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. You’re my inspiration, Katrina! We have different stories but our lowest weight is the same. I’ve only seen one other paleo story of paleo eaters who seek to gain weight. SAD eaters think this way of eating is strictly for weight loss and being so small I’m sure you can imagine the backlash i’ve received. I’ve been skinny all of my life but I dropped a ton of weight due to circumstances. I’ve been flunctuating from 70-90% paleo for a while. It is only when I keep away from caffeineated beverages does my weight begin to creep up. The only problem now is giving up that caffeine addiction. Yikes! But this post is truly motivational and I wish you a big congratulations on your journey and am thankful to know I am not alone.

    Lauren F. wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Aww, Lauren thank you so much for your response! It mean’s a lot to have inspired others. Honestly, I just switched to paleo with hopes to get stable energy and better health which I certainly received. The minor weight gain was just another bonus.
      But thank you again, and I wish you the best of luck!! :)

      Katrina wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  2. Good for you!

    As a fellow tiny but mighty (I’m stealing that!) person at 4’11” and 90lbs, just ignore all the people who are criticizing. I made myself sick at one point by eating too much over a few months trying to gain weight (which never worked, even with Paleo), from listening to criticism about how thin I was. People’s bodies are different. Stop internet diagnosing eating disorders people!

    You look happy and healthy, and that’s what’s awesome!

    Wafaa wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • Tiny but mighty, you go!! But thank you for your personal insight on the topic, I appreciate it and glad other people can relate, thank you :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  3. Nice story Katrina!

    Mike Troy wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  4. As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder, this post threw up a lot of red flags for me. It seems like you are 1) using the paleo to achieve that feeling of “lightness” that is so addicting in the midst of an eating disorder, 2) using paleo as means to further restrict your diet, 3) calling your self “pudgy” when you were an athletic 121 pounds , 4) the bingeing…counterintuitive to most as a symptom of a restrictive eating disorder, but it is very common to binge eat after restricting for so long, 5) the pictures…yes, some people are naturally thin and are healthy at lower weights, but based on your history, I strongly believe you are not this exception.

    And finally, I know that you will disregard all of these observations because eating disorders have a way of making you be in denial of your own symptoms. I know I don’t know you, but you remind me so much of myself when I was sick and didn’t know it. I could be completely wrong in my assumptions, but I have a terrible feeling that I’m not. Having an eating disorder can kinda of feel like a high a first, but then it really sucks and is really scary. So, I don’t know….be careful? Be kind to yourself? Maybe look into your schools mental health services?? You are a beautiful girl in all the pictures that you submitted, but I am worried that your lower weight is not a healthy and sustainable one. Good luck…I hope I am wrong about the disordered eating aspect, and I wish you health and happiness!

    Elizabeth wrote on November 22nd, 2013
    • +1

      Maya wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Maya, Thanks for your reply above and here. It seems, though, that you and me and Elizabeth and Bayrider and others are ‘haters’.

        Violet wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • +1 here as well, as someone who at the same age dealt with an eating disorder. This story threw up a lot of flags for me as well, so much so that I came back today to look at comments to see if others felt the same way. That said, when I look back at my years of food restriction and body image issues, I think how different it would have been to think about my health instead of my thinness. And primal allows us to do that. Katrina, I hope you know that the concerns being raised here are being raised from a place of caring, not criticism.

      Viv wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • +1

      Katy wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • +1

      Grace wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • You know, I’ve been rather polite and respectful to the “negative” comments and concerns about my tiny frame, but this comment is a little much for me.
      If I was starving myself, would I have been able to run 7 miles yesterday at a 7:20 minute pace?
      Would I be able to have the mental capacity and focus to play tennis?
      Would I be able to comprehend and excel in my tough engineering courses?
      Would I have bursts of euphoria for how happy I am through out the day if I was not eating enough?
      My story was a combination of events that happened in over a 2 year span. I went through changes and phases, but at the end of the day all those struggles and lower points produced something great. I have found a lifestyle that gives me happiness and a reason to wake up in the morning.
      Would I be this happy and optimistic about life if I was starving myself?

