Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Feb

Sticking It Out and Becoming Healthier Every Year

Announcement: I am about halfway through the writing of Primal Endurance, a breakthrough book that will change the way we look at endurance training and competition. The main emphasis is on low-carb and/or ketogenic diets and training strategies. I am looking for Success Stories that exemplify this approach. If you compete in any event and have had success training and racing on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, I would love to hear details and maybe even feature your story in the book. Please submit your story here. Now, on to yet another inspiring Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a fellow Mark’s Daily Apple reader. Thank you for reading!

Hi Mark,

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share my story and feel that now is that time. I didn’t feel ready to share until my health was up to a level which I think is primal-worthy. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect as I’m not a super-disciplined person, but I’m happy and full of energy!

I grew up in a typical South African home with high-fibre cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and meat, starch and vegetables for supper. At least I had a good dose of veggies and meat at supper. I was a mostly healthy child but began to struggle with health issues in my early twenties. I developed irritable bowel syndrome and hated the effects when I went to my day job. The doctors said they couldn’t do anything for me – it was all stress related. The symptoms didn’t go away and continued right into my thirties and through three pregnancies. As a young adult, I did try to live healthier by exercising regularly and eating more fruit and vegetables. I noticed that bread didn’t work well for me so I thought it was the yeast. I cut out yeast products and then mostly wheat but continued to eat rye, maize (corn) and lots of rice and potatoes. On top of that, I ignorantly continued to eat vegetable oils and low fat products.

Kathy - BeforeEvery decade I went up a dress size. By my early forties, I was beginning to dislike the way I looked. The negative effects happening inside my body were gradual but deadly. I sincerely believe that if I had not found out about the primal/paleo diet at the time, I would have become very sick. In my early forties, I developed hypothyroidism and went on chronic life-long medication.

My weekly symptoms were this: I wouldn’t go to the toilet for 3-5 days, sometimes longer. Then I would go and suffer horrible diarrhoea and cramps, reducing me to a shivering mess afterwards. I struggled to fall asleep at night because of indigestion and nausea. I couldn’t understand it because I ate lots of whole foods.

My sister-in-law told my husband and I about this low-carb, high-fat diet she was following as advised by very controversial sport nutritionist, Tim Noakes, who has received terrible negative attention in the South African media. Curious, I listened to her but thought she was doing something really crazy and risky for her health. The lady who advised her explained the diet to me and told me to look at Mark’s Daily Apple. She belonged to the church I was attending at the time. I noticed that she and her family had lost a significant amount of weight. My first question to her was, “What about fibre? I need fibre.” With my chronic constipation, I was seriously concerned the diet would make me more sick. But I was desperate to lose weight so I gave it a bash.

The first few weeks I experienced carb flu and didn’t feel good, but the first thing I noticed was my ankle-swelling went down. Then the weight started dropping off. The first year of primal was hard for me. The extra work in the kitchen and the roller coaster ride of my health made me doubt my decision many times. The only thing that kept me going was the way my body was changing. I liked the way I looked and I did feel more energetic. My digestive health got worse before it got better. I upped my fat content and that helped – coconut oil, ghee and butter help keep me regular as well as shredded coconut and fruit like apples. But this didn’t happen straight away. It’s been a long road in that regard but when I compare myself to what I was three years ago, I’m overflowing with gratitude. I shudder to think what was happening inside my colon all those years and what could have happened if I’d continued to eat wrong.

I’ve also gone through some experiments with dairy. I decided to stop dairy completely because of digestive problems. I noticed the problems didn’t go away and I actually put on weight. Dairy, especially butter and yoghurt works well for me. I can’t have too much milk but I always go full-fat. It’s very challenging to eat organic or grass-fed here in South Africa. I can’t even access the food sometimes, and if I can, it’s way too expensive. Sometimes, I have to eat a bit of rice or potato because protein is so expensive and I’m hungry. So yes, I’m maybe not as lean as I could be, but my health and energy levels are wonderful. I can do many tasks during the day and keep going. My thyroid levels have gone up. I’m still on medication but the lowest dosage.

As far as exercise goes, I’ve noticed I don’t need to push myself in cardio excessively anymore to keep slim. I push weights and do ballet and yoga plus go for brisk walks. It all works well for me.

I’ve recently had an operation and am astounded at how fast I healed and gained my strength. I attribute that to the Primal Blueprint diet.

