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

The Beginning of a New Life

Hi Mark,

I’ve been Primal for about two weeks.

In that time, I’ve learned more about how my body works, how ill-informed doctors can be, and how important movement is to health than in all my 38 years combined. This is both mind-blowing and humbling for me.

I’ve always lived in my head. I never had much use for my body, because I was a chubby kid and I became a more-than-chubby adult. I ignored warnings about high-sugar food, went on every diet known to man at the time (from the 600-calorie-per-day no-fat diet to Weight Watchers to the Water Diet, where you ate… wait for it… water and nothing but), you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Exercise hurt and made me sweaty, which meant I had to shower, which meant getting undressed and looking at my body, which I didn’t like doing. It was just easier not to exercise. I hid in books and, later, computers and the Internet. By trade, I’m working on being a sociologist and a statistician – lots of head-work, but not much field-work. (I used to say that that was the advantage of sociology over anthropology: you don’t have to go out into the fields to do your field-work.)

Every now and then I’d have a spurt of “I’ll try to be THIN!” but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks. And it always involved cutting out fat and sugar, but still eating lots and lots of those supposedly “healthy” carbs and grains. In high school, I weighed 200 when I started freshman year and, despite four years of marching band, I weighed 280 when I graduated. When I got married the first time, I weighed 340. I thought surely I was as big as I was ever going to get, right? When my first marriage broke up nine years later and I went vegetarian, I was at 370. I maintained that weight for eight years. Sure, I got told I was a diabetic two years ago (with what I argued at the time was a single and unrelated anomalous blood sugar reading of 127 when I was completely stressed out), but although I took the tester and strips, I didn’t bother to follow the program, and I insisted that one could be heavy and healthy at the same time. (And I’m still a fat activist for the rights of fat people, because as most of us know, so many fat people aren’t aware that they’re being told all the wrong things about weight and health and food that I can’t really blame them for their lack of knowledge. I tell those I can, when I can, and let the rest of it work out on its own.)

So I thought I was doing pretty well. I was in graduate school, I had two beautiful daughters and a strong relationship with my husband (he and I married last year when it was legal for us to do so in CA), I was bright, I was articulate, I’d graduated from undergrad with honors. Oh yeah, and I was a hell of a good cook.

Then, in January of this year, my father died of cancer and diabetes complications (inoperable gangrene in his feet). You have to understand about my dad – he was the most important person in my life next to my husband and my kids, and when he died, I went a little nuts. More than a little – I started eating everything I could get my hands on. Ice cream? Check. Pie? Check. Hi-carb snacks, chips, dips? Check, check, and check again. Bring on the mashed potatoes and the rice pilaf, and add a hot fudge sundae in there, for good measure.

Six months after my father died, I was up to 397 pounds. Essentially, I was 400 pounds. I’d gained 200 pounds in 25 years, and I wasn’t skinny at 200, but I was six inches shorter then.

My doctor got on my case on the 7th of August. Nicely, but firmly. It was time, he said, for me to stop pretending I wasn’t an impending diabetic and get with the program. I came home and didn’t eat anything for two days. Then I started testing my blood and was shocked at the numbers. 192. 178. 217 (after a high-carb meal at my brother-in-law’s)! Even my morning “fasting” numbers weren’t great: 144, 148, 152, 139.

So I dove into research, and among other sites about diabetes and low-carb ways of eating, found MDA. And reading the success stories here, I decided I was going to go low-carb. Not to lose weight, but to get my sugars back under control.

I’ve been low-carbing since August 13, and I started with a goal of no more than 80 carbs/day. Now I’m down to a goal of no more than 40 carbs/day, and I hope soon to get that down to below 20/day as I figure out what affects me and what doesn’t. Although my morning numbers are still annoyingly high (mid-140s most days), my daytime sugars go down all day long, and by the end of the day my average is sitting in the mid-110s, which is a hell of a lot better than the mid-180s!

I’ve also noticed a few other things. It’s no longer a struggle to buckle my seatbelt. My shortest belt is too long to really keep my pants up. I saw a doctor last week and I’d already dropped five pounds – and that was before I got seriously into the Primal way of doing things. I feel better. I sleep better. My teeth don’t bleed when I brush anymore (and that was just a lifelong thing for me, the bleeding teeth). I walked a half mile (round trip) to the store the other day – something I NEVER would have done before – and although I came back in a muck sweat, I was so proud of myself. And I’m working out, gently, every morning. I’m up and moving for thirty minutes before I do anything else, and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel.

