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

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March 01, 2013

I Now Feel Like a 21-Year Old Should Feel

By Guest
137 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!

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.

Before

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.

After

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

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132 Comments on "I Now Feel Like a 21-Year Old Should Feel"

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MattyT
MattyT
3 years 9 months ago

WOW! you look great, and happy!

Harry Mossman
3 years 9 months ago

+1 A story every teen girl should read!

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
3 years 9 months ago

Completely agree!!!

Decaf Debi
Decaf Debi
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Meg Sia
Meg Sia
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 9 months ago

Fantastic, cheers to your success!

Alexander
3 years 9 months ago

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.

JennF
JennF
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Chika
3 years 9 months ago

+1 she can enjoy life now confident, healthy, strong and vibrant.

Alison Golden
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Lisa
3 years 9 months ago

Age is just a number 🙂 It’s how we feel that matters!

Sharon
Sharon
3 years 9 months ago

Curvy and cute and feeling good. What could be better!

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 9 months ago

A bikini shot. Hubba hubba!

johnnyboy
johnnyboy
3 years 9 months ago

Did you miss the cue about her boyfriend hunting deer?

Katie
Katie
3 years 9 months ago

+1

W. J. Purifoy
W. J. Purifoy
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Katelyn
Katelyn
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Anders
Anders
3 years 9 months ago

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).

Diane
Diane
3 years 9 months ago

Congratulations on your success! You are beautiful inside and outside. Wonderful job.

anova01
anova01
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Sabine
Sabine
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Don D
Don D
3 years 9 months ago

great story Elizabeth… very eloquently written and inspiring. thanks for sharing.

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 9 months ago

in all three pictures, you had a beautiful smile. congrats on figuring out what works for your body!

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
3 years 9 months ago

I also noted the gorgeous smile! And fashion sense – your outfit in the top picture was gorgeous!

Kathy
Kathy
3 years 9 months ago

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.

reene
reene
3 years 9 months ago

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. 🙂

Lisa
3 years 9 months ago

Absolutely fantastic – congratulations !

SusynK
SusynK
3 years 9 months ago

You look amazing! Fit & healthy. 🙂 Sounds like you have balance in your life now as well as a supportive boyfriend.

Primalmontana
Primalmontana
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Siobhan
Siobhan
3 years 9 months ago

You look fantastic, so strong and healthy! I am so happy for your success and wish you much continued happiness with the primal lifestyle!

Susie
Susie
3 years 9 months ago

“why not be hot and strong?” +1

oxide
oxide
3 years 9 months ago

Congrats from another member of the 5-foot club!

Pam
Pam
3 years 9 months ago

I just have to say this is my favorite success story yet!! This is my first ever comment too…

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 9 months ago

Glad to hear from you, welcome!

Magda
Magda
3 years 9 months ago

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.

CrazeeCatLady
CrazeeCatLady
3 years 9 months ago

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. 😉

Scratch
Scratch
3 years 9 months ago

You are so beautiful, Elizabeth! Congratulations on your success!

Rod Hilton
Rod Hilton
3 years 9 months ago

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

Helga
Helga
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Bayrider
Bayrider
3 years 9 months ago
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… Read more »
joey
joey
3 years 9 months ago

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.

bjjcaveman
3 years 9 months ago

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!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 9 months ago
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… Read more »
bjjcaveman
3 years 9 months ago

looks like you do all the stuff mark would support! plenty of vitamin D

Bayrider
Bayrider
3 years 9 months ago

Yes, fun, active sports for life. Way to go!

Diane
Diane
3 years 9 months ago

Wow, hot and strong! You are definitely that! Could almost be my own weight gain/loss/stress story, too.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Violet
Violet
3 years 9 months ago

+1

Kyla
Kyla
3 years 9 months ago

Well said.

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 9 months ago

+1 too!!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 9 months ago

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.

NoGlutenEver
NoGlutenEver
3 years 9 months ago

I am happy for you , but. These stories make me nervous. Some of these people really, really, really need to test for celiac disease.

Heather
Heather
3 years 9 months ago

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
Heather
3 years 9 months ago

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.

Mia
Mia
3 years 9 months ago

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.

sss
sss
3 years 9 months ago

dayum girl. you look great!

Patrick
Patrick
3 years 9 months ago

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.”

Amy
Amy
3 years 9 months ago

I love Nerd Fitness! And Stacy’s story also convinced me to lift heavy things. You look amazing. Congrats!

Heather
Heather
3 years 9 months ago

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!!

Peter
Peter
3 years 9 months ago

A boyfriend!?!?! Dreams Crushed… 🙁

Seriously though- you look amazing and you’ve earned it!

Chika
3 years 9 months ago

Awesome story Elizabeth. You glow in your last pic! Your story will inspire many young women who struggle with stubborn fat loss. Cheers to your success.

Jessica
Jessica
3 years 9 months ago
You look AMAZING. I started getting really obsessive about diet when I was 15, so I can relate a bit, although that was more because of my skin than my weight (I was never heavy but had really bad body image problems). It’s sad that young kids are so concerned with these things early on, but it also goes to show that kids are aware of themselves and need to learn healthy habits (including how to love themselves) from the start. I hope if I ever have a daughter, she learns this right away, because no one should ever have… Read more »
b2curious
b2curious
3 years 9 months ago

Wow! You look awesome! Right now, I look quite a bit like your picture right before you went paleo, with maybe a bit more muscle, and I’m 43. Mind you, I am down about 40 lbs from my heaviest. I look forward to rocking my shorts and tank tops almost as well as you do before long.

Caro
Caro
3 years 9 months ago

Really love the Friday stories, what a great story about the search lots of us have done before finding marksdailyapple.

Jessica A. Flores
Jessica A. Flores
3 years 9 months ago

WOW, i can totally relate because we share the same background in regardS to culture and failed dieting. the thought/sense of losing ones culture has been the hardest part for me thus far, especially when i make my way home and have to reject some of my favorite home cooked meals. eating primal mostly has helped me enjoy those few slips i allow myself to have. aside from being healthy, I’d like to happy, and crossfit inspired fitness and a mostly primal diet has helped me find that balance. Good work, your story is one i truly enjoyed reading!

Amy T
Amy T
3 years 9 months ago

Wow! You must feel great! So happy for you. You have your whole life ahead of you to feel your best!!

rashelle
rashelle
3 years 9 months ago

Congratulations! You look so healthy and beautiful! I loved your story! I hope your story will inspire others to go primal and be their healthiest selves!!!

Ashlys Gone Primal
Ashlys Gone Primal
3 years 9 months ago

You look awesome, congrats Elizabeth!!

Clare
Clare
3 years 9 months ago

You superstar, it brought tears to my eyes to read your story. Good on ya, mate!

Mazwegian
Mazwegian
3 years 9 months ago

When I saw the first photo I thought what a pretty girl. Then I read and saw the second photo and thought wow you had done a good job losing the weight. I didn’t expect a third photo, and then when I saw it, I cried! You look amazing, and what’s more important is you have discovered the real beautiful you inside. Congratulations…..

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