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

The Pain and Stiffness Disappeared and Has Never Returned

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 2Dear Mark,

Although you are totally unaware of it, you and I just celebrated our second anniversary. It was two years ago, February of 2011, that I was introduced to you. At the time, you were nothing but an experiment, a fling if you will, but now you are among the most important men in my life. No, I’m not really flirting with you. I’m a 54 year old teacher from the Midwest, married, mother of four and grandmother of two. But now that I have your attention, here’s the rather unremarkable story of my two-year Primal journey.

I’ve always had an interest in healthy eating and fitness. I have read most of the books, tried a lot of diets, and done a variety of fitness activities, and every one of them ran its course to be followed by something new. Two years ago my older son, Adam, started telling me about this blog he was reading where this guy had ten basic rules for living like the cavemen lived. He was intrigued and was set to try the eating plan as an experiment for Lent. I thought I might just give it a try as well. Adam is a high school science teacher, so all the science information he’d been reading on this blog really clicked with him. I’m an English teacher, so I skimmed the science and paid close attention to the summarizing paragraph and asked my son a lot of questions. I downloaded The Primal Blueprint and read it immediately as well as spending a lot of time on Mark’s Daily Apple. Since I was in the Lenten mode of self-sacrifice, the new eating style really came pretty easily. Then came Easter. My time of “sacrifice” was ended, but I no longer felt like I was sacrificing anything. By then it was my new lifestyle.

Bear in mind, that the Primal lifestyle was basically an experiment for me; I had no real goals for weight loss or improved health. I just wanted to see what it was like and what might happen. I was not particularly overweight – 5’5 ½” tall, about 145 pounds, size 8. But after a few weeks, pounds started dropping off, and the little aches and pains I had been noticing disappeared. I never realized how bloated I felt until the feeling was gone. The most notable difference was in the pain and stiffness I had been experiencing in my fingers. The pain would wake me up in the night, and in the morning I could barely wrap my fingers around my toothbrush. As the day progressed, the pain subsided, and I just attributed it to being in my 50s. At some point during that six-week experiment, that pain and stiffness disappeared and has never returned. Knees don’t hurt like they used to. Mid-afternoon energy crashes are non-existent.

gymphoto 1

I say that I had adopted the Primal lifestyle, but in reality during the first several months it was mostly the Primal eating style that I embraced. I used to be a twenty-mile-a-week runner, but I had given that up because of back pain, so at this point my exercise consisted of walking. I had the “moving frequently at a slow pace” part down pat, but it took some time to get myself on the rest of the program. That’s where my younger son comes into the picture. Aaron had become a CrossFitter and was often telling me how much I would like it if I tried it. My response was always that I was too old… until October of 2011 when I finally joined in the boot camp program at the gym. In January 2012 my husband and I both jumped into the CrossFit classes, and we’ve been doing 3-4 CrossFit workouts per week ever since. Mark, you are so right about lifting heavy things! It not only has changed my body, but it feels so empowering to be able to back squat my own body weight, lift barbells over my head, climb up a rope or do a bunch of handstand pushups. I consider the short, highly intense workouts that last only a few minutes to be my sprint. While I love the gym atmosphere and the progress I’ve made over my past year in CrossFit, I don’t do CrossFit just so I can do more CrossFit. I do it so I can do whatever I want to do with confidence that my body has the strength and flexibility to handle it. Last summer I went whitewater rafting on the Chatooga River with my two daughters (exactly the section where the movie Deliverance was filmed), and I won my age group in a 5-K race with no real running training. Earlier this month my husband and I went stand-up paddleboarding when we were on a trip to St. Thomas. Who knows what else I’ll try!

Destin2012 1

Speaking of that trip to St. Thomas, we traveled with people we have known for over 25 years but see infrequently. It was so gratifying to hear their comments about how I look better than ever. My current weight is 128, I wear a size 4 or sometimes a 2, and I do not hesitate to hit the beach wearing a bikini.

My Primal journey hasn’t been about a dramatic weight loss. It has been about some easy-to-do lifestyle changes that I expect to make the next few decades an entirely different life story than they might have otherwise been. That’s why you are on the list of “most important men in my life,” Mark. I’m really glad you came into my life – figuratively speaking, of course.

Kathy

Update:

I wrote to you recently telling you about my two years as a Primal, and I have a quick update.

I allowed my son/trainer to talk me into registering for the CrossFit Open although I felt kind of silly doing it. It was my hope that I could make it through the first workout because I figured it would start with something all body weight and would soon advance beyond my abilities. Well, I did 13.1 on Friday and scored 142. Because I will turn 55 before the Open ends, I was put into the 55-59 Masters Women category, so I got to use lighter weights on the snatches. But here’s the really crazy part. As of right now I am in 17th place in the North Central Region. I still know that I won’t be able to do everything they throw at us in the Open, but I’m having fun with it right now!

