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

For the First Time in My 24 Years of Life, I Am 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 2I’ve wanted to submit a success story for quite some time now, but I wasn’t sure if I should. After all, I’m still very much a work in progress.

My life didn’t start so differently than most other kids born in the late 80s – the era of low-fat. We always had a plentiful supply of margarine, and no one batted an eye when I put the box of Lucky Charms cereal in the shopping cart. PopTarts were my absolute favorite food, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was my staple lunch. My weight as a kid was always on the high end of normal, but it was still normal, so no one said a word when I polished off whole baguettes as “snacks.”

This story is about much more than weight, because for the first time in my 24 years of life I am happy. I am not in pain. I don’t have days where I feel like I want to end it all. I’m not angry with people. I feel energized. I don’t need ADHD medication anymore.

Starting around the time I was nine or ten, I used to get the worst stomachaches. My mom assumed it was a dairy issue and never thought about it any further. She never made any attempt to remedy the situation further than handing me a heating pad. These stomachaches were so bad I’d have to miss school some days. I would sit crunched over crying just assuming this was normal.

Summers were the best. There was a swimming pool in our townhouse association and I spent nearly everyday swimming, but I was ALWAYS sunburned. Several times I blistered over, even if I wore sunscreen. I once got sunburn on a cloudy day in February standing outside for only 30 minutes. I live in Chicago. That’s nearly impossible. (Hello, inflammation!)

Things started getting worse. In addition to the massive stomachaches, I started to get rashes on a daily basis. Then came the itchy hives. My parents took me to the doctor and she drew blood for an allergy test. We got the results back, and were informed that I only had one true allergy, but the data isn’t always reliable. It also showed somewhere close to 30 “sensitivities.” My parents tried to do the rotation diet my doctor gave us, but I was 13… not exactly the most cooperative age. The only thing that stuck was that I liked the super sweet soy milk better than cow’s milk. So the rashes and hives continued.

My teen years were a mess of acne medications and depression. I came dangerously close to suicide more than a handful of times. Rainy days would have me in tears with a razor in my hand. Of course I was depressed. When my body needed nutrients the most, I was eating Pop Tarts, adding sugar to my Rice Krispies in soy milk and avoiding the sun. I wish my parents knew the effects the food they chose to keep in the house had on me.

Things continued like this through high school, and the depression reached an all time high. I decided to go vegetarian because I saw some misguided animal cruelty propaganda. Then my dad passed away when I was 17. I was not a happy teenager, and I certainly wasn’t healthy. The stomachaches evolved into nearly twice daily diarrhea by this point, and my new favorite foods were “chicken” nuggets and breadsticks. I hated gym class. I couldn’t finish a mile in under 15 minutes. My knees ached. Climbing a single staircase left me winded. I failed most of the mandatory physical assessments. But still, I wasn’t overweight, so no one really thought food could be a problem.

I went to college, and I got worse. Unlimited cafeteria pizza, pasta and dessert do that! icon wink I also naturally started drinking. I was packing on the pounds at an alarming rate. The freshman 15 was no match for my freshman 40.

My stomach problems worsened still. The diarrhea was up to three times a day with the most crippling pain. It’s best described as a tiny monster clawing through my intestines.

I dropped out after only a year and in a moment of absolute total frustration I cried to my mom about how I couldn’t concentrate. Everything was always foggy. She took me to the doctor. He prescribed Ritalin.

We finally arrive two years later when I was 22. I was carrying around 185 lbs on my 5’3″ frame. I was miserable. I was angry all the time. I was ready to end my life. Something needed to change, and it was just one totally innocent comment from my boyfriend’s mom that set things in motion. “I try not to drink orange juice. It has too many carbs and I can’t keep my weight down.”

Hmm. Carbs.

So in October of 2012 I went on the Atkins diet. I lost 25 lbs the first month! (I should say that I was already eating meat again. Said boyfriend brought me back to the dark side with the most DELICIOUS chicken quesadilla when we were in college.) One thing lead to another, and in my low-carb quest I stumbled upon MDA.

My life was changed forever. Immediately my moods were better. My skin cleared up. I threw away my Ritalin. The weight kept melting off. I wasn’t even exercising! It was amazing. By August of the next year I was the slimmest I had ever remembered being. 120 lbs felt a lot better on my 5’3″ frame than 180 ever did. No more achy knees. No more foggy brain. Most importantly – no more thoughts of suicide! It took another year for my stomach to solve itself (and diligent probiotics!) but I don’t ever have digestive issues anymore unless I slip up.

