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!

Hi 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.

Amanda - Before Primal

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”.

Amanda - Before Primal

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.

Amanda - 4th of July

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.

Amanda - Before Primal

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.

Amanda - After Primal

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 :)

Amanda - After Primal

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 😀

Amanda - After Primal

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


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. Sweet! Good for you. You look awesome.

    James Hunter wrote on October 4th, 2013
  2. 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
  3. “be excellent to each other” ^_^ best closing remark ever

    Peggy wrote on October 4th, 2013
  4. In my life, I have come to admire how far someone has traveled and not necessarily the height of one’s station in life. You, Amanda, have not only moved off your street but you’ve reached an entirely different country! Very inspiring! Thank you.

    Jeff F. wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • Well said, I concur. I have seen so many remarkable transformations in these stories. My own is relatively small and easily accomplished since I was never very much overweight but still the physical benefits have been great.

      One thing I have sadly become aware of since reading these stories, as an active and relatively fit person all my life I never took obese people seriously, as if they did not merit my time or attention, as if we had nothing in common. I now realize what a jerkoff attitude that is, but I bet a lot of people have that attitude unconsciously. Now I see these stories every week and it’s like the true and beautiful person has emerged from within a false shell. To me it is astonishing that anyone can accomplish such a transformation, I have never had to face such a challenge. I really am in awe of these folks who take charge and make such effective changes in their lives. Nowadays when I encounter so many heavy young people in our rural area I try to see that inner person and I hope they will find their way to becoming that person.

      Bayrider wrote on October 4th, 2013
      • Very thoughtful insight. I like that this community can inspire other, deeper changes, on top of reclaiming health.

        ChristopherD wrote on October 5th, 2013
  5. What a transformation…wow…, well done and thanks for sharing!

    Karo, Scotland wrote on October 4th, 2013
  6. Ya, well done and I hope you have inspired others!

    Manny wrote on October 4th, 2013
  7. I can only second what everyone else has said … what a wonderful transformation and story. As for the exercise piece, I once read that we’ve got it all backwards in that we think we need to lose weight to get healthy; really, when we get healthy we will naturally lose the weight. I think now that you’ve gotten so much healthier (and it shows from your 1000 watt smile!) the exercise will fall into place … you’ll need a way to burn all of that extra energy you now have. More than anything, make what you do FUN so you continue to enjoy life. Congrats and kudos to you!

    Lauryn wrote on October 4th, 2013
  8. You are absolutely beautiful inside and out. And such a smart lady. Also, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one promoting this site “like it’s my day job!”

    primal aly wrote on October 4th, 2013
  9. Holy f’n awesome! Yes! Great work Amanda. You look amazing. The “there’s got to be something they’re missing” is the key. Way to listen to your instincts.

    BW wrote on October 4th, 2013
  10. When the body is fed what it needs, it responds in kind and kindness. Excellent Story. You look FAB!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on October 4th, 2013
  11. Good for you, Amanda! You look radiant!

    Mountaingirl wrote on October 4th, 2013
  12. Amanda, great job and thanks for submitting a very well written story. You will be an inspiration to more people than you can imagine. Wishing you continued success and health!

    Guy wrote on October 4th, 2013
  13. Wonderful story! Not only are you thin and healthy and full of energy, you are also beautiful! Proof, if proof be needed, that health and beauty go together!

    maidel wrote on October 4th, 2013
  14. Our cost for health care, which is crippling the US economy, could be cut in half if people ate whole, non-grain food, exercised and controlled stress. Great story and unbelievable transformation. Amanda seems to be such a level-headed yet inspirational person, wise beyond her age. We are mostly preaching to the choir here, but hopefully the conventional wisdom “eat a low fat diet and get at least seven helpings of grains per day” that is doing some much damage will become obsolete some day and we can turn a corner. Wonder if that will happen in my lifetime LOL?

    George wrote on October 4th, 2013
  15. you’re beautiful!

    adina wrote on October 4th, 2013
  16. Love your story! I feel like we’re kindred spirits. I hope I look like you when I reach my goal! Hot stuff!!!

    The Beckster wrote on October 4th, 2013
  17. Amanda–I’m gonna hand out links to your Friday Success Story like it’s my day job!

    Joy Beer wrote on October 4th, 2013
  18. Mark should give that girl a Primal Blueprint shirt, so that she can do one final photo. Some of the people who did the animations will add that to the end, and then the word will get out even despite the biased media coverage.

