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

Not Your Typical Before and Afters

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!

I’ve been debating writing this for quite some time, as I’m pretty shy when It comes to sharing personal details about myself. But if I can inspire just a single person with my story and spread the good word even a little bit more, then it’s well worth sharing. So thank you Mark for all that you do and for allowing me a platform to spread my not so typical journey to health with others.


As a young girl, with a family of four brothers, food was quick, cheap, and decently healthy. Lots of big casseroles and pasta dishes, some veggies, not much meat, cereal for breakfast, packed lunches for school, and rarely any fast food. Despite a somewhat standard American diet, I was a thriving, happy, and active kid.

I took an interest in health at a young age; around 11 years old I started going on jogs to get in shape for my competitive skating team. I did an agility training camp in the summer months for many years (yay sprinting!), and figure skated between 2-5 times a week for about 10 solid years. I also managed to squeeze in soccer, softball, basketball, and tons of outdoor playing time in between it all. To say I was active was a bit of an understatement, and I loved every sweaty second of it.

By the time I hit high school I was still just as active and eating “healthy”; oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, apple and peanut butter for snack, soup and salad with some meat for lunch, big salads with some protein for dinner, with some snacking in between it all. Although I was never overweight before, I lost some weight my senior year eating this way and felt pretty good despite usually being hungry.

Where Things Went Wrong

I continued down this “healthy” eating path until it went a little too far. I slowly slipped into a vegetarian lifestyle when I moved out on my own, mostly out of restriction but also convincing myself it was a much healthier lifestyle. That, with a combination of too little sleep and too much drinking, wound up with me having mono heading into my freshman year at college. I was the thinnest I had ever been, and friends and family were concerned.

But I continued eating this way for some time. No meat, very little fat, processed snacks, soy milk, veggies, beans – honestly I can barely remember what I survived off of. I just remember being hungry, having several anxiety attacks, sleeping AWFUL every night (out of hunger), being depressed, having eczema, dry patchy skin, no period, a very slow heart rate and very low blood pressure which frightened me, and I was constantly cold… The list could go on and on. My body was at an all time low.

Here I am my freshman year in the white; my lowest weight, and lowest level of health I’ve ever been (symbolically holding a packet of Crystal Light drink mix). For about two years my body remained at a low weight and I had most of those symptoms on and off.

Turning Point

My junior year of college things began to change. After an appointment with my doctor, discussing some symptoms (GI issues) and low iron levels, we considered food intolerances. I decided to cut out gluten to see what affect it had on me, and that very day decided to add meat back into my diet, after a 3-year hiatus. It was Thanksgiving break, so no better time than a good home cooked meal to kick things off. I didn’t exactly hit the ground running with this diet, it was tough, but I stuck it out (with the typical gluten free processed foods taking a front row seat of course). But pretty shortly after, my skin (acne) seriously cleared up, the eczema on my eye went away, and stomach issues I was having were subsiding.

I started getting more into proteins, a little fat, and more whole foods as the months ticked by. I was also training for my first marathon, so I took an interest in fueling properly. Around this time is when I stumbled on MDA. I remember reading article after article very late into the night and being amazed by this community and lifestyle that I had never heard of before.

My Primal transition was a very slow one. I wasn’t totally convinced on the fat thing right away. And I was a broke college student, so grass fed beef and leg of lamb weren’t exactly high on my grocery list. But over the course of a year I made small changes, and my health slowly improved along with these changes. I completed my first marathon in 4:07 feeling great, barely needing much sugar along the way and never hitting the wall. I also pretty much quit running (long distances) the moment my foot crossed the finish line.

That brings me to this past year, senior year of college. I got into weightlifting, and Crossfitting, and hung up my running sneakers. I continue to make small changes all the time; the peanut butter to almond butter took me a while. And within the past few months I’ve gotten even more into highly nutritious foods like fermented veggies, organs, sardines etc. I work hard as a part time waitress on top of classes so I can afford this lifestyle that makes me feel amazing. I’m still learning and tweaking everyday, but my recent doctors visit proved to me that everything is right on track:

My iron levels were up, my HDL was one of the highest my doctor has seen in her practice at 89 mg/dl, triglycerides were 48 mg/dl, LDL 117mg/dl and my body seemed to naturally put back on the weight it needed to.

