A Family Affair: Mother, Father and Sisters Go Primal and Reap Benefits

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!

Hi Mark!

Every Friday, I take my obligate study break and read each week’s success story, hoping one day that I could be featured. I am still a work in progress. It seems as if every day I find a new thing to lament. But reflecting back on this year, I must say that I’ve come really far and would like to share my story with the world.

I’d been overweight for most of my life. I weighed 70 lbs at age 3. There is an infamous picture of me in my kindergarten graduation cap and gown at that age (my parents started me in school early) that hangs in my parents’ living room. My chubby face is dead-center, with cheeks so plump, my eyes look forced shut. Every year, I dreaded getting weighed. I hated seeing my doctor write down ever-increasing numbers. Then, it became the rule to get weighed at school. The teacher would announce everyone’s weight as they stepped off the scale. The first time they instituted this rule, I was 9 years old and in the fifth grade…and weighed a whopping 125 pounds. My weight steadily crept up until I got to my heaviest of 175 at age 15. Mind you, I am very short. During this time, I was 5’2”, so every pound of weight gain immediately made itself known on my slight frame. When I saw that 175 I lost it. I made a resolution to lose the weight no matter what.

And I did. But in the most unhealthy way imaginable. I decided that I would eat 500 calories a day and work out for 2 hours each day, on top of that. I attended an elite preparatory school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where we had chefs cook our breakfasts, snacks, and lunches. The cafeteria abounded with homemade rolls, carrot-ginger dressings, pies, tons of ice cream flavors, croissants, rich buttery sauces, rice, pasta, anything your heart could desire and your mind could think of. It was a culinary heaven. But when I decided to embark on my 500 calorie quest, I stuck to water and fruit. Day in and day out. Dinner would be low calorie hot chocolate made from a processed mix and water with toast. I took “Advanced Fitness” as my gym class in school, and would diligently walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at the highest incline I could stand and then do 30 minutes of weight lifting. I even stuck to this during the holidays, doing at home workouts and eating just salad. In just 5 months, I lost 55 pounds. I was a frail-looking 120 pounds. But seeing that number made me so happy.

I remember going to a lake house my uncle and aunt had rented for a weekend getaway for our family. I hadn’t seen them in about 6 months, and when I stepped out of the car, their jaws dropped. I, initially, was happy to see this response. But their eyes told the truth. My uncle and aunt, both doctors, looked worried, shocked, and even somewhat disgusted. “Why’d you lose so much weight?”, they asked. “Don’t you know how you can mess up your body, your hormones, doing all this unnecessary stuff?”, they yelled. But I didn’t care. I was thin and proud.

I maintained this weight loss almost effortlessly through junior and senior years of high school and then as a freshman at Yale University. I ate whatever I wanted, worked out, and gained about 5 pounds, but felt this was a “healthier” weight for me. Then magically, I weighed myself during my sophomore year of college and weighed 135. Then during junior year, 150. I was so scared that the weight I had lost was coming back. So I embarked on yet another weight loss journey, this time turning to Insanity at-home workouts and low carb dieting. In just two months, I went back down to 125. I started senior year looking and feeling great.

College era

The first pic is me during junior year of college, when I had regained most of the weight I had lost at the end of high school, weighing around 150. The second pic is me at 125-130 right after college. Still eating low carb without any worry about the nutritional qualities of my food. Smaller but still noticeably skinny-fat/without much definition.

Or so I thought. Ever since I had lost weight the first time, I’d have pesky issues bothering me. I noticed I had long sideburns. Then I noticed hairs on my chin. Then sprouting up in the middle of my cheeks! I noticed that my periods were extra long and heavy, lasting 10 days. I remember sitting on a toilet for about two hours on the second day of one of my periods because the flow was so heavy my sanitary napkin was soaked within 5 minutes. I also remember the immense pain associated with my periods. I’d be curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor asking God why he was punishing me. More than a few times, I had to be taken to the hospital. Then my periods started coming irregularly, to the point where I sometimes had two per month. And my skin was horrible. Constant breakouts, not just of the superficial, pustule kind, but the achy, deep, cystic ones too. My skin was oily and slick. Constant picking at my skin left a mottled mix of raw skin, scars, and hyperpigmentation on my face. I was wearing makeup to school to hide these issues every day. I cried (man, I cried a lot when I was younger) about not being able to show my true skin and be myself. I didn’t socialize much and didn’t want to be seen in public. I often wished I could be reborn without all these weight and skin issues.

