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

The Perfect Storm (a.k.a. How I Lost Those Last 10 lbs)

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!

Female, age 45, 5’ 2”

Starting weight: Flirting with 130 lbs

Goal weight: 120 lbs

Current weight: 117 lbs

I’ve always eaten a  fairly  “healthy” diet (according to the latest conventional wisdom) and exercised regularly (cycling, hiking and BodyPump™twice a week), but as the years were going by my weight was creeping up. I was still at the high range of “normal”, but I was puffy and didn’t feel like my efforts with BodyPump™ were showing.

In April 2011 I stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple. It just clicked for me. I adopted the Primal way of eating immediately and had no trouble giving up grains and sticking to the 80/20 rule. In 2 months I had lost 5 lbs without even “trying”. My husband was skeptical.

In June 2011 my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia. He was in the hospital for 6 months. I stopped working and was by his side the entire time. This would have been an easy time to abandon the Primal lifestyle, but it was just what I needed. A little project to keep my mind busy. I read everything I could…books and online about Primal/paleo. My food choices were limited at the hospital cafeteria…hard-boiled eggs and bacon for breakfast was easy. For lunches and suppers I usually walked to a grocery store to hunt and gather. It gave me a purpose and reason to get out of the hospital, move slowly and clear my mind. Despite the stress of the situation the Primal Blueprint kept me sane and healthy. I continued to lean out and people started worrying that I wasn’t eating. I told them I was eating more than usual, but they didn’t believe me. My staples included avocados, mini cukes, cherry tomatoes, berries, tinned sardines and salmon, nuts, full-fat cheese, smoked chicken thighs, liver pate, coconut water, coffee with heavy cream, dark chocolate and plenty more! My occasional treat…good quality vanilla ice cream (and it’s still my weakness).

My husband had a stem cell transplant in November 2011. I’m thrilled to report that he has completely recovered from his illness. He’s back to work and we’re cycling again. Although he thinks I’m a little extreme on following “the cult”, he’s totally supportive. He’s even started to adopt some of the Primal ways (although it will be a while before he gives up his muesli for breakfast before work and his sandwich at lunch). Between us we have 3 “normal weight” teenagers. I feed them healthy meals at supper time, but for the rest of the day they make their own choices…often not very smart ones. As they get older I hope they become more aware of the connection between their diet and their health. In the meantime,  I love it when they ask me, “Is this Primal?”

Stephanie Turner

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. That’s a fantastic transformation. Well done.

    Carlos Morales wrote on August 31st, 2012
  2. This is so inspiring because it is succinct and no nonsense. I am so glad to hear that you weathered a hard time in your lives, and now it is back to great!

    leida wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • What leida said!

      I have to “let go” with my little one’s food choices when she is elsewhere, too. She likes what I feed her at home and that’s good enough for me.

      Joy Beer wrote on August 31st, 2012
  3. You look great!

    The tone/definition/tightness of your arms is impressive! (arm flab is the bane of my wife’s existence)

    Of course the ab definition is awesome is well.

    Good for you, and kudos for not using the stressful period as an excuse to bail and eat ‘comfort foods’. Truly an inspiration for me.

    Danny wrote on August 31st, 2012
  4. Wow,looking good Stephanie! Your results are inspiring and reading about your ‘hospital diet’ is making me hungry. I hear ya on the vanilla ice cream.

    Wishing continued good health for you and your hubs.

    Cat wrote on August 31st, 2012
  5. Wow, you had great results.

    It’s amazing how much diet influences your health, weight, and fat composition… even when you are working out and exercising very rigorously. Carbohydrate loads cause insulin secretion, which then goes on to increase adiposity.

    Keep up the good work!

    Sam Girgis wrote on August 31st, 2012
  6. The non believers spur me on. As you know the proof is in the pudding or in this case “the primal”.
    Your results speak for themselves. Good job!

    Doug wrote on August 31st, 2012
  7. What a great story, congrats on your transformation and for your husbands health. My wife (age33) is also a cancer survivor….it was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through as a couple but it brought us much closer together.

    Your transformation has been incredible…I am a bit frustrated as I have been eating 80/20 now since April and I have stayed pretty true to it..sometimes more that 80, sometimes less…but I really haven’t seen any weight loss. energy levels up..yes, sleep patterns better..yes….over all well being better…yes but no weight loss yet. I am sure it will come as I stick to it better and really concentrate my efforts.

