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

My Transition from an Ill, Frail, Anemic College Student to a Healthy, Strong, and Fit Individual

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!

It was painful to wake up in the morning; I just didn’t think I’d have energy again.

During the summer of graduating high school (2011) I had wisdom teeth surgery. I had two teeth extracted and was in excruciating pain for days. My mouth later became infected and it was difficult to swallow. During the first few days I could barely eat or drink anything. I am five feet tall (short and proud of my tiny size) and at this time I weighed 121 pounds. My parents noticed how I seemed to drop a few pounds. Initially it bothered me because I am an athlete, a tennis player, and I thought I was losing muscle. Anyways, after five days since my tooth surgery I stepped on the court with barely anything to eat or drink and a swollen mouth. I managed to play the best tennis I played at the time and moved so effortlessly. I realized that those few pounds allowed me to be lighter on my feet. So, after recovering from the surgery I continued to eat smaller portions and transitioning into college that year and being on the tennis team I continued to eat smaller portions (one plate during meals in the dining hall: no pizza or fried foods either) and worked out about two hours a day with lifts twice a week. I dropped about 14 pounds from late June to December that year (weighing in at 106.5 pounds). That next semester I dropped an addition three pounds (103.5 pounds). I didn’t realize that when I started that weight loss journey I was so pudgy to begin with, but I liked what I saw in the mirror and I felt so much better about myself with that weight loss.

Katrina - High School
Left: Junior year of high school; Middle: Senior year of high school (prom); Right: Senior year of high school

When I came home for the summer of my freshman year I hit a plateau and was frustrated with the stalling of weight loss. I decided to drastically cut my calorie count and micromanage exactly what I consumed. At this point I was still consuming the Standard American Diet and relied heavily off oatmeal and cereal and whole grains. With the drastic calorie cut, I started to beat that plateau. In addition, I worked out more intensely than ever between playing tennis and running for 40 minutes or lifting daily. I started to become over trained. My whole body and brain became fatigued. I initially took it as that I was just working out a lot and I tried to forget about being tired. But, coming into sophomore year of college those symptoms never went away, only simply getting worse. At this point I was down 24-25 pounds (96-97 pounds).

I could barely walk to class without becoming winded and tried to give 100% at the 2-hour a day tennis practices but could barely provide 50%. My body was dying on me and I was miserable. As much as I couldn’t perform up to par for tennis, my relationship with my boyfriend was failing as well. I just wasn’t the same and my poor energy levels were affecting every aspect of my life. I finally decided to seek help and go to the student health center on campus. This process began towards the end of the fall season (late September 2012). I began getting blood work treatments in attempts to diagnose what was wrong. Blood taken ranged from four test tubes of blood to a whopping 14 test tubes. I was at first diagnosed as anemic. Causes of the anemia were unidentified. More rounds of blood work indicated my liver enzymes were extremely high, but yet again no cause to that. During this whole time frame (September-November 2012), I was extremely frail, fatigued, no energy, vulgar flatulence, low libido, and bad stomach pains. I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to have energy again. I also dropped 31-32 pounds by this point. I was at my lowest weight of 89-90 pounds. I weighed myself daily and when on the days the scale read 89, I was frightened.

The fall tennis season ended late October and I knew I needed to rest. I only worked out about four times a week for 30 minutes or less whether it was tennis or running. It hurt to wake up in the morning and I slept early at night. I was always in a bad mood since I had no energy to do anything. I just tried to keep up with my classes at that point. Without any reason for my viral infection, by mid-November I started to have some energy. It came in bursts but it was progress. Also, I managed to receive my highest GPA that semester somehow. By winter break, I began to work out daily whether it was an hour of tennis or 1-3 miles running. Although, I still had extreme flatulence, bloating, and stomach pains. I also was at a weight of 91-92 pounds.

By the end of January (2013), I started my Paleo transition. One afternoon at college, I consumed a bowl of Kashi granola cereal. Within literally a minute the extreme flatulence started. I was puzzled, yet eager to realize what exactly caused that. After some Internet searches, I realized a particular ingredient in the cereal causes extreme flatulence in some individuals. That research led to the anti-grain articles and Mark’s Daily Apple. I decided I had nothing to lose and gave up grains the next day. That next day was an absolute epiphany for me. I encountered zero stomach pains, no bloating, absolute no gas, and my bowels started to move. In addition I don’t think I had so much energy in many months. I decided that was it and I started to really improve.

Left: Fall Semester sophomore year of college (lowest weight); Middle: winter break of sophomore year (also lowest weight); Right: August 2013 (currently) at a healthy, fit weight

Despite being strict on anti-grains and continual Paleo research, I had severe sugar cravings. Part of it was the tennis practices and the other was nutrient deficiencies and my body was craving instant energy. So I binged…a lot on cookies, brownies, fudge, ice cream, candy, etc… Other than that I was strictly grain free.

Well, in June of 2013 I decided to cut out dairy. Between January and June the cravings were unreal and my mood varied constantly and I would be so upset with myself for binging and getting cravings. As hard as it was I made baby steps. I said enough was enough and I need to be healthy and happy for myself. If I wanted a long, successful life I needed a healthy mind and the grains/dairy were not providing any of that for me. After deciding to completely cut out dairy, the cravings started to subside. I began consuming loads of meat, fruit, coconut, nuts, veggies, and most importantly BACON.