But beyond the numbers, I’m happier than ever and I feel alive again. My skin is great, I have amazing energy, no anxiety, no depression, core temperature is normal, regular menstrual cycle, and tamed blood sugar and hunger levels… the list could once again go on and on. I don’t claim to be perfect; I live by my own 85/15 rule that seems to feel right for my body; I enjoy drinks with friends occasionally and probably eat more sweet potatoes than you… but I’m a hell of a lot better off than I’ve ever been before.

Here I am this past winter; a healthier weight, and enjoying life. Since then, and since finding Crossfit, I’ve toned up even more, although I don’t have a great photo to share.

I’m not your typical Primal success story; I didn’t go from obese to petite, and my cholesterol was never sky high. But I hope others can find some inspiration or relate to my story in a different way. The Primal lifestyle is not always about losing. It can be about gaining too; gaining health, happiness, and yes, even weight when you need to.

I’ve been writing a blog now, KatieDid, for about a year and it follows my Primal transition while sharing my love for photography, gluten-free recipes, love of Crossfit and fitness, and everyday life. Please stop by and say hi! (oh and if you’re looking to fill a job with a recent college grad with a major in exercise science, enthusiastic about life, look no further 😉 )

So thanks again, Mark, for building up a community of such smart, enthusiastic, healthy, and passionate people; I’m proud to be a part of it!


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. Looking much healthier and full of vitality in the second picture!
    Congrats! :)

    Paul Alexander wrote on April 27th, 2012
  2. Katie, I love how “unconventional” success stories keep us focused on the big picture: feeling good and being healthy!

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

    Anne wrote on April 27th, 2012
  3. Thanks for sharing your story! I agree that it is good to hear a range of starting points– they all seem to end the same though, don’t they? Radiant health, happiness, and gratitude. Wonderful!

    Ariana wrote on April 27th, 2012
  4. Wonderful journey story Katie. Wish you the best! ~NG~

    Neandergirl wrote on April 27th, 2012
  5. You look truly amazing. Keep it up.

    Mission Possible wrote on April 27th, 2012
  6. Yes. Thanks for sharing. The beauty of this blog is that it’s for everyone. And I believe everyone who follows the primal way of life benefits in one way or another. It’s wonderful that we’re all so diverse, yet have this connection we can share,encourage,and rejoice in. Your “before” and “after” pictures will surely help another struggling potential devotee. You healthy beauty is inspiring.

    Lynn wrote on April 27th, 2012
  7. Hey Katie, I’ve seen you around. :-) I am similar to you, slim but not necessarily healthy and I am constantly looking to improve my health so I totally relate to your story. Congratulations, great that you found this so young in life.

    Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo wrote on April 27th, 2012
  8. Make sure your LDL calculations were done using the Iranian formula.

    Looking great!

    Tyler wrote on April 27th, 2012
  9. You looked sick in that first picture, but now you look like a healthy, vibrant, and beautiful woman. Congratulations on completing the first part of the journey. Keep it up!

    Justin Tadlock wrote on April 27th, 2012
  10. reminiscent of Lierre Keith’s story in her incredible book, “The Vegetarian Myth”.

    a book i recommend to EVERYONE, vegetarian, primal, or neither…

    adam wrote on April 27th, 2012
  11. Thank you for sharing! This was a helpful story for me!

    Jenn wrote on April 27th, 2012
  12. Great story Katie and you look amazing! Your write-up was worth it and it’s great to share such a story.

    You’ve given me inspiration to regain my healthy habits – Easter break slowed me down a bit and I had a huge sugar binge last week. Of course I feel terrible now and I have skin issues too (mild acne), but I’m getting back on track. (Recently purchased both of Mark’s books and every recipe I’ve tried has been a success! – It’s like, who needs sugar now, it taste disgusting!)

