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

Finding the Person Within: A Mother and Daughter Journey

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!

Once upon what seems like a lifetime ago I was the brightest thing that walked into any room. No, I was not the thinnest, prettiest, best-dressed thing in the room – but I had an aura of pure confidence wherever my feet took me. I had a brilliant mind and unstoppable will. I had overcome so many challenges in my life – growing up with addictive parents, homeless, then eventually parentless and shipped to boarding school. I was an overcomer! The key – I LOVED myself and I feared no challenge. That is until I had my first child. I feared her. She was a challenge. No more me time, lots of her time. Lots of crying and sleepless nights as I tried to figure out this girl. She was out of control and would later be diagnosed with a form of autism. Add child 2 and 3 to the mix and this momma was DONE. Always weak, always tired, 80 lbs heavier – the girl who LOVED herself now hated every inch of her being. Parenthood felt like a failure. I started anti-depressants. Got worse. Started birth control (the Depo-shot) to even out hormones. Got drastically worse. With failing energy and a soldier as a husband who was never home I cooked from boxes and drive-thrus. I continued to get worse – and so did my little girl whose struggles caused her to not be able to be in a classroom. I was done. I felt hopeless. Was this a forever thing? Would I forever be huge and tired? Would my daughter forever be the outcast? Would I be forced to put her on some horrible mind altering meds? Something had to change.

The only thing I knew that I had control to change was our diet. So I researched. From that day on, 2 years ago this November, we have not eaten fast food. We stopped eating conventional meat and vegetables and starting buying only what we could get from local farms, meat and LOTS of vegetables and fruits. Minimally processed food and nothing with artificial dyes/preservatives/sweeteners. Within 1 month my child was COMPLETELY different! Her whole life we were poisoning her without even realizing it! As time passed and we continued to refine our diet she got even better.

Mommy got better too. As weight started to drop and I felt the hazy cloud that had covered my mind begin to lift I started to see glimpses of my vibrant past! I started exercising at a local track – my first sprint I made it about 100 meters and then proceeded to use my daughters inhaler! If I were living in primal times I would be the one that died first :)! I stuck it out though and now there is nothing athletic that I will not attempt. People thought we were crazy. We were those people with the “crazy” diet that no one had ever heard about. We were mocked. I didn’t care – the proof is in the pudding (which of course we didn’t eat!). For the first time since she was school age my little girl completed an entire year in a classroom, second grade, and the thought of having to medicate her was shoved far from our minds! [*disclaimer* I have STRONG opinions that if you have a child struggling with autism/ADD/ADHD or any other behavioral problem that it could only benefit the child to re-evaluate diet. I feel like this should always be a precursor to any decision about medication. This worked for us and allowed us to forego medication. However, at varying degrees of intensity within the spectrum I understand that this may not be a “fix-all” for every child. But I will say that I fully believe that a primal, clean, diet will definitely produce results! We are not calling our grokling “cured” but instead “managed”!]

Within a year I dropped the first 50 lbs and discovered your book and MDA! I was ECSTATIC!! First, I realized that somewhere, rooted deep inside, we all have a little Grok left. What else could explain how so many things in your book I had naturally discovered on my own. My body, all our bodies, WANT to be Grok again; NEED to be Grok again! You gave me something I needed more than anything – validation! Validation that what I was doing was right. (Even recently validating why I have an instinctive need to wrestle when I am feeling overwhelmed – I knew there was something to it!) You also provide a foundation to come to when I need some tweaks and advice and a place to put most of my curiosities to rest – because 9 times out of 10, when I have a question pop into my mind, you have answered it already somewhere on MDA. My family as a whole limit grains by the 80% rule. I strive for the 100%. Lots of good fats and great meat! My husband, who we all thought was healthy other than a borderline cholesterol level, is in the best shape of his life at 32 with a current cholesterol level that is excellent and playing on an Ultimate Frisbee team! Our entire family of 5 all participate in CrossFit. We love our box and we love the community. We make lots of time for fun – from camping to canoeing to 5k mud races – we do it all! And this Mommy is more alive than ever before! Sometimes I see myself in the mirror now and I am shocked at who I am. I ask my husband if he is shocked at the change and he always says no – that this is who I always was – hidden deep within that other person. From 201, with several health issues, to 126 with 0 health concerns – I feel GREAT! I feel whole again and my little grokling feels whole for the first time! Here’s to LOVING life and Groking on!!