When these symptoms first started creeping up, at around age 16, I saw an endocrinologist and was diagnosed with PCOS. Ultrasound revealed that my ovaries were riddled with tons of tiny cysts. My only treatment option at the time was birth control. I tried it for a year and stopped because I saw no progress. During college, I finally worked up the courage to see a dermatologist and was immediately put on a plethora of things that she claimed would fix my skin: topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, topical retinol, topical corticosteroids, the works. Every 3 months, I’d be trying new antibiotics because nothing seemed to work. It was a costly and frustrating time. My self-esteem was at an extreme low. Even though I had worked my weigh back down to 125, I felt like I was a mess. Here I was, graduating with Honors from one of the best colleges in the world, and I felt like my world was spinning out of control. I had lost the weight, but nothing was fixed. That’s when I realized that it was all about health and not about weight.

The week before I began my first year of medical school at the end of August 2012, I happened upon the Whole30 website. I immediately clicked on the Testimonial tab and scrolled down the list. No more acid reflux, uh huh. No more acne, ok, maybe I this might work for me. Then I scrolled down and saw testimonials for PCOS! I decided then and there to embark on my first Whole30. It was scary. I was used to the low carb life, but no beans or dairy, and I could actually eat sweet potatoes? I convinced myself that because my body would be working as it’s supposed to, my body could handle more nutrient-dense sources of carbs. And I went all in. Acne vanished. Skin lesions healed super fast. I happened upon your website and incorporated more Primal-based ideas of exercise, taking on heavy lifting, walking, and sprinting. My body fat melted. My muscles popped. From body-fat estimates, I started out at 25% and am now sitting at around 17%! I weigh around 135, which still in my mind is a bit too high, but fit into size 4 dresses with ease. I even managed to grow 2 inches! I felt, and still feel, like a new person! And this past spring, I had another ultrasound done and guess what? No cysts. And my periods come like clock work, and only last a few days. The cramping pain associated with them is much less severe, and I have noticed, darn-near unnoticeable if I stick to strict Primal. My facial hair has also reduced drastically, but because of my hair quality, I am prone to ingrown hairs. This issue, however, is being handled with holistic approaches to health (and electrolysis). I newly discovered Stefani Ruper, of Paleo for Women fame, and am now even more committed to this lifestyle for the long haul.

Me now!

Me now!

Janelle - After

Me now without acne!

More than beating my PCOS, I am especially thankful for this lifestyle because of the effect it has had on my family members. Seeing how much my health has improved, my mother, father, and sister have all embraced this lifestyle with success of their own. My mom, once a diabetic with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and overweight has now gotten rid of all but one of her medications and has lost 30 pounds. My father, who once suffered from chronic pain and obesity, has lost 50 pounds and now routinely takes 4 mile walks whenever possible and is prone to turning on the radio at home and dancing like a mad man. My sister, who was starting to show signs of PCOS and who gained 50 pounds in just two years while at college, is now the leanest, meanest machine I’ve seen. I’ve even gotten one of my close college friends on track and we regularly update each other with the best Paleo recipe we’ve tried that week or our new favorite Paleo/Primal blogs.

Janelle's Dad

My father at his heaviest, and my father now.

Janelle's Sister and Mother

My sister and mom at their heaviest.

Janelle's Sister and Mother

My sister and mom now.

I’m still working on getting rid of the hirsutism, and my new goal is to get a six-pack, haha. But I now recognize that even though I am a work in progress, I have made progress and I am not broken. Turning to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle has been the greatest thing to happen to my loved ones and me.  Now, I can’t wait to be a primary care doctor and spread this message to my future patients!

Thanks, Mark! Couldn’t have done it without you!


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120 thoughts on “A Family Affair: Mother, Father and Sisters Go Primal and Reap Benefits”

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  1. Wow! A total family makeover. Congrats to you and your whole family.

  2. What a beautiful journey. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your family – my favorite parts of all of the success stories are hearing about the successes of those touched by the original story! I commend you for speaking powerfully about where you were, and for recognizing that it’s all in the path, not the destination. Way to go!!!!!!

  3. It is so much easier with support. I encourage anyone that doesn’t have this kind of support at home to find it elsewhere. Many areas have groups already in place. In New Orleans, we have oe with over 400 people. It is such a huge help to share and learn from each other!

    Great job! Keep up the good work and spread the word. 🙂

  4. way to spread the wealth in a super positive way- by example! you look fantastic, congratulations on your regained health. (and go bulldogs!)

