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

The Butterfly

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!

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”

I will have my one year Primal Blueprint anniversary this 13 May 2012. Going Primal changed my life so completely, that I can only compare the transformation to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

When I found The Primal Blueprint a year ago, I was beyond desperate. I had finally admitted to myself and others that I had an eating disorder. I spent almost 37 years (since I was 9) being a binge eater. During that time, I also had several bouts of anorexia and exercise bulimia. My whole life revolved around gaining and losing 5-10 lbs. I can’t tell you how much time was spent managing my weight. This included all the time that I spent obsessing, avoiding people and life, exercising to compensate for the weight gain, manically working hard to get the weight off – only to binge again and gain the weight back. I put my poor body through hell. I spent my entire life being uncomfortable with myself. My self hatred was off the charts. I was constantly depressed.

I learned very early how to disguise my weight and how I felt about myself. It was no accident that I found a career in fashion, as I was an expert at styling-using clothing to disguise any and all perceived or imagined flaws. I never wore any fitted clothing, and if I did, it was during the few times that my weight had gone down to where I felt happy. That never lasted. Soon I would be right back to where I had started, plus a few more pounds on top of that. I learned that when I wore fantastic pieces of jewelry and/or shoes, that no one would focus on what I looked like, but what I was wearing. My entire life’s work revolved around trying to become invisible.

I am a single mom. My son will be 20 next month, and I raised him by myself since the beginning. Before I went Primal, he would express extreme frustration with the fact that I would wear sweatpants around all the time, especially in public. But it didn’t matter what he thought. I just couldn’t live up to my potential as a human being in the miserable state I was in. I thought I would NEVER, EVER break this awful pattern.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I went and got help. It only took a one hour session with an eating disorder counselor for me to feel better emotionally. After that, everything snowballed synchronistically. It was as if all I had to do was admit that I had a problem and confess it to those near and dear to me in order for my circumstances to change. The universe stepped in and soon afterwards, I discovered The Primal Blueprint online. The first story I read was The Unconquerable Dave. I was hooked immediately. Everything I read clicked and made sense to me. I ordered the books and began living the Primal Lifestyle. I never had to go back to that counselor.

In the beginning I doubted that it would work for me. Could I, would I, ever really love my body and myself?

The transition from a high carb diet to Primal eating was not painless. I definitely experienced the low carb flu for a while. In addition, when the fat began to melt away, the toxins that had been stored there caused me to have major blockages in my lymphatic system. I also developed a Healing Crisis. But I kept going no matter what. I wanted what Dave had. I wanted what I had always dreamed of having – a great body with self confidence and self love.

Slowly but surely, I discovered which foods worked for my body (not my emotions). For the first time in my life, I was satiated. I have always loved food, but no longer looked at it from a love/hate perspective. I LOVE the Primal Lifestyle. During this whole year, I actually NEVER did ANY of the exercises. After years and years of manic biking, running, walking, etc., I just felt really comfortable doing nothing. Even without exercise the weight came off, and my body transformed. I am very lucky. I am Greek, so I have a strong body to begin with. The Primal Lifestyle is a perfect match for me. Last month I bought a set of ballet tapes and am looking forward to beginning an exercise regimen for the upcoming year.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I stopped thinking about what I was doing anymore. Being Primal is truly a way of life for me – an ingrained habit. I still weigh myself everyday, as sometimes my brain tries to trick me into believing that I am still the same as I ever was. I sometimes don’t see the new me in the mirror. My friend who is a photographer has helped me with that. He has taken some amazing photos of me, some of which I am sharing with you here. It is through those photos that I can really see the results of my hard work.

Last week I had my first date in 15 years with a guy I went to college with. We hadn’t seen each other in 28 years!! The first thing he said was how amazing I looked and that he had never seen me look that good. We had an incredible time together. I felt beautiful. Not once during the time I spent with him did I feel insecure about my body, nor did I ever experience any slight level of self hatred. To be honest, if I hadn’t been Primal, I am not sure I would have ever shown up to see him.