    I’m so pleased for you, as a student on a small budget I know where you are coming from, but I guess you just have to try your best. Seriously, I’m so happy for you right now, as I type this post looking at how glowing and radiant you are :)

    Congrats on your graduation and I wish you a successful career doing something you clear enjoy.


    Nathan wrote on April 27th, 2012
  13. Katie, thank you so much for sharing. A very close frined of mine is in the same boat you’ve been in before your Primal transition.
    I will be sharing your story with her.

    chocolatechip69 wrote on April 27th, 2012
  14. Your story is excellent! Not everyone turns to Primal/Paleo for weight loss (myself included), and in fact, I would argue that for many this is not the driving force. Health issues beyond the scale and waist size are usually the catalyst for change. Congratulations on finding what works for you!

    Christopher Sturdy wrote on April 27th, 2012
    • Christopher,

      I agree with you re: the driving force. Although I am significantly overweight, I have shifted to primal/paleo because I felt bad every day of my life. Headaches and migraines, joint pain, back pain, acne, chronic fatigue… nothing really serious, just a lot of little “blah” feelings that totalled up to misery. I have been primal about 5 weeks now and I feel so much better! I am losing weight, but more than that, I am gaining health and vitality, really a zest for living I haven’t felt since I was a child! I never was totally sold on “looks are everything”, but feeling great is a powerful motivator and supreme driving force!

      Rae wrote on April 27th, 2012
  15. A young person with the smarts to pay attention to what their body is telling them and not listen to conventional wisdom – CEO’s hire this woman before you lose her to the competition!

    Chance Bunger wrote on April 27th, 2012
  16. Congratulations, thanks for the inspirational story, you look radiant!

    WildGrok wrote on April 27th, 2012
  17. Wow, Wow, Wow!! I love the Friday posts as they are always so inspirational. Love to see how well you’re doing Katie and the fact you’re blogging to get the info out there to others. Great work :)

    Tony wrote on April 27th, 2012
  18. Katie, I think it is great that you took charge of yourself, and make the necessery changes. To many people think that having health problems is just “bad luck”…but you did not play that game, and looked elswhere for answers..Congrats!

    Milton Hondrakis wrote on April 27th, 2012
  19. Great job, Katie! You look amazing and even though my issue is losing weight now, your first picture reminded me of myself in high school. Way too thin and I was sick ALL the time! It took me a lot longer to find MDA, but I am glad we both did☺ Congratulations on the great health!

    stefanie wrote on April 27th, 2012
  20. Katie – Thank you for sharing your story! I love hearing about people’s amazing weight loss, but I also love hearing about how living the Primal lifestyle improves people’s health! You’re a great inspiration.

    Carol wrote on April 27th, 2012
  21. I wish it was friday every day! Love these stories. Well done and good luck with your first job!

    einstein wrote on April 27th, 2012
  22. Sometimes we focus too much on the aesthetics of change that the Primal lifestyle produces but here’s another example of the amazing health benefits derived from this way of life.

    Wonderful job Katie. You look great and more importantly I’m glad you’re feeling great (and the health is ever improving)!!

    Great job!!

    Grog wrote on April 27th, 2012
  23. I’m glad you wrote this, Katie – your story has already inspired me! As a recent college grad, do you have any advice for staying primal for someone heading into college?

    DmitriSmirnov wrote on April 27th, 2012
    • I do. Put as much effort as you can into drowning out the arrogant, know-it-all mentality of the ‘academics’ you will find in large numbers there. Vegetarianism, veganism, ‘social responsibility’, etc are just a few examples of the elitist highbrow junk you will be assaulted by at all times on many college campuses. You will be told that these ideas are backed by science by ‘scientists’ who never spent a day doing real science but rather sell their scientific conclusions to anyone offering grant money. You will be told these things are morally righteous by people who live off the productivity of others. And people who pound ‘evolution’ junkscience into your head will even deny that this is the diet we evolved on for millions of years.