That isn’t the best part yet. The best part is helping the people I love to change their lives too. Remember that boyfriend? We got married. His parents are avid Primal enthusiasts now too. My mother in law is a nurse, and she preaches The Primal Blueprint to her coworkers and patients. (And anyone who will listen. And even people who don’t listen. Really she just can’t stop talking about it!)

My husband and I now have a baby Grokette! I’m eight months postpartum, and even though my body is still clinging onto an extra 15 lbs (necessary for breastfeeding, I assume), I am still 100% dedicated. I’ve started working out for the first time in my life, and after even only a month my body is changing yet again.


This photo is of me at my highest weight, only months before I started changing my diet. (Black shirt and jeans)


This was taken only 9 months after starting my Primal journey.

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This last one was taken in October of 2013, my lowest weight ever (Maybe not coincidentally the month before conceiving! Good health means good fertility.)

Everything about my health is awesome now and it’s all your fault, Mark! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You quite literally saved my life. ♥

Cherice

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. Good work! Paleo don’t have to be low carb now that you’re working out and at ideal weight though :)

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • I’m not low carb anymore. I started craving starchy foods while I was pregnant, and I’ve just been listening to my body ever since. Sweet potatoes are so delicious!!!

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
  2. That’s quite the journey you had. Thank you for sharing.

    A key point you made was that you wished our parents knew what was in the food they were giving us. I feel the same way. There was not a food awareness back in the 80′s and 90′s like there is today, and without the internet there wasn’t an easy way to find the information you needed.

    I didn’t have your journey, by no means, but until I started playing varsity tennis I was always on the chubby side. Unless I exercised like a mad man I would revert to chubby.

    Now, on the primal way I exercise far less than I ever did, but all of my bio markers are better than they were when I was 20 and training for Air Force ROTC boot camp.

    C L Deards wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • I too initially had the thought I wish my parents knew this when I was a kid (the 70s, early 80s), but now I look at my mother (father deceased) and think she suffered worse from “conventional wisdom” than I have. The low-fat, sugar is just an empty calorie mentality really came alive in the mid 80s. Conventional wisdom did not support any reason for an MDA approach and would have demonized certain aspects, why would parents know better? Doctors should have known better or been more skeptical of the rush to low fat judgment. Cherice and others in the 20s — you are lucky the internet is here for you now! If it had been there for me in my 20s (late 80s) I would have been primal back then, and would have avoided years of low fat, low cal diets that for me never worked even initially to get the weight off. Even parents today I have some sympathy for because of poor or lack of advice from doctors as regards nutrition, especially from pediatricians. Our pediatrician heavily pushed cereal for our infant daughter just a few years ago because it was fortified. Looking back I cringe thinking there were much better choices.

      Congratulations on a great story! Glad to hear your MIL is spreading the word!

      Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • Well, I think we have too much of an expectation from doctors. From what I understand of their education (my wife is a nurse) doctors receive minimal nutrition education. Nutrition is not given enough exposure. Probably never has. Yet doctors are the ones giving nutritional advice when in fact they should be referring people to certified nutritionists.

        Even then, nutritionists of the 80′s probably would have steered people to the low fat diet. But who knows? Maybe someone with 80′s professional nutrition education could chime in? I do know that nowadays progressive nutritionists see the value in a diet made of low carbs and high quality fats.

        C L Deards wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • Doctors should be referring to dieticians, as if that will be any better advice? They will only give you more detailed and in-depth WRONG advice than the doctors. They all are drawing from the same old USDA, AHA, ADA dietary guidelines. Calorie and portion control, exercise more dogma. The conventional dieticians (read: 99% of dieticians) are the most pro-whole grain, low-fat, anti-primal group out there. Go to a doctor or nutritionist on primaldocs.com, paleo physicians network, or institute of functional medicine certified. Otherwise the NTA (nutritional therapy association) has a more real-food, primal-friendly teaching than the ADA, and you can find a list of NTA certified nutritionists on their website.

          Tim wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • On the one hand I agree, but doctors decide how to educate doctors. How can they ignore nutrition when it is probably the primary contributor to many chronic health problems? And surely many doctors, even absent education, glean this along the way.

          Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • I second the Paleo Physicians Network. We have a great paleo doctor here on the Upper East Side of New York. Often you can find at least a Chiropractor in your area who is paleo/crossfit/etc. who can offer sensible advice. Mine even helped me find a back alley amish raw milk dealer…

          BFBVince wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • Yeah I agree with Tim below. I am or should I say was (it’s a bit disheartening) grad program for nutrition – and all they push is the standard ADA diet – high fiber, low fat, dairy, fruits and veggies diet. They still feel diets like “paleo” or “primal” are “fads” and not sustainable. I have had a very difficult time studying the field when knowing full-well that it is absolutely contrary to what I believe, and have found, personally, through my own studies and life experience. So it’s all very frustrating. Yes, going to a…how should I say “traditional” nutritionist – that is, a licensed dietician (LD or LDN) probably won’t be the most, ummmm, “progressive” experience.

