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

My Healthy Lifestyle Was Killing Me

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!

Amidst all of the holiday parties near the end of 2010, my BMI tipped from normal to overweight. Concerned that at age 52 my luck might be close to running out in evading the type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease that run in my family, I decided that it was time to lose weight. I’ve never had a major weight issue, but 20+ years of treatment for endometriosis, the onset of menopause, and 20+ years of living the suburban, increasingly sedentary life with an obese spouse had finally caught up with me. I set a realistic goal of losing 20 lbs by April of 2011.

I’ve never believed in “diets” since I have seen what happens in the overwhelming majority of cases – follow the “diet,” lose weight, back to the same-old-same-old, pack on more pounds than before. So I decided to be sensible and follow conventional wisdom. By instituting sustainable changes to my diet (counting calories, adding more healthy whole grains, less fat, less junk food) and a manageable exercise routine (worked up to chronic cardio!), I met my goal. By mid-April 2011 I was down 23 lbs and 2 sizes. Woo hoo! I should have been ecstatic, but I knew I had a problem.

I’d lost the weight, but I was feeling weaker and had experienced a couple of really scary incidents of severe diarrhea which lead to incapacitating dehydration compounded with hypothermia. I had to be rushed to the emergency room twice over a two-month period. After numerous tests and consultations between my GP and the ER doctors, the diagnosis both times was stomach virus. Great. They were clueless.

The second incident had been worse than the first. By the time the paramedics arrived (quicker than the first time) my veins had already started collapsing and I was non-responsive. I didn’t feel too confident about surviving a third bout. I learned to become aware of the initial signs of dehydration and was able to manage it by drinking ridiculous amounts of water (12 – 16 glasses a day!) supplemented with Gatorade. There had to be a better way. Of increasing concern to me was that over the next three months I dropped another 10 lbs without trying, and started developing sagging skin – a sure sign of muscle loss. Being small-framed and with a family history of osteoporosis, this was not good.

Somehow I stumbled upon MDA. As I started reading, a lot started making sense. The exercise portion was a lot like what I did as a kid. Having grown up in NYC with no car in the family, my feet were a basic mode of transportation. Sprints were how my friends and I got to elementary school (had to wait for mom to catch up to cross the street), lifting heavy things was how we got groceries home and up the stairs, and let’s not forget going up and down stairs (2 or 3 steps at a time weighted down with books in Jr. and Sr. high school) in the train stations, as well as regularly climbing 2-5 flights of stairs to reach family members’ and friends’ apartments (elevators were not an option).

After reading The Primal Blueprint (the only “diet” book I had EVER purchased), I came to the realization that my “healthy” lifestyle was going to kill me, literally! I must admit that even in spite of that, I had a lot of trepidation about going without the grains and legumes and increasing my fat intake. I had no problem dropping processed foods because my dad didn’t consider anything out of a can or pre-frozen to be “food,” and my mom made the distinction between real food and party (i.e. junk) food. For over 50 years I had eaten oatmeal or cream of wheat as part of my healthy breakfast almost every day. Breakfast without grains just did not seem like it would fill me up. Being of Caribbean ancestry, rice and beans had also been lifelong staples. However, on July 23, 2011, I decided to give this Primal thing a try for a week. One week later I was down another 3 lbs, but, in spite of my husband’s concerns about my “anorexia” – no worries – I was also down one full size! Using one of the online body fat calculators, I estimated that my body fat had gone down about 3%, which correlates well with the 3 lb weight loss. Over the next few weeks I took a few forays back into the world of SAD foods, because who the heck was this Mark Sisson guy to deprive me of my old comfort foods. I quickly discovered that what Mark had to say didn’t matter because my body was saying the same things loudly and clearly.