I realized that the dairy/grains were affecting my hormones, mood, anxiety, stress levels, stomach pains, etc… leading to food allergies/intolerances. Paleo is truly the cure to all of my past issues and viral infection. Paleo has allowed me to have stable high energy levels, minimal flatulence, minimal cravings, and healthy digestion. With the help of Mark’s Daily Apple and my curiosity I have truly become healthy, happy, and fitter than ever. Since my lowest weight I have put on three pounds of lean muscle and have dramatically increased my stamina. I have decided to no longer compete collegiately for tennis and instead reduced my amount of exercise to 20-60 minutes a day whether it’d be tennis or running. I have also introduced daily Intermittent Fasting and my hunger has normalized/reduced. I now will eat breakfast (got to get my eggs and bacon in), a mid-morning snack, and lunch. I no longer eat in the late afternoon/evening which allows me to sleep like a baby every night. I have reduced my net carb count to about 100 grams or less and that also contributed to the stable mood/hormone levels. The decreased amount of physical exercise and the addition of eating Paleo allowed my body to comfortably function day-to-day and maintain high energy/mood. In addition, my relationship has improved dramatically with my boyfriend and I now feel back to normal (actually even better than normal!). I realized that this lifestyle (NOT JUST A DIET) worked wonders for my life.

Left: Beach July 2013 also had a healthy fit weight; Right: August 2013 at a family wedding, again at a healthy, fit weight (big difference since high school)

I’d like to thank your blog and all your vital information that has helped me through my transition from an ill, frail, anemic college student to a healthy, strong, and fit individual. This has been such a long process for me, but it has been well worth it and couldn’t be happier with who I am today: a tiny, but mighty, tennis player, runner, and college student. Grok on!


Update (from Mark): I appreciate everyone’s comments and participation. However, Katrina should not have to continue to defend herself against claims made about her health and appearance. Additionally, trolling has become a problem in this comment board, so comments have been closed. I want to thank Katrina again for sharing her real life story with us, and wish her and everyone the very best.

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. congratulations on your newly found health!

    Erin wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  2. That is so awesome, Katrina, well done you! The physical effects of eating beans, grains and dairy can be very apparent, but it seems to me that it’s when you get that ‘ah-ha’ moment of realizing how these foods affect you mentally, that eliminating them completely becomes a whole lot easier. Foods we are meant to eat should make us healthy and feel great on all levels (emotionally, physically) after eating them, always. Thanks for sharing your story, grok on !

    CarolB wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  3. So inspirational

    BDJ wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  4. Great job Katrina. Amazing comeback.

    Nocona wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  5. Great story. Currently I am reading the Paleo Manifesto and noticed that there is a lack of studies to truly support a paleo/primal lifestyle. Wondering if it would be possible to have our success stories here write in again with a short writeup of how things are going; kind of a where are they now type thing. Maybe every 6 months…
    Keep with it Katrina. I know when I fall off the wagon, I feel the difference.

    Shawn wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • There is a tremendous amount of scientific data that support a primal/paleo lifestyle and can be readily found on the interwebs, including MDA, as well as through the sites/books of Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, and Chris Kresser, to name a few. While The Paleo Manifesto doesn’t focus on empirical studies, it is a welcome addition to the lexicon for its historical and philosophical perspective.

      Karen wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • There is a lack of studies to truly support any dietary recommendations, if you think there isn’t enough to support the paleo lifestyle. I’ve also read this book. It’s a good book, but I hope it isn’t the only paleo book you’ve read.
      I think the best study you could ever possibly do is one on yourself. It doesn’t matter what happened to anyone else. If a study tomorrow conclusively said that the paleo diet doesn’t work, I still wouldn’t quit it. I’ve done my own years of experimentation and discovered it absolutely works for me!

      Casey wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  6. Very inspiring. It’s good to remember that a paleo diet can not only help to lose pounds but to gain health (and, in some cases, gain weight).

    Susan wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  7. I thought your first pictures were the after.

    Great job, looking even better than before you started. And it seems like your quality of life has skyrocketed which was perhaps your largest motivational factor.

    Keith wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  8. I loved your story and am so happy for your improved health. Regardless of age, I know that there is a truth to be gained from every success story. I’m not there yet, though, and am looking for the story that more closely touches my own place in life. I’m an almost 60 yo woman that is about 40# overweight. Because of fibromyalgia, I’ve been trying to eat paleo for the last six months and do feel somewhat better, but haven’t lost any weight. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, or if it is just my age, which is why it would be nice to find others like me to compare strategies with. Are you out there?

    Mavis wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Mavis,
      I don’t have fibromyalgia, so my response is purely my opinion. You might not see weight loss until your body, and gut, has had a chance to heal. I would say that for now, take comfort in the fact that you are beginning to feel better. Also, have you searched thru the forums for others with fibromyalgia?

      While we are traveling the Paleo/Primal road together, each person must find out what foods work best for them, and the timing of our results will differ. Best wishes!

      Heather wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Thank you Heather. You’re right, I might be just in a healing phase, and only time will tell. I plan on sticking with it.

        Mavis wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • I’m 64 and lost 30 lbs this year when I cut my carbs to 50-60 grams/day. Use Mark’s carbohydrate curve and keep track of your carb intake on Fitday or other source. When I kept track of everything I realized I was eating more fruit than I thought and more yogurt. I cut that way down and watched everything else and slowly but steadily lost the wt. Be your own detective. But you’ll have to write all food intake down for awhile to see how you feel and what your response is.

      Also be sure your doc has checked ALL thyroid levels, not just T4 and TSH. That’s all most check, but the active form of thyroid is T3. Ask them to check your Free T3 level. The others may be normal but low T3 is more common than you think and some docs think that may be one cause of chronic fatigue syndrome and other chronic problems. Easy enough to check.

