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

Concrete Reasons to Continue on the Primal Path

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!


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. 😉


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


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. Good for you, kid. You look great.

    Txomin wrote on May 11th, 2013
  2. Very glad your doctor found the problem! You look great.

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on May 11th, 2013
  3. Holy Crap, you look great. And I’m astounded that I know where you are standing in the last pic.
    Asheville represent!

    Guy wrote on May 11th, 2013
  4. Congratulations Heather, what a beautiful story and you’re a beautiful girl! Keep going strong!

    Hannah wrote on May 11th, 2013
  5. 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 dad is doing soon ^_^

    P.s. I understand all people are different, its just an odd thought bouncing in my head.

    Brandi wrote on May 11th, 2013
    • 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 wrote on May 12th, 2013
      • Bone*

        Heather wrote on May 12th, 2013
  6. Excellent work Heather! Those images are gnarly and cool at the same time.

    Vanessa wrote on May 11th, 2013
  7. 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.

    NMCynthia wrote on May 11th, 2013
  8. 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 ;)).

    Dutch wrote on May 11th, 2013
  9. You look like a completely different person!

    Melissa wrote on May 11th, 2013
  10. Heather,
    You look amazing! Would you mind sharing your daily meals and your workout routine?

    CJ wrote on May 12th, 2013
    • My meals vary, but I eat a LOT of eggs and avocados. Some of my more involved meals you can find here: 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

      Heather wrote on May 12th, 2013
  11. What a transformation! My hubby is 29 and has HBP (and has at least since age 18) even on a Primal diet for the last 4 years. We will definitely look into FMD as a cause since it doesn’t seem to respond at all to changes in diet or exercise, and since there is a strong presence of HBP in his family history. Do you have to take any daily medications because of the surgery like blood thinners or anything else?

    Hannah wrote on June 4th, 2013

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