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

I Now Feel Like a 21-Year Old Should Feel

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!

Hello Mark!

My name is Elizabeth and I’m a college student. This is my story; it’s kind of a long one as I’ve been dieting my whole life! I first came across your site and Nerd Fitness when I was trying to lose weight (for the millionth time) on a calorie counting website. It has completely changed my life! I had been slightly overweight most of my life and near obesity a couple of times. When I was a kid, I was very thin, even under weight. I was a picky eater and I loved to play outside. I had to be dragged in for meals. Then my family moved from beautiful San Diego to Tucson. In the first summer, I nearly had a heat stroke so I stopped playing outside and I think my boredom of being stuck inside changed my eating habits. I started mindlessly eating while in front of the TV and by the time I was 10 I was 150 lbs, and I’m just under 5 ft tall now!

My family was not very understanding and I was teased at school. I honestly hated myself but I didn’t know how to fix it. Then, when I was 12, a cousin told me about a diet she’d done. It was a very restrictive version of Atkins. Basically, phase 1 forever. I lost 30 lbs in less than 2 months. After losing the weight, I didn’t stick to the Atkins-style diet because it was hard and being in a Mexican family, my mom had to cook special meals for me and once I’d lost the weight, my parents figured they didn’t have to do that anymore. I found that eating Mexican food daily while trying to stay healthy was nearly impossible. I had to just barely nibble, and yet I was still a few sizes bigger than I wanted to be. I always felt hungry, but when I ate enough to feel full I usually gained weight and felt guilty.

After a while, I started to feel anxious at the thought of food and going to Mexico to stay with my extended family on school breaks, since they often get together to have cookouts. Sometimes I would notice I was putting on some weight and I’d starve myself with the latest crash diet (lemonade, cabbage soup, fasting, very low calorie, vegan, etc.) then put it back on a few months later and do it all over again. I spent my teens feeling anxiety about eating and spent half of my time starving.

Still, I was overweight! I bounced between 120-130 lbs for years and I felt hungry, lethargic and just awful in general, and I was so upset that after all this effort I always looked and felt terrible. In my final year of high school I had moved out of my parents’ house due to some extreme circumstances, and I signed up for an accelerated program so that I could graduate in my junior year. I essentially finished 1½ years of schooling in ½ a year. This time was very hard for me; I was taking over 10 classes: online, weekend, before school, after school, you name it. I gave up trying to maintain my weight during this time, I was just too exhausted at the end of the day to care what I looked like. I ate burgers and fries every day, pop tarts for breakfast, and starved when I didn’t have the time for food. I put on over 20 lbs in about 5 months. I managed to graduate a year early, and got into the university of my choice, but I was not happy. I was uncomfortable weighing 140+ lbs (I stopped weighing myself after hitting 140), and I once again hated myself for getting there. I went off to college that year with possibly the lowest self-esteem in the freshman class.


As soon as I got there, I went on another crash diet. This time it was a 1000 calorie deal. I figured most people need 1200 but I’m much shorter than most. I was eating a “skinny” Starbucks coffee for breakfast, plain salad for lunch, and a lean cuisine for dinner. I felt awful but I managed to lose around 10 lbs. After that, my weight loss stalled by dieting in this way, so I started some chronic cardio, as you put it, and managed to lose maybe another 5 lbs. I was REALLY stuck there this time, for at least a year, and I would gain those 5 pounds back over school breaks when I went home. I weighed 125-130 again, and I could not lose any more weight doing what I was doing. I was miserable and I felt like a failure but I kept this regimen up because I didn’t know what else to do.

Before Paleo

At some point I came across your site on one of the discussion boards of my calorie counting website. I will be honest; I laughed out loud and said to my boyfriend Kyle, “A caveman diet? What will they think of next?” I continued to starve and work out, mostly cardio, but then I got a trainer who started me on something similar to CrossFit, though she didn’t call it that. I didn’t lose a pound, but I did start sleeping all day when I wasn’t in class and I generally stopped moving around other than my workout a few times a week. I was just so tired all the time! I felt like despite all my effort my body was set on turning every morsel of food I ate into fat. While I was being really strict with my diet (as in absolutely perfect) I would maybe lose a pound over the course of a month or two, but then I would party with some friends once in that time or go home for a few days and in just one weekend I would put on everything I lost! It was insanely frustrating and I thought that I must have the worst genes in the world! For this reason I really felt pressured to weigh every ounce of food I ate and I wouldn’t eat things I hadn’t made myself. Eating was really a chore and I often felt anxious about getting it right.

