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

Finally, I Am Me

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 2Last September marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of my Primal Journey. It’s been a life changing year for me and my family. I finally feel ready to tell my story. So here we go…

I can honestly, whole-heartedly say that my whole life, I felt like I was way off course. I am smart, athletic, was always successful in school, came from a good family, knew my career choice (teacher) at a young age and was passionate about everything I did. Despite my “normal” life, I struggled deeply with anxiety as long as I can remember. I never felt normal, or like I could handle anything. The slightest bit of stress sent me into a life or death reaction. I honestly thought I was crazy, but I knew deep down that this wasn’t how I was supposed to be living my life. This wasn’t ok. I knew that for sure.

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I was in constant pursuit of changing my outlook on life, but I just couldn’t make it happen. My anxiety spiraled out of control in my mid-twenties and I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My doctor suggested I go on Cipralex, a medication for anxiety and depression. It helped with my mood and I guess life went on, but the anxiety was always lurking in the background and it never felt right being on medication. My husband and I decided to have a baby, so I went off my anxiety medication. The anxiety symptoms returned full force and I was once again feeling out of control. I continued to try and manage it as we added a second beautiful child to our family, but I generally could not keep myself together. It was a tough couple of years. I was unhappy, moody, lost and felt completely alone.

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On top of my ever present anxiety and all the other struggles that came with it (weight gain, strain on relationships, lack of sleep, isolation, depression) I was quickly developing horrible digestion issues and felt sick to my stomach after every meal. I had knee pain, back pain, bad seasonal allergies, acne, tendinitis, constant migraines, I was tired all the time, but suffered from insomnia for many years. I felt like I was falling apart and I was only 29. I was really struggling with my weight, which had been creeping up slowly since high school despite being involved in many sports, and eating “very healthy” according to the Canada Food guide. When I say healthy, I mean, “egg whites-whole grain bread-brown rice-oatmeal-no fat yogurt-no fat cottage cheese healthy.” We thought we were very aware of our diets, but I just couldn’t keep a healthy body composition. I was baffled. What was I doing wrong? I was at my worst when I should have been at my prime.

Finally, June 2011, I saw a naturopath who recommended that I give up Gluten and Dairy. I think I actually laughed at them. I thought in my head, there’s no way I could EVER do that. Coincidentally, soon afterward, I started talking to an Ultimate Frisbee friend who ate Primal (I know! Ultimate players know best!). He started talking about inflammation, omega 3-6 ratio, etc… To be honest, I was a bit lost in the whole conversation, but the simplicity of what he ate intrigued me. He told me about your site, I wrote it down on a napkin and checked you out the second I got home. I was hooked immediately! I bought The Primal Blueprint and The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and started my research. I downloaded your fitness ebook, bought a few cookbooks, read every article I could cram in my brain and dove right in!

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Exactly a year ago, I told my husband we were changing our lives and going Primal. He was amazing and 100% supportive from the start (despite his love for sandwiches, crackers, cereal and other high-carb fillers). We went cold turkey (ummmmm!) and our kids are Primal too. A month in I started seeing the changes…changes I didn’t even know I needed! I began to sleep better, wake up refreshed and maintain that energy throughout the day – it was incredible! A few more months went by and my acne disappeared, my knee pain, back pain, tendinitis and allergies were gone. The debilitating migraines that I was suffering from on a sometimes daily basis ceased. I lost 40 lbs and who knows how many inches, gained muscle and leaned out. My husband tells people I look like I did when he met me at 19. I feel younger and am so energetic. I am in the best shape of my life! And the most phenomenal benefit of Primal for me has been the complete change in my anxiety. I no longer feel like I am out of control. No more panic attacks, breakdowns, or feeling sorry for myself. The symptoms of GAD are non-existent. I finally feel like I am living my life the way I should be. I am a better mother, a better wife, a better teacher, a better Me. I am Me. I am truly happy. Finally. I have never been able to say that.