My story is one of slow healing and health gain. Yes, I felt vastly improved when I first started the Primal Blueprint diet but the years long negative effects of eating wrong took nearly two years to heal. I hope I can encourage those who may be struggling to stick it out and wonder if it really is working. Yes, it is. It may just take some time for your body to heal when it’s been sick for so long.

Now to just convince my kids and relatives that it’s the way to go.

Thank you, Mark. It was through reading your website with all the scientific info plus all the wonderful life-changing testimonies that helped me keep going.

Kathy - After



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. I enjoy reading testimonies of success. I have been Primal for two months and love it. I can see a life of happiness and energy derived from being Primal. Thanks for taking the time to share your journey and all the best to you.

    Roger Beck wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Thank you, Roger Beck.

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  2. Kathy, I am glad that you are feeling so much better. Keep it up!

    Joey wrote on February 28th, 2014
  3. Well done. I wish I could stick to this way of eating. I’ve just spent the day eating a mass of junk.

    Well done xx

    Michelle wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Consciously approach your food choices one bite at a time and you will get there.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Every day is a new day. Some days, I do eat bad and I feel it but I tell myself, I’ll eat right the next day and I do. It makes a big difference and I soon feel better.

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Think 80/20, and chalk that up into the 20%.

      Jim T wrote on February 28th, 2014
  4. Awesome testimony! Fridays are my favorite day of the week on MDA. I always share with family and friends who I’m trying to push towards this lifestyle and dietary habits.

    Nate wrote on February 28th, 2014
  5. Just a beautiful story. I am very happy for you and those you will help in the future.

    Nocona wrote on February 28th, 2014
  6. Go Kathy! You are looking awesome and so much healthier. Very inspiring for me – another South African on a journey to rediscover health and uncover the slim me again.

    Coll wrote on February 28th, 2014
  7. Great success story! “The proof is in the pudding.”

    skeedaddy wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • You mean, “The proof is in the low-sugar, high-fat, probably-coconut-milk-based pudding.” 😉

      BonzoGal wrote on February 28th, 2014
  8. Being given the knowledge to correct painful psychical or psychological disorders is a wonderful gift. Very happy to hear of your success

    Jaws76 wrote on February 28th, 2014
  9. awesome story

    Aili wrote on February 28th, 2014
  10. Lovely woman. Inspiring story.

    It is true that often the hardest thing is to convince others, even people closest to you, to change their lifestyle to paleo living.

    paleocrush wrote on February 28th, 2014
  11. Thanks for sharing your story Kathy — very inspiring! And you really look happy and healthy now! Keep on going!!

    Joe wrote on February 28th, 2014
  12. You give me hope. I’ve only been living the paleo diet for two months and it has helped straighten out my own digestive problems of colitis and acid reflux. Every once in a while the symptoms will flare up and I wonder what I ate that caused the problem. Sometimes it’s easy to spot the trouble makers and sometimes it’s not. I have more good days then bad and I continue to eliminate the fruits or dairy products that cause the problems while incorporating more healthy fats into my diet.Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    Tessa wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • It can help to keep a food diary & note in it what you eat each day & times, together with any symptoms & times & then when you get symptoms, you can look back through the diary to see when you got those symptoms before & compare what you had to eat each time. It’s not always that easy though, because things can affect you within a few hours or a few days, but it may help to pinpoint the culprit.

      Christine wrote on March 1st, 2014
  13. Great story Kathy. I’m always inspired friday, mainly by the perseverance!

    Glad you’re feeling better. Congrats on your hard work paying off.

    Luke wrote on February 28th, 2014
  14. Thanks for sharing your story. What motivation and discipline you have to stick with it even when the progress was slow. I’m really struck by the globalness of the problem with S”A”D and CW. Hopefully your success will have a positive effect on others.

    joey wrote on February 28th, 2014
  15. Well done, glad to see there are so many South Africans on this site and adopting this way of life, despite all the flak the media is giving Prof Noakes.

    With regards to protein (which is relatively cheap in SA) I have noticed that the “health food” stores charge a ridiculous price, but your local butcher should have much better deals. You don’t need to get too hung up on the pasture raised thing either. SA beef is much leaner than American (11% fat vs 33% on avg) partially because they get fed much less grain than in the States, and get pastured a lot more (because the warm weather and relatively cheap land make this cost effective for the farmers).

    Lupa wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Thank you, Lupa. I did wonder because I always see cows grazing around here.

