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

The Complete Story Behind the Woman That Lost 88 Pounds in Seconds

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!

real life stories stories 1 2Hi Mark,

If you were on the Internet at all a couple weeks ago, you may have seen an article or two or six about a young lady losing 88lbs over the course of a year, complete with morphing GIF progress pictures, a la Roseanne’s opening credits. The animated GIF took my story viral with headlines reading “Woman Loses 88lbs in Seconds”. Well, would you believe that same gal is an avid MDA reader who attributes the bulk of her weight loss to her Paleo/Primal lifestyle? Yes, seriously!

My name’s Amanda, and my decision to go Primal was the best thing that ever happened to me… even if I didn’t know what it was called at the time.

People often ask me, “When did you decide to lose weight?” The simplest answer (and one that, unfortunately, hasn’t been appropriately conveyed in my recent surprise media blitz) is that I didn’t; I was simply tired of being tired, and in trying to fix that, the weight loss naturally followed suit. For context, let’s jump back to the day I fondly refer to as my Day of Reckoning.

kim

It was an otherwise forgettable Saturday in April 2011, and I closed my eyes as I gingerly stepped onto the doctor’s scale. In what I can only assume was an effort to lighten the mood, my general practitioner hummed as she gently tapped the counterweights into place. “222 pounds,” she announced. This was the first time I had weighed myself in over 7 years. I didn’t mention this fact to my GP; it was one thing to be 24 years old, 5’4″ and obese; it was another to admit willful ignorance of my health to the person I’d just tasked with fixing it. Because surprisingly enough, my weight wasn’t the primary reason for my visit to the doctor that day (I had resigned to being overweight years prior). Since graduating high school (and consequently living on my own), I was in a constant state of fatigue and anxiety. I was drowsy during the day and completely restless at night. I had horrible indigestion, regular migraines, mysterious muscle cramps, a myriad of skin problems…the list goes on. I had initially blamed graduate school for the constant headaches and your standard-issue lack of willpower for the insidious weight gain, but as I (and my academic performance) continued to suffer, I became desperate for answers. After a battery of tests, my GP concluded that I was “stressed”. As for the weight gain? “Not enough exercise”.

spokane

I left the clinic feeling initially defeated, but on that day, a single, unshakable notion implanted itself in my brain: there’s got to be something they’re missing. This nagging feeling drove me to a quest for knowledge. And after months of scouring the Internet, reading articles, and even consulting two other medical professionals, I still only had theories. In an almost last-ditch effort, a nutritionist friend recommended I try an elimination diet of the most common food allergens (gluten/wheat, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, lactose, casein, honey, etc.) for 30 days, then slowly reintroduce them and see how I feel. The idea that any of those foods could cause me pain seemed totally counter-intuitive to everything I had been taught about nutrition, but I was tired of being tired, so I figured it was worth a shot.

4thjuly

So on July 5th, 2011, I did a complete overhaul of my diet and started “eating clean”, as I called it. Within days, I felt better. I was more alert during the day. I had fewer headaches. I was less irritable. I slept like a baby. I was so ecstatic that my energy levels were up that I didn’t notice my clothes were getting a little baggy. Figuring I should probably learn from my past mistakes, I decided to buy a scale, snap one single “Before” picture and, just for funsies, keep track of whether or not I had lost any weight.

before

By August 5th, I had lost 18 pounds.

I wasn’t counting calories, practicing portion control, or even exercising (well, beyond walking to and from my classes). I had dedicated myself to “clean eating” so I’d stop feeling like crap, and the weight just kept falling off.

