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5 Oct

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.


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. Gentlemen….break out the rubbers and give these beautiful women a break! Sounds like birth control pills are for the devil.

    Nocona wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Hell yes! :)

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  2. Well done! It’s always inspiring to see a Friday Success story that I can relate to. In that last picture, your health just shines through.

    Lady Grok wrote on October 5th, 2012
  3. Great work and great story Rehanna!! Awesome! :-)

    David wrote on October 5th, 2012
  4. Rio,

    Great story. I especially like your answer to people who basically ask what will happen when you quit your ‘diet’. Primal isn’t a diet, it’s a way to live.

    Craig wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Damn straight!

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  5. I loved your story! I feel like I can relate so much! I’m, currently, 20 weeks pregnant with my second child. I am not 100% primal like I was before I got pregnant, but I am doing the best I can to stick to primal as much as possible. I am still seeing good things happen with my body along with a very steady and healthy weight gain. Anyway, I loved how “real” and relatable your story is. You look amazing!

    Jess wrote on October 5th, 2012
  6. I love your story. You nailed it!!! I had some great weight loss in the start 88+ pounds. Then hit a plateau where I’m not gaining or losing weight, but far from being where I should.
    Finding an exercise routine that works for me is my net step. Perhaps the weight loss will start again or I might just feel better. Who knows. Looking back on it losing so much weight without really exercising only shows how much the diet works.
    thanks for sharing I so needed this post.
    Tree Bee

    Tree Bee wrote on October 5th, 2012
  7. Yes yes yes! Breastfeeding and natural child spacing! Say no to hormonal birth control (and keep those secreted artificial hormones out of our water supply) and use your intelligence to observe your body’s built-in fertility signs. What a great complement to nourishing your body with healthful foods close to their natural state. And congratulations Rehanna on your successes and your insights!

    Duchess wrote on October 5th, 2012
  8. Awww I love this story! I really like what Rehanna wrote about persistence. My parents have always told me that persistence is the key to getting places in life(even with brains and natural ability, no-one can get to far if they don’t persist) and it sounds like Rehanna is onto this aswell. I really admire her!! :)

    sarahemily wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Naw thanks 😀

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  9. Great article. As I have struggled with trying to find the right lifestyle around how I eat, all these comments about starting low carb sound more realistic for me instead of going full-on primal. My life is just too stressful right now. So: minimize carb intake, eat as little processed food as possible, cut out most grains and legumes, eat my meat and veggies and MOVE!!

    Zoe wrote on October 5th, 2012
  10. I love your story. It is true and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    Alanna wrote on October 5th, 2012
  11. I’ve never sent in a reply although I always find these stories inspirational. But I have to let you know that you look great! I wouldn’t worry about the scale. it’s obvious that you are healthy and happy. Keep up the great work!

    Sheila wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Thankyou very much. The scale is definitely now staying firmly in the cupboard

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  12. Rio – Great story and wonderful attitude! You are inspiring. :)

    Shelli wrote on October 5th, 2012
  13. Wow! I’m so overwhelmed and incredibly touched by all of your kind words. I never thought that my story would resonate with so many. Keep strong and Grok on :)

    Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  14. How gorgeous are you!!! Congratulations on finding out what is right for you and sticking to it! I too relate to your comment “I feel like my life has been a perpetual cycle of “feeling naughty” and depriving myself.” And for me, I have only lost 9kgs in 9 months, but have lost 16cm off my waist – didn’t have a waist before, but do now! And also your comment about “I am eating normally thank you”! Yes yes yes..I hear ya’

    You look happy and full of the joys of life – and I am motivated by Friday (well Saturday in Oz) stories once again. Thanks. :-)

    Hilary M wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • I’m in oz too Hilary :) yay to Grocktralians!

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  15. Congrats on your success! You look wonderful in the after photos, and so happy!

    Kitty =^..^= wrote on October 5th, 2012
  16. Thank you for sharing your story, Rio. My granddaughter has been lamenting her lack of weight loss. She’s been primal for several months, and as an athlete has the exercise part perfect. This will be reinforcing for her to see that it’s not the same for everyone, as our bodies are all different. Her normal more closely resembles your normal. Timing is perfect! Thanks!

    Lynne wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Happy to help, encourage her to keep going! Every body has its weight loss sweet spot…it’s now up to our minds to accept it…also I found gauging my ‘weight loss’ though the fitting of my clothes more gratifying than using the nasty scale which I now don’t use… :)

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  17. whoo hoo! you GO GIRL!

    mars wrote on October 5th, 2012
  18. Thanks for posting this! It’s just what I needed to hear. I also don’t have a huge weight loss to boast but the change in my body has been amazing.

    jj wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • That’s what matters! Keep it up!