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  16. hi, mark, it’s great to hear about your new book! i have a different angle/question about how it might work for women or different body types. i’ve been low-carb/keto for about 2 years, because of diabetic tendencies. however, i’ve been noticing low thyroid symptoms–coldness, no period, hair loss. as of this week, i’m adding back in carbs, because of reading online that long term low-carb may not work so well, because the body thinks it’s in starvation mode, with the result of fatty liver, insulin resistance, low thyroid,… some people say ketones may do the same. i’ve also recently read that high fat and high protein intake lead to insulin resistance. anyway, i’m interested in reading your new book and seeing how it might address these issues. for now, i’m adding back the carbs–i know in the past you’ve written that intermittant fasting and carb restriction may not work for some women. thanks for all the great information!

    Jenny wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • It depends how low carb you’re diet is – Primal is low-carb not no-carb, but It sounds like you’re not getting enough calories rather than not enough carbohydrates. Make sure you’re eating enough & not over exercising. If you really feel you need more carbs, make sure go for high quality sources – sweet potatoes etc. Be careful where you get your on-line advice – some of it doesn’t add up – CW sources get confused.

      WelshGrok wrote on February 28th, 2014
      • thanks for your input, welshgrok. how would i know if i’m getting “enough calories”? the other thing is that i’ve been eating a lot of well-cooked cruciferous veggies, and wonder if that may be depressing my thyroid.

        Jenny wrote on March 1st, 2014
    • I agree with WelshGrok, plus if I don’t get enough good fat I suffer. I am now careful to get plenty of fat and moderate protein and carbs last. Most of what I get for carbs is cooked vegetables since raw isn’t friendly to me yet (burp, s’cuse me). I’ve been on a fast of sorts the last two days, don’t eat until i’m hungry which hasn’t been until about 4PM. Interesting to listen to my body. I think I was eating too much wonderful winter squash and sweet potatoes and not enough meat. That threw my digestion off but I’m getting back on track now. I just have to remember FAT is my friend.

      2Rae wrote on February 28th, 2014
      • for you, what are moderate carbs? i was pretty low carb, eating only very low carb veggies like cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, some brussel sprouts (although those turn out to be moderate carb based on my blood sugar response.) now, i’m adding back green bananas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and fruit in order to have a little more carbs.

        Jenny wrote on March 1st, 2014
    • Kathy, I just learned that at least for those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a ketogenic diet can suppress T3 hormone, so perhaps a ketogenic diet can cause a low thyroid response in others as well. I’ve been on thyroid medication for almost 25 years, have highly reactive blood sugar (hypoglycemic) and have been insulin resistant for awhile. I’ve done very well on a ketogenic diet until recently, when I suddenly experienced an unexplained loss in energy – felt like a blood sugar drop: shaky, disorienting, severe fatigue. I had to given up walking my dogs. At first I just found hints that ketogenic was contraindicated for Hashimoto’s, but found a little more explanation on Paul Jaminet’s website (I think, and my explanation above is simplified). So on Sunday I started adding a little starch (sweet potatoes or plantains) to my diet and it seems to be working. It’s too early to tell, but just wanted to alert people to this. I’m a little nervous that adding starch is going to cause blood sugar swings and weight gain, but am proceeding cautiously.

      Janet wrote on March 5th, 2014
  17. Wonderful you are feeling healthier and you look beautiful and glowing. Interesting to see what made your digestive health better.

    Colleen wrote on February 28th, 2014
  18. Congratulations on your successful road to health Kathy!

    When your digestive system has been compromised and you switch to a primal or paleo diet, remember that there is a transition where your gut has to heal from years of disorder. It takes a while. There are things that can help those out there in the same boat – search this site and visit Chris Kresser’s site as well. I helped my gut by taking a high-quality probiotic, mineral water, fermented food such as kefir and kombucha, and overall babying my tummy by not overeating. Your efforts will vary, but there are many of you in this boat.

    Pure Hapa wrote on February 28th, 2014
  19. Really inspiring story and nicely written. You’re lucky you had a friend who put you onto Mark’s Daily Apple when they did.

    I like the way you say “I don’t need to push myself in cardio excessively anymore to keep slim”. There’s so much of an assumption these days that if we’re fat, it’s because we’re not exercising enough. Really it’s because of all the bad, processed foods that are being pushed on us all the time. Health starts with nutrition, and you’re proof of that.

