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

I Am Strong, Energized, Off All Medications, and Feel Wonderful!

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!

Mark,

In December 2009, I was 25 years old and weighed 210 lbs. I was obese for my 5’5″ frame, never felt well, and was popping handfuls of pills every day just to get by. I was taking 2 anti-depressants, anxiolytics, prescription sleeping pills, courses of Prilosec once or twice a month, acid-blocking pills or antacid tablets 1-3 times a day, anti-diarrhea pills several days a week, and I was constantly catching respiratory infections and frequently took courses of antibiotics. In fact, I was put on chronic antibiotics by a dermatologist to treat rosacea, acne, and a truly horrible condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). I would take them for several weeks at a time until everything calmed down, but inevitably within a few weeks more I would end up with another debilitatingly painful HS boil and would need to start up the antibiotics again. I also got either a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection almost once a month (and sometimes both in the same month). I had dysmenorrhea and would typically miss one day of work per month due to my cycle. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed as pre-daibetic with metabolic syndrome and hypertension, so by the end of 2009 I was quite probably a full-fledged type II diabetic, I just never got an official diagnosis. I was falling apart mentally and physically, and scared to death of a miserable future full of multiple chronic illnesses and scary prescription medications, so I decided to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle. I resolved to do my research over the holidays and begin in 2010 with a new way of life.

I read up on all the conventional wisdom suggestions for weight loss, and believed in the now debunked theories of “a calorie is a calorie” (calories are all created equally, so just eat fewer of them and you’ll lose weight!) and “calories in, calories out” (just exercise to create a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight!); that fat, especially saturated fat, was to be avoided at all costs; whole grains, especially whole wheat, were the ultimate health foods; meat should be avoided except for chicken breasts and fish, and meat replacement products are healthy sources of protein. I limited my portions, restricted calories, started up chronic cardio exercise (3-5x/week, 30-60 min at a time) with some machine work for strength training once or twice a week, too. My choice for cardio was running, because I couldn’t stand the idea of using some man-made machine for that purpose. Just like with the food recommendations, I followed conventional wisdom for purchasing the “best” running shoes. They were motion control and ultra-squishy (or as I like to call them, marshmallow shoes). They were designed to “correct” over-pronation and protect my body from the shock of repeatedly pounding my heels into the ground.

I kept up this new “healthy” eating and exercising routine for several months, and in that time I didn’t really see the scale budge (it would fluctuate down maybe 5-10 lbs but then creep up again) or notice my clothes fitting any better. But I sure did notice that I was hungry all the time, sore all the time, and almost felt worse than before I started! I felt so helpless and discouraged, and started to wonder if I would ever see any results.

Pre-Primal Collage

If you’ve ever done this kind of routine, you know – it is miserable ! No WONDER so many people who “go on a diet” and “start exercising” fail to achieve results or maintain the regimen for very long. It simply isn’t sustainable, and all of that exercise isn’t good for an overweight or obese body. I learned that the hard way: I hurt myself running. It turns out, though, that getting hurt was one of the best things that ever happened to me and ended up leading me to the Primal lifestyle.

I was so frustrated when I had to stop exercising. I felt so betrayed by the bad advice I had gotten about running and shoes, so I started seeking alternative advice. I searched for things like “how to run without injury,” “are motion control shoes necessary,” etc., and I found Danny Dreyer’s Chi Running, and soon thereafter Chris McDougall’s fabulous book Born to Run, and from there found Barefoot Ted’s Google group. I devoured all of the information I could on barefoot running and immediately converted. The mechanics of proper barefoot running made so much sense to me, as I had always walked with a forefoot strike when barefoot (I have vivid memories of being teased for this as a child, but I didn’t care, and continued with my “cat walking”, as I called it). I was a regular on the Google group, and one fateful day somebody posted a link to Mark’s Daily Apple.

I was completely blown away. Everything I thought I knew to be true about diet, health, and weight loss was all wrong. I spent the next few weeks reading as many articles as I could on the website and spending time in the forums asking questions. I cross-checked references and read what was published in the scientific literature at the time to verify that the site contained valid information. Ultimately, it was the success stories that gave me the final push to try it myself. All of this coincided perfectly with the September 2010 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge, which is when I took the plunge (albeit a few days late, due to travel), and I haven’t looked back since.