After the first 30 days, I reintroduced eggs into my diet with no discernible side effects. Two weeks after that, nuts and low-lactose dairy re-joined the party, also with no negative side effects to speak of. Two weeks after *that*, however, was my birthday. After almost two months of no bread, I had convinced myself that I deserved just one slice of thick, syrupy french toast (one of my old favorite foods) to celebrate my 25th year of existence. About 15 minutes after consuming said slice of deliciousness, I knew I had made a huge mistake. Almost immediately, I had a horrible cramp in my stomach. About 30 minutes after the pain subsided, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was in pain, moody, and exhausted… and it was only 10am! Sugar and wheat products were clearly problematic for me, and I quickly learned that not only could I, in fact, live without them, I could thrive without them.

I also started calorie counting, though not intentionally at first. Because the majority of my meals consisted of eggs/meats/fish and veggies, I filled up very quickly on significantly less food than I used to. Over time, I naturally began eating less and less. Purely out of curiosity, I started keeping a food journal to see how many calories I was consuming while still being satiated. I was pleased to discover that I was unintentionally eating at a deficit! On average, I was consuming about 1300-1400 calories/day, which for someone living a sedentary lifestyle like I had been, proved to be plenty of food.

To say I felt empowered is an understatement. For the first time in years, it actually felt possible for me to be in control of my health. But beyond anecdotal evidence and a lot of trial-and-error, I really had no idea what I was doing. That’s when I found Mark’s Daily Apple, and everything fell into place. Mark’s explanations and insights reaffirmed the core tenet of my own circumstantial lifestyle change: thanks to genetics and body chemistry, eating some foods will make you feel kind of terrible. Not eating those foods will probably make you feel better.

After even more research, I dialed in my diet and began applying ketogenic macronutrient ratios to my paleolithic food choices, a combination that proved to be quite powerful in my only-marginally-active state. I began posting about my efforts on a lovely little website called reddit, where I found a fantastic community of folks looking to improve their lives by reclaiming their health. While I posted my “final” set of progress pictures and advice there over a year ago, it was actually a repost of my pictures by an anonymous redditor a week ago (totally unbeknownst to me) that brought my story to its most recent “buzz” status.

after

It hasn’t been easy getting my full story out there. Many media outlets wanted to simplify and distill my efforts down to sound bites; others flat-out refused to report on my actual diet, as my happily eating saturated fat while shunning grains and not exercising simply didn’t fit their conventional “diet” narrative. It’s been very frustrating at times, but for every misleading news segment, I get a dozen or so folks tracking me down on reddit and asking me about my story. Needless to say, I dole out Mark’s Daily Apple links like it’s my day job icon smile

tokyo

It’s been a little over two years since I decided to reclaim my health through the Paleo/Primal Blueprint diet with a “keto” twist. Admittedly, I’m still working on the “moving more” part of the lifestyle equation. My current approach has become decidedly less “keto” and more Paleo as I attempt to up my activity level (i.e., incorporate more carbohydrate on workout days), and I’m going back and reading all the MDA Primal Fitness posts with a new level of appreciation and zeal. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my health discovery will yield, and, honestly, I don’t mind one bit if I’m the only one around to see it icon biggrin

march

A million thanks to Mark and this incredible community for everything that you do. Be excellent to each other and Grok On!

-Amanda

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. Great job Amanda, you look wonderful and I bet you feel like you have a new lease on life.

    Bravo.

    David wrote on October 4th, 2013
  2. Wow!

    Cody wrote on October 4th, 2013
  3. Great work Amanda! You look fantastic. Congratulations.

    Sean wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • I’ll second that; you’re beautiful! You look so happy in the second to last picture. This is an absolutely inspiring story. Congratulations!

      Jon wrote on October 4th, 2013
      • +1. Beautiful. : )

        Madama Butterfry wrote on October 7th, 2013
  4. Amanda fantastic job. You look happy and incredibly gorgeous!

    Daniel wrote on October 4th, 2013
  5. Amazing! Well done!

    James wrote on October 4th, 2013
  6. Awesome!

    rlarson wrote on October 4th, 2013
  7. “To say I felt empowered is an understatement.” Best sentence in your story. Don’t. Stop. :))

    primalmichael wrote on October 4th, 2013
  8. Those pictures are truly amazing!! Congrats to you — I love Friday most of all for these stories.