      Laurie wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Laurie, that is very encouraging. Congratulations on the weight loss and thank you for the reply. I just found Mark’s curve and was excited to see such specific guidelines. Up to this point I’ve just been trying to stick to the right foods but haven’t kept track of total carbs. Today is day one for journaling and monitoring carb intake. Like you, I love yogurt, but have decided to omit milk products for awhile to see if the fibro does better. I’m excited to find possible options for success, even at this age.

        Mavis wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Mavis,

      You may also want to consider seeing a functional medicine doctor if there is one in your area. Check under Resources on this site to help you find one. I’m assuming that with fibromyalgia you are on some form of medication. That along with other medications that you may have taken in the past may be affecting your body chemistry in a way that is making it difficult for you to lose weight/fat. You’ll probably need a doctor to help you sort that out, and a traditional doctor is not going to make that happen.

      Myra wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Thank you for the input, Myra. I don’t like pills, so have opted to avoid fibro meds. Often times they seem to create a “slippery slope” that I don’t care to traverse. I am on some blood pressure meds though and am hoping that weight loss will allow me to stop them. In the meantime, I hope the tweaking of the carb intake will be the answer!

        Mavis wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Mavis,
      Yes, we 60ish year old women are out here. I have eaten primal for about a year and it has taken time for my body to heal but the better I stick to low carb and keep my fat intake up the easier it is to keep everything working well. I agree to try to glean what you can on the forums for fibromyalgia relief and expectations. What I have found for me is to eat strictly primal and not eat at all if I can’t, that way it doesn’t clobber my progress and healing. Another thing I have found is that eating later in the evening isn’t a good thing. I do better if I can eat around 4:30 in the afternoon, drink hot water later if I start feeling empty. Problem is I’m still working so I eat tiny meals around 6:30/7PM.
      My dream is to have my husband become wealthy (meaning I can retire of course) and then I can fix a fabulous breakfast for us in the morning, eat supper around 4 and then maybe a little snack at night. 😉

      2Rae wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Thanks for the reply, 2Rae. One of the hardest things I had to do is start to eat fat. I’ve been virtually “fat free” for years and thinking that I was doing the best thing for my health, along with eating all kinds of processed foods. Only waking up in the morning in so much pain I was in tears made me finally realize that I needed to try something else. Thank goodness there are people like Mark…..and you, to help get me on the right track.

        Mavis wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • I am a 67 yr old coeliac, who had comcommitant fibromyalgia. I went gluten-free 8 yrs ago, on discovering the coeliac, and over the next three years transitioned to full paleo.

      I became immensely heathier, but not fitter because of the fibromyalgia, which made it very hard to exercise, as 30 mins of exercise would leave me stiff and sore for up to 10 days. A bit of a limiter!

      This summer, out of curiosity – no more – I dropped all caffeine. Within 48 hours, I stopped waking up stiff in the morning. I noticed within a week, that I could now exercise a ‘normal’ amount, and not be stiff beyond the expected 24 hours. Your lack of weight loss could be due to the difficulty in exercising.

      I was annoyed about the loss of caffeine, but Redbush is a good substitute. And to lose the fibromyalgia is fantastic! Good luck with your own experiments.

      Jenny wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Ohhhhh, not my coffee too! Wow that would be tough. I hadn’t even considered that I would need to omit it. But, like you said, being fibromyalgia free would be worth it. My attitude with this “diet” is so different in that I am doing it to become healthy most of all. I know weight loss is an important part of that process, though, and will result in increased activity and mobility that will benefit every part of my being. Redbush is new to me… What is that?

        Mavis wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Redbush is Rooibos tea, a South African herbal tea.

          There are several companies who make it, the link is to one of them. I have it with milk – just like normal tea. It is a redder colour – as the name says!

          Jenny wrote on November 25th, 2013
        • By the way – I needed to gain weight – and did. I also had kidney damage from the gluten, resulting in high blood pressure. Although it has taken 8 years, the kidneys must be slowly healing, because the blood pressure is dropping – where before it got worse year by year.

          What I’m saying is just keep going, it is definitely worth it in the long run. And fat tastes fantastic!

          Jenny wrote on November 25th, 2013
  9. wow, yay for better health and a saner mind for you! that’s great that you’ve figured out how to better take care of yourself rather than drive yourself hard. keep on learning, one day at a time!

    Jenny wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  10. Can someone please tell me where they find bacon that doesn’t have at least trace amounts of sugar, honey, or brown sugar in it to preserve it? I thought primal/paleo didn’t allow sugar or honey in any amounts. I can’t find any bacon that doesn’t have at least one of these ingredients. Not at Whole Foods, not at Trader Joe’s, not at Earth Fare. I WANT TO START EATING BACON!!!! Where do you all get yours? Please, for the love of God!

    Brian Smith wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Try low sodium bacon at Costco. No sugar or sweeteners.

      Mrs chi wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Paleo actually does allow honey and some forms of sugars, in small amounts. As far as bacon goes, as long as it’s a small amount of sugar, the bacon is organic an uncured, don’t sweat it.

      Jessica wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • US Wellness Meats sells sugar-free bacon online. I ate it during my Whole 30. The only downside is that it is very expensive.

        Kira wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Sugar and honey aren’t 100%, completely, strictly, forbidden, at least not around here. They should definitely be limited though. It is up to you to decide how much, if any you allow in your diet. According to this post, Mark puts sugar in his coffee Here is a link to Mark’s Definitive Guide to Sugar posted in 2010. the last statement is “any sugar should be used in strict moderation, but it’s clear not all sweeteners are Primally equal.” Here’s a post from 2012 about honey
      I can’t drink coffee without some sweetener in it. I don’t care for the taste of stevia, so at the office, I use sugar and at home, I use raw honey.