  5. To have a primary care doctor with your mindset of the importance of food makes me so happy. I have only met one and unfortunately, she was not taking new patients. Good luck with your future endeavors and and congrats on all the success you and your family have made.
    I have a AI conditions and am very resentful of the one comment of my GP. I remember asking “Do you think what I am eating is causing this?” I got a look of – stupid girl with “No, you are thin, it is not your food.” It makes me so optimistic to know there are caregivers out there (and soon to be) who are open minded and don’t just rely on pharmaceuticals. I have been off meds for close to three years now.
    PS. Beautiful skin.

  6. I’ve never commented on a story before but this one was so great. I love how you inspired your whole family and went through this journey of self-discovery while getting a degree from Yale and going to med school!? WOW! Good on you! You look fantastic, but I’m sure the way you feel means more to you than that 🙂

  7. Congratulations on your regained health and being a great role model to the rest of your family. Well done!

  8. So happy that you will become an MD who appreciates that indeed, food is related to health. I am the daughter of two doctors who fail to realize this (my mom is a dermatologist and would have given you the same antibiotic treatment as your derm without mentioning food). I am so proud and hopeful for the future!

  9. OMG wish i could get my fam to do that, they still think im crazy! great job!

  10. An entire family doing well!!!!! You can’t argue with that!!!I think we are all works in progress. I don’t know that anyone ever “arrives” at the place where they want to be. There’s always something to improve. Love how your healthy – vibrant- and making things happen in your life!!! So cool!

  11. I love that you are or are becoming a doctor. We need more people in the medical community to understand and recommend the things that REALLY help people achieve and maintain health. You look beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story – keep up the good work!

  12. Bless you for coming together as a family and accomplishing this wonderful achievement. I am constantly amazed at how similar all of our stories are. I genuinely hope more and more people will figure out that they have been lied to and how simple it is to reverse the effects of it.
    Keep Grokking on!!

  13. What a great story and the best part is that there will be one more doctor who gets it!

    1. Hear! Hear! We need more health professionals that are all in with the Primal movement. I have known an unbelievable number of doctors, nurses, and chiropractors (even nutritionists!) who themselves were far from healthy.

  14. Just beautiful – all of you and your success. Great to know you’ll be passing on your knowledge in primary care.

  15. WOW!!! the beauty of the entire family is off the scale!!!
    The press can bash this life-style all they want – the facts don’t lie.
    so many wins in this story, but I especially love hearing that you father is dancing again ^_^

  16. havent commented in a while – but this WHOLE family rocks!! I want my success story to include my family, but it may not happen in this lifetime…..
    by the way, let us know where you will be practicing medicine, because I could sure use a new Dr.!

  17. I’m so glad you are going to be a doctor! Yay, more paleo, holistic-mindset medicine!

  18. Janelle, welcome back from hell and now being in a healthy tribe.

  19. Inspirational! Such amazing progress and real proof that primal DOES work! So glad you are going to become a doctor as well- i’m sure you will bring much needed knoweledge and advice to patients in an otherwise naive medical community that i continue to have little faith in. Great work!!

  20. Amazing! Thanks for sharing.
    PCOS is so confusing and depressing. It took me 10 years to be diagnosed and 20 years to figure it out. Dairy/sugar very bad for my hormones. Keep spreading the word. Hopefully it helps so many other women who don’t know where to look for help.
    Laurie, Canada

    1. Tell me about it. PCOS is so frustrating to deal with. It definitely takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what to do to deal with the symptoms. Hooray for you figuring out what to avoid! I’m still a work in progress but do stay away from dairy and most sugars as well.

  21. WOW!!! What a great result! So nice that your family noticed what was working well for you and responded they way they did.
    I’d say to not worry about the six pack too much, I hear they are sold at the market so you can have one from there. You don’t have to carry it around with you on your tummy like men do, it’s ok to leave it on the floor of the pantry like I do. What? Not what you meant? ;-D

    1. HAHAHA this made me laugh out loud. Right before going to bed, for some reason, the thought of the 6 pack came along and I realized I didn’t even want it anymore. I just like feeling strong and healthy, which this lifestyle has allowed me to do!

      1. I would like a six pack – if only for a week! Way to go Janelle.

  22. Your skin looks amazing! I’ve also struggled with acne and skin picking and it really does damage self-esteem. Dermatologists did nothing for me, and my acne led me to Mark’s Daily Apple as well. Congratulations on your journey!