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. Lookin Good! Keep it up!

    Phill wrote on April 5th, 2013
  2. Kathy, you rock! Absolutely love your story. You look so healthy and happy. Your story really resonated with me – it doesn’t always take a life-changing event to want to have a better life. A regular life can be improved, too, and you’ve certainly improved yours. Congratulations!!

    JennF wrote on April 5th, 2013
  3. Congrats! Just the kind of story I need to show my mother.

    Colleen wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • I was thinking exactly the same thing! Kathy, your kids must be super proud of you too!!

      Madeleine wrote on April 5th, 2013
      • That arthritis improvement is a biggie, that was actually really good to hear.

        For me, the aches, pains and chronic injuries in are probably the worst part of modern sedentary life… and they often take a lot more fixing than eating healthy and working out :/

        Alexander wrote on April 8th, 2013
  4. You look fabulous, very inspiring to me since we are almost the same age :-)

    Julia wrote on April 5th, 2013
  5. I’m in the contemplation stage of the “stages of change” model, however the friday success stories are inching me towards making the leap to go “Primal”!

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Jason wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Jump, Jason! Jump! Do the 21 day challenge then reassess your life. I loved the Mind App post from yesterday to help push the change along too. At the end of 21 days you’ll know. But the longer you wait to start, the longer you wait to achieve the healthy life you want. Jump!

      Rhonda the Red wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Go for it Jason, Give it 2-3 months, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

      Dave wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Primal feels awesome. 21 days out of your life isn’t that long, either ;)

      Colleen wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • What on earth are you waiting for? You like feeling weak, heavy, and sluggish? Quit being afraid and just do it.

      Joshua wrote on April 5th, 2013
  6. So awesome! You look great, but the important part is that you FEEL great and you have muscles that will protect you and take you to many more places in life. Congrats!

    Patrick wrote on April 5th, 2013
  7. Wow! What an inspiring story, and you look so strong and fantastic! I’m in my upper 40s and was thinking I was too old for CrossFit, too, but now you’re giving me second thoughts about that. Hmm.

    Kathy S. wrote on April 5th, 2013
  8. Great story Kathy! Thanks for the little motivating boost this morning. Nothing like a 55 year old woman competing in crossfit to get ya going for your own workout!

    Good luck as you continue with the open!

    Luke wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Thanks! I just finished my 13.5 workout this morning with a score of 45. I’m considering redoing it because I think I can go faster on the thrusters. I never expected to make it through all 5 workouts! There is no such thing as too old for CrossFit. The older we get, the more we need it to keep the strength and mobility we want.

      Kathy wrote on April 5th, 2013
  9. Fantastic story! The understated tone makes it all the more compelling. Kinda like Keanu Reaves acting a scene versus Robert Duvall. I love how you demonstrate the straightforward, very tangible results. And best of all, in your update, the phrase: “I’m having fun!”. I think that says it all.

    Steve Gardner wrote on April 5th, 2013
  10. My girlfirend has been looking for someone to look up to, I think if I show her this it might do the trick, great story!

    Nick wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Hahaha that’s the same trick I use to motivate people ;)

      Alexander wrote on April 8th, 2013
  11. From having a hard time with a toothbrush to Crossfit – awesome!

    Don B wrote on April 5th, 2013
  12. Wow Kathy – you look amazing in that bikini – jealous much, me?! Well done!

    Grokesque wrote on April 5th, 2013
  13. GET IT GIRL!

    Merky wrote on April 5th, 2013
  14. That’s awesome! I’m 33 and I wish I was as fit as you are – gotta go lift more heavy things :)

    Kate wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • +1, 45 and just starting to work on the exercise, weights part of primal living — GREAT STORY!!

      Colleen wrote on April 5th, 2013
  15. Good gracious, woman!! You look fabulous!!! I would not call your story unremarkable at all. Where most people see hitting their mid-fifties as a time to embrace the aches and the weariness and the medications as just a “natural” part of aging, you have turned back the clock big-time! I’m working on my first year anniversary with Mark myself and have learned so much about my body through this blog and these Friday stories. Your story just makes me more ready to turn 50 than ever. If I can hit 50 doing half of what you’re doing, I will be in better shape than I have ever been by far. I am so glad to know it is never too late to rock those abs! Kathy, you are my new hero!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • +1 Great job!

      Melissa wrote on April 5th, 2013
  16. Wow, I’m 22 years younger and wish I had that body!!

    LisaL wrote on April 5th, 2013
  17. Great job Kathy. This shows how us boomers are not ready for the couch just yet! You look strong, feminine, joyful, energetic and happy. Rock on!

