From Beachbody Addict to Primal Convert

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2 Hi my name is Tori! Contrary to most stories on Mark’s Daily Apple, this isn’t a story about how I went Primal and lost 150 lbs. This is a story about how going even partially Primal opened my eyes as to what was really happening in my body.

I’ve been overweight pretty much for as long as I can remember. It started with snacking too much toward the end of elementary school and has carried through until today. And, like many overweight girls, I had self esteem issues about my weight… which I turned to food to comfort. For years, I tried most diets you can imagine, typically having great results for about three or so weeks and then hitting a plateau. It took me a long time to grow comfortable with my curves, and to accept the fact that I’m ‘built like an ox’ and will never be as thin as the models and actresses on TV. Accepting my body and the stress of an electrical engineering degree caused me to grow lax with my diet in college… a little too lax.

I yo-yoed several times, sometimes focusing on diet (i.e. Weight Watchers, where your reward for losing weight is eating less food – wait, what??), but mostly focusing on exercise. I became a Beachbody junkie, on and off. I would buy the latest DVD workout regimen with all of the hope and promise in my heart. I would try it and lose five pounds in the first week. Then two pounds the second week. Then half a pound the third week. Then gain a pound the fourth week.

Obviously, it was very frustrating. Even though I looked better each week, I could not get the scale to budge. Despite the fact that at 5’6”, I had a substantial 120 lbs of lean body mass, I could not seem to get below the 190 mark, no matter how much I tried.

Right around my junior year of college, I started having terrible IBS symptoms. I had terrible cramps, felt feverish, and had horrible nausea every morning, and there were times where I thought I was dying. I talked to my doctor (who I generally really like), but she had no magic pill to give me. “Try increasing your fiber and probiotics. Other than that, I have no advice, and IBS is for life.” I was devastated.

This happened in the middle of my Beachbody craze, and I jumped on the Shakeology bandwagon, thinking I was missing some kind of vitamin or superfood that would make my IBS go away. Sure enough, something about the balance of fiber and probiotics made the symptoms go away. I was taking it religiously, racking up large monthly expenses to maintain it. But I had to do it. It was the only thing that worked for me.

I went on like this for three years. Trying a Beachbody program (which I generally like, don’t get me wrong), having mediocre results, quitting, and then trying a new program with high hopes. During January of 2014, I started doing Focus T25, and I started a blog to record my progress. I was getting results, and I have to admit that I looked way better after completing the program. That being said, I had stalled out at 195 lbs. One reader of my blog commented that she started her day with full fat yogurt because the fat kept her full. I replied that that can’t possibly work because fat makes you fat (I was 23 and knew everything about everything). She pointed me to Mark’s Daily Apple.


Mark, in all of my reading things on the Internet, nothing has made more sense than those first few definitive guides I read about The Primal Blueprint. It made so much sense, and yet I was still so skeptical. How could walking be so much better than chronic cardio?

This was the spring of 2014, and it was gorgeous outside. Instead of working out one day, my workout buddy and I went for a walk. We enjoyed it so much, that we walked again the next day. And we walked all of the rest of that week.

That week, I lost more weight than any other week on that program.

I was convinced. In June, I gave up gluten, dairy, excess sugar, and went on a 90% Primal Blueprint diet. I was busy finishing my thesis, so I worked out when I could and focused on diet and sleep. I lost five pounds overnight due to inflammation disappearing, and I have never had to take Shakeology again. It turns out, I had developed a gluten sensitivity and had been masking it with Shakeology for FOUR years.

I’d like to say that going Primal cured everything, but it didn’t. My gut was so destroyed from my sensitivity that even though I was eating all of the right things, those foods weren’t being digested and were rotting in my gut. I’ve since met with a naturopathic doctor and they have helped me find supplements to help my digestion. The only times that I have truly felt great every day is when I have stuck to a low-carb, paleo diet. And, despite the fact that I am still trying to figure things out, I give credit to trying out paleo for giving me the confidence to take my health into my own hands.


