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. It is great to see a healthcare professional taking responsibility for their own health. You are an inspiration for all who have neglected themselves to care for others.

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on June 27th, 2014
  2. You became lost inside yourself but managed to find your way out. That’s great.

    Green Deane wrote on June 27th, 2014
  3. A true testament to the power our bodies poses if given the proper nutrients. And the overwhelming ability our brains poses to strive to live!

    Congratulations Cindy and thank you for sharing!

    Lance Jordan wrote on June 27th, 2014
  4. I cried! This is amazing: YOU are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story!

    Nina wrote on June 27th, 2014
  5. Wonderful! I want to more too- like if you share this information as a nurse with your patients, or how your husband reacted. Great job!

    Stefanie wrote on June 27th, 2014
  6. Amazing! Question: Did you get support from friends and family during your journey?

    Steve wrote on June 27th, 2014
  7. Thank you so much for all the kind comments. I started in February 2012 and hit my goal weight a couple months ago. The loss was quick for awhile then slowed way down. I will come back to answer questions when I get out of work.

    Cindy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  8. WOW!!!! Just wow!!!! Great job!!!

    Barb wrote on June 27th, 2014
  9. Best of luck to you, and thank you so much for sharing your story. I don’t think I’ve ever been this impressed by a transformation, and I read these things every single Friday. It’s really inspiring and humbling.

    Martha wrote on June 27th, 2014
  10. Cindy,

    Thank you for sharing your transformation story with all of us. You look great and I know that you feel way better than you probably ever have! I’ve maintained a 125 pound weight-loss for the last 5 years myself and Mark featured me on here a few years back. I want to welcome you to the club! Just keep remembering how good you feel right now and know that this is a life-long change… and you’ll do fine. :)

    With love,

    Naomi Teeter wrote on June 27th, 2014
  11. Amazing story, congrats from germany :-)

    Christian from Hirschbach wrote on June 27th, 2014
  12. You are an inspiration!!! Good work!

    Becca wrote on June 27th, 2014
  13. Wow! Great job for yourself! Keep up the great work!

    mindie wrote on June 27th, 2014
  14. Amazing thing! Well done congrats from germany

    Christian from Hirschbach wrote on June 27th, 2014
  15. Congratulations! A truly inspirational transformation. Makes my 60 pounds in a year and a half look a little tame. However, it has completely inspired me to get my Grok and lose the rest (another 75 pounds); hopefully somewhat quicker.
    What is so truly wonderful about this is you getting your life back. My very best wishes to you for an amazing future full of endless possibilities.

    Autumn wrote on June 27th, 2014
  16. My first comment on this blog. Well done Cindy! It’s great that you are sharing your story and your pictures to inspire people in similar situations. My heartfelt congratulations on finding your way to health and happiness.

    Carol wrote on June 27th, 2014
  17. Cindy! Congratulations! YOU are such an inspiration! Your story is truly one that shows it is possible to do anything if you put your mind, body, and spirit into it! Good for you!!

    Emily wrote on June 27th, 2014
  18. Your before reminds me of my mother in her current state. She won’t accept that she’s in control and is letting herself go. I wish I could have your help in inspiring her!

    rich wolff wrote on June 27th, 2014
  19. I don’t know if I allowed to swear here. But my Initial reaction was holy ****. That is the most dramatic change I’ve seen! Congrats Cindy! Truly amazing. Glad to hear you feel amazing too. I think that’s the most under rated aspect if getting “healthy”

    Luke wrote on June 27th, 2014
  20. An absolutely amazing and inspiring story! Congratulations!

    Peter wrote on June 27th, 2014
  21. Wow – incredible! Congrats on taking control of your life.

    Jeanne wrote on June 27th, 2014
  22. Tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat…..gorgeous story….congratulations!

    Ida wrote on June 27th, 2014
  23. Super incredible fantastic inspiring!!!

    Kelly wrote on June 27th, 2014
  24. Thank you for sharing your story, it is truly awe inspiring what you have accomplished in such a short time. I have rarely seen the surgical route be successful and usually comes with it’s own set of health problems with repeated hospital admissions. I will keep you in mind as I deal with my own weight issues, it can be done, you have proved it.

    Kathryn wrote on June 27th, 2014
  25. Cindy, did you do Weight Watchers combined with primal to lose most of the weight? (I.e., count points while choosing to eat primal foods)

    Hils wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • Yes, I did do WW along with living a Primal lifestyle and following the guidelines in The Primal Blueprint to lose the weight.

