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

Grok the High Schooler

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!

My name is Christy and I’m an 18 year old high school student. I’m an athlete, primal fitness enthusiast and have been paleo for over a year now. I’m pretty much your standard high school Grok. I do my best to sleep when the sun goes down and move slowly many times throughout the day. It can be hard when you go to school, work, play sports…but I love everything about the paleo life. I enjoy long walks in my Vibrams and have been known to eat chicken and sweet potatoes multiple times a day…

I’ve always loved the outdoors. My earliest memories consist of afternoons in the park and endless trips to the zoo; you could find me swinging in the trees and splashing in the mud while the other kids clung to the jungle gym. My parents never complained…

Once I hit middle school I began to notice my weight. Keep in mind I always loved food and lots of it; I could proudly put down a rack of ribs or an entire order of P.F. Chang’s fried rice. I hit 125 lbs at 5’2”, not obese by any means but a bit pudgy for my taste. So I cut back on the rice, upped the chicken and veggies, and hit about 118 lbs feeling great and as though I had taken control of my body for the first time. This sparked my interest in nutrition and sent me into high school feeling great.

I went into my freshman year as a varsity tennis player and track runner. I began sprinting and power lifting, falling in love with cleans, squats, and bench presses and could easily crank out 10 pull-ups. I loved lifting, but I missed running as I was a pole vaulter, so I naturally began doing extra on the weekends causing me to burnout by the end of the season.

Christy Playing Tennis

Track gave me a new passion for fitness and a desire to change my body, so I continued working out through the summer, slimming down to 108 lbs but losing a large amount of muscle. I was lethargic most of the day, running each morning and thinking about food constantly; I wasn’t following a certain diet but restricted my portions and ate foods like low fat cereal, turkey wraps, and chicken, veggies and rice for dinner. I stopped menstruating and became irritable. I stopped strength training because I lost all desire to lift. I stayed slim for the next two years, eating more and lifting again throughout the school year but I still obsessed over food and staying thin rather than my overall health.

So I tried out for the girls lacrosse team my junior year never having played, which gave me the motivation to eat more and focus on what I could do rather than what I weighed. I wanted to reach my maximum potential physically, so I trained twice a day, eating things like Greek yogurt, oats, chocolate milk and Gatorade. I turned myself into a decent player but would burn out easily as I ran mostly on sugar. It was frustrating for me because after all these years of dieting and working out I felt I should have been the fittest girl there was, so I continued to look for answers.

I saw “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” one day on Easter vacation, read it and felt an immediate light go off in my mind. Eating what our bodies were meant to eat, plenty of meat, fresh fruits and veggies (I’d always enjoyed carrots out of the bag), this diet couldn’t have been more perfect.

I ate high carb at first, not quite grasping the “fat is GOOD” concept. I fueled up with egg whites and spinach, fruit, carrots, Lara bars, nuts, DATES, and smoothies and was feeling good but was having some minor stomach pains due to excess fiber/sugar. I immediately had more energy and felt how efficiently my body was beginning to run. My year ended with a few too many hard workouts and carb cravings, so I reduced the cardio, took up sprint days, plyos, hiking and rock climbing and had the best summer of my life. I ditched processed foods and cooked more, bought Vibrams, went out with friends and enjoyed life. I was feeling great and headed into my cardio-heavy tennis preseason eating eggs, grass fed butter, sweet potatoes, and plenty of meat and veggies. I felt like a machine: no longer taking medication, sleeping soundly, working two jobs, and always having energy at the end of the night.

Christy and Friend Enjoying Summer

The success of that summer sent me into my senior year feeling better then ever. However being 18 provided many distractions and I derailed more than a few times. I ate ice cream, had cravings, binged, I got off track and back on, then got off again, but I never forgot how I felt that summer. Food had taken a grip on my mentality but I knew what a healthy body felt like. I wanted that body back so I kept fighting and eventually got back to the primal way. I know what my body likes and what it doesn’t, and while I still have days where I have a bit too much almond butter-dates-dark chocolate I always know I can come back to the foods I love and the training style that treats me right. I currently sit at a comfortable 120-123 lbs, can pump out 100 push-ups or an easy 4 mile run, and eat to fuel my performance, life and happiness.