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Primal living has changed my life and this passion could not be contained. People were asking me what I had been doing so often, I decided to start running Primal Information and Cooking workshops in my community. I am a full time teacher and love Primal, so I thought I’d combine the two. It has been a great success and I have inspired many people in my community to take control of their health. This past year has been amazing. I feel like I am just beginning. Thanks for all your amazing inspiration, Mark. I can’t wait to see what I can do next!

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Nikki

P.S. I am looking forward to taking a Primal Blueprint Certification course through Mark’s Daily Apple…hoping you have one in the works…wink wink.

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. Way to go! Your story is similar to mine (and so many others, it seems). I always felt like something just wasn’t quite right. Now, I’m switched on and ready to go all the time. You look so content and at peace in your own skin. All the best for the future! I’m 5 months primal and can’t wait to see what the next 7 months bring for me. – a fellow Canuck

    John815 wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • It only gets better! Thanks so much!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
      • Holly cow girl! Your story just dropped my jaw!

        Although I have never been a huge person… I did struggle to lose the weight after my first child.

        I now know that it was the serious malnutrition that kept me fat and was the foundational cause of post natal depression. Girl, I relate!

        I have just recently decided to eat paleo… and raw besides cooking my meet.

        Like you, I keep wondering when am I finally going to be happy with the life I’m living? Thanks for sharing your amazing story. It’s so beautiful, you are beautiful.

        Love Madelain
        p.s. is that your veggie garden… totally jealous! can’t wait to keep my own organic garden.

        Madelain wrote on January 4th, 2013
    • “Finally, I am Me.”
      I just printed off your success story in hope that it will constantly be a reminder to me that things can actually get better.
      I’ve been keto for 6 months and primal for about a year. Although I keep falling off the wagon every 4-6 weeks everytime I get really low or weak.
      Keto has helped with ups and downs in blood sugar (and increased energy for workouts) but I don’t feel that it has cured my depression. PS I’ve been depressed/anxious/OCD/(whatever you wanna call it) since childhood.
      I am disappointed that keto was not the “cure” for me but it’s hard to tell if I’ve been doing it correctly…my next option is to try fasting for minimum 24hrs to 3 day fast to aid in weight loss and mental function. ( I already weight train, try relaxation techniques, have reduced my work load, I could sprint more often, have a great support network and have goals for my future…that’s why I am so annoyed at the fact that I am not better)
      Wishing, Hoping, Dreaming, Praying that fasting will be ‘a part’ of the answer for me.
      Anyone else with a mental health success story?

      LEECEE wrote on October 13th, 2014
  2. Wonderful story, I am so happy for you and your family! What stands out to me is how much your outlook on life has been affected in a positive way, not to mention your rockin’ bod!

    Becky wrote on October 19th, 2012
  3. This is just one of the best Friday stories I’ve read so far. Your story has elements that anyone and everyone can relate to and your transformation is inspiring. I love it! Congratulations to your entire family.

    Pam wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Thank you so much! I am overwhelmed by the response. The Primal community is so AMAZING!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
      • Your story sounds so similar to mine I felt like I was reading my own story! The anxiety… my goodness I’m so grateful it’s gone! :)

        Cheryl wrote on October 20th, 2012
    • I am overwhelmed by the response. The Primal community is so AMAZING!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  4. Wow, the after pictures look incredible. What a transformation! I recently looked at a picture of myself from a year ago and I can’t believe how bad I looked before I dropped 35 pounds.

    It’s tough to believe that our diet can affect our brain so much and cause problems like anxiety. I’m glad that primal was able to help her solve all her problems.

    Wayne wrote on October 19th, 2012
  5. Your story is awesome. Anxiety sucks and it’s so demoralizing to suffer in silence, feeling broken when comparing yourself to those around you. I found that when switching to Primal, the increased consumption of fats helped soothed anxiety.

    Paula wrote on October 19th, 2012
  6. Congratulations! Fabulous story! Thank you so much for sharing. The world needs to hear more stories like yours. Kudos also for educating your community and sharing your new passion for life and health. Warm wishes to you and your beautiful family. :)

    Jessica wrote on October 19th, 2012
  7. Wow. Great story Nikki. You look great, happy and the “former” you looks like a stranger relative to the new you. Amazing what “real” food can do for a person!