I’m still a work in progress, and my next step is to try an autoimmune paleo protocol, to try to find additional hidden sensitivities that could be causing inflammation and other problems. I would never have guessed that food would play such a huge role in overall health. I had never guessed that walking could be so enjoyable and so effective at reducing stress. For the first time, I am confident that I have the power to change my health, without drugs, without gimmicks, without fear.

Thanks for reading, and Grok on!


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43 thoughts on “From Beachbody Addict to Primal Convert”

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  1. Amazing story! I also got into the BB cycle but quickly saw it wasn’t actually producing any real results.

  2. The awesome thing is that you smiled in every one of your photos no matter which weight you were at the time! I’m so impressed that even through your frustration you never stopped loving yourself.
    Congrats on your success.

  3. Congratulations on getting yourself on a path to health! You look fantastic, and I imagine that’s a small thing compared to how much better you feel!

    If you aren’t already familiar with thepaleomom aka Sarah Ballantyne, you’d probably find her research on autoimmune issues helpful. Autoimmune issues are tricky little buggers, as you probably know.

    Lastly, from one EE girl to another, best of luck in your career! I’m about 10 years in, and love my job – I work with a fantastic team building cool stuff that helps people. It doesn’t get much better than that:-) Doing EE was one of the best decisions of my life.

  4. Wishing you success on your next path on this journey. My daughter is slowly learning to listen to her body’s reaction to different foods and adjust what she can. She’s not “all in” yet but her life is so stressful that I don’t know how she does it all. Of course, mommy wants to take over and make it all better by telling her how to eat…. ahahahaha. Yeah, she’s over 40 and can make her own decisions without me. My part is to just encourage the good habits she has and notice the progress she’s made.
    What a nice real life story you have, thank you for sharing it.

  5. I think so many women will relate to your story. Thank you for sharing it! Like Beth, I’m struck by your smile throughout. You seem to have found that elusive balance between pursuing good health and embracing your body in the present — yes, your body, not someone else’s ideal. I think we all struggle with this. You are a role model! Congratulations and good luck as you continue on your journey. Please keep us posted on your efforts to heal any autoimmune issues you may still be struggling with. I feel certain that you will be successful!

  6. Being accepting of yourself while still seeking your personal best is wise insight.

  7. I feel like the beach body + shakeology stuff is all the rage right now and I was always wondering how it would compare to paleo/primal. Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on your success 🙂

  8. Beautiful story! I have a very similar body to yours, so it’s cool to see this. I also love that you weren’t “all or nothing”…that you were OK with trying out and incorporating different primal principles as the timing felt right. I have been primal for over a year and change has been incremental but noticeable (especially comparing now to this time last year…huge). That said, I am just in the past few months beginning to feel “ready” to go 100% gluten free. Your story reminds me that it’s OK to take on manageable-for-me changes…it all adds up!!

  9. Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement 🙂 Since writing this post, I’ve been able to flag other food sensitivities and am feeling better than ever! Wishing everyone the best of luck on their health journeys!

    Also, Elodie – Agreed! Girls in Science rule!!

  10. Great job! Thanks for the inspiring story. I wanted to comment about how much fermented foods have helped my gut. After undergoing extensive testing this winter for pain in my abdomen and not getting results, I nixed the pills and doctors and started on fermented veggies and kefir. Zero gut problems for 2 months and counting! I still battle an autoimmune issue; however I do think it has gotten more manageable. Good luck!

  11. Best of success in your continued journal for improved health! I’m in a similar boat, with gut issues. They were improved nicely by eating primal, but it wasn’t a total cure. My diet remains a work in progress, with limited eating, becoming more limited by the day! But I have confidence I’ll eventually figure it out, and I hope the same for you. Barefoot beach walking is great too! The walks can be a little on the tiring side at times, but enjoyable overall and helpful for my fussy gut.

  12. Great attitude–and so glad you found more than just the paleo help– walking is awesome– and beats cardio! Keep going and never give up.

