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Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Aug

I Started to Take Measures Into My Own Hands

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!

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My story starts long before I had kids, even before I got married. I struggled with my weight as soon as I started college. It was always a game of gaining weight all school year and then losing some of it during the summer. On and on that cycle went.

I met my wonderful husband, Mike, after I finished college and came to find out that he too had been struggling with his weight for a long time. He even joined Weight Watchers when he was 19.

During our relationship, I had gotten myself down to about 145 (on my 5’1” frame). Not good, but better than the 190 I had reached when I was in college! Mike had continually talked to me about joining Weight Watchers too, and I was always reluctant to do so. I really hated the idea of counting calories. I still hadn’t joined him there when we got married in 2006. It was a beautiful wedding, but I still look back on the pictures and wished I had been in better shape!

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Not too long after we got married we decided that we wanted to have kids. We knew that kids were going to be a big part of our lives and wanted to get that part started quickly. Eight months after our wedding we found out we were pregnant with our first baby! It took us four months to get pregnant, and I didn’t think too much about it.

It was a pretty uneventful pregnancy. In the last two weeks I struggled with severe edema and high blood pressure. They began to worry about preeclampsia and I was monitored every other day until I went into labor…26 hours of labor to be exact! After all the hard work we had a brand new baby boy! I was thrilled to start this part of my life.

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It was about two months later when I realized that the large amount of pregnancy weight I had put on (on top of being overweight to start) had landed me back around 165 and I was standing for one of my best friends in her wedding! I bought the dress when I was about five months pregnant thinking that would help me fit into it when I was two months post delivery. LOL. Not the case. It took two people, a lot of holding my breath and praying – lots of praying – to squeeze into that dress! I did, but in my head I looked like a pig in a blanket. A fancy black bridesmaid blanket! Nonetheless, it was my first experience of feeling really bad about the effects of pregnancy weight gain.

It was about four months later that I finally gave in and joined Weight Watchers. I started that journey at 162 pounds.

I did have weight loss success with this process, but not the kind I like. Although the weight came off, it was a long hard journey and I hated counting “points”.

Even though I eventually got down to 123, if I even thought of eating “normal” or not counting my points I would easily and quickly  put the weight back on.

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That is were I was come the late Fall of 2008. We had moved to Minnesota from Michigan the summer before and had really been wanted to start trying for another baby. So in November of 2008 after we had finally sold our house in Michigan, we started trying. I had no idea at the time what was in store for me, or the emotions we would have to go through to have our second kid.

I did get pregnant the first try, but ended up losing that pregnancy at 6 weeks. We were very sad, but thought that it was normal. We always heard that miscarriages are very common. So we decided to chug on! By this point I had already gained 10 lbs back of the weight I had lost (not “counting points” and being sad about the pregnancy loss didn’t help).

We again got pregnant in December of 2008! We were thrilled. Yet something seem very off to me. I didn’t feel pregnant. There was no nausea, no tiredness, no moodiness. Then at the end of January 2009 I started to spot and went in for an ultrasound where they told Mike and I that there was no baby and I was going to miscarry at 10 weeks along. We were devastated. We were just getting ready to start sharing the happy news and our hopes were dashed.

Again, I put on more weight, and we waited a month before we started trying again. Finally in May of 2009 we did get pregnant. This time it stuck! But I was weighed down constantly with worry about losing the baby for the first 16 weeks.

Just when we thought we were out of the woods and the pregnancy was going well, I had to take my usual Gestational Diabetes test at 28 weeks. I didn’t have gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem this time. Boy was I wrong. I failed my 1 hour glucose test, and then really, really failed my 3 hour test. My 2 hour number was way over 200!

So for the rest of that pregnancy I stuck my finger four times a day to check my blood sugar levels. At first my “dietitian” made sure to tell me to eat according to the food pyramid, making sure to get 2-3 “carb counts” (a carb count = 15 grams of carbs) with each meal and 2 carb counts with each snack! So I was taking in upwards of 195 g of carbs everyday. And I was diabetic! This was not working. Even though she told me that carbs will raise my blood sugar here I was being told to eat a ton of them!

I realized this and as my numbers climbed on my daily checks I started to fear them putting me on insulin. This was the last thing I wanted. If that happened I would have to stick myself with a needle each day and I would have to leave my midwife care for that of a doctor. So I started to take measures into my own hands.

Turns out that decision would change mine and my family’s life forever!