After 5 months of having said goodbye to the “healthy” whole grains and legumes, embracing the fats, dropping the chronic cardio, exercising less (but more effectively) and playing more, I lost a total of 6 lbs. Almost a year into my Primal journey, I’ve regained all of the weight that I lost since I went Primal. What has left me and all that have seen my transformation dumbfounded, is that from July 2011 to now I dropped from a size 4 to a size 0 while with a net weight loss of ZERO pounds!  Let me summarize that – I dropped 36 lbs and went from a size 8 to a size 4 following conventional wisdom. I’ve dropped a whopping 0 lbs and have gone from a size 4 to a size 0 following the Primal Blueprint.

More importantly, I’ve noticed that a lot of nuisance health issues that I had attributed to aging and/or had for so long that I accepted them as “normal,” are gone. To name just a few, the achy shins and joints, compliments of power walking (I read that it was easier on the joints than jogging, lol!), are no longer achy. I no longer feel like I am going to pass out if I don’t have breakfast within the first 30 minutes after I wake up. I no longer need to constantly pack snacks for my mid-morning and mid-afternoon hunger pangs/shakes. I no longer get in a foul mood when I’m hungry. I don’t drink anywhere near the amounts of water I drank regularly when I was constantly fighting dehydration, nor have I had a need to drink Gatorade. I have more energy than ever (I was anemic from childhood until a couple of years ago). Spicy foods no longer mess up my stomach. That stuffed feeling 10-15 minutes after a meal is gone. My pipes no longer leak.

My Primal journey continues as I try out different things and continue to learn how my body wants me to live. At age 53 I am stronger, leaner, more energetic and feel healthier than ever. Thank you, Mark, for teaching me what a healthy lifestyle really looks like.


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. Fantastic, and really inspirational. I have only be eating primal for about 2 months and have to say I have been disappointed with the lack of weight loss, but maybe I should forget the scales. Feeling so much better though! thanks Myra for sharing your experiences.

    Sheena wrote on August 11th, 2012
    • I know it takes a while to change mentality after a lifetime of brainwashing, but you don’t necessarily want to lose a lot of weight (I don’t know where you’re starting from). You want to lose FAT. Depending on your starting point, that may or may not translate into weight loss. I have a primal friend that gained about 15 lbs, is a smaller size and looks phenomenal. She’s big on crossfit, so her weight gain has been muscle. Build your muscles, melt your fat and don’t worry so much about your weight. More importantly, measure how you feel.

      Myra wrote on August 11th, 2012
  2. Wow, Myra. You look absolutely fabulous and are glowing! Congratulations on feeling your best!

    Grok on, mama!

    Margaret wrote on August 11th, 2012
  3. I think Myra made a typo in her story. She says she is 53 but the photos make me think she is actually 35!!! Way to go, Myra. Very inspiring!

    Steve Horne wrote on August 11th, 2012
    • No typo. I wore bikinis that covered more of my belly when I was 35.

      Myra wrote on August 11th, 2012
  4. Awesome story Myra, and great attitude! Thanks for sharing!

    Shebeeste wrote on August 11th, 2012
  5. Congratulations, very inpiring story, you look terrific! :-) :-) :-)

    WildGrok wrote on August 11th, 2012
  6. Have you been able to inspire your “obese” husband as you mentionned? You have inspired us all. THANK YOU.

    DEBRAKADABRA wrote on August 11th, 2012
  7. One gram of protein per pound of body weight.

    Stephen D. Phinney Low Carb Living youtube

    He is on a ketogenic diet of less than 50g of carbs a day. The Inuits, who have the healthiest cardio system on on the planet when living in the northern wastes. They eat no carbs.

    These is primal extreme. Know before you go there.

    Paul_S wrote on August 11th, 2012
  8. myra, great, great, great story!! congrats on wrapping ur brain around this thing called primal! i am turning 45 in a matter of days, i wanna look and feel like u when i get to 53!!! thank u SO MUCH for ur inspiring story! love fridays on MDA!!!

    shelly wrote on August 11th, 2012
    • Hey Shelly! Just wanted to say Happy Birthday from another MDA fan who turns 45 in a matter of days (the 15th). I , too, am really jazzed by Myra’s story. I definitely want to look and feel as fantastic as she does when I’m 53 (and before then, and after then)!

