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!

Last 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.

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.

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!

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.

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!


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. 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
  2. This is one of the best Friday success stories I’ve read. I love how all the things we would never equate with diet end up being resolved when we go primal. I am so happy for you and your family that your anxiety problems have disappeared — that is huge. : )

    Keep up the good work, and I will keep trying on my end, too.

    Katherine wrote on October 19th, 2012
  3. Congratulations! I am only 12 days into this primal way of eating/living, so it’s very encouraging to read a story as this! Thanks

    Cheryl wrote on October 19th, 2012
  4. What an amazing journey! You have an absolutely beautiful family, and you are all definitely glowing in the last pic!

    M wrote on October 19th, 2012
  5. What a terrific inspiration! Congratulations!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on October 19th, 2012
  6. Great story Nikki, well done on the changes you have made for yourself and your family. I have suffered anxiety for some 15 years now and have been eating mostly primal since February. I have lost weight, gained energy and changed body shape but I still get some panick and still getting PMS in a bad way, mostly as mood swings and anxiety/ depression. Just wondering if you stayed off the dairy and what does your diet look like? Do you follow the primal fitness plan? I am only walking, not doing much heavy lifting, besides two young children anyway. I do love butter and cream and don’t get gut problems from dairy. Would love some advice.

    Shell wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • I did avoid dairy for the most part. I just felt better when I did. I love cream in my coffee once in awhile, and I love my ice cream, so I would indulge when I wanted to. Again, our diet is pretty simple, in a delicious way! Real, unprocessed Primal food, good quality protein, lots of veggies, good fats…delicious eggs from our chickens…there are so many amazing cookbooks and websites out there, (as you must know because you are onMarks!) with delicious Primal and Paleo recipes. The possibilities are endless.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Shell,
      I just finished reading the mood cure by Julia Ross and felt it answered a lot of my mood questions. Diet and basic supplements are critical, but the book help to explain how unique we all are and that some of certain eel better by adding specific amino acids. I can simpathize with your complaints. It’s very frustrating to feel sad for no reason and feel you just aren’t trying hard enough to be upbeat or see the positive side of things. Best of luck!

      Sharon wrote on October 20th, 2012
  7. Sooo happy for you and your family! It is transformations like yours — health, happiness, mental health, fitness — that will continue to inspire so many others. I am surely not the only one who will be sending this link to many friends and acquaintances.

    Chica wrote on October 19th, 2012
  8. Always enjoy the success stories, but please emphasize that they need to test for celiac. At least get the kids tested. Dangerous stuff, glluten.

    NoGlutenEver wrote on October 19th, 2012
  9. Congrats on your successful lifestyle change and beating the anxiety! You look amazing and I especially love the photos of you with your family. :)

    Kitty =^..^= wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • +1

      Heather wrote on October 19th, 2012
  10. This is such an awesome story! I’m 100% primal and i’ve been trying to get my wife to get on it as well. She suffers from some of the same symptoms but hasn’t taken the plunge. Hopefully one day she will… :)

    JP wrote on October 19th, 2012
  11. I love your story Nikki. I can identify 100%. I hope to be where you are soon (went primal this summer but have had some set backs). Stories like your’s is just what I need. Thank you:-)

    Tanja Tr. wrote on October 19th, 2012
  12. You look and sound so awesome and more than anything so HAPPY! I too love the title of your story. You have given your children their real mother and a healthy lifestyle – the best gift of all. I too echo the surprise resolution of problems we didn’t even know we had. I am 54 and the other day my son said that last year I was starting to look old, and this year (9 months 80% primal) I look young again. That’s good enough for me! Next thing is to get that 100% primal happening – I could end up 21 again! Congratulations Nikki……from the other side of the world in Oz.

    Hilary M wrote on October 19th, 2012
  13. Amazingly inspiring! Thanks for sharing! I am curious- have you completely cut out dairy now? You seem to have lost so much of the bloat- I am primal a year now and still struggling with that. I’m thinking that may be the key- appreciate your feedback and way to go!!

    Carolyn wrote on October 19th, 2012
  14. Nikki, Your dad & I never really understood this “Primal thing” until we saw with our own eyes the wonderful transformation you have experienced. We always supported everything you have accomplished but this is the “Ultimate”. Always very proud of you.

