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

Down 360 Pounds in a Year and a Half!

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!

In February 2012 my life was in turmoil. I weighed 518 pounds. I’m a nurse, and I was incredibly close to losing my job and being unable to support myself and my family due to my weight and poor health. I lived in excruciating back pain all the time. I suffered from sleep apnea so severe I required both a bipap and oxygen at night to prevent my oxygen levels from dropping into the 70s. My first sleep study in January 2012 revealed I was having hundreds of apneas each hour, which certainly explained why I was constantly falling asleep behind the wheel, at work, and everywhere and anywhere else. I could barely keep my eyes open during the day.

I had severe hypertension requiring a multitude of medications. I could barely walk from my car to my front door. I had to stop and sit and pant two or three times just moving from my car to the nurses’ station at my job, and that’s with parking right in front of the door.

I had stopped being able to shop for groceries or do much of anything. I had to make my daughter go into the bank or pharmacy to run errands because I couldn’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time. Showering was torture, and since I couldn’t afford a shower chair, I had taken to dragging a folding chair into the shower and had my husband install a handheld sprayer for me to use. I barely fit behind the wheel of my car. I didn’t fit into restaurant booths, airplane seats, theater seats, or much of anyplace else.

Cindy before

To get through the workday I had to walk into a patient’s room, drag a chair over to their bed, and sit next to them to take their blood pressure and give them pills. I had to lean against the wall to prop myself up while I retrieved meds from my med cart. I cried in the back room every single day as I wondered how much longer I could possibly live like this.

I tried to get weight loss surgery, thinking there was no other way for me. I had been “dieting” for years and years using every method imaginable. I had a horrible binge eating and food addiction problem and thought I would never be able to stop. In January, I went through some pre-op procedures and then found out my insurance wouldn’t pay for the surgery, no matter what my condition and weight was.

I felt sorry for myself and ate and ate and ate for a few weeks, but then I came to a realization: I had to make a choice to continue what I was doing and surely die, and before dying, probably be confined to a bed like one of those people they make TLC shows about OR I had to make a choice to live.

Somehow I found it within me to make the choice to live.

Full disclosure, I started out my journey doing Weight Watchers, and for the first month or so I just followed their program and counted “points.” Exercise didn’t even enter my mind at that point; walking around my living room was a victory lap for me.

I had always been reading online about paleo; for years I had toyed with the notion of giving up grains after reading stuff like the heart scan blog. I don’t remember exactly how I found Mark’s Daily Apple… somewhere deep down the internet rabbit hole a link lead me here and the information I found here truly changed my life.

I read and read for days, and absorbed all the information I could from many of the articles posted here. I quickly decided to give up grains and legumes and processed sugars and otherwise continue with Weight Watchers.

Just taking the step of giving up grains and legumes (and refined or added sugars of course) did amazing things for me. I saw my constant cravings for carbs and starches and sugar fade away. I saw the constant preoccupation with eating and desire to binge start going away. I started doing some intermittent fasting just to reacquaint myself with what actual physical hunger even was, and it felt amazing to start to relearn my body’s signals.

This whole time the weight kept coming off and coming off and I found myself able to do more and more.

As time went on, I started adopting more and more principles of primal eating and the whole lifestyle into my routine.

Cindy after Primal

I’m a totally different person now. People don’t even recognize me. Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. My diet has become better and better and at this point I’m eating local pastured eggs, pastured butter, coconut oil, grass fed meat and poultry, wild sustainable seafood, tons of veggies (mostly organic), plain Greek yogurt, small amounts of nuts and nut butters, avocados, and a couple servings of fruit every day. I enjoy sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and winter squashes in moderation. I have small planned treats every once in awhile (glass of red wine, little bit of ice cream, maybe even a piece or two of pizza, shh, don’t tell anyone).

I am more active than I ever thought possible. I have the whole move frequently at a slow pace thing down pat. I walk many, many miles a week. I’m an avid hiker. I used to hate sunshine and the outdoors and now I am outside enjoying the beautiful national parks and forests near my house every single day.