    Mario Vachon wrote on October 19th, 2012
  8. This is such a beautiful story. I am soooo happy for you and your husband. Each of these Friday stories sound so much the same, but each one is utterly unique and empowering. Yours is truly beautiful. You’re now super hot, got some rockin’ abs, and your outlook and emotional health looks like they might have improved more than your body.

    What is always so great with getting control of one’s nutrition is all the other benefits that come along with it that one never even knew were problems associated with nutrition to begin with. And your story just beautifully highlights that facet.

    Congratulations, and enjoy your new life!

    Scott wrote on October 19th, 2012
  9. Loved your story. You are an amazing inspiration. I am 3 months in today (I have the 90 day mark circled on my calendar). It was so easy to make it this far. 25 pounds down and counting. I can’t believe how far I’ve come especially since everything else I’ve ever tried did not work. Seeing the transformation is just another push for me to be the best I can be as a primal woman. Best of luck to you and your family!

    GROCK on and Carry on!

    Rebecca wrote on October 19th, 2012
  10. Congratulations, Nikki! The difference in is remarkable. I’ve read before about diminished anxiety on primal which is truly an amazing and not-so-well recognized benefit. But for those who suffer from it, lessening the anxiety is huge! I, too, am looking forward to hearing more about the certification process. ;-) Good luck!

    Alison Golden wrote on October 19th, 2012
  11. Way to take charge of your health, and it’s great you’re helping other people find their way as well. You’re also doing your kids an amazing service by modeling for them the primal lifestyle while they’re so young.

    Gydle wrote on October 19th, 2012
  12. Wow, amazing story. I know everyone wants to look great and all (which btw you do), but whats really inspiring is how much better you feel! Pretty cool that your running those workshops, keep it up.

    How did you do going cold turkey? Personally I’m a fan of that approach, but how did it work for you?

    luke depron wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • For me personally, cold turkey was the only way. I do things %100…that’s my personality, and I saw results quicker, and started feeling great pretty quickly, so that made it easier to stay committed and make it my family’s lifestyle. Not everyone is like this, I know and it gets tricky with kids involved, but mine are young, so they didn’t really know the difference.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  13. Holy WOW! Great story. Congratulations on your success and how you’re helping others. I’m always so happy when the next generation “gets it”.

    Lynne wrote on October 19th, 2012
  14. FanTAStic, and way to go on making it a whole family endeavor. My wife and kids aren’t there, and that’s hard for me. Congratulations.

    Tom B-D wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • It’s definitely more of a challenge with kids, but mine were young. It was also almost more important for me to get it right because of them. Just lead by example with them, and stay positive!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  15. You look wonderfully healthy! Awesome job!!

    Melissa wrote on October 19th, 2012
  16. Congrats! So wonderful that you discovered the primal lifestyle at young age. Your kids don’t know it now but you have given them a precious gift – your health and their future well-being.

    Linda wrote on October 19th, 2012
  17. Mark, honestly, what would we do without you. You are saving so many lives :)

    Claudio wrote on October 19th, 2012
  18. Congratulations, Nikki! You look fantastic. What are you doing in the way of exercise?

    Lori wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • I have a gym membership, which isn’t really necessary, but I enjoy getting out and getting that break from the kids. BUT, I could realistically only make time to get there once a week, SOMETIMES twice. The key for my fitness was Mark’s fitness ebook. (The link is in my story). It was so simple, natural, and easy to use, but versatile at the same time. I never got bored of it. I did that workout at the gym, once a week. I added some new stuff here and there (free weights, skipping for warm up, etc) to get the most out of my time there too. I also play Ultimate once a week over the summer. But, honestly, no cronic cardio. I get out an walk with the family, hiking, and am always actively playing with my children. I am also a Kindergarten teacher, so I am constantly on the move during the day.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  19. This is great stuff, thanks for sharing your story Nikki! How has going Primal affected your husband (wieght, health, etc.) and what was your workout routine during the past year?