      It didn’t occure to me that bacon might contain honey or sugar. I’m on a tight budget, so grassfed/pastured meats are out of my price range. My bacon is Wright brand, applewood smoked bacon. It is the 2nd cheapest bacon at my local Walmart, and, to me tastes much better than the hickery smoked bacon. And it probably has sugar in it.

      b2curious wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I don’t get why bacon is so approved by this community. As food goes, it is VERY processed, and pig farming is incredibly inhumane and scary. There’s not much about bacon that’s good for you.

      Lucia wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • the key is to buy bacon from a grass farmer at a farmer’s market. these small farmers raise their animals in a very healthy and natural way. they care for their animals and ensure that they are slaughtered humanely. they care for the resulting meat product and ensure that it is processed naturally and minimally.

        allison wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Hey! Pederson Farms makes a great no-sugar added, nitrate and sulfate free uncured bacon….they sell it at Whole Foods :)

      Meg Pabis wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  11. Congrats on getting your health under control but i must say i think you might be too thin. maybe its just the pictures but i thought you looked great in the before pictures. Dont mean to sound negative as im not trying to criticize just an observation. maybe eat just a little more. bacon and eggs and a snack everyday doesnt sound like you are getting much food

    Mike wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Well put. I agree.

      Paul wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • She is a petite woman who is also fit. She is pretty clear about the difference in her build and adding muscle. Pretty awesome.

      Juli wrote on November 25th, 2013
  12. Sounds to me that the tooth surgery could have “activated” Celiac disease, which if you have the genes for it or carry the disease can be activated by a traumatic event, such as surgery. Hence the bloating after eating grains.

    Mrs chi wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  13. Thank you everyone for such kind words. I submitted this story back in August and since then I’ve still been feeling great. I’ve been 100% paleo and my mind and body have been wonderful. I’ve come a long way and I’m so glad others appreciate my journey. Thank you!!

    Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  14. Is it just me, but not noticing a big defference betweeen the middle “lowest weight” pic and the current “primal/healthy wt” pic, other than maybe a tan? Don’t want to sound snarky AT ALL (in fact, am probably more than just a little jealous :), but like an earlier commenter mentioned, maybe working out an hour a day plus IF, is still a little extreme and perhaps smaks of some disordered relationship with food (but then again, maybe I’m only having that reaction because I’m a psychologist and just had a session with a budding 11 year old eating disorder). Sigh. Being a woman in this culture can really suck it out of you when it comes to body image. A quick glance at the commentors who said, maybe too thin sugests they are mostly guys – and how eye opening that can be for women who tell themselves that they need to be thinner to be attractive to – guys! Anna Wintor and your, “you can never be too thin or too rich” can just suuck it!

    Caite wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  15. IMHO your body composition and weight in the high school pics is perfectly normal and healthy as well as totally attractive. The ones in college do not look healthy to my eyes. I realize that you had other issues, digestion and such that you were trying to address as well and congratulations on alleviating those symptoms. But it seems to me that you were obsessing on eating as well as exercising to excess.

    Ideal weight for 5’0″ woman is 104 to 137 depending on small to large frame and you look to be under that range. You are young and now that you are eating better quality foods that agree with you, you should eat as much of them as you can to maintain your active lifestyle. You do not want to accustom your body to calorie deprivation, you need to fill that tank up and keep the metabolism revved up. Especially at your age, get your metabolism in an efficient high gear, do not restrict it. You are still exercising a lot and should absolutely reintroduce some healthy carbs. Carb restriction is only necessary for folks looking for big weight loss. My bet would be that your body is thinking it’s chronically starving at that weight and level of exercise. That will lead to problems that will worsen as you age. You are in this for the long term and believe me, the true test comes much later than the college years!

    I restricted calories and skipped meals for years, had similar digestive issues as you. Now I eat a good deal more and have more muscle, less fat, back to my twenty something weight at age 59, my digestion is better than ever before! The joy of living Primal is being able to eat as much as your body needs instinctively and not obsessing over it.

    I wish you good health and all the best in the many years to come!

    bayrider wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I appreciate your comments; however, I’m doing what is best for my body. I am in no way depriving myself from anything; in fact, I have gained much more than just some weight loss. I eat foods to fuel my body and to keep me going through exercise and college. I’m a biomedical engineering major so I know how important proper health is for good academic performance. As much as BMI charts may say what people should weigh, the Standard American Diet also promotes the ingestion of grains and processed foods in which many people are intolerant too as well as the low fat, high carb myth. So as much as I do appreciate your comments, every one is different and things may work best for some people and not for others. I have found what works for me. In my story I mention my binge eating problem. The fact that I don’t get those urges to binge is honestly a true blessing. My mind is so calm and I have a healthy relationship with food. I apologize for such a long response, but I have received so many judgmental and hurtful looks and comments from when I was sick and even today, and being told I’m too thin and that I don’t eat enough or I need to eat different foods or work out less is very hurtful to me. I have such a more positive outlook on life now with the paleo and low carb lifestyle and I will be sticking to it.

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • my only concern for you would be carbs. as a young woman carbs are necessary for fertility. there are blogs devoted to paleo women on the web. i just finished reading john durant’s new book “paleo manifesto” and he addresses this as well. tubers are ok, so eat your potatoes :)
        you are straight up gluten intolerant, that is for sure! i recognize the symptoms. like you, i find that grains in general do not agree with me. even rice sits like lead in my stomach.

        allison wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Katrina,
        I think that you look petite and there may be some confusion in our brains since small people will look, well, small, to us giants in comparison. I’m sorry that there may be people who worry about your slim frame. Your legs look like they have a round muscular shape so you look, to me, fine for a petite woman. I’m confident that you are doing the right thing for your body since it’s working, confident that you are smart enough to change it up when it’s not working. You go girl!!!