    1. Thanks!! I’m still working on the picking thing for the odd occasion when I do get a small pimple; it’s SUCH a bad habit. But diet is really key. And manuka honey is my savior! It’s great for washing one’s face and for healing raw skin.

  23. Hey everyone!! Thanks for all of the wonderful, positive comments. I can’t wait for the day when I can be added to the Primal Docs Network. I’ve already had a little taste of spreading the Paleo/Primal knowledge to patients, since I had the great opportunity to teach a few diabetes education classes at a Family Medicine center affiliated with my medical school. I’ll be continuing research there, working with patients to help them develop lifestyle changes to combat their diabetes and will be definitely using the Paleo/Primal tenets as my foundation.

    1. How receptive has your medical school been to your paleo/primal enthusiasm? Are they giving you fair credence or have they been fairly dismissive? Just curious to know how you’re able to combat all the CW as a new doc. Best of luck and keep up the fantastic work1

      1. Hi Stacie! Most people in my class just think of me as a health nut. I think I made a comment further down on this page that one of the teachers at my medical school actually is well known in the realm of Exercise Nutrition and taught us a three week course on Nutrition that was 99% Paleo/Primal. His new research is even about dietary fats and their role in exercise performance and recovery. It was great, but when I asked him why we only get 3 weeks about something as important as nutrition, he said that 1) most doctors don’t really care about nutrition 2) most other doctors don’t even believe what he says. Even among faculty, he’s know as a “hippie” or “weirdo”. So nope, my school hasn’t been too receptive.

    2. Hi Janelle- are you in Manhattan now? I am, and I am looking for docs who “get it,” for both myself and for referrals for others. If you are in the area, is there any chance we could meet?

      1. Hi Andie! I’m not a doctor just yet; I’m in the second semester of my second year. But hopefully I will be practicing in NYC in the near future. Have you checked out Primal Docs? It’s a database of Primal/Paleo oriented physicians. I just did a quick search in New York and this was what I got: https://primaldocs.com/physician-finder/listingfeatures/new-york/
        Hopefully this helps! And let me know if you end up with a great doctor; I myself am looking for a Paleo PCP in NYC!

        1. I’m in NYC also, and I hope you stick around, because I want you to be my doc! I’m so glad you’ve had this experience and can help to usher in a new approach to health for the common people. You will probably be wildly successful by appealing to such a (currently) niche market. Good luck!

  24. Great story, thanks for sharing your struggles! I was just talking to a friend today whose daughter is having intense acne issues (hope you’re reading this K : ) and I passed along some thoughts on the gluten/sugar connection, rather than just more drugs and creams. It’s hard for a high school senior to make such a drastic change, but really hope she tackles it for a month and sees some fantastic results. It could save so many years of tears. Your story being posted today is awesome! Go Paleo doc as well!

    1. Please share that advice with her! I always know if I’ve been “glutened” if I wake up the next morning with a pimple. So even just cutting out gluten and cutting down sugars could help a bunch. And another thing that has worked wonders for my skin is also using Paleo/Primal-ish ingredients ON my skin. I regularly wash my face with either raw honey or Manuka honey, and make my own toner using witch hazel, thyme, raw honey, and apple cider vinegar. I also use green tea matcha powder and activated charcoal as masks. For a more Primal route, she could use raw yogurt as a face mask, since it has lactic acid in it which could serve as a chemical exfoliator. Or maybe even baking soda as manual exfoliator. There are tons of things she could try. Maybe she would find it fun to try out new products for her face that she could make herself!

      1. I’ve just started trying castor oil topically for my teenage son who struggles to limit sugar – so far so good!

      2. Terrific story, Janelle! How do you wash your face with honey? It is so sticky! Do you mix it with something? Is it difficult to rinse off?

        Wishing you every success in med school and beyond; the world needs more people like you in medicine!

        1. What I do is, I smear it on my face as soon as I wake up, then do other things like brush my teeth, heat up water to make tea, pack my bag, etc. During this time, my body heat melts it enough that it’s a bit more liquid-y. Then in the shower, I rinse it off with warm water. It really does come off easily. If I don’t have time to let it sit on my face for the 5 mins or so, I’ll wash it off at the end of my shower so that the steam makes it a little liquid-y. If not showering, then make sure to use warm water and some toner like witch hazel to make sure all the residue is off, but it doesn’t take much, like 1-2 swipes. Or 1-2 times a week, I’ll use baking soda to scrub it off as an exfoliator.

  25. I am so happy for you and your family and even happier that you will soon be a primal physician! I wish you success with both your continued health and with your future profession.

