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. You look great!, An inspiration to us all

    ezestreets wrote on April 27th, 2012
  2. Great Job! There are plenty of Jobs in the field here in Florida.

    bradley wrote on April 27th, 2012
  3. 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.

    ExpatJim wrote on April 27th, 2012
  4. 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.

    Animanarchy wrote on April 27th, 2012
  5. You look so wonderfully healthier & happier in that second picture! Great job! Thank you so much for sharing…

    lostAnnfound wrote on April 27th, 2012
  6. 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. :-)

    Jessica wrote on April 27th, 2012
  7. 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!

    Jill wrote on April 27th, 2012
  8. What an inspiring transition!

    Claire wrote on April 27th, 2012
  9. 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, the real proof was in the pudding – as soon as I changed my eating, I felt so much better right away that it made it impossible to ignore all the issues that my previous choices had been facilitating. So, thank you again for posting b/c it is stories like yours that help others to start down the primal path!

    Angi D. wrote on April 27th, 2012
  10. Yay Katie! So happy to see this post!

    GrainFreeGroupie wrote on April 27th, 2012
  11. Congrats, you look great. Off to check out your blog now

    jolene wrote on April 27th, 2012
  12. You look so strong! Your amazing story will help keep me on track. Thanks, and keep it up!

    Paula Burrus Hinton wrote on April 27th, 2012
  13. I’d just like to say that compared to your first picture, you look absolutely gorgeous now. Just, WOW.

    Koen wrote on April 27th, 2012
  14. Beautiful story, Katie. You look so healthy and happy in the second pic. I too know the delusional thoughts and rationalizations that accompany severe restriction, even as a male; for a year I was a practicing vegetarian and got down to a ridiculously low weight, was tired, anemic, and miserable. I learned to love life again, and was able to regain my strength and vigor with the assistance of a primal lifestyle. Woohoo, attack life with gusto!

    Matt wrote on April 27th, 2012
  15. Congratulations! Great story! You look healthy and vibrant. Many of us are primal for health, not weight loss. Keep it up! Checking out your blog right now..

    mars wrote on April 27th, 2012
  16. What I love about the primal diet is that it’s not a diet for losing weight or gaining weight exclusively, it’s a lifestyle that helps you attain your optimal weight, whether that’s a net loss or gain. It’s like autopilot for health!

    Debra wrote on April 27th, 2012
  17. That smile in the second photo says it all!

    Karen wrote on April 27th, 2012
  18. Great job, Katie! I bet your “after-after” pictures are even more beautiful than your Christmas smile!

    ~heather~ wrote on April 27th, 2012
  19. You look radiant in you “after” photo. Great job of getting healthy! I had a similar problem when I was in my 20’s (30 years ago now – ouch!) and wish I had MDA to pick me up then. Great to see your results:)

    Hazel wrote on April 27th, 2012
  20. Great story – good to see one from the ‘other side’. PB is about health, not weight, but the 2 are inextricably linked.

    Odille Esmonde-Morgan wrote on April 27th, 2012
  21. Katie, you look beautiful! Good for you! And now I”m off to visit your blog! :)

    Connie wrote on April 27th, 2012
  22. Totally awesome changes. You looked gaunt and unhealthy before and radiant after. Anorexia is common in young girls and I am hoping MDA and the bloggers get that a rigid diet that restricts calories to the end that absence of periods and compromised health is not the way to go. Beautiful after pic. I hope that the lack of response to this so far does NOT indicate a total lack of getting it.( Where are you MDA people?) You go girl.

    Connie Austin wrote on April 27th, 2012
    • Thank you so much connie! There are a few pages of incredibly supportive and uplifting comments before yours also that maybe you didn’t see. I’m so grateful for everyone’s kind words.

      katie wrote on April 27th, 2012
    • Just so you know – I use Google Chrome pretty much exclusively and for some reaosn, not all the comments post right away. In fact, some of the comments don’t post until the next day. If I want to see the latest and greatest updated commets, I log in on FireFox.

      Meanwhile, on Firefox, the comments seem to post ASAP. (I don’t use IE so can’t give an opinion on it.) Not sure what’s going on — can anyone else shed some light on this????

      PrimalGrandma wrote on April 27th, 2012
      • I can’t shed any light – but I can see the comments from my Mac (using Safari) straight away, but comments are not visible from my PC (Internet Explorer) until much later. I had thought it might be because I’ve replied to posts via the Mac; my hypothesis had been that registered commenters see replies first? But maybe it is the browser? (I’ll have to try accessing MDA from the PC using Firefox…)

        Violet wrote on April 28th, 2012
        • My guess would be that MSIE isn’t **checking the BLOG itself** for the latest version (with newer comments), but is merely “serving” you an (earlier) copy that hadn’t yet been updated. By ALL means — drop MSIE…. doesn’t matter so much what you use in its place (I like Firefox, many prefer Chrome)… but MSIE is not yet ready for public use. {frown}

          (And, yes, that’s probably unfairly harsh, but I’ve struggled with (the non-standards-based and hard to use) MSIE (I’m a web designer) for a decade. HATE HATE HATE it!!)