    PhilmontScott wrote on October 4th, 2013
  19. Great work Amanda! I am so happy you were able to uncover the right information. Kudos to you for doing the work and utilizing reliable resources! I see this time and time again when people get on board and fully commit. I run my own health consulting biz and I use the Paleo/Primal eating template as a starting point for all. It has been six years since I started implementing it and I must say it does not fail when clients choose to be compliant. I always say to my clients, proper nutrition changes and saves lives and you can do it forever, it’s sustainable! Again, fantastic work and lets hope this continues to saturate the mainstream.

    Also thanks to Mark for all that you do and keep up the solid work!

    Erik wrote on October 4th, 2013
  20. Thanks for sharing, I need to look for your morph progression pictures. I was just talking to a co-worker who tries to get slim by walking and eating non-fat. She is overweight, yet when she finds out from me, who is at her goal weight, that I drink fat in my coffee (and tea sometimes) she was not at all interested in switching out those carby-grains for fat. On the other hand, talking to a lady in a store (she had a lot of fruit in her cart) about eating (in Spanish-not easy for me) but she was very interested in hearing about how she could eat fat and lose weight.
    Thanks for inspiring all your readers here on MDA.

    2Rae wrote on October 4th, 2013
  21. Awesome !

    Chance Bunger wrote on October 4th, 2013
  22. You look incredible. I know it’s been said many times – but it’s interesting how you are looking at your phone in the first few photos, then you are looking in the mirror.

    I really, really hope to be to the same point as you someday. I’m 222 as well and so, so tired of it…

    Dev wrote on October 4th, 2013
  23. Wow!!! Phenomenal!

    Don Pace wrote on October 4th, 2013
  24. Amazing results Amanda! Grok on is right!

    Stephanie Turner wrote on October 4th, 2013
  25. Great Job! Inspiring!

    John M Brown wrote on October 4th, 2013
  26. WOW. You look amazing! I too started the primal diet because i also was so sick of being tired all the time and really didn’t think I had weight to lose. I was not overweight at all but was thicker around the middle than I liked. The weight loss was a happy side effect and I feel better at 40 than I did at 20! People should be running to you to discover your secret because you are gorgeous and confident looking.

    Casey wrote on October 4th, 2013
  27. Beautiful eyes.

    Mitch wrote on October 4th, 2013
  28. What an inspiring story!! Absolutely amazing. :-)

    Jessica wrote on October 4th, 2013
  29. This is so inspiring. And I can’t stop watching the “transformation.” I shared the story and GIF together, to make sure people understand. Thank you so much for your story.

    Christine wrote on October 4th, 2013
  30. Damn!

    No, no…that’s not quite right


    Wow. The smile really says it all. Awesome work 😀

    Reventon wrote on October 4th, 2013
  31. Such a fantastic story. I find it funny (in a sad way) that the mainstream media characterized your diet as high protein instead of high fat. So many people benefit from the low fat eating yo yo dieting industrial complex, sometimes being primal feels like the healthiest form of rebellion.

    Amy wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • It’s frustrating. Fat really is still the dietary devil and it seems to be hard to shake culturally. Anything but admit to high fat diet and being healthy on it. (Close second: Eating red meat regularly and by some mystery not keeling over in a heart attack.)

      Amy wrote on October 5th, 2013
  32. Amazing transformation Amanda, mind, body, and spirit! Just think how happy and healthy your next 75+ years of existence will be! Also, I think you’re a very talented writer, great perspective.
    You said that your meals consisted of eggs/meats/fish and veggies, but what do you mean by “applying ketogenic macronutrient ratios to [your] paleolithic food choices”, and “Paleo/Primal Blueprint diet with a “keto” twist?”
    What exactly did you do?
    I’ve been practicing PB and following MDA for about two years now, and have had good results, but I still don’t have quite the energy I’d like to have, so I’m still trying to adjust my diet.
    Thanks so much and all the best to you, keep preachin’ the PB gospel! best.

    Read more:

    jen wrote on October 4th, 2013
  33. You look like a completely different person! Mega congrats!

    Deana wrote on October 4th, 2013
  34. Wow!!!!!!!

    HillyM wrote on October 4th, 2013
  35. It never ceases to amaze me that the before and after pictures in every success story not only show an improvement in physical fitness, but each person is quite obviously happier, more vibrant, more radiant, and more confident. This case is absolutely no exception.

    Craig Capley wrote on October 4th, 2013
  36. Your story brought me to tears! Those were the exact words I used when I started my transformation, I’m tired of being tired. This was so inspiring to me, I know I can’t quit. Congrats!! You look radiant and full of life.

    Jodi King wrote on October 4th, 2013
  37. Amazing! Thank you for sharing your story, it’s the kick in the butt I need! You look fantastic and so happy :)

    Kristina wrote on October 4th, 2013
  38. WOW! Is this for real?

    Richard wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • Indeed :)

      Amanda wrote on October 4th, 2013

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