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

For the First Time Ever, I Feel Healthy and Happy

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!

Hi Mark,

I was always a little on the big side as a kid, but as I got older my weight became a huge (pardon the pun) issue. From quite early on, I was conscious of my weight but hadn’t got a clue how to change things. I went to boarding school at 12, and was dreadfully homesick. My mum sent me back to school with piles of treats to try cheer me up. She was trying to help, but really it did the opposite. Another problem was the poor nutrition in the school. Cereals for breakfast, starchy food for lunch and pizza for dinner. Schools in Ireland need a serious wake up call when it comes to educating students about nutrition. I’m hoping that I can work with schools on this one in the future. So years of eating poor quality food created bad habits, nasty comments in school contributed to low self confidence and body image issues. By 16, I was heavily overweight and had stopped all organised sports in school because of poor fitness and my dented confidence.

That year was the first time my weight had really impacted my health. During the summer, I woke one morning with swollen glands all over, my eyes were almost swollen shut, as was my throat. My mum was so concerned she took me to hospital where I remained for three weeks. I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever. For the next 18 months, I suffered from chronic fatigue, low mood, psoriasis, eczema, cold and flu like symptoms and endless doctors visits. In all that time, no doctor ever suggested elimination of wheat or a change of diet. My diet remained carb and processed-food heavy, and my weight rocketed as my self esteem plummeted.

In hindsight, I don’t think I ever fully recovered from the period when I had glandular fever. Or perhaps I’d done such damage to my body with processed foods that I didn’t know what feeling good felt like anymore. Or maybe I never actually knew what feeling good meant.

I spent my early 20s miserable and depressed, with very little motivation or passion for anything. At 22, a CT scan showed two tumors in my temporal lobe. Now that made me sit bolt upright and think about my life. I had laser therapy, surgery, cryotherapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and for a long time, nothing worked. At the same time, because of all the blood work I was having done, I was diagnosed with ITP (a blood disorder which causes your body to destroy platelets). My body had turned on me, and seemed intent on destroying me. I struggled with bouts of serious depression, and after confiding in my medical team, the only solution they saw was hospitalisation for depression and more medication. I spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital that consistently served processed foods to the patients.

Diane - Before

I decided it was time to change. I looked at a photo of myself, and realised I needed to take drastic action and do everything I could to help my recovery. I wanted to get better. I wanted to feel well. Up until I saw this photo, I wasn’t ready to make changes to my lifestyle. I didn’t really know how, I was afraid people would judge me, and I really don’t deal with failure well. Fear held me back. Seeing that photo pushed me into action. I didn’t want to spend the next 50 years depressed, sweaty and obese. I also didn’t want to die. I decided to take every step I could towards improving my physical and mental health. I stocked up on healthy foods and joined a commercial gym. I went religiously every day, and ate according to common nutritional advice (namely the food pyramid). As I started to see progress (my weight was decreasing from a shocking 341 pounds), I started to research how to use nutrition as a tool to improve my health. As I learned more about the inflammatory effects of wheat, and the addictive properties of sugar, I discovered Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and consequently your blog and The Primal Blueprint.

I jump between paleo and primal, but what is far more important to me than the label of either plan, is the knowledge that I’m eating real food which hasn’t been destroyed by processing and the addition of chemicals. The main reason I find it such a sustainable way of life is that it’s simple. There’s no hard sell of supplements or meal replacement shakes, it’s all about eating clean food which thankfully is in plentiful supply in Ireland.

After cleaning up my diet, I finally started to see progress in overcoming illness. The tumors miraculously shrank, my depression lifted, I had more energy and things looked a little brighter.

I joined an amazing new gym, with amazing coaches and members and I love strength training now. I’ve always had their full support to train during treatment cycles and keep pushing to improve my health. I owe my trainers a lot for their encouragement to keep going.

A year ago this week, I was diagnosed with MS (which I’ve only recently learned is strongly linked to Glandular Fever). That was a tough one to deal with, but I got on with it. I kept training, stuck to my new lifestyle and I’ll keep on going. It will take a really strong tranquilliser dart to stop me living my life!

I’m continuing with DMD for MS and platelet transfusions for the ITP, but as I get stronger and healthier, I’m hoping that nutrition will be my primary medicine and I can step away from traditional methods, despite being told by a neurologist that “no hippy fad diet would keep me from a wheelchair”. I’m not sure Dr. Terry Wahls would agree with that!

Diane - After

Since going fully Primal 15 months ago, my health is the best it has been in years: MS flares are at a minimum, my hair has finally started to grow again despite serious radiation burns to my scalp, I jump out of bed every day excited about what’s in store for me, I honestly never look in the mirror and feel unhappy. There are things I’d like to improve, but that’ll come with training.