  26. “That’s when I realized that it was all about health and not about weight”

    I think this, is extremely important. Most people have it backwards, I’m going to lose weight to get healthy, and then they do a bunch of unhealthy things (over exercising and starving themselves). Focus on health and the weight will usually take care of its self, as it did in your case!

    Thanks for sharing, great story. Awesome that you got the family on board, not always easy to do!.

      1. You are so right. And it starts in medical school too. We actually had an AWESOME three week Nutrition course by a guy who’s well known in Exercise Nutrition who basically taught us about grass fed meats and their Omega 3 and CLA fats, about eating a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables, eating around 50 g of carbs for normal activity and more from starchy vegetables if active, etc. His new research is on dietary fats and their role in exercise performance and recovery. It was amazing, and afterwards I asked him about why our course was so short. He said because most other doctors don’t even agree with what he was teaching us. And suffice to say, NONE of that stuff was on our test. What really aggravates me though is that we always have lunch lectures, but the food served is always a bunch of cookies and pizza! How are we supposed to set good examples for our patients when we treat our own bodies like crap? I’m actually working with a Preventative Medicine resident to create a “Cooking for Health” elective in our clinical years.

        1. It’s nice to see this reaching the medical establishment in some form. It’s a start! Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Awesome story…

        2. J, this body of knowledge is going to make you an absolutely invaluable clinician and resource for your patients. Depending on where you practice, it will be a challenge but we are blessed with this information so that we can be a blessing to the lives of others. Welcome to the new true meaning of Doctors Without Borders!!! Love your story and keep fighting the good fight with your family and loved ones, it is totally worth it and they are actually listening. Wow, made my Saturday!

        3. Janelle,

          First off, congratulations on your amazing health transformation. So inspiring! Out of curiosity, would you be able to relay the name of the exercise science professor? (Either by replying to this post or via email?). I am a 3rd year PhD student studying Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology at Rutgers and hope to go into some sort of nutrition education job that allows me to teach the importance of eating a traditional diet. As of right now, I know of very few individuals who do this at the collegiate level which is why I am interested in contacting him. This would be greatly appreciated!

  27. YOU get to live a life making a real difference! How thrilling for you!


  28. Wonderful story, Janelle. We should always be works in progress, every day, every year of our lives.

    Your future patients will also benefit from the experiences you shared today; and perhaps one day you will become a professor and train future generations of physicians….

    Good luck!

    “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” (Hippocrates)

  29. 100% fabulous, you and your family! It’s so great to hear that you’ll be the kind of doctor people *really* need for great health. And you don’t just know about it, you’ve lived it. Go you!

  30. I love this story. You look fantastic! I have hope for the next generation of doctors!

  31. Congratulations, Janelle! You’ve accomplished so much in your young life – surviving your own health problems, graduating from Yale and going to Medical School, helping your family (by your example) to get healthy and even dancing, and passing on the PB lifestyle laws. You all look healthy and happy!

    I expect great things from you in your future, Dr. Janelle!

    Grok On! 🙂

  32. Thank you for sharing!

    My husband and I got my father and his mother on board, but we are still struggling to get more family members to understand what real health is. Congratulations to you for getting your family to join you!

    Keep it up, you are awesome!

  33. Congratulations Janelle! While reading your story, I was practically in tears, especially reading the part about your having to get weighed at school and the teacher announcing your weight out loud! Being an overweight child is so incredibly painful, I know.

    You have gone through so much and have made an incredible transformation! And to know you will be entering the medical profession with the ability to change lives is amazing!

    Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration!

    1. Oh wow, I’m so happy my story touched you! Being an overweight child and teen was really tough; I had really really low self esteem. I still do, but realizing the strength of my own body and all the amazing things it can do, and will be able to with this continued lifestyle, has slowly helped me for the better.

  34. Wow, you all have absolutely gorgeous skin now. It’s, like, luminescent and dewy. Absolutely beautiful. Congratulations on all your successes and nice work!

  35. I love the sucess stories and yours is wonderful. The best thing is when your loved ones decide to take part, congratlulations 🙂

  36. Congrats to the whole family! I’m happy for you. Having support and supporting paleo family members is essential for a change of life.

    You guys look awesome and happy! So glad for you!

  37. This must be the happiest ending story I’ve seen here, wow! What a terrific (and sensible!) family you have and what a wonderful contribution you have made to your family’s health. You are going to be one hell of a fine doctor, in your honor I take back every negative comment I have made about doctors on here:)

    Your story has really brightened my day. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and best wishes to the entire family!