    Colleen wrote on October 4th, 2013
  9. Amazing transformation. Even your face looks different than with your former self.

    Congrats! This is a good one.

    Keith wrote on October 4th, 2013
  10. It’s okay that the media didn’t want to know the truth about FAT. Every individual has to look beyond that and want to seek the answers themselves. Even if you told people it was fat and low carb that saved you, they wouldn’t believe it because most do not yet want to hear it. Really great to see that smile in the last couple photos.

    Dr Jason Bussanich, DC wrote on October 4th, 2013
  11. Great Job Amanda! It’s awesome to wake up every morning feeling great isn’t!!
    I got goose bumps reading your story and seeing your pictures. Amazing :)

    Primal-Loe wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • You got goose bumps. I’m crying. People discovering Empowerment does that to me.

      Catherine H wrote on October 4th, 2013
  12. Yeah you are right about how some of those various websites refuse to accurately say what you did to lose the weight.

    You look great!

    Diane wrote on October 4th, 2013
  13. Amanda, you look gorgeous and totally vibrant! Way to take the initiative to taking back your health. Your story is truly inspiring!

    Katie wrote on October 4th, 2013
  14. Amazing Amanda! You look awesome!
    Your story has inspired me to “get back on the Primal wagon”.
    Breadless bacon butties from now on.
    Thank you.

    Corinne wrote on October 4th, 2013
  15. Way to go!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on October 4th, 2013
  16. Amazing story, Amanda. THIS I gotta show to my non-primal family members!!! Grok on!

    ninjainshadows wrote on October 4th, 2013
  17. This is so awesome- thank you for sharing! I love the variety of stories we get every Friday, and it’s great to see the media exposure. Keep up the good work!

    Craigory wrote on October 4th, 2013
  18. Where’s that guy who thought Mark was running out of success stories? Awesome.

    Ham-Bone wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • The only success stories we’re missing out on are from those who haven’t even tried yet. Based on the size of the obese population, there are WAAAAY more success stories yet to come.

      Wenchypoo wrote on October 5th, 2013
  19. Congratulations Amanda!! You look beautiful and happy!!

    Charlotte wrote on October 4th, 2013
  20. Awesome story!! I went through a similar “Day of Reckoning” myself when I decided that this state of affairs could go on no longer and launched into overhauling my diet. For some ppl it’s a gradual awakening and for others like you and me, it’s a big catalyst. Kudos to you on taking charge of your health.

    Sophia wrote on October 4th, 2013
  21. I love how the morph shows your face going from a frown to a smile.. AWESOME!!!

    John a wrote on October 4th, 2013
  22. You are one amazing woman! Thank you for sharing your inspirational story!

    Rebekah wrote on October 4th, 2013
  23. OMG! YOU LOOK GORGEOUS.

    Diane wrote on October 4th, 2013
  24. WOW…Great Job Amanda!

    Billy wrote on October 4th, 2013
  25. Congratulations to you for taking matters into your own hands, and getting your health on track ! It is just shameful how , as you stated: “Many media outlets wanted to simplify and distill my efforts down to sound bites; others flat-out refused to report on my actual diet,” …. because it simply didn’t fit their “conventional “diet” narrative.” It’s fantastic that you are making your story available to people who really need the information. Keep fighting the good fight!

    I can never get over how much happier the success story peeps look in their after pics, but for some reason, you in particular just take the cake (wheat, dairy and high fructose corn syrup free cake, of course!)

    KariVery wrote on October 4th, 2013
  26. What an inspiration you are! You’re right: no one wants to hear how FAT is actually our friend. (My husband is still not really on board with that salient fact.) Your transformation is one for the books. Your dazzling mega-watt smile tells it all. Thank you for brightening my day!

