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. A boyfriend!?!?! Dreams Crushed… :(

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

    Peter wrote on March 1st, 2013
  2. 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.

    Chika wrote on March 1st, 2013
  3. 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 to spend half of their teenage years starving and upset with themselves.

    Jessica wrote on March 1st, 2013
  4. 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.

    b2curious wrote on March 1st, 2013
  5. Really love the Friday stories, what a great story about the search lots of us have done before finding marksdailyapple.

    Caro wrote on March 1st, 2013
  6. 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!

    Jessica A. Flores wrote on March 1st, 2013
  7. Wow! You must feel great! So happy for you. You have your whole life ahead of you to feel your best!!

    Amy T wrote on March 1st, 2013
  8. 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!!!

    rashelle wrote on March 1st, 2013
  9. You look awesome, congrats Elizabeth!!

    Ashlys Gone Primal wrote on March 1st, 2013
  10. You superstar, it brought tears to my eyes to read your story. Good on ya, mate!

    Clare wrote on March 1st, 2013
  11. 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…..

    Mazwegian wrote on March 1st, 2013
  12. Hard to believe that eating too little actually keeps you from losing weight– but I have to remind myself of that fact!

    Yeah you look great– but I’ll bet as you say– the FEELING of good health is even more exciting!


    Pastor Dave wrote on March 1st, 2013
  13. WOW Elizabeth–you are an inspiration! Not only do you look spectacular, but your story truly hits home for me, and likely for others.

    Starvation diets and chronic cardio are sadly the name of the game for young women. It is very sad that it is deemed (by conventional wisdom and the media, etc.) the only way to lose weight. I struggled with the same mindset as you between the ages of 16 and 23; the endless cycles of losing and gaining, coupled with endless frustration, misery, and obsession, ruined part of my late teens and early twenties. Like you, I did not reach peace of mind until a referral to “The Primal Solution” by a holistic weight-loss coach.

    I am tempted to post this story on my Facebook or Pinterest. The world needs these stories! Way to go, Elizabeth! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Kyla wrote on March 1st, 2013
  14. That’s a great story. I’m so happy for you that you found what works… truly inspiring for me to get moving with this primal lifestyle.

    Tara wrote on March 1st, 2013
  15. Another awesome transformation ……. congratulations you look happy & glowing with health. Thanks for telling us your story.

    HillyM wrote on March 1st, 2013
  16. Wonderful story Elizabeth……You look and sound great! My husband and I have been doin the Paleo thing and working out and are just so excited ….. getting healthier all the time and feeling great too! Ain’t it cool!

    Donna wrote on March 1st, 2013
  17. Wooowwww!!!!!!! This is my favorite success story !! You look stunning and confident! You deserve an applause.. Success stories are my favorite section of the page but on the other hand they put me to shame and on a guilt trip… How do u all keep up with the strength to have this big change of lifestyle … Everyday I try and every day I fail and it makes me so sad… I have so much information running around in my head and yet I find a little pebble that takes me off road my primal life ..sigh… What is it that keeps you going?? I want to be that hot and strong person… I want you to read my success story… But I am scared …..

    Nereid wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • I feel your pain!!! I do the same thing. Read them and get so inspired, then have such trouble myself that I feel guilty. I LOVE Elizabeth’s story, but it’s not my story. I thank her so much for reminding me of the basics of primal and that I need to lift more and that I too am seriously carb sensitive. But don’t you give up on your story!!! Go back and read Mark’s post on small things and remember if you can change one small thing, you can change another and another until finally you look back and see how far you’ve come!! So let’s keep hanging in there for our own stories, okay? Sending much encouragement and many hugs your way.

      Rhonda the Red wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Rhonda you are just wonderful and right with your words… Thank u … One small thing at a time … Xxxxx

        Nereid wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Hang in there. I will be good for several days and then break down and eat half a box of cookies. I have a huge weakness for sugar. The key is to not punish yourself for it. Just put it behind you and try and get back to primal eating. I found that I had to break a ton of habits and be more proactive with my food choices. I also picked up a sport that was fun and not about losing weight….ice hockey! It’s now one of my passions. I know what I’m writing is just words but saying it is the first step to doing it. Just think about one meal at a time or just one day at a time. It’s much easier that way.

      BV wrote on March 5th, 2013
  18. You look beautiful and your story is inspiring. The interesting point is, you mention you feel you are more carb sensitive. I am of similar latino background, and was involved in a research study testing for a genetic single point mutation and glucose tolerance. I had the mutation, and therefore a suspected predisposition to diabetes and obesity. Primal was the best thing I did. Food for thought, primal matters more for some people?

    Emily wrote on March 1st, 2013
  19. Hi Elizabeth
    One of if perhaps the best success story I have read. What a ride. You look stunning now. Well done!

    Dave Fereday wrote on March 1st, 2013
  20. Wow. Was pretty before; a knockout now!