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. My mom has always taken care of everyone around but herself. She would sacrificed her life for her kids (me and my little sis) and practically she did. She suffers from breast cancer now and bad eating habits definitely do not contribute to her recovery. She is also depressed by her appearance after chemotherapy and strong hormonal treatments.

    I will definitely translate your story for her, because although she has always been a fighter, recently the “I cannot” approach is taking over her and she starts losing her optimism and will. Your story will definitely be a kick for her.

    Thank you for sharing your awesome story and keep on paleo-rocking, dear. You are beautiful and I really admire your strong will and persistance. You are truly inspirational.

    Petra wrote on November 11th, 2011
    • I will have your mom in my thoughts this week.

      Lela wrote on November 11th, 2011
  2. OMG when I saw the last photo I thought at first it was your two daughters!! I have made many changes to my families food intake over the last 2 years as both my kids suffered badly with eczema. I now know how to manage them both to have no signs of it at all.

    Now it’s time to focus on me……if I end up looking like you I will be the happiest girl in the world. I also train at Crossfit but am interested to know how often you train? I have been going for 2 years now with a 8 mth break in between due to a back injury. My box is pretty fitness focussed and fat loss isn’t an issue for most so I’m looking at scaling more to shorten the WOD’s for me but my trainer is not so convinced. Coming from a military PTI background it’s go HARD always. From my research here I instinctively know that at 125kgs that is not the best way for me.

    Again an awesome job – I imagine the best gift you could give yourself and your family. Well done to you :)

    Nicole wrote on November 11th, 2011
    • I train on average about 3 days on 2 days off. Our box is really good at scaling down WOD’s to your ability level. And most only last 15-25 minutes. It is amazing what 15-25 minutes of hard work can accomplish. Sometimes I just take off a random day and sprint – then I add lots of “fun” days in as well. I recently started biking again. I have a seat attached for my youngest to ride along and it gives me motivation to keep going, hearing her singing behind me. Good luck with your crossfit journey.

      Lela wrote on November 11th, 2011
  3. What an inspiration you are to those Mother’s with young children, showing them how it is done…to take control and see it through….this is who you really are! This is your journey that forms your most precious memories. This is what makes since in life. Thank you for sharing your story, and being a part of this unique & growing community.

    Brenda Living Primal wrote on November 11th, 2011
  4. This is so wonderful for you and your family!! Thanks for sharing!

    Myra Marshall wrote on November 11th, 2011
  5. I am very very impressed and inspired!

    sssssssss wrote on November 11th, 2011
  6. Truly awesome! Wow, I love these stories!

    Erik wrote on November 11th, 2011
  7. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Hubby and I have been on the primal diet for over six months now and we are both loving the results. We are trying to get our kids to cut out grains as well, but they are a bit older and its very hard. My son has autism and he is gluten-free, which has helped control his behaviours noticeably. My goal is to have both kids grain free eventually but we need to take it slow b/c they both have sensory issues and eating is always a battle as it is. I couldn’t agree more with what you said about diet and congratulations on your wonderful and impressive results!!

    PaleoMyWay wrote on November 11th, 2011
  8. You look awesome! Wow!
    Anyone looking for kid’s primal lunch ideas go to & choose her “lunchbox” posts. They’re great!

