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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 19 2012

Finally, I Am Me

By Guest
154 Comments

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!

Last September marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of my Primal Journey. It’s been a life changing year for me and my family. I finally feel ready to tell my story. So here we go…

I can honestly, whole-heartedly say that my whole life, I felt like I was way off course. I am smart, athletic, was always successful in school, came from a good family, knew my career choice (teacher) at a young age and was passionate about everything I did. Despite my “normal” life, I struggled deeply with anxiety as long as I can remember. I never felt normal, or like I could handle anything. The slightest bit of stress sent me into a life or death reaction. I honestly thought I was crazy, but I knew deep down that this wasn’t how I was supposed to be living my life. This wasn’t ok. I knew that for sure.

I was in constant pursuit of changing my outlook on life, but I just couldn’t make it happen. My anxiety spiraled out of control in my mid-twenties and I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My doctor suggested I go on Cipralex, a medication for anxiety and depression. It helped with my mood and I guess life went on, but the anxiety was always lurking in the background and it never felt right being on medication. My husband and I decided to have a baby, so I went off my anxiety medication. The anxiety symptoms returned full force and I was once again feeling out of control. I continued to try and manage it as we added a second beautiful child to our family, but I generally could not keep myself together. It was a tough couple of years. I was unhappy, moody, lost and felt completely alone.

On top of my ever present anxiety and all the other struggles that came with it (weight gain, strain on relationships, lack of sleep, isolation, depression) I was quickly developing horrible digestion issues and felt sick to my stomach after every meal. I had knee pain, back pain, bad seasonal allergies, acne, tendinitis, constant migraines, I was tired all the time, but suffered from insomnia for many years. I felt like I was falling apart and I was only 29. I was really struggling with my weight, which had been creeping up slowly since high school despite being involved in many sports, and eating “very healthy” according to the Canada Food guide. When I say healthy, I mean, “egg whites-whole grain bread-brown rice-oatmeal-no fat yogurt-no fat cottage cheese healthy.” We thought we were very aware of our diets, but I just couldn’t keep a healthy body composition. I was baffled. What was I doing wrong? I was at my worst when I should have been at my prime.

Finally, June 2011, I saw a naturopath who recommended that I give up Gluten and Dairy. I think I actually laughed at them. I thought in my head, there’s no way I could EVER do that. Coincidentally, soon afterward, I started talking to an Ultimate Frisbee friend who ate Primal (I know! Ultimate players know best!). He started talking about inflammation, omega 3-6 ratio, etc… To be honest, I was a bit lost in the whole conversation, but the simplicity of what he ate intrigued me. He told me about your site, I wrote it down on a napkin and checked you out the second I got home. I was hooked immediately! I bought The Primal Blueprint and The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and started my research. I downloaded your fitness ebook, bought a few cookbooks, read every article I could cram in my brain and dove right in!

Exactly a year ago, I told my husband we were changing our lives and going Primal. He was amazing and 100% supportive from the start (despite his love for sandwiches, crackers, cereal and other high-carb fillers). We went cold turkey (ummmmm!) and our kids are Primal too. A month in I started seeing the changes…changes I didn’t even know I needed! I began to sleep better, wake up refreshed and maintain that energy throughout the day – it was incredible! A few more months went by and my acne disappeared, my knee pain, back pain, tendinitis and allergies were gone. The debilitating migraines that I was suffering from on a sometimes daily basis ceased. I lost 40 lbs and who knows how many inches, gained muscle and leaned out. My husband tells people I look like I did when he met me at 19. I feel younger and am so energetic. I am in the best shape of my life! And the most phenomenal benefit of Primal for me has been the complete change in my anxiety. I no longer feel like I am out of control. No more panic attacks, breakdowns, or feeling sorry for myself. The symptoms of GAD are non-existent. I finally feel like I am living my life the way I should be. I am a better mother, a better wife, a better teacher, a better Me. I am Me. I am truly happy. Finally. I have never been able to say that.

Primal living has changed my life and this passion could not be contained. People were asking me what I had been doing so often, I decided to start running Primal Information and Cooking workshops in my community. I am a full time teacher and love Primal, so I thought I’d combine the two. It has been a great success and I have inspired many people in my community to take control of their health. This past year has been amazing. I feel like I am just beginning. Thanks for all your amazing inspiration, Mark. I can’t wait to see what I can do next!

Nikki

P.S. I am looking forward to taking a Primal Blueprint Certification course through Mark’s Daily Apple…hoping you have one in the works…wink wink.

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154 thoughts on “Finally, I Am Me”

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  1. Way to go! Your story is similar to mine (and so many others, it seems). I always felt like something just wasn’t quite right. Now, I’m switched on and ready to go all the time. You look so content and at peace in your own skin. All the best for the future! I’m 5 months primal and can’t wait to see what the next 7 months bring for me. – a fellow Canuck

      1. Holly cow girl! Your story just dropped my jaw!

        Although I have never been a huge person… I did struggle to lose the weight after my first child.