          Delphi wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • This message is for Delphi and anyone else who is interested in an occupation helping people with nutrition. I’m pretty sure that Dr. Berg (you can find him online) has similar advice on what to eat as Paleo/Primal, and he offers an online course to become a weight loss coach. So maybe people don’t have to study the information they know is incorrect, in order to become certified to help others :)

          Wenona wrote on April 26th, 2014
        • My grandfather had my mother and her siblings on a Pritikin diet, recommended to him by a nutritionist to cure his migraines, for most of their upbringing (they were all born in the 60s). No fat, no sugar, no salt. Cardboard everything. Needless to say, his migraines never went away. The only benefit is that mum, her sister and brother have an incredible relationship with food now. Once they had moved out and were in charge of purchasing what they ate, not one of them ever touched the low-fat / wholegrain diets that seemed to have been abundant in the 80s. Whilst none of them eat strictly paleo, they have a very ‘paleo-approach’ to food – they eat real food that they love, when they’re hungry, and just enough to satisfy them. AND they all enjoy wholefat everything. It is the most refreshing thing!

          Georgia wrote on April 27th, 2014
      • I don’t get how people can blindly accept so much information about diet…

        Zach rusk wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • Or the armed forces…

          Nocona wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • I wouldn’t lump all dieticians or nutritionists together. The few I talked to in Los Angeles understood the benefits of quality fats and low carbs. The river is shifting direction, if slowly.

          C L Deards wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • Nocona, you mean you don’t know how the armed forces blindly accepts advice on diet guidelines?

          Zach rusk wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • I also would have “avoided years of low fat, lo cal diets that for me never worked.”

        Elaine wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Oh, I think there was plenty of food awareness way back in the roaring 80s and 90s, and there were also these strange places called libraries and book stores where people would go for information. Maybe the internet is a convenient way to get information, but it’s also a convenient way to get misinformation.

      My parents fell into a cycle of processed food and sedentary lifestyles for a while, but snapped out of it in the late 70s and early 80s. Sure, some of it was information that Primal/paleo folks now consider CW, but it was a hell of a lot better than not doing anything. Exercise and cooking whole foods at home were still the most important factor. My parents made their own yogurt, planted a vegetable garden, cooked virtually everything from scratch, and started doing some light running and bicycling. Yeah, we went through a Tab phase (Google it if you’re too young to remember) and whole grains were part of what was considered healthy, but sugar was definitely more an enemy than fat. I’m pretty sure it’s what’s kept them alive and healthy into their 70s, so far.

      Mantonat wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • I respectfully disagree about the level of food awareness in the main stream in the 80s and 90s and that information was available at strange places called libraries. Nothing you would find in a health magazine, article about health, or the library would have provided someone with hundreds or thousands of individual stories of success in eating a high or higher fat diet, low carb, podcasts, blogs, much based on actual scientific reasoning instead of this is what the American Heart Assoc recommends . . . nothing like this was available and the library could not compare to what is on the internet today. Maybe I could have found Atkins book, I would have been afraid of it (as I was in the late 90s) based upon the tidal wave of conventional wisdom and my father dropping dead of a heart attack. I still have books from the early 90s about healthy eating — all low fat. Sugar was not demonized, it was acceptable in moderation as an empty calorie. No one was preaching an anti-sugar message except Yudkin and look where he got — no where. I liked to read about health, and did so on a regular basis from books and magazines. The paleo/primal and much of the real food movement exists as it does today because of the Internet — it would be much more limited without.

        Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • I had my child in 1982 & it was him who got me interested in nutrition in the first place, because I wanted the best for my child & he was hyperactive. I discovered that sugar & colourings & things in sweets were not good for him, so I removed as much sugar from his & my diet as I could & I stopped buying convenience foods & cooked all our meals. We still had cakes which I made myself with ‘healthy’ wholemeal flour & I would either reduce the amount of sugar in them or replace it with honey or pureed fruit. I would ‘fry’ meals in water rather than using fat!