I want to live a long, long life. And the image of my father’s feet is all I need to keep me going, even when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But if I hadn’t come across the Primal way of living, I’d probably be sucking down my little pancreas-killing hypoglycemic sulfonurea drugs right now, eating 60% of my calories in grains, and wondering why the glucometer stubbornly refuses to get out of the 250s.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some steak and wilted spinach for dinner. I promise to post the recipe, too.


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. Good stuff Griff! Keep it up!

    Ryan wrote on August 29th, 2009
  2. Great story. I’m glad it’s working for you.

    Roland wrote on August 29th, 2009
  3. Wow. Congrats on deciding to change your life and good luck!
    I’m sure this story will have many great updates in the future!

    Mike wrote on August 29th, 2009
    • I hope it will. Maybe after ten or twelve weeks I’ll be brave enough to post some photos like Chucky did. I’m not sure yet.

      Griff wrote on August 29th, 2009
  4. Awesome, Griff! I’m always impressed by people who take on a huge challenge after years of thinking they can’t…and who retain their empathy for others who are still stuck in the quagmire of misinformation. Go get ’em!

    BarbeyGirl wrote on August 29th, 2009
    • Never would have thunk I would find this so idinspnesalbe.

      China wrote on August 5th, 2011
  5. I don’t even know you, and I’m proud of you for even taking the time to do a little research, much less taking the much more difficult step of acting on it. Too many people just want to listen to what they are told. Keep up the good work!

    SarahRingo wrote on August 29th, 2009
    • Heh, it feels like I’ve done nothing BUT research for the last three weeks! My husband finally broke and begged me, “Can we PLEASE talk about something that isn’t nutrition for a while?” about four days ago. (Obsessive-compulsive? Me? Surely you jest.) I just want to tell the world, you know?

      I feel like I’m finally getting a grip on this situation that’s plagued me my whole life.

      Griff wrote on August 29th, 2009
      • Heh! I know what you mean about talking nutrition. I feel sorry for my partner, having to listen to my synopsis of everything I’ve read that day. He assures me he enjoys the conversation, but… let’s face it: I’m obsessed. At least it’s a healthy obsession, right?

        Grats on the progress, by the way. And keep up the steak! I’m glad you’re open to lowering your carbs as much as needed. So few people seem to understand that one’s metabolism can be broken to the extent that the body cannot begin to heal even with a very modest, veggie-based carbohydrate intake.

        Gwennie wrote on August 29th, 2009
        • Heh, this morning I had leftover sirloin steak for breakfast. Last night I had clam chowder (I ate around the potatoes), a Caesar salad without croutons, half the steak – about 4 ounces – and half of a half rack of baby back ribs – again, about 4 ounces. My sugars went up 15 points two hours after eating, which, frankly, is a blip. And they were still well below the supposedly “dangerous” level of 140.

          This way of eating works. The ADA’s recommendations don’t. That’s all I need to know to keep me on it forever.

          Griff wrote on August 29th, 2009
  6. yay

    Tracy wrote on August 29th, 2009
  7. Welcome to the Primal Lifestyle!

    Your story is truly inspiring! The best of luck (and hard work/effort)to you. I can hardly wait until you share your next successes with all of us Groks and Grokettes!

    thebkon wrote on August 29th, 2009
  8. Fabulous story. Very inspiring to see you’ve found the solution. Congrats, Griff on turning things in a positive direction.

    Geoff wrote on August 29th, 2009
  9. Amazing story. I find it fascinating that essentially, your father was responsible for the series of events which led you to a much healthier lifestyle. Congratulations and best wishes.

    Martin P wrote on August 29th, 2009
  10. Congratulations on your first few steps. Stay with it, you can beat this thing.

    Kiran wrote on August 29th, 2009
  11. Glad your here at MDA, Griff, and I’m sure you’ll do great living Primally–sounds like you’re seeing differences already and you’ve got great motivation!

    Catalina wrote on August 29th, 2009
  12. Congrats Griff! I wish you all the best!