        I now know that it was the serious malnutrition that kept me fat and was the foundational cause of post natal depression. Girl, I relate!

        I have just recently decided to eat paleo… and raw besides cooking my meet.

        Like you, I keep wondering when am I finally going to be happy with the life I’m living? Thanks for sharing your amazing story. It’s so beautiful, you are beautiful.

        Love Madelain
        p.s. is that your veggie garden… totally jealous! can’t wait to keep my own organic garden.

    1. “Finally, I am Me.”
      I just printed off your success story in hope that it will constantly be a reminder to me that things can actually get better.
      I’ve been keto for 6 months and primal for about a year. Although I keep falling off the wagon every 4-6 weeks everytime I get really low or weak.
      Keto has helped with ups and downs in blood sugar (and increased energy for workouts) but I don’t feel that it has cured my depression. PS I’ve been depressed/anxious/OCD/(whatever you wanna call it) since childhood.
      I am disappointed that keto was not the “cure” for me but it’s hard to tell if I’ve been doing it correctly…my next option is to try fasting for minimum 24hrs to 3 day fast to aid in weight loss and mental function. ( I already weight train, try relaxation techniques, have reduced my work load, I could sprint more often, have a great support network and have goals for my future…that’s why I am so annoyed at the fact that I am not better)
      Wishing, Hoping, Dreaming, Praying that fasting will be ‘a part’ of the answer for me.
      Anyone else with a mental health success story?

  2. Wonderful story, I am so happy for you and your family! What stands out to me is how much your outlook on life has been affected in a positive way, not to mention your rockin’ bod!

  3. This is just one of the best Friday stories I’ve read so far. Your story has elements that anyone and everyone can relate to and your transformation is inspiring. I love it! Congratulations to your entire family.

    1. Thank you so much! I am overwhelmed by the response. The Primal community is so AMAZING!

      1. Your story sounds so similar to mine I felt like I was reading my own story! The anxiety… my goodness I’m so grateful it’s gone! 🙂

    2. I am overwhelmed by the response. The Primal community is so AMAZING!

  4. Wow, the after pictures look incredible. What a transformation! I recently looked at a picture of myself from a year ago and I can’t believe how bad I looked before I dropped 35 pounds.

    It’s tough to believe that our diet can affect our brain so much and cause problems like anxiety. I’m glad that primal was able to help her solve all her problems.

  5. Your story is awesome. Anxiety sucks and it’s so demoralizing to suffer in silence, feeling broken when comparing yourself to those around you. I found that when switching to Primal, the increased consumption of fats helped soothed anxiety.

  6. Congratulations! Fabulous story! Thank you so much for sharing. The world needs to hear more stories like yours. Kudos also for educating your community and sharing your new passion for life and health. Warm wishes to you and your beautiful family. 🙂

  7. Wow. Great story Nikki. You look great, happy and the “former” you looks like a stranger relative to the new you. Amazing what “real” food can do for a person!

  8. This is such a beautiful story. I am soooo happy for you and your husband. Each of these Friday stories sound so much the same, but each one is utterly unique and empowering. Yours is truly beautiful. You’re now super hot, got some rockin’ abs, and your outlook and emotional health looks like they might have improved more than your body.

    What is always so great with getting control of one’s nutrition is all the other benefits that come along with it that one never even knew were problems associated with nutrition to begin with. And your story just beautifully highlights that facet.

    Congratulations, and enjoy your new life!

  9. Loved your story. You are an amazing inspiration. I am 3 months in today (I have the 90 day mark circled on my calendar). It was so easy to make it this far. 25 pounds down and counting. I can’t believe how far I’ve come especially since everything else I’ve ever tried did not work. Seeing the transformation is just another push for me to be the best I can be as a primal woman. Best of luck to you and your family!

    GROCK on and Carry on!

  10. Congratulations, Nikki! The difference in is remarkable. I’ve read before about diminished anxiety on primal which is truly an amazing and not-so-well recognized benefit. But for those who suffer from it, lessening the anxiety is huge! I, too, am looking forward to hearing more about the certification process. 😉 Good luck!

  11. Way to take charge of your health, and it’s great you’re helping other people find their way as well. You’re also doing your kids an amazing service by modeling for them the primal lifestyle while they’re so young.

  12. Wow, amazing story. I know everyone wants to look great and all (which btw you do), but whats really inspiring is how much better you feel! Pretty cool that your running those workshops, keep it up.

    How did you do going cold turkey? Personally I’m a fan of that approach, but how did it work for you?

    1. For me personally, cold turkey was the only way. I do things %100…that’s my personality, and I saw results quicker, and started feeling great pretty quickly, so that made it easier to stay committed and make it my family’s lifestyle. Not everyone is like this, I know and it gets tricky with kids involved, but mine are young, so they didn’t really know the difference.

  13. Holy WOW! Great story. Congratulations on your success and how you’re helping others. I’m always so happy when the next generation “gets it”.

  14. FanTAStic, and way to go on making it a whole family endeavor. My wife and kids aren’t there, and that’s hard for me. Congratulations.