          Then he kept getting tonsillitis & was on the waiting list to have his tonsils removed. I read that someone had cured their child’s tonsillitis by removing dairy from the diet, so I tried it with him & lo and behold, he changed from being a naughty child to a calm lovely child (I hadn’t expected that!). I experimented by adding the milk back & taking it away again a few times in case it was a coincidence, but it wasn’t. The change in him was amazing. He also never got any more tonsillitis & I took him off the hospital waiting list. I wish my parents had known about that when I was little, because I had my tonsils removed at the age of 3, due to getting lots of tonsillitis. I now know that I have a true allergy to milk. In my teens I had digestive problems & a continuous blocked nose & cold which stopped me sleeping. The Doctor said it was allergic rhinitis, but now I know it was the milk causing it. I used to love milk & drank loads of it! I drank loads when I was pregnant as well which maybe why my son couldn’t tolerate milk. Everyone thought I was mad & cruel to deny my son milk, & when we went on holiday once, my sister in law bought him some strawberries & cream. When I started to remove the cream, I was told ‘a little bit won’t hurt him’. That night he got a high temperature & developed tonsillitis which ruined the rest of our holiday!

          So in those days, I managed to learn that sugar & convenience foods weren’t good for us & learnt about how dairy is not good for everyone, but I still believed that fat was bad & wholemeal grains were good. I received a lot of criticism from people for restricting sugar & removing dairy from my son’s diet ‘as it was essential for his health’. I was told that I was cruel & silly.

          Christine wrote on April 26th, 2014
  3. Good work. Nice to see you taking control of your life.

    Matt wrote on April 25th, 2014
  4. Great job Cherice. You look ‘Mahvelous’.
    I’m always amazed humans don’t die before their 20th birthdays when they eat like that before going primal. Thank goodness we have some healthy momentum from our ancesters.

    Nocona wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • The window of “past [healthy] momentum” is sadly closing. The USA is roughly in the third generation of processedfoods and more young kids are obese than ever. (A generation being defined as 20-25yrs). All this can be changed and Mark and everyone here are leading the way.

      I almost had an idiomatic double entendre along the lines of “Americans eating their genetic seed corn” (GMO grain reference) but then my muse left me. Whatever. Fridays. Time to start practicing for “Cinco de Drink-o”! Woo!

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • Cinco de Drink-o, lol. Sounds like Robb Wolf’s NorCal margaritas…

        Nocona wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • I’ve started to wonder about the “you get fat as you age past 35/40/45″ meme that we are all accustomed to. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that processed foods were introduced exactly when the Baby Boomer generation reached 35/40/45. They didn’t get fat when they aged; they got fat when they started eating processed food.

        The data for previous generations is not comparable, as they lived when food was scarce, or they were working the farm or fighting wars. Yes there were overweight people and diets back in the day, but it didn’t seem to come automatically with age.

        oxide wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • I was more eluding to the dietary affects on epigenetics over generations (based upon Pottenger’s Cats study). Heavily processed foods came into the US during WW2.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • EXACTLY!

          Elaine wrote on April 25th, 2014
        • To be honest, no matter how healthy a diet is, cortisol does rise with age, even in hunter gatherers. You can help it to not get out of control and T2D etc via not eating crap, but I’ve seen pics of HG’s with muscular bodies and still sport a slight ‘gut’. What you say still rings true though.

          Just want to inform that some biological factors still occur as a function of time, just meaning you don’t have to have such a degree and maladaptiveness as a consequence.

          After a middle age spread then you have to battle loss of sub q fat, lovely. :P LOL Again, you see pics of HG’s with pretty decent musculature, but starting to look a bit scrawny once they’re past the middle age period. haha

          Zorica Vuletic wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • It’s not just obesity either. My little family just got home from the hospital after welcoming daughter number two to the family. The number of babies born by emergency c-section or in the NICU, and the number of mothers struggling to recover was staggering. We were in and out in less than 48 hours, and mom’s up and around with no problems.
        It will be interesting to see how the next generations fare.

        His Dudeness wrote on April 25th, 2014
  5. Whew!!

    glorth2 wrote on April 25th, 2014
  6. Wonderful story, Cherice. I think we are always works in progress but you have made fantastic progress.

    Harry Mossman wrote on April 25th, 2014
  7. Who’s the lady chomping on the hot dog bun? Your daughter(?) is eyeing her suspiciously.

    oxide wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Haha…I saw that too. Quite the contemplative look you are giving that bun or the woman eating the hot dog. I sometimes see what others eat and or buy in their shopping carts and it strikes me as unfortunate that there isn’t some inoffensive way for a “teaching moment”.

      Congratulations Cherice on finding your happy marbles. You look great! I had tummy aches all my teens and on and off throughout adulthood, (I kept changing diets)but I never figured it out until I dropped wheat/grains after reading an article here about gluten. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) the doctors liked to call it and the advice was “to be careful as cancer was higher amongst IBS sufferers. I think of all the thousands of people out there suffering this and that due to the eroneous advice given by doctors who just don’t have the knowledge nor the answers.