After seeing almost no results, my trainer asked me what I was eating, and I told her. She said that it was too little and said that when I worked out I needed to eat more. Just the thought of eating more made me very anxious. I thought, “what if I put on weight?” and, “How could I eat more if eating one taco and a some refried beans when I went home once in a while put on 2 pounds?” But in the back of my head I remembered your site, and I remembered my first Atkins like dieting experience – how quick the weight loss had been. Since doing that at age 12, I had learned the evils of a very fatty and red meat filled diet thanks to conventional wisdom. I thought I would probably have a heart attack if I tried it again with my family’s history of heart disease, and also I remembered doing the Atkins-like diet was SO boring and took a lot of willpower. But something had to change.

So, I decided to look into Primal more and actually give it a chance this time. I read all of the articles I could find about getting started with Primal and why chronic cardio is bad. I also watched the documentary Fathead and learned more about insulin and what it does to the body and the junk science history of the low-fat movement. I think I read pretty much everything on your website and finally it made sense to me. I realized why I put on pounds so easily. When I go home and eat the food my family makes, it is pretty much as opposite of Primal as food can get. All that insulin spiking, grain full, calorie dense food is the perfect concoction for storing large amounts of fat.

It seems to me that I’m probably more carb sensitive than a lot of people. I say that because I’ve noticed my quicker than average weight gain when I eat them, but it has an equal and opposite reaction. As soon as I stopped eating the grains and started lifting weights rather than cardio (Stacy from a Nerd Fitness story convinced me I wouldn’t look like a guy, another conventional wisdom fact debunked) I lost weight and FAST. I weigh 115 now and some might say that’s not much different, but that’s not the whole story. I lost a ton of inches EVERYWHERE and people tell me that I look like I’ve lost twice what I have all the time! Not to mention, I now feel full of energy, like a 21 year old should feel, and I love the way I look, though I’m still trying to put on some more muscle because why not be hot and strong?

Probably one of the things that has changed the most though is my attitude towards food. The first few weeks of Primal, I really tested the whole eat-what-you-want idea and I was STARVING so I ate and ate and ate, like I’d never been able to do before without fearing weight gain. Shockingly, I still lost weight. Then, even more amazingly, I stopped being so hungry. I no longer feel anxious about eating and I don’t feel guilty after a filling meal. I love food again because I know that I can eat delicious food until I’m satisfied and it’s no big deal. I don’t gain weight!

My boyfriend and I now eat Primal, though being college students we can’t afford organic veggies or meat when we buy it. We do eat the deer he hunts (Axis deer-it’s so delicious!) so I’d say at the moment, about 70% of our meat is free range and organic. We thought we’d miss grains more, but we don’t really. We love the food – the meat’s the best part right? It feels natural and when we need to eat grains because we’re staying with family or something like that, we’ve been able to make it work for us and our lifestyle, and I don’t have to sweat about being perfect with my diet anymore. It seems that now that I’m not starving myself. When I go home and eat my mother’s tacos my body doesn’t try to store every ounce of what I eat. I can’t thank you enough for your website, none of this would have happened without it.

I’ve attached some pictures and you can share these and my story on your site if you’d like. The first one is of me the summer after I graduated high school at my heaviest since I was 12, before attempting to lose any weight. The second pic is me after losing some weight by starving and chronic cardio, but before doing Primal, the summer before last. I stayed about that weight despite all my efforts and the help of a trainer until the start of last summer when I began Primal. The last pic is of me at the end of last summer on a hike in Hawaii, after only a few months of Primal and lifting.

I personally enjoy reading others’ success stories and they are part of what convinced me to give it a try. I hope my story can be a part of that. Sorry for talking your ear off, I tried to make this as short as I could, but that didn’t really happen. Again, thank you so much for the work you are doing – it changed my life.




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. WOW! you look great, and happy!

    MattyT wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • +1 A story every teen girl should read!

      Harry Mossman wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Completely agree!!!

        Joy Beer wrote on March 1st, 2013
  2. Wow, Elizabeth. You do look great and like you’ve lost more weight than the scale says. Congrats on finding primal living and making the changes you needed.

    What makes me really sad about your story is that 12-year-olds shouldn’t have to be thinking about weight and severe diets! The state of our kids’ health thanks to the crappy conventional wisdom that is out there, is stealing their childhoods. I’m glad you have found health at a relatively young age. So many people never do.

    Decaf Debi wrote on March 1st, 2013
  3. Hi Elizabeth!

    This is actually my first comment ever on MDA, though I’ve been reading for awhile.

    I just wanted to say congrats!! I have a similar story and it makes me so happy to see other people able to find this solution! Years of a borderline eating disorder of low fat and carbs, and chronic cardio with minuscule results is so common and frustrating. I’m so happy that you’ve found primal living! Keep kickin ass!

    Meg Sia wrote on March 1st, 2013
  4. Fantastic, cheers to your success!

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Pretty awesome, the headline says it all.