Over the past six months I’ve been able to incorporate strength training several times a week, and I do bike sprints weekly as well. I’ve shocked myself by what I’ve been able to accomplish. I thought I’d never be able to squat or plank or do a single push up or gain any muscle definition at all. But now I can do all of those things and much, much more.

Cindy's Collage

Being outdoors, eating right, being active, sleeping, adopting a more positive life view and attitude in general, and trying to nurture connections with people has all done more for me than antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds ever did. I didn’t even know it was possible for me to feel as good as I do now. I wake up, and even though life isn’t perfect, I feel like every day is an opportunity for good things to happen. I am happy to say I am now off my blood pressure medication and don’t require a BiPAP at night anymore. I have zero back pain. I can manage to hike up steep grades without getting out of breath. My kidney function was also terrible (st stage 3 chronic kidney) and has been totally normal now for a year (a case of BP meds and diuretics messing with my kidneys, being able to go off the meds and my kidneys recovered, go figure).

I met a friend over the weekend and she sent me a message telling me that I’m doing so well, and not just physically, but that mentally and emotionally I’m on a whole different level now, and I’m really feeling that too. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me in so much more than the physical sense. I really feel like I can do whatever I want now.

Happy CindyI weigh 160 pounds today. My body fat is 20 percent. I am at my goal weight, something I never thought possible. It almost feels surreal. I don’t think it’s truly hit me yet how far I’ve come in a short time. I couldn’t even imagine doing all the things I do now a few years ago. I am grateful for so many little things in daily life that are so easy to take for granted. I am never going to be a “thin” person, and yes I have a LOT of loose skin (yes, it’s real loose from over 360 lbs in a year and half, and trust me, there will be loose skin) but life is so good and so full of possibility now.


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. wow! Amazing story! congratulations on your success! I love hearing stories like this. it really speaks of how influential this lifestyle is.

    Erin wrote on June 27th, 2014
  2. Absolutely fantastic…you are an inspiration to me and countless others that this is truly the way to eat and live…life saving…congratulations on all of your successes!

    Roger Beck wrote on June 27th, 2014
  3. Wow. Just wow.

    Rand wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • +1

      Melissa wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • +2!

        Don Jagoe wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • +3

          David wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • +4

          Scott wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • +5!

          yup wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • +6!

          drgrandma wrote on June 28th, 2014
        • + 10! (= ridiculously awesome :-)

          Pip wrote on June 30th, 2014
      • +7

        wildgrok wrote on June 28th, 2014
        • +8

          Terez wrote on June 28th, 2014
        • +9

          erosan wrote on June 28th, 2014
  4. The joy on your face in your last picture is just wonderful. Congratulations on your new health and happiness!

    BK wrote on June 27th, 2014
  5. speechless.

    Beck W wrote on June 27th, 2014
  6. Just so Awesome, you look great!

    KT wrote on June 27th, 2014
  7. LOVE this story! Keep that beautiful smile on your face…

    You know that saying, “You deserve what’s coming to you”? It’s always so negative but I thought that when I read your story. You deserve health, laughs, smiles, love (from yourself first!)…SUNSHINE…and much more! It’s arrived and you deserve it! Always believe!



    KJ wrote on June 27th, 2014
  8. You got Jimmy Moore beat by a LONG SHOT!

    Wenchypoo wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • Jimmy must be more broken then. Is it Jimmy that can’t even eat a lettuce leaf without spiking his blood sugar?

      yup wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • +1

      Amazing just amazing.

      Onge wrote on July 1st, 2014
  9. Your story brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations.

    Colleen wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • Ditto to what Colleen said!

      I always joke that I “left my waist” back on nightshift ICU!
      We nurses just tend to let that stress affect our weight for some crazy reason. I am desperately trying to get it back…
      and YOU DID IT!