        2Rae wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • +1 to you Katrina

        People sometimes forget that being called “skinny” and “too thin” can be just as hurtful and negative as being called overweight and fat. It doesn’t really matter what people *think* you should or shouldn’t’ look like–it only matters how YOU feel on the inside. Keep doing what works for you!

        Stacie wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Stacie, I think you said it perfectly and most certainly agree with you. Thank you for your comment :)

          Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • I also am constantly told that I am too thin/skinny and should eat more. I am 5’1″ and around 112, but I take martial arts and exercise regularly. My body type is more fit and muscular than curvaceous, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Whenever my mother nags me for being ‘too skinny’, I just remind her that I am a healthy, active young woman, and I only look so small because most everyone else has gotten so big. Cutting out grains, bad sugars, and preservatives has really boosted my metabolism, and I don’t accumulate fat the way I used to, even though I am eating enough.

          Danielle wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • This is my original comment that was deleted, now it’s back. I felt that it was entirely respectful and offered some insight from my own experience. I am just saying by all means avoid unhealthy foods but eat enough healthy foods to fuel your high energy output.

      BTW my wife is 5’0′. She was about 129 and a smoker when she started primal, she actually was clearly a bit on the pudgy side. She went down to 103 which was an overshoot, then quit smoking and started working out religiously to Jillian Michaels Get Ripped in 30, gained muscle and tone and looks fantastic to me now at 112. She is 57 yrs old. Now she is complaining that she would like to be 103 again, sigh, it must be a woman thing. Me, I prefer eating all the healthful foods I want and keeping near enough to an ideal weight. We eat a lot more healthy carbs since we reached our weight goals and increased our exercise, Greek Yogurt, organic whole milk, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, blueberries etc. Once I reintroduced these items I got substantially more muscle growth going which is not easy to come by at age 59. Other carbs I have written off pretty much completely like white rice just because my digestion clearly suffers from it.

      Best of luck to you.

      bayrider wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Interesting, Bay Rider. I responded to your post (below), about who deleted answers, and have found that while your original post was returned, my reply to you was deleted. I am deeply troubled by this and have suddenly lost a lot of faith in MDA. I suppose if we don’t toe the MDA line, we’re not welcome? Are a few disagreeing posts left to give a sense of veracity and others removed?

        Violet wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Some comments were replaced, some are still gone.

          Moderation of posts should be for serious offenses. The posts regarding Katrina were all kind and focused on concern for her, they were not mean or rude.

          How about a discussion from MDA about postings and why some are being deleted?

          Colleen wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Colleen and others,

          No comments have been intentionally deleted. Any that were automatically picked up by our spam moderation software have been restored.

          I think it’s great that people are offering their opinions. At the end the of the day that’s what this is all about: a public discussion and exchange. But I would like to echo Daniel’s comment. It takes a lot of courage for someone to send in their very personal success story and photos. In my mind, Friday’s should be about lifting people up, congratulating those amongst us that have taken control of their health, and celebrating it. I hope we can all keep that in mind.

          Thank you again, Katrina, for your beautiful and inspiring story, and Grok on!


          Mark Sisson wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Seems like it. Me too – this post alone and responses has put me off MDA. People who think this is a healthy story don’t understand eating disorders nor the body’s requirement for regular fuel. Intermittent fasting is one thing. Not every day to achieve above.

          Renee wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Renee, you are right, the body needs constant fueling. But this fuel need not to come from outside. There is a large fuel-tank you carry with you. It´s correct that you (especially your brain) needs fuel – in a rather constant flow. But this fuel is glucose, not carbs. And glucose – you only need very small amounts of it once you´re adopted to a very low carb “diet” – can also be generated via gluconeogenesis as you surely know.

          Sticking food in your face every few hours just because the clock says “time to eat, my darling!” … this is the real eating disorder! While skipping dinner, Katrina´s brain, muscles, endocrine glands are constantly supplied and fueled. And do not need extra fuel from outside. Having some extra fuel even though and without feeling hungry, because some of you recommend this, that would indeed be a form of eating disorder.

          So, Katrina, don´t follow this advises but keep on doing what your body loves!

          Günther wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • Long-time lurker, first-time poster to say that I agree with bayrider’s concerns about Katrina. I’m a little surprised that the MDA folks didn’t observe some of the red flags here.

      Grace wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • So glad you wrote this ~ as I was thinking the same. Those final images border on anorexia. Not eating for the entire afternoon and evening ? Not good. Your body and brain is still developing well into your 20s. I don’t know why so many people are congratulating you. This is the first story I have read which disappoints me. Mark…really needs your input here or teens globally will think this is ok.

      Renee wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Renee, please see my comment above! And yes, teens should think this is normal! Because – done properly – it is! 30/40 years ago nearly every teen and twen looked like Katrina does in the after-fotos (at least in Europe). And there were only a few who looked like Katrina in the before-pics. The latter were called “chubby” and were outsiders then. Nowadays we are used to this sight of slightly overweight children and young people, so the minority of the still normal people (especially normal girls) has to deal with being called “skinny” and they are representing todays outsiders. Crazy world!