      It’s kinda interesting seeing lots of young college kids eating like crap, gaining weight, and feeling (and acting) ol). The rare few who take control of their health realize what it actually feels like to be young again haha.

      I meet fit 60 year olds these days fitter than many 25 year old men. Amazing what staying healthy can do into your old age.

      Alexander wrote on March 1st, 2013
  5. Another fabulous Friday story! Lucky you to have figured it out while you are still so young. Think of the wonderful life you have ahead of you now. I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Congratulations on your success!

    JennF wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • +1 she can enjoy life now confident, healthy, strong and vibrant.

      Chika wrote on March 1st, 2013
  6. Congratulations Elizabeth, took me 20 years to feel like a 21 year old (by which time I was lot older than that but I got there in the end. :-)) Great job on getting this insight so early in life. Look forward to a great life ahead!

    Alison Golden wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Age is just a number :-) It’s how we feel that matters!

      Lisa wrote on March 1st, 2013
  7. Curvy and cute and feeling good. What could be better!

    Sharon wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • A bikini shot. Hubba hubba!

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Did you miss the cue about her boyfriend hunting deer?

        johnnyboy wrote on March 3rd, 2013
        • +1

          Katie wrote on March 4th, 2013
  8. I love to see the difference in the faces – before faces to try to find the person hidden in the fat, and the after faces – WOW!!! You are beautiful and you look so happy. Congrats!

    W. J. Purifoy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  9. Great story! She looks great! I wish more girls would realize it’s a good thing to abandon the treadmill and hit the barbell instead.

    Katelyn wrote on March 1st, 2013
  10. Felicitations!
    Great story and keep up the great momentum.

    I have to say, restrictive dieting at age 12 seems aggressive! (Not to say eating primal at any age is inappropriate, but when young, the body does not necessarily grow up and sideways always in proportion).

    Anders wrote on March 1st, 2013
  11. Congratulations on your success! You are beautiful inside and outside. Wonderful job.

    Diane wrote on March 1st, 2013
  12. Great story, thank you for sharing! I’m in the middle of a very similar one (+2 years of age) and reading this was especially motivating/inspiring right now.

    anova01 wrote on March 1st, 2013
  13. Very well told, and helpful to many others in similar situations. You did a great job despite all the cultural and societal pressures. This deserves a lot of respect. Congratulations on your achievement!

    Sabine wrote on March 1st, 2013
  14. great story Elizabeth… very eloquently written and inspiring. thanks for sharing.

    Don D wrote on March 1st, 2013
  15. in all three pictures, you had a beautiful smile. congrats on figuring out what works for your body!

    Jenny wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • I also noted the gorgeous smile! And fashion sense – your outfit in the top picture was gorgeous!

      AlyieCat wrote on March 1st, 2013
  16. Such a fatal spiral- from food to guilt to anxiety to low self worth to more food and on and on it goes. Congratulations, Elizabeth, for finding the key to breaking out of it. And lucky you for having a partner in your journey! Thanks for sharing.

    Kathy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  17. You look so amazing and happy! Congrats on your success! That Nerd Fitness thing about Stacy is what also introduced me to paleo and eventually led me to Mark’s site. :)

    reene wrote on March 1st, 2013
  18. Absolutely fantastic – congratulations !

    Lisa wrote on March 1st, 2013
  19. You look amazing! Fit & healthy. :-) Sounds like you have balance in your life now as well as a supportive boyfriend.

    SusynK wrote on March 1st, 2013
  20. This story pretty much sums up my diet journey as well. I’m so happy you found the same food-freedom I found with primal eating!

    Primalmontana wrote on March 1st, 2013
  21. You look fantastic, so strong and healthy! I am so happy for your success and wish you much continued happiness with the primal lifestyle!

    Siobhan wrote on March 1st, 2013
  22. “why not be hot and strong?” +1

    Susie wrote on March 1st, 2013
  23. Congrats from another member of the 5-foot club!

    oxide wrote on March 1st, 2013
  24. I just have to say this is my favorite success story yet!! This is my first ever comment too…

    Pam wrote on March 1st, 2013
  25. Okay, did anyone else love this snippet as much as I do??
    “because why not be hot and strong?”
    Why not indeed?? Loved this story.

    Magda wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Absolutely!

      From low self-esteem and food anxiety to “why not be hot AND strong” says so much about how going primal changes a lot more than just your looks.

      Congrats, Elizabeth! Now you have what it takes to live long and prosper. 😉

      CrazeeCatLady wrote on March 1st, 2013
  26. You are so beautiful, Elizabeth! Congratulations on your success!

    Scratch wrote on March 1st, 2013
  27. Great Job Elizabeth! Fridays are always great days… not just because the weekend is upon us!
    Keep up the great work.
    Everyone… Have a safe weekend. Enjoy.