  38. Wow, Janelle, not only do you radiate health, but your positive energy has already transformedyour family– I can only imagine the wonders you’ll perform as a physician! Your story gives me hope!

  39. I’d really like an update on you and your family in about a year, to find out how things have progressed. You look great now, even without a six-pack.

    1. I was just thinking about how my “where are they now” post would be. My goals are: 1) keep up eating along Primal guidelines 2) get down to around 16% BF 3)FINALLY get rid of my facial hair. One big thing that’s happened since writing this post is no more ingrown hairs!! So the next step is to have NO facial hair at all. And my father is now doing at-home bodyweight workouts from the Primal Fitness Blueprint and hopes to gain some muscle and lose an additional 20 or so lbs. My mother and sister are happily maintaining.

  40. Very inspiring Janelle!! Reminds me of when I began eating and living primal and everyone thought I was nuts! Then they started seeing the results and before long my family started following along and the changes have been awesome.

    Thanks for the great post and congrats!

  41. Yes, that realization that you are *not* broken feels so good! Congratulations!

  42. Janelle, Just imagine how happy you must have made Mark Sisson and the whole Daily Apple team! I would guess they are grinning, ear to ear, knowing the role they played in backing you up! You look absolutely fabulous. and you have found your mission!!

  43. Excellent! You are beautiful from the inside out! Keep up the good work!

  44. why was my comment deleted? I’m merely curious as to why the post’s have these great sounding stories, but haven’t the before and after photo’s to back them up. Yes, I LOVE this story. I wish my family would also go primal with me, its changed my life, shed 50 pounds and kept it off for over a year. I would just love to see great before and after pictures. To me, the mom looks exactly the same, but the newer picture is of much higher quality than the before picture and it goes from full body shot to only pretty much a headshot. The first before and after pics are great, even going a little to far maybe with the pants being so low, cheers! But the other family members photo’s really need work.

    1. As I said in reply to you, which I see was also deleted, my story isn’t about the before and after pictures or weight loss. It’s about the HEALTH that I gained and the KNOWLEDGE I gained and will disseminate to my future patients. Moreover, the pictures of and story about my family were an addendum. If they want to tell their own stories separately, I’m sure they would provide “better” before and after pictures. Mind you, my mother lost 30 lbs and is maintaining effortlessly. You can clearly see that her face looks thinner. But congrats to you for your own Primal success. I can’t wait for your story to be up here, with flawless befores and afters.

  45. I greatly admire your success, Janelle. Also, congratulations on getting your family on board. Particularly amused by what you said about your father “dancing like a mad man”. My father suffered a seizure in November of 2012. I moved to be with him and try to help him rehabilitate. Cooked for him every day, 80/10 “prileo”, but after a month of that, he rebelled and went back to his daily Honey Nut Cheerios with low fat milk and toast for breakfast, and mac and cheese for lunch. Additionally he suffers from GERD, and almost daily doses of Prilosec for ten plus years. His “cure” was to raise the head of his bed 3 inches, but since his doctors did not mention nutrition (other than advising him to avoid spicy foods), I could not convince him his super high carb intake was an issue. SO, pass along my regards to your father, together with my respect and admiration, for being open-minded and taking action.

    1. Thank you so much! It’s really frustrating how little a role nutrition plays in the advice most doctors give to their patients. Perhaps trying to change one thing at a time instead of going full on Prileo would make your father more receptive? For instance, make him a healthy dinner and let him have his Honey Nut breakfast and mac and cheese lunch. Then, after about a month, make the lunch and dinner healthy. Then, basically work your way up to him eating ‘real food’ at all meals. I actually just learned about this technique, called shaping, in my neuroscience class yesterday. It’s like taking baby steps towards changing another person’s behavior.

  46. Congratulations! Your story is very inspiring. I’ve been paleo for over two years now, but I’m starting to have similar menstrual issues to the ones you had. Subconsciously, I think of paleo as being a panacea, but I suppose it still can’t solve all our problems.
    It’s so wonderful that you’re going into medicine, too. I would feel so much more confident in my doctor if he or she were paleo, or at least understood the lifestyle.

