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

I’m Going Into My 40th Year Feeling Healthier Than Ever!

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!

real life stories stories 1 2“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”

H. G. Wells

Since it was the Friday Success Stories that truly inspired me to go Primal, I thought I’d share my own. My journey to the Primal lifestyle started about a year after I gave birth to triplets (around January of 2012). At that point I had made multiple trips to the doctors with health complaints. I’m guessing my doctor thought I was a hypochondriac, but my body had started falling apart, and it was affecting my ability to care for my trio. I was reminded by my doctor how pregnancy (and breastfeeding) takes a toll on your body, and even more so with triplets. I just wanted to cry at the prospect that this was the new normal. I felt so blessed to have these three healthy babies, but hated feeling like I couldn’t be the mom I had imagined.

Growing up I had periods of sickness; I remember having to repeat 4th grade because I had too many sick days. Even as I child I recognized that certain foods made my stomach hurt. I remember loving the taste of fast food, but hating the way it made me feel afterwards. Around 6th grade I started participating in sports, started feeling a little better, and continued to feel relatively healthy through college. After college, I noticed some of the same feelings of sickness after eating; grumbling stomach and frequent trips to the bathroom. I knew it was probably something in my diet, but wasn’t willing to make the commitment to any type of elimination diet to figure out what was causing the issues. It wasn’t until after giving birth that I felt like I’d hit rock bottom, and wanted to get to the root of the problem.

One of the things I hated most is that people didn’t seem to take me seriously because I didn’t really look sick. On the inside I felt like I was dying. Some of the things I had been experiencing were: night sweats, racing heart, trouble sleeping, anxiety, rashes around my mouth and face, hip and chest pains, tingling feeling in my extremities, recurring symptoms of endometriosis (I had had laparoscopic surgery to remove endo and cysts in 2009), and intestinal issues that seemed to be getting worse. When I told my doctor about my symptoms, he decided to do some blood tests. The results showed that I was severely vitamin D deficient and slightly anemic, but other than that everything seemed “normal”.

I was given high dose vitamin D supplements to take for a month, and told to come back and repeat the blood test. He also did a mammogram and tested for peri menopause, and both were normal. I was told to take NSAIDs for the pain, and that I should cut back on caffeine. I didn’t notice much of a difference with the supplements, but followed the doctor’s advice. I decided to start doing my own research. I noticed some of my symptoms were similar to these with gluten intolerance. I gave my sister Laura a call because I knew she had gone gluten free along with her fiancé who is gluten intolerant. She suggested I try going gluten free (GF) for a few weeks and see if it helped with my symptoms. The idea of giving up bread, pasta, and beer was almost more than I could fathom. Sourdough bread slathered with butter had long been my go-to comfort food, especially when I was sick (which was a lot). Where would I find my comfort now?

I must have had the low carb flu because the first week gluten free was tough (headaches, constant hunger, extreme irritability). Then something amazing happened about a week in, I noticed some of my symptoms clearing up. I started sleeping better at night, and experiencing a little more energy. But it didn’t take long to find gluten-free replacement foods (read: high carb & processed); I was happy to have my bread (GF) and pasta (rice) back again. I found some gluten free websites to get ideas about how to go gluten free. It was great to find a place to commiserate with others who were stuck with GF beer, and finding replacement flours for their favorite cookie recipes. Around this time I noticed I was gaining a little weight (and feeling bloated), and feeling a little depressed at the prospect of never having gluten again (the GF beer *is* lacking in the taste department).

It was right around the time of my 20th high school reunion (June 2012) that I mentioned to my sister Clare that I had gone gluten free. She recommended that I check out Mark’s Daily Apple, and told me specifically about the success stories. What struck me most was how upbeat the success stories were; these people didn’t seem like they were losing out on anything by changing their lifestyles. So many of the GF (and celiac) websites I had visited focused on what you couldn’t have, so this was a breath of fresh air.

My sister loaned me her copy of The Primal Blueprint (I still need to give it back), and I started reading it at the babies’ nap time. I ended up getting the Kindle edition as well, so it traveled easily in my already cramped diaper bag. The principles of PB made a lot of sense to me. I had long been a chronic cardio junkie, but training for marathons usually left me sick and injured. As a Social Science major, the evolutionary viewpoint using the Grok analogy really struck a chord. I had been a victim of the Standard American Diet for a long time, and I think deep down I knew that my diet played a role in my symptoms.