It’s now just over two years since I decided to make a change and I have lost over half my body weight, dropped 8 dress sizes, train really hard, lift heavy (who knew that lifting heavy stuff wouldn’t turn girls into men!), eat incredible real food, and have so much energy!

For the first time ever, I feel healthy and happy. Life is fantastic, and I absolutely credit my change in lifestyle with all the positives I’m experiencing now.

I’m four days away from being a fully qualified Personal Trainer, and I am so excited about helping people discover how amazing it feels to be healthy and happy through strength training and nutrition.

Discovering the Primal Blueprint has without a doubt saved my life and changed my life for the better.

Thanks, Mark!

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. I admire your strength and composure while dealing with a host of medical issues.

    Best wishes and Happy Holidays…….I will now use your example as a foil for continued motivation……thank you.

    Jaws76 wrote on December 13th, 2013
  2. OMG! What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing! You look amazing and your newfound health just radiates off of you! Stay strong! You got this!

    Merky wrote on December 13th, 2013
  3. Yours is one of the more amazing stories I have read. With best wishes and a Happy Christmas.

    Jenny wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Happy Christmas to you too … Thanks for taking the time to comment

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  4. Now that’s a great success story! Truly inspiring! If stories like that don’t bring people to the primal lifestyle then nothing will.

    Keep of the good work and keep sharing your story.

    cajungrokgirl wrote on December 13th, 2013
  5. WOW! WOW! WOW! That is such a powerful story. And every time I read one like this very depressing that the medical system has no or little insight into how diet affects health.

    Colleen wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks for your comment :)

      It’s up to each one of us to try to share what we’ve learned with our families and friends… If we can help one person, and encourage them to pay it forward, then we’ve done a great job..

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  6. Wow.

    For me this is hands down the most moving success story. Your perseverance and courage is nothing short of amazing!

    I wish you all the best!

    Danny wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks so much :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  7. Beautiful story and beautiful you!

    Melissa wrote on December 13th, 2013
  8. Incredible! You look GORGEOUS and should be very proud. Well done

    Ray Finkle wrote on December 13th, 2013
  9. fantastic story and great to see another irish person on the site…really great job, you should be so proud – real food – it’s pretty simple isn’t it!!!

    dave wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • It’s so simple I wonder why I didn’t do it years ago!

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  10. I am so happy that you have found health and a new lease on life. Thanks for sharing your story!!

    Joey wrote on December 13th, 2013
  11. SIMPLY AWESOME! Keep at it

    Mike wrote on December 13th, 2013
  12. It’s the season for thanks over here across the pond, so thank you for your inspiring story of personal courage and respect. I wish you continued success, both personally and professionally. Thank you for spreading the good word!

    Jeff F. wrote on December 13th, 2013
  13. Strong woman! Thank you for your story and continue to grow stronger.

    gibson wrote on December 13th, 2013
  14. Amazing what you’ve dealt with and I wish you all the success in your PT position. Merry Christmas

    archie wrote on December 13th, 2013
  15. My favorite part of this is you’re about to be a personal trainer! So happy you can now help others on their own journeys.

    Anne wrote on December 13th, 2013
  16. look totally a different person.absolutely GORGEOUS

    vaiga wrote on December 13th, 2013
  17. Your story inspires me!

    Julie wrote on December 13th, 2013
  18. Absolutely wonderful. Best wishes for continued success in all of your endeavors.

    Anthony wrote on December 13th, 2013
  19. Wonderful story, congratulations! By now you’ll no doubt be a personal trainer and with your tenacity and experience you will be inspirational to your clients. You’ve already started by sharing your story. Great job!

    Alison Golden wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks! I feel like I have to share my experiences with people… if I can help someone who feels miserable or is ill, then it’s all worth it :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  20. You are a tremendous inspiration! Best wishes for continued happiness and success.

    Pearl wrote on December 13th, 2013
  21. Keep up with that “hippy fad diet”! Who’d of thought that real food is a fad diet?

    Doris Baum wrote on December 13th, 2013
  22. Amazing! Live long and prosper.

    Nocona wrote on December 13th, 2013
  23. Can I just say “amazing”

    Chance Bunger wrote on December 13th, 2013
  24. WOW! This is the most amazing story I’ve read.! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you get to show that very knowledgable neurologist how with your hippie fad diet you are able to carry the wheelchair, lol!

    Myra wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Frankly, I’d be tempted to pick it up & throw it at him! :-)

      What a moving & powerful story. Thank you for sharing & inspiring us all!