      JacqsFlyingPrima wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • I like to think I’m passively educating others in the supermarket as I load my organic full fat milk, yoghurt, butter, cheese and 45% fat cream out of my trolley (which is just about all I buy in the store now, except for a few non-food items). I see the women with their trolleys full of diet coke, low-fat cereal, canola oil and fat-free milk and yoghurt looking me up and down. I LOVE that moment! Just waiting for the day when someone is ‘rude’ enough to make a comment – then I’ll have my true teaching moment!

        This was a lovely story Cherice. It strikes me how different the success stories on MDA are to your run-of-the-mill diet ‘success’ story, which always seem so shallow (and temporary). These are stories of smart people who have gained their lives back – or indeed, gained better lives than they ever had before.

        Lee wrote on April 29th, 2014
    • Haha that’s my aunt on the 4th of July. And while I’d like to take credit for that adorable baby, she’s my niece. That photo was taken a year before giving birth.

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Whoever she is, she has to be pissed about your publishing such an unflattering picture. I sure would be!!! :-)

      Mary wrote on April 30th, 2014
  8. Wonderful story, Cherice. I was cheering you on as I read.

    granny gibson wrote on April 25th, 2014
  9. Great story, thanks for sharing! I was a kid in the 60s and 70s and ate Lucky Charms, Captain Crunch, Frosted Flakes, and the rest of that boxed crap. Fortunately we had non-homogenized milk delivered by the farmer, so that helped.

    We had way too much canned food, too, like Spaghettios, canned fruit, soups, etc. You’d think we were living in a fallout shelter. Then there were the TV dinners, fish sticks, and other pre-cooked items she heated up. The funny thing was, my mom didn’t work outside the home…what the heck did she do all day? Just kidding…she did cook from scratch fairly often such as making a chuck roast with carrots and potatoes. Served with Jello and a can of “fruit cocktail.” Blechhh. Everyone was brainwashed with advertising and probably wanted to be “modern.”

    Mom is in her early nineties and has awful joint problems but is still getting around and has her marbles, thank goodness. The longevity genes are there (her aunt lived to be 98) but the lousy food has done its work. I have an alternate plan.

    Energy! wrote on April 25th, 2014
  10. Great story and well done. I can remember those rainy days in the summer holidays feeling depressed – teenage years are extra tough when you eat SAD. I, too, wish the knowledge had been available in the 80′s. Our parents in their 60′s are suffering now for the bad advice of that time, which many are reluctant to ignore even with the evidence of poor health.

    Grokesque wrote on April 25th, 2014
  11. I think that even if your parents had suggested an alternative way of eating, as a kid, you would not have complied. My mom refused to buy the sugary cereals and instead pushed cracked wheat bread (ha! white bread in disguise), but clearly that wasn’t much of an improvement. I see this with my own teenaged kids who are old enough to understand about nutrition, yet still choose to eat things that I would prefer they didn’t. The schools also don’t help becuase they are still teaching the FDA Food Pyramid! I don’t always have control over what they eat, but when I do, I try to at least show them what they SHOULD eat if they have a choice. My daughter was tested as allergic to wheat/gluten, though not celiac, and just cutting that out of her diet has made a huge difference in her stomach issues and she is finally understanding how what you eat makes a difference! Often, my kids tell me that they think eating Paleo (or vegetarian or whatever I’ve tried over the years) is just another fad. My own parents refuse to get on the bandwagon even though my father is borderline diabetic and has a huge potbelly. For every study I find that touts Paleo/Primal, they find another from some “reputable” source that says NOT to cut out carbs and they yell at me that I’m eating too much beef (even though my mom also knows the benefits of grass-fed meat)! So…your journey was one that you had to do on your own and congrats on getting there! I;m sure your parents only did what they thought was best, but you will for sure feel better about what you do with your own little one in that regard!

    CR wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Tell your kids the real food movement will not be a fad — the labels paleo or primal may not last but those eating real quality food, while it may not be a majority of the population, will enjoy greater health, well being, and longevity, and thus no fad here. My daughter is 5, she told me once she remembered when we used to buy pasta, I wonder what it will be like later on . . .

      Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • Agreed Colleen. Probably be calling it ‘Nutrient Dense Food’ someday, and that might help people come aboard while not thinking it is a fad.

        Nocona wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • I agree with you 100%. While I wish my parents knew better, if they tried implementing a healthier diet when I was a kid or teen, they would have been met with resistance. I was seriously addicted to sugar, and would have fought them tooth and nail. Hindsight is always 20/20.