I’m going into my 40th year feeling healthier than ever! I have the energy to keep up with my 2 1/2 year old toddlers. And who knew playing outdoors could be so fun!? I definitely underestimated the power of play. Although I do still run for fun, I don’t push it as hard as I used to; my kids love it when I run “super-fast” (sprint). I don’t have to go far to find heavy things to lift, considering my guys still love to be carried. I’m trying to teach them to live Primal by setting a good example. We’ve started growing some of our own vegetables, and they love to help harvest.

Best of all, ALL of my health issues have improved, and then some. I had been a skeptic that diet changes would cure my deteriorating health. Those rashes around my mouth that were irritating and made me self-conscious have cleared up. No more racing heart, night sweats, or bone pain! I am no longer vitamin D deficient. I am still amazed by how many of my symptoms improved. There were so many “little” health issues that I just attributed to getting older or bad genes that improved as well. I no longer have issues with: sinus headaches, insomnia, teeth grinding, cracking joints (only after a tough workout), dry eyes, balance, mood swings, anxiety, brain fog, bloating, swollen feet, and I no longer have to take any “sick days” during my monthly cycle due to pain and cramping.

And then there’s all the things I gained: energy (oh the energy!!), clearer eyes, muscle definition, healthier hair and nails, softer skin, more vivid dreams, the best sleep I’ve had in years. Most importantly, I’m able to be the kind of mom I’d hoped to be to my energetic trio. My husband recently asked, “but don’t you miss pizza?”; I didn’t respond, instead I showed him the long list of symptoms that had improved since going Primal. I’d much rather have my health than an Ultimate Slice.

I’m definitely a work-in-progress, but it feels great to be going in the right direction. I occasionally eat a little more dark chocolate than I probably should, and I’m still warming up to sweet potatoes in lieu of white potatoes. I also need to work on getting more sleep, but I can say when I sleep now it’s a much sounder sleep than before. I actually even nap from time to time, whereas in the past it was near impossible to ever just relax enough to nap.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who loves the before and after photos. I don’t have any that are too dramatic (I did throw in a “scary” pregnancy photo for fun though), but I used to have a constant bloated look, and never had much muscle definition (skinny fat). I recently took one of my kids into the pediatrician (it had been about 6 months), and he asked how much weight I had lost. I honestly couldn’t tell him because I didn’t keep track, but it has been a nice side effect. The comments have gone from, “you look good for having triplets” to just “you look good!”; both are nice, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I prefer the latter.

I’m so grateful to have found this site and The Primal Blueprint. Thank you, Mark, and to all who have helped me along the way. And to all the naysayers, I dare you to try it for 21 days. What have you got to lose!

Grok on!!

Barbara

Pre-triplet belly icon wink

Pre-primal

Post-primal

Post-primal work-out

Post-primal play

Post-primal happy family icon smile

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. Your kids are beyond adorable! What a lovely family :) I have been on the fence for a long time but all these success stories and yours, because I have some of the same symptoms and thought the same way about them (It’s the age – I am 40) resonated.more. Thanks for sharing! You look great!

    Sugarjar wrote on August 30th, 2013
    • Thank you! It doesn’t feel right to say “I’m glad it resonated with you” because that means you haven’t been feeling well. But I do hope you find your path to health, it really is worth the effort. Now that my tastes have changed, I can’t imagine going back to the SAD. Good luck to you! Hope to read our success story in the future. :)

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  2. Incredible! Really!

    Melissa wrote on August 30th, 2013
    • Thanks Melissa!

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  3. Amazing work and congrats on your lovely family! Can you share a bit about your workouts? Thanks :)

    Heather wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Thank you! I’ve been pretty varied in my workouts, but some of my favorites are: yoga that is usually in the form of DVDs at nap time (Rodney Yi and Bryan Kest are my favorites); running a few miles a couple times a week; walking and hiking; MDA WOW (found on this site) or other WODs; and sets of planks, lunges, sit-ups, and push-ups before bedtime.