    Bree wrote on November 11th, 2011
  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have been feeling quite cooked lately and look forward to finding some energy to make the most of every day with my family. I can’t wait to get my hands on your ever-popular books at the library.

    jenn merfee-t wrote on November 11th, 2011
  10. Wow! Just Wow! Congratulations! :-)

    I am so inspired by your courage, tenacity and determination to find a better way for yourself and your family. What incredibly fortunate kids to have you as their Mom.

    I too had to take a second look at the last photo, thinking that must be an older daughter! Amazing!!!

    Caroline wrote on November 11th, 2011
  11. What a beautiful and inspiring story and thanks for sharing! I know that your experience will go on to touch many people’s lives who are looking for answers to their health issues. I’ve only been eating primally for the last four months, coming from a mostly birdseed diet, and I can concur on the brain fog being lifted for the first time…ever. Like so many others here, my life has been transformed. Can’t wait to read further updates and congratulations!

    Chandra Hartman wrote on November 11th, 2011
  12. Great story!

    Steve wrote on November 11th, 2011
  13. It’s stories like yours that help us newbies going. Thank you so much for sharing. Also on this Veterans Day, thank your husband for his service.

    Jennifer wrote on November 11th, 2011
  14. WOW!!!! You are such an amazing mom!!! You have given your daughter (and your entire family) such an amazing and life altering gift. Your strength and courage are so inspiring. I LOVE your story. Thank you for sharing.

    Tonja wrote on November 11th, 2011
  15. Wonderful story, so glad that you were able to turn your life and your families around so that now you’re in control.

    Natalie wrote on November 11th, 2011
  16. this is a great story; you look incredible – congrats on the changes with you and your daughter. inspiring!

    matt conway wrote on November 11th, 2011
  17. One of the best success stories ever!

    Gator wrote on November 11th, 2011
  18. I simply love the Friday happy ending stories, way to go

    Sandy wrote on November 11th, 2011
  19. Having read through your super story, and all the comments — esp. about the difficult switching over kids with ‘sensory’ things… it makes me think that I, at 56 yrs old, need to go investigate these methods. I have never (since I was an infant in a high chair) eaten veg — and yes, I spent many many many unhappy hours sitting alone at the table “until you finish your plate.” (And I couldn’t get the d@mned dog to eat ’em under the table!) I look wistfully at the veg aisle, cause they LOOK lovely — but they taste just horrible! (I’m what the Monel Labs in Philly calls a “supertaster.”)

    At age 30 I learned to eat small portions of green pepper, and at age 50 I learned to eat lettuce (but only lettuce) with only thous island (not good stuff, so I don’t buy it).

    I would LIKE to learn to eat veg — but … oh, gag … Perhaps reading how y’all deal with *children* who refuse veg can help lead me to it too. (And yes, of course, I have a massively deranged metabolism, 120 lbs above a healthy weight — but down 65 pounds using low carb… {sigh})

    Elenor wrote on November 12th, 2011
    • steam up some broccoli and put brown butter on it. Yum.

      Melissa wrote on November 12th, 2011
    • Our veggies taste great, well seasoned with coconut oil or bacon drippings! My son rarely refuses veggies served up with a good dose of yummy fat.

      Hilary wrote on November 13th, 2011
  20. Wow – you are truly inspiring! Congratulations on your body transformation and the health you’ve won. Medicating children is something I will never understand…great you’ve decided to change the nutrition first.

    Vanessa wrote on November 12th, 2011
  21. Definitely an awesome story. I, too, have strong opinions about ADHD. It is wonderful to see that conclusions were made in the right direction without the existence of MDA in your life. I’m glad folks are out there looking at good science outside of people like Mark who shout it from mountain tops. :)

    Scott Lee wrote on November 12th, 2011
  22. Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!

    What a great mother you are!!!

    Dan Smith wrote on November 12th, 2011
  23. This makes me happy. As a school teacher, I see kids open up their snacks and it’s all processed crap–chips, pretzels, pop tarts, candy bars, cliff bars, juice, etc. I wish all parents would do what you have done for your child–give her the greatest gift there is: her health.