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • Yes, but the beauty of it is when you get to your 30s and 40s (late 20s?) you start thinking my parents were right about this, that, and the other thing, so what I hope for with my 5 yo, if she rebels as a teen, hopefully she will come back to it quickly if SAD fails for her.

        Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • My 4 kids were like that. They thought I was being overly restrictive for no real reason.We had no sugary stuff in the house except for the occasional birthday cake or batch of home made cookies. I would only buy 1-2 bags of chips that had to last 4 kids and their friends for the week. Most meals were home cooked with veggies from the garden. Unfortunately also heavy on CW whole grain. One by one as they hit their mid-twenties they commented on how glad they were that I had insisted on eating that way because they were seeing all the problems their friends were developing.

      Linda wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • At one point I was overly-restrictive, but I’ve become a little more lenient. I now think that If you are too demanding, you will cause more of a food issue in the long run. I certainly remember going to my friends’ houses and polishing off the boxes of Lucky Charms because my parents didn’t have it in their house. But, I was also always healthy, in good shape and active, so nobody was any wiser. My own kids do comment on the crap that their friends bring to school in their lunches, but it doesn’t stop them from wanting it, too! They don’t see the health issues arising yet and they can’t think long-term, so they assume those kids are, and will be, healthy. Kids will be kids and yes, hopefully, they will appreciate LATER what you have done for them and follow suit. But, I try not to stress too much if mine aren’t on the bandwagon at any given moment. I know it will come.

        CR wrote on April 26th, 2014
    • Just curious, how did she ‘test’ as allergic to wheat/gluten? Standard skin prick test or something else? My son has tested negative for Celiac via the blood draw and didn’t register any allergies to wheat with a skin prick at the allergist, it’s been hard to get any definitive ‘proof’ that he’s sensitive to wheat/gluten.

      Danielle wrote on April 28th, 2014
      • Danielle — my daughter was complaining about being nauseous every morning. She also eats a lot of dark chocolate and sneezes every time she eats it. So, those two things prompted me to get her tested. She had the prick test on her back which made her cry. They put a few baselines on there and then tested the allergens. They compare and make a diagnosis. The site with wheat was pretty inflamed (as was the one for bed mites and cat dander and we have two cats! I bought mite covers for her sheets. I never noticed the cat allergy until we went to a breeder’s house and there were a dozen cats there. That was when it finally kicked in). Ironically, she was NOT allergic to chocolate at all! Since I have removed the wheat products, she has been feeling better. I make paleo pancakes and things like that and I substitute gluten-free pizzas and bagels and other not-so-primal foods because she’s a kid and she wants them and I don’t want to be too controlling. She will eat wheat sometimes, but she’s very aware that it could cause a problem, so she tries to avoid it. What really gets me is that nobody makes a stink if you say you don’t eat wheat/grains because you’re allergic, but the minute you say you don’t eat them “just because” or you mention “paleo”, people start to talk. The fact that my daughter can say she’s been tested as allergic makes it easier for her to not have to eat them without a long explanation.

        CR wrote on April 28th, 2014
        • Sneezing with dark chocolate rings a bell. Both me and my daughter do that. Have no idea why as pure cacao has no adverse reaction and the chocolate we do eat is usually 85% cacao.

          Clay wrote on April 29th, 2014
  12. You look fantastic! Congratulations on becoming healthy and happy – and your baby is adorable :)

    Aliya wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Thank you! That’s my niece, but she is definitely a cutie!

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • Ah! My mistake! I’m pretty sure that your baby is adorable as well :)

        Aliya wrote on April 26th, 2014
  13. You look great and so happy! I too started with atkins before finding MDA in my undergrad career. Its awesome to feel young and not just look it, doesn’t it? Congrats!

    Elizabeth wrote on April 25th, 2014
  14. you look great! what a great journey of health, and how wonderful to have a guy who’s been around through thick and thin, worse and better health! congrats on being a new mama! i have 3 little ones, and it’s been a rewarding journey. it’s been great to go primal, and bring them along on that, too!

    jenny rose wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • I’m so happy that I discovered primal eating before getting pregnant. I am choosing to raise my daughter eating real, whole foods and I hope so much that I give her better health than I had!

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
  15. A very moving story Cherice, really got to me. Excuse me, must be some dust in the air, need to dab my eyes a bit …

    George wrote on April 25th, 2014
  16. Great testimony and so inspiring.

    Julie wrote on April 25th, 2014
  17. awesome!

    rlarson wrote on April 25th, 2014
  18. Despite the title of the post, you look pretty happy in the first pic! I wonder if what your future husband is doing has anything to do with that LOL

    Mike wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • I was wondering if anyone would notice that…the happiness was pretty alcohol induced in that photo. ;)

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • That’s funny. I didn’t want to say it earlier, but I was gonna say he was weaned off the nipple way too soon as a child.