      Rio wrote on October 5th, 2012
  19. You look fantastic! Way to stick with it. Laughed out loud when i read, ‘so what do you think will happen when you go back to eating normally again?’ Ha, I get that comment a lot too.

    Kelly Ferguson wrote on October 5th, 2012
  20. Well done. You look great and your attitude is inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    BW wrote on October 5th, 2012
  21. I love the Line:
    “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.”

    We are normal, its the rest of them who are deluding themselves :) Congrats and keep on keeping on!

    Carter wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Agreed! I heard the other day that Australia is congratulating itself because sugar consumption is down from 56kgs per person to 43kgs per person per year….if people saw that much sugar graphically they would be shocked…

      Rio wrote on October 6th, 2012
  22. Pure awesomeness. I’ve so much respect for what you’ve achieved.

    Danielle Thalman wrote on October 5th, 2012
    • Pure awesomeness? Best compliment ever!

      Rio wrote on October 6th, 2012
  23. Hi, Rehanna!
    You have no idea of how much I needed that sort of advice! Congratulations, btw! :)
    I, too, am that kind of person that wants results NOW and this kind of attitude is making my transformation to primal living difficult. But reading your post is making me think again about health benefits, patience, being content with myself and determination required to feel and see results of primal living. So, thank you for sharing and good luck to you! :)

    masage wrote on October 5th, 2012
  24. You look ridiculously good. It can be hard to see it, but you are a new person from person to person. Well done, and do NOT get hard on yourself!! You are healthy and look amazing!

    Katie wrote on October 5th, 2012
  25. Great Job – keep it up!

    ravi wrote on October 6th, 2012
  26. Gorgeous curves dude. : )

    Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 6th, 2012
  27. Just want to add my two cents to the making thin women feel bad comments… Im one of those “lucky” girls that went primal (100% for 6 months, no cheating) and lost significant weight. Nearly 30kg fell off me in a fairly short time. I don’t have abs, (yet) and want to lose more of my body fat, even tho people of “normal” weight seem to love calling me gaunt and skinny (Im not). I really feel offended when Im told I look too thin, I dont go about telling chubby people they look too fat. I worked hard to lose my weight, being 100% primal was a bit step, and took significant dedication. Yes everyone’s road is different, but keep that in mind it’s DIFFERENT not better or worse. Let’s not label people less of a woman because they don’t have breasts or hips or so called curves! I am now a B cup which is crazy small.. but I am still female and I do have feelings. Less grand sweeping statements relating to body shape and type and more encouragement! We are all gorgeous and deserve a high five for eating well and living and loving life eh?

    Jane wrote on October 6th, 2012
    • Word. And notice men don’t react in the same way to other men’s stories and ripped pictures, except to say, “Whoah, awesome, dude, high five, etc!” We need more of that attitude in girl-ville – all-around high-fives!

      Pure Hapa wrote on October 6th, 2012
  28. Congratulations, you look terrific!

    I will make an email signature out of this part:

    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.

    WildGrok wrote on October 6th, 2012
  29. Hi,
    I new at this I’ve only been on the primal diet for just over a month,my whole family is now on it. My husband started first three weeks before the rest of use. I am finding it very hard, I am over 50 and have a lot of health problems depression is one of many. My thyroid is by biggest I guest. It’s hard because my husband has lost over 20 lbs, I am happy for him but it is hard to see and hear others have lost lbs. but I have moved the needle on the scale except to move it up a little. I haven’t notice much other change but after reading everyone’s comments I try and keep a positive attitude and start a journal on measurements and feelings, and continue to read these stories and maybe it will help.
    I am glad you have had such success. I will try to follow your example. Thank you all.

    Rhea wrote on October 6th, 2012
    • Hi don’t despair :-)
      One month is nothing, and men loose weight much easier than women (yes, agreed, it is not fair, but it is true). But the results are worth it. Relax, have a closer look at what you eat, and don’t be discouraged by a temporary plateau. I am 60 and I am now in the best shape of my life (and have only been primal for 2 1/2 years approx). You will remember this time in the future and will tell others: I did it, no big deal :-)

      WildGrok wrote on October 6th, 2012
  30. Good stuff. By the way, if you were wondering why the Hypoxi people recommended low-carb, it’s because you can see “instant success” switching to low-carb because you can drop ~10lbs in water weight in a week or two (and, of course, then get into that nice 1-2lbs/week weight loss zone, but they probably wouldn’t know that ;))

    Sometimes your certain genes can make weight loss harder than others, and it’s hard to kill fat cells once you’ve made extra of them at some point (they can only shrink so much, then they can take a while to commit cellular suicide). Don’t stress about it too much, because if you’re exercising properly and eating paleo, you may not lose weight because you’re gaining muscle that’s offsetting the fat decrease. And as you lose more, the slower it gets. Eventually, you’ll look in the mirror one day and be like “hey, I don’t need to lose any more”. Good luck :)

    Adam wrote on October 6th, 2012
  31. This was nice to read – as someone who also experienced a huge boon from going primal a few years ago, and is currently currently at what must be the bottom of a slip in motivation (80/20 becoming 50/50 or 40/60…). Need to make sure this isnt’ a sprint, or even a marathon…it’s life.