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  4. Thanks for sharing this. I love the pictures of you and the triplets so much! Our stories have a lot in common. I had health and digestive issues since childhood, but having babies really kicked them up a notch each time (I have three, but did it one at a time). I remember being so stubborn about not wanting to give up gluten. And then eating soooooo much sugar (in the form of gf foods) when I first went gf. It was not until going primal that my hormones, sleep, vitamin levels, weight, mood—nearly everything improved like magic! I had been anemic and vitamin D deficient for so many years that it never occurred to me this could be reversed so quickly, so I continued my vitamin D supplements after going primal and by the time I had blood work done, my levels were triple the normal range! I am still amazed by this because no amount of supplementation was ever able toget my levels up. Now to Google “paleo pizza.” I am so intrigued. . .

    Deana wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Thanks Deana! So glad to hear your health has improved since going primal. That is amazing how your levels improved so drastically! Congratulations! Grok on!

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  5. Great story! thanks for sharing.

    Clint Bauer wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Thanks Clint!

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  6. Thanks to Barb, Nocona, Cindy, Bayrider, and 2Rae for your suggestions for Sweet Potatoes!!! I will give them a try.
    I have a similar grill pan for grillin’ them – Thanks Bayrider!!
    2Rae – I love Spaghetti squash!! NO more pasta for me!! I also eat Zucchini and Summer squash, so all is not lost… Try Spaghetti squash with some Tomato Sauce and primal meatballs. Or toss it with butter, garlic, basil, oregano, and parsley.
    Dang, I just ate breakfast and I want some ^^^^!! ;-)

    Oh yeah, Barb – My wife is a painter and has painted several of her friends tummies when they were pregnant. In 2 of 3 cases, the baby was born the next day.

    Bob wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Yes! So many great recipes and ideas – thank you! I recently got one of those spiral slicers, and have been having fun making squashes into pasta (or fausta).
      How cool that your wife has used her skills in belly painting! Sounds like she’s the person to go to when ready to induce! ;)

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  7. Your toned flat beach stomach after having given birth to triplets is JUST AMAZING!!! You look fabulous and healthy. Inspiring to Moms that give birth to single children and have every excuse not to get back into shape.

    DEBRAKADABRA wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Aww, thank you! I hope others can find something useful in my story!

      Barb wrote on August 31st, 2013
  8. Wow, incredible and inspiring! ! My one toddler keeps me busy! You’re amazing!!
    I wanted to ask: I read Wheat Belly in February and decided to go grain free at that time. Then I read Primal Blueprint and I’ve tried so hard to be strict. I have some good days and then I find myself indulging in corn chips or a little too much dark chocolate and dairy (cheese). What helped you stay on track?! Did you or do you eat dairy? My daughter is 21 months and my tummy looks nothing like yours! I still suffer from the bloating, endometriosis and joint pain. I’m young and i cant believe how old i feel sometimes!! I appreciate any and all feedback!
    Thank you!

    Heather wrote on August 31st, 2013
    • Thanks Heather! You’re indulgences sound very similar to mine! I do very little dairy, and when I do I notice it upsets my stomach. I would suggest trying a Whole30 or another trial elimination to find out what foods are causing your issues. It was the Whole30 that made me realize I do better without dairy. A lot of endometriosis diets also suggest eliminating dairy, so you may want to try it and see how you feel.
      For Dark Chocolate I find the darker it is, the less I need to satisfy my craving (if that makes sense). I do overindulge from time to time, but it’s less when it’s with 75+ cocao.
      I’m still on the mission to find a food that goes better with guacamole than tortilla chips. I try not to even purchase chips anymore because if they’re around I’ll eat them. Recently I’ve found a few other foods that satisfy my need for crunch ( but don’t nesseccarily go with guacamole): jicama, sea tangles with almonds, and some chunchy veggies.
      Good for you that you’re trying to figure these things out while you’re young! It’s truly worth it!

      Barb wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  9. Amazing! But not a surprise :-) What a beautiful story :-) And a Beautiful Mama and family :-)

    Alexandra wrote on September 2nd, 2013
    • Thank you Alexandra!

      Barb wrote on September 2nd, 2013
  10. I love fridays!!!!
    I missed what sparked all the sweet potato discussion (I love the stew thickener idea!), but here’s my variation:
    I use the white “Jersey” sweet potatoes. I peel & boil or roast them with turnips & sometimes parnips also, maybe even some cauliflower?. Mash with gobs o’ butter. Makes a nice mashed potato substitute for a side dish or as a casserole topping (cottage or shepherd’s pie)
    Go Barb! you’re awesome!