        Nocona wrote on April 25th, 2014
  19. Cherice. I love hearing these stories of health! It’s incredible to see food affect so many facets of our lives. Absolutely amazing. Congrats on the baby too!

    Luke wrote on April 25th, 2014
  20. Nice work, Cherice. Grok on!

    James wrote on April 25th, 2014
  21. What a great story from someone in my generation! My diet process started with going GF. This helped drop the first easy weight, the migraines, IBS , digestive issues, brain fog, etc. I felt better than ever. I am very OCD, and i found myself wanting to feel even better, the BEST. This brought me to paleo / primal / keto, and my life has changed since. Working out was the second best decision I have ever made. No more moaping around, more energy, better moods, you name it, and the mrs sure doesn’t mind my changes! Kudos to you and you’re progress! Keep it up!

    Yamz wrote on April 25th, 2014
  22. Wow, I’ve read numerous stories on MDA about primal successes but this is one of the first that very much mirrors my own path. As a child I was on the heavier side of average and as life moved on I just got fat (though most folks are stunned when I’m tell them I’m 210lbs @ 5’4″). While I haven’t had thoughts of suicide I’ve had the “what if I didn’t exist” thoughts a long with the general anger and sore knees/hips/back.

    I did manage to get down to 167 at one point with a primarily paleo diet before I found MDA but after a break up I put it all back on and though I’m happily married I still have never shed the weight again. It is great to see that there might be light at the other end of the tunnel for me!

    Ryan wrote on April 25th, 2014
  23. So is hubby not on the program? Looks about the same in your before/after pics.

    Will wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • He eats what I cook at home, and never complains about not having certain foods he likes, but he doesn’t care when he’s out of the house. He’s making progress, though! He teaches, and on more than one occasion he’s commented on the crap his students eat for lunch. It’s all baby steps.

      Cherice wrote on April 25th, 2014
  24. I find it a bit sad that the low carb community blame the education of medical staff for much of the low fat or SAD advice.
    Long before I stumbled across MDA I was in a Biochemistry lecture (biomedical science degree) and learning metabolic pathways of carbs, lipids and proteins.
    That very day I cut all carbs from my diet, lost 20+ kg throughout all my antidepressants, blood pressure meds, my chronic back pain disappeared along with the epilepsy meds.
    So at least initially they do teach you the basic science of food. It’s just the average student isn’t listening. They only hear the bits that align with their existing knowledge. I was highly uneducated. I was making a big effort to allow cognitive dissonance shake me awake. I didn’t have much of a schema to add the new knowledge too.
    Everyone thinks they know everything already. Especially regarding something like eating. I mean we do it three times a day everyday.

    Jane wrote on April 25th, 2014
    • Respectfully, I think your comment proves the point of poor medical education. Basically, I conclude from your comments that it would be obvious to cut carbs as you did listening to that lecture if weight is an issue. How is it that doctors do not prescribe this as a treatment option on a regular basis going back . . . decades? Somewhere along the lines the message got scrambled. This is definitely a failing of medical education which includes or should include how to apply basic medical science and biochemistry to patient treatment.

      Colleen wrote on April 25th, 2014
      • I would rather the docs say nothing at all than offer bad nutritional advice. Many people take a doctor’s word as gospel and pay the consequences. The only time one of my docs would speak up was when the latest anti-supplement “study” was released: Taking X Supplement Will Kill You!

        Energy! wrote on April 26th, 2014
        • Recently, my (young) Dr. suggested I try “diet modification” to bring down my cholesterol numbers. Her advice? Go easy on the butter.

          Not on your life, doc! And, I don’t want my numbers to come down!
          HDL~95!

          Jen K wrote on April 27th, 2014
  25. boy that’s an awful lot of unhappiness to live through

    Joe Bob wrote on April 25th, 2014
  26. Hey Cherice, congratulations on changing your life at such a young age! Most people don’t have the courage to take on something so big. You’re very pretty in your after photos. I’m sure you are enjoying a fabulous life. Regards

    Michael B wrote on April 25th, 2014
  27. I bet it is nice for you to have your parents on board living the same healthy lifestyle. I’m sure it makes the holidays more of a breeze. I always have to take food to my in-laws house.

    Ben T wrote on April 25th, 2014
  28. Great story Cherice. Thanks for taking us on your journey and letting us feel your happiness at your new found good health.

