I was a normal weight kid and teenager. I ran every day. Swam. Played racquetball and tennis. You could argue I was incredibly healthy, but I felt awful.
In the Midwestern home I grew up in, hamburgers and pizza were typical weeknight dinners. I thought meat was what had been giving me constant tummy aches, so I became a vegetarian at 15, convinced it would make me feel better.
I remember getting my cholesterol checked during a blood drive my first year in college, three years into vegetarianism. It was awful, for an 18 year old. I didn't know what to do, but figured I was doomed to the high cholesterol that runs in my family.
Then I met my future husband, a self-proclaimed meat lover, around the age of 20. I stopped the veggie act and started eating some meat. The freshman 15 I'd been carrying around for a couple of years disappeared. I felt better than I had in a long time. So I knew that meat wasn't the problem.
I moved away from my home state to go to grad school at 21. While there, I subsisted on a lot of junk, mostly bread and artificially sweetened soda. I put on 20 pounds. I had some migraines and some grand mal seizures at 23. I went on anti-seizure meds for three years. I felt awful. Needed 12 hours of sleep a night to function. I put on more weight. I dropped out of school before completing my masters degree because I just couldnít concentrate and I was depressed.
Finally, I moved to be with my future husband, got married, got pregnant, developed awful adult acne, gained 60 pounds and dangerous high blood pressure by the end of my pregnancy. My son was perfect. I nursed but we supplemented with formula early on, and he developed a dairy allergy and was super sick. I gave up dairy and gluten, trying to troubleshoot things, and he got miraculously better! I lost all that I had gained during the pregnancy. I got my cholesterol checked during this time. The doctor said, "Wow, you have fantastic cholesterol! Your HDL is really good and your LDL and triglycerides are super low. Whatever you're doing, keep it up!"
Then I went back to work, quit nursing, started eating fast food, coffee with cream, and bread again, and didnít think anything of it until I started getting headaches again and my stomach aches were still always there. I wanted to be a good mom, but I needed a lot more sleep than I used to. I started getting really bad adult acne. Then, I was laid off.
I was depressed. I gained weight. Overall, I gained almost 60 pounds in three years. Went from around 165 to 220 pounds. Iím 5í8Ē.
In an effort to lose a few pounds, I gave up gluten. Immediately, I felt better. But then I discovered the world of gluten free bread and cookies. When you want sugar, theyíre there for you with a super high glycemic index. My acne got worse. Finally, in looking for homemade gluten free recipes, I kept coming across ďpaleo friendlyĒ this, and ďprimalĒ that. I looked into it. Then some friends of ours, at our annual Superbowl party said, ďOh yeah, we gave up gluten a couple of years ago when we started something called the Primal Diet. Check out the book!Ē On a whim, I said, ďIím going primal for LentĒ, even though Iím not a religious person.
In the three-plus weeks Iíve been eating this way, Iíve dropped 16 pounds. Iím down a dress size and fitting into jeans I havenít worn in over two years. My adult acne has cleared up completely (!). (Seriously, the acne alone is the best reason to do thisÖNOTHING else worked!) My nails and hair are growing so fast I can barely keep up with them. Athleteís foot is gone. Libido is back (donít know if thatís biochemical or related to feeling better about how I look, but Iíll take it!). I just feel so much better.
Iím not going to stop this diet anytime soon. Thanks, Mark!