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. You look beautiful. So happy! I have a question, how did you build such pretty muscles if you didn’t workout(exercise) for a year. I’ve only been primal for about 3 months, I’ve lost weight and inches but I’m flabby. I do sprints, lift heavy things, and walk at 10,000 steps at least 5 days a week. Frustrated!

    piefrog wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Honestly, I think it is my Greek heritage. My friend says that I am disproportionately strong for my size. The muscles have always been there, but I can see them now since the fat is gone.

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  2. u look AMAZING! what a great msg u are sending to your son as well! congrats!

    Emily wrote on May 11th, 2012
  3. You are beautiful Monica!!! Congrats and thanks for sharing!!!

    Carla wrote on May 11th, 2012
  4. GROKKETTE…..This always makes me smile>>>

    Dave PAPA GROK Parsons wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Thanks for being an inspiration to me Papa Grok!!! :)

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  5. Wonderful story and, a fantastic smile to top it off!

    SOOOO happy for you!


    Jay wrote on May 11th, 2012
  6. What a difference in the spirit and life shining in those eyes!

    And thank you so much for so eloquently and perfectly expressing the sheer desperation that so many people, especially women, feel about their bodies and as a result themselves and their lives. I’m sure your story will help and inspire so many.

    Plus you’ve also highlighted something that we should all have, namely a great primal photographer!!

    Sian wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • My primal photographer is John Ferris Robben for anyone who lives in the NYC area!!!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  7. You were lovely to begin with, but now the mind AND body are harmoniously synchronized. Great job!

    TruckerLady wrote on May 11th, 2012
  8. Wow! You look so young!

    Amazing. I am so happy for you.

    Diane the Purple wrote on May 11th, 2012
  9. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate on many levels and share your joy at finally finding peace, balance, and true pleasure in eating and in caring for and loving our bodies…ourselves.

    Dotty wrote on May 11th, 2012
  10. Amazing story and transformation. I noticed you mentioned you met Mark at Crossfit in May 2011, do you do crossfit? If so, do you find it a hard workout. I just began Primal about 1.5 months now. I was considering crossfit in my local area but thought it might be too taxing for a beginner, your arms are amazing; love those guns :)

    Kimmy wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I do not do CrossFit. I did not work out at all this past year. I will be starting a fitness regimen this year!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
      • You look amazing. I can’t imagine you after a plan this year. I can see the joy in you shining through :) Your story gives me motivation and hope.

        Kimmy wrote on May 11th, 2012
  11. Congratulations!

    Your comment “It only took a one hour session with an eating disorder counselor for me to feel better emotionally”, and then having successful health improvement fits perfectly into studies that show people who first improve self image have a higher rate of weight loss than those who do not.

    Thanks for your story. It goes to show that losing weight and gaining fitness revolves more around just what you eat.

    Derek wrote on May 11th, 2012
  12. Wonderful story Monica,
    It’s great to see a success that talks about the emotional side of body image. I also think that being alone creates plenty of time for “self dialogue” that can be so destructive to self esteem. When I saw your before, I thought ok, but the after shots show the inner glow, and self belief. Enjoy your new you, step out and shine, you deserve it!

    Heather wrote on May 11th, 2012
  13. Incredible!!! You should be so so proud. I cried reading this!

    Jessica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  14. Monica –

    Firstly, congratulations! I too have struggled in the past with cycling between periods of over and under eating. I find the primal way of eating makes me feel SO much more stable – emotionally and craving-wise – even though it hasn’t resulted in any real weight loss yet.

    I was wondering how much fruit you ate during your transformation? Did you find it helped satisfy sweet/carb cravings, or did it exacerbate them?


    Alice wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I stayed away from fruit. The reason for that is that I had depended on a fruit based diet for years whenever I needed to lose weight.

      when I have those sweet cravings, I eat fat in the form of coconut butter (not oil) and almond, cashew, or macadamia nut butters. A few tablespoons and the craving is gone (You can find them in Whole Foods)

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  15. Great and inspirational story! you have a great smile!

    PaleoDentist wrote on May 11th, 2012
  16. This is the first MDA success story that actually almost made me cry. Awesome.

    Jen wrote on May 11th, 2012
  17. Congratulations and thanks for sharing this!

    WildGrok wrote on May 11th, 2012
  18. Monica- this is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m 19 and have struggle with binge eating, restriction, starving, purging, and exercise bulimia for several years now. Things have gotten better over the years, but it took putting on 50lbs, tons of therapy, and still being uphappy with my body. The Primal Blueprint is by far the best lifestyle that I have ever tried, and slowly but surely, I’m giving up my life-long sugar addiction and losing the weight. I absolutely cannot wait to be 100% happy with my body again, as I know that many women who have done PB and had eating disorders in the past end up in a great place like you are now. Best of luck! -Jess

    JessicaRichter wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Thank you for sharing Jess-it works!!

      Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
  19. Monica, you look great. I have been primal for 2 months but still have a way to go. Stories like yours help me stay the course. I especially like your comments about how your entire attitude about yourself changed. I am finding that too. It is not just a ‘diet’. It is a way of life.

    Craig wrote on May 11th, 2012
  20. Thank you ALL for reading my story and sharing your thoughts. I REALLY appreciate it!!! :)

    Monica wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • You look so healthy and lovely, Monica!

      Thank you for your inspiration.


      Jay wrote on May 15th, 2012
  21. Butterfly indeed!

    Monica, sounds like you always were a butterfly but just needed to stretch out those wings a little!

    Congratulations on a job very well done and thank you for sharing your very inspiring story.

    PromalGrandma wrote on May 11th, 2012
  22. And quite a beautiful butterfly she is! I was also inspired by Unconquerable Dave/Papa Grok, and showed Dave’s pics to my husband to get him on board. We’ve been Primal about a year and a half now, and got two of our friends aboard too!

    Thanks for sharing – given your story, just the fact that you were able to post your photos speaks volumes!!!

    Hillside Gina wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Very insightful comment! I NEVER allowed anyone to take my picture before going Primal. I could barely look in the mirror!

      Monica wrote on May 12th, 2012
  23. Such a great story, thank you for sharing it. :-)

    Steve wrote on May 11th, 2012
  24. The smile says it all . . . congratulations!

    Duncan wrote on May 11th, 2012
  25. Can someone tell what is the “carb flu” and “toxin dump” she talks about? Where can I find info about those on the site?

    justjoan wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Have you taken a look at the Forum section of this site? I joined the forum and kept asking questions and reading other members journals. For me, there is nothing like reading about another person’s experience to help me to understand my own.

      Monica wrote on May 12th, 2012
  26. Wow Monica, that smile is wonderful and clearly indicates that you look and now FEEL beautiful inside and out. And thanks for answering peoples comments too. Your info about painful breasts is very timely. I have been primal for 4 months and have developed lots of niggly pains in my breasts and have an appointment to get it checked out. Hopefully my outcome will be the same as yours, but you have eased my mind just a little. Thank you & Happy Anniversary you gorgeous butterfly!

    Hilary M wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • I am glad I could help. It was a scary feeling!

      Monica wrote on May 12th, 2012
  27. I can completely relate to this — you were the person I was on the path to becoming. This blog gives me inspiration to keep going ever more Primal, not just in food, but in my workouts as well.

    Deanna wrote on May 11th, 2012
  28. Thanks for the hope. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder most of my life who is feeling burned out and not very hopeful I can ever change, it was as if I was meant to get on and read your post. Hearing about your joy and seeing your success is very encouraging. Congratulations to you. I know what a hard battle you have won.

    Tara wrote on May 11th, 2012
  29. I am amazed you did this and didn’t quit. I was hoping you have advice for me? I suffer from terrible body image even tho athletic and overweight (12 lbs I can’t lose) I’ve been Primal a month now with not 1 damn pound less…Any ideas? I’ve not had any grains whatsoever, but some fruits everyday. Thanks !

    Tradergirl wrote on May 11th, 2012
    • Don’t give up! What helped me was being on the forums constantly. I did not lose weight right away either. It was when I raised my fat intake that it started to happen for me

      Monica wrote on May 12th, 2012
  30. You look so unhappy in your before shot and so joyful afterwards. Happy Primal Anniversary and may there be many, many more!

    Odille Esmonde-Morgan wrote on May 11th, 2012
  31. Monica, keep that smiley attitude, you look like sun´s little sister! I love it and its very inspiring! Keep up and enjoy the great feeling! :)

    Petra_OntheRoad wrote on May 12th, 2012
  32. Thank you so much everyone!! :)

    Monica wrote on May 12th, 2012
  33. From a guy… just want you to know, Monica, you looked good before.

    Now, you look fantastic. You look alive on the inside!

    Scott wrote on May 12th, 2012
    • +1 to Scott, because it is both a true and thoughtful thing to mention!

      Joy Beer wrote on May 15th, 2012
  34. Way to go Monica! What an incredible story with the happy ending only just beginning!

    Rock on;)

    spicegirl wrote on May 12th, 2012
  35. Wow! I had myself a good cry over your story. For me, it’s not about the way you look, though that is definitely a nice benefit. I am just so impressed that you overcame years of self-hatred and that conditioning to be cruel & judgmental of yourself. Loving yourself now is the true accomplishment! Congratulations! You truly have transformed!

    Christa wrote on May 12th, 2012
  36. Hey Mark, did our ancestors ever leave their home and parents? Did they ever get to an age where they just up and left, and moved on like we do in college nowadays? I find it odd that a great deal of college kids get depressed when they have to leave home, and was wondering if it is because it might be an unnatural and modern phenomenon?

    Alston Trbula wrote on May 12th, 2012
  37. Great story. I so look forward to reading these stories on Friday. Congratulations!!!