    Peggy wrote on September 2nd, 2013
    • Those sound great! Thanks Peggy!!

      Barb wrote on September 3rd, 2013
      • I’ll add my voice to the chorus of those exclaiming over how great you look! I had two kids two years apart, and 6 years after the second one, my belly is nowhere near as flat as yours is. :) Well done!

        For snack foods that go with guacamole: Pork rinds have a good crunch to them. And CostCo has some “Artisan Rice Crackers” that are GF, although they are (obviously) made of rice; they’re crunchy and delicious — too delicious! Curse you, Artisan Rice Crackers!

        For pizza crust: The new “Primal Cravings” book has a great recipe for paleo pizza crust that never would have occurred to me while experimenting in the kitchen on my own. It holds together really well — so well I can pick up a slice and eat it by hand, unlike other paleo pizza crusts that are so crumbly they have to be eaten with a knife and fork. And it’s not a yeast crust, so it doesn’t require rising time, although it does need to be pre-baked.

        What does a typical day’s food intake look like for you? Do you eat breakfast every day?

        Catherine W wrote on September 3rd, 2013
        • Thanks Catherine! I’ve tried those crackers from Costco; they are really good! The Primal Cravings is on my “to buy” list. Can’t wait to try some of the recipes, including that pizza.
          Today’s menu was: Breafast was 2 eggs, 3 slices of bacon and some berries. Lunch was half an avocado, and a smoothie (kale, figs, frozen dragon fruit, some frozen berries, coconut milk, and some chia seeds. Dinner’s going to be pork chops, and some grilled summer squash, and a salad.
          I usually eat breakfast every morning. Most days it’s eggs with bacon or sausage, and avocados or berries. Other things I’ll eat in the morning: smoothies, hard boiled eggs, and sometimes I’ll just eat leftovers from dinner. Occasionally I’ll do intermittent fasting, but not nesseccarily on purpose (just not hungry). ;)

          Barb wrote on September 4th, 2013
  11. You look amazing, I love your pumpkin belly lol
    Congrats and well done

    Edel wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Edel!

      Barb wrote on September 4th, 2013
  12. Barb –

    My wife is expecting #2. Great, inspiring after-pics: what was the exercise you did, you mentioned sprinting, was that running with the kids or a separate routine?

    The challenge we have had (I have been on paleo/primal longer than my wife) is something we can eat easily given the lack of time and that the baby can eat now that she eats solids. We ended up adding her food to rice to make it more palatable, which means we eat it with her.

    What’s your go-to Primal meal that’s easy and fast and appetizing for the babies?

    Tim wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Thank Tim! Congratulations on #2!!
      For exercise it varies, but some favorietes are: run, do yoga, some weights, walk with the kids, and find WOD (on this site or others to do a few times a week). I was meeting my husband after work, and I’d run or sprint while he walked with the kids in the stroller. These days I’ll take the kids to the park and I’ll do some short burst sprints chasing the ball, and kicking it around with them.
      My kids current favorite foods include: avocado, grilled or baked zucchini (or other squash), sausage (lately I’ve been getting the Mulay’s brand), sweet potatoes, berries, and grilled or baked salmon (they love salmon!). I try to do something I know they’ll eat, but also introduce some new foods… but toddlers (and babies) can be picky. :) They’ve started eating some nuts (and nut butters) and bacon, but I’m guessing your little one isn’t quite ready for that.

      Barb wrote on September 5th, 2013
  13. Hi

    Quite amazed by how similar my symptoms and blood results are to yours I can add restless leg syndrome to the list which used to drive me mad but I rarely suffer from now Im Paleo. Ive resently found Im sulphite intollerant too which if I eat I get ashma type symptoms and throat gets very sore and swollen. Its nice to know Im not alone with this I have felt very isolated at times. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Mandy McShera wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • So glad your health has improved from going Primal! You’re definitely not alone here :)

      Barb wrote on September 5th, 2013
  14. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Stephanie Paris wrote on October 6th, 2013
  15. Thanks for sharing your amazing story with us Barb. Your pictures are truly inspiring. I especially got a kick out of the feeding 3-at-one-time shot. I’ve heard that “necessity is the mother of invention” and you prove it! Good job.

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 12th, 2013
    • Thank you Darlene! It was a beautiful day when I figured out how to feed them all at once! 😀

      Barb wrote on November 22nd, 2013

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