Strong Christy

By far the most rewarding part of this journey has been my friends asking why I do this “paleo thing” and if I recommend they try it. I give them your website, suggest what to eat, and answer any questions they have along the way. I’ve helped a best friend lose weight and change her life, given your website to complete strangers, and constantly use social media to expose the paleo life and express how passionate I am about it.

I’m heading to Penn State University to study Agricultural Sciences (where food comes from) and Dietetics and Nutrition (how to get the good stuff into people). I’m so excited and ready to help people beyond my close circle of supporters. I know I’m young and have a lifetime of information to learn, but I can’t wait to learn it and love having the energy to do so. Thanks, Mark, for inspiring me to inspire others everyday, for keeping me above the influence, and for making me the happiest, healthiest version of myself. I look forward to exploring campus next year and maintaining my diet throughout the year. Grok on!

Grok in the Wild

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. Christy,
    This is awesome. I am in the process of switching to the primal/paleo diet. Are you allowed to drink raw, organic milk on the primal diet? There are some things I am confused about. Is using a treadmill for sprints and walking fine? I just don’t know where to do sprints outside. Congrats on Penn State. I’m sorry to say it….but Go Ohio State! Yes, I’m a Buckeyes fan. I hope you keep up the good work and if you would be willing to swap e-mail addresses or become friends on Facebook that would be awesome so maybe you could answer some of my questions. Grok on. My e-mail address is Hope to hear back from you.

    Lawdude22 wrote on June 7th, 2013
  2. Awesome story!!! So good to see that at such a young age you are so focused!!! One thing… consider both a Nutritional Sciences degree as well as Nutrition & Dietetics. Depending on where you plan on working or what you want to do as a career, the degree you get may make a difference. Registered Dietitians tend to end up working in a clinical setting, or other facilities in which they must teach CW. Best of luck!!!

    Lora wrote on June 7th, 2013
    • Wow thank you!! I have my orientation soon so I’ll have the opportunity to talk about my major with a school adviser, I’ll definitely keep Nutritional Sciences in mind :)

      Christy wrote on June 8th, 2013
  3. So awesome and refreshing to hear a positive health-conscious attitude coming out a young person like yourself! I know you will go far in the future!!

    Sandy Azancot wrote on June 7th, 2013
  4. If only I were that disciplined when I was in high school…

    Charlayna wrote on June 7th, 2013
  5. Hi Christy! An inspiring story! Just beginning this journey myself. I also went to Penn State and am so excited for you – watch out for those West Halls cookies and infamous tailgates. If there’s a way to connect with you on social media, let me know!

    Nicole wrote on June 8th, 2013
  6. AWESOME! I love hearing about other teens who are PB’ers like me! Your story is SO similar to mine! keep it up! :)

    Sarah wrote on June 8th, 2013
  7. I can totally relate to your story. I became interested in health/nutrition the summer before my senior year. Unfortunately, I believed that CW was the only way to go. So I did high carb, low fat and joined the track team doing long distance running. I will say I did lose weight, a lot of weight. I’m sure it was mostly muscle though. I also lost my period for several months. When I went to college, things got worse. Although I was studying exercise science/physical therapy, I was definitely eating my weight in food. It was so easy to do at the cafeteria and fast food places everywhere! I gained probably 30+lb my freshman year. It is very, very difficult to stay healthy in college, especially with regards to nutrition and sleep. It is definitely something you will have to figure out early what works for you. I never figured out how to balance everything all 4 years. Luckily, my senior year I discovered how amazing I felt on a high fat, low carb diet. The documentary ‘Fathead’ is what changed everything for me, and it has all been uphill since then… the last 2 years or so. My advice: don’t be like me. Get good sleep, don’t eat crap, don’t drink too much, find time to study and time with friends. And enjoy your college years. Graduation day will come sooner than you think. :)

    Erin wrote on June 8th, 2013
  8. What an awesome and inspiring story from a next generation Grok! I’m going to have my 10 year old daughter read this as it is so encouraging to see younger people understand the importance of this lifestyle and to fully embrace it. Good luck in your studies!

    Heather wrote on June 8th, 2013
  9. I’m another PSU alum and was so happy to read your story! I didn’t find primal/paleo until years post college. I used to go weeks in college without eating a vegetable. My favorite meal was a chicken cosmo (fried chicken patty) covered with cheese wiz with a side of fries dipped in cheese wiz. I ate a lot of pizza and drank a lot of Natty Light. Needless to say, I gained a lot of weight and felt awful.
    You are extremely fortunate to have found the primal lifestyle when you did. I also wish I had gotten my degree in a nutrition related field instead of business, but alas that was not my path.

