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. What a great attitude. You’re an inspiration!

    yup wrote on June 27th, 2014
  2. An inspiring story for sure. Just wanted to let Cindy know that after reading your story my wife starting reading Mark’s recommendations and has decided to start the 21 day challenge and I will be doing it with her. She doesn’t have a lot of weight to lose but I do. I have been on a high fat, moderate protein, limited carb regimen for quite a while but have had limited success because I can get sidetracked easily. With both of us doing the same plan, hopefully jointly supporting each other will make it successful.

    Don in Arkansas wrote on June 27th, 2014
  3. What an inspiration you are! I hope the wider media gets hold of you as a “poster child” for the the Paleo diet for the chronically obese, those of us who are addicted, have tried and tried and always regain. I wish I had discovered this diet – and had it properly explained to me – when I was young. The real key is for people to understand not that this diet is EASY for a food addict, but that it is DOABLE, whereas other kinds of diets really aren’t.

    All the best to you! Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    D. wrote on June 27th, 2014
  4. Congratulations and thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration!

    Laurel wrote on June 27th, 2014
  5. OMG this is the most inspiring success story ever! Cindy, I am so happy for you and so glad you shared your story! Grok on, girl!

    Siobhan wrote on June 27th, 2014
  6. AMAZING! So awesome!!!

    Paul Daly wrote on June 27th, 2014
  7. Beautiful story, beautiful transformation. I hope your family comes on board eventually. You certainly are an inspiration to all MDA readers! Congratulations, and enjoy the next several decades of life that you’ve earned thanks to your positive choices!

    Sialia wrote on June 27th, 2014
  8. THIS needs to be on TLC! not all the failed stories of those unable to give up their addictive ways! way to go!!! sooo inspiring!!

    Angela wrote on June 27th, 2014
  9. Wow…..

    Mitch wrote on June 27th, 2014
  10. Wow! A-freakin-mazing. And in so mamy ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I have goosebumps!

    Four Seasons wrote on June 27th, 2014
  11. OMG Cindy, what can I say that hasn’t already been said?! You brought tears to my eyes. I too have suffered from food addiction and binge eating. Only those who have been through it truly understand what it is like to be trapped in that cycle.

    Congrats to you, you look AMAZING and great to hear you are happy. What an inspiration!

    All good wishes to you now and for the future

    Jacqui wrote on June 27th, 2014
  12. You look beautiful! You should feel very proud—and enjoy your couple slices of pizza with no guilt. =)

    Regina wrote on June 27th, 2014
  13. I have no words. This is a most remarkable story. You are honest and amazing.

    Joey wrote on June 28th, 2014
  14. Oh my goodness what an amazing transformation!!!!!! well done!!!!! That is inspiring!!!!!

    Helen wrote on June 28th, 2014
  15. I am constantly amazed by people’s stories here but this is the first that has compelled me to comment. What you’ve achieved is astonishing. Almost beyond belief, really. But what shines through for me is your intelligence and how well you write – that, apart from your weight loss and your transformation, really caught my interest and respect.

    PP wrote on June 28th, 2014
  16. I am so proud of you, Cindy, and completely awed. Having known you for years and watched you decide to take control of your life and health the way you have, I am moved to tears by it. You are incredible! :)

    Mary M wrote on June 28th, 2014
  17. This is, I think, only the second time I’ve left a comment on MDA in the two years I’ve been lurking here, but I had to, I just had to say, your story is so amazing it brought me to tears; what you’ve achieved is simply awesome :)

    Joanne wrote on June 28th, 2014
  18. You are my hero! Such a badass! Just WOW!

    Amy wrote on June 28th, 2014
  19. Cindy,

    I lost 200 plus pounds too and the skin gets just fine after a few months

    You have achieved the impossible

    Very very proud of you!

    anonymous wrote on June 28th, 2014
  20. That is absolutely amazing – I can’t imagine how hard this was for you – great willpower and dedication

    Colin wrote on June 28th, 2014
  21. You look amazing, you must feel like a million bucks! Well done!

    Helga wrote on June 28th, 2014
  22. wow! kudos to you for having hope, and making changes, one day at a time!

    jenny rose wrote on June 28th, 2014
  23. Wow is really inadequate. Virtual hug to you.

    Julie wrote on June 28th, 2014
  24. You seem to me to be not just this transformed person physically and in terms of habit but humble. This could not have been easy. You are also an extremely good writer to capture the essence of your story in a short post.

