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March 22, 2013

How the 21-Day Challenge Helped Me

By Guest
187 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. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Hi Mark,

I’ve been slowly getting my feet wet with the paleo/primal nutritional way of living for around a year now. It started with a better way of cutting the highly addictive sugar out of my diet. Many of those types of diets don’t address the need for higher fat consumption though and they don’t consider behavioral changes that need to be made as well.

If I want to tell my weight loss journey story right, I have to start at the beginning. I was obese my entire life. I remember being called “Miss Piggy” in second grade by classmates. I remember writing to diet and weight loss scam ads in the back of teen magazines begging for help as a preteen. But nothing ever changed and I stayed obese until I moved across the country (away from my family’s environment) and started the process at the age of 26. My entire family is obese, so I have to admit that I didn’t see a lot of hope for losing weight based on lies my Mom shared with us our wholes lives (that we are supposed to be this way).

Naomi - Before

When I started my weight loss journey, it was not the healthiest choice I could have made in going about doing it. I joined a local gym (the first one I had ever stepped foot into) and started doing repetitive cardio before going to work and after work each day (6 days a week). I also worked 8 hours a day on my feet. I tracked everything I ate obsessively and broke down every macronutrient. I strived to eat 1200-1400 calories a day with a 30/40/30 ratio. I wore a heart rate monitor 24/7 to make sure that I expended more calories than I consumed each day. I was preoccupied with becoming my own “biggest loser” and whipping the weight off of me as quickly as possible. And I did. It took me around seven months to go from 285 pounds to 154. On the outside, this appeared to be a great success, but on the inside I caused new problems for myself.

Some problems that resulted:

  1. I was so focused on losing weight and exercising that my relationship failed.
  2. The result of a lifetime of being obese and losing weight very quickly left me with loose skin. I felt defeated that I still was not happy with my appearance even after all of the hard work and dedication. I will never look good naked.
  3. My obsession with tracking food and restricting what I ate caused disordered eating patterns for me. I suffered with bouts of binge eating for the next two years during stressful times. The only way I managed to keep the binge weight off was to go back to restricted eating again and excessive exercise (like running marathons).

In an effort to try to get over my preoccupation with food (especially sugars), I read every sugar addiction book available and even attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings for four months. The meetings were inviting and helpful at first, but then they stopped helping because everyone wallowed in their own self-pity about their addiction to donuts or ice cream. It just made me want to run to comfort food even more. The books were insightful, but the diets they promoted were not. I could not give up all refined sugars and keep the rest of my diet the same.

Around this time, I ventured into the paleo lifestyle and it made more sense to me, but like most people, I was scared to start eating that much fat in my diet (no matter if it was healthy or not). So, I introduced certain ideas from the paleo plans into my life slowly. I started eating more organic meat, avocados, nuts, and eggs. The problem was that I still had grains, legumes, soy, and sweeteners in my diet. After a few more months, I read somewhere that the paleo diet was actually credited with helping some people with eating disorders to overcome them. Maybe this was the golden ticket I was looking for?

I began to realize that living healthy wasn’t just about eating healthy and working out. It was a complete behavior shift. I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not OCD), so I tend to be perfectionistic and rigid in my way of living anyways. My goal has been to accept myself the way that I am and have more compassion for myself when I fail and allow my life to just flow instead of being scheduled all of the time.

How the 21-day challenge helped me:

  1. I finally gave up stevia in my morning coffee/tea.
  2. I finally gave up my morning oatmeal for eggs.
  3. When I am hungry, I have the mindset now to eat something with more fat and protein.
  4. I stand at my desk now for at least 2 or 3 hours a day.
  5. I take time to myself now to avoid getting too overwhelmed or stressed out.
  6. I ask for help from my fiancé with chores around the house.
  7. I can now do over 40 pushups in a row.
  8. I still cannot do a full pull-up, but I’m getting closer!
  9. I can see my abs for the first time in my life.
  10. I don’t need to obsessively workout.
  11. I’ve started fermenting my own sauerkraut.
  12. I purchased a slackline and use it for fun and entertainment with friends.
  13. I spend more quality time with my fiancé (not talking about food or exercise).

Naomi

My journey has not been easy. When people ask me how I lost the weight, I could say “With diet and exercise”, but that really discounts all of the physical and mental struggle and anguish I went through because I chose to lose weight the somewhat unhealthy way and I have a personality disorder that controls much of how I behave on any given day. The paleo nutrition plan is simple, which is great because I tend to over-complicate things. It was really hard for me to believe that something so easy could actually work. But I figured that 21 days of eating and behaving this way couldn’t hurt to try.

