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. Great story, Nikki! I’ve done paleo on and off, and right now have fallen off the wagon… but your story is very inspirational: I have issues with anxiety and depression, and it would be lovely if those things went away! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Agnes wrote on October 20th, 2012
  2. Wow, what a wonderful story and transformation – all in one year! Congratulations! I’ve been Primal for 3 1/2 months, have lost 21 lbs and feel so much better! Unfortunately, my allergies have NOT subsided and I’m in the middle of an allergy crisis right now. After 2 months my doc took me off the blood pressure meds I had been taking for 15 years! Yay Mark and yay Nikki!

    MoodyGirl wrote on October 20th, 2012
  3. This was a very inspiring post, and just what I needed right now.

    Stephanie wrote on October 20th, 2012
  4. Wow Nikki! I love to read these transformation stories, especially ones I can relate to and yours struck a cord. You look so fantastic and it’s really inspiring. I am curious what your course outline looks like for the community? I agree – primal certification would be interesting. I’d love to see a post on this subject. Again, nice work and thank you for the inspiration.

    Beth wrote on October 20th, 2012
    • I have basically gathered all the best information on the lifestyle over the past year of my life (on all the major topics, resources, tips, etc). It’s honestly been a years worth of in depth research from the experts, like Mark, and created a mini-course to get people thinking, or to get them started in the right direction. I have a bit of experience with the lesson planning and organization because of my Education background. I then follow this Part 1 with a Part 2 cooking course. The cooking courses are constantly changing, as I am getting requests for specific ones (breakfast, lunch, etc) and the possibilities are endless. As of right now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I love it!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 21st, 2012
  5. Very Very inspiring, thanks for posting this! You really shine!

    WildGrok wrote on October 20th, 2012
  6. I am Nikki’s uncle and I am very happy and proud of her changes she made in her life. I also started eating Primal around the same time and at 51 look better than at any time in my life. I’m trying to get the rest of the family on board.

    Kevin Dugdale wrote on October 20th, 2012
    • You go Uncle Kevin! Grok on!

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 21st, 2012
  7. Incredible transformation!!!

    Melissa wrote on October 20th, 2012
  8. There is no better certification than your before and after pictures: hang them proudly in the living room …

    People will use it as a standard:

    They will say:
    I am 1/2 Nikky (good!)
    I am 0.9 Nikky (terrific!)

    WildGrok wrote on October 20th, 2012
  9. I saw a you tube vid mark posted and somehow ended up here a few clicks later. I’m 28 and feel just like this teacher before going primal. I have always been pretty , skinny, active/athlete , but since having my child in 2004, I’ve had major blood sugar highs and lows, always “bonking” if I didn’t eat every 2 hours. Major mood swings, I felt lost and crazy. I could never gain weight ever but all of a sudden this year I have gained 20 lbs I. The past few months even though I’m actually more active. I suspect thyroid , but anyway at 5’4 and 120 lbs I now am having gum problems, constant depression for no reason, acne, I skip menstrual cycles 2-3 months at a time.

    I pray this is my answer. Ordering book. Ill post an update in one month. Feel free to message me, I would LOVE some primal friends.

    Amber wrote on October 20th, 2012
    • This is it Amber! It will change your life. Can’t wait to read about your update.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 21st, 2012
  10. Oh my Goodness, Gracious!!!! You are 100% hot chick, Nikki! I have been going through something similar doing my own trial and error version of low carb (with great results, but some ups and downs and confusion), but it wasn’t until I discovered this website that I started to get a clue and also the confidence I needed to go all the way with this lifestyle. Most women I know look like your before pictures, and that’s how I used to look, too. Everyone is so sick to death of dieting and health issues – the word really needs to be spread. Your transformation looks absolutely amazing, and to hear how much better you feel is also very inspiring. You look like you could be an actress! Wow.