    Erin wrote on November 12th, 2011
    • Your story is so powerful. As a developmental specialist – I know how diet can truly make or break the ability to access the learning potential. There is so much research out there, but people get overwhelmed and follow-through is so hard. You appear to be such a strong, dynamic woman – and your family is so blessed to have in the lead. I only wish more parents could stand up to the pressure. be strong.

      Erin Hyeru wrote on November 12th, 2011
  24. I don’t know what to say that everyone else hasn’t already said, but WOW!!!

    I just want to give you a hug for being such a caring mom.

    Melissa wrote on November 12th, 2011
  25. This community is so overwhelmingly acceptable. I am so glad that I am able to be a part of such a dynamic group of loving individuals. You guys truly inspire me.

    Lela wrote on November 12th, 2011
  26. Thank you for your story! I could have written it myself (I have only 2 kids tho), the “before kids” self confidence, the joy and self respect are all missing from my life as well. I have been dabbling in primal but seeing your pictures really gave me the kick I needed.

    Ania wrote on November 13th, 2011
  27. Congratulations. I love that you just worked out what you needed to do and did it.

    Lisa wrote on November 13th, 2011
  28. We have a Papa Grok in Dave. Is this Mama Grok?

    Awesome example of taking responsibility of our own lives – awesome!

    Michael Moriarty wrote on November 14th, 2011
  29. A few years ago celebrity chef Jamie Oliver started his school dinners campaign in England and a TV series was spawned. One of the “experiments” that Jamie did was to cook for a family for a week. Their children had severe behavioural issues and within a couple of days of eating home-cooked meals (Jamie cleared all the junk food out of the house) the kids were much calmer. The mother decided to experiment after a couple of days, and gave her kids their usual diet of french fries and chicken nuggets for a day and they were back to their usual selves….it was very dramatic and reinforced the benefits not eating SAD.

    Laura Norie wrote on November 14th, 2011
  30. Thank you. Your story is an inspiration to me as a mom and as a woman trying to get back on track. Good changes can happen as long as I just “keep on, keepin’ on”.

    Umi wrote on November 14th, 2011
  31. Amazing story! So inspiring!! I really believe that diet is at the root of our behavioural issues in western society – regardless of clinical determinations.

    gilliebean wrote on November 14th, 2011
  32. So awesome, good for you and your daughter! :)

    Kris wrote on November 14th, 2011
  33. I *love* this story! I am posting it to fb as I have several friends with children on the spectrum.

    mommaofmany wrote on November 14th, 2011
  34. What amazing face and jaw structure! Whatever you were going through growing up someone at some time must have been feeding you enough vitamins. Also, you knew instinctively what was wrong with your diet, before you found a community on the internet. I find this very interesting!

    I’m glad you are managing your daughter’s condition. Years ago there was the miserable, wootastic Feingold diet (which advocated cutting out a bunch of healthy foods!) and I know quite a few kids who were hurt academically by dropping meds and going on that stupid diet.

    Let’s hear it for scientifically validated diets (and keeping kids–especially kids with behavioral or allergy problems–away from artificial dyes that are found in “kids'” meals, cheap meats, frozen food, candy, etc.).

    correcty fairy wrote on November 14th, 2011
  35. You just gave me the kick I needed. Throwing all the crap out!!!

    Thank you!

    Liz wrote on November 15th, 2011
  36. This is awesome and I get to work out with you everyday!! Simply fantastic story.

    Wayne wrote on November 15th, 2011
    • :)

      Lela wrote on November 15th, 2011
  37. Wow!! To a mom of an autistic boy who went through much the same journey, you are such an inspiration! I know how hard it is when your children are struggling. We are not yet Paleo but trying to limit grains, but are GFCF and low sugar,free of his other allergens (many grains included). I am determined to start getting by boys more grain free and healthier.

    Rebecca Magliozzi wrote on November 15th, 2011

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