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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 07, 2016

How Primal Gave Me Freedom from Depression, Pain, and Discomfort

By Guest
28 Comments

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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in lineYou know that Texas Style Toast?! It’s thick, white, and usually comes with mouthwatering butter spread across it?! Or even better, the French Toast version of Texas Style Toast? If you do you know it, you know it tastes amazing. *Mouth begins to water* Bet you never thought you would read the words TOAST on MDA. That’s okay, I would have never expected it either, but this is where my story semi-begins.

I honestly never felt good growing up. I always had a stomachache and without fail was continually bloated. I have pictures around the age of 9 where you can tell I have something wrapped around my stomach. I laugh now but my nine-year-old self would self-prescribe and wrap those hot pads you buy from the drugstore to relieve the pain. Even then I sensed something wasn’t right.

My anxieties throughout my childhood were crippling. I struggled to be happy yet I had every reason to be happy. I had amazing parents, a great life, but my little kid brain didn’t see it that way. It was like I couldn’t help but feel scared all the time. I hated it.

I was involved in the sport of gymnastics for about 12 years. And even though it was great, and taught me more than anything ever has, I would write in my journal how I wished I could be less scared and criticize myself less for being too tired during practice. I wanted to feel like all the other kids. But again I was too young to pinpoint what was wrong. I just didn’t know and lacked the knowledge to look toward what I was eating.

In high school, I tried doing cross-country. I loved running and the way I felt afterward. Suffering from anxieties and depression, the running ‘high’ would give me a little relief and I was grateful for it, but then I would proceed to sleep for hours after that. Looks started to become super important to me. It was nothing abnormal for a high-school girl, but I started noticing how no matter how hard I ran, I still gained weight. This didn’t help with my confidence and depression. Again, the red flags were popping up and I was noticing.

I remember I was traveling with friends for a high school event and we ate at Texas Roadhouse. By this time I was eating “healthy,” or what I thought was healthy. I was eating a lot of fruit, dairy, and processed carbs. But this specific time I decided to have the glorious smelling Texas Toast, and almost immediately, I felt super sick. My stomach hurt, I felt like I was going to puke. My friend exclaimed, “Kristina, how come you always feel sick?!” Ding!

Oh and here’s another interesting point, maybe a little TMI, but I still hadn’t gotten my period yet. RED FLAG.

Now that I think back, maybe it was all the stress I was putting myself under (obviously I hadn’t discovered ADRENAL FATIGUE lol). But either way, I wanted to feel as confident as I knew I was capable of being. Gymnastics had already given me the reality to know I could be strong.

Fast forward. I went off to college for my freshman year. I thought I was eating well. Lots of fruit and dairy from the dining hall, and had done enough self-reflection to know that bread was not sitting well with me. I went gluten-free but not completely and considered gluten-free processed food good for me. I wanted more and more to feel good. By the time summer break came along I had hit my breaking point. I wasn’t doing as well as I would have liked at school. I would keep to myself in my dorm room because of my social anxieties and would binge on all that gluten-free processed food and sugar.

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(Side note; I had been to doctors throughout high school who put me on Synthroid and told me to workout more. I was the typical story you hear on StopTheThyroidMadness.com. I love this website, by the way.)

My mom, that summer, brought me to a functional doctor who turned my whole life around from the first appointment. I broke down crying in front of my doctor. I wanted change. She put me on a non-processed foods diet. Higher protein, low-carb and no sugar. I didn’t question her, I was desperate. I’m not joking when I say that I felt like a whole new person within five days. I honestly did not realize how fast I was improving. People asked me if it was hard and I replied with, “You know what, it really wasn’t because nothing was as hard as how badly I had been feeling.”

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And I think that was the key and what kept me so consistent with never going back to my old habits. Hard was not being able to be fun around my friends. Hard was feeling sick and tired all the time. Hard was being unable to believe in myself. Hard was not feeling like I couldn’t physically doing things people my age were.

Within two weeks my acne cleared up, my period came, my bloating went away, no stomach aches, and the depression lifted. I had morphed into the person I knew I had always been. The person I had always wanted to feel like. It sounds too good be true, but oh my gosh I couldn’t be more honest here. The shift was so evident I knew I never wanted to EVER go back. I loved myself enough to know that this was worth the effort.

That week I started researching a real food diet and stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple. Never before this point had I realized the impact food had on me and could have on others. It’s been almost six years since that point. I still struggle but nothing like before. The knowledge saved my life. And continues to do so.

