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 recently changed my eating habits (3 months ago) and just started exercising (Thanksgiving) and find your story inspirational. Wonder if the supplements listed in Dr. Perlmutter’s Grain Brain book would help keep the MS in check.

    I pray that your health continues to improve and that the MS doesn’t ever progress.

    Allison Chapman wrote on December 14th, 2013
  2. That is a great story that could motivate anyone to look into PB. I’ve just started looking into PB within the last week and am sold! I love researching on this site, there is a wealth of knowledge. Previously I was looking into the blood type diet but it just didn’t seem to hit home like primal does.

    Jeff wrote on December 14th, 2013
  3. My favorite transformation story–EVER. Keep going. My neurologist diagnosed me with a rare disease that mimics MS. I was receiving platelet transfusions for over a year. My health has returned and there’s no longer any sign of an autoimmune disease. :) (My neuro said that this “remission” has nothing to do with diet–I suppose that’s job security for her). I have a feeling that this spontaneous recovery is going to happen for you as well.

    Kathleen wrote on December 14th, 2013
    • I’m thrilled your clean diet has helped you.

      Best of luck for the future :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  4. When I paged to the “after” picture all I couls say is WOW!

    Patrick wrote on December 14th, 2013
  5. Oh my GOD!!!

    glorth2 wrote on December 14th, 2013
  6. Wow, niceone. Keep up the good work :)

    Onge wrote on December 14th, 2013
  7. Oh wow this story is awesome! You radiate health in your after picture, and your enthusiasm for life comes right through in your words. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, if it just inspires one more person to stick with the program then yay! I suspect you will inspire many more though, through your words and your personal training.

    And by the way, if eating fresh, natural, unrefined food is a “hippy fad diet” then call me a hippy any day, and I’ll take it as a compliment!

    As others suggested – I think you should do the dance on the neurologists desk right before you throw somebody else’s wheelchair at him.

    HillyM wrote on December 14th, 2013
    • Love this suggestion!

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  8. I got hooked on reading these Friday transformations and started sharing them for two specific friends to see. I think yours is the most remarkable and inspiring yet.

    Keith wrote on December 14th, 2013
  9. Wow. I’ve been reading for a couple years now and I’ve never commented before but I had to here. This is an amazing change and story. I hope you do prove your doctors wrong and you won’t be the first person to do so. A great job and I have to say I’m a bit inspired. Thank you.

    cheesypoof wrote on December 14th, 2013
  10. I’m always happy to read people’s success stories, but I find myself extra-happy to hear about your success!

    Barb Crocker wrote on December 14th, 2013
  11. You are a very strong woman indeed. Despite being a muscular male I feel like a weak creature in comparison :-) I wonder if you heard about prof. George Jelinek MD and his book “Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis”. His approach is different fm that of Terry Wahls, but at least for him it is efficient. He also has MS and remains relapse free for over a decade. Worth to check it out. Best wishes for the holiday season and keep the fighting spirit. Very inspirational indeed. If your conditions improve further, consider writing a book! It could help milions of people. Really.

    einstein wrote on December 14th, 2013
    • Thanks for the recommendation.

      I’ll check it out :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  12. awesome. Keep up the good work. You are inspirational.

    wpj wrote on December 15th, 2013
  13. Just like every other response…WOW. These are the types of stories that cause me to reflect on my own life when things are not going well. You are an inspiration to me, and based on the responses, countless others. Grok on, girl!

    James wrote on December 15th, 2013
  14. Congratulations! This hippie fad diet has helped me lose nearly half of my body weight as well. All biological markers of good health have improved as well…so much for conventional wisdom! Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you to Mark for providing this site!

    Da Big Shoe wrote on December 15th, 2013
    • Well done on your success :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  15. Awesomeness!!!! Girl, you rock. Continued health and happiness. Well deserved.

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on December 15th, 2013
  16. I’m picking my jaw up off the desk- you look phenomenal!!
    Thank goodness you made the decision to fight for your own health and discover what your body truly needed.
    3 cheers for you!!

    Heather wrote on December 15th, 2013
    • Thank you so much :)

      Diane wrote on December 16th, 2013
  17. Wow! You are amazing! Best wishes for your future!

    Rosa wrote on December 15th, 2013
  18. So inspirational Diane. Congrats on becoming a PT. You’ve earned all these great comments here because you worked so hard, well done, amazing!

    caroline wrote on December 16th, 2013
  19. Wow, you are a real inspiration. I admire your strength, and you look beautiful. I wish I lived in Ireland so I could be your training client!! I am happy to hear of the success you are having against illness, and I love your spirit!