          Elenor wrote on April 29th, 2012
  23. hey Katie, theres so much emphasis on losing weight these days (understandably) that people forget that you can come from the other end of the scales…you just made that point perfectly, you look amazing!!

    CHRIS wrote on April 27th, 2012
  24. It’s just amazing what the Primal Blueprint can do for you. I’ve had to switch to an anti-inflammatory diet because of gastritis and eating primal fits right into that. I can see my health improving every single day!

    Stephen wrote on April 27th, 2012
  25. What a smart, beautiful young lady! I’m so happy that you gained control of your health this early in life. You’re miles ahead in the game of life and blazing a trail for others to follow. Oorah!

    TruckerLady wrote on April 27th, 2012
  26. Great story! You look awesome. I have also experienced the benefits of skin improvement since embracing Primal. Keep up the good work.

    Dana wrote on April 27th, 2012
  27. What a great inspiration you are Katie! I am so glad you found your health!

    Donna wrote on April 27th, 2012
  28. Good for you! Looking & Feeling Vibrant & Healthy!

    ShelleyC wrote on April 27th, 2012
  29. Thanks for sharing your story Katie! You look so vibrant and healthy in the holiday photo :-) Wonderful story.

    yoolieboolie wrote on April 27th, 2012
  30. Hey you look really awesome now and I am happy for your transformation 😀 keep up the good work Katie!

    Starry wrote on April 28th, 2012
  31. I don’t do paleo. I eat an organic non processed whole grain diet with lots of veggies, fruits, dairy and meat……and my ldl was 89 with triglycerides as 35. So I don’t think the numbers Katie reported are the ‘paleo diet’ talking. I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced.

    na wrote on April 28th, 2012
    • Keep it up for ten years, and report back. Your body can fight your diet for a long time before giving out.

      But, also, you shouldn’t be convinced by one anecdote (“observational study”). Try reading EVERY Friday for the past-however-long Mark has been treating us to success stories, and see if the numbers don’t become more persuasive. Then read the science, and find out why

      Elenor wrote on April 29th, 2012
      • As a matter of fact, I have been reading his posts. I think I went as far back as 8 – 10 months and read almost all the posts. I’m still not convinced.
        I have been eating like for the past 30 years of my life :-)
        I forgot to mention, I hadn’t worked out in almost a year when my blood work was done and everything was still good.
        In my opinion, eating real food, ie leaving processed stuff, is all it takes to get to being healthy.

        na wrote on May 1st, 2012
  32. congrats! you look great and your msg is one that many young women need to hear…

    Renez wrote on April 28th, 2012
  33. I’m glad you feel so much better. It’s nice to have a story based on health more than weight!

    bionicsamm wrote on April 28th, 2012
  34. its wild how different diets work for different people. I used to eat primal and had terrible acne and bad digestion until I switched to a vegan diet over 6 months ago. Now I feel like a super human!

    Michael Seiser wrote on April 28th, 2012
    • I use to eat whole grain, soy, beans……until a year & 1/2 ago. I’ve never felt better, looked better……I followed CW for 45 years, & had nothing but intestinal issues, sugar cravings, low energy & weight gain. Primal’s the way to go. It’s what the human body needs

      Michelle wrote on April 29th, 2012
  35. I liked this story a lot. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Lizzy wrote on April 28th, 2012
  36. There’s no such thing as a “conventional” success story. Every one I’ve read here is very unique, and yours shows how PBP can help those on the other side of the weight issue than some of us (like myself).

    Matt Meeks wrote on April 28th, 2012
  37. Katie, Thanks for sharing your story. Mine is nearly identical…it’s comforting to know we’re never alone in our journeys and we never stop learning, growing, changing, and bettering ourselves. My days are filled with new adventures, work outs, recipes, and inspiring moments. I’m a nurse and have learned to appreciate my health and wellness so much more than I could’ve imagined since beginning my career. I feel so alive everyday and feel like I could do anything. I’m running my 3rd marathon next weekend and feel better than ever. Best of luck with your adventures!

    Becca wrote on April 28th, 2012
  38. Katie, you look awesome! Healthy! I’m so glad you made the change and shared your story. I’m also looking for a healthier way to live, so I’ve been reading MDA for about a week now. I’ve been thin all my life until a few years ago where I gained a lot of weight and I’ve had a hard time getting it off. But more importantly, I’ve been feeling unhealthy. Pre-diabetes, psoriasis, fatigue along with other things. You’re truly an inspiration. Checking your blog out now!

    Briana @ The Health Life Balance wrote on April 28th, 2012
  39. Congratulations on making the choice to WANT a better you.

    Peter wrote on April 28th, 2012

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