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

Tons of Doctors and No Solution

It is my pleasure to share Tara’s success story with you today. Follow her journey through marriage, the birth of her twin boys, and a year and a half transformation to a healthy lifestyle. When doctors fail, when WebMD fails, it’s time to take health education into your own hands.

If you have your own Primal Blueprint success story and you’d like to share it with me and the community please contact me here. Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Hi Mark!

I had been fairly healthy my entire life, but had always carried about 10 extra pounds. When I turned 24, that changed. All of a sudden, I started experiencing allergies. Major weight gain. Depression. Acne. Itchy scalp. Boils. Missed periods and debilitating pain when they did come. Joint pain. IBS. These were all new things to me.

I saw dozens of doctors – German ones, Canadian ones, American and Dutch. Some told me I was suffering from allergies. Others made me keep a food journal and count calories. Some gave me acne medication. I was poked, prodded and bled. The one conclusion that all of the doctors shared was that I was overreacting, hysterical and wasting their time. According to them, I was just fat and lazy – and probably a hypochondriac.

I was miserable. I tried everything to lose weight, but I was just so tired all of the time. I diagnosed myself with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Metabolic Syndrome, endometriosis and depression, which the doctors then confirmed. They put me on Prozac, which made me gain more weight. At my heaviest, I was around 235 lbs. I am a 5’9″ female. 235 lbs is not a healthy weight. When I asked the doctors HOW to lose weight, I was told, “We don’t know. Just lose it. Then symptoms will go away.” So, Google it was.

After months of trying to find information on PCOS online, I discovered a random comment on someone’s journal that said that some women with PCOS had had success losing weight with a low carb diet. That was the only help I could find. I dropped carbs that first day. I went zero carb overnight and felt amazing. I got my energy back. Exercising became fun again. I shed 40 pounds in two months and kept it off. I stabilized at 185. I realized that my previous diet had consisted of nothing but simple, refined carbs. Thinking I needed lots of carbs for energy (thank you, USDA!) I had thought nothing of eating an entire plate of white rice for dinner, with nothing else.

Things got better – but only slightly. I started eating carbs and grains again – in moderation. When I found I could maintain my weight and pretty much eat whatever I wanted, I let it slide.

I practically killed myself to get down to 175 for my wedding in April 2005. I had to go to the gym and work out 5 days a week, hard and watch everything I put in my mouth. I was still eating grains and everything was going soooo slowly. The minute I said, “I Do,” I gained 5 pounds. By the time we got back home from Las Vegas, I was back at 185 lbs and didn’t know why.

From 2005 to 2009, my hormonal issues were wiggin’ out of control. That was 4 years of hair falling out, suicidal lows, no sex drive, mysterious hives, rashes and boils. Tons of doctors and no solutions – the only help they would give me were useless tests and pharmaceuticals. I had my thyroid checked over 10 times. Each time it was fine. Google and I were on close terms, and according to it, my hormones were way out of whack (or I had some sort of cancer. Nothing like WebMD for scaring the crap out of yourself!) Because I didn’t know any better, I didn’t realize the part that insulin was playing, and instead, concentrated on getting my estrogen/testosterone levels right. Which didn’t work. Once again, the doctors had failed me.

The whole time, I was freaking out for a baby. We had to resort to IVF to get pregnant, since the endometriosis had ravaged my fallopian tubes. I had a miserable, sugar-soaked, bed-ridden pregnancy and identical twin boys in January of 2009. My kids were born two months early, but I had somehow managed to gain 80 pounds during the short pregnancy. By May of that year, I was still 235 pounds and PISSED OFF because I had been told (and believed) that breastfeeding burns calories and that the weight would “just melt right off!”

My brother, who I am super proud of and who is one of my greatest influences and motivators, sent me Mark Sisson’s book, The Primal Blueprint in May of ’09. It literally changed my life. It made so much sense to me that we should be eating the way we had evolved to. I looked up the Primal/Paleo lifestyle and found a community of people who had been suffering from a lot of the same maladies as I had been but who now seemed to be completely CURED. Where did I sign up?

I immediately cut out all grains and sugar, but I still didn’t have it right. I had been eating so much sugar before that cutting it out completely was unbearable to me. It was my only vice so it seemed so justifiable. Instead of Sweet Tarts and donuts, though, I ate fruit. A lot of it. And tons of nuts, too, since they are allowed on the Primal diet. I didn’t stop eating dairy, either. But cutting out grains and white sugar was having an effect. I lost 20 pounds pretty quick.

