Primal Persistence: Staying the Course Through Life’s Ups and Downs

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!

Hi, I’m Rio. I’m 29 years old and I’ve been Primal since October 2011. I’d like to say that since then I’ve lost 25 kgs (55 lbs) and have a visible 6-pack. However, that for me is not the case. My story is still successful, but it is more a story of persistence.

I’ll start with the usual. I’ve been overweight my whole life even though I was an active child/teenager/young adult. Mum used to put “healthy” food on the table with a few treats on the weekend, but I was still painted with the “big girl” label. Unfortunately, the healthy food consisted of bread, pasta, potatoes and grain-based snacks. I started Weight Watchers when I was 12 years old. I was 72 kilos (158 lbs). Since then I feel like my life has been a perpetual cycle of “feeling naughty” and depriving myself. I have tried the weird and wacky diets (such as the soup diet) and more depressingly the CW “eat healthy and exercise” diet. I worked my butt off at the gym, ate low fat, and calorie-counted to within an inch of my life, and still I never saw the numbers I hoped for. I gave up time and time again, only getting heavier at the end of every attempt. I felt like a failure. At the end of 2010 I was 87 kgs (191 lbs) (I’m only 156 cm (5′ 1″)) and felt huge. I was also due to get married in April 2011. I always thought that my wedding would be the time when I would finally lose the weight and I thought up until now that my early attempts hadn’t worked because I didn’t have the ultimate motivation. I so wanted to be a thin and beautiful bride, so I hopped on the “eat right and exercise wagon” again, and again I was disappointed and devastated…I was, after all my efforts, going to be a chubby bride. My wedding was a wonderful day, because I married the love of my life, but I’ll always look back with a tinge of regret over my size.

In August 2011 after returning from our honeymoon and ballooning yet again to 87-88 kgs (191 to 193 lbs) and feeling miserable and fat, I thought to try a different approach and booked in for 12 Hypoxi sessions which were incredibly expensive (around $700 for 12 sessions). Hypoxi treatments consist of cycling gently for 30 minutes with your lower body encased in a pressurised chamber which applies and releases pressure as you cycle. The theory is that the pressure mobilises your body fat into the blood stream, so that you can magically cycle it away. Far fetched? Kinda. The Hypoxi team set you up with a list of suggested foods to “eat and not eat” which consisted of eating good fresh food and avoiding refined carbs and potatoes 2 hours after a Hypoxi session. I thought I’d better follow the eating plan since I was paying so much money for the treatments. Surprisingly, I lost a good chunk of weight and centimeters around my body and looking back it was really my first introduction into the Primal lifestyle – low carb and gentle exercise (compared to the approaching-chronic-cardio exercise regime I was used to). Not convinced it was the Hypoxi treatments that caused the weight loss on its own, I started to research low-carb diets when someone posted a link to Mark’s Daily Apple to a Facebook page I am a member of. Once I started reading the articles and information on your site I was instantly hooked. I downloaded The Primal Blueprint and devoured it in a few days. I started eating Primal and my energy levels improved instantly…I couldn’t believe it! I’d gone from being tired and listless all day (falling asleep on the couch around 8 pm every night) to bounding out of bed in the morning and not feeling tired until 10 pm that night, with none of lethargy through the day (which I had started to think was “normal”). With little effort I lost 5 kilos (11 lbs). I felt great!

Since those initial 5 kilos the weight loss has been slow, but still on the decline. I’ve lost about 15 kgs (33 lbs) and 17 cm (7 inches) from my waist since my initial Hypoxi session. My measurements are also still decreasing. What is more amazing is that the shape of my body is changing. I’ve lost 10 kgs (22 lbs) before on the “eat healthy and exercise regime,” and sure I got smaller, but my body shape didn’t change all that much. This time my waist is visually smaller, nipped in at the sides, arms, and legs.

However, three or four months ago I had a “Primal stumble.” For some reason (winter perhaps?) my sugar and carb cravings came back. I got depressed and I got “angry.” Oh my, was I angry… life, at my husband and at my stupid body for not responding the way I wanted it too (why hadn’t I lost all my weight?!).

After the 5th serious fight with my husband (which seemingly seemed to start over nothing) I knew something had to change. I knew that the actions and attitude that I was portraying was just NOT me! So after doing some research on how I was feeling, two weeks ago I did two things. I started CrossFit (my exercise had dropped to nothing during winter), and I gave up the birth control pill. I am now 14 days no hormones, and I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I can’t begin to describe the effects giving it up has already had on my mind, my emotions, and my libido. As for CrossFit…I love it! It has the structure I need, with the freedom to work within and push through my own limits and boundaries.

I often felt frustrated reading other people’s success stories, and think, “why did I not lose 20 kilos in the first 6 months and get ripped abs?” But then I have to stop and think what I’ve gained. I’ve gained health. I’ve gained energy like I never could have imagined. I’ve gained my happiness back. And I’ve gained a healthy body that bends and twists and lifts and runs.

If I were to offer any tips to the Groks and Grokettes out there like me, it would be to keep going. This thing is for life. It’s not a quick fix and not many people (outside the community) get that – I can’t count the amount of times people have said to me “what do you think will happen when you go back to eating normal.” Well, I am eating normally, thank you very much.

Another thing that helps me stay sane is having a fantastic support network around me. My husband Scott is sometimes-but-not-100%-Primal, but very supportive. I have a fantastic friend/personal trainer who is passionate about Primal/paleo nutrition and lifestyle, and a great friend who is also living the Primal life and lifting heavy stuff. It is beneficial to have people to bounce ideas off of, to ask for advice about what worked for them when this or that happened, and to generally glow in the awesomeness which is the Primal lifestyle. What is even better is that I’ve now managed to convince my mum and my sister to adopt the Primal principles. I’m so happy that they too are now on the track to being healthy and happy.

So in the end, being Primal for me so far is not about what I’ve lost….rather what I’ve gained (health, energy, an inner glow). And I couldn’t be happier.


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