not give it a thumbs up and I just don’t buy it anymore when I go to the local… Read more »
Louise
Louise
3 years 4 months ago

One of the things I like about Mark’s advice is that he bases it on solid research and scientific evidence. I’ll be avoiding the sprouted grains, thank you very much.

George
George
3 years 4 months ago

I’m a big fan of Mark’s and also Leangains and the Blue Zone. I’ve been studying health, fitness and wellness for 40 years and I’m pretty ripped. I eat a very minimal amount of grain. I personally would not freak out about a tad of sprouted bread here and there, but by all means do what works best for you Louise. I don’t know your personal history, how much HIIT you are doing, if you have gluten intolerance etc. etc.

Morgan
Morgan
3 years 4 months ago
It really depends on the sprouted grain, and the amount consumed. You will do as much bad for your body and your digestive system eating the wrong nuts, and too much of them. Yet, nuts are not poo pooed like even pure gluten free sprouted high starch foods are. Beans, other legumes, and seeds can be sprouted and added to foods like baked or dehydrated chips. In moderate amounts, many people will never compromise their healthy consuming such sprouted foods. I think there could be a bit of a “paleo” bias here. And, you’re right, Mark does a great amount… Read more »
Morgan
Morgan
3 years 4 months ago

Mark also bases some if what he says on the way his body reacts and his beliefs. Everyone is different. I believe genetics, age, and ancestry play major roles in individualized needs.

Mark
3 years 4 months ago

Congrats Heather! What a great story. Can’t wait to read your dad’s success story.

trackback

[…] 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 […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Erik W
Erik W
3 years 4 months ago

I have bookmarked your recipe blog now Heather, because that Avocado Bacon Burger looks delicious! I will show it to a friend who has also started primal eating (thanks to me!) and suggest we try it next weekend.

Your pictures – wow, is that the same person before and after? And congrats on finally getting the blood pressure worked out. A success story like this one inspires people to keep up the primal living.

trackback

[…] Concrete Reasons to Continue on the Primal Path […]

George
George
3 years 4 months ago

You look like a lovely, wonderful person in both the before and after pictures, but no denying the transformation is quite impressive and glad you are doing so well. Although there are problems with traditional medicine and most MD’s do not take a holistic approach to healing, this is a classic example where in some instances it can be beneficial and even life saving.

Txomin
Txomin
3 years 4 months ago

Good for you, kid. You look great.

Cathy Johnson (Kate)
3 years 4 months ago

Very glad your doctor found the problem! You look great.

Guy
Guy
3 years 4 months ago

Holy Crap, you look great. And I’m astounded that I know where you are standing in the last pic.
Asheville represent!

Hannah
Hannah
3 years 4 months ago

Congratulations Heather, what a beautiful story and you’re a beautiful girl! Keep going strong!

Brandi
Brandi
3 years 4 months ago
You look amazing! How tall are you? Cus I keep running into a size issues, Im currently back up to 175lbs and I wear a size 11/12; when I was a 145 I was a six and 135 I was a tight 4. I know that Im short with a small/med bone structure, that I can be 118 or even 115. I just can’t image(because Ive never been that small) ever being smaller than a size four. It weird for me that I might get to size 2 one day. Just curiousity :3. Hope to read about how well your… Read more »
Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

I used to feel the same way. I thought my none structure forbade me from going below a six or a four, but I was wrong! I’m only 5’3″.

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

Bone*

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 4 months ago

Excellent work Heather! Those images are gnarly and cool at the same time.

NMCynthia
NMCynthia
3 years 4 months ago

Way to go Heather!! I went to your blog right away, liked it, and have bookmarked it. You have some very tasty looking recipes there, that look like you can put together very easily and quickly. Thanks!

I tried to thank you on your blog, but you have to sign in using Google, Yahoo, and others, which I don’t use. So I say “Thanks!” here.

Dutch
Dutch
3 years 4 months ago

Glad I bumped into this, brightened up this grey Sunday morning to no end – such an inspirational story Heather. Just what the doctor ordered, as my combat role in the military doesn’t exactly stimulate primal aspirations. Also, the before and after pictures of both the outside and inside, that must be an MDA first! You look absolutely gorgeous! (can’t comment on the insides though, my study in respiratory medicine never covered anything lower than the diaphragm ;)).

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 4 months ago

You look like a completely different person!

CJ
CJ
3 years 4 months ago

Heather,
You look amazing! Would you mind sharing your daily meals and your workout routine?

Heather
Heather
3 years 4 months ago

My meals vary, but I eat a LOT of eggs and avocados. Some of my more involved meals you can find here: http://heathersprimalrecipes.blogspot.com/. As for my excercise, I walk my dogs a mile and a half nightly with occasional sprinting, follow my husband on the golf course, and carry large bags of dog food back and forth across a vet clinic. :p

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