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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 28, 2014

Sticking It Out and Becoming Healthier Every Year

By Guest
88 Comments

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

Regards,

Kathy

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88 Comments on "Sticking It Out and Becoming Healthier Every Year"

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Roger Beck
Roger Beck
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Roger Beck.

Joey
Joey
2 years 7 months ago

Kathy, I am glad that you are feeling so much better. Keep it up!

Michelle
Michelle
2 years 7 months ago

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

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
2 years 7 months ago

Consciously approach your food choices one bite at a time and you will get there.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Jim T
Jim T
2 years 7 months ago

Think 80/20, and chalk that up into the 20%.

Nate
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 7 months ago

Just a beautiful story. I am very happy for you and those you will help in the future.

Coll
Coll
2 years 7 months ago

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.

skeedaddy
skeedaddy
2 years 7 months ago

Great success story! “The proof is in the pudding.”

BonzoGal
BonzoGal
2 years 7 months ago

You mean, “The proof is in the low-sugar, high-fat, probably-coconut-milk-based pudding.” 😉

Jaws76
Jaws76
2 years 7 months ago

Being given the knowledge to correct painful psychical or psychological disorders is a wonderful gift. Very happy to hear of your success

Aili
2 years 7 months ago

awesome story

paleocrush
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Joe
Joe
2 years 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing your story Kathy — very inspiring! And you really look happy and healthy now! Keep on going!!

Tessa
Tessa
2 years 7 months ago

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!

Christine
Christine
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Luke
2 years 7 months ago

Great story Kathy. I’m always inspired friday, mainly by the perseverance!

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

joey
joey
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Lupa
Lupa
2 years 7 months ago
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,… Read more »
Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Lupa. I did wonder because I always see cows grazing around here.

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
WelshGrok
WelshGrok
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 6 months ago

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.

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Jenny
Jenny
2 years 6 months ago

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.

Janet
Janet
2 years 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
2 years 7 months ago

Wonderful you are feeling healthier and you look beautiful and glowing. Interesting to see what made your digestive health better.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Peter Whiting
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Peter. I’ll take a look at that book.

Kati
Kati
2 years 7 months ago

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!

Dr. Anthony Gustin
2 years 7 months ago

Awesome job and story of doing what you can with what you have! Keep it up!

Vince G
Vince G
2 years 7 months ago

“… 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.

Charlotte
2 years 7 months ago

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. 🙂

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Shary
Shary
2 years 6 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 6 months ago

That’s great news!

Kelly
Kelly
2 years 7 months ago

So glad to see there are other South African people thats primal as well

George
George
2 years 7 months ago

Very inspirational Kathy, so happy for you and thanks for sharing your story. You persevered, great to read about your transformation.

Malcolm
Malcolm
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

That’s an awesome transformation, Malcolm!

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Trevor
Trevor
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Bayrider
Bayrider
2 years 7 months ago

I hope you will share your recipe/methodology with us?

Mountaingirl
2 years 7 months ago

Kathy,

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

Stacie
2 years 7 months ago

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!

Grokesque
Grokesque
2 years 7 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 6 months ago

I’m so glad!

Uhura
Uhura
2 years 7 months ago

You look wonderful! Thanks for telling your story! It’s a reminder to me that all this change does pay off.

einstein
einstein
2 years 7 months ago

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 🙂

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 6 months ago

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.

L
L
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Joy Beer
Joy Beer
2 years 6 months ago

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.

L
L
2 years 6 months ago

Thanks. 😉 Nice to get some encouragement

Island Girl
Island Girl
2 years 6 months ago

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.

L
L
2 years 6 months ago

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?

Island Girl
Island Girl
2 years 6 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy
2 years 6 months ago

Hoping you feel better soon but don’t give up! Your body will take time to heal.

Vanessa
Vanessa
2 years 6 months ago

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 🙂

Krissy
Krissy
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
sapphiric
sapphiric
2 years 7 months ago

Kathy, you look fantastic! I am so happy to hear that you stuck with it and you are seeing nothing but positive results now.

Vanessa
Vanessa
2 years 7 months ago

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.

JoyAnn
JoyAnn
2 years 7 months ago

Wow you look great and feel better! So glad you found MDA!

Michia
Michia
2 years 7 months ago
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… Read more »
Jade
Jade
2 years 6 months ago

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!

John
John
2 years 6 months ago

What a great story Kathy!

miss_mums
miss_mums
2 years 6 months ago

Hi Kathy! I’m an American but went Primal while I was living in Durban for six months. I also struggled to find grass fed/free range beef and chicken. I tried incorporating cage-free eggs, ostrich, lamb, and fish since all of those options were closer to being free range and available at the local Spar. It’s definitely more expensive, but I found the improvements in health to be well worth it. Thanks for sharing your story!

samantha
samantha
2 years 6 months ago

I like the honesty of your journey Kathy that this lifestyle choice is not always easy, especially if grass fed/organic isn’t always available or affordable. I enjoy the Friday ‘real stories’ so much, each inspiring for the differences of individual goals set & achieved. Also the struggles & obsticles shared. Your story in particular makes mine feel more ‘real’. With the resources I have I am doing the best I can and like you my energy levels have improved over time. Thanks for sharing

HillyM
HillyM
2 years 6 months ago
Thanks Kathy. I too love that you perservered with what you felt was right, even though the results weren’t immediate. You look very calm and healthy in your “after” photo, a reflection of your healthy outlook on life I am sure. I too had/have IBS and paleo made it worse initially. To “L” and others who are struggling with IBS on paleo, read up on eliminating FODMAPS, as you may have some other food intolerance at work. When I started on Paleo I greatly increased avocado, mushrooms, cauliflower, honey etc. All of which played havoc with my IBS, and felt… Read more »
Kathy
Kathy
2 years 6 months ago

Thanks, HillyM. I think it’s a lifelong discovery on what’s best for our bodies.

Samantha
Samantha
2 years 6 months ago

Thanks for your story, Kathy. I love the testimonies, but sometimes feel discouraged when they feature amazing transformations. Yours really illustrates perseverance and “kaizen” (Japanese for incremental improvements) and that’s where I need the most encouragement. Good for you! And that’s a lovely photo of you at the end. You look great!

Alexandra
Alexandra
2 years 6 months ago

+1

Al
Al
2 years 6 months ago

Grats on your success, keep it up.

I am really surprised that organic, grassfed/finished meat is so hard to come by in S. Africa.
Many people have digestive problems but nobody ever talks about it. People are generally ashamed of it and even when it’s brought up to doctors all the patient ever gets is a blank look of “why do you have digestive problem, you weirdo!”

I stopped bringing it up ever time I went to the doctor and started searching the net for solutions when I stumbled upon MDA. That was 4 years ago 🙂

Good Luck to you and your family!

Natalie
Natalie
2 years 6 months ago

I’m a year and a half in and it still feels like an uphill battle everyday, waiting to feel healthy. Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on your new health!

Struan
Struan
2 years 6 months ago

+1 for another South African following MDA and primal eating – I’m in Hillcrest, near Durban, and can so relate to your description of the typical South African diet. Well done Kathy, and keep going …

Byron
2 years 6 months ago

Awesome story and inspiration. Congratulations to you, Kathy, for sticking it out! Keep on fighting on!

Corey
Corey
2 years 6 months ago

Congratulations on discovering your true health! It’s amazing how healthy someone can appear by just seeing their face!

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