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!

Dear 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.

Kathy - Deadlifting 130 lbs

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!

Kathy and Husband - Summer 2012 in Destin

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.



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. Who says when you’re “over the hill” that downhill is the only option? Just go find another hill, right!? You are amazing.

    Heather wrote on April 5th, 2013
  2. sweet, that’s awesome, congratulations! still trying to do the cross fit thing, or at least be motivated to go after work. I have the eating and walking down so thanks for the inspiration :)

    tina wrote on April 5th, 2013
  3. Good stuff… inspirational! Keep up the good work!

    Keith wrote on April 5th, 2013
  4. Wow! I just logged on here to see if there were any comments, and I am blown away by the wonderful things people have been saying. Thank you so much!

    Kathy wrote on April 5th, 2013
    • Let’s see your husbands success story next instead of that obese man in your after pictures. Way to go!

      Jeremy Creed wrote on April 5th, 2013
      • My husband’s before pictures would show that he has made and continues to make big improvements. We’re all works in progress.

        Kathy wrote on April 5th, 2013
        • He is a troll, don’t bother with him. Thieves on negativity.

          JoeBrewer wrote on April 5th, 2013
  5. Fantastic story – I love Fridays’ Success stories they are so motivating. I have just found a cross-fit gym in my corner of England & your story has enthused me to give it a try, not just peek at their website. Thank tou.

    Carol wrote on April 5th, 2013
  6. You look wonderful!!! I’ve been afraid to try Crossfit for the same reasons as some of the others who commented here. Now I’m going to look for one near me. Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the good work!

    Karen wrote on April 5th, 2013
  7. That is awesome and motivating for sure!!!

    Kenny Basnett wrote on April 5th, 2013
  8. I love reading success stories, but Oh. My. Gawd. You’re 54? I know 30-somethings who look older than you. Heck, I just turned 30 and I’m a little jealous of how amazing you look! You’re my hero!

    BTW, nice hair!

    Deanna wrote on April 5th, 2013
  9. So well done, Kathy!

    I admire your courage to set foot in a CrossFit gym. Even though it’s said that CrossFit is scalable and everyone’s welcome, it still can be an intimidating scenario!

    How good that the PB relieved your aches and pains. It did the same for me. So great, you know, to heal with food rather than medicine. And so great to get beyond the belief that “this is just how it is.”

    Really great work. You look beautiful.


    Susan Alexander wrote on April 5th, 2013
  10. My right hand and arm used to feel swollen/stiff and now it is gone for me too. I am probably only about 60% paleo, I have dropped the wheat (Lent helped) but not the sugar and I am not fond of vegtables at all (but I love eggs). It is interesting to see someone my age and compare notes, so thanks for sharing.

    Vanessa wrote on April 5th, 2013
  11. Great story! I’ve been trying to get my mom to lift weights too! anyway I can get your son to talk to her too?

    bjjcaveman wrote on April 5th, 2013
  12. I love Fridays. It is remarkable how undramatic success stories can be so, … well.. dramatic. It goes to show that people who think they are fine can still improve with Primal living.

    Kathy, you look awesome and your success proves that this lifestyle can benefit people of all ages and conditions even if they think they are ok, there is room to improve.

    Thanks for sharing.

    JoeBrewer wrote on April 5th, 2013
  13. Great story and no less inspirational just because Kathy did not suffer from compulsions or disorders (frankly sometimes such details I could do without), just a relatively normal and healthy person who made a commitment to go to new levels of health and vitality. She looks great!

    George wrote on April 5th, 2013
  14. Wow Kathy, congratulations. You look fabulous! You must feel very very proud of yourself. I bet when people ask your age you don’t mind telling them either! Keep up the excellent work and good luck with the rest of the Crossfit comp. I am the same age as you and altough I am making great progress I think you will be my role model from here on!

    Love Saturday mornings (in Oz) !!!!!

    HillyM wrote on April 5th, 2013
  15. I am also your age and super inspired by your story. I had great success early on but now have stalled and this is just what I needed to get back to it.

    Melissa wrote on April 5th, 2013
  16. Good to see you here and you have done a great job, really looking ripped! My wife and I are 58 and 56 and primal for the last 6 months. We were only moderately overweight but we had smoked for 40 years and were starting to feel old and decrepit. It was surprisingly easy to turn that around with the clean diet and moderate exercise program and we haven’t felt or looked this good in years. Also a huge improvement in our outlook about aging, we are proud to tell folks how old we are!
    I was looking at Crossfit recently myself, I think I will take your recommendation and get down there soon, thanks.

    My most basic fitness activity is walking my dogs daily but my passions are doing stand up paddle and dog-towed skateboarding, kiteboarding season is coming up soon and I will hook up again with all my sixty something friends who are into that. Life’s a gas when you keep moving and keep grooving…

    Bayrider wrote on April 6th, 2013
  17. WOW!!!!