    I am trying to raise my very young daughter primal. I am going to print out your story and save it for when she can actually read and understand.

    Congrats on becoming a Nittany Lion! Penn State is a wonderful place to attend college. I made some life long friends and met my husband there and had a blast.

    I highly recommend getting involved in THON. It’s really such an amazing thing that the students do and so rewarding to be a part of.

    Good luck!

    Jules wrote on June 8th, 2013
  10. So awesome, Christy! My understanding is that colleges must provide gluten-free meals to students who are gluten sensitive. At least Celiac is considered a disability and they are much more accommodating now than they used to be regarding special diets. So you might consider telling them you need GF meals, or grain-free because it affects your blood sugar levels. Maybe they’d give you more veggie options for your carbs, just a thought.
    It would be a real help to other students if you could write an ebook with easy primal dorm snacks and meals. Maybe you can get Mark to publish it! Heck, we could all use those kind of meal and snack ideas! And maybe that could be a project for one of your classes, and help pay for your schooling! Go for it, girl! You’re off to a terrific start and light years ahead of most people!

    Laurie wrote on June 8th, 2013
  11. Almond butter-DATES-dark chocolate? I think I won’t even try that because I already know how I am when I combine almond butter and dates…

    Thanks for sharing a story that shows how Primal is a journey and not a destination. Best of luck at Penn State! While I didn’t go there, since I went to Ohio State (go Big 10!), I can at least say that you should take advantage of everything you possibly can and learn from as many different kinds of people as you can. It was such a diverse, eye-opening experience for me that all I can say is learn everything you can, not just convention wisdom/non-conventional wisdom, but checking out the arts, going to guest lectures, scoping out student activities, participating in the summer reading series, stuff like that. It’s awesome!

    Deanna wrote on June 8th, 2013
  12. I wish I knew what you know when I was your age. I’m hoping my daughter (who’s only 4) grows to understand the right way of eating. There are so many reader comments that I wanted to ‘like’ all the way down the page. Go out there and change the world! :)

    Helen wrote on June 9th, 2013
  13. WTG, Christy! Wow, well done you, so healthy and focused at 18, with a whole future of wonderful possibilities ahead. It’s so nice to hear from younger primals, I’m 45 and only discovered ancestral eating at 42 – what a difference that would have made in my life if I had found it at 18. I sincerely hope when I’m retirement age, low-carb will be CW and big food/pharma will be more on side, hopefully thanks to your efforts and those of other primals :-) Grok on!

    CarolB wrote on June 9th, 2013
  14. Awesome Christy! Wish I had know about Paleo / Primal back when I went to Penn State! I am a two time graduate of Penn State (lived in East Halls for two years) and agree with the comments above that the courses / research they teach at PSU will definitely try to convince you that CW is right and Paleo / Primal is wrong – hold firm! We need more folks like you going through that program and paving the way!

    Agree on joining Cross-fit there and on getting involved in THON! You will Love both!

    Had to chuckle on Jules comment above about the chicken cosmos – They were my favorite dorm food too back in the day :-)

    Hope to see you in the Penn Stater some day writing about your successes in modernizing the program there and helping to change the way the world views nutrition. Fight on State!

    KathyH wrote on June 9th, 2013
  15. Great story, Christy! I’m from DubC, too, (Henderson ’02), but I live in Iowa now… It’s so cool you found the primal diet in high school. Congratulations on your success so far & good luck at Penn State in the fall!

    Sara wrote on June 9th, 2013
  16. Christy, fantastic journey you have been on so far. You can make a big difference in many people’s lives.

    John Vangelov wrote on June 10th, 2013
  17. So inspiring! Its great to hear how primal has worked for someone also in college! It can get discouraging trying to balance friends and health especially in college (I’m currently a senior) I know you will do well with keeping up this lifestyle :)

    Jacqui wrote on June 10th, 2013
  18. I am incredibly jealous that you discovered this while you were in high school… its going to make those tempting late night binge sessions in college much easier to avoid, and start this lifestyle much earlier in life than myself. Good luck in college and Grok on!

    Shereen wrote on June 13th, 2013
  19. Christy, that’s an inspiring story! All I can say is keep it up and get those agricultural baddies once and for all.

    Gluten_Freedom wrote on June 15th, 2013

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