Naomi

After a full month of eating paleo, I weighed and measured myself for the first time. I dropped 8 pounds on the scale and am currently at my lowest body fat percentage. Even when I weighed 154 pounds, my body fat was slightly higher than what it is now at 165 pounds. The best part is the difference I could see in my “after” photos this time. I can actually see more definition in my stomach and arms. A friend also kindly pointed out to me that she noticed a big difference also… I’m smiling! I never smiled when I was obese.

Naomi - Working Out

Thank you Mark and the whole paleo community for opening my eyes to an easier way of living my healthiest life (mentally and physically)! I hope to be able to write to you in the future to let you know that the disordered eating patterns have completely vanished (and I’ve gotten even healthier).

Naomi - After

Sincerely,

Naomi

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181 Comments on "How the 21-Day Challenge Helped Me"

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Trixie
Trixie
3 years 8 months ago

Woman! That is just an amazing transformation- especially the smile. What a motivating story for people to read and feel hopeful.

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 8 months ago

+1

Peggy
Peggy
3 years 8 months ago

I was just going to say – that SMILE is the first thing I noticed!!
SOOOO intoxicating 🙂
congratulations on your succesful Journey Naomi!!

bjjcaveman
3 years 8 months ago

You happiness and satisfaction with life really do come out through your smile! Keep it up!

Elisa
Elisa
3 years 8 months ago

++1!!!

David
David
3 years 8 months ago

+2

An absolutely inspiring and amazing job!

GiGi Gall
GiGi Gall
3 years 8 months ago
Awesome transformation! As I am currently going through my own physical transformation, I find your story very encouraging. I have just created a new information website/blog for my family and friends regarding Paleo information. I hope to educate them on the basics of the diet and lifestyle in general. I would appreciate any comments and/or suggestions from the “primal” group on this site. Mark is right! This crowd knows a lot!! The site is: Maxgigicare.com (Your Portal to Self-Directed Health)
Tara
Tara
3 years 8 months ago

Amazing! You have done so well to overcome the pull of family influence and societal influence as well.

Your extra skin had to disappear too. Did that happen naturally?

You look beautiful inside and out!

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Tara,

I still have loose skin. It’s something that has not went away on it’s own. I have grown more comfortable with it, but hope to have surgery for it (after having children).

Alexander
3 years 8 months ago

Tara, that’s what I was thinking about too. It’s CRAZY hard to try and lose weight (or make any change, really) when your closest family members don’t think you can, say you can’t, or just kinda ignore your attempts.

Major props Naomi! You look awesome !!

Brandi
Brandi
3 years 8 months ago

Don’t forget when your family intention or unintentionally tries to sabotage you.

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago

WOW! This is such an awesome story and you look great. Sad to hear about your Mom’s comments. I found paleo for myself and family in my 40’s, and always think, I hope those 20 somethings realize they are ahead of the curve in finding it and benefiting their health at their young age.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Colleen,

My husband and I eat paleo because we know how important our health is. I just turned 30 and my husband is 40. We know people our ages suffering from food-related illnesses. I think it’s never too late to start eating healthy.

We love life and like being able to feel good every day. 🙂

Gwen
3 years 8 months ago

Thank you Naomi for sharing your inspiring story and photos! I’m so happy for you!!

Diane
Diane
3 years 8 months ago

Congratulations. Thank you for the inspiring story. You are beautiful. Keep up the good work.

Nick
3 years 8 months ago

Holy smokes what a great story, congratulations!

amyz
amyz
3 years 8 months ago

Wow – you look amazing! Like a totally different person! Kudos to you for making yourself and your health a priority because in the end, everyone around you benefits. Keep smiling!

Luke D
3 years 8 months ago

Wow wow wow! Congrats. “An easier way of living”. This is something I think is so huge and important and try to relay to clients of mine. So many people think its so much work I have to cook and spend more on food.

I agree it’s so much easier when you just feel better, sleep better, and don’t have such a tug of war with food and exercise.

Awesome job, feeling inspired on Friday as usual!

Emily
Emily
3 years 8 months ago

Congratulations! It’s not easy to motivate yourself to change when all of the people in your family are telling you, “you’re supposed to be that way”. That takes tons of courage and self love! Best of luck overcoming the eating patterns you struggle with. You have already made such an incredible transformation, you should be so proud of what you have accomplished! Keep going!!!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 8 months ago

Congrats Naomi. I hear it everyday with obese people that say that they have their parents genes. Way to break those chain of lies.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

We are what we think we are, not what we are told we are.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago

Wow, you went from being pretty to being BEAUTIFUL. Not only are you thin now, but you look truly happy. Congrats.