I lost 10 lbs and 2 inches off my waist in the first 12 days. By 1 month I was down 15 lbs and went from my pre-Primal size of 18 down to a 12. The weight continued to fly off after that. I didn’t keep super careful records of all my milestones, but by 1 year I was 80 lbs lighter (130 lbs) and in a size 6 and sometimes a 4. Just after my 2 year anniversary, I was pretty much the same weight but leaner and smaller, generally wearing size 2 or 4 but sometimes a 6, depending on the brand. Now, just after my 3 year anniversary, I actually weigh in at 140 lbs but I’m still wearing sizes 2-6 (and the same clothes I was wearing a year ago). I’ve added lots more body weight exercise to my routine and am definitely stronger. Also, I have also had an increase in breast size. I’m not exactly sure what to attribute this to, but I think it’s due to some positive hormonal changes, because I now typically have zero negative symptoms associated with my monthly cycle. While I saw huge improvements in this area shortly after going Primal, I would still occasionally have a bad one (although it was mild in comparison to pre-Primal – I stopped missing work over it!) So, despite weighing a bit more, I’m still the same dress size, and the weight is due to some muscle gain and breast size increase (can’t complain about either!). As I continue to progress, I expect to gain more weight (as lean mass) while my dress size stays the same or decreases.

Before/After - 2 Year Primal Body by Bread vs. Body by Bacon

Regarding my health, I noticed tremendous alleviation of my multiple gastrointestinal ailments within just a few days of being Primal. I never realized how used to feeling bloated I had gotten – it felt so wonderful to have a calm tummy! By the end of the first week, I no longer needed my antacids and acid-blockers. Within a few days I also noticed incredible new mental clarity, improved mood, lower anxiety, and improved sleep. I stopped getting acne outbreaks, and best of all: I had immediate relief from hidradenitis suppurativa, and eventually enjoyed remission of the condition. My blood pressure normalized and I regained insulin sensitivity.

Before/After - 2 Year Primal Post-Primal

In middle and high school, I was always between 115-130 lbs, but I was anywhere from a size 6-10. I now realize I was always “thin fat”: so-called normal weight but very flabby and weak. I have also always had low self-esteem and been very critical of my body, even before I became obese. Finally, I am able to feel confident and beautiful despite my flaws (losing 80 lbs of fat does a number on your skin), and I am strong, energized, off all medications, have reversed all of my pre-Primal ailments, and feel wonderful! From the bottom of my heart, thanks Mark!

3 Years Primal!

Best,

Amanda T.

Read Amanda’s full story on her blog The Curious Coconut

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. Fantastic and hugely impressive! You look wonderful and it’s obvious that you feel wonderful!

    I like your website too, I am going to do some plantains soon, it’s been years since I’ve had some, they are great!

    bayrider wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thanks so much, bayrider! Plantains are a staple in my house — ripe for maduros, green for tostones, or extra ripe as a baked dessert with butter and spices (and maybe a splash of dark rum), yum. ;-)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  2. Wowsa!!! Great story. Great pics. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on November 15th, 2013
  3. You look great Amanda. How about some bikini shots though?

    goldfish wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Ahem….let’s be polite, now.

      Actually, there is a photo of me in a bikini on my blog. But, like I say in my story, losing 80 lbs in a year does a number on one’s skin. My next goal is to finally lose the extra skin I still have and to do the most I can to heal my stretch marks.

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
  4. wow, your story is so inspiring, with improved health and fitness! it’s also good to hear that one can lose fat but gain muscle and weight!

    Jenny wrote on November 15th, 2013
  5. This makes me so excited for my 3 year primal anniversary. Well done!

    Stacie wrote on November 15th, 2013
  6. Man, I love Fridays! Another inspirational story.

    rlarson wrote on November 15th, 2013
  7. Holy crap! It’s like you are an entirely different person. Awesome job and congratulations on an incredible transformation.

    Brad wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thank you, Brad. I feel like an entirely different person, too! :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
  8. Almost half the woman you used to be (poetic licence here – a third anyway!) Wonderful transformation, my favorite kind of story, the kind where people start to listen to their bodies and make changes because the FEEL better, not only because someone says they should. Great job!

    HillyM wrote on November 15th, 2013
  9. Great story – thanks for sharing! There’s nothing more inspirational than these success stories.

    bryan wrote on November 15th, 2013
  10. wow! One of the best before and afters!!

    My own process of rejecting cw also began with Born to Run and Chi Running, so I get it!

    just awesome.

    pablo mablo wrote on November 15th, 2013
    • Thanks Pablo! I am so glad that I stumbled upon the thread about “paleo” on the barefoot running group. Of all things, it was actually about alternatives to personal care products, homemade deodorant, no ‘poo (shampoo), etc. and someone linked back to MDA (I think to give those of us who had no idea what “paleo” or “primal” was), I followed the link, and the rest is history :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 15th, 2013
  11. Wow! You look beautiful, strong, happy, and fantastic!

    Bee-Loon wrote on November 15th, 2013
  12. You go girl!! So proud of you!!

    Edenn Perez wrote on November 15th, 2013
  13. Fantastic story. You had a great smile in the before pictures also, but the after pictures transformation is really something.

    George wrote on November 15th, 2013
  14. Wowie Zowie and hip hip hurray!!! This is an awesome story.

    Joy Beer wrote on November 15th, 2013
  15. You look fantastic, and many congratulations on losing all the ailments! I am so happy for you and really glad you decided to share your story.