We didn’t know that I had started to eat Primal, but that is what I had to do to keep my blood sugar low and even. High fat, high protein and low carb! It worked. My blood sugar levels evened out and stayed low (I even lost 6 lbs the first week, my midwife was not happy, but it must have been excess weight my body didn’t need) and I kept the dietitian and midwife happy. I never told them what I was eating. They even had me taking ketosis pee tests every other day, and I always told them they were normal, even though I was in ketosis half the time.

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I felt great! Even though I had to stick my finger all the time, everything seem to be normal when I ate that way and I felt energetic and happy. Around this time my husband had started doing P90X (which was brutal and he hasn’t done it since). In watching those DVDs he was introduced to someone by the name of Mark Sisson. And that started it all…Mike ended up buying the Primal Blueprint and it has helped us change our lives for the better. We realized that the way I was eating was Primal indeed.

After the induced labor (they wouldn’t let me go past my due date with the gestational diabetes) and delivery of my second son I did have some more weight to lose. For some odd reason I went back to Weight Watchers. Conventional wisdom is hard to break down. After a few months of that and not losing much weight, my darling husband finally convinced me that we needed to go back to how we had been eating.

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By the Fall of 2010, we had started to make Primal changes in our life. We had always wanted to eat a clean whole foods diet and we were making that change. It was slow at first but we were making good changes and losing weight more effortlessly than ever before.

After doing a Primal 30-day challenge for ourselves in January 2011 we really started to take control over what we were eating and how we were living our lives.

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In March of 2011 we decided we must be crazy…so why not try of a third kid! As I thought about what that meant I began to fear the loss possibilities and all the problems we went through with the second pregnancy. So we decided to start trying a little “earlier” thinking that it might take a while like the last time.

Boy were we wrong! Little did we know that the positive changes we had made in our lives would affect our fertility so very much. We got pregnant the very first try! And it stuck, much to our happy surprise.

I am now 21 weeks pregnant with my third baby! Easy easy! I was tested last week for gestational diabetes since my likelihood of getting it again after having it once was very high. Well my midwife called me yesterday with the news. Not only had I passed the 2 hour glucose test…I CRUSHED IT!!!

Here are my numbers:
Fasting: 87 (needs to be under 100)
1 Hour: 137 (needs to be under 180)
2 hour: 88 (needs to be under 145)

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Insert happy dance here! I will take the glucose test again at 28 weeks to make sure it doesn’t onset later, but I have high hopes now. The changes we have made by eating Primal have had so many great benefits, from weight loss, to energy, happiness and of course the ease of getting pregnant and the healthy pregnancy I am enjoying!

My story doesn’t end here. Baby #3 is due December 13, 2011. I will have some weight to lose, but this time around I am not worried about it. I know that through my eating and way of life now the weight will come off easily.

Primal has changed the way I look at my life, from normal everyday to the joys of having kids. It really has made things easier. We are all happier, my husband has lost weight and feels great, and my little Primal boys love their eggs!

~ Joanne

UPDATE: 09/27/11

Hi Mark

I am so excited to share this update. I am 29 weeks pregnant today and as I told your readers in my success story, I had passed my 20 week gestational diabetes test with flying colors. Well, I had to take the 2 hour blood glucose test again at 28 weeks (last week) to make sure that the diabetes did not onset later, like it does with other GD pregnancies.

I am happy happy happy to report that I passed yet again with flying colors!!

Here were my numbers:

Fasting = 87 (needed to be under 99)
1 hour = 147 (needed to be under 179)
2 hour = 115 (needed to be under 140)

I am so excited!! I have gotten a lot of comments on twitter and facebook from other women, saying they were inspired by my results and fulling intend on going or staying Primal to help with their fertility issues, and with hopes to prevent gestational diabetes themselves!!

Cant’ wait to share more good news in about 11 weeks!!! Will it be a Baby Grok or Grokette??

Here is me today – 29 Weeks:

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UPDATE: 04/01/12

I am thrilled to up date my Success story here on MDA!! This past December Mike and I welcomed our first baby girl into our Primal Family!!! After two little boys we just couldn’t believe that we were now the parents to a girl!!

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She is now almost 4 months old we are all doing so wonderfully! Mike and I have been working very hard for the past two months getting us back into living a vibrant Primal life!! Pregnancy gets us almost every time with unneeded weight gain, but as I have said before I don’t worry about it, because we know how to reset and get back on track.