    1. I’m a total sock nut, but I missed the socks!! The socks are totally awesome.

      Torrie, please update us again after you try the autoimmue protocol. Many of us want to know how well it works for you.

  13. Thanks for sharing your story Tori! Very inspiring! I too was on the Beachbody programs, paying over $100 a month for Shakeology and forcing myself to do TurboFire everyday. Then I found this website, went Primal and gave up the chronic cardio and Shakeology. Now I feel better than ever and have even lost more weight after giving up chronic cardio. Wishing you the best of luck!

  14. I love the three pictures of you in a swimsuit. And not just because of the great smile. As a fellow nerd (I’m mostly a civil Engineer unless I’m talking to a promoter of a low fat diet for diabetics, grrrr!), I appreciated that you used the same swimsuit in all three pictures but with different socks. Great way to collect good data.

    1. Hahaha, that was unintentional the first few weeks, but I did notice that it really helped distinguish the days later on! Nerds unite!

  15. Don’t worry about your gut too much…it will heal. After 10 years of gluten free, and about 6 of Primal, my gut issues have slowly resolved to the point that I feel completely normal. That’s a long time, but it’s improvement all the way, and you have youth going for you…I was much older when I started.

    You’re still too young to know everything, but now you know the right thing. Congratulations! Keep it up and keep feeling better!

  16. I am older than you, but your story resonates so much with me. I am 53. I was think most of my life, even after I had 3 kids in my early to mid 20s. But then, I had a baby at 41, started having all kinds of allergies, chemical senstivities (and a number of other issues that I thought and maybe still think are hypothryoid). I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, so I struggle with muscle pain and fatigue from that (and mental fog). I gained 30 pounds rapidly when taking prednisone for the allergies, and add 10 of babyfat I didn’t lose, and another 10 from eating too much/sedentary job. Well, I think I need to lose around 50 pounds.
    I found Mark’s Daily Apple a few years ago—-and realized that I feel so much better when I eat primal. I haven’t lost weight though. In the last 10 years, I tried Weight Watchers, South Beach, calorie tracking, you name it. And then found the primal diet. I have accepted that eating primal is the best thing for me even though I may not lose weight. I’m also prediabetic (all related to the weight gain and whatever else is going on) so low-carb is best for me.
    No matter what I’ve done for the last 10 years, I have stayed between 188 and 192 +/- some daily variances. The only time I lost weight was several years ago, 15 pounds rapidly, when a doctor agreed to put me on Synthroid (never again—since my levels are supposedly “normal”). As soon as I stopped taking it, the weight came back. No matter how much I exercise, or how careful I am about what I eat, I don’t lose weight. I need to stop yo yoing with the diet plans (sometimes I give up on primal and just eat “normal”–whole grains, etc.) and just stick to what makes me feel best.
    Your photos are inspirational to me. You are smiling and beautiful…and sticking with what you’ve been doing has made you more fit and healthier. I just need to do that and stop being so hung up on the numbers on the scale. I was skinny growing up– around 125 even after my first 3 kids were born. Leveled out to around 138-142 in my late 20s and all through my 30s. And now 192. I want to get down to around 142 or so, but I need to accept that it may not happen and just accept myself, but continue to work CONSISTENTLY to be strong and healthy (and happy).

    THANK YOU for sharing your story. 🙂

    1. Hi, Teresa, and hi to Torrie too – I have had luck with the kinds of problems that may be eased by primal/paleo but don’t get solved with the help of a Nutritional Balancing practitioner. The approach belongs to a Dr. Lawrence Wilson, and he trains practitioners. It is basically a safe, slow, non-toxic way to detox – and my sense after a lot of study is that ailments that don’t just diappear when you take out sugar/carbs/fake foods etc generally have a component of heavy metal and sometimes chemical toxicity. And then our bodies need more nuanced help to come back into balance and start doing the toxin-elimination that we are made to do. I believe overweight that won’t budge is in this category. Best of luck and thanks for your story today, Torrie! I agree with others that all your pics are awesome. 🙂

      1. (Oops – read w/comma: …but don’t get solved, with the help of etc)

      2. Interesting—I saw a chiropractor a few years ago who said the same thing and recommended, in addition to basically a primal diet, using a detox product that he liked. I didn’t do it, but the information he shared with me was the same that you did. Thank you….I may look into it further.