    Mom & Dad wrote on October 19th, 2012
  15. I had no idea that this PB stuff was going to help so much with my anxiety problems when I started, but it has done wonders. When reading your story, it sounded so much like my own I actually started to cry! I still have my moments, but they are much less severe, and a lot less often. I wanted to congratulate you on your success :-) You are doing your family right – not only in teaching them to eat for optimum health, but sparing them all the fun that people living with an anxiety ridden mom get to endure :-/ I wish I had found it sooner….

    Kariberry wrote on October 19th, 2012
  16. wow what a great story! congrats! you have a beautiful family :)

    mars wrote on October 19th, 2012
  17. My family and I have been primal for 3 months. I am “using” cream and a bit too much 72% dark chocolate, but even these cravings are starting to fade quite a bit. I have a long way to go and I just want to say how great your story is, especially about the mental health side of it and how much I am hoping to be able to write my story up here in 18 months or so!

    Rich wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Have you tried 85%? I find that’s satisfying with less. Alter Eco’s Blackout is my favorite–really smooth and a little bit fruity.

      DarcieG wrote on October 19th, 2012
      • Amazing story. You look beautiful and happy!
        I have been primal for 5 months, but struggeling with giving up milk, especially in coffee. Everytime I do though, I feel much better, loose weight, better skin, happier and so on. This morning I had coconut milk (Aroy-D) in my coffee, and it tastes surprisingly good.

        Anyway, back to the chocolate problem: I mix coconutoil, honey, lots of cocoa powder, and roasted haselnuts and eat it just like that or as a desert on a banana. I don’t have it often, just once or twice a month (if even).

        Jennilein wrote on October 20th, 2012
  18. Congrats on finally being in control of your anxiety. When I went primal a year ago, I took my family with me. My then 5yo son was always so filled with anxiety about trying anything new, doing school work, etc. I was so surprise and happy to see the changes in him. He is now able to enter new, unfamiliar situations with no stress. He sits down to read or do math without crying about how much his stomach hurts. It was a benefit I didn’t expect, but it’s almost the best one we’ve seen.

    Decaf Debi wrote on October 19th, 2012
  19. Love your story. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s so great that you are getting other people to take notice and sign up. When people ask me how I lost weight and I explain that I gave up grain and sugar their eyes glaze over. I have not been able to convert one person! Sucks for them! Go Nikki!

    steffturner wrote on October 19th, 2012
  20. Awesome story! This really is why we all do it – to live the life we were meant to for ourselves and our families.

    So many people suffer these symptoms (I was also one of them!) and I applaud your efforts to get the Truth out there and help others. I’ve been trying to find ways to that in my own community.

    Well done and Grok On!

    Pamela wrote on October 19th, 2012
  21. I can relate to your story so much! I’m only 2 months in and have felt such a change in my emotional well being!
    I’d love to hear how/where you teach your Primal classes! Community Ed?
    Thanks for sharing your story!

    monran wrote on October 19th, 2012
  22. Nikki. You are a badass. That was a great and inspiring story. Well done.

    BW wrote on October 19th, 2012
  23. Way to go Nikki! I am so happy for you and your story is so inspirational! My husband and I went ‘fully’ primal about a year ago; and I too had suffered from serious anxiety (panic attacks, extreme moments of highs and lows, etc.) and the primal diet has changed everything! I no longer even take Ibuprofen (don’t ever feel like I “need” it anyways), and now if I seem to be lacking or needing something, I look to the diet and how I can improve or focus on something specific (e.g., extra wild salmon or eggs from grass-fed chickens to help with sore muscles).
    You should be so proud of yourself!!! Thank you for sharing your story!

    Rachel wrote on October 19th, 2012
  24. Ps. We had our cat go primal too. Before, our friends and family would say he was pretty aggressive, would bite, and be kind of moody. Being primal for him, he is more moderate, less tempermental, and just seems happier overall :D.

    Rachel wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • I got a puppy from a shelter and within the first three months, she had two serious urinary tract infections. After research on the web, I learned some dogs were just prone to these infections. What did I get myself into? Anyway, I switched to grain-free dog food and there have been no UTIs since. Alleluia.

      Linda A. Lavid wrote on October 20th, 2012
  25. Great Story! I just turned 30 and have been struggling with anxiety/depression all my life (but it really hit hard in my later 20’s). I am pregnant with my 6th child and because of the first trimester yuck I felt I gave up on primal. But that was the wrong choice. I am now 100%primal and hoping to still feel the benefits of this lifestyle despite starting mid-pregnancy (22 weeks now). Your story really inspired me. Thanks so much for sharing. Do you have a blog?