    Congratulations again to you and your husband!!

    Dan wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Hi Dan,

      Just a thought, but it might help your weight loss if you go 100% for a period of time, say 30 days. For especially insulin resistant people (me) or people with food sensitivities (me, again) 20% non primal foods is too much for me to lose fat. Perhaps try getting rid of dairy to see if that helps? Also try tinkering with your carb intake – perhaps really cutting down on carbs (even primal ones like fruit and sweet potatoes) will help. I had been primal/paleo for a long time and didn’t really lose a lot of weight. It wasn’t until I went low carb (<30g/day) that my body really stared changing. Just my two cents! :)

      Susie wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • I will add my own experience as evidence to Susie’s suggestion regarding dairy. Being insulin resistant, I found that kicking the dairy was what I needed to finally lose the weight. (Not to mention that I felt much better as well.) :-)

        Happycyclegirl wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • I concur, and did something similar to Susie but shooting for under 50g per day. Also, it may help to move sweet or higher carb foods to later in the day if they stimulate cravings. If I have fruit during the day it makes me ravenous. If I have 1/2 portion (non-berries) at night after dinner, although I rarely do (mostly berries if at all), I sleep off the cravings and am able to start clean again the next day. I still eat about 1/2 an ounce of dark chocolate most nights, regardless. This simple change re-started weight loss for me after months of plateau following 80/20 with a little fruit. I go off program less, am less hungry, and consequently I have to start over less. 80/20 doesn’t work for me, more like 90/10. Went down about 10 lbs in roughly 10 weeks and I certainly wasn’t perfect in adherence, but I didn’t fall off the wagon and roll down the hill the way I would before, either.

        Ms. Zing wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • Right on– my carb intake is under 20g’s a day and I feel great. I am a meat, egg, bacon, and turkey burger consumer.

        I often find that, as Mark suggests, eating only when truly hungry, IF and not eating in the evening Work for me and helps my exercise routine of running sprints, boxing, and starting Tuesday– STANDING AT MY DESK!

        Rev. Dave Deppisch wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Hi Dan,

      I’ve heard that muscle weighs more than fat, so as you lose fat and gain muscle, you won’t lose weight. Stop using the scale and let the mirror and your clothes tell you how you’re doing.

      W. J. Purifoy wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • thanks for the tips every one…i think it just takes more commitment by me and a real dedication to some more exercise….thanks all

        Dan wrote on August 31st, 2012
        • Muscle does weigh more than fat; Dr Atkins says that a tape measure round the waist is more reliable than scales when it comes to measuring improvement in leanness.

          George Henderson wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • Um, muscle weighs the same as fat….
        You mean muscle is more dense than fat, and takes up less space than a pound of fat….

        iloveprimal wrote on August 31st, 2012
        • For the same volume, muscle does weight about 5X as much as fat. For example, a liter of muscle will weight about 5x as much as a liter of fat.

          Roger in Korea wrote on September 1st, 2012
        • When you compare weights, you compare the same volume of material. This link provides a good example.

          Mayya wrote on September 1st, 2012
        • +1

          David wrote on September 1st, 2012
        • Good answer, 2 lbs of feathers = 2 lbs of steel
          It is as stated above, based on volume

          Shane wrote on September 2nd, 2012
      • Or a Dexa scan or a Bodpod test or a tape measure 😛

        I’ve gotten a Bod Pod test for free…though in my current area the closest one is 45 mins away. Not sure all locations offer free though mine was at a school.

        Jonathan Swaringen wrote on September 1st, 2012
    • I didn’t lose weight eating regular primal, but I’m eating semi-vegetarian primal with lots of fat, and I’ve lost 20 lbs. I had been doing Atkins off and on for ten to fifteen years, which kept my weight steady, but I never lost weight, and I think I just overdid the protein. My body needs a rest.

      MD wrote on September 2nd, 2012
      • (That was a reply to Dan who’s not losing weight.) And I should add that semi-vegetarian means I’m getting my proteins from eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds, and then having meat or seafood two or three times per week.

