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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 27, 2012

Not Your Typical Before and Afters

By Guest
118 Comments

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.

Background

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!

Katie

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118 Comments on "Not Your Typical Before and Afters"

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Paul Alexander
4 years 5 months ago

Looking much healthier and full of vitality in the second picture!
Congrats! 🙂

Anne
4 years 5 months ago

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!

Ariana
4 years 5 months ago

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!

Neandergirl
Neandergirl
4 years 5 months ago

Wonderful journey story Katie. Wish you the best! ~NG~

Mission Possible
Mission Possible
4 years 5 months ago

You look truly amazing. Keep it up.

Lynn
Lynn
4 years 5 months ago

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.

Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo
4 years 5 months ago

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.

Tyler
Tyler
4 years 5 months ago

Make sure your LDL calculations were done using the Iranian formula.

Looking great!

Justin Tadlock
4 years 5 months ago

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!

adam
adam
4 years 5 months ago

reminiscent of Lierre Keith’s story in her incredible book, “The Vegetarian Myth”.

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

Jenn
Jenn
4 years 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing! This was a helpful story for me!

Nathan
Nathan
4 years 5 months ago
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… Read more »
chocolatechip69
chocolatechip69
4 years 5 months ago

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.

Christopher Sturdy
4 years 5 months ago

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!

Rae
Rae
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Chance Bunger
Chance Bunger
4 years 5 months ago

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!

WildGrok
WildGrok
4 years 5 months ago

Congratulations, thanks for the inspirational story, you look radiant!

Tony
4 years 4 months ago

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 🙂

Milton Hondrakis
Milton Hondrakis
4 years 4 months ago

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!
Milt

stefanie
stefanie
4 years 4 months ago

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!

Carol
Carol
4 years 4 months ago

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.

einstein
einstein
4 years 4 months ago

I wish it was friday every day! Love these stories. Well done and good luck with your first job!

Grog
Grog
4 years 4 months ago

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!!

DmitriSmirnov
DmitriSmirnov
4 years 4 months ago

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?

Deuce
Deuce
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Alyssa
Alyssa
4 years 4 months ago

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 (:

Felix
Felix
4 years 4 months ago

Great story! Congratulations, you look healthy and great.

Pastor Dave
4 years 4 months ago

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!

Congrats!

Kieran
Kieran
4 years 4 months ago

WOW, what a result! you look amazing and healthy keep up the good work. 🙂

Marie
Marie
4 years 4 months ago

This post is great. So is your transformation and your blog, that I follow on a daily basis.
Thanks a lot for your inspiration!

Gustav Alexander
Gustav Alexander
4 years 4 months ago

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.

Andrea
Andrea
4 years 4 months ago

I KNEW that face was familiar! Already know your blog and LOVE it!

Erin
Erin
4 years 4 months ago

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!

Ruby
4 years 4 months ago

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!

trackback

[…] College vegetarian goes Primal, gets healthier […]

Becca
4 years 4 months ago

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 🙂

Steve
4 years 4 months ago

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… primal ladies are just hotter!

Paula
4 years 4 months ago

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…

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 4 months ago

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.

JoAnn
JoAnn
4 years 4 months ago

Your picture is lovely! This is a beautiful story. Congrats on figuring this out so young in life.

Sian
4 years 4 months ago

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!

rkd
rkd
4 years 4 months ago

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.

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 4 months ago

“I also pretty much quit running (long distances) the moment my foot crossed the finish line.”

That’s so funny.

Great job!

ezestreets
ezestreets
4 years 4 months ago

You look great!, An inspiration to us all

bradley
bradley
4 years 4 months ago

Great Job! There are plenty of Jobs in the field here in Florida.

ExpatJim
ExpatJim
4 years 4 months ago

Awesome. As a skinny fat person myself I really appreciate your story and empathise with many aspects. Thank you for sharing your experience and your enthusiasm.

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
4 years 4 months ago

Good stuff.
At first when I started reading MDA I skipped all the success stories, thinking I was being wiser using my internet time for other articles (after all, there’s so much to read here that about 15 months since I stumbled onto MDA I have yet to read every post), but recently I’ve been reading them and am feeling more inspired for it.

lostAnnfound
lostAnnfound
4 years 4 months ago

You look so wonderfully healthier & happier in that second picture! Great job! Thank you so much for sharing…

Jessica
4 years 4 months ago

Great story – thanks for sharing it! Everyone has a different path and I’m sure you’ll reach someone new with your experiences. You look great and three cheers for your success! Best wishes for the future. 🙂

trackback
4 years 4 months ago

[…] Check out my story on Mark’s Daily Apple today! Thanks for all the kind comments and emails I’ve been […]

Jill
Jill
4 years 4 months ago

Stunning transformation! I love that you adapted the Primal lifestyle as a young college student. You are headed down a healthy life path. I also checked out your blog, and it has made my favorites list.

Thanks, Mark for sharing this story!

Claire
Claire
4 years 4 months ago

What an inspiring transition!

Angi D.
Angi D.
4 years 4 months ago
Katie- thanks so much for sharing your story! I was a vegetarian for many years, so I found your post to be very relatable. I only recently started the transition to a primal lifestyle and can barely believe the difference! I had no idea that so many of my physical and emotional issues were linked to my former diet. I was so convinced in the healthiness of my eating habits that I was in denial that the problems were even there. It wasn’t until I started reading about the primal diet that I started to doubt myself. And, of course,… Read more »
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