    Hilaire wrote on October 19th, 2012
  26. Great job, and such a nice looking and happy family!

    Mike wrote on October 19th, 2012
  27. Nikki, your story is amazing and truly inspirational. I’ve been attempting and failing at going Primal for the past year. It’s stories like yours that make me want to really commit to making a change in my life.

    (Now a side note: You may want to try and see if you can’t break your little ones of the thumb-sucking habit early on. I’m currently undergoing therapy to fix years and years of damage that such a habit caused, including horrible mouth breathing and a narrow palate. I don’t mean to be a pain in the rear. I’m just commenting as someone who wishes they didn’t have to undergo the pain of fixing this right now. :) ) (Also: your little ones are adorable.)

    Laney wrote on October 19th, 2012
  28. The symptoms you describe including the anxiety and the recovery on the primal diet all point strongly toward Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. It is a real condition (I’ve got it and seen a world class specialist) and removing gluten is the cure. Enjoy your health and good for you!

    Kelly wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • It took my going primal 6 weeks ago to realize that I had a gluten problem; Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity sounds like exactly the right label. I quit having migraines as soon as I stopped eating grains, period; I’d had migraines on a weekly (or more often) basis for decades. I’ve seen a real reduction in anxiety and depression too, plus a huge decline in joint inflammation too.

      Grains; who needs ’em? Not me!

      KitC wrote on October 19th, 2012
  29. Brilliant…inspiring…Grok on! Firefly

    firefly wrote on October 19th, 2012
  30. Spunk! : )

    Madama Flintstonefly wrote on October 19th, 2012
  31. What do you do if you didn’t get anxiety till AFTER going paleo? Ugh! Loved your story and wish for the same results one day. I’m 100% paleo right now (no fruit, grains, sweetners, dairy, etc) and still not kicking the anxiety that I didn’t get till starting my weight loss/paleo journey.

    Sassy wrote on October 19th, 2012
  32. Did I write this? Seriously, I could have written this story. I’m still at the beginning stages of being primal but I hope that one day I have the success that you’ve had.

    Stephanie wrote on October 19th, 2012
  33. Nikki, I love the pic of you with the carrots! You are so joy-filled in it. Congratulations on this marvelous transformation. You and you family will be so blessed with good health for many years to come. As an educator you know the importance of modeling. Your story has inspired me to get serious about going primal. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Kimmy wrote on October 19th, 2012
  34. Awesome!!! You look amazing!!!

    Helen wrote on October 20th, 2012
  35. Hi Nikki, your story is inspiring, thank you so much for sharing it xx

    Lucy Hyde wrote on October 20th, 2012
  36. How lucky are your kid’s!!!! You are a true inspiration Nikki….. I can relate on so many levels. I have gone paleo as a result of trying to combat systemic candida. The symptoms are the same as what you described. You look far younger than your years. Pictures don’t lie and your’s are one heck of an endorsement to going Primal! Wishing you much success in leading others to a more healthy lifestyle. Way to go!!!!!

    Anita wrote on October 20th, 2012
  37. My favourite story so far! Well done!! XX

    Lottie wrote on October 20th, 2012
  38. This one really resonated with me. I have been doing Primal for over 3 years now, but I’m not a super-amazing success story because I was already healthy to begin with. Primal was how I stopped myself from slowly gaining weight as I got older, but there were some other lingering issues that I didn’t realize really needed to be solved.

    I’m emotional, and recently my husband started to suspect that I was borderline depressed. We both went strict Paleo for a month, and I was amazed at how much of a difference it made in my overall sense of well-being. After my challenge ended, I went back to the occasional cheat and found that my mood plummeted. Now I’m doing another challenge, but when this is done, I have the Paleo Indulgences book to still give me the occasional treat. I made some cookies just before starting my challenge, and my husband actually LOVED them.

    I also discovered my inner athlete. I work out with a trainer who focuses entirely on Primal fitness (complete with Primal Blueprint posters) and go only once a week. Other workouts are spent either with the Navy command, doing sprints, or doing time trials, and throwing in the occasional race because apparently I actually like running. Who knew?

    The ability to get up and go is the best thing about being Primal, hands down!

    Deanna wrote on October 20th, 2012

Leave a Reply

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

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!