      RenegadeRN wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • It’s NOT a crazy reason; it’s the damage (elevated cortisol levels etc) from those godawful 12-hr shifts–there is a special place in hell for whoever thought that those were a good idea. If the slaves in the Old South and the concentration camp prisoners at Dachau didn’t mind working those hours, why should we?? Disabled ex-respiratory therapist here w/ ruined feet and bad knees.
        Cindy, you are a wonderful inspiration–I will think of you whenever grains tempt me. Many congrats and enjoy your life in your healthy body.

        shrimp4me wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • The dreaded shift work… speaking of which, I’m on my night shift now (not a nurse though).

          Jennifer wrote on June 30th, 2014
    • +1 Truly fantastic story. I’m at a loss of words to describe your level of achievement. Congratulations

      Michael B wrote on June 28th, 2014
    • Me too. Amazing!

      healthyservesone wrote on June 28th, 2014
  10. “Congratulations” seems inadequate for an accomplishment of this magnitude. Just amazing!

    Alice wrote on June 27th, 2014
  11. What a phenomenal journey, a true inspiration to im sure anyone who reads it

    Noir Rees wrote on June 27th, 2014
  12. That a girl!!!! Not having that God awful surgery was a sure blessing…I love when ladies find the power from within to do it with their own blood, sweat, and tears…Thanks for the lift in spirits this morning…good luck on this beautiful journey…I know the feeling of meeting your goals and I was blessed to take the health and fitness journey naturally and with the help of Marks Daily Apple.

    Irene wrote on June 27th, 2014
  13. inspired by you.

    hedgie wrote on June 27th, 2014
  14. You’re a lovely person. Congratulations and thank you for sharing. You’re an inspiration to many. :)

    Paparazzi wrote on June 27th, 2014
  15. Incredible transformation, Cindy!!!

    Hao wrote on June 27th, 2014
  16. What a transformation! Congrats to your new-found health!

    Jacob wrote on June 27th, 2014
  17. Unbelievable! One of my favorite success stories ever, you look phenomenal!


    Mike wrote on June 27th, 2014
  18. Absolutely wowed by your story. Your face glows on the computer screen. Truly inspirational!!!!

    Judith wrote on June 27th, 2014
  19. Amazing…Truly amazing. You are awesome!

    Teresa wrote on June 27th, 2014
  20. “Somehow I found it within me to make the choice to live.”

    What a powerful decision! As a Type 1 diabetic for 50 years and going thru a painful divorce now, I’ve had to confront that choice on a daily basis. My need to face that choice mostly comes in the evening. I’m tired and always hungry at that time and just want to relax. Getting on the computer and having a snack without having to weigh and measure and take insulin and digestion pills and not having to take other meds nor worry about sleep and sleep apnea is what I want. But for me that does not equal wanting to live….. So, I’m going to use your decision and your actions to help motivate me, thanks.

    Nate wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • You can do it Nate.

      Vanessa wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • Yes, Nate, you can!!

        Grace wrote on June 27th, 2014
        • Go Nate!

          Pip wrote on June 30th, 2014
    • I have faith in Nate!!! Make the decision to live the beautiful life we were given in the best of health. There are infinite opportunities just waiting for you around the bend — Make your years count!!!

      Deb wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  21. Wow! This is one of the best success stories I have read. Congratulations to you. I have over a hundred pound to lose and it seems very daunting. Your story has given me much motivation and hope. Thank you!

    Wendy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  22. Wow! You are remarkable and an inspiration! Thanks for sharing!

    Lori wrote on June 27th, 2014
  23. Wow! Congratulations! You look amamzing and I am so proud of you. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s just what I needed to get me back on track.

    Kathy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  24. WOW Cindy! you rock. Keep sharing , your story is going to empower so many others!

    John Snyder wrote on June 27th, 2014
  25. Whenever people cast doubts on the validity of this life style, I ask their permission to mail them a success story from MDA; and in my humble opinion they are all winners.

    Cindy, what an amazing transformation!