My last weigh in before I had our baby girl I was 183!! Yikes!

At the start of the New Year we hopped on the scale and took our measurements….I was down to 160.2! I took a pic of that, just to have another “BEFORE” pic to keep me motivated!! Notice the sarcastic thumbs up!

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Well today (4/1/12) I weighed myself and I am down to 151.2 lbs!! That’s a 31.8 lbs loss since the middle of December! I am always amazed at how easily and quickly the unnecessary weight just falls off while eating Primal and how awesome I feel while doing it. I hope to be back into my fun summer clothes very soon! I will get you all an update and BETTER picture when I get there!! I guess you could say I am still a Primal Success Story in the Making!! icon smile

Grok On Kids!!! Grok On!! We are blessed to be a part of the Primal Blueprint Family!

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. Joanne – Obviously listening to yourself and what your body was telling you in spite of all the pressure to give in to CW has paid off. You are definitely now enjoying the fruits of your labor (Pun intended!!) Kidding aside, you’re to be congratulated for not giving in to CW, dietitians and a lot of other misguided folks and just doing what you thought was right for you.

    My daughter went with a midwife for her first baby at age 40! Couldn’t have been a better, smoother delivery for all concerned.

    I only wish I had known all this 40-50 years ago when I was experiencing the periods from hell. A little late for me now as I’ll be 67 in a few days, but I do tell any of the young gals in our family about Primal eating and to check out MDA and all the related sites. Your story and the other comments here give credence to the whole Primal thing for us gals and people are more likely to believe a whole slew of postings/testimonials than what they to perceive to be one silly old lady.

    All the best to your family and your new addition and thank for for your blog as well!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on August 5th, 2011
  2. Mark, thank you for including another success story from a female, a mom and a mom to be — all rolled up in one!

    It’s obvious that stories about Primal women are popular here on MDA and they certainly help a very large portion of our population that normally gets overlooked or stuck in CW or – worse yet – gets told that it’s “all in our heads” or it’s caused by “nerves.” Been there, done that way too many times not only as a young mom but even now at almost 67 years old. Guess what – I think I’m the one with the last laugh now! Rock on, Grokettes!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on August 5th, 2011
  3. You are such a cute little pregnant lady! I love it!

    Sanctus Real wrote on August 5th, 2011
  4. The timing for the article is perfect for me! I’m five weeks pregnant with my third child and have been primal for about two months. Unfortunately, I had just come out of carb flu when I became pregnant so I had about a week and a half of good energy levels, but now I’m back to daily afternoon naps. :) I’m looking forward to seeing how this pregnancy compares to my previous two.

    Kim wrote on August 5th, 2011
  5. I love how you lied to the doctor/midwife. My six-month-old’s pediatrician told me to start feeding him rice cereal, and I just said “Oh okay” all the time thinking “yeah right”. I am moving into being primal, and I can’t believe how much easier losing baby weight is this time around. Thanks for sharing :)

    Sarah wrote on August 6th, 2011
    • Sometimes its not worth the debate with health care providers!! As long as all your numbers look good they leave ya along!! :)

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 6th, 2011
  6. yay primal generation :’)

    Steffo wrote on August 6th, 2011
  7. Great story, Joanne! I never get tired of hearing stories of success like this. Particuarly for women and moms who are claiming their bodies during and post-pregnancy. Best of luck with this pregnancy and the journey beyond. Will keep my eye on your blog!!

    Susan wrote on August 6th, 2011
  8. You look fantastic and your children are so fortunate to be starting out their long lives on a primal path. Good on you!

    Melissa wrote on August 6th, 2011
  9. It’s so great to see how Primal has helped so many people in so many different ways. Grok on and have fun with those super cute (and healthy!) kids. (No doubt #3 will be just as darling.)

    DThalman wrote on August 6th, 2011
  10. Love hearing your story!!! I went Paleo/Primal before my pregnancy and once I was pregnant, probably stuck to it 80-90% throughout. I gained only what I needed, my baby grew fine. The doctor kept commenting on how I was his “model pregnancy patient” meaning, I was very very healthy, all my tests came back with nothing but great results! He said keep doing whatever you are doing. I now have a healthy, happy 10 month old baby girl. I breastfed, staying Primal and she has not been sick once. I lost the weight after pretty quick. And I intend to raise her primarily Paleo/Primal……So to all you ladies out there, you can still be primal and pregnant :-)

    Heather wrote on August 6th, 2011
    • I want to add that I am also 43 years old, no fertility treatments either…!