    Derek wrote on August 29th, 2009
  13. Keep it up Griff, you’ll be amazed how you feel better and better as time goes by. Your bod will reward you for playing and eating like it desires.

    chuckyZ wrote on August 29th, 2009
  14. Way to go. Every day gets easier.

    Jeanne wrote on August 29th, 2009
  15. Keep it up Griff! Be strong, you CAN do it!!!

    Mike Stone wrote on August 29th, 2009
  16. All this in just two weeks! Very inspiring.

    Luke wrote on August 29th, 2009
  17. YOU CAN DO IT MAN!!!

    You have no idea the awesomeness that’s in store for the rest of your life!

    Max Lambert wrote on August 29th, 2009
  18. People who fuss about those last 10 lbs should read Griff’s story and realize what it is really like to struggle. Keep going Griff!

    DaveFish wrote on August 29th, 2009
  19. Reading this made me hungry for steak somehow…

    GrokTheBoat wrote on August 29th, 2009
  20. That’s awesome, I wish her the best in her journey.

    Chris H. wrote on August 29th, 2009
    • Him, actually. 😀 Thanks for the good wishes!

      Griff wrote on August 29th, 2009
  21. Excellent job. Isn’t it rather strange and sad how our parents darkest moments can be so inspiring to us kids? I pick up my parents’ medications – about 6 different prescriptions each – every week. And I think to myself that I do not want to be SO dependent on medication to keep me going when I’m 80 years old. I need my body to support me in my old age, so I need to support my body right now with healthy eating and exercise. Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’ Griif, it will pay off more than you can imagine!!!

    Chris wrote on August 29th, 2009
    • Oh man, when my father was in his last few months (hospitalized before he came home to hospice) his partner came to me and got very upset about how many pills my dad was taking. He was on something like 38 different medications for diabetes, migraine, myasthenia gravis, cholesterol, you name it, he was taking it. His partner (a gruff 74-year-old man) expostulated, “Your dad takes nothing but PILLS!”

      I don’t want to live that way. You know what I mean?

      Griff wrote on August 29th, 2009
  22. Great job – primal rocks!

    RT wrote on August 29th, 2009
  23. Great story! Thanks for for sharing…it’s inspiring to all of us.

    Bryce wrote on August 29th, 2009
  24. Awesome story, I love how honest you are with the things in your life that brought you to where you are. Keep fighting.

    Karl T wrote on August 29th, 2009
  25. Inspiring story!

    And as for the contest, it said to leave a comment…so…


    BrianM wrote on August 29th, 2009
  26. I’m glad you found out about the Primal lifestyle! Good job, and keep up the good work!

    Ryan Price wrote on August 29th, 2009
  27. Keep on keeping on!

    gfly wrote on August 29th, 2009
  28. congrats

    Florian wrote on August 29th, 2009
  29. My father barely survived a heart attack at 41.. he has since turned his life around and is healthier than he has ever been.
    He has inspired me to make changes to my own lifestyle, I draw strength from his perseverence.


    trichick wrote on August 29th, 2009
  30. Just think, your gonna have the rest of your life to feel good and healthy. Keep your eye on the prize. I know you can do it.

    Sharon wrote on August 29th, 2009
  31. Congratulations, you’ve taken the most difficult step in going Primal–Starting.

    The rest should be easy and fun. Enjoy the journey and keep us updated!

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on August 29th, 2009
  32. Griff, it will only get better. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    maba wrote on August 29th, 2009
  33. Nice work!

    Dan Morgan wrote on August 29th, 2009
  34. Keep up the good work!

    amandamarie wrote on August 29th, 2009
  35. good work, mark! please send me a black t-shirt!

    wiz wrote on August 29th, 2009
  36. A wonderful story, thank you.

    smiling_jack wrote on August 29th, 2009
  37. RAWR! Nice job, Griff! Make sure to post a follow-up in a few months so we can check out your progress. I’d love to show you to some of my obese relatives.

    GeriMorgan wrote on August 29th, 2009
  38. Great job on taking your first primal steps! Keep it up, and if you haven’t already, join the forum and start a journal there… you’ll find a GREAT community here.

    FlyNavyWife wrote on August 29th, 2009
  39. 😀

    Nelter wrote on August 29th, 2009

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