        MD wrote on September 2nd, 2012
    • Perhaps you need to up your work out, get in some more variety. I suggest Robb Wolfe’s Paleo Solution book as a compliment piece to Marks. He has lists of suggestions for variety in work outs. He also explains plateaus and lack of weight loss. There are great recipes as well. Stay strong! you should start seeing results. Maybe move down to 90/10.

      Kate wrote on September 2nd, 2012
  8. Stephanie, what an amazing story! You look terrific, and I’m so glad you feel it, too.

    Thanks for sharing how this primal way of eating helped you keep it together during a tough time. I’m so thankful your husband is doing well.

    Anne wrote on August 31st, 2012
  9. Wow, you look amazing, I weighed myself at 117 this morning after my 30 day paleo challenge, but I don’t look nearly as toned, very impressive!!

    Lauren wrote on August 31st, 2012
  10. Ha! It’s funny how friends and relatives always worry about your health when you go Primal and start losing weight.

    I can’t count the number of concerned, delicately-phrased questions I got from family members (especially my mother) when I went from 215 to 160 in a matter of months… And they never quite believe you when you tell them you feel healthier than ever. :-)

    CJW wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • I’ve gotten the “your too skinny” comment from family too many times. I finally told them that I am going to start responding with my own “help

      Jon wrote on September 1st, 2012
    • I’ve gotten the “your too skinny” comment from family too many times. I finally told them that I am going to start responding with my own “helpful” suggestions such as “you’re looking a litte big there, you could probably stand to lose about 20 lbs” Shut them up pretty good!

      Jon wrote on September 1st, 2012
      • like

        Tracy wrote on September 7th, 2012
      • like

        Ashley wrote on September 13th, 2012
      • Yup.

        Tina wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • Indeed. It’s a sad state of affairs when people become so used to weight gain that they question the health of someone who is of normal weight. I guess obesity has become the new “normal.” It’s everywhere you look.

      Shary wrote on September 1st, 2012
      • So, true. I get the don’t-lose-anymore-weight thing and I’m smack dab in the middle of the doctor recommended weight range for my height and frame. I think I could still stand to lose 7-10 lbs though I’m not going nuts over it.

        Tina wrote on September 28th, 2012
  11. You look fantastic! And that is wonderful news that your husband has recovered! You are an inspiration to those who think they can’t stay Primal in a stressful situation. Grok on!

    Krys wrote on August 31st, 2012
  12. Wow, you look amazing. Congrats.

    Lynn wrote on August 31st, 2012
  13. Great Job :)

    doghug wrote on August 31st, 2012
  14. “I feed them healthy meals at supper time, but for the rest of the day they make their own choices…often not very smart ones.”

    Ha! Amen, sista! I have a couple of those. :-) I, too, hope that one day they will remember what their mom taught them way back when.

    But back to you. You look ten years younger and those abs are very impressive. Immense kudos to you for managing the crisis by deepening your commitment to Primal and keeping healthy to help your family. You could so easily have gone the other way. You are an inspiration for many right there.

    Alison Golden wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • +1here too, I have 3 nearly young men in my household who think I am a bit cracked. I only dish up primal evening fare, don’t buy cereal products of any type, so if they want them they have to buy them themselves. I usually bury the bread in the bottom of the chest freezer to make it harder to get to. If they eat breakfast at least it has eggs and bacon in it, and like you, I just have to be patient and keep modeling good health thru great food and mindful living.

      Heather wrote on August 31st, 2012
  15. What a difference 10 or 13 lbs makes! You look like a ninja warrior now, congrats!

    Dave wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Funny you say that. I do a lot of electronics projects as a hobby. Not long ago the guy at the local Radio Shack told me I looked like Bruce Lee, and asked me how I got this way.

      He had actually heard of Paleo, and was using some of our strategies to keep off weight he had lost after an appendix surgery. After our conversation I believe he has become a wholesale convert.

      Everyone wants to be a Ninja. Only some have the mental discipline to do so. In that way it is a fitting metaphor for paleo.

      Grok on!

      Deuce wrote on September 7th, 2012
  16. BodyPump, represent!!!

    Erin wrote on August 31st, 2012
  17. Ninja warrior! Totally and that is awesome! Great story Stephanie. Thank you for sharing.

    edearl wrote on August 31st, 2012
  18. Great story. And I’m wondering if going Paleo helped your overall mental attitude in dealing with so much stress. Congrats!!!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on August 31st, 2012
  19. Great story and so inspirational. I’m at almost the exact place height & weight wise where you started. Seeing your after pictures my first thought was – “Wow! That’s what I could look like!!” Thanks for sharing your story and giving me the visual I can use as my inspiration!!