    Rod Hilton wrote on March 1st, 2013
  28. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

    A wonderful story and so well told! It’s not easy resisting cultural practices and pressures, but it sounds like you have a strong will, great determination, and a good head on your shoulders.

    Helga wrote on March 1st, 2013
  29. Great story, great job! You look happy, healthy and athletic, I’m so happy to see you’re really rocking now!

    Keep doing those weights and take up a few fun action sports for life. I started skiing at age 21 and I’m still doing it today, 38 tears later. It’s served me well, it’s still a blast and a great workout at the same time. Try whatever fun sport is doable in your area, you also meet other active people that way. My best friends are all windsurfers, now in our sixties and we’ve spent hundreds of exhilarating days under that bridge in your picture. Life should always be a blast, even when 21 is long gone!

    Bayrider wrote on March 1st, 2013
  30. I love Fridays and I love your story. You are beautiful! You look so strong and happy now; I can only imagine how hard your teenage years were. I wish there was a way to tell all these teenage girls that they don’t have to struggle, but it’s very hard to get people and parents to listen, we’re all so indoctrinated by cw. Thank you for sharing your story.

    joey wrote on March 1st, 2013
  31. Fantastic story, and another great way to kick off the weekend!

    I was just wondering if you were still continuing the crossfit type of work out or have you started to do other things as well!

    bjjcaveman wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • I don’t do the crossfit style workout any more. Honestly, it was too much work! I lift weights once a week and snowboard, hike, swim (during school breaks), walk, or rock-climb as the mood strikes me. I honestly don’t work out much other than lifting. I might do one of these other activities a week besides that and I just do them for fun. When I do them, I often do them for the whole day though. From time to time I try to do as many push ups or pull ups as I can (only two so far). I do walk to get around campus. It probably adds up to at least an hour a day.

      Elizabeth wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • looks like you do all the stuff mark would support! plenty of vitamin D

        bjjcaveman wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Yes, fun, active sports for life. Way to go!

        Bayrider wrote on March 2nd, 2013
  32. Wow, hot and strong! You are definitely that! Could almost be my own weight gain/loss/stress story, too.

    Diane wrote on March 1st, 2013
  33. Having a daughter of my own now and a wife trying to lose weight Primally, I detest so much the culture that tells young women that their worth is contingent upon a number on a scale. Feeling and being physically bad is the only reason anyone should ever attempt to change their body composition. It hurts my heart that you had to spend so many formative years victimized by the idea that fat = subhuman but so grateful to Mark for publicizing the true avenue for health.

    Joshua wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • +1

      Violet wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Well said.

      Kyla wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • +1 too!!

      Rhonda the Red wrote on March 1st, 2013
  34. Mirra esta bonita chica! Great job and health to you Liz. It makes me so damned angry what CW (conventional wisdom)has done to so many people. Hope that doesn’t spike my cortisol levels.

    Nocona wrote on March 1st, 2013
  35. I am happy for you , but. These stories make me nervous. Some of these people really, really, really need to test for celiac disease.

    NoGlutenEver wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Why? Just remove the grains. Grains cause gut permeability in everyone. All those aches and pains considered a normal part of aging can be eliminated by removing grains. Celiac is the extreme form. We are all gluten intolerant.

      Heather wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • I say why spend the money to go to a doctor and get tested. PB is the test. I’m not Celiac but removing grains from my diet was the best thing I ever did. I’ve suffered a lifetime of digestive issues, bloat, tummyaches. When I removed grains it all went away. But I’m not Celiac.

        Heather wrote on March 1st, 2013
        • Agree. And not just doctor, either – bowel specialist and surgeon, as the only true test for celiac disease is an endoscopy and bowel biopsy. Blood testing is unreliable. Not to mention having to suffer through 6 weeks of a high gluten diet beforehand!
          Spare yourself the surgery unless you really, really need to rule out celiac disease as a possibility – I’ve had it and it’s expensive and not at all fun. Just give up the grains and save yourself the expense and bellyaches.

          Mia wrote on March 4th, 2013
  36. dayum girl. you look great!

    sss wrote on March 1st, 2013
  37. When I saw your last picture all I could say was “WOW!… And “Good for you!” It is real nice to see the young folks “getting it.”

    Patrick wrote on March 1st, 2013
  38. I love Nerd Fitness! And Stacy’s story also convinced me to lift heavy things. You look amazing. Congrats!

    Amy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  39. I was re-born when I started PB. Who would have thought that I would look and feel AND BE better at 42 than I did at 21. You figured it out early, girl. LUCKY YOU!! You have a lifetime to reap the benefits of PB!! You look amazing. LOVE YOUR SMILE!! THOSE DIMPLES ARE ADORABLE!!

    Heather wrote on March 1st, 2013

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