    Nocona wrote on April 5th, 2013
  18. Kathy, love your story. Love you! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Em wrote on April 5th, 2013
  19. Oh, and I forgot to add, thanks for the info about Crossfit. I’m your age and have been hesitating about joining Crossfit in my town. I’m in okay shape, especially now that the aches are gone with my new eating habits. Crossfit is appealing but intimidating all at once. I think I’ll grab the next Groupon and try it out. Again, thanks for sharing your inspirational life!

    Em wrote on April 5th, 2013
  20. This is so inspirational! Great story and thanks for sharing.

    Andrea D wrote on April 5th, 2013
  21. Rockin’! I’m 54, too, with a somewhat similar story. Never woulda been caught dead in a bikini til a year ago, thanks to all this. I became an “avid cyclist” with the newfound energy and fitness it engenders. Now I climb mountains in the Rockies on my beautiful bicycle and chase my racer buddies around. ;0) Speaking of which, it’s a nice day, and the road is calling….

    Emelee wrote on April 5th, 2013
  22. Kathy, you look great! This is so inspiring, I hope I look half as good as you when I’m your age, and enjoy life just as much. No limits!

    Emily wrote on April 5th, 2013
  23. Wow, you do look great, I guess you are never too old. The part where you said my knees don’t hurt like they used to, is what really caught my attention, I am unfamiliar with The Primal Blueprint so thanks for the tip, i will be checking it out.

    Virgil S. wrote on April 5th, 2013
  24. I hate how people think at a size 8 they aren’t fat or overweight. It’s like men with a size 32 waist, just plain fat! Great job. This is what 60 year olds should look like, not listening to dr oz. as for your husband Kathy, clearly his picture shows the effect of doing crossfit without dieting. Better start inspiring that guy before he has a heart attack. By the way I had my success story posted here a while back and people commented how fat I looked when I thought I looked great. Now looking back my after pictures on the inspiration story show me a work in progress. I thought I looked good back then, but now those pictures disgust me. Grok on Patty, and good luck in your continued crossfit open contest.

    Jeremy Creed wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • wow, 32 inch waist is Fat? I will never have a 32 inch waist. Last time I was in great shape, I was 34-36. not saying I had a 6-pack but close, certainly not fat.

      Greg wrote on April 5th, 2013
      • If you didn’t have a 6-pack you were fat. Fat is defined in many ways. Some people think they have to look like they have a pregnancy belly to be fat. Anything however on your abs that doesn’t give you a skin tight 6 pack, not the fat 6 pack I had in my success story, is fat. That fat will cause harm to your body and makes you susceptible to illness (the common cold to cancer).

        Jeremy Creed wrote on April 5th, 2013
        • Troll go away,

          JoeBrewer wrote on April 5th, 2013
        • Hahah uhh… that’s a pretty bold statement, sir!

          Alexander wrote on April 8th, 2013
  25. I lost the aches and pains in my fingers, too! I wish I could convince my boyfriend that his arthritis is not normal. Oh well, we just gotta do the right thing without them sometimes.

    Diane wrote on April 5th, 2013
  26. AWESOME! Great job Kathy!
    Keep up the good work!!
    I love Friday stories..
    Have a safe weekend everyone.

    Rod

    Rod Hilton wrote on April 5th, 2013
  27. “I never realized how bloated I felt until the feeling was gone.”
    “Mid-afternoon energy crashes are non-existent.”
    yep & Yep!!! that was me too & we’re the same age :)
    Well, i definately need to lift more…

    Peggy wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • +1 I think this often happens when people eliminate wheat. They say they had no idea what feeling awesome felt like… until they started feeling awesome :D

      Alexander wrote on April 8th, 2013
  28. What a good writer! I can tell you are an English teacher, and a very good one I am sure. The writing style is excellent, like soft rain against the window while the sun is shining, and you know that when you go out you will see a rainbow.

    Erik W wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Yes, I agree, you don’t want the story to end….

      JoeBrewer wrote on April 5th, 2013
  29. Do it, Jason! Do it!

    Kathy, thank you for sharing your great story. We are almost the same age, so I am especially excited to read about your journey. And I feel the same way about Mark. :)

    Siobhan wrote on April 5th, 2013
  30. Not only was this another great encouraging story but also very entertaining. Thanks Kathy for taking the time to make us laugh and tell us about your journey!

    Sunny wrote on April 5th, 2013
  31. What a great story! I just wish my own mother, who was also a teacher, had been able to learn about this way of eating. Sadly, after years of pain and frustration spent ping-ponging between the Standard American Diet and the “dieting industry” of cutting fat, she succumbed to cancer at 51.

    If only she had known.

    I’m just a month into my own primal journey, and I keep finding so much more to inspire me. Including your story! Thank you for sharing, and way to rock that bikini!

    Catherine W wrote on April 5th, 2013
  32. WOW! You rock Kathy!!!

    mars wrote on April 5th, 2013
  33. Great story, Kathy! You are a great example that we boomers have a choice — embrace the “normal” aches, pains and deterioration of aging or give ourselves license to discover what our bodies can do and get more enjoyment out of life. Grok on!!