  47. Janelle,
    Congrats on your Primal journey and your medical career. I have been Primal for 4 years and at age 53 have never felt better. My yearly labs one month ago showed a HS CRP of 0.00! I can attribute this to only one thing-my Primal lifestyle. As you probably have learned in Med School, inflammation is now felt to be at the root of many diseases from DM, HTN, CAD, CA not to mention general well being. I am also a physician but am an Orthopedist/Sports Medicine physician . I am very selective but passionate when I introduce patients to the Primal lifestyle. Successes stories are the norm! As a PCP you will be in a unique position to influence/educate patients on REAL health. As I’m sure you learned already, BS articles in the mass media (recent US News and World Report article on Paleo diet) are what patients see. Your job is to educate patients on sound science and let them know that the science-illiterates in
    the media and Washington DC are (to put it kindly) morons. Grok On!

    1. Oh wow, those are some excellent labs! Yeah, when I tell my classmates that I eat a Paleo diet, they often roll their eyes. But I know from reading the hundreds of success stories that it is a sustainable, healthy lifestyle with more benefits than one can count. I’m sure even your own patients who have heard you out about this lifestyle have seen less joint and/or muscle pain. It’s really amazing how much nutrition can affect every system of our bodies!

    2. My recent CRP was 0.03. I was shocked…and pleased. Grok on, indeed!

  48. Janelle,
    I waited until the end to post a comment, because as it turned out, just about everybody already said what I wanted to say. I am so very proud of you for sticking to your convictions, and not listening to CW, but to your own body for answers.

    I’m almost 70 years old and would love to have you as my doctor. Any chance you’ll move to Arizona???

    I love, love, love that last pic of you (Janelle – After) — you look SO absolutely confident and have that attitude that you are going to totally kick ass. Watch out world – Here. She. Comes!!!

    And I can’t comment enough on how happy I am that your beautiful family is on board, as well. All the very, very best to you – I know you’re going to be a success!

    1. Wow, thank you so much, Primal Grandma! Love that name; and I bet you’ve been making great strides in your Primal lifestyle too! It’s comments like yours that show what a great, supportive community this is. And it makes me want to stick to this lifestyle even more! And thanks for the comments about my last picture; I just realized that my glasses are slanted in it, oops lol.

  49. Wow, I definitely was not expecting such an amazing pour out of congratulations and well-wishes. This is an amazing community! I hope my story has inspired some of you, especially anyone battling PCOS. It’s a rather frustrating disease, but through a nuanced N=1 approach to this lifestyle, it becomes way more manageable.

  50. It’s so awesome that you’re going to be one of the informed doctors and truly help people! We need more doctors like you out there!

    And yes, the ever elusive six pack… that is also my “goal”, but just so I have something to work towards – I have found great health and feel wonderful, and it sounds like you have, as well!

    It’s so great that the family’s on board as well!

  51. For your painful periods etc try raspberry leaf tea. Halves the pain and the mess

    1. I’ll definitely try that. My last cycle, I tried parsley tea and while it resulted in no pain at all, it didn’t taste that palatable. So perhaps raspberry leaf tea will be better! Thanks!

  52. What a beautiful story! You look amazing. Keep up the amazing work and good luck with med school!

  53. Hi Janelle, great story and thank you for sharing!

    You mentioned wanting to get down to 16% body fat. Why are you aiming for that particular body fat percentage? Is there an optimal body fat percentage?

    1. That’s how low I had gotten last year before I started incorporating more carbs to help my type II PCOS. While the carbs have given me lots of energy, better sleep, a super regular cycle, and for some reason much better moods (probably from the serotonin), I have gained some body fat. So I’m currently trying to balance feeling great with also looking my best.

  54. Congratulations Janelle! You look healthy and happy. The world needs more doctors that actually understand the effect food has on the health on her patients!

  55. Then, it became the rule to get weighed at school. The teacher would announce everyone’s weight as they stepped off the scale.

    What the heck? Why? How is it the school’s business what kids weigh?

    1. Right? That was such a scarring experience. Even though I was years younger than my classmates, I was visibly bigger than and having everyone hear how much I actually weighed made it much worse.

  56. Yippee Yay !! ANOTHER PRIMAL DOC !! I’m glad you’re already teaching some classes to diabetic patients, and trying to help start classes in nutrition for med students. Maybe after you graduate, in addition to your practice you can teach classes in nutrition at some med school to help keep the ball rolling. Congratulations to you & your family, and we are thankful for you!