    Paul Bourret wrote on May 12th, 2012
  38. Hi, loved your story, well done! Do you have a journal or blog?

    Sarah wrote on May 13th, 2012
    • Thank you! I was posting on the forum for a while under mondawg

      Monica wrote on May 13th, 2012
  39. Wow. That could be me in your story. The wearing baggy clothing, the not feeling happy with your body no matter how thin it is, the obsessing over weight for years and years, the never feeling attractive… I still have a ways to go with it all and I found your story very inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.

    What is a “healing crisis?”

    Mary wrote on May 13th, 2012
    • The Healing Crisis
      AKA: The Cleansing Reaction, The Detox Reaction, and The Herxheimer Reaction
      What is it?
      Also known as the “Herxheimer Reaction”, this reaction occurs when the body tries to eliminate toxins at a faster rate than they can be properly disposed of. The more toxic one’s bodily systems are, the more severe the detoxification, or healing crisis. It is characterized by a temporary increase in symptoms during the cleansing or detox process which may be mild or severe. You may feel worse and therefore conclude that the treatment is not working. But these reactions are instead signs that the treatment is working and that your body is going through the process of cleaning itself of impurities, toxins and imbalances.
      Such reactions are temporary and can occur immediately — or within several days, or even several weeks, of a detox. Symptoms usually pass within 1-3 days, but on rare occasions can last several weeks. If you are suffering from a major illness, the symptoms you experience during the healing crisis may be identical to the disease itself. Sometimes discomfort during the healing crisis is of greater intensity than when you were developing the chronic disease. This may explain why there may be a brief flare-up in one’s condition. Often the crisis will come after you feel your very best. Most people feel somewhat ill during the first few days of a cleanse because it is at that point that your body dumps toxins into the blood stream for elimination. With a more serious condition there may be many small crises to go through before the final one is possible. In any case, a cleansing & purifying process is underway, and stored wastes are in a free-flowing state.
      The healing crisis is the result of every body-system, in concert, working to eliminate waste products through all elimination channels and set the stage for regeneration. The end result: old tissues are replaced with new. When any treatment or cleansing program causes a large scale die-off of bacteria, a significant amount of endotoxins (toxins within the bacteria itself) are released into the body. The more bacteria present, and the stronger their endotoxins, the stronger the cleansing reaction. When any treatment or detox causes the organs of the body (particularly the liver, which is a storehouse of drug and poison residues) to release their stored poisons and toxins, a cleansing reaction may occur. Any program, such as fasting, which causes a rapid breakdown of fat cells (which are a storehouse for toxins), can cause a healing crisis as toxins previously lodged in the fat cells are released into the blood stream.

      The healing crisis will usually bring about past conditions in whatever order the body is capable of handling at that time. People often forget the diseases or injuries they have had in the past, but are usually reminded during the crisis. There are a wide variety of reactions that may manifest during a healing crisis, the most common are:

      Increased joint or muscle pain

      Extreme fatigue and/or its opposite, restlessness
      Headache (believed to be caused by buildup of toxins in the blood)
      Aches, Pains
      Arthritic flair up
      Sinus congestion
      Fever (usually low grade) and/or chills
      Frequent urination and/or urinary tract discharges
      Drop in blood pressure
      Skin eruptions, including: boils, hives, and rashes.
      Cold or flu-like symptoms
      Strong emotions: anger, despair, sadness, fear, etc.
      Suppressed memories arise
      Mood swings
      New phobias develop

      Easing Your Way Through the Healing Crisis:
      Drink plenty of fresh water (especially water), juices, and herbal teas to flush the body of toxins. Some professionals recommend distilled water as the best. Drink from 2 to 4 quarts(liters) per day. This will help flush the toxins out of your system and speed along the detoxification.
      If you are feeling fatigued, or sleepy, your body is talking to you, and telling you to rest. Be kind to yourself, and get the rest that you need.
      Symptoms frequently disappear immediately after a good bowel movement, use an enema to provide relief.
      For other symptoms, meditation, EFT, acupuncture or a good massage might be helpful to speed up the healing process, and reduce the discomfort.
      And, on rare occasions, a reduction of the dosage or temporary cessation may be required.

      Monica wrote on May 13th, 2012
      • My symptoms came later, if I remember correctly even months later. In addition to the flulike symptoms, I definitely had the severe emotional symptoms. Thank goodness for Google

        Monica wrote on May 13th, 2012
  40. This is such an AMAZING story… really really inspiring. Monica, you look so gorgeous and happy!! I hope it’ll happen for me some day too — I am going inpatient soon for severe bulimia nervosa and will be forcefed non-primal food, but I guess it’s only temporary and will be for the best. But I know that once my treatment is over, I can become a happy primal butterfly too :)

    Alice wrote on May 13th, 2012
    • You will!! I wish you all the best on your painful journey xx

      Monica wrote on May 13th, 2012

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