I am SO incredibly grateful to Mark for the Primal Blueprint and to all the others on the forum who I followed and who helped me out in the beginning. I am healthy. I love myself. I love my body. I wear fitted clothing now. I feel like a million bucks. I feel sexy. I have maintained my set-point weight.

I am no longer the caterpillar. I am the butterfly.

Thank you for letting me share.

In joy and freedom,

Monica (aka mondawg)

I met Mark in NYC at CrossFit, May 2011

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. Monica, congratulations! I think my favorite part of this transformation story is the way your confidence and happiness shines out of those pictures. You look positively JOYFUL, and your hard-won wellbeing just radiates out of those pictures.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    Maggi wrote on May 11th, 2012
  2. Happy anniversary Monica! Yours is an inspiring and amazing story. I’m pretty sure every woman (and some guys) can relate to hating our bodies at some point. It’s practically programmed into us!

    Hooray for tuning out that bulls**t and finding out what your body truly needs :)


    And by the way, you are one hot momma :)

    Cat wrote on May 11th, 2012
  3. The most amazing beautiful post I’ve read so far!

    Mary Beth Keane wrote on May 11th, 2012
  4. That’s a great story. You looked good to start with, but you obviously overcame the negative body image and the sense of “I look OK but feel like crap” mentality and really transformed yourself, both physically and emotionally! You are a beautiful lady and I hope that you feel as great as you look!!

    Mark wrote on May 11th, 2012
  5. What an incredible transformation!

    Suz wrote on May 11th, 2012
  6. You look hot! I do the same thing, weighing myself and checking my clothing size just to see if it’s a dream.

    rabbit_trail wrote on May 11th, 2012
  7. Nothing more attractive than a toned lady with a lot of self-confidence. You can see it in that smile.

    Thomas wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Ditto on the Smile. The Smile seems to show up in every success story.

      oxide wrote on May 11th, 2012
  8. Monica,

    I love love love your story as it’s very similar to mine. Trust me…as fantastic as your bod looks in your “after” photos, the most joyful change is your beautiful smile! You go girl!

    And try the Lotte Berk method dvds…excellent ballet barre workout!


    Ida Palma wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Thank you, I will look into it!!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  9. What a great post. You are an inspiration to so many who struggle with hating themselves and their bodies.

    Josh wrote on May 11th, 2012
  10. You look absolutely beautiful, what a great smile! :)

    vance wrote on May 11th, 2012
  11. You look lovely. An amazing figure. I am happy for your success. Having just begun, I am anxious to feel the way you do.

    Greg wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Hey Greg! I just read that you were starting on your journey to living PRIMEally! My wife and I just started as well, good luck to you!!

      James wrote on May 11th, 2012
  12. Well done! I have felt similar things along my journey, so I can certainly relate. You put it into words much better than I could have, so thank you. Grok on!

    BKarger wrote on May 11th, 2012
  13. You look great! Congrats!!!! I understand what you mean about finally being at peace with food and your body. I’ve been either dieting or “giving up” in cycles for nearly 20 years. Finding this lifestyle has changed my life in ways that are SO much more than just the (smaller!) size clothing I now wear!

    AustinGirl wrote on May 11th, 2012
  14. I got a little choked up reading your amazing story because as a 30 year old man, I have dealt with the exact same feelings about my body my entire life. I have never been comfortable with it. I wear over-sized clothes to hide and conceal. I hate my body sometimes.

    Today is my one month Primal anniversary. I lost 15 lbs the first two, none in the next two weeks, but I don’t care. I’ll never stop living Primal. I know it works, I see the success stories like yours and I want to experience the joy of accepting and liking my body just like everyone else.

    Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your transformation!

    Jason wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I am so glad I could help. It takes a lot of emotional energy to be invisible. Keep up the good work!!!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Jason, dont forget ‘weight’ is misleading. I have gone from 24% BF to 16% but haven’t lost any weight.

      Clippies wrote on May 14th, 2012
    • jason, absoluely, just keep on keepin’ on. and remember, don’t put too much confidence in the scale, as it only tells part of the story ie: if you’re doing good primal workouts like lifting heavy things, or sprinting you’re likely increasing your growth hormone levels and most likely if you see a stall in “weight loss” via the scale. you could be putting on muscle and losing fat at the same time throw the scale out the window (be sure you open the window first!) and go by how your clothes fit or how you ook in the mirror

      m. bouvier wrote on May 15th, 2012
  15. Wow…. You are one strong lady — in all senses of the word. Gorgeous, too!