      Paleo-curious wrote on December 13th, 2013
      • I know. What a jerk. So glad you didn’t listen to that small minded P****K

        Rock on sweetie!!!!

        Chris wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Seriously — sounds like medicine is not the field he should be in if he can’t have a positive attitude. Good on ya!!

      SeattleSlim wrote on December 13th, 2013
  25. Mind = Blasted

    Sagar wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • +1

      Joy Beer wrote on December 13th, 2013
  26. Wow, You look great! Congratulations. Grok On!

    ninjainshadows wrote on December 13th, 2013
  27. That’s just amazing how you completely turned your life around. Thank you for sharing your story and pics!

    Alice wrote on December 13th, 2013
  28. Wow, incredible! Great job, so happy for you!! This was a truly inspiring story to read. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Jess wrote on December 13th, 2013
  29. As soon as you said you were diagnosed with MS, I immediately thought of Dr. Wahls and wondered if you had heard of her. Then in the next sentence you mentioned her name so I knew you were on the right track.

    Gotta love the comment about the “hippie fad diet”! If that mentality wasn’t so sad, it would actually be funny. Thank you for your perseverance and showing how wrong CW can be.

    You are a wonderful inspiration for many folks who don’t know where to turn. You definitely need to get your message and enthusiasm out there, and being a Personal Trainer is a great place to start. Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your journey. All I can say is you GO girl!!!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks for your lovely comment!

      Terry Wahls is an inspiration! I fully believe I can maintain my health and avoid further progression of MS through diet.

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  30. Congratulations on your health! I worked on an oncology unit for 2 years and have never heard of ITP. So I suppose it must not be very common. Thank you for making awareness of it. I may just have to research it further.

    Erin wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • In 1989, my then-9 year old son spent Christmas Eve in Mott Children’s Hospital in AA with ITP. At least in infant/toddlers, gamma-globulin treatment was straight-forward and effective.

      Joe from A2 wrote on December 13th, 2013
  31. Wow! What a huge transformation!! Such an inspiring story.

    Matt wrote on December 13th, 2013
  32. Amazing what a person can do when they get on the right track. Good for you and what better way to continue your healthy journey than to give back to others and share your knowledge. Best wishes in your successful and exciting future as health trainer and mentor. You are incredible.

    Jill Pontiere wrote on December 13th, 2013
  33. MOTHER OF GOD!!! To read your story of horror and see the first picture only to scroll down and see you now….. MIND is BLOWN!!! You go girl! And your doctor needs a ‘I told you so’ dance on his desk with some booty shaking and twerking screaming ‘how’s that for needing a wheelchair!’

    Breaking Red wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Exactly. I did not expect the second picture. How? How can we not all be so inspired?

      Joy Beer wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Absolutely love this comment!

      Thank you :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  34. HOLY GOOD LORD!! … ahem… I mean, um, you look great! 😉 Wonderful story and outcome, thanks for sharing. I am finishing my CPT as well (and an FNS). Something I hope people will understand, and I have had similar experiences, is that MOST doctors have been fed the same lies (often to a far worse degree) as everyone else and are guilty of being misled. However, there certainly are some who are just @#$% ^&** also. Heehee. Good job, and continued success to you!

    Vince G wrote on December 13th, 2013
  35. What an amazing story – thank you for sharing it, and best of luck to you in your future recovery and profession.

    Angel wrote on December 13th, 2013
  36. wow, what an amazing transformation! good for you for holding on to hope when things were tough, and gradually making lots of changes! way to stick to it and keeping going!

    Jenny wrote on December 13th, 2013
  37. 100% pure awesomeness. Love your story.

    The Beckster wrote on December 13th, 2013
  38. Amazing transformation! I’m really blown away, you pushed through some serious obstacles. Congratulations on your success, your persistence is inspiring.

    Curious what that doctor said when you mentioned Dr Terry Wahls? Keep up the good work, I’m sure you will make a hell of an impact as a CPT!

    Luke wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • I actually never mentioned Dr Terry Wahls to my medical team. Sometimes you’ve to pick your fights, and I know their reaction would be negative & just frustrate me!

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  39. So inspirational! Please keep us updated as you continue to hold your MS symptoms at bay. There is MS on both sides of my family, and I am encouraged that some patients are finding relief from the symptoms by adopting the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. Keep up the great positive attitude!

    Lora wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • I hope your loved ones find eating real food a positive addition to their lives.

      I wish them all the best :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  40. Incredible. I salute you for your courage and tenacity, you are one strong person and one hell of a fighter! And thanks for reaching out to others, you are truly inspirational. I am so happy you’re feeling better, you certainly look terrific!

    bayrider wrote on December 13th, 2013

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