    Myra wrote on April 5th, 2013
  34. Kathy, you look wonderful. I am just over 60 and have recently started going paleo. I have the food sorted out all except my yogurt which I have just got some kefir grains so I will be experimenting with coconut milk later today. Fingers crossed. I want to ask a silly question. Has anybody regained their hair colour after going paleo?

    gilly wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • My mom (age 79) went from completely white hair to quite a bit of dark hair around her face and on her neck after going primal. She didn’t get all the color back but it’s definitely enough to be noticed.

      Nancy wrote on April 5th, 2013
  35. Just sent it to my mom. She is starting to get arthritis, and I am trying to get her to commit to Paleo/Primal lifestyle full on. I am hoping she can get a lot of improvement like you did!

    leida wrote on April 5th, 2013
  36. wow, you look fabulous! i’m in the midst of raising 3 young children, and this gives me hope and inspiration for the next decades! it sounds like you have a great relationship with your children in that you’re open to their ideas and let them influence you in positive ways. how neat–i don’t have that kind of relationship with my parents, so it’s great to hear about.

    Jenny wrote on April 5th, 2013
  37. What does your husband think about Paleo/Primal and your transformation?

    NatPatBen wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • I started it first, but my husband has joined me in both the primal lifestyle and CrossFit. He’s looking and feeling pretty good, too!

      Kathy wrote on April 5th, 2013
  38. Thanks, Kathy, so much for your great story! I’m a 60-something retired teacher and most of the stories I see here are from young people. I’m delighted for them, but so glad to see this works for someone who started in their mid-fifties. Gives me hope! You and I are the same height and nearly the same weight but I wear a size 12!! I hate to admit it, but the belly fat won’t budge even though I’ve been grain free over six months. I walk, bike and swim but need to do the “lift heavy things” but with several herniated discs and some nerve damage, have been hesitant. There are just some things with the aging body that we have to approach more carefully and, Mark, I hope you might take that up in a blog post, or hey, even a book! I need to learn how to strengthen core muscles without injuring myself. Thanks, Kathy! I want to know that we are never too old to start working to get the strong body we want, and need, for our 70′s and beyond.

    Laurie wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Laurie,
      I’m only 32 but I have degenerative disk disease in my neck and lower back and possibly a disk that is prone to herniate. I struggled with my back pain for over a decade and finally went and had it diagnosed last year, lost of money and the only answer was medication (if I wanted) and the suggestion to do aerobic exercise. I decided to try crossfit because all the people that do it look as good as Kathy and the exercises are short, lol. Crossfit has strengthened my core and drastically reduced my spinal discomfort. Don’t be afraid to go try it, the coaches will tailor it to you and make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly, just tell them about your condition and your concerns. every crossfit movement is a core builder so its excellent for overall fitness, you will discover muscles you never knew you had.

      Phil J wrote on April 5th, 2013
      • Thanks, Phil. I’ll look into it. My impression was that everyone in CrossFit was less than half my age and maybe it just was not for an “older” body! But I’m game to try!

        Laurie wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Kathy your story is well written and inspiring! I love Fridays.

      Laurie, I happened to find a great core program for people with low back pain, after looking for a long time. Like you, I had pretty bad back pain. I have been doing the program for 2 months and so far so good – maybe Crossfit is in my future. Kathy has inspired me. I think the site is feelingprettyremarkable.com.

      GabyGrok wrote on April 5th, 2013
      • Thanks, Gaby and Awestra. I have done some Pilates mat work and that is very helpful but I have to go at it slowly or end up in pain. Not to make excuses! I love to swim, bike and walk with a few sprints now and then, but need to find something for toning that doesn’t cause a lot of pain (a little I can handle!). And most importantly I need someone to tailor a program for me and help me until I can really do it on my own… Without money for a trainer, I’m afraid.

        Laurie wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • You could also try barre method classes. True barre classes are designed with ergonomic movements, and they used to be physical therapy for injured dancers. Since the exercises are designed for people with injuries, they tend to be very low impact.

      I can tell you though, it changes your body. My core, butt, legs, arms…they are all longer, leaner, and more toned – just from a couple months of classes.
      On top of that, it’s fun and can help build your balance and flexibility.

      Awestra wrote on April 5th, 2013
  39. Way to go! Looking great is just a nice side effect to feeling great. Muscle-building is so important, especially as age, to help protect our joints and bones. You are an inspiration, indeed.

    Gage C. wrote on April 5th, 2013
  40. You look marvelous! At 53, my husband and I have been Primal for two and a half years and everyone tells us we are aging backwards. No, hair color has not come back. But we feel great and feel that aging is no excuse for deterioration!

    Pure Hapa wrote on April 5th, 2013

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