      Cathy wrote on August 11th, 2012
  9. You look GREAT! Congrats!!!!

    Chris wrote on August 11th, 2012
  10. I’m a bit of a lurker, but I felt compelled to comment on the fact that Myra eschews jogging because its easier on the joints. Bones need impact. It keeps them dense and strong. With a family history of osteoporosis I would investigate the studies conducted on jogging and bone health, and then pick up jogging using minimalist footwear (Vibram 5 Fingers, Merrill Trail Gloves, etc).

    Lilas wrote on August 11th, 2012
    • Jogging falls into the category of chronic cardio which has been found to be detrimental to health. See Mark’s post

      I agree with what you say about bones needing impact. That’s where walking and lifting heavy things come in. I do plenty of both.

      Myra wrote on August 12th, 2012
  11. Great story I must say and congratulations to you on achieving such an arduous task. I hope so same thing happens for me because I am lying on my bed eating,eating and eating.

    Dennis Blair wrote on August 11th, 2012
  12. Great story! Thanks for sharing. As someone who is also in their early 50’s it is great to hear your tale.

    Paul Bourret wrote on August 12th, 2012
  13. Thanks for sharing! I’m also close to your age and just beginning this journey. Can’t wait to see what a year will bring.

    Pamela wrote on August 12th, 2012
  14. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. NG

    Neandergirl wrote on August 12th, 2012
  15. Great story, one more proof that our bodies are not designed to eat a high carbohydrate diet no matter if it’s whole or processed foods. This probably has to do with the fact that grains are genetically modified.

    Mario wrote on August 13th, 2012
  16. Super inspirational! I had similar results too – leaner, thinner, and much more defined but not weighing significantly less.

    Paula wrote on August 13th, 2012
  17. Great story! Well written and a happy ending.

    Looking at the after picture, hard to believe that you are 53, or even the same person as the before picture.

    Enjoy your new life! Best!

    Deuce wrote on August 14th, 2012
  18. Love this story!! I’m less than 2weeks primal, and find this very encouraging especially also being from a caribbean background and having my husband and friends looking at me like I’m crazy. Thanks for sharing, I’m even more inspired to continue this journey.

    Stepha wrote on August 14th, 2012
  19. Thank you for sharing your story! I especially enjoyed the part where you say you lost 0lbs but went from a size 4-0. I too have lost sizes but not very many lbs and have been second guessing the body changes I thought I was noticing. Reading through the comments I am finding several people are experiencing the same thing. Your story has helped me go from discouraged to encouraged :) Thank you.

    RM wrote on August 14th, 2012
  20. Fabulous story! congrats!

    Mary-Anne wrote on August 15th, 2012
  21. What a beautiful woman your are. And such a sexy body. Wow! So glad to see that it’s possible at our age to be gorgeous and not be ashamed to want this.

    It’s as if society expects older women to accept ourselves as fat and out of shape. Many people’s attitude towards older women, who want to look after themselves is “who cares what you look like; you’re old so what does it matter?”

    Well, it matters a lot. And so it should. We have a right to be as fit and healthy and sexy as possible and not to just roll over on the couch like a beached whale.

    I have only a few pounds to go, or should I say just a bit more body composition tweeks to make, before I, too can wear a bikini with pride. I’m 55, 5’5″ and a size four, a muscular size four that is. Don’t want to be skinny that’s for sure

    Thank you for your inspiring story. :)

    Sienna wrote on September 29th, 2012
  22. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I’ve been searching the web for inspiration with women my own age (52) and been a memeber of MDA for awhile but haven’t really paid attention to succes stories as most seem to be much younger (not to take away from young folks hard work) but I wanted “proof” that someone my age could get and have a flat belly. I need to lose 40 lbs,and my belly is my biggest problem area. You look fantastic!

    Connie wrote on November 15th, 2012
  23. I also am in my 50s and am wondering if anyone has seen a reduction in menopausal symptoms – mainly hot flashes and night sweats with this lifestyle?

    Pam wrote on November 16th, 2012

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