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. Thank you for sharing this Katie! I have a few young women in my life that could benefit from hearing your story. I am going to share this and your blog with them.

    I am curious what you plan on doing with your life. I say go back to school and become a RD and change the world from the inside. We need young people like you!

    Ken Lawler wrote on April 29th, 2012
    • Thanks Ken! I’ve put some thought into going back to school for chronic disease management… we’ll see where life takes me though!

      katie wrote on April 29th, 2012
  2. Thank you for sharing.

    As an Asian distance runner living at boarding school (high school senior), I think I can also relate to parts of your experience – particularly the ‘healthy’ diet of not much meat, low fat, oatmeal, etc. as well as the low body fat/low body weight. I have been reading around on MDA for a couple of months now, but still haven’t made many changes to my diet. Perhaps it may be time to do so…

    Mary Hui wrote on April 29th, 2012
  3. Hi Katie, My story is very similar to yours; its great to see others like myself out there who have been in a low body weight & amenhorrea situation and have come out of it successfully after choosing a Primal lifestyle. Congratulations! Much continued success to you and all fellow PB’ers!

    Erica wrote on April 29th, 2012
  4. Take Control Fitness has everything you need to take control of your life. Fitness Programs, Shakeology, Nutrition and more.

    kausar wrote on April 29th, 2012
  5. Katieee!

    I was SO excited to see your story bc I recognized your picture from your blog right away! You should post one of your more toned ones soon. 😉 Going from a vegetarian diet to becoming Primal is inspiring, no matter how much weight you lost/gained- I think many people will be encouraged by how you’ve done a complete 180 with your lifestyle! You look AMAZING! I love your blog (and am still obsessed with that amazingly delicious, fall-in-a-bowl Pumpkin Bacon Chili)…keep being awesome!! So glad you decided to share your story! :)

    Chrissy wrote on April 29th, 2012
    • thank you so much chrissy, this was very uplifting to read. I may do some more recent pictures on my blog soon.

      katie wrote on April 29th, 2012
  6. Congrats on recovering your health at a relatively young age. Just this morning, I was listening to the news show “California Report,” where an authority was citing a prediction that your generation will be the first in U.S. history to have shorter lives than their parents due to obesity and its complications. It’s nice to know that you’ll be the exception.

    jake3_14 wrote on April 29th, 2012
  7. Katie! Your story is VERY similar to mine. Very funny! I’ve known about your blog for a while too b.c I have one but now I will hopefully stop by more :)

    Meagan wrote on April 29th, 2012
  8. I can really relate to that story – the too skinny vegetarian thing, insomnia and the anxiety attacks. Just wish I had made the changes you did earlier in my life (38 now) but its never too late to start rediscovering health as I am finding out now! People sometimes think that if you’re skinny then you’re an object of jealousy and never consider that you might be feeling awful. Paleo is about so much more than weight..its energy, vitality and happiness!! Good luck to you and keep spreading the word x

    Helz wrote on April 29th, 2012
  9. I have been facing problems of motivating myself to work to afford the food I deserve to eat. Your story really helped me see that it’s up to me to make sure I get the healthy lifestyle I deserve. Thanks and All the best luck to you!

    Michael wrote on April 29th, 2012
  10. I always knew ‘instinctively’ that this was how one should eat … but there is so much conflicting information out there. Just makes sense to go with your instincts right? I always felt that if God didn’t make it, we shouldn’t be eating it.
    Thanks for sharing Katie.

    Erica Jean wrote on April 29th, 2012
  11. The moment I scrolled down and saw that WONDERFUL smile and awesome bicep, my own face broke into the biggest smile myself!

    Joy Beer wrote on April 30th, 2012
  12. Thanks for sharing your story! Glad to hear you figured this out while you are still Young~! :) I turn 31 on Wednesday & am paying $$$ to have a dermatology clinic systematically resurface my face after 15 years of cystic acne from not eating right. Yay No Acne! :)

    Mel wrote on April 30th, 2012
  13. This made me so happy for you.

    a tenrec in disguise wrote on May 1st, 2012
  14. Congratulations, you look great! Thank you so much for sharing your story! This gives me hope, as I have a 14yo son who is quite skinny and struggles with heartburn. The first thing he turns to is a piece of toast when he has heartburn and I’ve been afraid seeing all these people losing weight when they go primal that he would lose weight too. He needs to gain not lose! I would love to get him off the gluten and am trying to talk to him about it a little here and there. I gotta find him a replacement for his toast though. Maybe your gorgeous picture will convince him to give it up. 😉

    Leah H wrote on May 4th, 2012
  15. Wow, you are absolutely glowing in the second picture! I’m so glad to hear a success story from the opposite end, seeing a skinny girl fill out and get healthy!

    Deanna wrote on May 8th, 2012
  16. Thanks for sharing, I know it’s hard when you’ve not got a “typical” story. I am the poster child for chronic dieting myself; my eating disorders over the last 30 yrs have wrecked my metabolism. I can’t regulate my body temp, nothing works right … and I’m still fat! I’ve just found this community, and am so happy to see everyone’s stories and their enthusiasm for a lifestyle I’ve already adopted through trial and error.

    Good for you, you’re winning!

    Deadnskinny wrote on May 31st, 2012
  17. Thanks for sharing!

    Bridget wrote on November 11th, 2012
  18. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post

    domino 99 wrote on August 3rd, 2015
  19. thank you for your sharing nice post

    ktsc biz wrote on August 6th, 2015
  20. thank you for sharing awesome post

    rigoran wrote on August 10th, 2015

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