I started tweaking my diet. Way less fruit – mainly berries and the occasional apple. Whipping cream instead of half and half. Limiting nuts to once a week. More fat, fewer carbs. My palate changed. Biting into a kiwi gave me the same satisfaction that Sweet Tarts used to. Salads came alive and cooking became fun again. The Primal Blueprint allows for “cheats” if you stick to the lifestyle 80% of the time. So, I allowed myself treats from time to time but I planned them and enjoyed the hell out of them. I didn’t suddenly pack on 10 pounds if I ate something bad, because I stopped at that one thing. Instead of “falling off of the wagon,” I listened to my body and occasionally gave into cravings when they came. It became easier and easier to say “no.”

During this time, I noticed that most of my hormonal issues were disappearing. My periods became super regular. I barely noticed them, to be honest, which was NOT the norm for me. My skin cleared up, I didn’t need to use moisturizer anymore, I was freakin’ HAPPY all the time, and I was losing weight. It was slow, about a pound a week but it was coming off. And I wasn’t really trying all that hard! The Primal Blueprint mentions that nutrition is 80% of the battle. I especially liked Mark Sisson’s take on fitness – you don’t actually have to do as much as the industry would have you believe. I also learned that most people are working out incorrectly. Hours of “chronic cardio” on the treadmill is actually having the opposite of the desired effect – people are overtraining, injuring themselves and making themselves hungry as hell. (It’s a lot easier to justify a donut when you’ve worked out hard, right?!) I didn’t have to work out hard to see results. I now do CrossFit once or twice a week, yoga once (maybe), sprints now and then and the occasional walk around the neighborhood with the kids. I guess when I stop to consider it, I probably do do more exercise than the average person – I tend to do a proper deadlift when I lift each one of my 30 lb boys and will sometimes drop down and do a couple burpees for no reason at all. I blame that on all the extra energy I now have.

I’ve just passed my one-and-a-half-year anniversary with the Primal lifestyle. I’ve been so enamored with this way of life that I have completely changed the way I live. I’ve done tons of research, reading and studying. I had never really thought too much about the environment, but some of the stuff I uncovered – about pesticides, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics being used in the food industry – has made me change a lot of the ways I do things and I feel like I’m doing my part for the environment now. I compost with worms for the free fertilizer, I’m growing a lot of my own vegetables and I even got a few chickens for my backyard. I get 4 organic, free-range eggs a day and I don’t have to worry about them being loaded with antibiotic residue. I eat grass-fed beef.

Mainly, I eat real, whole foods and I eat less than I did before. I’m at 153 lbs as we speak. I’m 5’9″ so I’m at my goal weight for the first time ever. I weigh less and am smaller than I was in high school! In order to lose the dreaded “last 10 pounds,” I incorporated intermittent fasting. Since my insulin and blood sugar are working properly now, going a whole day without food actually leaves me feeling fantastic and energized. I couldn’t have imagined missing even a single meal in my old life! In fact, since my blood sugar was so out of whack, missing a meal meant bouts of hypoglycemia, where I felt like shit and was a total bitch to everyone around me. That’s gone. I take 6000 units of Vitamin D a day and I’m sure that is helping towards my overall health. My depression, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and everything else is just… gone.

I’m currently training to become a Certified Personal Trainer, and when I’ve finished that, I’m going to get a certificate in holistic nutrition so that I can officially start helping others. Mark Sisson, the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple have changed my life and I would like to pay it forward.


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. Congratulations Tara! You look fantastic. I, too have begun the same journey that you have taken. I am amazed at my results and the Primal Blueprint way of life. Thank you, Mark and all you other GROKers out there for sharing your results.

    George wrote on December 29th, 2010
  2. You look fantastic Tara and you are definitely an inspiration. I have most of the same symptoms as you (except that my doctor has confirmed that my thyroid is also under-functioning). I am only about 6 months into the Primal Lifestyle and you have confirmed that there is light at the end of the tunnel :)

    Kitty wrote on December 29th, 2010
  3. So fantastic!! Beautiful before GLOWING after. I am sending this to my sis who is having so many of the health “issues” you did before. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, and yet again, thank you, Mark.

    Lauren wrote on December 29th, 2010
  4. Mark,
    As you know the problem is not proactive results it is reactive and thats the problem.


    Thomas Matt wrote on December 30th, 2010
  5. I am 27 and have PCOS as well and haven’t had a cycle without medications for 10 years! I am of normal weight so the first doctor said that I was “underweight” which is why I didn’t have a cycle. Then when my husband and I tried to conceive the ob/gyn told me to “have more (you know)” even though I never had a period so therefore… no eggs. They put me on diabetes medications which made me soooooo tired and dizzy I had to stop them. I was so depressed about what was happening to my body with cystic acne that I went back on birth control. I have recently stopped the pills again and I am on a mission to fix the problem myself. I have very little faith in modern family medicine! Thank you for the wonderful story! It gives a lot of people hope!