    You also told us a heart-rending story about what it’s like to be really obese and that took a lot of courage.

    Your values and acting upon them are really this story to me. I do hope we are a supportive community that is very real in our shared path. Thank you for following this path for the people in your life and for yourself. And thank you for sharing with us.

    Juli wrote on June 28th, 2014
  25. Totally inspiring – you are a star!

    Carol wrote on June 28th, 2014
  26. This is amazing. I got a little teared up reading this and seeing how you have taken back your life literally and every aspect of it. I am SO happy for you and all you accomplished which is absolutely incredible!! Mark can add another feather to what must now be a huge headdress.

    Tina wrote on June 28th, 2014
  27. Without a doubt, hands down, the very best most inspiring success story I have ever read and will read! It took a lot of courage to just write this never mind accomplish what you have!

    You are gorgeous!

    Jade wrote on June 28th, 2014
  28. WOW well done, maybe if you go to your local/ national press, then a sponser or surgeon make take your case on and do loose skin surgery for free.:)

    lisafb wrote on June 28th, 2014
  29. Wow! You did this! You did it all yourself! You didn’t need a surgeon’s intervention. If that doesn’t give a person self confidence and strength in all aspects of life, I don’t know what does! Wishing you well.

    Kristi wrote on June 28th, 2014
  30. Holy moly…wow!
    Very inspirational. A true success story.

    I was especially surprised your kidneys recovered and healed completely.
    More and more dialyses centers are popping up all over our town, two new buildings popped up over the last 6 months alone…and the parking lots are packed daily.

    Do you have any idea how lucky you are having stumbled upon MDA?!

    Al wrote on June 28th, 2014
    • The poor kidney function was an adverse effect of some of the multiple meds I was on for the hypertension and of course hypertension itself causes kidney failure. Getting the hypertension under control and getting off the meds that were causing my kidney function to worsen all contributed to the normalization of my kidney function. I’m very grateful. I was terrified of ending up on dialysis some day.

      Cindy wrote on June 28th, 2014
  31. Dear All,

    a friend of mine told me this lady was on a TV program on Real Time TV (at least in Italy). The program was broadcasted yesterday and it seems the protagonist of the story was Cindy, but with a “new” name: Christine. Where she says she had 2 surgeries to lose weight. I haven’t watched the program. It’s doesn’t seem plausible to me that Mark Sisson would allow something like this. But nobody is perfect. So I’m wondering if any of you has watched the program (don’t know the name in English). Thanks. Rocco.

    Rocco wrote on June 28th, 2014
    • That’s hilarious. Totally not me.

      Cindy wrote on June 28th, 2014
      • Thanks for clarifying. Didn’t want to sound offensive. Just asking since so many people are talking about you on Facebook and rising this point.

        Rocco wrote on June 30th, 2014
  32. amazing, incredible, beautiful

    wildgrok wrote on June 28th, 2014
  33. Incredible. Good for you.

    Emily wrote on June 28th, 2014
  34. Late to the party – but, my jaw dropped while reading your story. You’re an inspiration, Cindy! As for the loose skin, no one is perfect. I have stretch marks and I view them as my battle scars! ;)

    Mary wrote on June 28th, 2014
  35. Thanks for this great story, Cindy, your example is about to make headway in my quest to convert even more friends and family!! I also began primal in Feb.’12 — cheers to 28 months of REAL food, and even more to real primal knowledge.

    primalpanda wrote on June 28th, 2014
  36. Chills. Effing amazing! Bravo!

    jg wrote on June 29th, 2014
  37. what an inspiring story – I have shared this with a few folks – but this is the way health should be reached – and this is the better alternative rather than surgery that snips the stomach – so congrats to this beautiful lady who fought so hard to get her health back. and another example of how the primal lifestyle is so good for us.

    healthywings wrote on June 29th, 2014
  38. Thanks for sharing your brave & amazing accomplishment, Cindy! It’s a struggle for MANY of us, and you’re proof that such an achievement is possible when a person is all-in as you were/are.

    Mary wrote on June 29th, 2014
  39. Wow. Wow. Wow. Congratulations on your choice Cindy, what an inspiration, I will be sharing your story with many people. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Red wrote on June 29th, 2014
  40. Are you kidding me?!!! So inspiring! Congrats!!

    Jeffrey wrote on June 29th, 2014

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