    Ricky wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • My Husband noticed the most improvements in his energy level. He toned out even more than he already was, and started to see more muscle without working out. I explained above what my workout routine was. Nothing hardcore, once a week, or whenever I could fit it in. Basically used Mark’s fitness ebook, and ultimate frisbee. BEST SPORT EVER (well, hockey is pretty close!).

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  20. Always nice to see a story of someone else who dropped anxiety after going primal. I think that may be the greatest thing about the lifestyle, far more impressive than weight loss alone!

    Bevie wrote on October 19th, 2012
  21. Man, you must be an AWESOME inspiration in your community! I love this, totally relate: “…changes I didn’t even know I needed” That’s the best thing of all, I think, is discovering all the stuff you didn’t even know you were putting up with.

    Joy Beer wrote on October 19th, 2012
  22. What an awe inspiring story! I am now going to model myself after your story. I’m so excited for you (and me, modeling myself after you). ;)

    samui_sakana wrote on October 19th, 2012
  23. Wow, how great that you got life back in spades, and a new calling, too! It’s great to be healthier and have energy–I second that!

    Jenny wrote on October 19th, 2012
  24. Great stuff Nikki. Wonderful story and transformation. It’s not easy getting the whole family to go primal. And awesome that you are spreading the word!

    John wrote on October 19th, 2012
  25. Sooo proud of you Nikki! Thanks for all the support everyone. answering a q, I’ve always been lean, but have noticed some further toning even, and the energy for family life is infinite now! Piggy back hikes and dance parties in the living room, bring it all on!

    nikki's hubby wrote on October 19th, 2012
  26. Congratulations!!! I love reading the success stories.

    James Hunter wrote on October 19th, 2012
  27. Awesome transformation!! It never ceases to amaze me just how profound the benefits are of a Primal lifestyle. For me, it’s increased creativity as well as everything else. Keep it up, chick!! The gift you are giving your entire family is priceless.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on October 19th, 2012
  28. As a fellow Ultimate Frisbee player of Nikki’s I can vouch for the amazing transformation she has gone through. Nikki you are an awesome woman, wife, mother…& ultimate player . I am glad you told your story, it brought tears to my eyes.

    Leah wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Thanks Leah!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  29. Nikki, I got teary reading this. I have had similar symptoms for much of my adult life (I’m 44, and a former ultimate player) – anxiety, depression, acne, bloating, lack of energy, belly fat (that I thought was genetic), although not overweight. I’ve now been gluten free for about 3 months but not 100% primal.. I feel so much better than I did, but you’ve inspired me to go all the way primal (no more corn tortillas…). Thank you so much for your inspiration!!

    Suze wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Awesome! What an amazing experience this has been for me. If I can do it, you can do it! To inspire others is an amazing feeling. WOW!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  30. congrats on the anxiety cessation! how weird it is to wake up one day and say to yourself, “woah, i’m not panicking like i normally do.”

    jordan wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • I know you are married and all but hot hot hot.
      Shame on me. Blessings on you. Well done!

      Douglas wrote on March 6th, 2013
  31. What a great testimonial, Nikki! These commenters are correct; the change you’ve made in your life and your family’s IS inspiring, and IS moving others in your community to better their own health, and the health of their families. Thank you for everything you’ve done….Madame :) .

    Duchess wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Your story is next Madame. I can’t wait to see the inspiration you will give. Xoxo!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  32. What a transformation of body and mind!

    I understand completely, I have always been wound up and anxious, it’s been a struggle my whole life. I realize now that our mental health begins and largely flows from our physical health. The mind follows the body.

    What you described here strikes me as perhaps the greatest success one can realize in life. Finding the path that frees one from self-limiting unconscious behaviors and opens up one’s full potential, the freedom to be the unfettered and dynamic person within. It’s the ultimate self realization.

    Congratulations on your breakthrough!

    Dave wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Wow. Thank you so much.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  33. great story! I’m curious how your children took to being primal? I’m and undecided about having my two eat primal along with me. Thank you for your story, I am happy that the anxiety is not with you now.