    At first I was a little miffed that the comment string had been hijacked by the “parental diet guidance or lack thereof” debate, but on reflection i think it is wonderful that you have prompted people to think more about how they learn or unlearn their nutrional habits. If only this kind of discussion was out there in the wide world, we might find more people with such great success stories to share.

    I am sure your daughter will thank you in the future for giving her such a great start in life, and teaching her such good habits. Keep up the good work.

    HillyM wrote on April 25th, 2014
  29. Great pics! Looks as if you are truly knowledgeable of the “grain damage” being done by that hot dog bun!

    skeedaddy wrote on April 25th, 2014
  30. Wow Cherise nice story, congratulations!

    wildgrok wrote on April 25th, 2014
  31. Thank you for sharing – I don’t think anyone will ever reach the “end” of their journey to better health :P You look fantastic, and I live that your mother in law peaches the good word to her patients! Also, your baby is so lucky to start life with a solid diet and great health! Keep it all up, it’s prefect!

    meg wrote on April 26th, 2014
  32. the success of my journey can be summed into two tactics, A) Short term goal planning, example, say you want to loose 1kg this week or 10 days, and so on. take it slowly. B) Preparation, make sure your kitchen is prepared to your goals, be prepared to counterattack a “slippery” day so you hit it twice as hard in them.

    after all is all about you, you and you.

    Sultan wrote on April 26th, 2014
  33. Great job Cherise!
    If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of probiotics did you use? Anything in particular? I am trying to get back to Paleo/Primal after a year long hiatus, and I know I’ve probably done some damage to my gut.

    Kristen wrote on April 26th, 2014
    • Yes! I would love to know this as well… my gut is very out of whack right now due to some poor alcohol-induced food decisions.

      Amazing story, by the way… My sister has had stomach problems all of her life and I’m always hoping she’ll one day join me on my primal journey.

      Nikki wrote on April 28th, 2014
  34. Way to go Cherice! I am so glad it all fell in to place for you information wise. I am trying very hard not to talk about it with anyone but often say something about eating more fat and more meat and most people just don’t get it. My kids and husband are not on board but we are small eaters and not over weight at all. I do insist on some amount of protein at every meal. Families are really hard, they are the closest to you and the most resistant at the same time.

    Vanessa wrote on April 26th, 2014
  35. I’ve noticed many people saying how they wish their parents would have taught them how to eat better while they were kids or teenagers. I can’t agree more on the impact that parents have on their kids. My dad discovered high fat low carb diet in his mid thirties and when I turned twelve, being a little overweight, he started teaching me. I am now sixteen and use this diet daily, because it helped me lose weight then, and it continues to help me maintain a healthy weight now. I have four siblings who don’t eat like I do, so my dad’s influence didn’t quite work on all of us, but I will forever be greatful to him for helping me understand the importance of good health. His parents didn’t teach him this and still believe in low-fat whole grain diet. My grandma now has heart issues, and my grandpa is overweight on the verge of diabetes, still being taught by his doctors to eat more whole grains. I think more young parents today are discovering the right way of eating and teaching their kids. As my generation grows up and we start to have children of our own, we will know what to teach them, concerning health.

    Chloe Jane wrote on April 27th, 2014
  36. What a transformation. Your “fat” picture doesn’t show the depression you describe, but I certainly don’t doubt you. What I realize – and I’ve thought about this before – is that having been born in the fifties ! I wasn’t as damaged as a kid as those who came later. The high-grain/low-fat push wasn’t going on, even though they’d invented margarine and Canola, and we had animal protein at virtually every meal in reasonable amounts. My mother definitely tried to limits carbs – certainly cookies, candy, pasta, etc. – because I was fat, and everyone knew carbs caused fatness. So, it was a different world, and I think I’d have been sicker physically than I was had the standard American diet, the food pyramid, been what it is today. I’d have been more than 80 pounds overweight, I’m sure. Congratulations to you and your family! How wonderful that you can be young and healthy – and THIN! All the best.

    Debbie wrote on April 30th, 2014
  37. She looks hot, eyy fellas?

    Lachlan wrote on May 7th, 2014
  38. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really resonated with me and (at the risk of sounding like a stalker!) ive kept coming back to it over the last few months to keep me inspired. I’ve had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since my teens (16 years now) and after years of playing around with gluten free and dairy free have now discovered paleo which has improved my health like nothing else. I’ve found it really tough when my symptoms are bad not to reach for the chocolate for a boost of energy but have meditated on the fact that you and other people have persevered and changed your lives and I really hope I can do that now for myself.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration! I hope I’ll be in a position to submit my transformation story at some point in the future too!

    Katy wrote on June 11th, 2014

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