    There’s an interesting book called “Clean Gut” by Dr. Alejandro Junger that might interest you as well.

    Peter Whiting wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Thank you, Peter. I’ll take a look at that book.

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  20. Kathy,
    You look so healthy and wonderful! Don’t worry about being as small/light as you can be, it’s not always the best for female hormones. My progress has been slow also and sometimes even seems to go backwards, so this was encouraging.
    Thank you!

    Kati wrote on February 28th, 2014
  21. Awesome job and story of doing what you can with what you have! Keep it up!

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on February 28th, 2014
  22. “… with all the scientific info plus all the wonderful life-changing testimonies that helped me keep going.”

    This is one of the most pertinent statements I have read in these. This, to me, is the crux of what this site is about.

    Vince G wrote on February 28th, 2014
  23. Hi Kathy, congrats on your journey to shining health! I am another South African Primal fan (though I live in Germany) and I am astounded by the vitriol being levelled at Tim Noakes – it’s going to take people a long time to question the low-fat/CW rules that determine the way people eat in SA. Though with the gorgeous salads and braai meat, you’d think it would be easy. :)

    Charlotte wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • Yes, Charlotte, it’s very disturbing how inflexible people are and they get very offended when I tell them how to eat for their health. I think it will take a while for this diet to break through the old mentalities in this country. The media still pumps out the horrible old advice that messed up my body – high fibre, low fat and whole grain.

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
      • Hi Kathy. Yes, the media does still pump out all the old erroneous advice, even here in the US. But as time goes on and word continues to get out, along with all the amazing success stories, the naysayers have become less vocal here. Paleo/primal has really snowballed in the last couple of years. I think that eventually the demand for real, wholesome food will result in more availability at better prices. I am already seeing this happen where I live.

        Shary wrote on March 1st, 2014
        • That’s great news!

          Kathy wrote on March 2nd, 2014
  24. So glad to see there are other South African people thats primal as well

    Kelly wrote on February 28th, 2014
  25. Very inspirational Kathy, so happy for you and thanks for sharing your story. You persevered, great to read about your transformation.

    George wrote on February 28th, 2014
  26. Hi Kathy, you look awesome. Around last year this time I read Tim Noakes “challenging beliefs”. It led me to this site and I have never looked back. My starting weight was137kg-301.5pounds and I lost 53kgs-116.6pound and I am a comfortable 84kgs. Thanks toTim Noakes and Mark Sisson. You have to love this way of eating and this lifestyle. A big congratulations to you keep it up and spread the word.

    Malcolm wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • That’s an awesome transformation, Malcolm!

      Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  27. Thank you everyone for your awesome comments. I’m so thrilled to find out there are other South Africans who read MDA and who are following this lifestyle! I don’t feel so alone now.

    Kathy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  28. South African in NC!! I’ve found the perfect way to make biltong (S African Jerkey) and tastes just like the real thing…just can’t keep up the demand in the house with 4 other SA taste buds for biltong.

    Trevor wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • I hope you will share your recipe/methodology with us?

      Bayrider wrote on February 28th, 2014
  29. Kathy,

    Congratulations on your success! You look great! I’m glad this way of eating has made you feel healthy!

    Mountaingirl wrote on February 28th, 2014
  30. I really like this success story. It’s a good reminder to those struggling that it’s not always easy, can take quite a while, and sometimes things might get worse before they get better. When I’m not perfect (and we all know that no one is) I remind myself that 5 days a week primal is better than 3, and there’s always room for improvement.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    Stacie wrote on February 28th, 2014
  31. Well done on your success and determination – I have similar health issues and find myself losing the faith after a year as no-one can see any difference in me, although I feel better. You’ve convinced me to keep at it – thanks.

    Grokesque wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • I’m so glad!

      Kathy wrote on March 2nd, 2014
  32. You look wonderful! Thanks for telling your story! It’s a reminder to me that all this change does pay off.

    Uhura wrote on February 28th, 2014
  33. Kathy, how come your kids need convincing? can’t they see what I see? :-)
    just kidding. i am in the same boat with my daughter. nobody is a prophet in his own house :-)

    einstein wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • I wish I’d known about paleo when my kids were younger and hadn’t got addicted to all the wrong foods. At least I’ve got them onto butter and coconut oil, etc.