    Time traveler wrote on June 27th, 2014
  26. Amazing story. A week or so ago, some people were telling me that it was a bad idea to ever lose weight even if you were obese, that it was unhealthy to do so. Stories like this convince me that it is always better to enjoy your life as a healthy, normal-weight person than to be trapped in an obese body. And it can be done! This story should give hope and inspiration to anybody who feels hopeless about their weight problems.

    shannon wrote on June 27th, 2014
  27. Cindy–

    Your story is so incredibly inspiring. I want to hear more! There are so many details I want to know more about. You truly lost 360 lbs. in a year and a half? How much were you exercising each day? Did the timing of your meals change? Were you sleeping more? Did you start losing weight immediately or did it take a while? Do you take any supplements? Probiotics?

    Thank you for sharing your story. I really, really hope we can hear more from you.

    Eden wrote on June 27th, 2014
  28. My jaw is still on the floor. I am simply AMAZED at your journey and how far you’ve come so quickly. That is truly inspirational! You have done more in a year and a half than most people will do their entire lives… and THAT is something to be proud of right there!!!!

    Freaking incredible. I am emailing your story out left and right today! One of the better ones I’ve seen in a while, and coming from this site… that’s saying a lot :)

    It really makes me so happy when I hear people say that it’s not just physical anymore, but the primal lifestyle has affected their emotional and spiritual well-being too. It’s just so beautiful to me that what starts as something “basic” (lose weight) can truly become life-altering in more ways than we even thought possible. So happy for you and the future that lays ahead! Congratulations!!!

    Nick wrote on June 27th, 2014
  29. WOW! The all time great success story!

    Harry Mossman wrote on June 27th, 2014
  30. “every day is an opportunity for good things to happen”

    What a fantastic transformation and a great outlook! Congratulations to you!!

    Karen wrote on June 27th, 2014
  31. Wow, such an inspiring transformation. You deserve to be so, so proud of all your hard work and your amazing results. Your happy smile in the bottom pic brought tears to my eyes. I know how troubling BED can be, and primal eating is the only thing I have found that really helps.

    Tracey wrote on June 27th, 2014
  32. I know everyone has said it already but, WOW!!! That’s the word that popped into my head, over and over as I read your story. Congrats!!

    AustinGirl wrote on June 27th, 2014
  33. Oh Man, it’s just NEVER too late! That is amazing.

    Nocona wrote on June 27th, 2014
  34. I’ve been reading this site for over a year and never before today have I been inclined to comment on a story, but yours absolutely compelled me to. This is by far the most incredible transformation I’ve ever seen. Huge, heartfelt congratulations to you.

    Erik wrote on June 27th, 2014
  35. This is so amazing, you should be incredibly proud of yourself! Congratulations!

    Florence wrote on June 27th, 2014
  36. Wonderful! It seems like we blame ourselves and/or are judged for being overweight. Yes, it does take work to overcome habits and addictions. The key for most of is to change what we eat! The shift to real food can help create a lifestyle so we don’t have to “white knuckle it.” to get through the day. It sounds like you found the key. I think weight watchers is a wonderful system of support to help with life changes. Primal is perfectly fine in their program. Heck, you may find some converts when you share how you eat and have a decreased urge to binge!

    Georgina wrote on June 27th, 2014
  37. Oh my goodness Cindy. I am awed by your fortitude. The weight was such a huge punishment for being “carbohydrate sensitive” and you could still find your way to the future.

    I am never sure about quoting poets publicly but here is a poem by John Burnside, it’s called Prayer. “Give me a little less with every dawn, colour, a breath of wind, the perfection of shadows, till what I find, I find, because it’s there. Gold in the seams of my hands and the desk light burning.”

    I like it because it’s about less, which I am sure you appreciate too.

    Vanessa wrote on June 27th, 2014
  38. Amazing, wow I too am speechless. Congratulations on regaining your life and health.

    Jill wrote on June 27th, 2014
  39. Awesome! I love Fridays

    rlarson wrote on June 27th, 2014
  40. Wow, wow, wow…….congratulations on your fabulous achievement! You are an inspiration to us all. Many thanks for having the courage to share your story!!

    Kara wrote on June 27th, 2014

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