Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
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. Your transformation looks pretty spectacular to me…. Well done! I “fell of the wagon” about 3 or 4 times before I finally learnt the lesson :)

    Lottie wrote on October 9th, 2012
  2. Thanks so much for your story. Going Primal isn’t always as easy as a lot of the success stories make it out to be (not knocking any success storie- they’re always brilliant). I’ve fallen off the wagon at least three times. Now I have my wedding as a very good motivation. I loved your story.

    Leah wrote on October 9th, 2012
  3. That was a great story! I found it very inspiring!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    Stephanie wrote on October 9th, 2012
  4. Congrats on your success! It is always inspirational and amazing reading all these real success stories!

    Ed wrote on October 9th, 2012
  5. Congratulations, Love your attitude & you look amazing! The pill was at least 50% responsible for the final 100 pounds I gained before getting off my ass and going primal, and it took nearly a year off it for my system to reset. The scariest thing ever is how it crosses all your biological signals!! I always “listen” to my body, but chemical birth control made that impossible!

    Jane wrote on October 9th, 2012
  6. Great report. Two thumbs up.

    MSH wrote on October 10th, 2012
  7. It is always important to remember that primal/paleo isn’t about how you look in the mirror as much as it’s about how you feel in your heart and mind. I want to live my life, love my wife, and have a blast. I love how I look, and so should you Rehanna, but you made the great point that that’s not what really matters! Keep going :)

    Chris R wrote on October 10th, 2012
  8. Not sure if this has already been mentioned in the comments, but I’ll still say it:

    The Fertility Awareness Method/Natural Family Planning kicks butt.

    The book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler is the best book you can read to free yourself of that horrible, terrible birth control pill. Just check out the reviews on Amazon on that book. I’ve given away my copy to three of my friends and use it regularly as a reference manual. It’s a thick book.

    I began the pill when I was 11 years old just to clear up my adolescent acne, which, in retrospect, was probably aggravated by my processed diet. I also started taking it again 3 months before my wedding, and the weight gain + complete lack of sexual desire by the time I got married were NOT worth it. I love knowing how our bodies work and feeling empowered by monitoring my own cycles! The less I support Big Pharma, the happier I am.

    Rehanna, you seem like such a wonderful lady! I commend you for all of the big changes you’ve made, including getting off of the pill. Please don’t feel badly about not looking the way you wanted to for your wedding. I have had those same feelings too often. The important thing to remember is how you and your husband felt about each other when you got married. There’s no use in holding onto any negative feelings about your image at the time. I don’t know if you retain bad feelings like I have or not, but if you have, I just wanted you to know that people love you for who you were then as well as you who are now!

    Thanks for writing your story, sister!

    Kesha wrote on October 10th, 2012
  9. This is the first time I’m responding to a success story, not because the others weren’t inspiring but because I see a lot of my own journey in yours! Your story was incredibly engaging and enlightening.

    There are so many people that have such determination with going Primal and it seems that they never slip up, which makes me feel like a bad Primal person because as a former pastry chef I still have my moments where I say to myself I WANT CAKE. I feel, as you put it, “naughty” and slapped myself on the wrist for not being more disciplined. But this is a life journey, not a quick fix.

    You’ve inspired me to consider going off birth control again. While I use the nuva ring, which is fairly low in all the hormones, it’s still extra hormones that might be impeding my body. Extra food for thought!

    Thank you for your wonderful and down to earth perspective. Health is paramount, with vanity coming second.

    I do want to suggest one exercise that’s changed my body composition and has worked wonderfully with going Primal – T-Tapp. It encourages not overdoing exercise as well as healing from the inside. I’ve lost 40lb with it and it continues to change my body as you never quite perfect the form. I think it goes well with a Primal lifestyle. I think you might find it interesting! :)

    Jenn wrote on October 12th, 2012
  10. Great story! Thank you for sharing. I love your comment about, “I am eating normal, thank you very much!” I feel the same way often. The reactions of people around you can be frustrating when they do not understand or relate to eating clean, fresh foods. My co-workers are always curious about my lunches, often compliment that they smell/look good, but then they make excuses that they just don’t have the time “to cook like that.” Um. Not hard people. Just takes a little re-training. I also love that your success is not about what you’ve lost but rather what you’ve gained. Congratulations. :-)

    Jessica wrote on October 12th, 2012
  11. Great story and even greater outlook. I sense that you see that the ‘victim mentality’ so widely present in society, drove your many stumbles and backslides. Your newfound ‘Own it” attitude comes through loud and clear and I, like you, believe that this is what will ultimately get you to the goals you seek. We all believe in you and want to see you get there. And you will. Best of luck to you.

    Deuce wrote on October 15th, 2012
  12. Great story – good for you! I’m the same – have been paleo for nearly a year and see a personal trainer 3 days a week and whilst I have lost 10kg (which is a lot for me as I’m 5’1″ and weighed 60kgs when I started) and my shape has changed, I’m not ripped and firm – I still have ‘padding’ over my body! There are muscles underneath, I can feel them, but no six pack to be seen! But, like you, I look and feel better, happier, healthier. Keep up the good work!

    Rachel wrote on October 15th, 2012
  13. Hi Everyone,
    Just a quick note to say that while i have not replied to every comment, I have read each and every one of them and are totally blown away by how encouraging and supportive everyone is.

    I no longer feel alone in my struggles and am humbled by the many compliments i have received.

    Every person has their own struggles and what i’ve learnt is we mustn’t compare ourselves to others, but draw strength and learn from their experiences


    Rio wrote on October 16th, 2012
  14. I love your story. And your outlook on what you’ve gained. It is beautiful. Congratulations!

    Shireen wrote on January 31st, 2014

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