    Amazing transformation…..

    zephaniah wrote on April 6th, 2013
  18. Kathy, thank you so much for sharing your story. You look amazing!

    Katrin wrote on April 6th, 2013
  19. Amazing story! you look wonderful. Age? what is that when we embrace primal living? Grok on!

    Alexandra wrote on April 7th, 2013
  20. Totally awesome! you are an inspiration to everyone you meet, i am sure!

    Sandy A wrote on April 7th, 2013
  21. I agree with you. Lifestyle has so much to do with our health. If you want to stay healthy be responsible with the right choice of food and activities in your life

    Marlyn wrote on April 7th, 2013
  22. good job! if you are interested in paleo diet book just click this- now 70% off. I highly recommend it

    bejq wrote on April 7th, 2013
  23. Hi Kathy. Because of you, I went to my first CrossFit session today. Thanks for the inspiration! Pen

    Pen wrote on April 8th, 2013
    • That is awesome! Thanks for sharing that and good luck! Just remember you won’t always be as sore as you are at first and don’t give up.

      Kathy wrote on April 10th, 2013
      • Three sessions in and loving it! Was always scared of free weights before, but it’s all about the technique, right? Maybe I’ll enter the Open next year too…

        Oh, and I sent your story to my mum, who I have managed to convince to eat pretty Primal, but who has a mental block over any exercise beyond walking. Hopefully you can inspire her too!

        Pen wrote on April 12th, 2013
  24. I totally relate to this. My husband and I decided to try a primal diet this lent. Well, lent ended last weekend, but we’re sticking with it. After 40 days, we love how we feel and it doesnt feel difficult anymore.

    AP wrote on April 9th, 2013
  25. Hey Kathy, that’s very inspiring! I have been paleo for 2 years also, but I have about 9 years on you, at 64. My arthritis also is much improved, stamina, no exhaustion or sleepy-times, no asthma, not much in the way of allergies. My gardening projects (lift heavy things, stretch, hack and throw) do not wipe me out anymore. I am so used to it now, I have forgotten how far my body has healed! It breaks my heart that my sister will not look into paleo, as she sits eating her bran muffin and drinking her fresh squeezed orange juice, reading her favorite Guru, Jane Brody, in the New York Times about “healthy eating.” She has arthritis, a new hip, high blood pressure, blood sugar swings, is overweight and melanomas are appearing now. But I am the one who is ruining her health!!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Martha wrote on April 9th, 2013
  26. What a great story I’ll be 63 in September and this gives me the motivation to get back in shape .

    Thanks John

    john wrote on April 18th, 2013
  27. Kathy, that is great what you’ve done! I do Crossfit, too, I’m 50, and started at 49, but have been doing sports, weights, and working out forever…and I have tons of issues, degenerative disk problems in neck and lower back, nerve damage, asthma, and more which I won’t bore you with. However, I’ve really let my eating and drinking go and have put on a lot of weight, so I finally got on the scale today and am going to get back into my clothes in the next couple of months!

    But I wanted to encourage those scared or reluctant to try Crossfit. I would recommend doing a lot of stretching before class and also not worrying about or let the coaches push you into doing heavy weights right away. Best to ease into it and get the form and let your muscles get warmed up to it, so you don’t hurt yourself or be too sore (and quit!). Believe me, you’ll still be getting exercise.

    I also wanted to mention that I recently found out that there is a Crossfit gym near my parents that is just for people aged 50+. I want to get my parents, whom are 72 and 73 to go there, and also to get them to cut out the grains and go (somewhat) primal/paleo. They are verry stubborn to do anything that I suggest…and would rather suffer their arthritis, headaches, stomach problems, skin problems, high bp, high cholesterol, and overweight…and blame it on age, gender, runs in the family, etc.

    If you want to take a look at what this Crossfit is doing, here is the website and a video of what this place is about. Maybe there is a place offering masters/50+ classes in your area…

    ruffian wrote on June 26th, 2013
  28. Going “primal” is fairly new to me, but so far (2 weeks) I feel great. Thanks for sharing all of this. I’m digging up all the inspiration I can right now.

    Male wrote on November 14th, 2013
  29. Thanks for sharing your amazing story with us, Kathy.

    I turned 70 last month and hope I look as young as you do when I grow up. I started PB (in October) to lose weight and LGN but I find I’m feeling so much better, sleeping better, and wake up alert and raring to go now. I just did not want to settle for the “that’s just how old age is mentality.” I also refuse to take medications for issues that can be treated/eliminated through nutrition and exercise.

    The excess weight will come off I know as I get into the exercise portion of the PB lifestyle. Already lost 10 lbs. with a gazillion left to my goal weight.

    Thank you for inspiring us all.

    Grok On! :)

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 30th, 2013
    • Just want to add that I don’t think your husband looks obese in that picture either. Looks pretty good to me in fact.

      At lease he’s not opposing your PB efforts. Carry on… :)

      Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on November 30th, 2013

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!