    Carol wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • +1 I’m also in the same place height and weight-wise. Very inspiring to see the possibilities. Your photos and story may end up posted on my fridge for that daily kick in the pants :) Thanks for sharing.

      Kate wrote on September 1st, 2012
  20. Is this primal? lol. It reminds me of my six year olds biggest wish – that sugar could be healthy.

    samui_sakana wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • hahaha! I wish that too!

      Les wrote on August 31st, 2012
  21. That’s wonderful lady!
    You look very young for a 45 year old.
    Now and then a good kind of ice cream is also my weakness.

    Anke wrote on August 31st, 2012
  22. Wow you look great. I’m like you in the before pictures, getting lots of exercise, taking a Pump + Abs class, sprinting, all that, but I eat Primal and have been for a year now, and still can’t lose that last 15lbs.

    Diane wrote on August 31st, 2012
    •…when I get down on myself – at 41 – although the healthiest I have ever been – I will never have the body of a twenty-something now – I read her words. Relish in being a strong woman and love yourself!!

      Heather wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Just a thought-take a look at your stress/cortisol science and how it can limit your progress. Robb wolfe ‘the paleo solution’ might be your answer.

      Leeann wrote on September 1st, 2012
    • Drop the Pump and Abs classes and keep the sprinting. You’re giving your body mixed messages.

      Long, moderate pace workouts will trick your body into selectively burning any available sugars and carbohydrates. Sprinting will keep you in fat burning mode.

      Also, you can try moving breakfast back a few hours. Extending your overnight fast will give you some extra fat burning time.

      This worked well for me. I’m 37 and was challenged by those last 15 lbs too.

      Deuce wrote on September 7th, 2012
  23. Amazing. I’m 41, 5’2″. My starting weight was 130-ish. I dropped to 120lb and then found Primal April 2011. I have since seen 108lb but my body maintains a 110lb average. i can’t see my abs, though. Not enough exercise. You look amazing and so happy to hear hubby is 100%. Note to self: check out BodyPump!

    Heather wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Read the post again. BodyPump was what was not the thing that got her there. It was the thing that was stalling her progress. Quote:

      “(cycling, hiking and BodyPump™twice a week), but as the years were going by my weight was creeping up.”

      Long, moderate pace workouts trick your body into selectively burning carbs and sugar. You have to leave the old paradigm behind. These types of workout programs do not work at burning fat or building lean muscle.

      The last few lbs are always the litmus test for whether or not you have truly broken yourself from the old, flawed ways. They won’t get you there…

      Deuce wrote on September 7th, 2012
  24. Did you change anything else besides going Primal? IF, calorie count, carb cycle? Do you lift weights? Sorry for all the questions, I’ll admit that I’m skeptical that “only” switching to Primal foods got you down to such leanness and visible abs. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a 47 y.o. female who switched to Primal eating around the same time you did, I lost about 5-6 lbs. of fat, but am now following Leangains which includes IF, to see if I can move that stubborn abdominal fat. Eating Primal and not tracking calories/macros just didn’t do it for me.

    spincycle wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • +1 Please let us know your exercise routine or if you tried IF to get such a great cut look. I am at a similar place where I only need to loose a couple more lbs of fat to achieve my desired look but I am finding it difficult to do so.

      Jennifer wrote on August 31st, 2012
  25. Fantastic. Leanness apart, you look so musch younger and sexy!

    Cute story, cute lady.

    Patrícia wrote on August 31st, 2012
  26. You look amazing!!

    Jess wrote on August 31st, 2012
  27. Eating primal helped me loose the initial 30 lbs, then we reached a plateau that lasted 6 months until we started a calorie-restricted diet.

    Maggie wrote on August 31st, 2012
  28. You look fabulous! You and I are the exact same height and weight. When you’re only 5’2″ it’s easy to feel “puffy” and not see the cut defined muscles we work hard for!