      I’m not in denial whatsoever. I know what my body wants and I live the way I want to be happy.
      I don’t need mental help and I’ve sustained this weight for quite some time now effortlessly.
      You know, I have a great family, great friends, and the best boyfriend I could possibly ask for, if I really had a problem don’t you think they would have suspected it?
      I only raise all of these questions, because I understand that you may have dealt with an eating disorder, and I’m sorry that you had to go through that and hope that you are in a better state now, but I feel great and I know I’m healthy.

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Yes, you would be able to do many of those things…for a while. It’s called catecholamines. And youth. I sincerely hope your current lifestyle doesn’t haunt you in the future! Those of us “negative” (aka concerned) commenters are just speaking from experience. I only WISH someone had said something to me about the importance of getting ENOUGH calories (like about 3000) years ago!

        And no, nobody around you would suspect anything. Because when you’re young and cute in a very visual- and appearance-oriented society, looks are everything. Most people don’t recognize eating disordered behavior unless they’ve been through it themselves.

        Gina A. wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • This is the most concerning post to me. Bursts of euphoria are a classic eating disorder symptom with a physiological basis. Absolutely classic.

        The other things sound great but are also completely compatible with an eating disorder. There may not be one in this situation, but I’m concerned about other young women trying to emulate this behavior. With the right genes, it could trigger an eating disorder disguised as concern for health. This blog should really be editing these posts more carefully. Not for the writer, who may be fine, but for everyone else.

        zinnia wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Thanks for posting ~ too many red flags. I can’t believe Mark hasn’t addressed this. Friday stories are about celebrating … not ignoring. All teenagers are highly impressionable and not many are able to see / understand damage to the body at such a young age. You feel good at 19 because the body can still kind of cope. But not eating all afternoon on that lifestyle doesn’t do good for the body or psyche.

      I also don’t know why people on this site claim people who are concerned are “haters”. This post and comments has all but put me off MDA. So superficial and bizarre. I have taught teens for 5+ years and at least 3 in every class are anorexic. Again, not eating all afternoon and into the next day is not a good daily lifestyle. I actually think the congratulatory comments are off – dangerous.

      Renee wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • I completely agree! So many red flags here, and it concerns me that very few others are, well, concerned.

        Elena wrote on November 25th, 2013
  5. Great to see how much better you look Katrina. I was talking to a dietician a week or so back and while she’s conventionally trained, she’s also open minded enough to appreciate the rationale behind the primal-paleo approach. Still she does have serious reservations on saturated fat (her being conventionally trained this is only to be expected) and her take on grains is well, a bit on the fence. While maintaining that the grains issue ‘isn’t quite as cut and dried as Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf make it out to be’ by the same token she accepts that they’re a recent addition to the human diet and ‘there are probably a lot of people who should keep their grains consumption to a bare minimum or avoid them entirely’ and she would no doubt say that you certainly fit that category.
    So we are getting there, slowly but surely

    Paul in Australia wrote on November 22nd, 2013
  6. http://www.capitalregioncaveman.comble assess and make adjustments at such a young age. I think most people reading this site wish they had been that far ahead of the curve.

    As far as any negative comments that were posted; to me, it seems like you did recognize there was a point your weight became unhealthy (you mentioned 89), and you addressed it.

    You look healthy and fit. And it sounds like you feel great and are doing well academically. Keep doing what you are doing. Best of luck.

    Justin wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Thank you so much Justin for the response, I realized that being at that low of a weight without changing the amount of food I was consuming was a problem and that something was not right with my body internally. Some weight naturally was put back on when I started to feed my body with what it really needed.
      Thank you for the positivity and all the best with you :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Katrina, you are welcome.

