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!

real life stories stories 1 2Hi 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.

before 1

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!

after 1

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. What an amazing journey!!!! I’m so happy for you :).

    Debbie wrote on December 13th, 2013
  2. Amazing story of perseverance. I strongly recommend reading (if you haven’t already) Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” It outline a primal-style diet specially tailored for overcoming neurologically conditions, including MS. I’ve been following the program for twelves months now and have seen more improvements than I can keep track of (I was quite sick, myself). There’s also an interview online between her and Dr. Mercola where she discusses MS (sorry I can’t remember which one it was — I think there are three). All the best to you.

    John C. A. Manley wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      I’ll check it out and report back ;)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  3. I’m just in awe – your journey from hell to health is just amazing! What a transformation! All because you listened to your body and sought information. Kudos to you!

    I eagerly anticipate Friday – just for these stories. Today’s is just over-the-top awesome!

    Mel wrote on December 13th, 2013
  4. MONEY. Absolutely beautiful! The look in your eyes in the before and after photos seem to tell it all. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’d love to have an update to see where you are in the future.

    Tyler wrote on December 13th, 2013
  5. That is such an amazing and inspirational story! Your persistence is on another level completely! Well done!

    Danny Lake wrote on December 13th, 2013
  6. You are so beautiful and your story is so inspiring! I especially love that you want to share with other people. You get back so much when you give of yourself; your clients and friends are very lucky to have you!

    joey wrote on December 13th, 2013
  7. Beautiful story & a beautiful person. You are a total inspiration.

    Michelle wrote on December 13th, 2013
  8. Wow! Except for your beautiful eyes, I can’t tell you are the same person in your before/after pics! Congratulations and best wishes for a healthy happy life!

    Siobhan wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thank you!

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  9. Thank you for such an inspiring story!

    Plugger wrote on December 13th, 2013
  10. Very inspiring indeed.

    I can tell that you are a true fighter, and hearing how you pulled yourself out from the depths, is a great triumph.

    Best of luck in your efforts to become a trainer and continue to help others.

    jefferson wrote on December 13th, 2013
  11. Wow! Even more impressive than your physical transformation is your amazing positive attitude. Very inspiring. Good luck!

    Colleen wrote on December 13th, 2013
  12. WOW!!! The most impressive transformation and “after” photo I’ve ever seen! You are absolutely gorgeous!! I know you will help a lot of people find the way to health in your new role as a trainer. Merry Christmas!

    maidel wrote on December 13th, 2013
  13. I love your story!!! I am sitting here in tears. I have been primal for 2.5 weeks and your story was so up lifting. How can you argue with people that have been able to turn their health around and Mark Sisson who is totally buff at the age of 60! Way to go !!!!!

    Carrie Spencer wrote on December 13th, 2013
  14. You are a true inspiration , I cried and smiled the same time, you go girl, how you feel far outweighs anything on the outside, but never the less a fabulous side effect xx

    Noir Rees wrote on December 13th, 2013
  15. Congratulations on your perseverance and determination to find a way to heal yourself after CW failed. On your MS diagnosis–there is an awesome book called “COULD IT BE B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses” by Sally Pacholok and Jeffery Stuart. In the book they state and demonstrate with plentiful research and anecdotal evidence that a lot of “MS” diagnoses are actually profound B12 deficiencies and that when intensive B12 therapy is begun symptoms disappear. The book is available on Amazon and just reading the reviews is an eye-opening education. Good luck with your new career!

    Island Girl wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • That book literally saved my life! B12 deficiency is the first thing I thought of too as cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy deplete the body of vitamin B12 and cause an MS-like presentation.

      Susan wrote on December 13th, 2013
      • Fantastic transformation, you look absolutely amazing. Good luck with your future career and improving your health.
        Just to follow on from the vitamin deficiency line of thinking, I went to a talk last weekend by a researcher in the field of MS – he talked about the correlation between Vit D deficiency (including the impact of prenatal levels), geographic exposure to sunlight and incidence of MS. Just another reason to embrace this way of life fully.

        Ali wrote on December 14th, 2013
    • Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      I’ll check it out & report back :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  16. WOW, I am so happy to read this, what an amazing story and transformation, wow, its all I can say.. brought tears to my eyes reading this and looking at the before and after pictures, truly well done, congratulations!! I’m in awe of your journey, well done and keep well…..

    Karo, Scotland, United Kingdom wrote on December 13th, 2013
  17. Also in tears and smiling big, and sending you lots of admiration and support. What an inspiration you are! Please keep us updated.

    Lynn wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • I also agree, with Lynn, we must hear more about this story, in monthly installments please… fantastic!

      Karo, Scotland, United Kingdom wrote on December 13th, 2013
  18. HOLY SHIT. That is all.