    1. It’s definitely more of a challenge with kids, but mine were young. It was also almost more important for me to get it right because of them. Just lead by example with them, and stay positive!

  15. Congrats! So wonderful that you discovered the primal lifestyle at young age. Your kids don’t know it now but you have given them a precious gift – your health and their future well-being.

  16. Congratulations, Nikki! You look fantastic. What are you doing in the way of exercise?

    1. I have a gym membership, which isn’t really necessary, but I enjoy getting out and getting that break from the kids. BUT, I could realistically only make time to get there once a week, SOMETIMES twice. The key for my fitness was Mark’s fitness ebook. (The link is in my story). It was so simple, natural, and easy to use, but versatile at the same time. I never got bored of it. I did that workout at the gym, once a week. I added some new stuff here and there (free weights, skipping for warm up, etc) to get the most out of my time there too. I also play Ultimate once a week over the summer. But, honestly, no cronic cardio. I get out an walk with the family, hiking, and am always actively playing with my children. I am also a Kindergarten teacher, so I am constantly on the move during the day.

  17. This is great stuff, thanks for sharing your story Nikki! How has going Primal affected your husband (wieght, health, etc.) and what was your workout routine during the past year?

    1. My Husband noticed the most improvements in his energy level. He toned out even more than he already was, and started to see more muscle without working out. I explained above what my workout routine was. Nothing hardcore, once a week, or whenever I could fit it in. Basically used Mark’s fitness ebook, and ultimate frisbee. BEST SPORT EVER (well, hockey is pretty close!).

  18. Always nice to see a story of someone else who dropped anxiety after going primal. I think that may be the greatest thing about the lifestyle, far more impressive than weight loss alone!

  19. Man, you must be an AWESOME inspiration in your community! I love this, totally relate: “…changes I didn’t even know I needed” That’s the best thing of all, I think, is discovering all the stuff you didn’t even know you were putting up with.

  20. What an awe inspiring story! I am now going to model myself after your story. I’m so excited for you (and me, modeling myself after you). 😉

  21. Wow, how great that you got life back in spades, and a new calling, too! It’s great to be healthier and have energy–I second that!

  22. Great stuff Nikki. Wonderful story and transformation. It’s not easy getting the whole family to go primal. And awesome that you are spreading the word!

  23. Sooo proud of you Nikki! Thanks for all the support everyone. answering a q, I’ve always been lean, but have noticed some further toning even, and the energy for family life is infinite now! Piggy back hikes and dance parties in the living room, bring it all on!

  24. Awesome transformation!! It never ceases to amaze me just how profound the benefits are of a Primal lifestyle. For me, it’s increased creativity as well as everything else. Keep it up, chick!! The gift you are giving your entire family is priceless.

  25. As a fellow Ultimate Frisbee player of Nikki’s I can vouch for the amazing transformation she has gone through. Nikki you are an awesome woman, wife, mother…& ultimate player . I am glad you told your story, it brought tears to my eyes.

  26. Nikki, I got teary reading this. I have had similar symptoms for much of my adult life (I’m 44, and a former ultimate player) – anxiety, depression, acne, bloating, lack of energy, belly fat (that I thought was genetic), although not overweight. I’ve now been gluten free for about 3 months but not 100% primal.. I feel so much better than I did, but you’ve inspired me to go all the way primal (no more corn tortillas…). Thank you so much for your inspiration!!

    1. Awesome! What an amazing experience this has been for me. If I can do it, you can do it! To inspire others is an amazing feeling. WOW!

  27. congrats on the anxiety cessation! how weird it is to wake up one day and say to yourself, “woah, i’m not panicking like i normally do.”

    1. I know you are married and all but hot hot hot.
      Shame on me. Blessings on you. Well done!

  28. What a great testimonial, Nikki! These commenters are correct; the change you’ve made in your life and your family’s IS inspiring, and IS moving others in your community to better their own health, and the health of their families. Thank you for everything you’ve done….Madame 🙂 .

    1. Your story is next Madame. I can’t wait to see the inspiration you will give. Xoxo!

  29. What a transformation of body and mind!

    I understand completely, I have always been wound up and anxious, it’s been a struggle my whole life. I realize now that our mental health begins and largely flows from our physical health. The mind follows the body.

    What you described here strikes me as perhaps the greatest success one can realize in life. Finding the path that frees one from self-limiting unconscious behaviors and opens up one’s full potential, the freedom to be the unfettered and dynamic person within. It’s the ultimate self realization.

    Congratulations on your breakthrough!

  30. great story! I’m curious how your children took to being primal? I’m and undecided about having my two eat primal along with me. Thank you for your story, I am happy that the anxiety is not with you now.

    1. They are young, 3 and 1, and we are expecting our third, so it was an easier adjustment for them then children who are set in their ways. But, that is almost more the reason to steer them towards a healthier lifestyle. Lead by positive example. That’s the best thing you can do. I offered delicious, healthy meals and they came around eventually.