    JJ wrote on October 6th, 2012
  32. What a great way to write about this…while I love the “look at me NOW!” stories which seem to happen so fast…it’s not my story either. This is was a logical step for a major health concern. The exercise hasn’t entered into it enough to really start building muscle yet. But whenever I start to feel like I’m “doing it wrong”, I look in the mirror at the body changes (I have a waist again!). I check in with my brain and feel the new lightness and energy that working towards health has given me. Then I feel a lot like you, certain that I’m doing just fine….and that this is for life, so I can give it awhile to work it’s magic!

    Suzanne wrote on October 6th, 2012
  33. Hi rio, I normally read lots of posts and don’t respond, and I love the sat (yes another Aussie grokette) inspiring posts. Well done rio. What you didn’t comment on is also the unseen benefits of primal eating. The fact you are switching of genetic traits that may have caused you to get diabetes or cancer etc etc…I’ve been primal since may, and haven’t lost a lot of weight but gained many benefits. I probably don’t need to lose a stack but I’ve always wanted that lean cut look with a six pack! Ha but I’m not giving up cause I know this way of living is good for me in so many ways. Well done. Lets get rid of the cw and make this primal cw!

    Di wrote on October 7th, 2012
  34. Keep on, Rio!
    It takes time for the body to heal and regenerate. It’s a journey, so enjoy the ride. :)

    Pamela wrote on October 7th, 2012
  35. Ah hormones! Wonderful things. I only used BC for a few years in my 20’s but now in my late 40’s and coming up to menopause I’ve certainly noticed hormonal swings and roundabouts. I’ve tried the progesterone only pill and three different types of natural progesterone creams in an attempt to keep my cycle fairly regular. Both the synthetic and natural progesterone led to mild depression. Even the natural stuff can throw you totally out of balance. Primal is helping with weight loss and energy, but still hasn’t made a difference to my fluctuating cycles.

    Louise wrote on October 7th, 2012
  36. Thanks for sharing your story, Rehanna, it really speaks to me as another non-ripped Paleo devotee. I love this way of eating for the energy it gives me and because I no longer have my post-lunch blood sugar dips that used to kill my afternoons. I now have the energy to go all day without the urgent need to nap. That’s my first prize! One day, when I have a sculpted abs, that will be another prize.

    Charlotte wrote on October 7th, 2012
  37. After growing out my teen/early 20s lifestyle of junky, processed and fast food I grew up, learned a LOT and started becoming way more health conscious and driven. The start of a family really drove this desire home for me. I started this journey to healthy eating by switching to more organic/all natural foods. Slowly I started cutting out the boxed organic foods learning that while they’re better than boxed non-organic foods some, I really needed to move out of the middle of the grocery store and into the sections that boxed it all in. I’ve caught onto making fresh fruit/veggie smoothies and more homemade meals for me and my family. Now I’m at the point where I’m ready to make the next step in my diet by “choosing” a specific diet path ie. paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc. This is where everything becomes very unclear to me. Every diet has its claims of being the best with all this intriguing research and facts why. Red meat is bad for your heart, dont eat meat period…vegetarian? Cooked food looses its nutrients…raw foodist? Dairy is bad as well as meat…vegan? Grains are bad…paleo? And each diet dispells what the others use to make their claims…beans are incredible foods say the vegs, no they’re not say the paleos. Grains are bad here, not there. Dairy is bad here not there. Even FRUIT can be bad, but than I’ve learned of people who call themselves Fruititarians. Please help shed some clarity on this for me, and why the diet you choose is and the facts you use for its credibility

    Melissa wrote on October 7th, 2012
    • @ Melissa,
      I would do what Mark suggests and do your own experiment. Try primal/paleo (or vegan or raw foodist or whatever) for at least 21 days. Journal what you eat, how you feel, what you measure in weight and size. Then you decide how you want to proceed from there. Easy-peasy!

      PS Rio way to go!!

      Rae wrote on October 7th, 2012
  38. I really really REALLY needed to see a success story like this one. Rio, your background is so similar to mine, and what’s even more exciting for me is we have the same body shape. I’ve seen so many success stories on here, and each one of them are incredible. But when you really connect with that one story, it is so motivational. Your story gave me that extra little kick that, Yes, this will work and Yes, keep going and don’t stop. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Julie wrote on October 7th, 2012

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