  57. Janelle,

    Thank you very much for your testimonial. As a 4th-year medical student (D.O. So I’m a “quack” ;), your story is particularly inspirational to me. As you know, it can be difficult to adhere to a paleo/Primal lifestyle during medical school – with the endless studying, long hospital shifts, and the resistance of our peers, who believe they have the answers (because they learned them in med school, of course!) Thus, one can feel quite socially isolated under these circumstances. However, your story gives me hope that we will continue to make headway in our profession, and that one CAN continue to live paleo/Primal (as much as possible) while pursuing a career in medicine. I frequently accuse medical students (and docs) of being very knowledgeable, but apparently lacking in wisdom – which is knowledge combined with judgement. All arrogance aside, you are a refreshing exception to my indictment, as you have demonstrated the ability to think for yourself/”outside the box”. Your hard work and persistence will pay dividends, now and in the future. BTW, you and your family look fantastic! Glad you feel and function likewise.

    1. Thank you so much! It is really hard to sit in classes that barely address nutrition and to hear conventional wisdom being taught to us, to then teach our patients. But I never shy away from educating people about the way I eat and exercise. I’m known as the health nut in my class, and I’ll take it. I just can’t wait to teach my own patients about the Paleo lifestyle and encourage them to take their healths into their own hands!

  58. This is great! I have PCOS as well and really struggle to lose even an ounce (nevermind that my motivation disappears at the drop of a hat.. sigh).
    But this was really inspirational. To know that maybe my PCOS symptoms would get better if I went a bit stricter with primal, it’s just what I needed to see.

    Anyway, congrats on your newly found health and so glad your family and friends are on board 🙂

    1. I have found that with PCOS, it truly is a N=1 experiment. Going strict Paleo/Primal gave me the fastest results, but tweaking to get rid of my final symptoms has been the most frustrating/enlightening. What works for one woman might not work for the next but definitely strict Paleo/Primal is the best way to start. Check out the Paleo for Women website if you have time. There’s some really great stuff there.

  59. Super story, and as someone who has paid the price for my doctors’ predilection for antibiotics instead of health, I am so pleased you’re going to be the exception to the medical machine we have in this country.

    You go, girl!

  60. Wow Janelle you and your family are powerhouses!!! So awesome!!!

  61. Congratulations! That’s awesome, and I think it probably makes being Primal a lot easier with the whole family coming around!

  62. Wow!! You look great, but what’s even better is that your whole family was willing to try it! You’re beautiful, it was great to read that your acne was healed–as a former sufferer, I know how wonderful it feels to finally escape that prison! Congratulations on graduating with honors from Yale–SUPER impressive!

    1. Thanks! Getting rid of my acne was by far the most amazing thing. I always thought I was going to be stuck on a constant rotation of topicals and antibiotics. But eating real food has fixed the unfixable!

  63. You rock I’m going to show you’re story to my wife and hope it sticks.

  64. Hey Janelle, I felt like I was reading my own life. I wasn’t severely overweight but controlled my life by small quanities of food as a teenager. 5’1″ and 110 pounds on a medium build didn’t look so good. Also like you developed depressing facial hair and gained weight. After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism I made excuses and felt lost. I found Paleo/Primal thanks to my doctor! I notice the reduced hair growth, weight loss is effortless and I have more energy than ever before. I think it’s wonderful you chose to be a doctor. You will deliver information to people who really need to know that eating differently can really change their life. I take no other medication other than my thyroid pill and that too will be gone soon. I truly don’t think I need it anymore. I wish I could convert my family like you did. I am watching every member pass away before my eyes because their choices led them to COPD, diabetes and severe obesity. Thanks for your inspirational story.

  65. Thanks for sharing your story! It’s always great seeing real life successes. One of true lifestyle changes is so important, rather than short term, quick fix crash diets.

  66. This is awesome. Great story. I’m only on day 11 of the 21 Day Challenge and I already feel amazing. I can’t wait to make it a lifestyle. Even tho i’m still tempted sometimes, this will work for me! Thanks for sharing your story!

  67. Great testimony! Mark and family; Does anyone know if there is a list of primary care doctors one could choose from that advocates the Primal/Paleo lifestyle?

    I live in Connecticut and recently my Doctor is from the “traditional old school” and I think i want to “move on”!

  68. Thank you for the reminder that this is not about numbers. This is a whole-health life style. Occasionally I let numbers trip me up, but I am learning to go more by how I feel in relation to my body, and how my body itself feels in relation to the foods I eat. I have had to go to the extreme of following the FODMAPS regimen because my system is so sensitive. But since I first embarked 10 months ago, I’ve learned so much – including that fact that health is not in my poundage but in my power! Keep on keeping on, doctor! We need you out there!