    Jasmin wrote on October 4th, 2013
  27. Such a fantastic transformation. Congratulations!!!

    Daniel wrote on October 4th, 2013
  28. What a cool story! Thank you for sharing it! I think it’s so funny that you weren’t actually looking to lose weight when you started. You look gorgeous, and your smile made me smile. Isn’t this lifestyle fantabulous?

    Connie wrote on October 4th, 2013
  29. Simply beautiful, Amanda. From start to finish. With thousands coming aboard Primal/Paleo everyday, I’m sure we will never run out of success stories. I hope you are in Mark’s next book.

    Nocona wrote on October 4th, 2013
  30. Amanda,

    I am so very happy for you and your new found life. I feel a real kinship with you as my story is very similar to yours. It took me much longer to figure it out though! I started at 300+lbs in 2010 at age 40 and after committing to paleo (same ” keto twist”:), after a year I was down to a lean 176lbs with no exceptional physical efforts. Today I weigh in at 185lbs after a couple of years of Mark’s style of paleo fitness and I have never looked or felt better in my life! I love your message! Keep preaching it and keep being an inspiration to others.

    Thanks,

    Norm

    Norm wrote on October 4th, 2013
  31. WOW. Way to go, Amanda!

    Your comment that it’s been hard to get the full story about your transformation out there is so interesting. So glad you got to share it here!

    Anne wrote on October 4th, 2013
  32. Amanda, I had seen your story online and I was thnking she has to have followed a paleo plan to look as healthy as you do. I was a hardcore vegan at one point and lost quite a bit of weight but I did not have that healthy glow that you do, and was always starving. I am now a hardcore MDA follower, and life has never been better.

    Michael wrote on October 4th, 2013
  33. *Standing up, clapping* Best real life story yet!

    Miss Boom wrote on October 4th, 2013
  34. This is one of the best success stories I’ve read! Probably because I can relate to it greatly. (I’m the same height, and was at almost the same highest weight, and of course have had similar success once on a paleo/primal diet). Thanks for sharing. It is truly inspiring.

    Primal Praxis wrote on October 4th, 2013
  35. Yay, oh yay! Good for you Amanda, such excellent work.

    Vanessa wrote on October 4th, 2013
  36. Fantastic! I am impressed that you were able to accomplish your transformation with so little formal advice and guidance. It sounds like you did this largely on your own without a lot of support. It’s clear you have an intuitive understanding of your own body, an ability to conceptualize an effective plan and plenty of self discipline. That combination will serve you well in all your endeavors.

    If you can find active and fun sports that you enjoy it will bring even more satisfaction and health to your life. Hiking and biking, swimming, paddling, skiing, just walking a dog every day, whatever. We never enjoyed formally ‘working out’ but now we even look forward to those sessions and doing body weight exercises at home. Exercise becomes addictive!

    Bayrider wrote on October 4th, 2013
  37. Great job Amanda – what a transformation! Sad that the message is so difficult for SAD sufferers to swallow in medialand, but it will get there if success like this keeps appearing!

    Grokesque wrote on October 4th, 2013
  38. Amazing! Always cool when a decision or quest to get healthy leads to a huge physique change. GIF was a cool twist too!

    Sadly most people do it backwards starve to lose weight, thinking that if they get skinny they will be healthy.

    Luke wrote on October 4th, 2013
  39. Sweet! Good for you. You look awesome.

    James Hunter wrote on October 4th, 2013
  40. You look fantastic, Amanda! What does you GP say now?? Is she supportive of a primal way of eating, or still urging you to eat low fat?

    Laurie wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • Thank you for your kind words! I’ve since moved and have changed general practitioners, so I’m not sure what my original GP would have to say about my lifestyle change. Maybe I should send her an email! ;) Good news is, my new GP is totally on board; her son has Crohn’s, so she understands how broken and detrimental the Standard American Diet really is.

      Amanda wrote on October 4th, 2013

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