    Joe wrote on December 13th, 2013
  19. Well done! Thank you for sharing your story and pictures. You look so healthy and filled with life :-))

    Kris wrote on December 13th, 2013
  20. I’ve read MDA since it’s inception, but have never left a comment. I had to do it today. OMG…you are smoking hot! I am so happy for you, that an MDA-style lifestyle seems to have eliminated or largely downgraded most of your sserious health issues. Best wishes from me to you, for your continued good health.

    Joe from A2 wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  21. “It will take a really strong tranquilizer dart to stop me living my life!” Love that, think I’ll have it put on a T-shirt. Congratulations

    Steve Ember wrote on December 13th, 2013
  22. Way to go! That is just plain inspirational!

    Don Jagoe wrote on December 13th, 2013
  23. you look great! you can see the difference in you eyes, they are shining now! thanks for sharing your story, and i love that you are proving that food is medicine!

    aliseya wrote on December 13th, 2013
  24. To the neurologist who said that “no hippy fad diet would keep me from a wheelchair” first do no harm! That kind of negativity can create a reality for a lot of people. I remember when my endocrinologist told me I needed to irradiate my thyroid and then take synthroid for the rest of my life, I just walked away from her. That made so little sense to me I couldn’t even take the time to argue. 14 years later I still have my thyroid and it works at about 90% efficiency. I take rare meds for it.

    Good for your for taking your time with this process and getting it right.

    Vanessa wrote on December 13th, 2013
  25. Incredible story. You are an inspiration for everybody

    J.Sark wrote on December 13th, 2013
  26. And I was feeling sorry for myself today (for the people I have to deal with at work). Thank you for providing some perspective on what a real challenge is!

    Sarah wrote on December 13th, 2013
  27. O. M. G! I think I’ve read every success story on mda but yours is mind-blowing! What an incredible story of persistence and overcoming great obstacles! Your photos left me speechless but best of all are the stunning health improvements you have made! What awesomeness! Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story!!!

    Sláinte mhaith!

    Terri wrote on December 13th, 2013
  28. Wow good for you and thank you for telling us! You are inspiring me!

    JoyAnn wrote on December 13th, 2013
  29. No words. You are awesome, and inspiring. You will be a FANTASTIC personal trainer.

    Joy Beer wrote on December 13th, 2013
    • Thank you

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  30. Amazing story. I envy you living in a country with so many fresh, genuine, whole food resources. Looking great. You did a great job.

    Kamila wrote on December 13th, 2013
  31. WOW! GREAT inspirational story! That’s the best of being…..human!

    marc wrote on December 13th, 2013
  32. You’re truly an inspiration. Onward & upward!

    Bud wrote on December 13th, 2013
  33. All I can do is (: at your progress. :D I am grateful for your healthier life!

    Kati wrote on December 13th, 2013
  34. You look beautiful! Way to go!

    Joe wrote on December 13th, 2013
  35. From one Paleo/Primal MS’er to another – diet works! I was diagnosed 5 years ago adopted a gluten free then grain free diet and feel better than I did 10 years ago(no exacerbations in the 5 years)! You look great and even better you sound positive which is so important in fighting MS. Interesting about the glandular fever association-I didn’t know that.

    My Neurologist told me diet makes no difference and his assistant told me I have no control over my disease-so basically I should just take injections and shut up I guess. So glad I didn’t listen. After alot of research I decided to try LDN (low dose naltrexone) and have no regrets. I wish you lots of luck and am confident that you will do great!

    Sara wrote on December 13th, 2013
  36. Your transformation is incredible. I am completely blown away. Overcoming so many obstacles and then becoming a trainer so that you can pay it forward. You are really inspiring. Grok on

    Malcs wrote on December 13th, 2013
  37. I am simply in awe of what you stated with, went through, and (fortunately) found your way to the Primal Blueprint. Attitude is everything and yours is awesome! So happy you’re doing so well these days and wish you only the best in your PT experience. I’m sure your clients will learn a lot from you. Hard work and perseverance bring rewards – you’ve proven that!

    Grok on! :)

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on December 13th, 2013
  38. Absoloutely fantastic sucess story, you are an inspiration! As another poster said great to see more people from Ireland on MDA, For a country that is so rich in healthy natural produce we are so uneducated about food. When I try to explain primal/paleo to people I get the “fad hippie diet” thing aswell.

    Congrats again on your journey, you have an inner strength that most of us can only dream about!!

    Liam wrote on December 14th, 2013
    • Thanks Liam :)

      Brilliant to see comments from Irish people too!

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  39. Your story is so inspiring! I am impressed that you maintain a positive attitude and motivation to live your best life possible. Keep going!

    Florence wrote on December 14th, 2013
  40. Speechless!

    dbmx925 wrote on December 14th, 2013

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