Adelina
3 years 8 months ago

Such an amazing smile! You should be so proud of yourself. Everything you accomplished you did by your own strength of will. You Rock!

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 8 months ago

wow! what a journey. you look fabulous, and i love how you’re celebrating life and health, not a “perfect” weight or airbrushed body image. i’m curious–why did you give us stevia in your morning coffee?

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Jenny,

I gave UP stevia because any added sweeteners mean big trouble for me. I just got used to black coffee (sometimes with half & half) and it tastes just fine to me now. The sweeteners mask the real taste of the coffee in my opinion.

Alexander
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi, what things specifically did you do to try and kill the sugar cravings?

I know for many people it’s black or white – there’s no such thing as sweets in moderation for them, so what did you try to fix those cravings?

Shary
Shary
3 years 8 months ago

Sweeteners of any kind were trouble for me too. Stevia might be healthier than sugar, but for some of us, replacing one type of sweetener with another doesn’t eliminate the cravings. It was much too easy to rationalize my way right back into eating sugar and junkfood until I eliminated all sweets.

Carrie S
Carrie S
3 years 8 months ago

It was so much easier for me to give up grains than sugars. I’ve found even dried fruit can cause problems for me. One bit of sweetness on my tongue turns into a binge, so I have cut it out too. I slip up once in a while, which helps me realize how I react to sugars. I wonder if I will ever be able to look back and say I don’t want sweets the way I can say that about grains!

Chantal
Chantal
3 years 8 months ago

+1

Lillybeth
Lillybeth
3 years 8 months ago

Absolutely amazing and inspiring. You are beautiful inside and out. Thank you thank you thank you so much for sharing your story to the world. Stay strong and enjoy the journey because it definitely continues! Much love!

NJ Paleo
3 years 8 months ago

Wow, what an amazing story! It’s so awesome that you found the healthy way to live NOW and not later after adding more years of frustration and pain. Way to go!

curiouscavegirl
curiouscavegirl
3 years 8 months ago

Congratulations! You are very inspiring!

Ashley
3 years 8 months ago

Wow! Congratulations, that is truly incredible! I too struggle with a family who can see my transformation but refuse to acknowledge that the way I eat can have SUCH an impact. I think you’re doing great, keep up the great work!

blaklabl
blaklabl
3 years 8 months ago

You look like a completely different person! Wow, congrats!

John
John
3 years 8 months ago

Ok. You’re hot.

Meagan
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi this is great 🙂 I love how you were so conscious of the emotional part of eating and exercising.

Also, what is wrong with stevia?

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 8 months ago

See her response above, to the same question from Jenny.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Meagan,

I try to stay away from anything that is too sweet. Once I start, my mind starts rationalizing and making excuses to eat other sugar foods. Pretty soon, I’m defending my right to eat brownies and ice cream again.

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi, you are amazingly strong! How wonderful to discover the gift of compassion to yourself.

Jeff F.
Jeff F.
3 years 8 months ago

First and last photographs – Photoshop, right?!!! 🙂

Congrats Naomi for having the courage, discipline, and self-respect to break the paradigm within your family.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Thank you Jeff. My hope for the last 5 years has been that I could help my two brothers and sister with their weight issues also, but they are unfortunately not in the right frame of mind for that. It’s tragic because one of my brothers weighes well over 600 pounds now and I cannot even help him.

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 8 months ago

+1. Family can do ones head right in.

Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

Wow! You look like (and sound like) a completely different person! Although I’m not overweight, I do live with an obese family and know how hard it is. You must feel so free and strong to be out of your family’s mindset of living.

This is very inspiring! Now, if every obese person could see your story too. You really looks great, I have to keep looking back at the pictures!

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Nathan,

Its one thing for every obese person to see the story, it’s another thing to change their mindset! Mindset is everything. 🙂

Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

Very true! Motivation is probably also a issue for a lot of people. Unless they see that they are killing themselves, why change? It’s different when the news channel presents a weather disaster or series of murders; that’s clearly showing people at risk, they see that and often want to help with sympathy or donations … Different story when they check-in on their own well-being. Just my thoughts

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Motivation is an issue for all of us at some point.