    Chrissy wrote on December 30th, 2010
    • I was also put on Metformin – it was the first thing the doctors suggested when I couldn’t conceive. The digestive upset it caused took almost a year to go away after I stopped the medication. I’m sorry that I don’t have more information on having PCOS and being underweight – my PCOS was caused by being overweight and insulin resistant, and went away when I lost weight. It must be frustrating to be part of the minority in this case. I also had cystic acne that went away once I got my insulin under control. Are you currently eating Primally? It took about 4 months before my menstrual cycles regulated and the acne started going away, so don’t give up!

      Tara wrote on January 10th, 2011
  6. wow!!!

    jan wrote on December 31st, 2010
  7. Well done Tara. Your story is an awesome tale and an inspiration.
    I will pass it forward to many. Congratulations

    Christian wrote on January 4th, 2011
  8. Tara, I am so happy you were able to stick with primal principles and see such tramanedous results. It is, of course, the most important fact that you got yourself healthy by taking it into your own hands rather than relying on doctors and medicine. It’s also a great cherry on top you have lost so much weight.
    You look absolutely stunning!

    chocolatechip69 wrote on January 6th, 2011
  9. Thank you to everyone who has commented! We’ve just finished moving so I haven’t had reliable Internet or I would have written sooner. To be honest, reading all these positive compliments and comments all at once has been fairly overwhelming. I am so incredibly grateful to all of you for taking the time to read my story. I am humbled that some of you can relate to my problems and that perhaps, my story may give you renewed commitment and help you follow the Primal path towards your own personal success.
    It hasn’t always been easy to avoid the temptations of the S.A.D. but the rewards that I’ve gained through following the Primal Blueprint are too precious for me to ever go back to the way I used to live. I plan on blogging on some of the obstacles I encountered, including insomnia, anxiety and energy lags, so if you have any specific questions, please feel free to visit my blog or post here.
    Thank you again! You are all really sweet. :)

    Tara wrote on January 10th, 2011
    • I’ve been getting bouts of insomnia too, usually when I wake up for my daughter’s first feeding at 2am or so. I won’t be able to fall asleep for a few hours afterwards. One thing that has helped that tremendously is making sure I’ve taken my prenatal that morning, for some reason if I’m ‘topped off’ in that department I’m ok. I think my body struggles a bit with this change, but it’s getting better!

      Kristina wrote on January 12th, 2011
    • Thanks for sharing your story, Tara. I’m going to try and get a few of my friends and family to read this and maybe push them down the Primal road.

      I’m constantly cheating on my own road and I’m still getting compliments on my weight loss. But the many other positive results (mood, energy levels, sleeping) are worth more than the 10-15 lbs. I’ve shed so far.

      And (at least for me) it’s pretty EASY, too. I eat well and don’t feel deprived.

      Michael Maier wrote on January 21st, 2011
      • Hi Michael,
        I have treats quite often at this point – I just try to stick to the 80/20 rule. Now that I have my insulin sensitivity back, I’m finding I can be a little more relaxed as long as I don’t go crazy.
        Speaking from personal experience, trying to “push” someone down the Primal path doesn’t work too well. I tried that with dismal results. I learned about a year ago that the best way is to “lead through example,” for lack of a better term. Once people started seeing my results, they wanted to know what I was doing. Good luck! There are certain family members of mine that are killing themselves with a low-fat, high carb diet – even though they have diabetes, gout, are on medication and can’t exercise, they think what they are doing is “working” and I’ve been told that my “crazy diet” will not work for them. It’s so frustrating!

        Tara wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  10. You look so good! keep going… we share the same experience of doctors, Mark is my hero lol

    Nossar wrote on January 15th, 2011
  11. Just read this post after finding your blog, Tara.
    What an inspirational story! You look FANTASTIC!!!
    Will be passing this on to my girlfriend who has been suffering from many of the same symptoms as you for years.
    I’ve been suggesting she go Primal for over a year now; I think this article will be enough to spur her on.
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face :)

    JoJo wrote on January 16th, 2011
  12. Wow Tara! Amazing story, thank you for sharing it. I have struggled with many of the same hormonal imbalances and symptoms from too much insulin, etc. I have been eating primally for about 8 months and feel WAY better. I still would like to lose the last ‘ten pounds’.
    Can you tell me if you found a way to keep your calories down without counting them and staying satified too?

    Stephanie wrote on January 22nd, 2011
    • I was only able to lose that “last 10 pounds” by incorporating intermittent fasting. I ate as much as I wanted, but cut down to 2 meals a day, and only ate when I was hungry. Initially, I expected to binge as a result of skipping meals, but that didn’t happen.