    Brenda wrote on December 16th, 2013
  20. Congratulations on your healthy transformation,
    you mentioned in Ireland there is plenty of clean food. I have been studying here in the US about GMO (genetically modified foods) and MSG and learning that other country’s wont allow them. We need to fight the GMO movement here. I know we say buy organic but eventually organic crops will be contaminated by cross pollination, we are in deep trouble here.
    Perhaps Mark can discuss this issue.

    shirley stevens wrote on December 16th, 2013
  21. Hi there Diane-Irish girl here in Kerry who’s been fighting host of health issues for years. Tried every doctor known to man, and eaten every painkiller on the market. Have just been given the inpetus by you to try the diet route and see where it will take me. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you :)

    AshyBashy wrote on December 17th, 2013
    • Nobody can promise that diet will cure you 100%, but I can guarantee that eating real food will never ever make things worse.

      Follow me on FB & my blog… if you ever have any questions feel free to contact me.

      Good luck :)

      Diane wrote on December 18th, 2013
      • Hi there Diane-Kerry Gal back to you again-wondering what your blog address is? Would love to read more. Many thanks, all encouragement needed!:)

        AshyBashy wrote on January 10th, 2014
  22. Wow what an amazing transformation. I can’t recognize you as the person in the first photo. In fact, you are not. Enjoy your new life as a personal trainer!

    Patrick Larson wrote on December 18th, 2013
  23. More power to you.That is a grate an inspring life story! @—;——

    Hydie Johnson wrote on December 18th, 2013
  24. Awesome transformation! You’re the best looking “hippy” I’ve ever seen! LOL I’ll loan you my wheelchair to throw at that neurologist! 😀 Congrats at becoming a Personal Trainer!

    Denise wrote on December 22nd, 2013

    Read this dear, and God Bless you on your journey.

    Debbie wrote on January 1st, 2014
  26. So amazed to read this story. It’s truly inspirational!

    I recently heard an amazing TED talk from a physician who managed to tackle most of her own MS symptoms using nutrition alone, and I wanted to post it here for folks who may be struggling with this disease:

    God bless!

    Amy wrote on January 4th, 2014
  27. Thanks for sharing your story. I had a doctor suggest I was going to be in a wheelchair 15 years ago when I was diagnosed with MS. Thankfully, I am walking (not that crazy about jogging:-), weightlifting and have a black belt in karate. Have been off DMDs since 2006. Stay strong.

    aomac wrote on January 6th, 2014
  28. Wow! What an inspiring story! :) I am 41, and just starting my paleo journey (20 pounds down, and only 200 to go!) But I will keep you in mind as a source of inspiration. I am lucky to have my health, despite my age and weight. I am hopeful that yours will continue to improve!
    I am also so glad to hear that your depression has lifted. I have found that my depression and anxiety (I have atypical depression) are far more manageable on paleo. You look fantastic, too, by the way!

    Sara wrote on January 8th, 2014
  29. You are …… amazing. THANK YOU for sharing your story.

    Lori Woods wrote on February 21st, 2014
  30. I have a Photon Genius that would absolutely help your MS. Check out the Ed Skilling Institute in Phoenix, AZ. Work until you whip it; don’t ever quit. MS is overcomeable.

    Mark McCool wrote on February 24th, 2014
  31. I have a Photon Genius here in Oregon that would help with your MS. Check out the Ed Skilling Institute in Phoenix, AZ. Don’t quit until you whip MS. It will be entirely up to you to beat this. Don’t turn over your health to others.

    Mark McCool wrote on February 24th, 2014
  32. Wow. Great transformation story!! I have ITP for about 2-3 years, and it has not improved since. I’m considering Paleo but it makes me nervous because unfortunately I have food addiction of some foods, and struggle with stopping these foods. I’m curious how long did it take for your ITP to stop and platelet level improved to normal range?? I’m at 39,000. 😔

    LindaS wrote on December 31st, 2014
  33. Well done Diane! I attended a convent school then, as a student, boarded in another convent: food was mostly wheat (pasta, quiches and pies with hardly any meat/vegs in them) and potatoes. Diminutive amounts of fish (white, non oily, probably cod, overboiled) and meat (cheap cuts of beef and badly cooked liver which they had allowed to cool – stank and felt like eating shoesole). Dessert was often tapiocca pudding or semolina or rice pudding. The lack of colour and smells and flavours (my father liked Mediterranean food…) was utterly depressing. I had constant diarrhea and bloating, which disappeared when I was on holiday and ate proper food… MS has a high incidence in people of my ethnical origin, I have had MS like symptoms in the past (tripping + numb hands & loss of grip strength, probably caused by cervical and thoracic slipped discs) but staying gluten and dairy free, taking vit D supplements, going to the gym, and seeing a physio, really helps. Quite interesting to read about the ITP, just met a lady who had it as well!

    Palatina wrote on March 15th, 2015
  34. What an amazing story and journey. Well done on your fortitude and determination. You look beautiful!

    Lisa Alexiou wrote on April 17th, 2015
  35. Congrats! Btw, you look beautiful in both the before and after pictures.

    Leah wrote on July 19th, 2015

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