        By the way: how to do it properly you can learn here on MDA – as Katrina learned it. So you´d better stick to it :-)

        Günther wrote on November 24th, 2013
        • Nice comments but nope…don’t agree

          Renee wrote on November 25th, 2013
  16. Well done, Katrina. I truly admire your hard work and perseverance to find out what works/doesn’t work for your body. Your efforts are truly apparent. Great pictures – BTW.

    I knew beans were the bad guys when it came to extreme flatulence but It took me a while to final realize all the dairy I was consuming was just as bad. I’ve cut out all beans*/legumes and way back on dairy. I sometimes still have a small amount of shredded cheddar in my omelettes.

    *If it’s “gas-less chilli – why bother?

    Congratulations on your ongoing healthy lifestyle, Katrina. Here’s to a long and prosperous life.

    Grok On!

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Thank you so much Darlene, it’s amazing how our bodies react to certain types of foods such as legumes and dairy.

      Grok on as well! :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  17. So inspiring, thank you Mark and Katrina.

    JB wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  18. Exactly who is responsible for editing comments here?

    The several comments previously on here that were very gently and responsibly questioning whether or not her regimen was healthy and appropriate were removed. None of them were objectionable in the slightest, merely concerned based on the information she revealed on diet and exercise and pointing out that she was perfectly healthy to begin with, weight wise.

    This forum has no credibility when you delete responsible, constructive and supportive comments that raise legitimate issues. I have occasionally seen objectionable comments here but these were not and should never have been removed.

    bayrider wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • +1 I was wondering the same thing.

      Laura wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Are comments being deleted? I wish the OP all the best, but she looks very skinny.

        Violet wrote on November 22nd, 2013
        • At least three were deleted, every one of which were supportive, merely pointing out that weight wise she was healthy and attractive to begin with and that obsessing on calories and exercise is not going to be healthy, which is a standard message in the Primal theory.

          bayrider wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I was also wondering the same thing.

      Judith wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Wow ~ I didn’t realise comments had been removed. I’m sure they were like mine. Extremely concerned about this story. Those final images are of ill health.

      Renee wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  19. i am guessing you are very tiny? perhaps around 5’1?

    cara wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  20. oh and great story by the way! you look fantastic!

    cara wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  21. Congratulations, Katrina, on a job well done and you’re determination to get to the root cause of your symptoms. I’m so very happy for you that you figured all this out at a young age — I’m almost 70 years old and certainly wish I had known all this many years ago, but better late than never!

    I just finished listening to 29 presentations on grains/gluten on Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s “The Gluten Summit” whereby the cross-reactive properties of grains/dairy were shown to manifest themselves in those folks with Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity as well as full blown Celiac disease. So along with all the info Mark has posted on MDA — If you haven’t already — you might check out O’Bryan’s website.

    All the best to you and hopefully you’ll have years and years of vibrant good health — and lots of tennis — to enjoy.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Thank you so much for the additional information, I will certainly check it out!

      And, like you said, better late than never; best of health for you as well :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Hi Katarina (different Elizabeth here :) ), big congrats on reclaiming your health! Just to pipe in on the celiac front, you seem to have some really typical symptoms. If you’re doing fine now that’s fab (tests will do no good unless you’re eating gluten which, less face it, ain’t worth it either way), but if in the future you get some symptoms again occasionally you may have to be mega careful with contamination – makes a big difference to me. All the best, you look great :)

        Elizabeth wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Katrina, typo sorry :(

          Elizabeth wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Thank you Elizabeth for the response! I will definitely watch out for any abnormal symptoms again to be cautious of contamination. Thank you, and all the best for you as well :)

          Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  22. Congrats, Kara, on feeling better — that’s fabulous. But, I have to admit that your before pics look to be a healthy, fit weight — a little thicker, sure, but still healthy and fit looking. And I can’t see the difference in the middle and right in the trio — you say the middle is too thin but the one on the right is healthy/fit weight, and they look very similar to me, with the exception of a tan on the right.

    I’m just glad that you’re feeling better — but you look pretty great in all of your pictures.

    Lindsey wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • My name is Katrina…and I initially lost the weight because I began to play better tennis and continued to do so until I got a viral infection. Once my infection/food allergies were taken care of, my tennis game and stamina is now higher than ever. I never thought I was overweight or unhealthy, but I certainly feel better living paleo versus the Standard American Diet.

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Sorry about that. I saw the wrong name typo after I posted — I wish we could edit our comments.

        Lindsey wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  23. O! M! G! O_O

    glorth2 wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  24. It is ironic to hear someone say that they were pudgy at 121 pounds. I guess it is all relative to your fitness level right? Glad to hear you were able to overcome all you health issues with a change in diet.

    Captain Competition wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I mentioned that I am 5 feet tall, so that weight obviously will look different on me versus if I was 5’6 feet, etc.

      But thank you for the comment!

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Exactly. At 5’2″ and 115, people say I’m “curvy”, so a little 5 footer CAN feel pudgy at 121. And be Tiny but mighty!

        Joy Beer wrote on November 22nd, 2013
        • Thank you for the support! I definitely like my shortness and am proud of it :)

          Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  25. I will try again, more direct to the point this time since my previous comment got deleted.

    After a felt perception of lightness and improved athletic performance while suffering from an infection you forced yourself to lose 32 lbs from your perfectly normal weight while exercising two hours a day and playing competitive tennis? And all this at the still developing age of 19 or so? Of course you had a problem! Of course you felt frail and anemic!

    You feel better now and that’s great. Yet, you still exercise A LOT. You fast intermittently, restrict carbohydrates and calories and are still under 100 lbs by the look of it, why on earth are you doing that? You need way more healthy food, not less. Your regimen is not sustainable or healthy and any responsible trainer would tell you that.

