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

Lisa in “Onederland”

real life stories stories 1 2This story comes from reader Lisa. Her personal tale of going Primal was sent in during this season’s Primal Blueprint Health Challenge. She is the second of four entrants that will be part of the first round of drawings for the ongoing Primal Blueprint Real Life Stories contest. If you have a Primal story that you would like to share visit this page for all the details!

I’m submitting my story “just in time” for the deadline, which is the perfect illustration of how my life has been the last two years. I feel like I can hardly keep up and am just barely getting by. As a matter of fact, aside from the fact that I could hardly find a moment to write this (I’m using a laptop and Thomas the Tank Engine to make this possible) I was also hesitant to provide what I perceived as a “success” story because my struggle is colored by so many facets of life I can’t control and so many ways I just can’t be primal. But then I remember that success isn’t measured in any particular timeframe or by pounds lost or by perfection. Success is in living well, making changes in yourself, believing in yourself, and persevering where you thought you couldn’t. And honestly, that has absolutely happened since finding your Mark’s Daily Apple site.

My one concern about sharing my story is that there are days I hardly feel like I’m living “primal” in the sense so many readers are. But I think I represent an important contingent of people who might be limited by circumstances beyond their control. And I hope my story is a good reminder that you don’t have to do this all the way to reap AMAZING benefits. It’s about living in the “spirit” of being primal, even if life is such that you can’t be as true to it as you want to be.

That being said, now I’ll share my health and weight loss journey with you.

Lisa May2004 2005 1

May 2004 and May 2005

You see, I’ve actually been privy to the benefits of low carb eating for years now. The first time was around 2000 when I weighed in around 226 pounds and realized that things in my life had to change. I’d been eating my way through an unhappy marriage and after dabbling with a variety of eating plans (from food combining to eating based on my blood type — what was I thinking???). Thankfully I stumbled across the Atkins diet. I don’t recall how long I continued with it, as I think I might’ve moved on to the more complicated Zone diet not long after. But what I did do right was reduce processed foods and move more (in a very careful way as to not injure my overly large body) by walking, doing “walk aerobics” and by attending water aerobics classes. Slowly I brought my weight down below the 200s and enjoyed life in a size 14. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I took a stand for myself and divorced, which was the hardest – and most rewarding – thing I’ve ever done up to that point. In doing so, I found my soul mate and had the chance to truly “start over”.

Lisa August2006 1

August 2006

But with all that wonderful “starting over” came the ironic, yet all-too-common revisiting of old habits (you know they die hard) and the feeling that I was “free” to do “what I wanted” again. By the time I married my true love in August 2005 I was up above 200 again (around 210) and days after the wedding, I was ready to make changes…again! I made some good changes with diet and exercise and in a year looked and felt *much* better. But I knew something really had to change with my food and I re-embraced a low carb lifestyle. I joined a wonderful forum and read Protein Power and within 6 months my focus on sufficient protein and more effective exercise (including strength training) I was in the best shape of my life. I blew past 180 (in the downward direction) and enjoyed size 12 jeans and strength and energy like I hadn’t since college days!

But something derailed me again…this time something I’ll never regret as today he is a healthy, happy 20-month-old! I credit my health at the time for conceiving so quickly and having the best pregnancy possible. I was able to continue working (i.e., running our business and shooting weddings — my husband and I are wedding photographers, which is a highly demanding and stressful line of work) and caring for our home as well as my Mom, whom we’d moved in with us. We welcomed our son in early January 2008 and a couple months post-partum I was back nearly where I began at 205. Only now I was utterly exhausted as I tried to care for a newborn and my Mom and somehow get my life back.

Over a year went by with me struggling with life (an understatement of the heartache, fatigue, guilt and stress I went through). Here I am a business owner, mother, wife and caregiver to my mother (who is 82, with progressive dementia). And I can’t change any of that. And it takes every bit of energy I have to keep up with the life I lead and ensure that *I* am taken care of as well. After all, if I break down, then everyone suffers. Since my son was born, I’ve attempted to “go back” to my original low carb way of eating and have incorporated any kind of exercise that I could manage. It seemed at times something was working just a little, but then it would stop…or I would stop…and I’d be right back where I started. Stress and life demands always seemed to get the best of me. At one point I headed back up to 212 and was miserable, not only by the number of the scale, but by the way my body felt at this weight. I didn’t want the fact that I was a “new mom” to be an excuse, but I was struggling so because the “conventional” way to lose…even with low carb…was so difficult to incorporate into my life.