        Just wanted to add two things:

        First, sorry about the weblink in the text, it is some sort of formatting issue with the browser on my tablet, it was properly in the website text field when I sent it and it actually messed up what I wrote. Anyway, I believe it said “Katrina, congratulations on being able to assess… ‘

        Second, I think most peoples negative comments are in caring nature, but I’ll add some anecdote. My wife is ectomorphic in body type, and this is natural, even if she (when she used to) eat like crap. I mean she can/could eat a sheet cake, fast food, a bag of potato chips, bag of candy and a 2 liter bottle of soda daily and not gain an ounce and still have a low or low normal BMI. Her blood sugars and cholesterol were better than mine as well. Since I cook all the meals and do most of the food shopping, you can imagine what happened when I cleaned up my diet and she did too. Anyway, she does eat very cleanly now, but she’s at best more Weston A Price whole foods than Paleo. However, even while eating large meals with high fat and limited exercise (walks dog, strength trains at gym once per week, rock climbs 1-2 times a week and during the summer hikes/paddles on weekends, nothing neurotic, high intensity or in excess) she lost 8lbs last year on a cleaner diet and never put it back on.

        5’7” 118-120 to 110-112. I think she might be at about 112 right now. And yeah, she takes crap for being naturally thin (ectomorphic). But she is healthy (rarely gets sick), strong, and feels great. She also has her period regularly every month, a sign she is not too thin. She can’t eat more, or eat many more calories. In fact the reason she lost weight, I assume, is the quality of her calories is better and the food more filling so she eats nearly equal calories (maybe more) but she snacks on less sugar and grains (though she still eats grains to a limited degree).

        Bottom line, everyone that assumes every woman who is very thin is starving herself is being very detrimental to that woman’s psyche. My wife was actually ashamed when she realized she lost 8lbs, she already takes crap for being around 120 lbs, and people she knows with are actually mean to her because she is naturally so thin while they spend hours at the gym and eat what they believe is healthy low fat. Meanwhile, if a man drops to the low end of his normal BMI with the neurotic eating tendencies of this community, EVERYONE tells him how healthy he is and how awesome Paleo is. Double standard, folks?

        It’s great to be concerned, but don’t let your concern be damaging by becoming an accusation.

        Justin wrote on November 24th, 2013
        • That’s interesting. I think by the sound of things, your wife came up lucky in the genetic lottery. I know from looking around my own family and social circle, that there that there are people like your wife who can absorb a considerable amount of grains without detriment to their health or waistlines and others who like me, clearly can’t.

          Paul in Australia wrote on November 24th, 2013
  7. Wow Katrina – you’ve turned a bad health situation around and are looking great and healthy. In addition, you’ve provoked quite a debate on this site. As others have said, don’t worry about BMI or the scales – use Mark’s LGN scale and if you like what you see, it’s good.

    Grokesque wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Thank you very much for the response, I do like who I am and wouldn’t change a thing :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • What is the LGN scale, please?

      jean wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • lookgoodnaked

        ROY wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  8. How funny, that same Kashi cereal is what caused me to question the wisdom of the conventional diet also. How could something supposed to be so healthy, cause so much intestinal gas. Kidney beans were another, until I decided the foods we eat shouldn’t cause such havoc on our system. Ditching grains also helped to get rid of stomach issues I had for most of my life.

    Mark wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  9. Comment section aside, I’m really loving a lot of these recent success stories that focus on health more than on weight, where the weight is just an incidental side-effect of a healthy life-style.

    dragonmamma wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Wheat is poisonous. Remove wheat from diet, replace with primal food, health improves. Simple enough.

      ROY wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  10. Hi Katrina! I think it’s great you were able to find health and happiness with the paleo lifestyle! You mentioned binges briefly and I’m curious how you overcame the bingeing– I was never able to get out of the cycle. I’d eat paleo then binge and repeat for what was about a year. It was so miserable. If you could talk a little bit about how long the bingeing lasted/how you dealt with it/how you finally stopped that’d be great! (obviously I’m pretty interested in bingeing as it has taken me about two years and forgoing a paleo lifestyle to recover fully, so I’m curious how paleo finally worked for you).