I think part of the trick to staying motivated is building on past successes. “If I could do that, then I can do this…”

As far as seeing and believing, that’s another mindset issue.

Tracy
Tracy
3 years 8 months ago

wow! what an amazing transformation. thanks for sharing all the challenges and successes.

mph
3 years 8 months ago

Another inspiring and informative success story, just love it! I too, am approaching my 1 year anniversary of being Paleo, and owe gratitude to all its awesome people here on MDA; with so much good info, that have guided me as well, thanks to all…..

mars
mars
3 years 8 months ago

You are just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story!

Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago

Wow! What an amazing transformation – and so inspiring! I am so glad to hear taht you are on the path of health and wellness. Good luck on your continued journey and thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. I love Fridays at MDA!!

catherine
catherine
3 years 8 months ago

love this story! sincere congratulations

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi, you look great, and undoubtable feel great too. The smile says it all.

Bayrider
Bayrider
3 years 8 months ago

I have HUGE admiration for you, that is one hell of an accomplishment to drop so much weight and make such a transformation. Few of us have ever faced such a difficult emotional and physical challenge. I hope you will congratulate yourself on a continuing basis, you have demonstrated tremendous personal power. I’m seeing that you are strong enough to accomplish absolutely anything you want in your life.

As far as perfectionism, none of us are perfect but your results look like perfection to me!

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Success builds on success. Thank you for your very kind words. 🙂
Like many people, I’ve had a lot of different adversities in life to overcome, but I don’t feel sorry for myself. These adversities have helped make me the stronger version of myself that I am today.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 8 months ago

Virgo? Refering to the perfectionism.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Pisces. Is perfectionism an astrological trait? LOL

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 8 months ago

Heh, it seems like *everything* is an astrological trait. I once dated a girl who was way into astrology. I personally do not beleive in it, but I was young and wanted to be way into her so I played along. Naturally she would call out my virgo ways. Perfectionism, attention to detail are a few of the traits.

wildgrok
wildgrok
3 years 8 months ago

funny this thing of signs:
In the conventional signs at home we are a mix

In the chinese:

I am a dragon
My son is a dragon
My wife is a snake
My daughter is a snake

Lindsey
Lindsey
3 years 8 months ago

Hi Naomi! Way to go, you’re awesome! I see the Spokane Marathon bib – I live in Spokane and its a great place to get outdoors! Keep up the good work 🙂

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Lindsey,

Moving to Spokane was the very first big step I took to changing my life. It’s the best place I’ve ever lived. 🙂

Kristi
Kristi
3 years 8 months ago

Beautiful! Thank You!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 8 months ago

Personally, I loved the “Everyone Poops” T-shirt…:)

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Nocona,

I really miss that shirt…

John Myers
John Myers
3 years 8 months ago

What a transformation – amazing!
Wow Spokane – I’m a Spokanite too. We’re so damn subversive!

Rene R
Rene R
3 years 8 months ago

Wow! I am so impressed -such a dramatic difference! I know someone says this every week, but once again the healthy, happy glow on the faces of the success story people always gets to me as much as the body transformation. So many other dieter’s “after ” pics look tired, haggard, with dry skin, hair, etc.
What an accomplishment -especially with the sugar addiction (my downfall ….) Congratulations!

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago
Rene, When I was obese, I didn’t take care of myself. Therefore, I likely lacked a lot of vitamins and minerals to give me a “glow”. I started supplementing when I started my transformation and I attribute a small portion of my new healthy hair, skin, and nails to the biotin I supplement with daily. 🙂 My smile, all mine. 🙂 When I was obese, people told me I had a nice smile (and teeth), but I had really low self-worth and did not believe any compliments I received. Therefore, I did not smile very much at all. Best of… Read more »
Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

John,

I moved to Spokane 5 years ago, so I’m not really a Spokanite. Maybe in another 5 years. Haha

David
David
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi-what a transformation! You look fabulous! Congratulations and keep up the good work!

John Myers
John Myers
3 years 8 months ago

ZIP BANG –
I just Spokanited you

melissa
3 years 8 months ago

Loved reading your story! Way to change your life and build a better world for yourself 🙂

Stephanie
Stephanie
3 years 8 months ago

Naomi- Thank you for sharing your story! It’s so encouraging to me, as I find myself struggling with the idea of “relaxing,” yet making good, disciplined changes in my life. My tendency is to micromanage my food, exercise, etc., and as you rightly point out- it can be damaging. Congrats!

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Stephanie,

Micromanaging is perfectionism at it’s finest. It is not only damaging to yourself, but everyone around you.