My mom has been a huge lifeline for me and always believed in me from day one. I still struggle with bouts of flares from Hashimoto’s, but nothing like they could be. I have the knowledge now to know better and help me through. Plus podcasts have been such a helpful way for me to discover more. MDA podcasts are GREAT!

A lot of the success stories involve pictures of weight loss and mine included weight loss too. When I was first going through this, I thought weight loss was the best part. Weight loss was the success I needed to see at that point to continue. But that was not the best product in the end.

I can get up in front of a large group of people and talk. I can hang out with my family and friends and smile. I cook a lot now and rarely feel sick.

I have been coaching gymnastics and the gymnastics and CrossFit correlation has been so fun getting to learn!

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I love everything that this lifestyle has given to me and continues to do so.

P.S. A bit of advice from my 9-year-old self: If you are a parent please look into the food your family is eating. It has the ability to change your whole world around in the most positive way! 🙂 Seek the knowledge.

Kristina

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28 Comments on "How Primal Gave Me Freedom from Depression, Pain, and Discomfort"

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Nocona
Nocona
11 months 17 days ago

Kristina, thanks for sharing your story. Yes, if we can only get parents to feed their children real food. A big if! There are 50,000 items in a typical grocery store and I’m guessing there are less than 200 items that are real food. A real minefield out there for the average shopper.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi Nocona this is Kristina! Thank you so much for your comment. I agree with the comparison of real foods vs. packaged foods and I guess a positive would be to say that it really narrows down the shopping experience for those wanting to eat paleo 🙂

Time Traveler
Time Traveler
11 months 17 days ago

Kristina, I really like your success story. For one, you weren’t someone who eat junk food all the lives and then found MDA (no one can blame you for not knowing that gluten free “food” is just as bad as processed one), but due to your tenacity and ability to look beyond just weight and focus on your well being for and foremost. Having your mother for support is a big plus.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Time Traveler, thank you for your comment! Focusing on my well being as been by far the most critical part of my success. My mom is am amazing women, I will never be able to thank her enough.

jenny c
11 months 17 days ago

wow, this is a great story–thanks for sharing! this is a great reminder that primal eating IS good for families. we are primal, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to navigate situations, like this morning when my 10 and 7 1/2 year old kids were pestering me repeatedly to bring them to starbucks, where they wanted to use their own money to buy treats. primal is worth the struggles because we have better lives from not being sick from food!

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi Jenny!

Thank you for reading and leaving a comment! I coach girls all the time in gymnastics and I can tell from experience that sometimes when they are not feeling good or lacking energy its from the foods they are eating. I just want to spread the education on just how much good foods can benefit one’s life. A child’s nutrition is just as important. And btw I can’t blame your kids, I love starbucks coffee 😉

Have a great week!

Michael
Michael
11 months 17 days ago

Awesome story, thanks for sharing!

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Thanks Michael! Hope you have a strong week!

Laura Routh
11 months 17 days ago

Kristina, thank you for such an inspiring story! I spent so much of my life being tired all the time with stomach aches, too – as far back as childhood. Your story was a familiar one. Giving up grains, except for some resistant starch experiments, has made such a big difference.Unfortunately, cheese is off my menu, also. It’s wonderful you found the Primal lifestyle at a younger age, even though it’s never too late. I wish you the best!

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Thanks so much Laura! I’m happy that you too were able to find happieness and relief through primal eating. It’s amazing isn’t it, the power of food?

Hope you have a strong week!

Kyle
11 months 17 days ago

Awesome story Kristina! Thanks for sharing!

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Thank you for your reply Kyle!

Hope you have a strong and healthy week!

Elizabeth Resnick
11 months 17 days ago
Love your story Kristina, and I can totally relate. I had horrible acne, some anxiety and digestive issues, despite eating in what I thought was a healthy way. The digestive stuff had been going on my whole life. I just thought frequent stomach aches were normal. It took me much longer than you to finally figure it out! But it is all worth it when you see how good you can feel. Really happy for you, and love the advice you give about feeding kids. It’s amazing what a difference eating real food can make. So happy to hear how… Read more »
Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi Elizabeth!

Thank you so much for your encouragement! It ALWAYS helps to hear when people can relate. I think it shows a lot of compassion when people are able to share their struggles.