    Effie wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Hi there, the binging that I started to do lasted about 8 months…it was not fun to live with whatsoever. It would happen every few days, sometimes spurred by stress and sometimes not. But when it happened, it’d be on lots of grains and dairy which didn’t help my digestion at all. By the 8 month mark, I had a few bad nights in which the thoughts and feelings that crossed my mind I wish to never experience again. Those moments motivated me to end the binging for good and I really did just that. Finally ending that period allowed me to pursue paleo 100% and the longer I stayed paleo, the less thoughts I had to binge. I really made a promise to myself to not only love myself but to respect by body and the binging was probably one of the worse things I could do to it and put it through all that stress.
      It’s a relief to be able to look at food and not get anxious and to have bad days but not feel compelled to down 11 brownies or a pint of ice cream.
      Now, I do have something sweet on a daily basis but it’s all paleo friendly and it satisfies my sweet tooth without going overboard. I hope this somewhat helps and feel free to ask more questions. Binge eating is not okay and you feel so out of control that it’s kind of scary…I’m very grateful to have been able to overcome that part of my life.
      I wish you the best of luck :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • Thanks so much for the thoughtful response! 8 months must have been terrible and I am sorry you experienced that. Would you say that sticking to the paleo lifestyle helped you especially because you had digestion/health issues? As others have acknowledged, from what you said about Kashi it’s clear you have a gluten intolerance. If you hadn’t had those health issues would you have persisted with paleo even through the binges? Would the science claims have been enough for you? This might be too hypothetical of a question but I guess I’m trying to understand what keeps people pursuing the lifestyle (something I ultimately chose not to do 100% as it fueled my disorder) even if it causes binges at times (which was mentioned in another post a few weeks ago). Thanks!

        Effie wrote on November 23rd, 2013
        • Paleo has tremendously helped all of my past digestive troubles and has allowed me to think clearer as well which helped reduce the binging tendencies. If I didn’t get those stomach pains or terrible flatulence I would probably still be consuming pastas and breads and dairy still only because I didn’t have any reasons to stop eating those foods. I developed the binging after my viral infection started to clear up and I was trying to fully transition to paleo during the binging months which was tough but with time it did happen.
          I stick with paleo because I feel great every day consuming foods that fuel my body. It really is life changing and because I feel good, I stick with it and that’s my personal motivation to keep me going. I hope this helps Effie!

          Katrina wrote on November 24th, 2013
  11. Katrina, I really enjoyed your transition story. It’s so nice to hear about people listening to their body and then making the changes to return to health. Good girl, tiny and mighty! I tell people who are petite that they are more efficient since they can do a full human in less space than the rest of us (me being 5’7″ or 5’10” with shoes). Sure there are some advantages to being taller but the best basketball player in my high school was the shortest guy. More efficient, closer to his center of gravity, zip, zip, zip and score.
    My only warning is to beware of people that like to try to lift your tiny self up, when I was petite little girl that happened to me a LOT. 😀

    2Rae wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Thank you for such a nice response. I like being short and there are definitely perks to having a petite frame. Luckily with tennis and running, height helps but it isn’t everything. :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  12. Katrina, this is a great story and you look great in the after pictures, thin and toned muscles. Amazing!
    Another tiny one here… one inch shorter than 5 feet. I was 86-87 lbs in my twenties and thirties, only went over 100 lbs during pregnancies and now in my forties I am 92 lbs. No health issues, lots of energy, so please stop telling us we are too thin. Go to Europe, most people look like this too.
    I have been paleo for over a year now, my objectives were not to loose or gain weight (I have not), just to try to alleviate my perimenopausal symptoms (seems to work) and decrease my fasting blood sugar (does not work).

