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!

real life stories stories 1 2In 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.


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.

cindybefore after2

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.


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.

hark 1I 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. “I am at my goal weight, something I never thought possible”

    As Napoleon said “The word ‘impossible’ is found only in the dictionary of fools”

    Paul wrote on June 27th, 2014
  2. +100! Awesome Cindy!

    R. Francis Stevenson wrote on June 27th, 2014
  3. Fantastic! Your daughter must be so proud of you!

    Andy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  4. I am in complete AWE.

    KD wrote on June 27th, 2014
  5. Wow, congratulations for making it happen — and for stopping the weight loss when you hit a good weight. That is hard to do! Do people treat you very differently now?

    valerie wrote on June 27th, 2014
  6. Nice job! I’m so happy to see another gal with a lot of weight to lose. It helps keep me motivated that it can be done. If you believe it, you can achieve it. And you’ve achieved a lot!

    The Beckster wrote on June 27th, 2014
  7. I am SO happy you made the choice to live! What a shinning example of what we’re able to overcome and accomplish if we decide to do so :) Thank you for sharing your story!

    Leslie Klenke wrote on June 27th, 2014
  8. Just….wonderful, truly awesome. Did your husband and daughter jump on board the paleo eating too? Seriously, this is an amazing story…and its interesting that so many “diets” have their testimonial winners with before and after pics, no matter what works for you, they all started at a super duper low turning point which ignited their desire to change. I think what i loce about paleo – and that you refer to – is the encouragement to make diet a piece of the lifestyle and attitude larger puzzle. Your rock Cindy, keep up the fantastic work, you look just radiant.

    Michelle wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • My family did not jump on the bandwagon at all! I eat totally differently than they do…they eat almost all stuff that I don’t touch and vise versa!

      Cindy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  9. You could have given the Cowardly Lion his courage. You have a lot to have turned your life around. I share everyone’s happiness for you regaining your health and *making yourself* happy!

    Kevin Grokman wrote on June 27th, 2014
  10. Cindy,

    You are such an inspiration and am in awe at where you are compared to where you were! Great success story that will continue!


    Joe wrote on June 27th, 2014
  11. Very touching and inspirational story! Thank you!

    Jessi wrote on June 27th, 2014
  12. Wow, Cindy, great job losing so much weight. Through determination and MDA you’ve given yourself a life that’s very much worth living, and you look fantastic. One of the best things about Primal/Paleo is that results happen quickly. There is no better motivator.

    Shary wrote on June 27th, 2014
  13. Congratulations and GROK ON !!!!!”

    Kevin wrote on June 27th, 2014
  14. Amazing. Congratulations on your success! You are inspiring! Thank you.

    Keith wrote on June 27th, 2014
  15. What a story of courage! I admire you in every way.

    Helen O'Neill wrote on June 27th, 2014
  16. Here in Australia we get the Friday email on a Saturday morning. I actually snuck out of bed in the dark – 6.30am – rather than going back to sleep – to open up the laptop and see the next Success Story – and found the most amazing woman who literally radiates joy in that last photo.
    As PP said, “congratulations” doesn’t quite do it – you must be a little in awe of yourself to see what an amazingly powerful woman you are.
    Congratulations :-)

    Squirrel wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • I do this too. Goodbye Saturday morning sleep ins. I now wake earlier to read these!!

      Jane wrote on June 27th, 2014
      • Ditto, Saturday mornings got so much better!

        Cindy, I have been following MDA for nearly a year, and your success story prompted me to make my first comment.

        Your journey is made even more awesome as you did it even though your family members didn’t follow primal.

        Your story is proof that a healthy body and mind is inside each of us :-)

        Sparrow wrote on June 28th, 2014
  17. What an awesome story. So happy for your and what you have achieved. You look great.

    Kathy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  18. It’s that time of the year when those blockbuster superhero movies come out but I just read about a real-life superhero! I mean it – what bigger fight is there than that one day, that one single moment when one chooses to live over dying a slow, miserable death?!!! This is true strength, desire, and love for oneself and family. I can’t say enough except thank you for sharing – it will do more than you know!

    Jeff F. wrote on June 27th, 2014
  19. Love this! You are amazing.

    Bev wrote on June 27th, 2014
  20. I wish your wonderful story could be plastered on the front pages of all newspapers in the Western world as a guiding and shining light to all people battling ill health and obesity.
    I am in awe of your determination and sheer grit to get yourself to where you are today.

    Tassie wrote on June 27th, 2014
  21. Amazing. This just goes to show that it’s never too late and nobody is ever beyond (self)help.

    Anybody who wants to turn it around should read your story.

    Once again, simply amazing.

    Steady wrote on June 27th, 2014
  22. That is just astonishing. What a heroic effort on your part, I salute you for your fortitude. Paleo diet and lifestyle are certainly effective but to be down in a hole that deep and come all the way back is testament to a magnificent strength of personal will. You must have been in a devastating depression being in that state. I am so glad you found your strengths and emerged victorious! I am betting on you to go all the way in life from here on out, it’s clear that you are capable of accomplishing anything that you put your mind to!

    bayrider wrote on June 27th, 2014
  23. Thanks for sharing. Your story is so inspiring!