    Great news about your husband! Here’s wishing you, him and your kids great health!

    mars wrote on August 31st, 2012
  29. Stephanie, you are inspiring. I hereby resolve to get my bicycle out Saturday evening, check it over, air up the tires and dust off the cob webs. I will ride it Sunday!! That will kick start my riding habit again. Thank you for sharing your story. You look fabulous!

    W. J. Purifoy wrote on August 31st, 2012
  30. You look amazing! For all of you calorie counters out there; I’ve counted calories for the last 10 years. I’m 51 yrs, 5’6″ and 155 lbs. I’ve not been able to get below that weight for the last 2 years, in spite of keeping cals at 1200/day and exercising. I’ve ditched the calorie counting and have been following primal plan for 1 week now. I’ve changed my gym routine as well. So, I hope I will have as much success as so many of you have following primal living.

    I’ve also found myself going to the grocery store and “hunting/gathering”. It’s fun!

    kimberley wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Kimberly– You’ve found the only way to eat– the loss will follow. Good luck.

      Rev. Dave Deppisch wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • I lost 10 lbs very quickly when I went primal then stalled for 2 months. I just broke through the plateau by INCREASING my calorie intake by eating more fat! I was very surprised, it kind of happened by accident. When I stepped on the scale I expected to be up 2 lbs but was instead down 2. Try increasing your calories with good fats and see what happens.

      Ara wrote on August 31st, 2012
      • Yeah same here. I got on the scale today thinking I would be up – I have been eating more fat because I have been so pressed for time this harvest. Its hard to scarf a huge salad in a tractor/grain truck/combine as opposed to some cheese and cucumbers, frozen coconut oil cubes – the calories were way up and I was 4pounds down.

        MamaB wrote on September 1st, 2012
        • Thank you for the info. I will definitely try increasing my fat consumption.

          kimberley wrote on September 4th, 2012
  31. Holy smokes!!! iT seems as if those were 2 completely different people. Great job!

    Jason Lander wrote on August 31st, 2012
  32. You look great! Glad your husband is doing well. Have a great weekend, everyone.

    Mark Cruden wrote on August 31st, 2012
  33. I am very moved by this story as I was not as fortunate when the love of my life was fighting cancer. Instead I was depressed, became quite sedentary and gained a lot of weight. I have just started the Primal way of life and envy that you had it as a support when you were your husband’s caregiver. It would have been wonderful to have as a distraction, and to take care of me, as you did!

    Julie wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • Did you lose your love to cancer? I hope not, but if you did, I’m sorry for your loss. (hugs)

      Joy Beer wrote on September 1st, 2012
  34. You look so much younger in the ‘after’ shots. I love it! You are telling my story…

    Pam wrote on August 31st, 2012
  35. Great news about your husband! and you look great! Just what I need to get me over that ‘just one more day of dairy’ excuse lol… I’m sure I’d enjoy cycling a lot more once I get that power to weight ratio down too. Thanks for sharing your story! :)

    Kristina wrote on August 31st, 2012
  36. Congratulations! I always find it helpful to see the amount of time from start to finish! I often have to remind myself that it is a process and even if my body composition doesn’t change as quickly I would like, the key is to not put in the towel! I have to remember to look at things in terms of months rather than days!

    Elisa wrote on August 31st, 2012
  37. You look great!! Congrats! And very nice on keeping yourself occupied with self-transformation during the hard time. :)

    Gift clumsywarrior wrote on August 31st, 2012
  38. Inspiration I need for my last 10 lbs, too!!! Thank you, Stephanie. You look so happy and so strong. Your children are lucky to have such role models as you and your husband.

    Ms. Zing wrote on August 31st, 2012
  39. Congratulations on your primal success, and joy on your husband’s recovery!

    Your story reminds me that times of stress aren’t best relieved by throwing health out the window. While studying for the bar exam this summer, I was so stressed out, and I looked for relief in the nearest, cheapest source: sugar. At 5’6″, I’d primaled myself down to 133, but sugar and bar exam pushed me back up to 145. It’s been a month since the exam, and that 12 pounds is still hanging around, annoying me and bringing its own stress. I’ve learned my lesson!

    Grokiana wrote on August 31st, 2012
    • This is too funny. I was contemplating whether to include the pre-bar exam primal hiatus in my earlier post about tweaking my diet to make it work better. I took California in July. So much fun! Haha. You?

      Ms. Zing wrote on August 31st, 2012

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