    Natalie wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Natalie, thank you for input. It’s nice to see that there are other people out there who are on the tinier side. As long as you are healthy, with lots of energy, and happy there should be nothing wrong with what shows on the scale. I’ve never been to Europe, but I can only imagine. :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  13. Forget this BMI-rubbish! It does not work for very small and very tall people. Katrina, you look (and obviously feel) perfect! You´re definitely NOT too skinny! You were – sorry! – too fat in the before-pics :-) . 120 or so is way too much for a young, small girl like you. Maybe it is common in the US. Nevertheless it´s not “normal”. Now you look perfect!

    And for all who call it an eating disorder: please read “The Primal Blueprint” and think about our ancestrals and their eating habits! Intermittent fasting – better say: only eating when you´re hungry – is the best way to keep Grok “alive”. I mostly prefer skipping lunch. Simply because I´m not feeling hungry for at least ten hours after having had a primal breakfast without carbs. Others (like Katrina) prefer to skip dinner. And others do not feel the urge to eat in the morning. And all of them DO NOT have an eating disorder. They just eat when they´re hungry, and give it a miss when they´re not.

    So keep on, Katrina! And be an inspiration for other small and young ladies! And for me, too :-) !

    Günther wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Gunther, thanks for the encouragement and kind words, it really means a lot to me. I’m happy I can be an inspiration for others so thank you :)

      Katrina wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  14. Hi to all – I have been following the comments, and thinking a good bit about the debate as to how some of us are worried about what we hear in Katrina’s story and some of us are not. For what it’s worth, I do hear caring and warmth on all sides – haven’t gotten a “hater” hit off of any comment at all. Though it would all be hard to read as the person sharing their story, no matter what. Anyway, I had a thought, having been though my own long and wild ride with chronic health issues and low body weight – and that is, a pretty reliable fundamental measure of a young (or not yet menopausal) woman’s health is her menstrual cycle. We can lose our regular periods from intentional calorie restriction, such as in anorexia, or from low weight caused by severe imbalances in adrenal, thyroid, and endocrine function. Basically, in both cases, the hormones are way off. So – I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that Katrina should speak to this here – I think this has all probably been enough as it is – but I wanted to share this thought as an additional aspect of how we can judge our own health status or that of a young woman.

    Sarah wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  15. Hi Katrina,
    I’m glad you’re feeling better energy wise! I also have had severe carb cravings in the past and its difficult to manage, much better on the low carb diets.

    I’m glad you sought help when you were feeling ill. I hope you continue to build a repertoire of skills to cope with stress as you progress with your aspirations in school. Self-care is a complex topic, and it might not help to check in with someone familiar with eating and exercise patterns to screen for disordered patterns… I’m also concerned with some of the aspects you related in your story– still dieting and exercising extensively when you were ill, binging and following that with more exercise in a purging-type method…

    You’re clearly a strong, determined, and brave individual who has a tremendous amount of potential and a bright future! Do all you can to take care of yourself!

    SarahK wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  16. I’m also sad to see the initial weight being criticized. It was well within the limits of a normal weight for that height and considering it unhealthy or overweight is insane. The current weight may be healthy, but that doesn’t make the previous weight unhealthy–Healthy weights vary! It’s sad and unnerving to see such negative body talk. Best of luck to the writer.

    zinnia wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  17. Hi Katrina,

    I’m also a current college student, and I’m just wondering how you managed to eat paleo in college? I find it’s hard to find meat that’s not cooked in refined oil, eat a variety of veggies while living in a dorm w/ no kitchen, etc. Any tips?