    I really do wish you the best of health for the many years ahead of you.

    bayrider wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I’m not so sure that the exercising is too much. She says 20-60 mins per day. If it were all running or playing intense tennis all the time, maybe, but even then 20 mins/day isn’t that much. And if a good deal of it is of the slower kind like hiking or lifting, that seems about good.

      I’m a little concerned about never eating in the afternoon or evening, but is that because you’re just not hungry, Katrina? If it’s that, then that makes sense. But if she’s ignoring signals from her body about hunger every single day because of some arbitrary standard, that’s probably a problem.

      Lindsey wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Lindsey, thank you for your comment. To clarify, I do not experience any type of hunger in the mid and later afternoons which is why I do not eat at those times. If I was hungry I would certainly eat. I am very intuitive with what my body wants and needs and especially after what I went through, I definitely listen to my body.

        Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
        • I’m with you. I’m not much of a late day eater either — I much prefer the bulk of my calories at lunch and breakfast. It’s just what feels best to me. So, if that’s what your body is telling you and it works for you, all the better. Congrats on the journey and glad you’re feeling so great!

          Lindsey wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Bay rider, I wonder if your previous comment was added back so that you could be responded to. This one also has responses that disagree with you. My reply to your comment about deleted comments was also deleted and in it I did wish the poster good luck but expressed my own personal opinion that she looks to skinny. This is clearly not an opinion that I am allowed to express. I expect this will be deleted and I will be banned from this sight now. I thought it was a genuinely supportive community, but now think it’s a community that cherry picks acceptable comments.

      Violet wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • I kept waiting for her to say that she realized her symptoms were due to an eating disorder as well, and I’m surprised that wasn’t mentioned in this post anywhere. Obviously grain isn’t the only thing to blame here! I find many of these stories inspirational, but some do seem to convey unhealthy obsession with thinness and controlling diet. Katrina looks happy and healthy in the final pictures, though, and it sounds like she now has her vitality back, so that’s great.

        Maya wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • I agree. It sounds like she struggles with severe body dysmorphia and disordered eating. There’s no way she eats enough calories or carbohydrate to support her activity.

      Gina A. wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Please don’t accuse me of something I do not do. I actually love my body and everything I’m worth. I’m grateful every single day to have the friends and family that I do and to have all the amazing opportunities I’ve encountered.
        I do not have disordered eating; these concerns really should stop already.
        You also do not live with me so you wouldn’t know that I actually do eat enough and fuel my body with healthy fats to run off of as fuel. I’ve done plenty of research and have found what works for me.

        Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  26. Hi Katrina – reading your story I too wondered if celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity could have been implicated in your symptoms – people with these conditions can become anaemic because the gut can’t absorb nutrients properly. That might also explain why you felt the sudden and dramatic relief coming off grains? Just a thought… both conditions involve an immune system malfunction in regards to gluten and can be very serious. You could have a look at Dr Tom O’Bryan’s website for more info. Last week I listened to 20 talks at The Gluten Summit, which he organised. I have a gluten sensitivity recently diagnosed after years of weird unexplained problems. Explains a lot.

    Good luck!

    Merridy wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Thank you Merridy for the additional resources and information. I never did get tested for Celiac Disease…the school health center didn’t get to that stage when I was meeting with the doctor there. There is definitely a possibility that I do have the disease, but I don’t plan on getting tested only because I feel too good without those foods, so I’m just doing what my body prefers.
      Thank you though! :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  27. Please do not accuse me of an eating disorder or try to diagnose someone over the internet, especially on MDA. You do not know me or know how I live; I shared this story and my personal journey on here to shed light on how living paleo will benefit one’s health and overall well being. Okay so I’m thinner than someone else. But, please do not point a finger at me and tell me how I should live.
    I eat how I do and work out for the pure mental benefits of it. As a biomedical engineering major, school is a huge stress and being able to play tennis and run better than ever before really helps me perform well in school.
    I consume the amount of carbohydrates that I stated and less than that because I recognize how my body reacts and is able to tolerate such amounts. We are all different and have different genetics. My body can only handle so many carbohydrates and is healthy the way it is.

    Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Hi Katrina. I think you look great in your after pictures! Though you may have been a “healthy weight” according to BMI beforehand, you are clearly leaner and healthier looking in your after pics. There is a preconceived notion among many that the BMI is the scale that we should all follow. Problem is, there are some of us that for one reason or another are outliers. I find myself in that category but on the higher end because I have an athletic physique and despite being lean, I am considered “overweight” by BMI. This becomes a problem when applying for disability or life insurance.

      Some people will find themselves on the lower end of the BMI range or below and still be very healthy and my bet is that you are probably one of those, mainly because of a small frame. I know several athletes who fall in to this category but in no way would I ever consider them to look unhealthy. You still have curves for crying out loud! Clearly you have good muscle mass. I don’t see the fine detail of all your subcutaneous veins and individual fascicles of your muscle fibers through your skin that are characteristic of extremely low (and unhealthy) body fat percentage.

      I understand the concerns that some have expressed on this message board but if you are happy with how you feel and look, don’t worry about what anyone else says (not that you seem concerned).

      Nice work and congratulations!

      Ryan wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Thank you so much Ryan for the comment; I greatly appreciate it :)

        Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Katrina – Don’t sweat the haters. That’s all they are. You look great. I’m a man and have been thin but muscled all my life and it’s completely normal.

      I know lots of people who are just ‘cut’ and ‘lean’ naturally. Hell, take a trip to Asia, Europe, etc., and you’ll see literally billions of very lean people. Many people in the USA just can’t believe that very slim people can be healthy. Haters gonna hate and you’ll waste precious time and energy trying to convince them otherwise. Just ignore them! You’ll never convince them and it doesn’t matter!