      College campuses are hotbeds for people looking to indoctrinate kids with limited perspective and an eagerness to expand their minds, into supporting any number of disingenuous schemes for their own benefit. I’d bet my life that much of the misinformation and disinformation that led Katie down the wrong nutritional path came from such sources. There are many competing and well funded agendas who endeavor to disingenuously shape people’s worldview to best suit their ends. College campuses are their recruiting offices and nutrition is one of the biggest ‘gateway’ topics used to do it.

      Beware the academics as you head off to college. And if your caution leads you to swear off college completely, so much the better.

      Deuce wrote on May 8th, 2012
  24. Your story is SO MUCH like mine!!! I’m a senior in high school. I was never very active, but was vegetarian and then vegan for a while, super skinny, no period, anxiety issues, anemic, and developed GI problems. Unfortunately mine were a little more severe (ulcerative colitis), and even primal couldn’t cure it, so I had my colon removed last summer and haven’t gotten rid of all those symptoms yet. I’m still hopeful though, and one thing that has improved is my blood sugar! I hope my story will end like yours someday soon (:

    Alyssa wrote on April 27th, 2012
  25. Great story! Congratulations, you look healthy and great.

    Felix wrote on April 27th, 2012
  26. Katie– what an incredible transition to the only way to eat!

    I wish all those people I know who are vegans and look pale and sickly would read your story and delve into MDA and the primal like you did!


    Pastor Dave wrote on April 27th, 2012
  27. WOW, what a result! you look amazing and healthy keep up the good work. :)

    Kieran wrote on April 27th, 2012
  28. This post is great. So is your transformation and your blog, that I follow on a daily basis.
    Thanks a lot for your inspiration!

    Marie wrote on April 27th, 2012
  29. Great story!
    I can relate to your development, i too went through some years on an almost vegetarian diet when i started high school. That made me far too skinny. Paleo/primal has also fixed this for me + greater energy levels, no cold hands and just generally happier. Amazing what food can do to you, eh?
    I really used to think it was just ‘some stuff that went into the body’ but good nutrition can really alter your mood radically. Especially when you’re coming from a vegetarian diet.

    Gustav Alexander wrote on April 27th, 2012
  30. I KNEW that face was familiar! Already know your blog and LOVE it!

    Andrea wrote on April 27th, 2012
  31. I look forward to the Friday success stories every week and it was a joy to read all that you gained through the primal lifestyle. You have a beautiful story and you look amazing in your picture! Congrats and keep up the good work!

    Erin wrote on April 27th, 2012
  32. This is a good one to send to my skinny vegan friends who have dandruff and eczema… thank you! Also, I’m loving the recipes!

    Ruby wrote on April 27th, 2012
  33. AHH! Congrats Katie. I already heard you’re story from your blog. But it’s so awesome to see you on Mark’s Daily Apple :)

    Becca wrote on April 27th, 2012
  34. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… primal ladies are just hotter!

    Steve wrote on April 27th, 2012
  35. The Crystal Light, dorm room, and skinny arms stopped me dead – deja vu. In the late 80’s grape Crystal Light was a deep-dark purple that left a hot pink stain on everything in the dorm room, my clothes, and around my mouth, no matter how careful I was. Congrats on getting it all together so young! Wish I knew then what I know now…

    Paula wrote on April 27th, 2012
    • Apparently lots of salmon, even wild ones that are kept alive for a couple weeks after being caught, are fed food pebbles with artificial colour in them that actaully dyes the meat.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 27th, 2012
  36. Your picture is lovely! This is a beautiful story. Congrats on figuring this out so young in life.

    JoAnn wrote on April 27th, 2012
  37. Katie – you look fabulous – well done you!

    And a great example of applying an 85/15 rule, getting all the benefits and having a great time too!

    Sian wrote on April 27th, 2012
  38. No more crystal light I take it?
    You look very good, eat all the sweet potatoes you want Katie – given your activity level I think it is for the best.

    rkd wrote on April 27th, 2012
  39. “I also pretty much quit running (long distances) the moment my foot crossed the finish line.”

    That’s so funny.

    Great job!

    Nicole wrote on April 27th, 2012

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