    Nathan wrote on March 1st, 2013
  21. Great story and great job! Keep it up.

    James wrote on March 1st, 2013
  22. Elizabeth – you look great and I am so glad to hear that you FEEL great! I think the hardest part of going paleo/primal is the paradigm shift – my husband still occasionally will say “What about my heart with all this fat?”
    I truly believe this is the way we are meant to eat – thankfully Mark Sisson and Gary Taubes have done the exhaustive and solid research to help us have confidence to go against conventional wisdom.
    Have you thought about adapting traditional Mexican recipes so that you can still maintain your culinary heritage in a more primal way?

    Kristin Smith wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • I do eat Mexican from time to time,though it might not be what is traditionally thought of as Mexican food. My family is from a sea-side town and so fish is Mexican food to me. I made ceviche topped with salasa and chopped avocado the last week and it was a taste of home. Also made pickled shrimp not to long ago. I eat chorizo for breakfast from time to time too. The traditional tacos and burritos though are a little hard to recreate and in general I stay away from the often complex primal replacement for breads and tortillas. They’re just to much bother and usually make me crave the real thing.

      Elizabeth wrote on March 1st, 2013
  23. Elisabeth congratulations, what a difference in the pics, you shine!

    WildGrok wrote on March 1st, 2013
  24. Thank you for sharing your story, you look amazing! It’s wonderful to see people so full of life in their after/healthy pictures!

    Kathleen wrote on March 1st, 2013
  25. You look amazing! So inspiring!

    Bec wrote on March 1st, 2013
  26. Absolutely wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. You look wonderful but much more important is how you feel. Terrific, and good on you!

    Robert wrote on March 1st, 2013
  27. Congrats to you on your success and for sharing your story with everyone! I love hearing these stories and seeing the transformation you made is inspiring. Keep up the good work :)

    Leslie Thomas wrote on March 1st, 2013
  28. Seriously fantastic results. You look beautiful, happy and strong! Go kick the world’s butt! :)

    sapphiric wrote on March 1st, 2013
  29. Elizabeth!! You are not only incredibly healthy, strong and gorgeous, but my-oh-my, a very talented writer! Congratulations to you on your weight-loss journey success story. You will bless many young women by sharing your story as I felt blessed reading it today. Thanks so much for taking the time to submitting story and photos! It’s the good life!!!

    Discipline is key wrote on March 1st, 2013
  30. Wow ur a hottie 😉

    I’m twenty-one, 5’2, and have a very similar story!! I lost weight (140 – 110) with a CW diet, but maintaining on such a diet WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE EVERRRRRRRRR!!! Now that I eat primal, I can stop worrying about every single calorie! It’s nice to be able to eat reasonable, FILLING portions of SUPER DELISH foods without the stress! and know what? I eat WAY MORE calories on the primal diet (2200 usually vs. 1700 or so) and my weight stays more stable . . . so much for calories in equals calories out! Stay sexy!

    rachel ann wrote on March 1st, 2013
  31. Wonderful Story, It is so nice when young people get this info early. I can’t wait to be a little old lady and seeing what these healthy adults look and feel like after a lifetime of good food. And then the next generation of primal babies who’ve never been subjected to CW. Will we live longer? Will disease reduce? Will the medical profession have to get on board? They won’t have anyone to hand their pills to anymore! I can dream!


    Jane wrote on March 1st, 2013
  32. Bien hecho desde Australia!

    El reto es dejar de comer toda la comida tradicional sin que la familia te vea como una loca!

    Coco wrote on March 1st, 2013
  33. Elizabeth, you look amazing!! Your story was so incredibly moving – infuriating because you went through so much crap solely due to lack of the right information, but inspiring because you so completely turned your life around! I can only imagine how much better you must feel, how much happier you are, and therefore how much more successful you’ll be. Congratulations!!

    Alyssa wrote on March 1st, 2013
  34. Great story! I have an almost identical one, only I’m a decade older and I’ve had 2 kids. I’m 5ft also, and I think that really complicated the carb relationship. My 6ft tall husband can eat potatoes and tortilla without gaining 5lbs. Its also hard for people to see that even 120lbs on my frame is too much- they just hear a low number like that and assume I’m trying to be diabetic!
    Great job- keep it up!

    H wrote on March 1st, 2013
  35. My name is also Elizabeth and I’m 21 as well! I am SO INSPIRED by your story! Thank you very much for sharing it! You are such a beautiful person and I wish you all the best!

    Elizabeth wrote on March 1st, 2013
  36. Wow Elizabeth you look fantastic! Congratulations for finding what works for you – I think that is half the battle!

    WendyS wrote on March 1st, 2013
  37. Stories like these make me so very happy! They are so inspiring to others and they just emphasize how WONDERFUL Primal eating is!

    GiGi wrote on March 1st, 2013
  38. Fantastic. : )

    Madama Butterfry wrote on March 1st, 2013

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!