  31. I loved your story! I have not had wonderful success yet with the fat loss (still working on that..) but have CURED my anxiety and depression. I wish more people knew that there was a better way than either dealing with it or going on meds.

    1. Hang in there Amy, health is wealth. Weightloss is highly variable, we are not all clones. Nikki has found such wonderful peace that allows her to truly enjoy life, it’s a gem we should all be looking for, with body shape being a side benefit.
      On my journey, I started by giving up sugar, and although I didn’t lose any weight during that phase, I was euphoric, I couldn’t believe the elevation of my mood, and I didn’t think I was glum! It motivated me to keep searching to find Primal living. In my case I think I am slowly accepting I will never be thin (never have), but I will be well, and enjoying life. I’ve lost 13 kgs, put 1 on and stopped, but I will never change from this lifestyle now, I’m home, and you will be too.
      Cheers

  32. Your story is so inspiring. You are so brave to share such a personal account of your life. It is stories like these, and people brave enough to tell them, that are instrumental in changing people’s lives. Congrats! Keep inspiring everyone!

    1. Thanks Shay! People have to be more open about anxiety and depression. I know from experience that when others opened up about it to me, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone. I knew deep down it was important that I sent my story in…and support from family and Best Friends was important too. 🙂

  33. COngrats! And I love the title of your story. After all it is what we all really want: to look at our reflection of photograph and see that it shows who we are inside!!!

  34. Great story. I have gone through much of what you describe (educator, ‘successful’,active, anxiety, aching joints [Ialso had GERD, OA],etc. I have found, on-the-job as a curriclum developer, MDA and most if not all the written material related to paleo/ primal diets and disease. My work in the last few years involved researching about cancer and chronic disease preventon and nutrition. As I learned more, I decided 1.5 years ago to eliminate grains, legumes, etc. We already had mostly a local-product diet, but I had huge cravings for bread and any form of carbohydrate that would give a fast, high energy boost, especially at the end of the work day.

    So I became a pretty good baker, using unbleached white flour sparingly and experimenting with recipes using whole grains…eating a lot of it, aches, pains, GERD, etc., and then more cravings, etc. a continuous cycle.

    Back to my research…when I decided to quit grains for good – it was a Sunday -two days later (Tuesday), I had no more aches and pains, no more GERD, no more cravings for anything, and so on.

    Reading your story, although there are decades of age between us, inspires me to keep on the journey to wellness (fructose is a problem for me). I am so happy that a young family like yours has found this lifeway.
    Aili- a fellow Canuck:)

  35. Nikki, I am so very happy for your success! I volunteer for a search and rescue team and heard about Mark’s Daily Apple. As soon as my husband and I checked out the website, we changed, in April of this year and cold turkey. Although we have just now located where to find free range meat and have an order in for that. I have noticed a difference in my health, but not in my weight. We are active and have incorporated a lot of the physical aspect of Primal into our daily lives and although I try not to get discouraged, I am stuck with the weight aspect. Sooo, I would like to know what your daily food consumption looks like.

    1. Three good meals a day, a good quality protein, the rest of the plate veggies. We don’t really fuss over it really. (Portions, I mean) I eat until I am full at meals, and this got easier as our Journey unfolded. We just focused on eating real, Primal unprocessed food. I didn’t really pay attention to amount of food. It just felt so natural to us, we didn’t have to monitor it…AND WHO WOULD WANT TO! It would have drove me nuts! But, to each is own.

  36. This is one of the best Friday success stories I’ve read. I love how all the things we would never equate with diet end up being resolved when we go primal. I am so happy for you and your family that your anxiety problems have disappeared — that is huge. : )

    Keep up the good work, and I will keep trying on my end, too.

  37. Congratulations! I am only 12 days into this primal way of eating/living, so it’s very encouraging to read a story as this! Thanks

  38. What an amazing journey! You have an absolutely beautiful family, and you are all definitely glowing in the last pic!

  39. Great story Nikki, well done on the changes you have made for yourself and your family. I have suffered anxiety for some 15 years now and have been eating mostly primal since February. I have lost weight, gained energy and changed body shape but I still get some panick and still getting PMS in a bad way, mostly as mood swings and anxiety/ depression. Just wondering if you stayed off the dairy and what does your diet look like? Do you follow the primal fitness plan? I am only walking, not doing much heavy lifting, besides two young children anyway. I do love butter and cream and don’t get gut problems from dairy. Would love some advice.

    1. I did avoid dairy for the most part. I just felt better when I did. I love cream in my coffee once in awhile, and I love my ice cream, so I would indulge when I wanted to. Again, our diet is pretty simple, in a delicious way! Real, unprocessed Primal food, good quality protein, lots of veggies, good fats…delicious eggs from our chickens…there are so many amazing cookbooks and websites out there, (as you must know because you are onMarks!) with delicious Primal and Paleo recipes. The possibilities are endless.

    2. Shell,
      I just finished reading the mood cure by Julia Ross and felt it answered a lot of my mood questions. Diet and basic supplements are critical, but the book help to explain how unique we all are and that some of certain eel better by adding specific amino acids. I can simpathize with your complaints. It’s very frustrating to feel sad for no reason and feel you just aren’t trying hard enough to be upbeat or see the positive side of things. Best of luck!

