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

The Primal Lifestyle Helped Me Achieve My Dreams

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 2We all know that following your dreams means hard work, dedication, follow through, and determination. But how important is what you eat in determining your chances of failing or succeeding in your life ambitions? Eating Primally has proven to be an integral part of my quest to live out my dreams. Here is my story.

Even from a young age, I’ve always been very conscientious about my food choices. I decided to stop eating red meat when I was 12 years old. It was a decision I made based on something I had read about slaughterhouses. I eventually transitioned into a full-blown vegetarian. My mom followed suit and we primarily lived off veggie burgers and salads during my teen years. Oh yeah, and popcorn was a big staple in our house, with fat free “butter” sprayed all over it. I read Fit For Life when I was a senior in high school and started practicing food combining and maintained that practice for a few years. Looking back, I cannot remember a time when I did not have some “diet” or eating strategy I was trying on for size. I wouldn’t have declared myself someone who had an eating disorder, but food and exercise consumed a considerable amount of space in my mental hard drive. When would my next meal be? What would I eat? Would I binge on something that I knew wasn’t good for me and feel bad about myself ? Would I work out extra hard to help offset the extra calories, or would I have the mental fortitude to avoid the “bad food” and eat something “healthy” like a whole grain pizza with extra vegetables? No matter which decision I made, I inevitably came right back to thinking about my next meal. I assumed the incessant chatter that went on in my mind was a side effect of my health conscious outlook. Most of the other women I knew had the same affliction and we just accepted it as the norm.

I don’t regret trying all the various dieting strategies. It was an important part of my journey and it helped me learn a lot about myself and what actually works for me. I still enjoy tweaking the way I eat, sleep, and train, and enjoy experimenting on myself regularly. This isn’t to say that early experiments went over so well…

Eating a high-grain low-fat diet was causing a host of issues, including an increase in seasonal allergies, acne problems, and constant digestion trouble. In 2006, when I started training with Robb Wolf, I had already eliminated gluten and most grains and realized that adding animal protein to my diet was in my best interest. I was feeling better, but had yet to go completely paleo. Over the course of the next several years I transitioned to a strict paleo diet, and the most interesting side effect took place. I stopped obsessing over food. I didn’t notice it right away, but it struck me one day. I could completely lose myself in whatever task was at hand without the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me to think about food. This was a remarkably freeing time in my life. I found that my creative side intensified and my energy levels skyrocketed. I believe this enabled me to start using my mental faculties to focus on things I wanted to accomplish, dreams I wanted to achieve. I realized that I had been putting off so many things because I just couldn’t imagine adding one more thing to my list of to do’s. I was already juggling life, career, school, and family. How could there possibly be room for my dreams!

It seems like a small thing, but I really believe that living a more Primal lifestyle gave me the energy and the mental stamina to start tackling all of my aspirations. One of which was to make a go at my ambition to be a musician. Another of which was to take my experience working with Robb Wolf and my passion for the paleo lifestyle and turn it into a career. Over the next several years I made a host of bold moves and my Primal lifestyle helped me along. I no longer had to dedicate hours to the gym everyday or worry about meals. I could use my time to write music, record and perform.

Vanessa Bio photo copy smallAfter a stint of living in Nashville and recording my first album, I moved back to California to Los Angeles. This is when I saw a job opening at Primal Nutrition and knew it was the perfect opportunity to do something I love. I met with Mark and his team and the rest is history. I’ve been part of the team myself for several years now. Many of you may know me from PrimalCon where my husband Adam Lambert and I coach on strength training. I’m also involved in Personal Coaching and the Luxury Retreats, and I’ve been able to do all this while pursuing my career in music. Both careers are extremely consuming and extremely gratifying, and I’m convinced I never could have done it without the Primal lifestyle.

I just want to thank Mark for not only being a great mentor and boss, but a great friend and someone I truly respect and admire. It has been wonderful being part of the Primal team and none of this would have been possible had he not dared to share his dream and passion with all of us.

Vanessa

P.S. For anyone who would like to check out my new album, or learn more about my musical alter ego Nesta!, here are some links. Grok on!

My new album on iTunes: Levitate
The single Stay on iTunes
The official music video for Stay on YouTube
NestaTunes.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

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. Great story and thanks for sharing. The peace of mind is so rewarding. I now realize too that I do not think about food like I used to.

    JoeBrewer wrote on September 27th, 2013
    • Thank you for making this very important point! I think it’s something that really gets lost in the mix in all the info about dieting and food out there today. It’s something I really wish I could communicate to people when I’m telling them about how I eat: that once you start eating so that you are really satisfied, for one thing, you aren’t hungry and craving something so that dieting to lose weight is a completely different thing, and for another thing, food becomes what I believe it should be: something pleasant to share and look forward to. It makes me sad when I’m in line behind someone ordering coffee with skim milk and an egg-white only on a bagel.