      I had a very serious problem that I feel required some extra intervention. I had no idea what a “normal” portion was and no stop button for eating. Even with the whole healthy foods I eat 99 percent of the time now. I think the years and years of bingeing broke the “intuitive” eating part of my brain or hormones. So for me having a system to control portions is essential. I love WW for the group support and I do count points for my foods. Even now that I’m maintaining I go to a WW meeting weekly and count points.

      Cindy wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • Cindy, you are just being so smart about this. It’s an education for me to read your story.

        Martha wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • Thanks for your reply, Cindy! That makes good sense to me.

        Hils wrote on June 28th, 2014
  26. I have a few friends doing Weight Watchers. They keep having to do it multiple times….it never seems to stick. But Weight Watchers with Primal style eating could work…is that what you did?

    I’m sure my friends will not listen though. One just had the surgery. The other two are doing Weight Watchers. When I talk about Primal eating I think I lose them at “No wheat”. Oh well.

    Jeanne wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • Cindy you are amazing, what you have achieved is brilliant and you look fabulous.

      I agree that portion control is something we get wrong, I know I could eat myself to a standstill before I learnt about Primal eating, and I still can now. But I remember the old style WW that we had here in UK and which I did as a teenager and I now stick to those portions minus the wheat, sugar etc.

      I have now kept my weight off for over a year and my partner has in the last couple of weeks gone primal as well as he felt his “beer belly” was getting out of control.

      This works, I just wish my other friends who are in need would just listen, they have seen the outcome, watched me eat at restaurants, but sadly they still need their wheat and sugar fix each and every day

      Sandra wrote on June 28th, 2014
  27. My heart just went out to you thinking about how painful your life must have been. Congratulations on your amazing transformation and continuing journey. And especially because you seem so grounded in your new body! Your story is especially uplifting so thanks for sharing.

    Donna wrote on June 27th, 2014
  28. I have tears in my eyes reading this. Absolutely amazing. Truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Marienna wrote on June 27th, 2014
  29. That’s an incredible journey, I wish that more people can read this to know what’s possible once you commit to a healthy/paleo lifestyle.

    Yan wrote on June 27th, 2014
  30. Oh. My. God. WOW!!!! I’m going to share this to all my friends! You go, girl!! You look beautiful, strong and fit, and so much younger!

    MissJelic wrote on June 27th, 2014
  31. Amazing! Many, many congratulations from a fellow nurse – you look fantastic, the health and vitality visible in your face has made me smile hard! Da iawn!

    Adda wrote on June 27th, 2014
  32. This made me cry.

    Rhobert wrote on June 27th, 2014
  33. you said something I’ve read before from other success stories: “then I came to a realization: I had to make a choice”. It is key, I believe, because no one can do it for you. Congratulations. Your story is just fabulous. Stay on target.

    Sandra Neary wrote on June 27th, 2014
  34. You are an inspiration! You are amazing!

    Abby wrote on June 27th, 2014
  35. Cindy,

    Just fantastic! Congratulations! I’ve known some folks who have “cut themselves in half” but your accomplishment is by far the best I have ever heard of.

    I’ve been a MDA subscriber for a few years and this is the first time I’ve posted to a story. Put me on the top your fan club!

    Jeff K wrote on June 27th, 2014
  36. +1,000,000

    Chris wrote on June 27th, 2014
  37. God bless you! Talk about inspiring! You are a testament to the human will to survive and THRIVE.

    Nicole wrote on June 27th, 2014
  38. Oh, you dear, beautiful, brave mama!

    Sarah wrote on June 27th, 2014
  39. You are an inspiration to those of us who have large chunks of weight to lose that you can really do it. I have about 125 pounds to lose and multiple health issues myself. I’ve taken off about 25 so far, and have a long ways to go. Hubby has 170 pounds to lose(he is 365. He was 390 at one point) and was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I’m hoping I can get him on board but he is stubborn and will have to make his own decisions.

    Ingvildr wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • I agree, nothing will work unless the person makes their own decision and their own commitment. I truly feel that if I can do it, anyone who wants to can do it too. I was in horrible place and almost totally immobile and I turned my life around. No matter what position a person is in or how hopeless it seems it truly is never too late.

      Cindy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  40. Hooray for you! Thank you for sharing. Your smile says everything about what your journey means to you.

    Lynn wrote on June 27th, 2014

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