  40. Sooo happy for you and your family! It is transformations like yours — health, happiness, mental health, fitness — that will continue to inspire so many others. I am surely not the only one who will be sending this link to many friends and acquaintances.

  41. Always enjoy the success stories, but please emphasize that they need to test for celiac. At least get the kids tested. Dangerous stuff, glluten.

  42. Congrats on your successful lifestyle change and beating the anxiety! You look amazing and I especially love the photos of you with your family. 🙂

  43. This is such an awesome story! I’m 100% primal and i’ve been trying to get my wife to get on it as well. She suffers from some of the same symptoms but hasn’t taken the plunge. Hopefully one day she will… 🙂

  44. I love your story Nikki. I can identify 100%. I hope to be where you are soon (went primal this summer but have had some set backs). Stories like your’s is just what I need. Thank you:-)

  45. You look and sound so awesome and more than anything so HAPPY! I too love the title of your story. You have given your children their real mother and a healthy lifestyle – the best gift of all. I too echo the surprise resolution of problems we didn’t even know we had. I am 54 and the other day my son said that last year I was starting to look old, and this year (9 months 80% primal) I look young again. That’s good enough for me! Next thing is to get that 100% primal happening – I could end up 21 again! Congratulations Nikki……from the other side of the world in Oz.

  46. Amazingly inspiring! Thanks for sharing! I am curious- have you completely cut out dairy now? You seem to have lost so much of the bloat- I am primal a year now and still struggling with that. I’m thinking that may be the key- appreciate your feedback and way to go!!

  47. Nikki, Your dad & I never really understood this “Primal thing” until we saw with our own eyes the wonderful transformation you have experienced. We always supported everything you have accomplished but this is the “Ultimate”. Always very proud of you.

  48. I had no idea that this PB stuff was going to help so much with my anxiety problems when I started, but it has done wonders. When reading your story, it sounded so much like my own I actually started to cry! I still have my moments, but they are much less severe, and a lot less often. I wanted to congratulate you on your success 🙂 You are doing your family right – not only in teaching them to eat for optimum health, but sparing them all the fun that people living with an anxiety ridden mom get to endure :-/ I wish I had found it sooner….

  49. wow what a great story! congrats! you have a beautiful family 🙂

  50. My family and I have been primal for 3 months. I am “using” cream and a bit too much 72% dark chocolate, but even these cravings are starting to fade quite a bit. I have a long way to go and I just want to say how great your story is, especially about the mental health side of it and how much I am hoping to be able to write my story up here in 18 months or so!

    1. Have you tried 85%? I find that’s satisfying with less. Alter Eco’s Blackout is my favorite–really smooth and a little bit fruity.

      1. Amazing story. You look beautiful and happy!
        I have been primal for 5 months, but struggeling with giving up milk, especially in coffee. Everytime I do though, I feel much better, loose weight, better skin, happier and so on. This morning I had coconut milk (Aroy-D) in my coffee, and it tastes surprisingly good.

        Anyway, back to the chocolate problem: I mix coconutoil, honey, lots of cocoa powder, and roasted haselnuts and eat it just like that or as a desert on a banana. I don’t have it often, just once or twice a month (if even).

  51. Congrats on finally being in control of your anxiety. When I went primal a year ago, I took my family with me. My then 5yo son was always so filled with anxiety about trying anything new, doing school work, etc. I was so surprise and happy to see the changes in him. He is now able to enter new, unfamiliar situations with no stress. He sits down to read or do math without crying about how much his stomach hurts. It was a benefit I didn’t expect, but it’s almost the best one we’ve seen.

  52. Love your story. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s so great that you are getting other people to take notice and sign up. When people ask me how I lost weight and I explain that I gave up grain and sugar their eyes glaze over. I have not been able to convert one person! Sucks for them! Go Nikki!

  53. Awesome story! This really is why we all do it – to live the life we were meant to for ourselves and our families.

    So many people suffer these symptoms (I was also one of them!) and I applaud your efforts to get the Truth out there and help others. I’ve been trying to find ways to that in my own community.

    Well done and Grok On!

  54. I can relate to your story so much! I’m only 2 months in and have felt such a change in my emotional well being!
    I’d love to hear how/where you teach your Primal classes! Community Ed?
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  55. Nikki. You are a badass. That was a great and inspiring story. Well done.

  56. Way to go Nikki! I am so happy for you and your story is so inspirational! My husband and I went ‘fully’ primal about a year ago; and I too had suffered from serious anxiety (panic attacks, extreme moments of highs and lows, etc.) and the primal diet has changed everything! I no longer even take Ibuprofen (don’t ever feel like I “need” it anyways), and now if I seem to be lacking or needing something, I look to the diet and how I can improve or focus on something specific (e.g., extra wild salmon or eggs from grass-fed chickens to help with sore muscles).
    You should be so proud of yourself!!! Thank you for sharing your story!

