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How I Ditched My Diabetes Medication and Found a New Life Plan

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story [1] 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 [2]. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

The Primal Blueprint lifestyle has positively changed my life, the lives of my family members, and a growing number of friends. I’m delighted to report that I (at age 59) have lost 42 pounds, 6% of my body fat and 25 inches. My husband (age 64) has lost 31 pounds, my grown children and their families have lost weight, look great, and we all have become much healthier, thanks to the Primal Blueprint diet and lifestyle. And, perhaps best of all, my fasting glucose readings have dropped about 70 points, to below diabetic level.

In September 2008, I was suffering from worsening type 2 diabetes (on medication and under threat of starting injectable drugs), at the heaviest weight of my life (179 pounds, at 5′ 2” tall), and had a host of constant irritations. I had colds, headaches, stomachaches, lethargy, sweet cravings, horrible self-image, and basically felt lousy all the time. My husband was also at his heaviest weight, and complained of heartburn, irregular heartbeat, backaches, frequent sunburns, carb cravings and high blood pressure. All of these problems have since vanished, thanks to the Primal lifestyle.

I’m one of those people who tried just about every diet: low-fat, cabbage-soup, Atkins, smaller portions, and more. I lost weight each time, but I always became overwhelmed by hunger, feelings of deprivation and frustration. Plus, I only regained all the weight plus more. After 20 years of unsuccessful dieting, I decided to “just eat without restriction,” which resulted in a gain of 15 pounds, since I chose to “just eat” dessert with almost every meal! I laugh now, but at the time, I had zero self-respect.

The Primal Blueprint [3] book was sent to me by a friend in early 2009. I stayed up all night reading it. I was excited—it made so much sense! But I was also skeptical—I had followed the Atkins diet to the letter, lost 25 pounds, then gained it all back. I did not yet understand the power of real food! It took a while to sink in (I was in denial), and even longer to implement entirely (almost 6 years!).

We began to make small changes. We cut out most desserts, cut back on grains, ate more veggies, and started reading labels. In August of 2009, I went entirely grain-less. We began to take long walks regularly. We created eating and exercise diaries, in which we recorded our daily weight, foods eaten and exercises (I still do!). I was probably 75/25 Primal for the first couple of years. By September of 2010, I had lost 19 pounds, exercised about 5.5 hours per week, and my fasting glucose levels had dropped from about 170 to about 135.

Then I began to fall back into some of my old bad habits. I ate “a treat” here and there (which, in review, was several times a week), slacked off on exercise, worked too many hours, and, by 2012, I had regained seven pounds. I was pretty darned depressed.

Looking for support and hoping to get myself back on track, I started a private group on Facebook called the F’nE Club (for food and exercise). As it turns out, the group was to bring me success! Several of us, including my daughter and daughter-in-law (both members of the group), decided to do the The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation together. I bought the book for each participating member.

We started The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation Program [4] on 4/29/2012. Using the F’nE Club as our connection to discuss, complain, share recipes, and report on pounds lost, we compared notes daily (sometimes hourly!), and used one another for support. It was fun! I lost eight pounds, but more importantly, I woke up to the fact that I had been cheating myself. I had not been eating nor living nearly as primally as I thought I had. I began creating new habits: truly eating only real primal foods, getting out of my chair and circling the office every half-hour at work, taking a pleasant stroll each morning in my new Vibram 5 Fingers, spending 15 minutes every afternoon in the sun, doing my PEM workouts, sprints, and walks, fasting for 24 hours once a week, and cooking at home much more often (we love The Primal Blueprint Cookbook [5]—especially the Zucchini Egg Bake and the Jambalaya).

I was so delighted with the results of the 21-Day Total Body Transformation, that, a week later, I did it again! And again a few months later! I lost another 10 pounds, and I found a new life plan for myself.

Also, my glucose levels continued to drop. By the end of 2012, my doctor approved ditching all diabetic medication! Freedom!

In January 2013, my husband and I retired from work—hurrah! To celebrate, we treated ourselves to a 28-day spring cruise of the South Seas. Using the techniques we had learned, we ate primally with ease (delicious fresh fish and veggies daily, sharing a tiny dessert most evenings), walked the decks, snorkeled, hiked, and had a complete blast. I only gained two pounds! Since then, we have traveled extensively and not gained weight. In fact, I have steadily lost weight while enjoying the heck out of exploring!

While on the cruise, I discovered another key to my weight loss and health puzzle: Zumba dancing! The Zumba workout is the perfect exercise for me. It’s interval bursts of hard exercise—jumping, kicking, leaping, high-knee running in place—inter-spaced with short periods of rest, upper body weights, squats and lunges are ideal. And it’s all to the beat of international music with the fun atmosphere of a party of friends! I joined a local Zumba class upon arriving home in June of 2013, and I now attend three awesome one hour classes a week, from which I leave drenched but happy. (A classmate’s fitbot calculated that we burn over 1,000 calories per session.) After class, I do a short PEM [6] workout at home. Sprints and lifting heavy things? Check! Three evenings a week, my hubby and I walk for an hour in our local park (a relaxing, peaceful time for us to talk), and we also hike, bike, kayak and swim frequently. Long and slow? Check! All together, I now typically get 10 hours of exercise a week.

On 4/24/2014, I reached my weight goal: 40 pounds lost! That was six months ago, and since I have maintained easily, and even lost another two pounds without trying. My weight dropped from 179 to 137. My fasting blood glucose reading is typically about 100 these days, dipping into double-digits occasionally! The Primal Blueprint plan is my lifestyle now and it’s easy and enjoyable. It’s the way I will eat and live for the rest of my life.

Through trial and error, my Primal “ME” food plan today looks like this:

We eat two meals a day (brunch and dinner) resulting in about a 15 hour fast daily. Our primal brunch includes pastured eggs, lots of organic veggies, pastured butter, herbs from my garden, coconut milk, tea, uncured bacon or sausage, sometimes coconut flour/milk/oil pancakes, fresh berries or other fruit, raw nuts, and/or plain Greek pastured yogurt sweetened with stevia.

Dinner is pastured, grass-fed, organic meat and/or fish (when available—we choose the best options possible when on the road), lots of veggies, salads with vinaigrette, butter, and occasionally coconut products, raw whole-milk cheese or sweet potatoes.

I relish my 1/2 ounce of dark chocolate daily, and enjoy a full fat, full sugar dessert of my choice twice a month (though there are few sweets I can eat these days without stomach pain and a sweet-hangover-of-awfulness afterward—they are becoming less appealing all the time!).

Recently I have been experimenting with resistant starch to lower my glucose spikes after exercise (with good results!), so I have included a half-cup of sprouted brown rice cooked in chicken bone broth, cooled and eaten cold, four hours prior to hard exercise.

To prevent my lifelong habit of regaining lost weight, I created this system: I have an allotted weight range of four pounds to allow for fluctuations. When I reach the top of that range (which for me is 140 pounds), I begin “Me Minus,” which I continue until I drop back into range.

Me Minus is Primal, minus these foods: chocolate, sweets of any type, dairy, fruit, nuts and starchy veggies. Pretty much it’s all meats and veggies with fats. Not much fun, but very effective.

These days I rarely have to resort to Me Minus eating because my weight stays low in my weight range fairly effortlessly—my dream come true.

Today, I’m about 90/10 percent Primal. I feel so great, tremendously proud of myself, and amazingly content. What a gift The Primal Blueprint has been! Thanks and Grok on!

Barbie