      Heather wrote on August 6th, 2011
  11. I’m so happy for you and your family, Joanne! What a great story. I have three children and if only I had known about Primal earlier! While it’s never too late to begin, your third baby will have amazing health benefits from being Primal since birth. Good luck with your pregnancy.

    Sabrina wrote on August 6th, 2011
  12. Joanne, you look absolutely beautiful in your pregnancy pic! I have no doubt that your primal family will continue to thrive.

    I must congratulate you on your ability to ignore CW during your pregnancy. I had to smile when you said you lied to your dietician and your midwife about your diet. I lie to my conventional doctor all the time. It is a sorry state that we have come to today, when the CW is so obviously hurting not only our health, but the health of our children, even in utero.

    Thanks for the inspiring story.

    Diane wrote on August 6th, 2011
    • Thanks!! It was just easier to listen to my body and not have to try to explain myself!! But my midwife is now seeing the results of all my hard work and health changes, maybe I will make her see the light!!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 6th, 2011
  13. I enjoyed your story…..thanks for sharing. I had a midwife for both my babies. From a fellow Minnesotan.

    Vanessa wrote on August 6th, 2011
  14. You are an inspiration…your family radiates health and joy …and I love how Paleo has made you glow with positivity…You so correctly “relativized”weight gain with pregnanca

    Donna wrote on August 7th, 2011
  15. (continued!)..and that you’re “not worried about it” falling off again demonstrates that following a Primal lifestyle also gets our head in the right place..You go girl!!!

    Donna wrote on August 7th, 2011
  16. Thanks for the insight you guys! Yes my periods have been exactly every 32 days on the nose. Very light, but regular! I’m gonna look forward to a positive pregnancy test, hopefully soon!
    Great info.:)

    Ashley North wrote on August 7th, 2011
  17. Thank you for sharing this! My husband and I haven’t tried starting a family yet, but we started living/eating primal about two months ago. Well, he started 3 months ago, and once I saw how wonderful it was, I joined in! I’ve been on WW off on for the past 7 years and always had SUCH a hard time losing even a small amount of weight. I did WW again this spring and lost 2 lb. in 3 months- since our switch to this lifestyle, I’ve lost 16 and my husband’s lost over 25! I can’t believe what a difference this has made in our lives – I only wish we found it sooner!

    Laura wrote on August 8th, 2011
  18. Im so happy everything came together for you and your family in the end! Congrats! you look wonderful! :)

    PandaGlam wrote on August 8th, 2011
  19. Joanne, thank you so much for sharing your story. I couldn’t help but well up with tears while reading it, as my hubby & me have been struggling with infertility for 7 years. We have also been fighting to lose weight, & even though we’ve tried to go Primal, it seems like we resort to Weight Watchers, with no success. Your story inspires me to make that switch to a Primal lifestyle!

    Kathy wrote on August 11th, 2011
  20. You look great! My wife is 38 weeks pregnant and following primal about 80% of the time. I don’t remember her blood glucose numbers exactly but I remember the doctors being amazed that her 2 hour number was in the 90s. Her 30 day challenge will start a couple weeks after the little one gets here and I’ll be gladly joining her. Best of luck with your pregnancy!

    Dave wrote on October 16th, 2011
    • Thanks so much!! This has been a great pregnancy!! I can’t wait to see our new little one!

      Good luck on your new addition too!!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on October 16th, 2011
  21. Best wishes, Joanne. God bless.

    Michael Maier wrote on October 16th, 2011
  22. Congratulations! I’m also pregnant (37+ weeks), and have been “primal” for the last 2 months or so, and gluten free for the entire pregnancy. I lost a couple pounds when I first cut the other grains, but my awesome midwife team wasn’t concerned (even though they are both vegetarian). Since then my weight has been increasing very slowly, but my belly keeps growing right on schedule. Compared with my last (no holds barred) pregnancy I have gained half as much weight. I also have virtually no swelling, and my BP is about 20 points lower on systolic and diastolic. Both of the last 2 issues were concerns with my previous pregnancy, especially since I was planning a homebirth (successful!). I haven’t had any protein in my urine (I still eat fruit and root veggies). Ironically all of this diet modification started with allergies that didn’t manifest until breast feeding my first child. Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and birth.