    Curtis wrote on June 27th, 2014
  24. Wow that is just fantastic!!! You are such an inspiration. I wish stories like yours were on national tv and media- people really think surgery or starving themselves with diet food are the only options and you are proof that there are much healthier, more empowering ways to go. Thank you for sharing!

    Kirstin wrote on June 27th, 2014
  25. Goodness. The actress Diane Lane was hiding inside you. You are amazing. Congratulations.

    cate wrote on June 27th, 2014
  26. Inspiring. WOW!

    Dave wrote on June 27th, 2014
  27. Your story is an awesome one of hope for many that are on the same path of decline physically and emotionally that you were on. To choose life and change from the pit of despair is awe inspiring to me. Congratulations on having your life and health back.

    Korree wrote on June 27th, 2014
  28. Very inspiring, these are the stories that move others to do the same.

    John Finn wrote on June 27th, 2014
  29. Your determination to live and heal is contagious! Your life says that adversity can be ivercome and that solutions can be found. THANK YOU for sharing your story and congratulations in creating your new life! Keep telling your story please :)

    Laura Oxman wrote on June 27th, 2014
  30. What an inspiration. You’ve been added to my list of ten people living or dead who I would invite to dinner.
    Amazing. Well done.
    I think skin surgery should be given away to any person who can change their bodies on their own. Imagine the money you’ve saved the Heath system by your choice. Just gobsmacked. Love it!!

    Jane wrote on June 27th, 2014
  31. Like many folks I had tears in my eyes reading this knowing fully well this lady would not be alive today had she not done this.

    Grats Cindy! Well done!

    Curtis wrote on June 27th, 2014
  32. Thank you for sharing. Just astounding.

    Sunstreaked wrote on June 27th, 2014
  33. I’m glad you did not have surgery. I work with someone who had it and has gained a lot of the weight back. My sister worked with someone who had it and wound up being just the same size. A friend had it and when they put her back together they put the intestines in backwards, nearly killed her, she has gained a considerable amount of the weight back as well. Apparently you can abuse your body into gaining the weight back and have a HUGE medical bill to pay back.
    You look so happy now. :-)

    2Rae wrote on June 27th, 2014
  34. Mark (and Cindy): this should win the award for the best transformation story ever!

    Wow – I was secretly hoping to see one of these stories to prove how easily the weight loss can occur when morbidly obese. Having lived through it, it really can be quick!

    Cindy: I share your idea of the internet rabbit hole leading you to MDA. I came from a libertarian website Lew Rockwell!

    Craig Pendergast wrote on June 27th, 2014
  35. Awesome!!!
    So happy for this chick!!
    She deserves to have the extra skin removed…free!!
    Maybe some good-hearted Doctor will see her story + do it for her…now that would be a sweet ending!!

    mydogsrock wrote on June 27th, 2014
    • Ha, I can always hope!

      Cindy wrote on June 27th, 2014
  36. You said “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 think this is such an important statement.

    So many people get caught in the cycle of eat too much, feel ill/guilty/fat, depressed because they feel ill/guilty/fat/depressed so they eat for comfort or because they just plain don’t know how to break free. I too have been in that cycle. Your story (and so many I read here) captures the essence of breaking that cycle and feeling truly good about each day that we wake up. Surely the medical system is better off without doing horrible surgeries and giving out anti depressants to people. I wish more in the system would promote a healthy lifestyle, and your message is a such clear testimony to the benefits. Like everyone else I can just say WOW! Congratulations and thank you for telling your story. That in itself requires a lot of courage.

    PS: i’m in Australia too and reading the success story is ALWAYS the first thing I do on Saturday mornings!

    HillyM wrote on June 27th, 2014
  37. Incredible! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve been reading MDA for 2 years hoping to get inspired because I know what I need to do but somehow can’t get it together. Your story is my turning point. Xx

    Ema wrote on June 27th, 2014
  38. I am really happy for you – unreal – good work!

    tigerchik wrote on June 27th, 2014
  39. Cindy, I was so truly happy and hopeful when I read your success story. I sent Mark my success story in Jan. 2011 and at the time my daughter was struggling with eating. We(My family) have learned that it was not just her being a rebellious teenager, she had a binge eating disorder. I say had because she doesn’t binge like she did but she still comforts herself with food. She is in therapy right now and I know she isn’t happy with her weight. She has no self-confidence at all. I know she is over 200lbs but I don’t think she has reached 300lbs. yet.

    I sent her your truly incredible success story and I hope it helps. I am so happy and proud of you for making the commitment to LIVE. You are AWESOME! Thank you for sharing your story.

    Pamela H. Mathews wrote on June 27th, 2014
  40. All of these stories are incredible, but this comeback is off the charts! Congrats and best wishes with everything, Cindy!! Thanks so much for sharing.

    PP wrote on June 27th, 2014

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!


© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple