I Just Had to Find the Right Path

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!

Dear Mark,

My story is not one of significant weight loss or dramatic health changes, but one of mental freedom and peace that I have not felt in over 20 years. You have changed my life and I am enormously grateful to you. I have been struggling with my weight and my mental status surrounding my weight for 20 years. I am 5 feet 6 inches and during college I weighed as much as 145 lbs. But for most of the past 20 years I have weighed around 128 lbs. I fully recognize that this was not overweight and is quite healthy, but I also knew that I was religious about what I ate and exercised a ton. My body did not reflect my hard work.

Based on what conventional wisdom was telling me, I should have been quite content with the number of calories I was consuming. In actuality, I was STARVING all the time and was white knuckling my 128 pounds for years. I wanted to be the best I could be and I knew from the bottom of my heart things weren’t right. I wasn’t setting an unrealistic goal for myself, I just knew things weren’t supposed to be so hard. I just had to find the right path. My family thought I was crazy, but I was relentless and kept trying to find the answers I knew I wasn’t getting. And so my journey began…

About 10 years ago, I did the Atkins diet and successfully got down to 123 lbs. I stayed there for a good 5-6 years. During that time, I had a baby and lost the weight fairly easily. Unfortunately, while I was on the Atkins diet, my focus was on low carb, not necessarily healthy whole food. Goodness knows what kind of chemicals I had been putting into my body.

I also started running about the same time I tried Atkins. I had always been very active, but not a very good runner. I wanted to be a runner. I ran a 10k, then a half marathon and then a marathon. I was finally a runner. I started running as a means to burn calories, but thankfully, I also found that I truly enjoyed that time to myself and the feeling it gave me. It was the only time I appreciated my body. I qualified for Boston, ran Boston, had another son and kept on running.

I had a really hard time losing the weight after I had my second son. I was stuck at 128 lbs, not a big deal, but also not where I knew I could go. I had gotten away from the strict Atkins diet because I had a family to think about. My focus had shifted from wanting to look good on the outside to wanting to do the right thing on the inside. I thought this meant whole grains, low fat and very little meat. I was still STARVING all the time.

After the birth of my second son, I immediately started training for my 6th marathon. I was running 60 miles a week just a few short months after he was born. Not surprisingly, I ran a horrible marathon and I still couldn?t lose those last 5 lbs. I needed a break from running, so two years ago I decided to do a Half Ironman. If I just burn more calories, I will lose the weight, right? During my HIM training, I participated in an online training group and met a lot of great women through that venue. I couldn’t believe how many women said they gained weight while training. How could this be? Few people are as fastidious about what they eat and their training as these triathletes. I began to think what if everything we have been reading/being told isn’t right. What if all these carbs (read processed food) aren?t the answer?

I loved the HIM experience and am glad this journey has taken me down these athletic paths, but I was mentally unsettled. I was always anxious about my weight and hungry all the time. I knew the more I exercised, the hungrier I got, but I couldn’t stop for fear of gaining weight. Plus, I found myself in a unique situation in which I genuinely liked the exercise and didn’t want to stop. I would spend all day trying to fight the hunger and was miserable. I kept reading articles that told me to continue down this path, but this time just work a little harder and so I did, only to end up in the same place once again.


About 8 months ago, I stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple and it has totally changed my life. I have increased my fat and protein and dramatically reduced my carb intake. Although this is similar to the Atkins diet, this time, I am eating all organic, grass fed, REAL FOOD and I feel amazing. No processed food and very little sugar. I feel good about feeding this to my family and raising my kids with this lifestyle in mind.

I just ran the Chicago Marathon and I can’t believe how great I felt during my training runs with so few carbs. Much to my surprise, I didn?t have to eat anything on my runs. During previous training, I would eat a bagel with honey before my run and at least 1 or 2 gels during my run plus Gatorade. I still can’t believe how I have been able to convert my body from burning sugar to fat. On race morning, I ate a very light breakfast and only drank water during the race. I never bonked and even managed negative splits.

I ran my third fastest time, but trained less than I ever had before. I am trying to incorporate the exercise principals into my life as well as the eating. I do feel blessed for all that running has given me but now I feel a sense of freedom about the need to run high mileage. I have found the answer to controlling my weight and more importantly my hunger. Thankfully it does not involve running 60 miles a week or restricting myself. I am not sure where my running will take me in the future but I know that the motivation will be from the pure enjoyment of getting outside every morning (even in January in WI) not the calories burned.

I am back down to 121 lbs, but the best part of eating this way is the mental freedom and the sense of calm it has given me. I am no longer obsessively thinking about food during all my waking hours. I used to make it until 4:00 in the afternoon and then I could barely stand it anymore because I was so hungry. This would inevitably make me feel badly about myself because I couldn?t keep my hunger at bay. Going through life hungry and feeling badly about oneself is no way to live.

I knew that conventional wisdom wasn’t working for me. I spent 20 years beating my head against the wall and then finally stumbled upon a few amazing web sites and my life has changed forever. It is crazy to think that I spent all those years stressing over food and couldn’t lose any weight. Now I don’t think about it much at all and I weigh less than I have since high school.

Admittedly my before and after pictures won?t impress anyone, so I didn?t include any before pictures. I wasn?t really overweight before, but that wasn?t the point of my journey. I don?t look much different on the outside, but if you could see a picture of the before and after on the inside, it would be dramatic.


Thank you Mark!


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99 thoughts on “I Just Had to Find the Right Path”

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  1. Inspiring 🙂 I was in a similar boat, it wasn’t for weight loss, necessarily, but I couldn’t get good piece of mind from how I was eating and exercising. I think the most important thing the PB has taught me is taking a more holistic approach towards eating/exercising/life. Being more observant in general has so many benefits.

  2. Awesome Keri! All that REALLY matters is the inside. I’m glad you finally found the answers you wee looking for.

  3. I think so many of us get caught up in the changes that we see today (or don’t really see in your case) and forget about what continuing our former lifestyles would have done to our futures. Just because there wasn’t a dramatic before/after picture, it doesn’t mean there might not have been one down the road. I was a lot like you and was marveled at the changes I had when running, half marathons with no crash and no need for gels/Gatorade, but didn’t look different on the outside. But I know that in 10, 20 or 40 more years, I won’t be tired or frail because I’m nourishing my body correctly today.

    1. Me too. I don’t really look any different on the outside, but I ran a half-marathon recently in a fasted state. I ate a bunch the night before, butt then stopped eating 12 hours before the event, ran the event, and then went out for breakfast. And I felt amazing the whole time!

    2. Good point Decaf Debi (Nice name btw, lol). For me a lot of it is about sleep and chronic digestive problems I started having a few years ago, but hey, the fun part is we all end up coming back to the same place to fix it.

      And sometimes , unfortunately, people look good on the outside but the bloodwork shows that their inside is not looking so hot… It can be a rude awakening for people in their 50’s who outwardly look like they have a good BMI but have a host of issues.

  4. Relaxed and happy is how that last photo comes across to me, Keri. That’s the way to live. Great story. Thanks!

  5. “Going through life hungry and feeling badly about oneself is no way to live”..truer words were never spoke! It is just criminal that we have been told for years by various organizations to eat high-carb, low-fat foods that leave us constantly hungry, and then we are made to feel we are weak gluttons with no willpower because we are so hungry all the time. Thank you to Mark and the whole paleo community for getting the message out there that it’s what we eat that makes all the difference. I love Fridays, it’s always the big smiles and the happy, expressive eyes that tell the story in all the MDA ‘after’ pictures. Thank you, Keri, for sharing your story, best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

  6. Couldn’t agree more…the peace of mind is priceless.

    Between Mark’s Daily Apple and taking a leangains approach to IF and lifting…it is such freedom from the old mindset of 6 meals a day.

    Congrats on finding your path!

  7. Fantastic! Always enjoy reading about the mental clarity people find when eating real food. This is a great example of more exercise isn’t always the answer. I will be sharing this story with a few clients who struggle to understand that. Congrats on feeling good!

  8. Keri~ Thanks so much for sharing your story! It is amazing… Coming from the other side of the world (morbid obesity) I can totally relate. I wish I had your determination to “resist” the urge to eat, but I did not, hence the morbid obesity!!! However, I really believe that can change with this way of eating ~ just as it did for you. I can totally relate to just how amazing it must feel to be “FREE” of food and the mental toll it takes on our self worth! Wishing you many more years of this great way of living and feeling wonderful, inside and out!!!!

    1. I think resisting the urge to eat has far more to do with the makeup of your diet (too much bad carbs, inadequate good fat & protein) than anything at all to do with your mental discipline. Once you find the right diet, you no longer have to battle the carb cravings and constant hunger.

    2. Eliminating sweets and grain products, including whole grains, is a huge step toward eliminating cravings and the desire to snack and/or overeat.

      I never really got to the point of being overweight by more than a few pounds, but it was creeping upward. It got to where the craving for sweets was controlling my life. For me, simply eliminating sugar didn’t quite do it. I went a step further and got rid of ALL sweets, including sugar substitutes like stevia.

      Yeah, it was kind of hard at first, but only for about a week. After switching to paleo, the extra pounds dropped away effortlessly over the course of about 6 months. Not only that, I felt a lot better. I no longer NEEDED that cupcake or that snack bag of Cheetos. These days I don’t buy that kind of stuff, I don’t eat that stuff, I don’t even think about eating it.

      1. Great story Keri, thanks for sharing.
        I have lost weight, not a whole lot, and after 2 years, I am still noticing subtle changes, to skin, eyes, health, energy etc. What I found right from the outset was a disconnect with food. Suddenly my day didn’t revolve around food and finding the next “fix”. No sugar lows, and the only time I feel the need to snack is when I am a bit hormonal. Stay away from all sugar substitutes, folks, the evidence is mounting against them, and it’s chilling.

  9. I can so relate to this – same height and about the same weight. After giving up grains and eating more fat and protein, it’s now no struggle at all to maintain my weight (lower than ever) and I don’t crave carbs or get hungry. I wish I could have found this lifestyle 30 years ago!

  10. Well done Keri, you look so healthy and happy now!

    Your story me smile for more than one reason; ‘bonking’ in England is not something we do in public (well except for a few people with ‘special interests’ or with nowhere else to go) and with ‘negative splits’ thrown in – the mind boggles 🙂

    Seriously though, congratulations on your road to good health and peace of mind!

  11. Congratulations Keri, you look so healthy and vibrant! Thanks for sharing your story..I can totally relate, having the freedom to not over-think what you eat is a great feeling!

  12. Great job, Keri. The freedom from thinking about food to focus on other things that really matter is what it’s all about, really. 🙂

    1. So true! I think this journey has made me a better Mom. I feel like I am more present for my kids, especially in the late afternoon when I was hungry and tired.

  13. Keri, I love this. The gorgeous smile on your face in that last picture says it all 🙂

  14. Amazing story Keri! You look so healthy and so happy beyond the usual focus of weight loss. Your story was very moving

  15. Yours is a great story. I totally relate to the idea of needing to exercise so much to keep the weight off while simultaneously truly enjoying that much exercise.

    I wish I could have your success. But I find that I have to starve myself even on primal foods. About the only good thing is that I don’t have to exercise as much, but I cannot achieve a slender body, nor can I keep what slimness I have achieved, without a lot of whiteknuckle starving.

    1. Diane,
      I too wish I could have her success. I have been eating “well” for over a year, and still have to starve to lose weight. I run run run, lift and even have added in bodyrock, but am still very disappointed with not losing the weight.
      I am eating kale chips as I write this… and it seems that yes, you can over eat primal foods too.
      I am still starving on the primal diet, oh and still too fat.

      1. Have the two of you gone on the forums to ask for help?

        There are lots of other things that may be stopping you from achieving your goals. Are you overtraining? Are you getting enough sleep? Did you know that sleep debt accumulates whenever you lose sleep and can only be relieved with extra sleep (i.e. it doesn’t just go away over time)?

        Are you avoiding stress as much as possible? Are you eating enough satiating foods (proteins, fats)?

        It’s funny because sometimes when we try too hard, we actually end up hurting our own progress. If those questions I typed out above aren’t helping, you should go on some forums and ask around. Remember that diet and lifestyle have to be tailored to the individual and that finding accurate advice from a blog whose entries are not written specifically for you as an individual is difficult.

        Good luck!

        1. I sleep 9 – 12 hours a night. I have been Primal for over a year. I lost 25lbs but I don’t look ANYTHING like today’s success story. I am 5’3″ and 135lbs (possibly more). I lift heavy (I can deadlift more than my body weight), I sprint once a week, I hike with elevation gain on weekends, take walks and get plenty of sunshine on other days. I can IF on a 16/8 schedule just fine. I can go long periods of time eating very small amounts yet I am always 135lbs no matter what I do. Well, I can go above that with a little bit of overeating, even on primal foods. I have to be careful. I have to spend a portion of my life trying to ignore my hunger. People should know the truth.

      2. I agree with both of you. I have been primal for 8 months and under 50gms carbs a day for a couple of months and the last 10lbs hasn’t “melted” away as others say. I was also told about stress and sleep being a factor so do everything to avoid that also. What else is there to do?? SOO frustrating!

        1. Ladies who are paleo-plateauing: please check out “carb backloading”. John Keifer is a physicist and bodybuilder who trains figure models and bodybuilders, and he and a few other trainers have found that it is when you eat carbohydrates that can make a difference to changing body composition. His athletes eat lower carb throughout the day, and then eat their carbs in their last meal. He says this is particularly effective if you work out in the evening and eat afterward. The program I am on to destroy fat is outlined in the Carb Night Solution by Keifer: it’s a short term plan (six months max). Ketogenic for nine days, on the tenth day ketogenic breakfast and lunch, and then from 4pm to 12pm you carb load. The next day, back to ketogenic and the next carb load has to be at least five days after. I work out in the morning, and so far I am seeing some lessening of all those little fat cells sitting empty around my middle. Rather then signalling my body to re-fill them,following this protocol is supposed to give you that insulin spike to be signalling some cell apoptosis.. ha, fat cell suicide! So far, I have seen some tightening of the flabby pouch around my middle. It’s early days yet, but the key takeaway here is if you stay low-carb at the same level all the time, you may plateau. The insulin spike on an otherwise low carb diet may be just the signalling you need to keep progressing. Do a lot of reading, it is a very interesting subject. Robb Wolf’s paleo solution podcast # 160 has an interview. Good luck!

        2. oh, and I do it primally! Thank god for My Fitness Pal to track my carbs. I love eating whole foods, all I have done is added fish oil, iron + B daily, complex and whey protein isolate after my ‘big train’ on Sundays.

    2. Your mileage my vary, of course. You may want to consider adding more butter and pastured/grassfed fat and limit starches to only after working out — or not at all. It sounds like your body isn’t yet fully fat burning. Also I find it helps to have a very substantial first meal — I get about half my calories and zero starch or sugar at breakfast.

    3. Genetically we all have different builds. Compare a racehorse & a clydsdale. Both are very strong, but if they tried to be like the other they would lose what makes them uniquely strong. Perhaps you are where you should be with weight. If you’re able to perform & feel good, enjoy your health! In my opinion healthy at any size is beautiful.

  16. Amazing, inspiring story Keri! Life sure is that much more enjoyable when you feel good on the inside. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Very well done Keri, I am happy for you and jealous (of your abs) at the same time.

  18. Excellent story… I’m sort of in the middle of a similar journey, and I hope my end results are as good as yours!

  19. I can totally relate to the HUNGER. At 45, I have maintained my weight between 115-132 all my adult life, so I was always a healthy weight for a petite woman. I chose my food carefully and exercised moderately without fail. I spent 10 years as a low-fat vegetarian, and then added meat to our meals because my husband’s weight was going up and up and up. Tried Zone but didn’t like the regimen. Did Atkins and lost 10 lbs, but after 6 months couldn’t stand eating that way any more. Ate low-fat with whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lean meat for years — a near perfect “healthy” diet, and was STARVING, despite my weight slowly creeping up. I thought ahead 40 years and concluded: I can’t keep going like this. I can’t be STARVING for another 40 years!

    I found MDA about 3 years ago and haven’t looked back. I easily staying at or soon return to the low-end of my weight range. My body and brain feel nourished and perform well.

  20. As a former runner, I totally relate to your story. You look so much healthier in your “after” picture. Grok On!

  21. Your story is so relatable! As a female collegiate distance runner I can agree with a lot of what was said here. Much of what I went through is documented in my blog. After trying raw food, raw vegan, low-fat Mcdougall, etc I have understood that “uncontrollable hunger.” I am so glad you have found healthy, happy place in your life and hope that I will be able to come to that sort of spot someday soon! 🙂

  22. Keri,

    Congrats on your new diet happiness! I struggle to eat primally and to maintain a training schedule for half marathons and sprint triathlons. I exercise twice a day almost daily. I throw in weight lifting and yoga, too. I am almost exactly your starting weight and 5’5″. Can you give us an idea of what you eat now?

  23. Your story is perfect to share with a marathoning friend of mine! A great new perspective on MDA for the appropriateness of this lifestyle. Huzzah, Keri!

  24. Hi Keri, great story! I was wondering if you could share what a sample day looks like (eating wise). Just curious how you fuel for running. Thanks!

    1. I am not training for anything right now, so my running is significantly less. The furthest I have run since Chicago is 5 miles and normally I only run 3-4 a few times a week and sprints one day a week. I work out with a trainer 2x a week and it is as close to Crossfit as we have around here. I am also doing Yoga a few times a week. I am new to Yoga and am not sure I am totally on board with it, but I like the idea of quieting my mind and being a little friendlier to my body. I don’t know if I have another marathon in me, but I definitely can’t imagine giving up running all together.

      Anyway, what I eat now isn’t much different from what I ate during training. I would just eat a little more of everything depending on my mileage. For me the key is getting enough of the healthy fats!!! Something I used to be very frightened to consume. Yesterday for breakfast I had coffee with a splash of cream and scrambled eggs which consisted of three pastured eggs, another splash of cream and a sprinkle of cheese. I put a liberal amount of grass fed butter on the pan. For lunch I ate an apple (This is a recent development. I normally don’t eat much fruit because of the sugar, but I am seeing how I tolerate a little bit of fruit), a salad topped with avocado, olive oil, ( I no longer measure out the olive oil, so it is probably a pretty liberal amount) and salmon. I also had a spoonful of Nikki’s coconut butter. Late afternoon I had two stick’s of Steve’s Paleo grass fed Paleo Stix. I love those things and so do my kids. I eat most of my calories by 4:00 in the afternoon. I find that I do very well using this approach. Socially, it is a little awkward, but I deal with it and am trying to do what is best for me. For dinner I made the family Beefy Mexi “Cauli” rice. Since I am normally not very hungry at this point I just have a small amount. I don’t want my kids to think it is weird that I am not eating dinner, so I just keep it really light. Oh, and I had a glass of wine. I used to rarely have a drink because it was just empty calories and I preferred to eat my calories. Now I feel a little more liberated and a few times a week, I will enjoy a glass of wine.

      That is pretty typical for me. If I don’t eat eggs for breakfast, I am eating what we had for dinner the night before, which I do on a regular basis. I also enjoy baking and there a zillion websites out there with great Paleo recipes. I myself don’t indulge in too many of those treats, but I do make them on a regular basis and give them to the family.

      I have no idea how many calories I am consuming. My New Year’s Resolution is to not count calories and so far, so good. I find that if I track it too much I can feel myself boarding the crazy train and I would like to steer clear of that train.

      I hope that helps.

  25. Awesome! You can tell by your photos that you’re so happy now, and I can totally relate because happiness/contentment has been on of the unexpected side effects of this lifestyle for me. It wasn’t about the weight for me, either, it was about what was going on in my head. (Although I am MUCH happier with my body now than I was before, too!) Congratulations and much continued success and happiness to you!

  26. Stories like yours should be forced read over and over again to anyone who says ‘eat a little less, move a little more’ 😀

  27. I love your story and love your comments! I too am trying to stay off the crazy train. For me I am still like others who have posted who are trying to flip that OFF switch. It flipped once before several years ago and I effortlessly lost weight. Then it flipped back on (thank you stress-induced carbohydrate feeding frenzy)and I haven’t been able to kill it yet. I am going to bite the bullet and go the zero sugar/zero sugar substitute –byebye stevia 🙁 — route suggested by another commenter. I feel like a sugar junkie.

  28. Freedom from hunger and calorie counting is definitely my favorite thing about primal, and I do have before and after pics, but it’s still the best part.

  29. While I will applaud success, obsessing over body weight seems mighty unhealthy.

  30. Keri,

    Congratulations on your success story and thanks for submitting it to inspire all of us. And it must feel great knowing that you’ve got your family on the right path as well.

    Let me echo what poster Sherry said, above–obsessing about body weight is unhealthy. Since you’ve already liberated yourself from hunger and won’t go down the road of counting calories, take the next step and ditch your scale. Whether you weigh 121 or 126 just doesn’t matter. Use how you feel, how your clothes fit and how you look in the mirror as your scales. I’m very fond of a quote often attributed to Steve Maraboli: “…the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity.” You’re on the right path because of your hard work. Now, ditch the scale and be liberate yourself from yet another source of stress.

  31. Awesome to see another Wisconsinite living this lifestyle! I know there are more of us out there somewhere in this state, but we seem hard to come by! (Milwaukee here.) your last picture was so beautiful, hiking is one of my favorite things. One of the things I love about this lifestyle is that I can finally ditch the ‘low-fat’ stuff and enjoy our high fat dairy that we have in abundance here.

    1. Yeah for Wisconsin and their farmers. I love that my kids go to the farms around here and see where the food comes from. There are so many wonderful farms around here that are committed to grass fed meat. That alone has been a fantastic side effect of this lifestyle.

    2. Totally. Madison here. Had the best steak of my life last night: Local, grass fed. I totally agree with your comment! And Keri, awesome job and great insights!

  32. Great experience! Thank you for sharing your story! I’ve been primal/paleo for about a year now, and I’m starting to train for a sprint triathlon in June. I was worried about stressing out my body by training too much (too much “chronic cardio”), but it looks as if it’s doable, from your story. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Thanks to everyone who read my story and the encouraging words. I was a little apprehensive to put it out there, but I am glad I did. It seems that there are others with my similar struggle and I hope that everyone finds the freedom from food that I have found. It isn’t always easy and it isn’t always perfect (I definitely need to work on the body image thing), but alas Rome was not built in a day. I now have the tools to continue on this fantastic journey and only better things are to come.

    Grok on!

  34. Hi Keri,
    Have you done an HIM on the Paleo plan? What do you eat before the start and on the bike?

    You look beautiful.

    1. I had not found Paleo before I did the HIM but I know there are people out there that have. I had a great HIM experience in terms of my physical performance but mentally it was a really hard time for me. I gained a few pounds and fought the hunger because I was gaining weight. I ate lots and lots of whole grains. My breakfast was quinoa pancakes that my GI system handled quite well. I did not consume food on the bike, just liquid. My body couldn’t handle food. I drank Infinit Nutrition and it worked really well for me. Good luck!

  35. WOW…this post is just WOW> I’d love love to talk with you…if Mark can pass you along my email ??? I’d really love to email chat. You r so inspiring!

    1. That is fine with me, but I am not sure how that works. I could talk for hours about this!

  36. I am a 25 year old girl and I can so relate to your story, you already had me on the title! I loved loved loved to read it. Thank you so much for sharing – and congrats on the peace of mind. It surely is priceless.

    I am sure that many ‘eating disordered’ people could benefit from understanding the principles of primal living in order to recover and move on. To be free! It is understandable that people get a unhealthy relationship with food when it does what it does to our bodies, and we at the same time are told that these things are healthy and meant to be eaten. Our bodies protest, and are screaming that something is wrong. I see it in so many eating disordered people’s take on food. We think there is something wrong with us, when the body reacts in the “wrong” way, cravings, holding on to fat, stress, disharmony etc.

    For long i was frustrated and unhappy because i was listening to the wrong advices, and that was the main reason for my ED. I didn’t lack dicipline or interest in health. It was not my mind that was the problem, as you write, something within just knows that things are not right. It was a struggle but i am so happy i didn’t give in, because that would have meant i had to disconnect even more with my body. Now, with primaleating i can put anxiety and hunger in the past, and fully be in my body. And work out for the feeling of it, not the desperate desire for calorieburning.

    I ran a marathon 3 years ago, i enjoyed it to a certain degree for sure, but my primary driving force was the frustration of not having control of my body.

    Today i am so much healthier, slimmer, calmer and happier! All due to simple changes in my diet, such as giving up whole grains and eliminating all sugar – realizing that it is not about the calories, and that i will never be healthy and happy if i am eating things my body isnt designed for. And knowing what these thing is.

    I could go on and on.

    A big thank you Keri, for putting your story out there, deeply appreciated. You look amazing.

    1. I don’t know if you can tell, but I am reaching through the computer and giving you a hug. You articulated my experience so well and obviously many others. My family thought I had an eating disorder and while I admit I was walking a fine line, I do not believe I crossed the line. At least not in the way that they thought I did. As I mentioned, I have a tendency to lean in that direction, but I think I have always kept it in check. I know that obsessing over weight and body image is not healthy, but I really believe that grew out of eating the wrong things for myself. I just knew what I was doing and being told wasn’t working for me. Labeling me as someone with an eating disorder just added to the pile of things I was doing incorrectly. Thankfully, I didn’t let that stop me and I kept searching and here I am.

      It makes me sad to think of other people trapped inside their head and doing things that they think are good for them only to get the opposite response. I want to spread this message to everyone, so nobody has to spend another day fighting it.

  37. Great story and comments. It’s not just about losing weight. It’s about getting rid of that awful interior negative chatter. Flight and freedom!

  38. Hi Keri – OMG! WOW! Thank you! Thank you for sharing. Thank you for letting us into your life and for giving us the inspiration to carry on.

    I am very new to this and haven’t yet managed to commit 100% as I have a husband and three children and I don’t know where to really begin. I am the same height and I wish I were the same weight as you but I know we are all different and that there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach but you (and everyone else on here) make this real and not another “fad” or “cult”.

    I am waiting for my copy of the 21 day challenge which should arrive soon and that is when I know I have really started the journey.

    A question to you Keri, and anyone out there with a family – how do you start to convert the pantry/mindset without resistance and complaints from “da management” of the house?????

    MDA is addictive and I love reading it to the point of forgetting to do all my others things (ie my job!) and maybe one day you’ll be reading my success story but in the meantime, thank you again for my reality check!

    1. Sharon, I have two kids (young teen and older teen) that I have taken though “healthy” eating of one sort or another all their lives. I think it helps to do it slowly. Step 1: no junk. There are foods that everyone (even SAD) can agree are junk. Don’t dramatically clean out the pantry, just stop buying the junk. (“I love you too much to buy that stuff.”) Meanwhile, you eat primally; they eat “no junk” (once the junk is gone). Then if you find primal works for you, slowly switch out the non-primal foods from their diets. For example, I started by taking our dinner grains and replacing them with bacon (which my kids had not been allowed much of and loved) and yummy non-grain desserts. Then I slowly cut out the paleo desserts from dinner, too (bait and switch). Now we eat meat/poultry/fish, a non-starchy veggie, and animal fat (and sometimes bacon with the green veggie) for dinner. We have dark chocolate in the pantry (open, break off a bite-size bit) and SO Delicious non-dairy ice cream bars in the freezer – limit one per day per person (kind of expensive, probably not a forever treat).

      One teen still eats bran flakes cereal for breakfast (no sugar, whole milk – usually raw) and both get up to a couple of slices a day of sprouted grain bread (if desired, they have to get it themselves, such as making a meat/cheese sandwich as an after-school snack). Other than that, the household is grain-free, legume-free (ok, we still have natural-style peanut butter but almond butter, too), veg-oil-free and junk-food-free. I rarely bake treats, even paleo treats, but have told the kids they can bake whatever they want from scratch if they do all the work themselves (there is residual white flour and sugar in the house) – but they don’t bother. If they did, it would be okay with me, because at least they’d be learning cooking skills.

      Best to you on your journey.

    2. I am so excited for your journey!

      My kids are younger (3 and 7), so for the most part, I am “da management”. What I eat, they eat and that is that.

      My husband is also very supportive. He is very slim and is all about being healthy. He also appreciates the non crazy wife that I am growing into.

      However, having said that, they are not 100% primal. They still eat a sandwich for lunch and they sometimes have oatmeal for breakfast. Even before this journey began we didn’t have much in the way of “junk” food and very little processed food. I am a stay at home mom, so I have the luxury of time to make all our food. They love dinner because it all tastes so much better with some fat in it. They don’t miss the grains and legumes at all. We also still eat dairy, so that isn’t something they gave up. We did switch to whole milk and I am gradually adding more and more bone broth to our lives. I personally love it.

      I also don’t sweat the treats that they get at basketball/school/birthday parties. I try to teach them that it is OK to have a treat now and then but then we need to balance it out with healthier choices.

      Reducing the amount of sugar in their lives has been the biggest change. It really is in everything, even for someone that didn’t buy much in the way of processed food. We have been doing this for over a year now and little by little I keep reducing the amount of sugar they eat. We are doing pretty well, but I am no Saint and it still sneaks in even with the best of intentions. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just do what you can do and keep at it.

      Admittedly baking with almond flour and coconut flour does taste a little different but they are getting used to it. It doesn’t taste bad, it is just different. After some experimentation, we have found some treats that the three of them can agree on.

      There are are truly so many great sites out there for cooking ideas that your family may not even realize that you changed anything. It may take some time at the beginning to find those go to meals and snacks but I promise you, it is worth the effort. What else could be more important than laying the foundation for your children’s health?

  39. I’m with Sherry and Krispy – it’s so great that you have found this dietary path that works for you and is all about the quality of food and how you feel/perform. But obsessing over literally a couple pounds — still — (and remember, muscle weighs more than fat!!) doesn’t seem mentally healthy. I hope you can take the next step to ditch the scale completely!

  40. Great, great story! So happy to hear about another runner doing the Primal thing – everyone obsesses over needing carbs for longer runs! I was experimenting in the fall while I was training for a Half Marathon (which got canceled due to Sandy) and am coming back from a small injury, so “only” back to about 5 miles of run/walk/run. Looking forward to lengthening my miles again, without needing those gels!

  41. Gawd, yet another woman obsessed with arbitrary numbers on the scale. Glad she figured out a way to give in to her orthorexia and body obsession in a slightly healthier way.

  42. Hi Keri!

    Thanks for sharing your journey!! I was wondering if you followed a typical marathon training program for your primal Chicago marathon or if you did a reduced mileage higher intensity type that Mark talked about. Would love to know what it was like as I am still on the chronic cardio train!!!!

  43. After reading this story a couple of times, and thinking A LOT about it, this is what I have to say:

    I relate to the sense of always being at war with my body, the constant starvation that a carb-based/low fat diet creates, the desire to be thinner, and the feeling that all my hard work is not being translated into the way my body looks…I also found a great deal of freedom switching to primal eating. It was like I had finally found a way of eating that allowed me to feel satisfied, at peace with myself, and finally, thankfully, hungry no more….

    Yet, I do see it as a red flag when we find it necessary to be at the absolute low end of our ideal weight range. I think it’s great to want to look good and feel good, but I think it’s not great when we become over-controlling of our bodies, and will not accept one pound more than what we consider “the perfect weight.”

    One of the things that drew me to MDA was the fact that I did not seem to be about eating perfectly (80/20) and it did not seem to be focused on exercising our bodies down to their tiniest possible manifestations, but about playing, moving slowly, feeling good, and just getting out into nature….So when I read a story like this, I do feel a great deal of conflict….That being said, we are all on very different journeys with entirely different sets of priorities…

    Keri, if you are happy and satisfied (as you seem to be) than more power to you! But for me, letting go of dieting and extreme exercise, letting go of trying to be that one perfect number, has been equally if not more liberating than primal eating…Best of luck on your primal journey, my friend 🙂

  44. Oh my goodness, Keri, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your story! I am 21 years old and have been in the exact same boat that you were in for so much of your life. As a distance runner, I know those exact same feelings about calories, weight management/loss, restriction, hunger…all of it! And I absolutely LOVE what you said about changing on the inside and gaining that sense of peace! Thank you so very much for sharing this. I wish you all the best and am excited for all the goodness to come for you!

    1. Hey again,

      Just to let you know, I shared your story on a Runners World forum for women. Just wanted to spread the word about how it IS possible to have that inner peace and freedom!

      Thanks again for your inspiration!

      And here’s the link:

  45. Hi Keri, I’ve had almost the exact same struggle that you’ve had and I’m relatively new to Primal living – been primal for about 2 months now and I love it. I was just wondering how long it took before you finally lost those last 5 lbs. I’ve notice a huge difference in how I feel and in my performance but not really in how I look. I just wanted to know what my realistic expectations should be. Thank you so much for posting your story, it really helps to read about other people with a similar story as my own!

    1. I can’t exactly remember but I would say I started at the end of january 2012 and by May I had lost about 5 lbs. It was an effortless weight loss. My unscientific self thinks the weight loss has more to do with stress than anything else. Eating this way gave/gives my body the nourishment it had been craving and allowed my body to finally relax and let go of those few pounds. I can tell that if I start exercising too much (this is very hard for me to keep under control) or thinking about food too much I tend to gain a little weight. As soon as I chill out, give myself a little break, eat a little more, the weight comes off again. Good luck to you!

  46. Thank you so much for taking time to reply. This is very helpful information. I have a feeling I am doing the same thing – obsessing about food and counting calories when really all I need to do is what my body is telling me. It’s just helpful to have another real person tell me that. It’s also good to know that it did take almost 5 months for you to lose those last 5 lbs so I shouldn’t get frustrated when I’m only 2 months in. Thanks again for all the help!!

  47. That is exactly the advantage I find eating like this – not weight, not even good health as I’ve always eaten pretty well and never seem to be ill, but the inner calm . A lot of people and I think many more women than men think about eating and food and have a mental issue over it which arises from the bad diet. Cure that and the rest follows. For me nothing is as good as curing that inner turmoil. The mental peace from healthy eating and for me no snacks or sugar or processed foods is the holy grail and it is here (and to be fair in a few other places on line too)

  48. Thanks for posting your story. I am printing it out. I have the same issue as you. I am 5’6 and currently weigh 128 pounds and I like to weight 121 pounds 🙂 Again I am not fat at 128 but personally feel better at 121. I run so I can eat candy bars and I love to stop this cycle. I am on day 2 of the new lifestyle. I clean out my cabinets and hoping to have freedom from my sugar cravings.

    1. Give it some time and make sure you eat enough fat to help you with the sugar cravings. Some of the cravings are for comfort, at least with me, and now that I don’t eat sugar anymore they are happy memories but if I have some sugar the pain and suffering is not worth it. The “oops, I accidentally had some sugar” get fewer as time goes by. Keep up the good work!