      Sarah Elizabeth W. wrote on September 27th, 2013
      • I second that on the “I don’t not think about food like I used to.” Once you get all your food dialed in, all the other struggles you once had seamlessly go away. Cravings, obsessions, meal timing, and many other countless neurotic behaviors…disappear. Awesome work Vanessa!

        Erik wrote on September 27th, 2013
  2. Very Artistic and Musical …. Vanessa, best wishes in following your dream. I’m glad you found Robb and Mark. They are an inspiration for many of us. I identified with your story especially the obsession over what the next meal would be. I thought it was a female thing too (considering most of the population is following SAD, it probably is widespread). Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me to continue on the path to good health.

    Judy G wrote on September 27th, 2013
  3. I can relate with the planning of what I was going to eat next and feeling guilty when I ate unhealthy food. I counted calories for about 2 years and while it was very educational it was a relief when I stopped. It allowed me to focus on other more important things and use my energies on other pursuits. Checked out the video and it’s a catchy tune, any airplay yet?

    Captain Competition wrote on September 27th, 2013
  4. Great job Vanessa. I really relate to your getting that mental toughness. Primal did this for me too. No more energy ups and downs and feeling steady 24-7. Love the surfing…you go girl.

    Nocona wrote on September 27th, 2013
  5. Great read…thank you for sharing! I get a lot of info from your blog, which is aggregated to paleoheadlines.com. In addition, it brings together a community of like minded paleo dieters and has a vast amount of info. Thanks again for sharing and I love my new diet! I feel so much better because of it, and it doesn’t feel wierd like, sorry, veganism or vegetarianism. ;)

    Nathan wrote on September 27th, 2013
  6. Great story and I’m so glad you have found ways to make a living that also satisfy your soul (I admit, I’m jealous of that part… but happy for those who can make it work!) Funny, I had the opposite reaction to going Primal regarding food. I would never plan when or what to eat, and then I’d be starving so I’d shove whatever was convenient and filling into my mouth as the mood struck me. Now, I would say that I obsess about food – but in a great way, because I’ve really learned how to cook and in fact, I love it so much, I can’t wait to plan what I’m making next!

    KariVery wrote on September 27th, 2013
  7. I enjoy all of the success stories, but I really relate to the stories just like yours, Vanessa. My Primal journey has also been one of optimizing myself, not fixing myself. I have the utmost respect for the people who use a primal lifestyle to lose huge amounts of weight, combat serious illness, or otherwise make drastic changes.

    For me however, Primal living has been about being the healthier, better feeling (and looking!) fitter version of who I am. I appreciate the affirmation that there are others who value a primal lifestyle for the same reasons. Stories like yours help me stick to my lifestyle on the days when the evil voice in the back of my head is telling me that all the planning and cooking aren’t really necessary – I wasn’t “sick” on a SAD diet but I certainly wasn’t truly healthy, either.

    Katie wrote on September 27th, 2013
  8. I see that you originate from Chico. We live in Cottonwood in Shasta county and when we crave some big city entertainment we head over to the Sierra Nevada Big Room, our favorite venue in the state.

    You’re certainly living the dream and most importantly, surfing! Yes, it’s the way life should be, life is all about elevating one’s energy.

    Bayrider wrote on September 27th, 2013
  9. I like the everyday type stories. I relate to those. The sensational type – losing ten stone, or coming back from death door, are eye catching (they sell papers, books etc) but do not connect with me. I feel distanced from them,feel pity that this was part of their lives for whatever the reason.

    Well done, thank you for sharing.

    Liz wrote on September 27th, 2013
  10. You look healthy and happy! Congrats and It is so great to hear more testimonies of how going Primal has given more mental freedom to the consumer! It really is amazing how much one can obsess over food, when really it is just fuel. And yes, it should be enjoyed, but it should not consume our daily lives!

    Elisa wrote on September 27th, 2013
  11. Can somebody clear something up for me. I thought the primal diet allowed dairy products. But I’ve stumbled across things on this website and written by Mark that say the diet is paleo and not to eat dairy. Is dairy allowed on the paleo diet or am I going insane?

    Brian wrote on September 27th, 2013
    • From my understanding, it depends on the person. Some people can handle dairy, some can’t. If you can, then it should be high quality and come from sheep, goat, or grass-fed cows, and be full fat. That’s what I’ve gleamed from the various posts on dairy.

      Stacie wrote on September 27th, 2013
    • Here is the scoop:
      Paleo: no dairy, no butter, they even frown on egg yolks (the strict ones)(something I don’t get at all).
      Primal: dairy ok if it works for you. Do the test on yourself staying out of daily for one or two weeks (check Rob Wolf site on this). In my case dairy works (no milk, greek yogurt a big yes, cheeses)

      wildgrok wrote on September 29th, 2013
      • Personally I have never seen the recommendation that egg yolks should be restricted on a paleo- every author/blogger I’ve read advocates them highly.