    AlarminglyCharming wrote on October 20th, 2012
  11. Very inspiring – thank you for sharing and congratulations on your entire lifestyle shift. I am in the early stages of making this shift. I think I am in the middle of the flu-like low carb/zero carb withdrawal. Also reading Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat” which is amazing. Appreciative of the personal stories like yours where folks follow the suggestions and get the results – and get their lives back.


    Scott C. Irwin wrote on October 20th, 2012
  12. Very similar to my journey as well. People ask, “what did you do?”. When I tell them specifically they zone out and don’t listen. As simple as it is, they don’t want to change. So frustrating.

    Congrats on your new life

    Andi wrote on October 20th, 2012
  13. Sorry about that Andi… :( Hope you keep trying though. My grandma sounds like she really wants to try it after only a week ago being concerned that I was skinny because I was sick! (Haven’t seen her for about a year and went PB since then).

    Thanks for talking about the anxiety! I have had recurrent depression and OCD since I was a child… PB seems to be helping though! I had too sodas today (special sodas from a drive-in in a particular place I don’t often get to visit ;)) and could definitely tell I was mood affected! Crabby and depressed!

    Khainag wrote on October 20th, 2012
  14. What an amazing body transformation! Congrats! I work with people everyday on a very similar mission and it’s nice to read about people finding success the right way!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Chris Heron wrote on October 21st, 2012
  15. This is the first primal success story that I’ve ever commented on, and I just have to say that I’m wowed. I face a lot of similarities. I’m sort of athletic, not super overweight, but I have some extra unwanted flab that wasn’t there when I was younger, I’m a teacher, I suffer from terrible anxiety issues, etc. Your story was so inspiring to me, and you look fantastic!

    olehcat wrote on October 21st, 2012
  16. Thanks for sharing Nikki! I have been on a road trip and not eating my normal primal way and I can’t believe how fast my body reverts back to all of its old issues. Thanks for inspiring me to get back on the wagon!

    Lily wrote on October 21st, 2012
  17. Nikki, you rock! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You are glowing in all of your pictures! What an amazing transformation. What a pleasure it is to read stories of awakening like yours – grok on!!!

    Nick wrote on October 21st, 2012
  18. Nikki, can you give me more info on your primal class? I am very interested

    Keith wrote on October 21st, 2012
  19. Pre-primal I also suffered some knee pain, an after-effect of some reckless play and injuries (high drops for thrills aren’t a good idea). It was basically like arthritis and my knees cracked all the time. Ever since the switch my knees have been steadily improving. I get the odd ache and they crack if I squat the wrong the way or put too much pressure on them but the difference is amazing. I’m no longer worried about ending up essentially crippled from my old injuries.

    Animanarchy wrote on October 21st, 2012
  20. WOW! Congratulations. Well done you for using your teaching skills to help others go primal. You are an asset to the primal movement.

    paleo-bunny wrote on October 21st, 2012
  21. Agri-corps & the loathsome government bureaucrats who they bribe to pass laws for them are having fits trying to figure a way to ban people from this diet.
    Not only will the sales of these damaging foods be reduced, but so will the demand for pharma drugs that treat so many due to eating the garbage that we’ve been told is great for us.

    Dave wrote on October 21st, 2012
  22. Your story was amazing. You said that you went cold turkey… how did you flip the switch with your cooking so quickly? What types of meals did you start off with, to get yourself on the right path? I have a hard time thinking up creative meals (including packed lunches and quick dinners) for every day, and I need to be able to do this in order to keep my boyfriend happy and interested in this lifestyle.

    Sarah wrote on October 22nd, 2012
    • I went for it %100, and meal planned a whole months worth of meals (breakfasts, lunches and dinners for my family) that’s just my personality. (Most paleo and primal cookbooks ahve meal plans in them) That’s how I started. Now that I have the hang of it, I meal plan by week. There are some great cookbooks out there, and they have meal plans at the back, and Mark has some great posts about meal planning sites too if you can’t do it yourself. I use the slow cooker a lot (3 times a week) , with my young children, it is great having dinner ready when I come home. We eat leftovers for lunch often times, and when I cook, I cook two meals at once, so I am always a meal ahead and prepared. This REALLY helps. Now it’s just second nature to me to be making lunch and breakfasts at the same time. I am always planning ahead, cooking chicken breasts for Wednesdays cold lunch salad, or peeling and shredding a sweet potato for Tuesdays breakfast hash, etc. I guess I do spend more time in the kitchen, but that’s life, and my kids are so involved in it. They love cooking, and know exactly what they are eating.