      Kathy wrote on March 2nd, 2014
  34. Reading that this has been a slow journey and that it got a bit worse before it got better gives me hope.
    Mostly your read of people who feel so much better almost before beginning.
    I have fybromyalgia and IBS and some other issues and I feel no difference yet.
    True, I have been strict only for a couple of months or so, not more, But I have in the past also “been good” for several months with no results and it gets me down, hard to keep at it when I end up feeling just as bad.
    But I do like eating this way so I continue, Just wish I would feel better too.
    Sorry for being so negative. Extra bad day 😉

    Well done Kathy and I hope you continue to improve.

    L wrote on February 28th, 2014
    • This story is for somebody just like you who is having to will your way through the experiment without enjoying an immediate or assured reward. Feeling negative, expressing worry, and still showing up to meet a challenge? You’re my hero.

      Joy Beer wrote on March 1st, 2014
      • Thanks. 😉 Nice to get some encouragement

        L wrote on March 1st, 2014
    • I have been doing a lot of research into adrenal fatigue and its connection to fibromyalgia. Dr. Frank Shallenberger, an expert in adrenal fatigue, said that across the board people suffering from adrenal problems were vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, deficient. My daughter and I were both Primal to restore our health, but when I added in a high-potency B complex it made a HUGE difference in the way we felt and very quickly. Perhaps it would help you too.

      Island Girl wrote on March 1st, 2014
      • thank, Yes, I have looked into adrenal fatigue too and tried various B complexes and other things. I am afraid it hasn’t helped much either.
        Which B complex did you use that helped?

        L wrote on March 1st, 2014
        • We started with Natures Blend B 100. Shallenberger recommended 400 mg. of B 5 a day so that’s what we started taking–four caplets a day. Within just a few days we were both sleeping so much better and my daughter’s pain started to diminish. Maybe you just weren’t taking enough. When you’re in a state of deficiency it can take a lot at the beginning to get caught up.

          Island Girl wrote on March 2nd, 2014
    • Hoping you feel better soon but don’t give up! Your body will take time to heal.

      Kathy wrote on March 2nd, 2014
    • I’m with you. I feel the same sometimes but could you go back to your old way of eating after learning everything you know now? I’m also not feeling instant or even nearly instant gratififcation but this journey has changed the whole way I look at food and I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to – my brain would just chastise me constantly! I think we should just hang in – and make it work for us the best way we can :)

      Vanessa wrote on March 6th, 2014
  35. Thank you for this story Kathy! I also have had IBS, diagnosed when I was 14, and initially after going Primal my symptoms went out of control and so I stopped for a while, then gained a lot of weight, so I’m back to trying this way again. I was driven back here because the philosophy aligns so much with what I believe in. I’m so glad to hear it will get better but it just takes time! I will stick it out after all (and aim for even less falling off the wagon!) Congratulations – you are such an inspiration!

    Krissy wrote on February 28th, 2014
  36. Kathy, you look fantastic! I am so happy to hear that you stuck with it and you are seeing nothing but positive results now.

    sapphiric wrote on February 28th, 2014
  37. Good work Kathy, you look great. I try so hard not to “spread the word” because no one wants to hear it and I agree with them, I don’t want to be told what to do by anyone, even if it means things aren’t perfect. If they ask, I mention the parts I understand. The eyebrows go up and they give an unconscious head shake and then they look and think, “well she’s just lucky.” Same way I used to think. By the way, you look pretty lucky.

    Vanessa wrote on February 28th, 2014
  38. Wow you look great and feel better! So glad you found MDA!

    JoyAnn wrote on March 1st, 2014
  39. I love reading about older people who’ve made slow but steady progress over several years to regain their health. I relate to these stories far more than to the ‘I lost 100 lbs in 9 months and ran my first marathon’ stories (although good for them!) I’ve been working and tweaking low carb/high fat/whole foods/paleo-ish (dark chocolate!) since 2006.125 lbs have come off and stayed off but more to go. Most importantly, I’ve been off my Rheumatoid Arthritis meds (DMARDs, nasty) for 3 years now with only the occasional nano-flare that Ibuprofen can fix. In my 60s now, every year I learn more and my health keeps improving. I love reading MDA because it’s all about learning and experimenting and striving and building health.

    Michia wrote on March 1st, 2014
  40. Michia – + 1000 Your last sentence is brilliant.

    Kathy, wonderful story thanks for sharing! In your after pic you look so calm, serene, happy and healthy!

    Jade wrote on March 1st, 2014

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!