    Elle wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • Elle, thanks for the response! I’m a junior in college and live off campus so I don’t have a meal plan anymore so I buy and cook all my meals. When I was on the meal plan last year I didn’t even have a lot of meals because I got a low meal plan to be able to cook some things myself. But, when I would eat in the dining halls, I’d have eggs (hard boiled or was able to cook them myself) with veggies and meat and some cheese (before I became intolerant). The dining halls at my college had plenty of fresh fruit so I always stocked up on that. For lunches, I’d eat deli meats and cheeses or some chicken (not the biggest salad fan) but the dining halls also have a great salad bar. Basically I stayed away from the fast food areas and pasta/pizza sections. I always enjoyed when the dining halls would cook roasted meats with seasoned veggies.
      It’s definitely possible, and also I would have plenty allergy friendly treats in my room that id purchase online to snack on.
      Also, sometimes you need to just deal with what your college offers and make the best of it. It’s difficult to find “high quality meats and dairy” but just make your best judgment!
      Hope this helps :)

      Katrina wrote on November 24th, 2013
  18. You look and sound healthy Katrina. Keep going. You have made a dicision and realization early in your life and you will be forever greatful to your own young self.

    Tanja wrote on November 24th, 2013
  19. Very impressive transformation. You have an ideal body now. Congrats!

    James wrote on November 24th, 2013
  20. Did anyone read Marks comment about the purpose of the Friday stories? It takes courage to share, and we all should be showing support or just shutting up. Paleo is not just about weight! Katrina had inner health problems and has been healed by going primal, so lets feel happy for her :)
    MDA has been gettin more and more “paleo police” commenting, and it is changing the spirt of the site.

    Rebecca wrote on November 24th, 2013
  21. Hi Katrina,

    Thanks so much for your response! I’m just wondering, how much leeway do you allow yourself about the veg oils and sugar that’s in the meat and healthier stir fries and such? I don’t know if I’m being too worried about it, or if it’s a legitimate concern because it’s definitely not primal, and I can sometimes feel the inflammation as a consequence from eating it.

    Elle wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • To be honest the oils and added sugar were too much to think about. I did my best with my options. At least for what I ate in the dining halls once I started paleo were mainly eggs and homemade omlets (again I had 10 meals a week so I used most of them for breakfast), fresh fruit, and veggies for my eggs. For lunches I stuck with deli meat or chicken with cheese. Dinners I would cook myself. I always stuck with steamed veggies or fresh veggies from the salad bar. If you feel kind of blah or sick from eating foods with certain oils then I would stay away from them…in the dining hall where I go to school there is a special program where if you do have legitimate food allergies you are offered allergy free food choices (but you had to have the doctor’s note on it).
      My best advice is to just do the best you can; stick with as fresh as possible and most nutritious :)

      Katrina wrote on November 24th, 2013
  22. Hi Katrina,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s always inspiring to hear about people who made the connection between gut dysfunction and wheat and decided to ditch the wheat instead of declaring “I’d die without my pasta!” I especially like reading such stories because my own friends have chosen to continue eating wheat instead of listening to the pain signals their bodies give them, and it is sad to watch their health decline.

    I’ll acknowledge that I am one of the people who thought you looked normal in your before pics, and maybe looked a bit too skinny in your after pics, but I do know that some people are naturally lean, and especially if they are athletic and active, they are going to look really skinny compared to the average person. Overall you look to have a glow of health and happiness, and you report being able to do everything you want to do, so that is really important!

    I think the main thing that raises a flag for people who used to have eating disorders is your report of euphoria – “Would I have bursts of euphoria for how happy I am through out the day if I was not eating enough?” Maybe it’s just your use of the word – euphoria is a very strong, peak emotion and even for emotionally stable, happy people, it is experienced only rarely and in conjunction with highly charged emotional events. Experiencing frequent bursts of euphoria as one goes about one’s daily activities is NOT normal – it is a sign that something is off biochemically, just as bouts of depression are symptoms of dysfunction as well. Euphoria also takes a considerable biochemical toll (just like depression does) which is another reason why euphoric states are cause for concern.

    Of course, only you can know if you are experiencing the extreme state of euphoria, or just little happy buzzes that you are calling euphoria.