  57. Ps. We had our cat go primal too. Before, our friends and family would say he was pretty aggressive, would bite, and be kind of moody. Being primal for him, he is more moderate, less tempermental, and just seems happier overall :D.

    1. I got a puppy from a shelter and within the first three months, she had two serious urinary tract infections. After research on the web, I learned some dogs were just prone to these infections. What did I get myself into? Anyway, I switched to grain-free dog food and there have been no UTIs since. Alleluia.

  58. Great Story! I just turned 30 and have been struggling with anxiety/depression all my life (but it really hit hard in my later 20’s). I am pregnant with my 6th child and because of the first trimester yuck I felt I gave up on primal. But that was the wrong choice. I am now 100%primal and hoping to still feel the benefits of this lifestyle despite starting mid-pregnancy (22 weeks now). Your story really inspired me. Thanks so much for sharing. Do you have a blog?

  59. Nikki, your story is amazing and truly inspirational. I’ve been attempting and failing at going Primal for the past year. It’s stories like yours that make me want to really commit to making a change in my life.

    (Now a side note: You may want to try and see if you can’t break your little ones of the thumb-sucking habit early on. I’m currently undergoing therapy to fix years and years of damage that such a habit caused, including horrible mouth breathing and a narrow palate. I don’t mean to be a pain in the rear. I’m just commenting as someone who wishes they didn’t have to undergo the pain of fixing this right now. 🙂 ) (Also: your little ones are adorable.)

  60. The symptoms you describe including the anxiety and the recovery on the primal diet all point strongly toward Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. It is a real condition (I’ve got it and seen a world class specialist) and removing gluten is the cure. Enjoy your health and good for you!

    1. It took my going primal 6 weeks ago to realize that I had a gluten problem; Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity sounds like exactly the right label. I quit having migraines as soon as I stopped eating grains, period; I’d had migraines on a weekly (or more often) basis for decades. I’ve seen a real reduction in anxiety and depression too, plus a huge decline in joint inflammation too.

      Grains; who needs ’em? Not me!

  61. What do you do if you didn’t get anxiety till AFTER going paleo? Ugh! Loved your story and wish for the same results one day. I’m 100% paleo right now (no fruit, grains, sweetners, dairy, etc) and still not kicking the anxiety that I didn’t get till starting my weight loss/paleo journey.

  62. Did I write this? Seriously, I could have written this story. I’m still at the beginning stages of being primal but I hope that one day I have the success that you’ve had.

  63. Nikki, I love the pic of you with the carrots! You are so joy-filled in it. Congratulations on this marvelous transformation. You and you family will be so blessed with good health for many years to come. As an educator you know the importance of modeling. Your story has inspired me to get serious about going primal. Thank you for sharing your story.

  64. Hi Nikki, your story is inspiring, thank you so much for sharing it xx

  65. How lucky are your kid’s!!!! You are a true inspiration Nikki….. I can relate on so many levels. I have gone paleo as a result of trying to combat systemic candida. The symptoms are the same as what you described. You look far younger than your years. Pictures don’t lie and your’s are one heck of an endorsement to going Primal! Wishing you much success in leading others to a more healthy lifestyle. Way to go!!!!!

  66. This one really resonated with me. I have been doing Primal for over 3 years now, but I’m not a super-amazing success story because I was already healthy to begin with. Primal was how I stopped myself from slowly gaining weight as I got older, but there were some other lingering issues that I didn’t realize really needed to be solved.

    I’m emotional, and recently my husband started to suspect that I was borderline depressed. We both went strict Paleo for a month, and I was amazed at how much of a difference it made in my overall sense of well-being. After my challenge ended, I went back to the occasional cheat and found that my mood plummeted. Now I’m doing another challenge, but when this is done, I have the Paleo Indulgences book to still give me the occasional treat. I made some cookies just before starting my challenge, and my husband actually LOVED them.

    I also discovered my inner athlete. I work out with a trainer who focuses entirely on Primal fitness (complete with Primal Blueprint posters) and go only once a week. Other workouts are spent either with the Navy command, doing sprints, or doing time trials, and throwing in the occasional race because apparently I actually like running. Who knew?

    The ability to get up and go is the best thing about being Primal, hands down!

  67. Congratulations to you and your family!
    At around 4 months into my Primal life my husband began constantly asking what was wrong with me. I didn’t think anything was wrong with me and then I realized how ‘even’ I felt inside.
    No more jittery emotional outbursts, no more crying at the drop of a hat, no more freaking out over little things.
    I feel more ‘solid’ inside my body and mind.
    It’s hard to explain, but I feel in control of everything in my life now.
    Mark and Primal living have changed every single aspect of how I live, think, and feel!
    Thank you again for sharing your inspiring story.

  68. Did you eliminate refined carbohydrates such as all refined sugars, white flour and high fructose corn syrup? Did you abandon all processed foods? Did you refrain from eating dairy products? If so, those dietary alterations contributed more to your weight loss, elimination of headaches and anxiety issues than meat consumption. Do these tests: consume the same amounts of animal protein but add the bad carbs and non-primal approved dairy products back. See if your symptoms don’t return. Next, cut out all the bad carbs and dairy but skip the meat as well. Did the headaches, excess weight and anxiety issues stay away also?