    2. Teresa,
      Your story really mirrors mine, and after 25 years of child rearing, battling weight, PCOS, metabolic syndrome etc. Primal about 5 years ago helped me so much, but a flare late last year finally got me the diagnosis of Hashimotos. During that 6 months I had symptoms that resembled fibromyalgia, fatigue, pain, weight gain. Had a full panel of thyroid tests done, and the antibodies were way up. Now taking slow acting T3, pain gone, fitness slowly climbing and now at pre children weight. Also on the AIP Paleo plan as well.
      I encourage you to find a practitioner that will get all the tests done. What’s “normal” on the test results may not be normal for you. My TSH levels always bumped along the
      bottom of normal so no practitioner took it further, it’s so frustrating. The pain I had felt like arthritis, and if I let stress and doing too much creep in, that comes back, but if now how to mange it now. My latest blood tests show my antibodies are on their way down, still got a way to go. Hang in there.

      1. This sounds exactly like my situation…. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have dealt with the weight gain, pain, fatigue, cysts/fibroids, etc., and so on. I’ve never found a doctor who will do much beyond testing TSH. Which were close to normal, according to the standard ranges–but not what I’m reading online. There is definitely some thryoid deficiency/functioning issues, but beyond trying to solve it myself I’ve gotten no help. Thanks for sharing your story. I need to find a better practitioner….not even sure where to turn. Traditional doctors have not helped me. Who should I look for? A functional doctor, integrative medical practicioner, a naturopath. I’m really not sure at this point, but I’ve gone through several traditional family doctors and the message is either “Here, try these diet pills” and/or “eat less, move more”. And they recommend the SAD diet that is full of whole grains, low fat, of course. I’m going to keep at it, though. Stories like Torrie’s and supportive and helpful posts like this keep me trying! Thank you.

    3. Hi Teresa, From your symptoms and your reaction to Synthroid it sounds like you have an iodine deficiency. Eighty percent of Americans do. Dr. David Brownstein has a whole book about it and how to fix it.–IODINE: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It.

      1. Thanks Island Girl—a few months ago, I stumbled across the book “The Iodine Crisis” which led me to Dr. Brownstein’s book. I’ve been doing a lower -than-the protocol amount of iodine supplement. It’s helped me to feel better, in a lot of ways, but still haven’t lost weight.
        This is a great post–thank you for sharing it. Reading those books was eye-opening for me!!

        1. Hi again. I’ve been taking Iodoral for about a month. I’m sleeping much better and don’t crash in the afternoons anymore. My mood stays calm, level and upbeat. My metabolism must be picking up because of the increased energy, but I haven’t lost any weight yet. I don’t have a lot to lose, just about 15 pounds. I figure the iodine is still kicking the toxins off the receptors. When the weight starts to come off then I’ll know my thyroid is back on track. I recently boosted my dose up to 25 mg. along with all the supplements Brownstein recommends with it. I’ll stay here for a while and see what happens. Since he recommends 50 mg. when you’re trying to fix a broken thyroid I’m not concerned that I’m overdoing it.

  17. You are totally beautiful in ALL the photos! Thanks for being an inspiration and sharing your story.

  18. So glad you found MDA! You may need to heal your gut on a protocol like GAPS or SCD and then reintroduce some foods slowly. Sometimes your gut needs a break even from some paleo foods to heal the damage and doing a specific protocol will quicken that healing. Good luck to you! You look great 🙂

  19. Tori! Great work! May I make one suggestion? Please don’t hurt yourself by saying you’re “built like an ox”. You’re not, but you might convince your unconscious with self-talk. You’re strong and curvaceous and if you continue down this path you’ll be a Greek goddess. One very smart goddess!!!