I felt so frustrated I began reviewing different diets again, thinking…hoping…praying…there might be something else out there that would work better for me. Could I find something that would align more with what my family and I would eat, since I’m the primary cook? Do I have intolerances? Should I go super high fat again? Should I be incorporating whole grains again? Is it really just about calories in/calories out? Ugh! It got to the point where I couldn’t even process the concepts any more! I was questioning everything I’d believed in, probably as a result of feeling that the very low carb plans I’d done before were just no longer right for me. The problem was, I obviously didn’t believe in high carb. So what did I believe in?

I was searching for that. And in the interest of arguing the point that I shouldn’t have to live my life with just 20 carbohydrate grams a day OR go low fat, I searched online for optimum carb ranges for weight loss and I found you, Mark, and your awesome post on the carbohydrate curve. It made so much sense to me, it was like a light bulb went off! And I thought yes, I can do that!

And the rest, as they say, is history. I was so taken with marksdailyapple.com that I signed up for notifications (which I normally don’t do because my Inbox is full enough) and began reading like crazy. I was so impressed with all the free information provided, that I bought The Primal Blueprint (PB) and poured through it the minute it arrived…though I’d begun to change my approach and perspective before then (thanks to your site).

Toward the end of July 2009 I was still holding around 205 pounds, not having seen below 200 in 2 years. And I’d been gaining and losing the same damn 5 pounds for what seemed like forever. And to be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope that anything would make the scale budge, but what did I have to lose besides the weight and frustration?

Fed up with worrying about the scale, I just started focusing on the quality of life and food that the PB prescribes and hoped it would all fall into place…and it did! Despite the fact that I am still balancing so many roles…and feeling the extraordinary stress that comes with this combination…I am seeing a huge difference in my body and outlook.

Starting July 21st I was at 205.4. When the challenge began on 8/1 I was at 201.4 and as of today (08/28/09) the scale reads 196.6. That’s nearly 10 pounds, but more importantly, and I’m under – WELL under – the 200 pound mark! I’m well into “onederland” as many call it and to me that’s just incredible. And it’s not just weight. I’ve lost 2 inches off my waist and 1 inch off my hips. I’ve gone down a clothing size. My hourglass figure is on its way back and I feel good. I’m far more well-rested. My wrists don’t ache like they did before. And finally…FINALLY…things are moving in the right direction.

Lisa August2009 1

August 2009

The most amazing part of this is that I’ve done this while life has beaten me down in ways that would normally make me gain weight right back again. The PB rules have taught me what is really important for my health and sanity. I sleep as much as I’m able now instead of worrying about exercising. I’ve learned how to be much more forgiving of myself (80/20 is essential for someone like me who loves dairy and has such a chaotic life). I feel utterly justified when my husband and I break out Rock Band for Wii instead of working one night. (I rock the house with 100% on vocals for Livin on a Prayer, how apropos!). I am now embracing walks with my son and am not in so much of a rush to get back. The extra gardening I’m forced to do because my Mom and husband (who also works a full-time job) can’t get to it is no longer a chore, but an opportunity. I’m finally giving myself credit for all the work I do around the house and realizing how much it ties into my health. And I no longer feel guilty about enjoying myself when I can, provided it’s the exception, not the rule.

There are many life changes I can’t make yet, but your Primal Blueprint has been the guide I needed to make the ones I could, many of which are inside of me. Changing my perspective changed my life. I’m a true work in progress, but for the first time in years you can actually witness the progress. I’m living proof that even in today’s terribly stressful world you really can “find a way”…the key is finding the right way.

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. Great story, Lisa! I’m happy to see a story showing how balance and moderation can lead to success. I think lots of people get scared away from the Primal Blueprint by thinking it has to be All or Nothing.

    dragonmamma wrote on September 17th, 2009
  2. Congratulations Lisa!!! My story parallels yours. I’m excited to hear about your Journey as I go through mine! Keep us up to date.

    feltsole wrote on September 17th, 2009
  3. Nice work, Lisa!! You are very determined and inspiring :)

    Wendy1 wrote on September 17th, 2009
  4. Such a great story. You and your family are beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration :)

    primalpanda wrote on September 17th, 2009
  5. Congrats on your success so far! Very inspiratonal!

    Julie wrote on September 17th, 2009
  6. Very nice story. Be good to yourself. That’s the best place to hang your hat.

    jessher wrote on September 17th, 2009
  7. What a gorgeous little boy and what an inspiring story. Perspective is everything! Progress, not perfection. Keep it up, Lisa.