No one or thing is perfect or ever will be. Your way is not always the best way (even though it may seem like it at the time). And you aren’t really “helping” anyone when you control them.

These are things I’ve had to learn about myself on my life journey (weightloss and just life).

Kelda
Kelda
3 years 8 months ago

Courage, what courage 🙂

Susie
Susie
3 years 8 months ago

I like that you point out that just saying the standard “diet and exercise” doesn’t really cover it. When people ask about my weight loss I say “paleo and crossfit” because, for me, it’s been that specific diet and that specific workout regimen that has gotten me where I am.

You look fantastic! Congrats!

Squatch
Squatch
3 years 8 months ago
Congrats on the transformation. It’s incredible and you look great. Love the smile in the last pic as well. “I was scared to start eating that much fat in my diet”. Amazing how that conditioning permeates our consciousness despite evidence to the contrary. I was talking with co-workers yesterday and they were commenting about how they avoid fat at all costs and interestingly they were all overweight themselves. When they asked what I ate to keep so slim I told them. They looked at me like I was full out insane followed by the inevitable comments that I was insane.… Read more »
Bayrider
Bayrider
3 years 8 months ago

Squatch, maybe you need to hammer on those people a little more and point them to this website. I always tell people to go to Marks Daily Apple, read the success stories, then go to the Start Here tab and read everything. Or I loan them The Primal Blueprint book. People will take things more seriously when they see it in print.

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Best to keep on leading by example. 🙂

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 8 months ago

Agree!
Even though I have always been slim, it was very difficult to break that thought of “I shouldn’t be eating this fat”. Now I just put that big tablespoon right in the coconut butter jar and have me a melting mouth of heaven.

doghug
doghug
3 years 8 months ago

AMAZING story!!!

Lauryn
Lauryn
3 years 8 months ago

You rock, Naomi. The beautiful smile on your face in the last picture really says it all. Congratulations to you!

Jenni
Jenni
3 years 8 months ago

You’re a wonderful inspiration. I’ve been lurking on this site for a year, I look like your before photos. Your after photos and journey are going to be my starting point. x

Naomi
3 years 8 months ago

Really? I hope that my story really is motivation to get you started, but remember, you are not me. Your story is totally unique to you. Make it a good one!!!! 🙂

rotter
rotter
3 years 8 months ago

I don’t mean to sound shallow, but damn you are hot! I’d hit that in a second!

James
James
3 years 8 months ago

Congratulations! You are an inspiration to many.

SJ
SJ
3 years 8 months ago

Congrats! Amazing story, you look great, and happy.

However, I have to say, your fiance shouldn’t be ‘helping’ you around the house. If you live together, it is both of your homes, and he doesn’t ‘help’ with upkeep – he should be doing his fair share, like any self-respecting adult!

Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

I think out of all the pictures, I like the last one with the smile the best.

Liz
Liz
3 years 8 months ago

Congratulations! You look fantastic and have a great smile!

Suzanne
Suzanne
3 years 8 months ago

Amazing story!!! And not to diss those that say you went “from pretty to beautiful”, but I saw the first photo and thought “What a beautiful woman!” Then I saw the later pictures and thought “What a beautiful HAPPY woman!!” Congrats to you for becoming a happier and healthier version of you!

George
George
3 years 8 months ago
Another inspirational story about the transformation of body and mind and overcoming considerable obstacles, congratulations! On a side note, I see folks on this site recommending to avoid stevia. I’m curious as to why, it does not raise your blood sugar and is a natural sweetener. I put one packet of a brand that is organic (and the first ingredient is fact is FOS) into my whey protein drink along with green powder, cinnamon and I use unsweetened almond beverage (sometimes add a few frozen berries). I don’t crave sweets, but wonder if someone has a compelling reason for me… Read more »
George
George
3 years 8 months ago

OK, see the answer in a previous post, sorry about that. Makes sense if even a sweet taste can trigger cravings. I’m going to examine my diet, which my family and friends already think I’m too restrictive, to see if I have hidden sugar, I’m sure I do. Lean protein, veggies, leafy salads, berries, olive oil and some nuts are what I try to focus on. I bet I can do even better, good stuff.

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 8 months ago

Yes you can do better. Add fatty GRASS FED meat. Lean is ok, but why the lean meat?

George
George
3 years 8 months ago

Well, for one, I’m a vegetarian.

Rachel
Rachel
3 years 8 months ago

Love your story, love your smile!

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