    I did a month of primal eating earlier this spring, felt good, lost a couple of pounds — and then backslid for Easter. Badly: not just a few chocolate eggs here and there, but right back to wheat, etc. I am finding it very hard to get back on track. But your story is inspiring, so thank you for sharing!

    KEW wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I definitely have a piece of cake once in a while! I love the 80/20 rule. Steak and cake, my favorite meal!! haha. It tastes so much better now! I don’t have the guilt, nor do I have the weight gain, since my body is primed to burn the fat. I can really savor a nice dessert every couple of weeks.

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  16. Thank you for this story! More importantly than looking amazing (which you do), feeling amazing is the best reward from a healthy lifestyle. I completely relate, and take inspiration from this. Very motivational story.

    Paulina wrote on May 11th, 2012
  17. You are an amazing inspiration to many! Congrats!

    Metric wrote on May 11th, 2012
  18. Hi Monica: What a great story! Congratulations, you come over as so vibrant. When *you* feel bad about how you look, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, you still feel bad, right? I can relate to that. You look fabulous. Here’s to more dates with men who think you look better than you did in college. 😉

    One more thing, how did you clear the lymphatic blockages? I’m curious.

    Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Yes, I’d love to hear how that manifested itself and what the solution was? Never considered that rapid fat loss could have that as a consequence from concurrent detox.

      Lloyd wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Hi Alison:

      Thank you!

      as far as the lymphatic system, I read and researched, read and researched, but never found a cleanse that I really wanted to invest in. I figured out from my research that my system would work out the blockages on its own. Which it did. It did take a lot of time and patience though. I got painful lumps in my breasts that I thought would never go away. I finally went to get a mammogram because I was afraid of cancer. Nothing there. Soon after the lumps went down on their own. Patience and a lot of water!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I use a mini-trampoline almost daily for about an hour and especially when I am fasting or I know that I am burning fat.

      There’s a lot of information I’ve read about how rebounding clears the lymphatic system extremely well, perhaps better than any other movement, as the lymphatic vessels contain one-way valves which open, and let lymph fluid flow through, on every jump against gravity.

      Apparently burns more calories than jogging too (although that’s not the main reason I do it)!

      Vanessa wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • ps thank you for your inspiring story Monica! I too have struggled with constantly gaining and losing 5-10 lbs and have never been ‘fat’ but never been completely happy with my body. I found the PB last year and am gradually trying to lose the last half a stone that I’ve always wanted to (and keep it off), partly now by intermittent fasting. It’s a revelation! So happy for you and you look lovely in the photos!

      Vanessa wrote on May 11th, 2012
  19. Wow!! It’s always so amazing!! Love primal!

    buffdv wrote on May 11th, 2012
  20. Your story is truly something I can relate with, and I’m so proud of you. I too had suffered years with an eating disorder and low self-perception/sel-esteem/self-worth. I began living primally about two and a half months ago and I’m already seeing drastic changes, especially in the way I feel about MYSELF. I only hope I have a success story as admiring as yours next year. You look amazing, and your entire story is extremely inspirational on a personal level for myself. THANK YOU!

    Stephanie wrote on May 11th, 2012
  21. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing!!

    Kimberly Britt wrote on May 11th, 2012
  22. This is so inspirational! Thanks for having the courage to share your story. I just LOVE how happy you look in the after pictures! The smiles always prove more than the weight loss, in my opinion :)

    Congratulations big time for making the big changes in your life, and for learning to love yourself. That’s the most important step.

    Nick wrote on May 11th, 2012
  23. Does anybody have any advice for a binge eater/overeater? Typically, I will eat strictly Primal for one or two weeks, but then collapse back into bad eating habits – for 1-4 days at a time. I used to be a really bad overeater (easily eating 5000+ calories in a night) and going Primal has helped me to feel sated and eat/live healthy. I just want to try to gain some consistency. Thanks.