    I wish you continued success and health on your primal journey, and thanks again for sharing.

    Angel wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • Thank you Angel for your response :)
      Just to clarify about my “euphoria” comment, I just get periods of the day where I’m happy and they are more frequent the longer that I’ve been paleo. While I was sick with a viral infection I was just so unhappy, miserable, depressed, and had absolute no energy for anything. In comparison for how I felt with the infection to now, yes feeling happy and positive I would refer to euphoria for what I did go through.

      Katrina wrote on November 24th, 2013
  23. I took pictures of myself in my beginning Paleo days, in order to end with the “after” pictures and to send in my health success story. But my before pic looks skinnier than most people’s success pix, so I decided not to send them in.

    At 5’5″ and 108 lbs as a young adult, I was constantly being accused of eating disorders, when in fact, I simply was naturally thin coupled with a failure to thrive on my SAD diet. Screw being skewered by strangers on the web. Jeez.

    Great story Katrina. I have been thin all my life and my Paleo success has to do with getting rid of things like bloating, inflammatory conditions and clogged sinuses. As well, I was “skinny-fat” as Mark coined the term. Now three years into paleo I am 125 lbs and strong. Thank you for sharing your success story. Looks like you are thriving on Paleo, and when you reach my age you should not have any of the issues that many of us middle-aged folks do.

    Pure Hapa wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • Thank you for the response and congrats on you primal/paleo journey so far! It’s so nice not to have any stomach troubles, bloating, inflammation, and fewer common colds. But, thanks again and Grok on :)

      Katrina wrote on November 25th, 2013
  24. Hi Katrina.

    I think you look beautiful in all of your pictures. And judging by your comments, you are certainly an intelligent young lady as well (geez I sound old – I’m 44). I too am on the skinny side and was a collegiate athlete. I too am enjoying better health since eating primally (only two months, I’m a newbie).

    I just wanted to say that you shouldn’t be put off by the comments on here about your weight being too low. Seems to me that these posters aren’t being ‘haters,’ they just want to make sure that with your daily weigh ins, exercise and fasting, your focus is on your health and not on your weight (and I completely understand exercising daily. When you’ve grown up playing sports, it’s something that your body just craves. I would go to yoga every single day if my schedule permitted).

    The only thing I would suggest is to ditch the daily weigh in. You know that you look and feel great. You don’t need the scale to tell you that.

    Anyway, listen to your body and best of luck to you.

    J.P. wrote on November 24th, 2013
    • Thank you J.P., I appreciate your positive response. I’m happy to see that you are also in better health since going primal.
      I exercise daily just to feel good and tennis is the biggest stress reliever for me and it feels effortless to play so I crave doing that most of the time. Running also helps me take my mind off school because I can’t be studying all day every day.
      I don’t weigh myself everyday, but it can be a habit sometimes, but what the number says isn’t a big deal for me and I know that it doesn’t matter what it says either.
      Thank you again for the response :)

      Katrina wrote on November 25th, 2013
  25. Friends, seriously, Mark is way too tan. I can see his abs through his skin. I am really worried about him.

    Sadly, many of these comments do not address Katrina’s health and life turn around but only an impression based on a few photos. Nor do they take into account that she is by her own report a small woman WHO SHOULD BE SMALL.

    Have we so distorted body image as a society that a fit healthy young woman is being pilloried? It’s not just SAD, it’s the vanity sizing and the various other smoke and mirrors we use to pretend that carrying around 10-20 extra pounds (regardless of BMI) in any way feels good. Maybe it does to some. It doesn’t to all of us. I kind of thought feeling awesome is what MDA is about.

    What I read is the story of someone who learned to listen to her body and made some significant changes and that her relationship to herself, life and others is in much better shape.

    We are not all the same which I hope we would have learned by now by reading this site. She is doing her best and it’s pretty good.

    Juli wrote on November 25th, 2013

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