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. Amanda, you are a great example of “you can tell she’s really pretty, she just needs to lose weight.” I don’t mean to sound blunt or hurtful, it’s just how people judge even if they will never admit to it; you look great and keep up the good work!

    Adam wrote on October 4th, 2013
    • Please don’t perpetuate the “she’s got such a pretty face/ she’d br so pretty if she lost weight” special category of compliments that overweight women always get. Either compliment someone or don’t, but don’t offer one with caveats.

      Ginny Pickles wrote on October 7th, 2013
  2. Amanda you are wonderful, thanks for sharing! And I love the GIF, that’s awesome!

    Sgt.Gator wrote on October 5th, 2013
  3. inspiring

    Spinsei wrote on October 5th, 2013
  4. I’m laying in bed with a hot pad on my stomach hoping I can be inspired by your story to make better food choices next week (and the week after and so on). I fell off the wagon this last week and am paying for it. The part of your story that inspires me the most is the gain in energy. I want that so much! Thanks for sharing the whole story behind the amazing gif.

    Paige wrote on October 5th, 2013
  5. Nicely done!

    Julian wrote on October 5th, 2013
  6. That’s so awesome and very inspiring. Gives me hope that the fat will eventually start coming off. Just need to be vigilant!

    Lisal wrote on October 5th, 2013
  7. Amanda,
    Absolutely great job! You look BEAUTIFUL! Keep up the good work. Do you still eat cheese at all or have you completely eliminated dairy from you diet at this point? I still am confused about the Primal diet and if dairy (cheese) is allowed, but everyone on here talks about Paleo diet which I thought didn’t allow dairy. I can’t seem to get any answers anywhere. Hey Mark, I have a great idea. Have you guys ever considered putting a live chat on here (similar to facebook chat) so that people can communicate with other people immediately? I think it would make things so much better. Congratulations, Amanda and Grok on!

    Brian wrote on October 5th, 2013
    • Brian, as far as I’m concerned it’s “allowed.” I am Northern European and have always liked butter, yogurt, cream, milk. It doesn’t cause me any distress and I eat all that stuff. Amanda said that she eliminated it and then added it back to see how she reacted but that part was ok so she continues to eat it. This web site and the related information goes back for years – type in cheese or milk into search and see where that leads you.

      Vanessa wrote on October 6th, 2013
    • Brian, Paleo and Primal follow the same principles, but Paleo is no dairy and Primal is with Dairy – so MDA is Primal. I hope this helps.

      Ha wrote on August 29th, 2014
  8. Hi Amanda,

    That is just what I needed. I think you have done an incredible job! I have a question if you see this: when you did the elimination trial at the beginning and cut out dairy, eggs, nuts, etc. what did you eat for breakfast? Any suggestions that are not “pork.”

    Amanda wrote on October 5th, 2013
  9. Congrats Amanda! great story and starting w one change.

    Small hinges swing big doors! best from Spain, D

    Dan O´Beirne wrote on October 5th, 2013
  10. Please do a book!

    Dan O´Beirne wrote on October 5th, 2013
  11. WOW! She got HOT! I almost don’t believe that those are pictures of the same person. It’s like one of those padding and makeup jobs on tv shows like Friends or New Girl where they make a joke about how a character used to be overweight.

    Great job. What an inspiration. Marry me?

    Dave M wrote on October 5th, 2013
  12. This is what you call a success story.It’s incredible Amanda!That’s what ‘eating clean’ earns you.And what you experienced within just a couple of hours on your birthday after eating the bad stuff is what sweets and wheat products earn you.All the best in your journey.It’s amazing,you deserve the great feeling!

    Jonas Larsson wrote on October 5th, 2013
  13. Wow, Amanda, that’s an incredible transformation! Even with some of the most shocking, you can see that it’s the same person, but in yours, you look completely different! Random question: did your hair actually get curlier, or did you do it up in the penultimate photo?

    Deanna wrote on October 5th, 2013
  14. Congrats! Your body loves it!

    Matt wrote on October 5th, 2013
  15. You look amazing!!!! Great work!!!! :)

    Helen wrote on October 6th, 2013
  16. Fantastic – what an incredible transformation! Your smiling faces at the end of your story brought a big smile to my face….congratulations!

    maxdriver wrote on October 6th, 2013
  17. WOW!! Truly inspiring and great pics!!!