    Ben wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Have you read anything on Intermittant Fasting? I suggest reading Martin Berkhan’s site at Some people are wired to eat big, and Martin’s IF scheme allows people to eat big meals while maintaining insulin sensitivity and fat loss.

      Justin wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • In the beginning of Primal it was still that way for me. I stuck with it and it changed for me. Whenever I felt the desire to binge, I went for a huge piece of red meat, rather than the carbs I used to go for. Soon enough it balanced out and I ceased having to binge. I definitely can eat a huge piece of meat though!!! :)

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Ben, you’ve made great progress! I can still be compulsive with food, but I am finding out what my triggers are. You might want to pay attention to situations or emotions that send you looking for the old comfort foods. Find new, paleo “comfort” foods that won’t send you off the cliff and keep them on hand.

      carol wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • also, the other important thing I discovered is that I need a LOT of fat in my diet. KEY to balancing out my overeating. I keep a jar of coconut butter (not oil, although I always use oil) and several jars of different kinds of nut butter around and dig into them regularly during the day.

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
      • Thanks so much for your story. I just joined a binge eaters group 2 weeks ago, having learned to soothe my emotions with food since I was 5 or 6 years old. I am turning 40 next week and I too have had enough.

        I have been primal for about a year now but am just finally coming to grips with this behaviour. I, too, have found that turning to fat seems to settle me much better than turning to sugar like I have done in the past.

        I’m actually bookmarking your story so that on tougher days I can re-read it and know that I can get through.

        Thanks for sharing. :-)

        Happycyclegirl wrote on May 14th, 2012
    • I have a very similar problem that I attack in a number of ways. Some of these ways work better some days and others work better other days. I allow myself to have good paleo meals when I feel like it but very limited snacks. Activity helps during vulnerable times. Also, if I absolutely must snack, I use the lowest carb thing I can. Right now, the most satisfying is full fat yogurt with frozen blueberries. For some reason, processed carbs would, at the very least, set me up for cravings about the same time the next day. Now, I crave a snack maybe 3 times a week and, if I use the yogurt & berries, it’s not so bad for me anyway. Hope this helps

      Bud wrote on May 11th, 2012
      • Hi, Bud. Just wanted to second the full fat (Greek) yogurt with blueberries. Yum!

        Larry wrote on May 12th, 2012
      • Ya I agree I also crave a snack now and then old habits are hard to break. I like a piece of dark chocolate 85 % coco that does the trick for me. Good luck.

        Tom wrote on May 13th, 2012
    • I, too, am a compulsive eater. My method of managing it at this point (about 2 months primal) is to make sure all my planned meals and snacks are primal. If I binge, I just accept it and move on. I focus on not dwelling on what I just did and not chastising myself. It reduces the amount of stress surrounding my binges. They have become less intense and less frequent. I’m hoping they will slowly lessen until they stop completely.

      Elle wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Give yourself a daily eating ‘window’. I am inclined to binge, after eating a bite of something sweet or especially in the days following alcohol consumption I then just can’t stop eating carbs.

      I am being extremely strict and trying to eat one late meal within approximately an hour (between 9-10 pm for example). I eat until full within that hour and make sure I eat enough fat and protein. If I’m desperate for something sweet I’ll have fruit, dark chocolate or yoghurt. Although the need for sugar declines each day for me.

      But if you are inclined to binge, at least it won’t matter so much if you only ever do it within your eating window (which could be much longer than mine). Eventually the urge to binge subsides. Even if you do relapse back into old habits you can correct it the next day by staying within your own personal eating window. This method may not work for everyone but it’s working really well for me!

      Vanessa wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Caffeine, even in small amounts makes me binge. I’ve never been able to control my appetite if I drink even small amounts of tea or coffee. It doesn’t usually affect me until the following day, and then I want to eat anything and everything. Weird I know, I’ve never heard of it affecting anyone else like this, but might be worth considering if you do consume caffeine.