    Judith wrote on September 17th, 2009
  8. Awesome Lisa. Keep us posted on your progress!

    Max L wrote on September 17th, 2009
  9. Fantastic story, Lisa! I, too, have found that ever since finding MDA, my perspective on many aspects of life (not just weight loss) has completely changed – even though I’d been low-carbing for a long time, too.

    What I found most amazing is that you seem so happy and well-adjusted despite your struggles and despite the fact that you’ve only just started the PB. That is truly encouraging and inspiring.

    EL wrote on September 17th, 2009
  10. Congratulations Lisa! Your outlook is inspiring. Keep taking one step at a time and you’ll get there….We all have faith in you! Keep Rockin!!

    Kelli wrote on September 17th, 2009
  11. Thanks for sharing a wonderful story. And I’ll second the comment about your son, what a handsome young man.

    Keep up the great job you’re doing.

    Althaur wrote on September 17th, 2009
  12. Very inspirational Lisa!

    You’ve found a plan that enables you to reduce, get stronger, while you tackle your life challenges. The PB seems to be a plan that works for everyone. Without exhuasting a person with detailed rx’s. Wow! Keep up the great work!

    rachel allen wrote on September 17th, 2009
  13. Great job. Welcome to your new life!

    Grok wrote on September 17th, 2009
  14. Awesome progress Lisa. :)

    Jeff wrote on September 17th, 2009
  15. Lisa,
    Your internal struggle sounds very similar to the one I have been living with since I had my first son.

    I feel extremely and finally reconciled inside myself now since finding MDA. As you and others have stated Mark and PB has not just changed my relationship with food, but it has encompassed all areas of my life and the way in which I respond to the stresses of living in this world.

    I think you are an inspiration and I wish you the best in all of your endeavors.

    Keep on Grokkin’ On!

    Pauley wrote on September 17th, 2009
  16. I really enjoyed reading your story. Great Job! Look forward to hearing from you on your continued successes.

    christian chun wrote on September 17th, 2009
  17. Good work Lisa! It’s a continuous journey! And I do hope that your little boy and your soulmate give you the inspiration to go primal! :)

    Mighty wrote on September 17th, 2009
  18. Good work always inspiring to see people happy and successfully living a new life way. Keep us posted and Mark more transformation posts would be welcome!

    Chris - ZTF wrote on September 18th, 2009
  19. lisa, you look great!

    missavocado wrote on September 18th, 2009
  20. Lisa, thank you so much for your story. It’s great to be reminded that not all of us are triathaletes or body builders; the PB is for everyone!

    Bourgogne wrote on September 18th, 2009
  21. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to thank you all. The progress I’ve made is gift enough (not to mention having my story chosen) but your comments are an unexpected source of inspiration! I hoped my perspective might be good to share, but you’ve confirmed that. I appreciate the time you took to read my story and write something to me. I will most certainly check in again and let you know how I’m doing. Things are rough here emotionally and the stress is escalating (as we enter our busiest season with our business) but I feel good physically, like I’m more ready for the challenge than last year, ya know? I’m feeling stronger every day and keeping up with my toddler. And the best part is my pants continue to droop and sag! So that’s something! LOL

    It’s important on this journey to not always think about where you are going(which can be exhausting and sometimes frustrating). You should look back once in awhile and treasure how far you’ve come before you turn around and keep putting one foot in front of the other. :)

    Lisa wrote on September 19th, 2009
  22. Thanks Lisa. I’m awaiting my book in the mail. My story is like yours. Thanks for sharing.

    Lisa wrote on October 9th, 2009
  23. I’m not sure if anyone comes back to articles they’ve read, but this seemed like the best place to post this:

    I am getting ready to shoot yet another wedding today…the last in a sequence of back-to-back weekends since September that has been my downfall every year.

    And this morning I was 195 on the scale and I’m down 2 full pant sizes (18 to 14). I’m still a bit worn out from the sheer stress of this all, but the focus on protein and fat (with a wide variety of veggies mixed in) has kept me going! I’m off to make myself a huge omelet which, along with some almonds, will keep me going until they feed us at the reception much, much later tonight (nearly 12 hours from now).

    So ultimately by some standards my progress might be “slow going” but for me it’s amazing and nearly miraculous. Just thought you’d like to know!

    Lisa wrote on October 24th, 2009
  24. Lisa, your story is inspiring. I am currently around 205-210 and I too am having trouble trying to get below 200. Your story gives me hope that i can do this. Thank you, it was just what i needed to read this morning.

    Angie wrote on March 24th, 2010

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