Food is SUCH a powerful tool to changing ones life around.

Hope you have a strong week!

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
11 months 16 days ago

Great story and you look great Kristina!

Not a fan of CrossFit, think it is counter productive, but somewhat better than chronic cardio. I’d focus on walking, HIIT once or twice a week, and strength training a couple times a week.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi HealthyHombre!

Thank you so much for your comment and encouragment! Chronic cardio does me much more harm than good. Finding that sweet spot with exercise is key.

Hope you have a strong week!

David
David
11 months 16 days ago

“But that was not the best product in the end. I can get up in front of a large group of people and talk. I can hang out with my family and friends and smile.”

Kristina,

What a great story. This lifestyle isn’t just about losing weight and getting fit. The secondary benefits of increased confidence and joy are just as great.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi David!

Thanks so much for your reply and encouragement. I agree about the secondary benefits 100%, I would almost have to say that increased confidence and joy were the number 1 benefit of this lifestyle.

Hope you have a strong and healthy week!

Liz
Liz
11 months 16 days ago

Some of this sounds so much like me and my 12 yr old daughter. We also have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hypermobile type). Actually the authors second picture makes me think she has it too when I look at her knees hyperextending. GI issues is one of the most common symptoms of Ehlers Danlos. I hope she reads this and gets checked out for this. It’s important to get diagnosed and especially get an echo of your heart. Just an FYI.

K D
K D
11 months 16 days ago

I noticed her knee too, but if you look closely, she is standing on an uneven surface, maybe a rock. That might be why her knee is sideways.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi Liz!

This is Kristina (the author lol) thank you for the heads up! I looked into and will have to mention to my doctor. I have been a gymnast for a long time, my sister too and we both stand like that and we’ve always blamed it on the gymnastics 🙂 Thanks again for your advice and ALL the luck to you and your daughter.

Hope you have a week of healthy and strong days!

wildgrok
wildgrok
11 months 15 days ago

Wow Kristina you look great, thanks for posting this
I am going to put this in an email signature for when somebody comes to me to tell me something is “hard”:

“And I think that was the key and what kept me so consistent with never going back to my old habits. Hard was not being able to be fun around my friends. Hard was feeling sick and tired all the time. Hard was being unable to believe in myself. Hard was not feeling like I couldn’t physically doing things people my age were.”

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago

Hi wildgrok!

Thank you for your comment and encouragement!

Nothing is as hard as not believing in yourself. Changing my eating and lifestyle saved my life and was a piece of cake compared to living with depression. Life is great, especially when you have the tools to get through the inevitable bumps 🙂

Hope you have an amazing week full of healthy days.

NoGluten
NoGluten
11 months 13 days ago

Hopefully, checked for celiac? It is celiac awareness month and it is good to know if celiac is present (even if you’ve totally gotten it under control, congratulations on your good health!) in case you have relatives that should be tested or you ever end up in the hospital and require GF meds, etc.

Kristina
Kristina
11 months 13 days ago
Hi NoGluten! Thanks so much for your comment and encouragement! I have been tested for Celiacs and tested negative for it. My past GI doctor actually used that against me when I tried defedning my reasons behind eating primal and how much it had helped me. Crazy huh? A year ago I tried “gluten free” oats and it was the worst experience of my stomachs and joints life. It truly was awful. It’s been 5 years gluten free and I do not see a reason for going back. I can’t do wheat or grains, regardless of whether I am actually,… Read more »
Helen
Helen
11 months 11 days ago

Inspiring Kristina! You make me think of my little 8 year old gymnast. 🙂 I wonder if her moodiness has something to do with her food. I try and give her a lot of meat and veg but you should hear the performance if we have stir fry. Sigh

Kamile
Kamile
11 months 2 days ago
Hi Kristina, please look up EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome). From your photo in a bikini, I see you look like you are hypermobile in your knees. I have this too! It’s a genetic condition caused by abnormal collagen cells when joints are not held in their place. It affects digestion tremendously, most likely causing constipation and the gut is also too flexible. It can also cause POTS because veins are also floppy causing low blood pressure. EDS is very popular between gymnasts and I see you are one. So is my mum who I inherited it from. It can be… Read more »
Krissi
Krissi
1 month 30 days ago

Kristina – would you be comfortable sharing who your doctor is ? I have been looking for years for a doctor to support my “issues” and give me a more wholistic approach. They are hard to find

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