      Liz wrote on May 12th, 2012
    • Try to notice what feelings and/or food sets you off. Once you can identify that, there are techniques that can be used to break the chain if/when you are ready to break it.
      I have just started experimenting with the emwav2 by heart math, and see how it could be really useful in bing eating situations. They even have a kit for “emotional eating.” It is just a booklet that comes with the standard materials, but it is good.

      deb b wrote on May 15th, 2012
    • It can be really hard when you’re an ‘eater’ as I was/am. (I have lost 95 lbs, 50 of them primal which was much easier than the other way.) Look into the Leptin Reset Protocol (there’s a monster thread on it on the forums but also at Dr. Jack Kruse’s website). If you are leptin resistant, it may be difficult to control cravings and you may feel hungry all the time, like I did before going primal. 50 grams of protein for breakfast will tamp all that down, along with the other recommendations. Also, I have a few primal snacks that help such coconut butter melted in the microwave then mixed with a drop of liquid stevia, some cinnamon, and some crushed pecans. The sweet richness of it helps put a clamp on the cravings for things like cupcakes. Good luck and be kind to yourself. It’s all part of the journey. You can get there.

      Tina wrote on May 18th, 2012
  24. Simply beautiful!

    Mel wrote on May 11th, 2012
  25. Your joy shines through in those photos! Happy anniversary! You are amazing!

    Laura wrote on May 11th, 2012
  26. Wonderful, heartwarming story! And omg i LOOOVE that halter-top unitard thing you’re wearing in your after shots, where did you get it? 😀

    cTo wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • awesome, no????

      They have other great unitards for sale too!! take a look

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
      • ooooh, dancewear on discount! V. nice! And, yes, that does looks fabu on you.

        Tina wrote on May 18th, 2012
    • I sent the website, but the comment is awaiting moderation since it is a link. Take a look at discount dance dot com and search unitard!! They have several awesome ones

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
      • Sweet thanks so much! Ive been doing a lot of dancing lately and have started investing in nicer workout gear and outfits ;D

        cTo wrote on May 14th, 2012
  27. Monica:

    You look so beautiful and happy. I really admire how you acknowledged the problem and set about doing something about it, in such an open-minded way.

    It takes open-mindedness to go Primal. In your case, there was the added doubt in the beginning that it could help your particular situation.

    But you tried anyway. Awesome! Not everyone is like you – meaning that not everyone is open-minded, and not everyone will proceed despite despite doubts. The easier thing is to look at a possible solution and list down all the reasons why it’s (theoretically) not applicable.

    That’s why it’s so great to see stories like yours. Well done! Great job!


    Susan Alexander wrote on May 11th, 2012
  28. you look like THAT without ANY exercise at all? holy smokes!

    great story!

    JunieB wrote on May 11th, 2012
  29. Congrats!! You look so happy!! Happy Primal Anniversary! What an inspiring story! :)

    Primal Pants wrote on May 11th, 2012
  30. Thank you all so much for your comments!!! You are right, I do feel an immense feeling of joy! I am glad you noticed. I am so happy and I smile all the time-a new experience!!

    Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  31. …You look GREAT! 😀

    Jeannie_5 wrote on May 11th, 2012
  32. Absolutely amazing woman! Good for you, you should be an inspiration to other females with similar eating disorders and those who obsess about food. Stunning.

    rkd wrote on May 11th, 2012
  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this Monica. It resonates with me on so many levels. I’m about 10.5 months behind you on this experience, and reading about how you have progressed gives me a lot of hope. Thank you!

    ECgoesPB wrote on May 11th, 2012
  34. Monica, I like your butterfly comparison, because it is really a huge change! Best wishes for a great new life!

    carol wrote on May 11th, 2012
  35. You are absolutely SHINING ! WOW …. Happy Primal Anniversary.
    You just glow … so happy for you !!!

    Orannhawk wrote on May 11th, 2012

    Joy Beer wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • :)

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  37. WOW…An amazing story and transformation…the joy in your eyes is awesome!

    Michael wrote on May 11th, 2012
  38. You are beautiful!

    Shebeeste wrote on May 11th, 2012
  39. Congrats! You look gorgeous

    Dani wrote on May 11th, 2012
  40. AWESOME!! You go butterfly!! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

    I love Fridays at MDA!

    mars wrote on May 11th, 2012

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