        Jenna Felicity wrote on October 27th, 2013
  12. Thank you for your story Vanessa. I’ve enjoyed working with you at PrimalCons. Best wishes for continued success in your careers!!

    Susan wrote on September 27th, 2013
  13. I wonder how my aunt would’ve done with Parkinson’s if she had lived a more Primal lifestyle. She was vegetarian for years and years and years.

    Matt wrote on September 27th, 2013
  14. Well Mark,

    You are one lucky man having this energetic lady on board!

    Petra

    Petra wrote on September 27th, 2013
  15. Thank you everyone for the love and encouragement. I hope to meet all of you at an upcoming Primal event or perhaps a performance in area near you!! #staynestatuned!

    Vanessa wrote on September 27th, 2013
  16. Kudos for your “bold moves.” That’s how we achieve our dreams. Keep it up!

    Tim wrote on September 28th, 2013
  17. Thanks for sharing your story! I totally agree with you how going primal allows you to stop worrying about eating, and get on with the rest of your life. I eat great food. Then I don’t worry about it until it’s time to eat again. I checked out your video on youtube, and love it! I hope your music career becomes everything you want it to be.

    cheers,

    aliseya wrote on September 28th, 2013
  18. Love this story, (really) but I want to hear from every-day people out there. It seems as though the last 2 stories are from people who work for Mark Sisson. I don’t mean to discount their stories, because they are amazing! I think more people would connect to stories of people that are working-class, even low-income, since this shouldn’t be an elitist way of life that only well-off people can follow.

    Patrick wrote on September 28th, 2013
  19. Great Job! You look amazing!

    John M Brown wrote on September 29th, 2013
  20. Wow … primal … pretty … musician

    wildgrok wrote on September 29th, 2013
  21. Hi Vanessa – I wasn’t aware you were featured on the success story this week. I look forward to checking out your music. It was nice to meet you this last weekend at Tahoe. Also nice to get a little back story with the faces you meet at PrimalCon. You guys did a great job – hope you are feeling better and back to awesome! I look forward to being a success story myself.

    Jennifer wrote on September 30th, 2013
  22. Space on the mental hardrive- Love it! I can seriously relate. All this free head space is amazing!! Not obsessing over food, even more amazing. So freaking simple.
    Now that I am single and no longer in a relationship that was sabotaging my success (amongst other things) even more head space has been freed up. I joined part of a workout regime and not having to think about workouts (already planned for me) has freed up even more. I feel so incredibly liberated and eating paleo (since the beginning of the year 2013) is mainly to thank. It has snowballed some serious goodness in my life!
    Keep up the good work and I promise to do the same! XO

    Katie C. wrote on October 1st, 2013
  23. My wife and 14 year old daughter decided to try a new “diet”. Interestingly enough this included eating Shiite for two to three days and then injecting yourself with new Shiite. I have learned only to encourage even if I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH THE SHITTE! So 2nd day they did not want the pancakes they were supposed to eat or the pizza tonite, instead they reached back into the freezer and grabbed the grass fed T bones we raised. Their explanation was that that other SHIITE “grossed them out”……so, tonite I am a happy man because they are truly Primal and are real converts. My daughter just said, ” No wonder these girls on our volleyball team have a big middle because all the SHITTE settles there!” WE are Primal.

    Patrick wrote on October 3rd, 2013
  24. Wat zijn uw ervaringen met online een vibrator of dildo kopen? Ik heb er nog niet zo veel. Wel eens bij cristine le duc iets besteld. Maar daar kreeg ik daarna reclame folders van. Daar was ik niet blij mee. Verder heb ik bij 4Venus.nl besteld. Deze leverde me een anonieme doos. Je kon er niet aan af zien wat er in zat. Maar eenmaal opengemaakt bleek mijn bestelling keurig op orde te zijn. Mijn vibrator en glijmiddel was goed aangekomen. Ik vindt 4venus.nl dus wel een aanrader. Maar er zijn veel leveranciers, natuurlijk.

    JOE wrote on October 25th, 2013
  25. I can see where you are coming from, but try to remember that everyone is different! Not everyone has dramatic before and afters; that doesn’t mean their changes are any less relevant.

    I transitioned toward being Primal over the course of a year and a half, but started losing weight on a different program with similar beliefs about how to lose weight. Now I’m typically 90% primal (for about the last 6 months), and I have lost some additional pounds. So, if you’ve been doing this since May, keep your head up. For some of us, there is no “poof!” factor…it’s still a lot of hard work to undo years of bad habits and CW bull-hockey.

    Good luck and keep trying new things to see what works for you!

    Stacie wrote on September 27th, 2013

Leave a Reply

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

© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple

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