      Tara wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  13. I wish I could afford to go see you this year. I would love to pick your brain….. I have many of your old symptoms.. and want them GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Lisa wrote on September 28th, 2011
  14. Hi, this is a great blog!

    uf8 wrote on February 13th, 2012
  15. I realize this is an old post, but I just found it via a link in a newer Paleo Mag article.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s inspiring, and a perfect article to show my friends who are getting increasingly more interested in the Primal lifestyle.

    Kevin wrote on May 30th, 2012
  16. Wow! I’ve been following you on Twitter for awhile now, but just came across your story through Paleo Mag. Amazing!!

    I’ve been eating primal/paleo for a year now and have lost 95lbs. I’m also smaller than I’ve ever been in my adult life and feel the best I’ve ever felt. :)

    Kim wrote on May 31st, 2012
  17. This is such validation and I will refer people here who doubt my own story! Just recently suffered months of debilitating gut pain (already dairy & egg free 2 yrs), 4 doctors, CT Scan, bloodwork and 3 invasive GI tests, all very $$$$$, and was told repeatedly I was in perfect health. Lucky me, a friend suggested I try Paleo and today, only 3 weeks later- the pain and misery are completely gone. I’ve stabilized at 10lbs lighter without trying, and have never had so much energy.

    lori wrote on June 1st, 2012
  18. Tara-
    I have been dealing with PCOS, acne, IBS, etc for years. A co-worker told me about Primal Blue Print. I just read your success story and it really touched me. Your story is great and encouraging. I have gained 80+ pounds in about 12 years. I am hoping this is what helps me gain control of me and who I am, really. Gorgeous photos!

    Jessie wrote on June 27th, 2012
  19. Hi guys! Just checking in. I’m still on the Primal path, but wasn’t being notified thru email about many of these comments so I’m sorry if I didn’t respond if you asked me a question. I’m still happy and healthy and at my goal weight. I’m blogging (intermittently) at – for those of you that have any questions or want to pick my brain, I would love to help. I was at PrimalCon this year, which was life changing and the most amazing event I’ve ever been to. I went strict Paleo for a while, back to Primal and then (recently) figured out that I’m suffering from fructose malabsorption so I’m figuring out a brand new Primal diet for myself. I’m currently nightshade free as well, and have put a nasty autoimmune condition into remission. Thank you all so much for your words of praise and encouragement, they mean a lot. xoxo

    Tara wrote on July 3rd, 2012
  20. Slow weight loss of 1lb a week?!

    I can’t lose 1lb a month! :(
    I have all of the same symptoms that you do so maybe there’s hope…

    You look gorgeous! ;3

    NSWM wrote on July 21st, 2012
  21. It was like reading about my self. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It give me hope =)

    Cleo wrote on August 22nd, 2012
  22. Thank you so much for sharing. My story is almost exactly the same as yours before you started PB. I have PCOS and have been trying to get pregnant for a long time and I am very much looking forward to how this lifestyle change will improve my life too!

    teri wrote on September 9th, 2012
  23. Heyy..well reading u..i realized we share exactly the same story….tara being my nickname,2005 got married,2009 twin boys, pcos,major weight issues..:))))did u steal my story?

    tahira wrote on September 11th, 2012
  24. Tara, we have similar cases. I just discovered the primal eating lifestyle and I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat. If you are mentoring or wouldn’t mind to share some pointers with me, I’m just learning. I am off all PCOS meds in the last 90 days and trying to heal myself naturally. It would be nice to be connected to someone who knows exactly what PCOS is like and I’m most interested in learning exactly how you healed yourself. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Maritza wrote on November 11th, 2012
  25. Question – Did you have any loose skin? I am curious about loose skin and primal – I feel like primal is packed with nutrients so maybe people would have less of a loose skin problem than with other diets.

    Amanda wrote on November 26th, 2012
    • I do have some loose skin on my tummy, but I had twins so that is to be expected. Because my weight loss was slow, steady, and healthy, and I apparently inherited good genes regarding skin elasticity, I don’t have a lot of loose skin anywhere else. :)

      Tara wrote on January 7th, 2014
  26. You look gorgeous, I live a good success story. I hope you are still doing well!

    Helga wrote on March 11th, 2013
  27. You look gorgeous, I love a good success story. I hope you are still doing well!

    Helga wrote on March 11th, 2013
  28. Hi Tara, I was wondering where are you planning (or already) studying to be a nutritionist. I’m an RN and would love to pursue nutritionist education but learning the SAD way is not acceptable.

    Thanks Kamila

    Kamila wrote on November 14th, 2013
    • Hi Kamila! I wanted to be a nutritionist, but couldn’t bear the thought of having to “learn” a lot of garbage I knew to be untrue. I think a Primal Certification would be much more helpful to someone like me. :)

      Tara wrote on January 7th, 2014

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