  20. Congrats, girl! That’s seriously one of my favorite parts about being paleo/primal: I’m free from the demands of calorie counting and compulsive exercise. BeachBody still has that allure, but isn’t it nice to not have to go to such extremes to look and feel awesome!?

  21. Congrats on feeing so much better and finding your health again! You look so much more vibrant in you after picture 🙂

    Your story reminds me so much of mine. I also had weird intense stomach pains, slow digestion and weight gain. I struggled to fix everything even with a primal lifestyle. I got tested recently for gut pathogens and turns out I have a couple bacterial infections, one of which (h.pylori) causes low stomach acid. It sounds like you’ve got a naturopath so,may have already looked into that but if you’re still looking to get digestion up to speed, you might want to look into that to be sure no pathogens are holding you back from healing. Best of luck with all of it.

  22. Kudos for feeling like your “work in progress story” is still a success story. I could learn something from you 🙂

  23. That’s a great story. I love articles like this especially since I am a big proponent of the Primal Blueprint philosophy. I preach it to my students and clients all the time. I even preach it to my Beach Body friends who spend tons of money and still look the same.

    Keep the faith and enjoy life!!

    1. Yes! Me, too.

      I see so many Crossfitters and Bikram yogis that are hardcore, yet their weight never budges. Primal eating could change their lives.

  24. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story! You give me hope!

  25. Grok on, girl!

    Great story, and thanks for sharing.

    I am all about primal-alignment. I am a Naturopath, former Track & Field athlete and coach, a hot yoga instructor, and also an INSANITY instructor (Beachbody). I have been in this profession my entire life, and I am 50.

    That said, I have never taken nor recommended Shakeology. I find the sourcing of ingredients questionable, and that with a whole foods, primal aligned diet, and a few high quality supplements, it unnecessary.

    Regarding the recommended approach of Beachbody programs, only once did I follow their protocol (everyday for 60 days, etc); most recently, INSANITY Max:30. I did see results in muscle tone, no loss of inches. However, I didn’t start with much and weight loss was not my objective.

    Mark’s primal approach is on target. The INSANITY workouts, individually, are primal aligned. That is how I would recommend them: as your “sprint” or “strength” workout. Not daily.

    My 2 cents.

    Keep on Grokin’ in the USA!

  26. Hello everyone!

    A few people requested an update after I tried the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol! Overall, I’m glad I tried it, but it was not sustainable in the end for me. I did find a couple of new sensitivities, though, including dairy (which makes me break out REALLY bad), and perhaps eggs (still out as to whether or not I have a sensitivity, though I think I do). In the end, I just really missed nightshades too much. The food on AIP is flavorful, but not spicy, and you get really tired of Italian herb chicken after a while. That being said, I would try it again someday!

    At the moment, I’m once again astounded by the effect food has on the body. I’ve been eating well, but went on a week long vacation where I consumed much more alcohol and junk than I’m used to, and my body literally glitched out. I knew I wanted to do a Whole 30 challenge when I got back in home, but after a week, I still had a massively swollen gut (looked about 5 months pregnant). My chiropractor (who is extremely thoroughly trained and amazing) was able to find that the valve between my small and large intestine was stuck in the ‘open’ position. Yeah, that’s not good.

    Since then, I’ve had that adjusted and the swelling has gone down considerably! I’m really enjoying the foods I’m eating on the Whole 30 challenge, and may just eat nothing but Whole 30 foods forever! The scale seems to slowly but surely budge downward, and I’m getting very close to the 170 mark (which I haven’t been anywhere near since freshman year of college!!)

    Thanks so much for the encouragement everyone, it means the world to me! If you have an autoimmune condition, definitely give the AIP a try! It helped me uncover sensitivities that I wouldn’t have guessed were there! Once you know what is safe and what’s not, you can just stick to what is safe!