      Nikki Zavitz wrote on October 22nd, 2012
  23. What an inspiring story – I got teary at the end seeing the picture of your beautiful family, and the true happiness gleaming from your eyes. Congratulations!

    Julie wrote on October 22nd, 2012
  24. I’m inspired. I start my research here and a new start tomorrow. Thank you for sharing Nikki and Mark

    AbsoluteDelirium wrote on October 23rd, 2012
  25. I burst into tears after reading your story… Congratulations to you and your family!

    Ro wrote on October 23rd, 2012
  26. Your beautiful story made me cry. It totally energized me to get back to living Primal. Thank you. I was feeling sorry for myself there.

    Debrakadabra wrote on October 25th, 2012
  27. The 2011 Nikki is Amanda 2012! I have been doing some research on primal eating and your story is so encouraging.

    Thank you for sharing. You have helped make my decision to change my lifestyle seem effortless!!


    Amanda Broughton wrote on October 26th, 2012
  28. Sooooo AWESOME… Great story!

    Jason wrote on October 29th, 2012
  29. Great story! And you look absolutely fantastic. This is just the motivation that I need to keep going. Congratulations on your amazing success!

    Jolin wrote on November 2nd, 2012
  30. Great story!!! I’m going to go Primal, now. What an inspiration :)

    Shell Bell wrote on November 2nd, 2012
  31. Wow. You could have written my story for me, they are so identical. I’m six months paleo/primal now, and I cannot believe the difference. There was a point in my life when I thought I’d have to carry the burden of GAD (and migraines and all the rest of it) forever. Life is amazing now. I’m so glad you found yourself, too. 😀

    dre wrote on November 9th, 2012
  32. WHOA!!!! Great job great story I can relate to so many part of this! Good job and keep up the good work!

    MaLinda wrote on January 15th, 2013
  33. Congrats, Nikki! As striking as your transformation is — you do look amazing!! — the most remarkable thing to me is the difference in your expression! The before photos show a woman who seems not all the way there, while the “after” photos show a woman full of joy and fun. Great job!

    AJ wrote on January 15th, 2013
  34. I’m so inspired! Just starting my journey, thank you for sharing!

    eldub715 wrote on January 21st, 2013
  35. Thank you Nikki, for sharing your journey with us. I’m 18 days into my second foray into Primal, and your story has served as a true motivation. Best wishes, and Grok on!

    Cas wrote on February 8th, 2013
  36. I feel like you wrote my story! I had such bad anxiety and the back pain DAILY migraines and now being on primal those are gone. Its just so crazy yet so freeing to know you can live “normally”. You are a true inspiration!

    Katie wrote on February 11th, 2013
  37. This story really hits home with me. I have not started the primal diet yet. I wanted to read the books first. I have been suffering with panic disorder and depression for 13 yrs and I am currently on prozac. I did not want to get on it again but the panic attacks were so bad. She gives me hope that I can change my life and get off meds. I was also happy to hear her children are also eating primal which I want to do as well. Thank you for posting this and thank you for the inspiration!

    Robin wrote on February 20th, 2013
  38. You are beautiful! So is your family. YAY for you and your success!

    Helga wrote on March 10th, 2013
  39. Nikki, I really enjoyed your story, we have a few things in common… , anxiety and naturopath recommendation to stay away from gluten and dairy. What helped you to make the leap? I know it’s the right thing to do, but with anxiety, the cravings for bread-like things can be really strong…I’m worried because my doc just prescribed Paxil and I’d rather not take it. Thanks, Amanda

    Amanda wrote on June 3rd, 2013

Leave a Reply

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

© 2015 Mark's Daily Apple

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