  69. Great story, Nikki! I’ve done paleo on and off, and right now have fallen off the wagon… but your story is very inspirational: I have issues with anxiety and depression, and it would be lovely if those things went away! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  70. Wow, what a wonderful story and transformation – all in one year! Congratulations! I’ve been Primal for 3 1/2 months, have lost 21 lbs and feel so much better! Unfortunately, my allergies have NOT subsided and I’m in the middle of an allergy crisis right now. After 2 months my doc took me off the blood pressure meds I had been taking for 15 years! Yay Mark and yay Nikki!

  71. Wow Nikki! I love to read these transformation stories, especially ones I can relate to and yours struck a cord. You look so fantastic and it’s really inspiring. I am curious what your course outline looks like for the community? I agree – primal certification would be interesting. I’d love to see a post on this subject. Again, nice work and thank you for the inspiration.

    1. I have basically gathered all the best information on the lifestyle over the past year of my life (on all the major topics, resources, tips, etc). It’s honestly been a years worth of in depth research from the experts, like Mark, and created a mini-course to get people thinking, or to get them started in the right direction. I have a bit of experience with the lesson planning and organization because of my Education background. I then follow this Part 1 with a Part 2 cooking course. The cooking courses are constantly changing, as I am getting requests for specific ones (breakfast, lunch, etc) and the possibilities are endless. As of right now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I love it!

  72. Very Very inspiring, thanks for posting this! You really shine!

  73. I am Nikki’s uncle and I am very happy and proud of her changes she made in her life. I also started eating Primal around the same time and at 51 look better than at any time in my life. I’m trying to get the rest of the family on board.

  74. There is no better certification than your before and after pictures: hang them proudly in the living room …

    People will use it as a standard:

    They will say:
    I am 1/2 Nikky (good!)
    I am 0.9 Nikky (terrific!)

  75. I saw a you tube vid mark posted and somehow ended up here a few clicks later. I’m 28 and feel just like this teacher before going primal. I have always been pretty , skinny, active/athlete , but since having my child in 2004, I’ve had major blood sugar highs and lows, always “bonking” if I didn’t eat every 2 hours. Major mood swings, I felt lost and crazy. I could never gain weight ever but all of a sudden this year I have gained 20 lbs I. The past few months even though I’m actually more active. I suspect thyroid , but anyway at 5’4 and 120 lbs I now am having gum problems, constant depression for no reason, acne, I skip menstrual cycles 2-3 months at a time.

    I pray this is my answer. Ordering book. Ill post an update in one month. Feel free to message me, I would LOVE some primal friends.

    1. This is it Amber! It will change your life. Can’t wait to read about your update.

  76. Oh my Goodness, Gracious!!!! You are 100% hot chick, Nikki! I have been going through something similar doing my own trial and error version of low carb (with great results, but some ups and downs and confusion), but it wasn’t until I discovered this website that I started to get a clue and also the confidence I needed to go all the way with this lifestyle. Most women I know look like your before pictures, and that’s how I used to look, too. Everyone is so sick to death of dieting and health issues – the word really needs to be spread. Your transformation looks absolutely amazing, and to hear how much better you feel is also very inspiring. You look like you could be an actress! Wow.

  77. Very inspiring – thank you for sharing and congratulations on your entire lifestyle shift. I am in the early stages of making this shift. I think I am in the middle of the flu-like low carb/zero carb withdrawal. Also reading Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat” which is amazing. Appreciative of the personal stories like yours where folks follow the suggestions and get the results – and get their lives back.

    Best,
    Scott

  78. Very similar to my journey as well. People ask, “what did you do?”. When I tell them specifically they zone out and don’t listen. As simple as it is, they don’t want to change. So frustrating.

    Congrats on your new life

  79. Sorry about that Andi… 🙁 Hope you keep trying though. My grandma sounds like she really wants to try it after only a week ago being concerned that I was skinny because I was sick! (Haven’t seen her for about a year and went PB since then).

    Thanks for talking about the anxiety! I have had recurrent depression and OCD since I was a child… PB seems to be helping though! I had too sodas today (special sodas from a drive-in in a particular place I don’t often get to visit ;)) and could definitely tell I was mood affected! Crabby and depressed!

  80. What an amazing body transformation! Congrats! I work with people everyday on a very similar mission and it’s nice to read about people finding success the right way!

    Thanks for sharing!

  81. This is the first primal success story that I’ve ever commented on, and I just have to say that I’m wowed. I face a lot of similarities. I’m sort of athletic, not super overweight, but I have some extra unwanted flab that wasn’t there when I was younger, I’m a teacher, I suffer from terrible anxiety issues, etc. Your story was so inspiring to me, and you look fantastic!