      Too those that think this is a ‘forum’: This is not a forum, this is success story blog post. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT YOU. There’s a forum – go there and make it about you. Have some respect.

      Oh, and congrats!

      Tommy S. wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Thank you so much Tommy for the encouragement :)

        Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  28. Hi
    I too was kind of surprised that you looked fantastic in the first pics but when you started to lose weight from an illness started to like yourself better from a visual point of view
    I don’t want to attack or criticize, but what concerns me is when wanting to be healthy turns into an eating disorder, and no one addresses it.
    I have been primal for several years and am huge advocate of eating this way. As a psychotherapist i have clients who want so much to be thin and muscular, ie, no body fat, who work out and eat in disordered ways. It might be a shadow side to the health community.

    Marla wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • I never had a problem with my body before losing weight; I simply did it to perform better for tennis.
      I had a viral infection and didn’t know why I had it.
      I eliminated certain foods out of my diet and my health dramatically improved and I had/still have very high energy levels, while maintaining a very positive outlook on life and a positive body image.
      Thank you for your comment/concern but I really do love my life and being healthy.

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
      • Hi Katrina – First of all, great job on your mature and non-reactive responses to some of the comments on here today. I actually agree with those who left comments about concerns for your health and, although I think they did it in a sensitive way that is very genuine, I can see how after being so open with your story and so obviously happy to share your success with the Primal lifestyle, it might be easy to read a little criticism or judgement in there as well.

        You are clearly an intelligent young woman who has made some educated choices and found what works best for you. My only concern would be the long term viability of this current approach but I’m sure you will adapt as life and circumstances change.

        All the best!

        tenderfoot wrote on November 22nd, 2013
        • Thank you so much for your response and kind words. Of course things may change with time and my body may want something different whether it’s a change in what/how much I’m eating or the amount of exercise and type that I do. Whatever the case, I plan to listen to my body and do what is best for it.

          I think I mentioned this previously in a different reply, but I’ll state it here as well. I have received many hurtful and judgmental looks and comments over the past couple of years with this journey. I understand not everyone will approve or agree with the choices that I make, but then again I may not agree with what they do for themselves either. I’m not blaming people for their judgments because when people who know me personally before and after this journey, they are shocked by how “thin” I am. People that meet me now for the first time just think I’m petite and tiny.
          Regardless of any criticism on this post today and comments I’ll probably receive in the future, I know my body well and I listen to it. I’m just doing what is best for me and I don’t see any problems with doing just that.

          Thank again for the comment and all the best with you as well!

          Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  29. I loved your story Katrina, its a great example of the health changes instead of focusing on weight. I myself get alot of comments about being too skinny, which by the way is just as hurtful as calling someone fat. I don’t eat till lunch, because it works better for me that way but this gets some people questioning me about starving myself . People disturbute weight differently and some of us tend to the slimmer side. Sounds like you are full of energy, feel great on the inside and know how to listen to your body. Keep it up and you look great :)

    Rebecca wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Wow, thanks Rebecca for the comment and kind words. I’m glad you can relate on this whole topic. I definitely agree with your comment on how people distribute weight differently, it’s so true!
      Anyways, I just wanted to thank you; all the best :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  30. Great job on sorting out your issues, Katrina. It’s frustrating to be sick all the time. I was really ill about 1.5 years ago and have developed gluten & other intolerance since. The body is a strange thing.

    I hope you don’t take offense at all of the concern for you. There are tons of people with eating disorders, and when people see very thin girls, they worry. Just nice people concerned about you.

    Only you know what is healthy and strong for you & you look really happy!

    Colleen wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  31. Hot, hot, hot!

    goldfish wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  32. Grok On Katrina!

    I think you are right on track.

    No one knows your body better than yourself. My wife sometimes gets comments like “Your too thin” but that is so relative. The majority of people around us are a little over weight, a lot over weight, lacking mucle and strenth, eating poor quality foods, so of course, relative to the average that might be the impression. She eats lots of great food, is super active, is super strong and looks fantastic in a bikini!

    I will not minimize the concern that some people do have serious eating disorders. But those folks who are questioning you over this forum…… can we see some full body images of you too?

    Cheers :)

    Joe Barlow wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Joe, thank you for your response. I certainly agree with your comment about my body composition relative to the normal/average these days. I do feel great though!

      Grok on!! :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  33. Just keep on keeping on, Katrina. You know what you’re doing!

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  34. I look how you do in the “after” pics, also 5 ft and my weight is low 90s. I wish I could look how you did in “before,” more curves.

    Miryem wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  35. There are classic signs of an eating disorder all over this. That is why some people are saying so. You may not have an ED, but that doesn’t change that your actions are typical for one.

    Diagnosing over the internet is a classic activity here at MDA. Saying the word “eating disorder” shouldn’t be any more or less accepted than suggesting someone is pre-diabetic or “killing themselves” or XYZ other things we hear here.

    And this is coming from someone who has had an eating disorder.

    Jess wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  36. Man some of these people need to keep their opinions to themselves.

    This is Friday at MDA and it’s supposed to an inspiring day where we get to celebrate the many successes of those that have the courage to share personal details on the web. Not a day for people to plaster the comments section with their own insecurities and pseudo-intellectual claptrap.

    Congratulations on your success, Katrina. It appears to me that you’ve earned it.

    daniel wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Thank you so much Daniel, your words of encouragement mean a lot! I completely agree with you :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • +1, Daniel.

      BillP wrote on November 23rd, 2013

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

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