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 is right.

    James wrote on June 29th, 2014
  2. HOLY. #&@%ing. $#!+.

    Vince G wrote on June 30th, 2014
  3. Beyond amazing transformation. Good for you!

    Jana wrote on June 30th, 2014
  4. Uh-oh, your success story has dire consequences (bear with me =P)

    Mark will now have to put a disclaimer:

    *If you lose 20lbs or more in a month…please discontinue primal lifestyle

    On a serious note, great job! Your story is the definition of inspirational!

    Danny wrote on June 30th, 2014
  5. I’m an “older” new nurse and have been working now for 10 months. I’ve been Paleo for 5 years and I’m mortified to say I’ve gained 10 lbs since starting this job!
    I’m eating the same, it’s gotta be the stress and not moving as much.
    Walking up and down the hall just doesn’t do it for me.
    You have inspired me with your amazing story!

    Melissa wrote on June 30th, 2014
  6. You are the very definition of success! Truly just inspiring<3

    IslandSeeker wrote on June 30th, 2014
  7. Amazing. It makes me feel ashamed that I can’t seem to do what it takes (eating primal and exercising) to lose 30 lbs. I’m so done with my ‘excuses’ and ‘explanations’. I’m with you!

    Jura wrote on June 30th, 2014
  8. What an inspiration to all those out there that believe they can’t regain there health/life back.

    luke wrote on June 30th, 2014
  9. Woooowzers! I am speechless! You are amazing!

    Nicky wrote on July 1st, 2014
  10. Umm. Well…A…I’m shocked, overwhelmed and so very happy for you! Biggest loser my foot. Go Primal. Go Cindy!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on July 1st, 2014
  11. OUT-FREAKING-STANDING!!!!! Now THIS is a story that needs to be on Dr. Oz!

    Hoosierdaddy wrote on July 1st, 2014
  12. Wow. Just wow. Unbelievable.
    Congrats Cindy!

    Chris wrote on July 1st, 2014
  13. I am amazed at your success and very happy for you (congratulations, too!) I feel like a complete heel for grousing (to myself) about trying to lose 45 lb. My issues pale in comparison to yours, and you overcame. It’s a good lesson to me, and I thank you for that.

    Christopher K. wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  14. Astonishing!

    j wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  15. Wow! Such an inspirational story. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

    Cristina wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  16. You have given HOPE to some who feel hopeless. My brother died the same week as Princess Diana in 1997. He was just short of 500 pounds when he died. I have often thought if MDA was around back then that he could have found HOPE and lost the weight. This proves he could have. May your story go on to inspire and save lives.

    Pam wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  17. AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING! I am so proud of you for doing something so many won’t. You now have the ability to be an inspiration to so many people.

    Tamera Aponte wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  18. Fantastic! What a transformation, not just in your amazing appearance (such a beauty!) but in your overall attitude and zest for life! Keep it up!

    ame wrote on July 5th, 2014
  19. congratulations from an Australian Nurse…
    what an inspiration,

    keep up the great work,

    Mark wrote on July 6th, 2014
  20. I always feel for obese people. It would be really hard to be so overweight. You are extraordinary. You have come a long way. I’m so proud of you! (and I don’t even know you!)

    Your patients, your colleagues, your family, and the world needs the best and healthiest version of you. Keep up the healthy lifestyle. Keep smiling – we love seeing your radiant smile.

    Alissa wrote on July 6th, 2014
  21. Well done Cindy. But also well done Mark. You are the reason why people can share their success stories here!

    Erna wrote on July 8th, 2014
  22. *cries* I’m so happy for you!

    Natalie wrote on July 9th, 2014
  23. Fellow healthcare professional here (RN). You’re story brought me to tears. I am in awe! Congratulations!

    Jana wrote on July 12th, 2014
    • Opps! :*your*. So upset I can’t even spell right.

      Jana wrote on July 12th, 2014
  24. *APPLAUSE!!!*

    Turi wrote on July 15th, 2014
  25. AMAZING!!! WAY TO GO!!! I can’t get over your before and after picture. Way to chose life! Well done!!!

    Diane wrote on July 17th, 2014
  26. Your story has greatly inspired me. I had basically given up on ever getting my diabetes under control or losing weight. The day I read your story I started eating Primal. Within one week my blood sugar stabilized. And even though I haven’t weighed myself (don’t have a scale), my clothes are feeling looser. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Sheila wrote on July 17th, 2014
  27. Thank you , this is the most amazing story ever , i si admire you Xxx

    jillie wrote on July 18th, 2014
  28. Way to go. Congratulations. Your an inspiration.

    sandy wrote on July 20th, 2014
  29. Wow, what an amazing success story very inspiring. Congrats!

    Mark wrote on July 22nd, 2014
  30. I have read every success story on this site and I’m always moved to tears by most of them. – I just feel hopeless. I am 240 lbs and I feel like I just will never have the willpower to lose the 110 lbs I need to lose. Then I read this story. I don’t think I have ever been more inspired by words and pictures than I am right now. Your story may be my turning point. I can’t have any more excuses – I believe in the Primal lifestyle and tell people about it all the time, but for some reason I can’t seem to start living my own life. Thank you for sharing. You are definitely a strong, beautfiul woman. Keep it up!

    Jennifer wrote on July 24th, 2014
  31. amazing! thanks for sharing,

    i suppose it would be very hard for you psychologically that as a health carer to be so overweight.

    pam wrote on July 27th, 2014
  32. Absolutely wonderful story Cindy. THANK YOU for sharing!!

    Lori Woods wrote on August 10th, 2014
  33. Cindy,
    I too am a nurse – have worked nights for over 10 years in the ICU. Did you find the shift work made it difficult? I’m struggling here – I need to loose 200 lbs and have started and restarted and again restarted primal/paleo multiple times. I lost 66 lbs in 3months but have since gained it back. It can be very discouraging when there’s a big number at the end. How did you stay focused – especially with the break room full of sweets, exhaustion and such a big journey ahead? Seriously, anything you can offer as advice is greatly appreciated because I’m drowning over here….

    Joanne wrote on August 20th, 2014
  34. Extremely motivating. Thanks for sharing your story with the community.

    Steven wrote on October 5th, 2014

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