    Kathy wrote on October 16th, 2011
    • That’s awesome!! So glad you are having such a wonderful pregnancy!!! Good luck with your last few weeks!! I am 32 weeks tomorrow!! Getting close and feeling great!!

      :)

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on October 17th, 2011
  23. Congratulations, Joanne! Primal pregnancy is the way to go and I’m so glad it’s going well for you. Here’s to an easy delivery and a super healthy baby. Nothing is more primal than that.

    My wife is due in January. It’s our second, but our first primal pregnancy. She too is doing amazing compared to the first time around without a single hitch. My only “regret” is that she conceived on the first try instead of having to practice a bit first :)

    Hooray for the next generation and the greatest gift we can give them: a primal upbringing!

    Timothy wrote on October 17th, 2011
    • Same over here. My wife and I started going primal after the first one was born. One year later and she’s five months pregnant! Since she’s breast feeding she never even had a period for us to start worrying about “trying” or getting on birth control! Apparently people eating primaly need to be made aware of this increased fertility! She continued losing weight until a month ago, and now she still looks great, with just a pregnant belly. Skinnier, more energy, and happier…same as before she was pregnant!

      Gino wrote on October 20th, 2011
  24. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Your due date is coming up fast!

    I am also pregnant and due at the end of January. I have been eating ~80% primal for over 2 years now.
    Surprisingly I actually failed the 3 hour glucose test and now have been diagnosed with GD. I’m still in shock and don’t quite believe it yet. Here are my numbers:

    Fast 72 (should b 65-94)
    1 hour 185 (should be < 180)
    2 hour 155 (should be < 155)
    3 hour 85 (should be < 140)

    They told me I barely failed…I just don't think someone's who's unused to sugar can be expected to ingest 100g of pure sugar in 5 minutes without needing a little bit more time. Especially since after the 3 hour mark, I was well below the cutoff. Makes me wonder if these tests are really accurate.

    I guess it's possible I have GD but I won't be convinced until I see my numbers after eating my regular meals, which certainly will never include 100g of sugar in one shot.

    I wonder if Mark has any input into the validity of these tests?

    Anyhow, sorry for the long comment. I guess this has me more upset than I thought.

    Congrats again on your pregnancy!!

    Julie wrote on November 9th, 2011
    • That really does not look like a fail to me. Really!! Typically with the 3 hour test you have to fail two of the readings. One bad reading and the others fine would equal a passing on the test.

      You are right that being Primal and not eating sugar could effect your scores too. I would have a larger conversation with your Dr or Midwife.

      Also check out Robb Wolf’s website and search for gestational diabetes on his site, he has some great articles as well about this.

      Good Luck!

      ps….had our baby girl on Dec 14th!!! :)

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on December 23rd, 2011
  25. WOW…what a great great story!!

    Ashlea wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  26. I’ve been eating primal since being diagnosed with GD. I know it’s the only thing that has kept my numbers down. The recommended GD is ridiculously high in carbs. Luckily, I didn’t start having ketones show up until last week (week 38), so I think it won’t be an issue for me. I’m glad I read your story. It helps me know that what I’m doing is the right thing. I plan to keep going after the baby. Congratulations on your baby!!

    Denise wrote on March 27th, 2012
  27. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with my 4th pregnancy and have been dabbling with primal on and off for about a year and half, more off than on, unfortunately. I am prepared to go full hog now though after reading so many good things about primal/paleo pregnancies and reading about the weston a. price diet. I have gained nearly 30lbs. already!!!!! and this has mostly been the motivation for my decision as I have gained 40lbs+ with each of my other pregnancies. I think I’m really needing encouragement/support for this cause my partner is much absorbed into the SAD, this hasn’t been my diet though thus far. I feel mostly like I eat a healthy diet but could use more fat (ahhhhhh so scared) and to completely cut out grains (not so scary) but hard with kidlets. Wish me luck!

    jamie wrote on July 13th, 2012
  28. Thank you for sharing your story, it made me tear up because I have Poly Cystic Ovaries and we lost our first pregnancy at 5 weeks. That was only 2 months ago and I have always had to eat low carb. But since being on Primal about a month and a half, my cycles have evened out better than my metformin ever did to them. I had alot of hope for primal imporving my fertility when my cycles smoothed out, but this helped me even more. I have been so worried that if I get pregnant again I’ll have another miscarriage.

    Karly Warsing wrote on October 19th, 2012

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