    Becca wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • They are young, 3 and 1, and we are expecting our third, so it was an easier adjustment for them then children who are set in their ways. But, that is almost more the reason to steer them towards a healthier lifestyle. Lead by positive example. That’s the best thing you can do. I offered delicious, healthy meals and they came around eventually.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  34. Amazing story! So glad you can enjoy the life you are living!

    Tamika wrote on October 19th, 2012
  35. I loved your story! I have not had wonderful success yet with the fat loss (still working on that..) but have CURED my anxiety and depression. I wish more people knew that there was a better way than either dealing with it or going on meds.

    Amy P wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Hang in there Amy, health is wealth. Weightloss is highly variable, we are not all clones. Nikki has found such wonderful peace that allows her to truly enjoy life, it’s a gem we should all be looking for, with body shape being a side benefit.
      On my journey, I started by giving up sugar, and although I didn’t lose any weight during that phase, I was euphoric, I couldn’t believe the elevation of my mood, and I didn’t think I was glum! It motivated me to keep searching to find Primal living. In my case I think I am slowly accepting I will never be thin (never have), but I will be well, and enjoying life. I’ve lost 13 kgs, put 1 on and stopped, but I will never change from this lifestyle now, I’m home, and you will be too.
      Cheers

      Heather wrote on October 19th, 2012
      • Well said!

        Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  36. Your story is so inspiring. You are so brave to share such a personal account of your life. It is stories like these, and people brave enough to tell them, that are instrumental in changing people’s lives. Congrats! Keep inspiring everyone!

    Shay wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Thanks Shay! People have to be more open about anxiety and depression. I know from experience that when others opened up about it to me, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone. I knew deep down it was important that I sent my story in…and support from family and Best Friends was important too. :)

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  37. COngrats! And I love the title of your story. After all it is what we all really want: to look at our reflection of photograph and see that it shows who we are inside!!!

    leida wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • So true!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
  38. Great story. I have gone through much of what you describe (educator, ‘successful’,active, anxiety, aching joints [Ialso had GERD, OA],etc. I have found, on-the-job as a curriclum developer, MDA and most if not all the written material related to paleo/ primal diets and disease. My work in the last few years involved researching about cancer and chronic disease preventon and nutrition. As I learned more, I decided 1.5 years ago to eliminate grains, legumes, etc. We already had mostly a local-product diet, but I had huge cravings for bread and any form of carbohydrate that would give a fast, high energy boost, especially at the end of the work day.

    So I became a pretty good baker, using unbleached white flour sparingly and experimenting with recipes using whole grains…eating a lot of it, aches, pains, GERD, etc., and then more cravings, etc. a continuous cycle.

    Back to my research…when I decided to quit grains for good – it was a Sunday -two days later (Tuesday), I had no more aches and pains, no more GERD, no more cravings for anything, and so on.

    Reading your story, although there are decades of age between us, inspires me to keep on the journey to wellness (fructose is a problem for me). I am so happy that a young family like yours has found this lifeway.
    Aili- a fellow Canuck:)

    Aili wrote on October 19th, 2012
  39. Such a great share! Thank you for sharing your story, so many inspiring details!

    Monica wrote on October 19th, 2012
  40. Nikki, I am so very happy for your success! I volunteer for a search and rescue team and heard about Mark’s Daily Apple. As soon as my husband and I checked out the website, we changed, in April of this year and cold turkey. Although we have just now located where to find free range meat and have an order in for that. I have noticed a difference in my health, but not in my weight. We are active and have incorporated a lot of the physical aspect of Primal into our daily lives and although I try not to get discouraged, I am stuck with the weight aspect. Sooo, I would like to know what your daily food consumption looks like.

    Karolin wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Three good meals a day, a good quality protein, the rest of the plate veggies. We don’t really fuss over it really. (Portions, I mean) I eat until I am full at meals, and this got easier as our Journey unfolded. We just focused on eating real, Primal unprocessed food. I didn’t really pay attention to amount of food. It just felt so natural to us, we didn’t have to monitor it…AND WHO WOULD WANT TO! It would have drove me nuts! But, to each is own.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012

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