  82. Thanks for sharing Nikki! I have been on a road trip and not eating my normal primal way and I can’t believe how fast my body reverts back to all of its old issues. Thanks for inspiring me to get back on the wagon!

  83. Nikki, you rock! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You are glowing in all of your pictures! What an amazing transformation. What a pleasure it is to read stories of awakening like yours – grok on!!!

  84. Nikki, can you give me more info on your primal class? I am very interested

  85. Pre-primal I also suffered some knee pain, an after-effect of some reckless play and injuries (high drops for thrills aren’t a good idea). It was basically like arthritis and my knees cracked all the time. Ever since the switch my knees have been steadily improving. I get the odd ache and they crack if I squat the wrong the way or put too much pressure on them but the difference is amazing. I’m no longer worried about ending up essentially crippled from my old injuries.

  86. WOW! Congratulations. Well done you for using your teaching skills to help others go primal. You are an asset to the primal movement.

  87. Agri-corps & the loathsome government bureaucrats who they bribe to pass laws for them are having fits trying to figure a way to ban people from this diet.
    Not only will the sales of these damaging foods be reduced, but so will the demand for pharma drugs that treat so many due to eating the garbage that we’ve been told is great for us.

  88. Your story was amazing. You said that you went cold turkey… how did you flip the switch with your cooking so quickly? What types of meals did you start off with, to get yourself on the right path? I have a hard time thinking up creative meals (including packed lunches and quick dinners) for every day, and I need to be able to do this in order to keep my boyfriend happy and interested in this lifestyle.

    1. I went for it %100, and meal planned a whole months worth of meals (breakfasts, lunches and dinners for my family) that’s just my personality. (Most paleo and primal cookbooks ahve meal plans in them) That’s how I started. Now that I have the hang of it, I meal plan by week. There are some great cookbooks out there, and they have meal plans at the back, and Mark has some great posts about meal planning sites too if you can’t do it yourself. I use the slow cooker a lot (3 times a week) , with my young children, it is great having dinner ready when I come home. We eat leftovers for lunch often times, and when I cook, I cook two meals at once, so I am always a meal ahead and prepared. This REALLY helps. Now it’s just second nature to me to be making lunch and breakfasts at the same time. I am always planning ahead, cooking chicken breasts for Wednesdays cold lunch salad, or peeling and shredding a sweet potato for Tuesdays breakfast hash, etc. I guess I do spend more time in the kitchen, but that’s life, and my kids are so involved in it. They love cooking, and know exactly what they are eating.

  89. What an inspiring story – I got teary at the end seeing the picture of your beautiful family, and the true happiness gleaming from your eyes. Congratulations!

  90. I’m inspired. I start my research here and a new start tomorrow. Thank you for sharing Nikki and Mark

  91. I burst into tears after reading your story… Congratulations to you and your family!

  92. Your beautiful story made me cry. It totally energized me to get back to living Primal. Thank you. I was feeling sorry for myself there.

  93. The 2011 Nikki is Amanda 2012! I have been doing some research on primal eating and your story is so encouraging.

    Thank you for sharing. You have helped make my decision to change my lifestyle seem effortless!!

    Amanda

  94. Great story! And you look absolutely fantastic. This is just the motivation that I need to keep going. Congratulations on your amazing success!

  95. Great story!!! I’m going to go Primal, now. What an inspiration 🙂

  96. Wow. You could have written my story for me, they are so identical. I’m six months paleo/primal now, and I cannot believe the difference. There was a point in my life when I thought I’d have to carry the burden of GAD (and migraines and all the rest of it) forever. Life is amazing now. I’m so glad you found yourself, too. 😀

  97. WHOA!!!! Great job great story I can relate to so many part of this! Good job and keep up the good work!

  98. Congrats, Nikki! As striking as your transformation is — you do look amazing!! — the most remarkable thing to me is the difference in your expression! The before photos show a woman who seems not all the way there, while the “after” photos show a woman full of joy and fun. Great job!

  99. I’m so inspired! Just starting my journey, thank you for sharing!

  100. Thank you Nikki, for sharing your journey with us. I’m 18 days into my second foray into Primal, and your story has served as a true motivation. Best wishes, and Grok on!

  101. I feel like you wrote my story! I had such bad anxiety and the back pain DAILY migraines and now being on primal those are gone. Its just so crazy yet so freeing to know you can live “normally”. You are a true inspiration!

  102. This story really hits home with me. I have not started the primal diet yet. I wanted to read the books first. I have been suffering with panic disorder and depression for 13 yrs and I am currently on prozac. I did not want to get on it again but the panic attacks were so bad. She gives me hope that I can change my life and get off meds. I was also happy to hear her children are also eating primal which I want to do as well. Thank you for posting this and thank you for the inspiration!

  103. Nikki, I really enjoyed your story, we have a few things in common… , anxiety and naturopath recommendation to stay away from gluten and dairy. What helped you to make the leap? I know it’s the right thing to do, but with anxiety, the cravings for bread-like things can be really strong…I’m worried because my doc just prescribed Paxil and I’d rather not take it. Thanks, Amanda