    Jimmie wrote on October 6th, 2013
  18. That’s amazing Amanda, you have been through such a journey, but it is so important what you do, i.e. inspire people and take your life in your own hands.
    You look fabulous too, so congrats and keep travelling the road of discovery! :-)

    Eva wrote on October 7th, 2013
  19. shes making me feel primal now….:)

    matt wrote on October 7th, 2013
  20. Amazing transformation Amanda, mind, body, and spirit!
    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?
    Thanks so much and all the best to you, keep preachin’ the PB gospel!

    jen wrote on October 7th, 2013
    • I believe that by Keto she means following an eating plan high in fat (saturated) and low in carbs that would cause the body to enter ketosis, switching from carbs as main source of energy to using own fat stores. She was eating Primal/Paleo at the same time.

      RoxyLu wrote on October 11th, 2013
  21. By far the best success story I’ve read… really speaks to me and it got me tracking my macros to get into ketosis… already lost 5 lbs. Thanks, lady! :-)

    Beck W wrote on October 15th, 2013
  22. Wow. You are smokin’ hot. Well done.

    Stacy wrote on October 15th, 2013
  23. Wow

    Patrick wrote on October 15th, 2013
  24. Amanda,

    I’ve read so many of these success stories and I’ve never felt compelled to comment before. I think it was your Bill and Ted’s reference that really sealed the deal for me. :) What an incredible transformation you’ve had! I’m so very inspired by your story. Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there and be honest about where you’ve been. It made an impact on me and obviously many other people.

    Wyld Stallyns!

    Bonnie wrote on October 16th, 2013
  25. Amanda, The best part of all the last pictures is the glow and life in your eyes.

    Sally Rock wrote on October 25th, 2013
  26. Fantastic!! Love these Friday stories. Congratulations on regaining your health and wellness. You’ve probably stacked years onto your life. Plus, you are lookin’ good, girl!

    Tina wrote on October 25th, 2013
  27. Brilliant, beautiful, and empowered–you’ve got it all. I admire your success very greatly and you’ve inspired me to do whatever I can to get well. I refuse to despair even at 240 lbs and 59 years of age; I am NOT too far gone!!
    Keep up the most excellent work and please continue to let us know how you’re doing.

    shrimp4me wrote on October 25th, 2013
  28. Awesome journey!

    I’ve not read all the comments, but when I followed the link to your video of the ‘weight loss’ what really really really caught my attention as much as the weight loss was how with every single picture, your face turned more and more and more towards YOUR reflection – not the camera screen itself. The pride and confidence in who you were came through more and more with each one.

    Amazing psychological improvement along with the physical! Congrats !!!

    Tamika wrote on October 26th, 2013
  29. I can’t believe. Is this really true??? If yes, then its more than a magic. Are we really eating so bad??? You see a complete transformation of a person. Its like taking new birth all over again.

    Yogesh wrote on October 29th, 2013
  30. wow!!!!! you are absolutely amazing!! thank you so much for sharing your story! i am so happy for your health and success. you are beautiful! enjoy your life and good for you!!!!!!! :)

    p-love wrote on November 1st, 2013
  31. Congratulations Amanda! and most of all thanks Mark for a very informative website… it makes sence… Very inspiring! I have known for a while that I must loose weight. I am really 50 lbs over of what my weight should be. Will let you of my progress..

    Annie wrote on November 6th, 2013
  32. I saw the original morph story, and how funny to stop by MDA and see this! Congrats!!

    I find it very sad how the media thinks the world will explode if people find out about the low-fat lie, and how exercise is for fitness, not for weight loss. I suppose the truth will cost a lot of people a lot of money, and we can’t have that.

    Amy wrote on November 7th, 2013
  33. You have inspired me, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Jaime wrote on November 10th, 2013
  34. Great job and well done. I’m going primal starting today. I’ve already eliminated bread and rice, so hopefully i’d start noticing changes. Last weigh in on Wednesday I was 93kg and I’m only 5’4.

    souvy wrote on November 17th, 2013
  35. Yes ma’am!! :-)

    Melissa G. wrote on February 13th, 2014

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