    Siobhan wrote on November 15th, 2013
  16. Great story, great pics, thanks for sharing!

    Mike Troy wrote on November 15th, 2013
  17. Wow. After looking up what HS is, I finally have a name to put to what I’ve been experiencing but too embarrassed to talk about. I want to know if your skin has improved over-time? The darkness/hyper pigmentation and the scarring. I am so upset that my inner thighs look the way they do…

    Judy wrote on November 16th, 2013
  18. Beautiful,very inspiring thanks for sharing this

    wildgrok wrote on November 16th, 2013
  19. Wow, really amazing success story…I love it!

    Issabeau wrote on November 16th, 2013
  20. Congratulations! This is a great success, I know how good it feels to get your life back!

    Liz wrote on November 16th, 2013
  21. I think the greatest thing about the primal approach is, because it’s your body’s natural state, there’s no need or temptation to cheat. You get into that groove and that’s it, you’re where you need to be. Your body knows it and thrives. Awesome and inspiring story.

    Jennifer Campbell wrote on November 16th, 2013
  22. Hey Amanda, I’m especially encouraged by your 3 year timeline. I’m just getting started after trying so hard to find an eating style that I felt like I could stick with, and I have to say, one of my major roadblocks to getting started sooner is the statistical failure rate of dieters “keeping it off”.
    I felt it was better to stay fat than lose it and bounce back. You’re living now the way I hope to be and continue living. Good job.
    And as for doctors… f*&% ‘em!

    Samantha wrote on November 16th, 2013
  23. Like Amanda says, it’s a shame that so many people try to eat healthy and exercise the wrong way and get discouraged (or develop iron will power).

    John C. A. Manley wrote on November 16th, 2013
  24. Great story Amanda! Thanks for sharing.

    Sgt.Gator wrote on November 16th, 2013
  25. Wow! One of the best transformations I have ever seen.

    sqt wrote on November 17th, 2013
  26. one of the best stories i’ve read!

    allison wrote on November 17th, 2013
    • Thanks, allison. I’m so glad you enjoyed it :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
  27. Wow!……..WOW!! What a story! I am so glad you were able to take control of your health, despite conventional wisdom. More proof that this truly IS powerful medicine. You are inspirational to us all! Thank you for your post.

    Goddess wrote on November 17th, 2013
    • Thank you so much, Goddess. I have a very persistent personality, and when CW failed me, I knew there had to be SOMETHING that would work. I am just so grateful that I found this website 3 1/2 years ago! And I am so honored to now be among all of the other incredible success stories.

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
  28. Congratulations on your journey and thank you for taking the time to write this, because, as it happened to you, for sure some other person just as desperate as you used to be pre-primal is going to “stumble” on your story and turn his or her life around, too.

    Sandra Neary wrote on November 17th, 2013
    • Sandra, that’s exactly why I wanted to share my story. I have already helped friends, family, and strangers, and I have a passion for helping to share this knowledge to hopefully help even more people. Thanks for reading :)

      Amanda Torres wrote on November 17th, 2013
  29. “bread body” –> “bacon body”
    love it!

    Natalie wrote on November 17th, 2013
  30. well done, you look amazing and healthy. I adore Marks wisdom and I too accidentally found his great web site link.

    Kind Regards

    Erin from Australia

    Erin wrote on November 17th, 2013
  31. +1 on the Tool t-shirt. “Learn to swim”.

    glorth2 wrote on November 18th, 2013
  32. If I could like this a thousand times, I would. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Bev wrote on November 19th, 2013
  33. Truly inspirational!

    Jon wrote on November 19th, 2013
  34. I love your story and your attitude. Grok on!

    D wrote on November 19th, 2013
  35. Thanks for sharing your story with us Amanda. I just love your before/during/after pictures – truly motivating! I’m coming from the “Body by Bread” category – working toward “Body by Bacon” results.

    I found my way to MDA via another forum too and am so glad logged on “just to check it out.” I’ve been hooked ever since.

    I just started a couple months ago and it’s slow going for me (10 lbs. gone so far). I am feeling much better and sleeping more soundly but have not had the huge weight loss I’ve seen posted.

    I’m so happy to not be the only one who doesn’t want to be resigned to the “meds for life” philosophy of WMDs.
    Grok On!

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 19th, 2013
  36. I have been on such a long journey, and began primal through marksdailyapple about 3 years ago. Noticed huge changes in every way but lately have become a little down due to gaining weight and loss of motivation to regularly exercise. This has helped me take charge again. Thankyou.

    Niki Ross wrote on November 19th, 2013
  37. Thank you for sharing your story. Remember how you started because if the motivation you got from someone else? Well, you are now my motivation. I just received the primal blueprint book from amazon and I needed some inspiration. I am going Primal and maybe someday I will inspire people like you did… Thanks again!

    Claudia wrote on December 27th, 2013

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