June 01 2012

I Cannot Imagine Living Any Other Way

By Guest
185 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!

Dear Mark,

I just wanted to thank you for your hard work and dedication to your blog.

I discovered Primal living during my recovery from anorexia. I didn’t give it a real shot until 5 months into recovery. I was just too afraid of all of that fat was going to make me fat!

During those 5 months, I gained up to an ideal weight for myself eating 3000-3500 calories a day. Oh, and lots and lots of carbs and lean protein – you know, that bodybuilding stuff. I still had no menstrual cycle and had a night eating problem. I was still depressed, anxious, and was still drooling over food I saw on the Food Network. I was getting really scared because I literally could not stop eating. I didn’t want to gain any more weight. I had decided I nothing to lose, so took a plunge into Primal living.

I obviously didn’t go cold turkey with the carbs. It took about a week to cut my carbs in half and eliminate most grains. (I swear carbs are like crack). I started eating lots of egg and cheese omelets, BEEF, whole avocados, some bacon. I was so excited eating cheeseburgers at my favorite burger place where they have grass-fed beef burgers…YUM. I knew if I didn’t eat enough fat and too much carbs at a meal, my cravings returned. I quickly learned this and became very consistent with my Primal choices.

About a month into the diet change, I noticed some changes. My anxiety after a meal decreased, and I was able to concentrate on school and my son more.  I started to feel my sex drive returning, was less hungry, was able to go longer periods without eating.

Then about a week ago, BAM, my period finally returned! I was so, so relieved and felt like I was back to my old self, but a more improved version.

I know this is not a typical success story, but I feel that my mental success is equally as important as my physical success. I am finally looking forward to movies, meeting new people, completing my school work, and playing with my 17 month old. I now eat to live instead of living to eat/binge by myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with my appearance. And I am glad that I don’t have to spend mindless hours running on the treadmill – how depressing! I have fallen in love with resistance training and have gained lots of strength.

Although I am sure there is no proof, I believe that the lack of saturated fats and too many carbs completely messed up my mental health. (It wasn’t until I turned vegan that my anorexia really peaked). I see so many people devote years to their eating disorder and sometimes even never recover. I feel very fortunate that I got out of that hell in a relatively short amount of time and am healthy again.

I found what lifestyle works for me and simply cannot imagine living any other way. I am so grateful that I discovered Primal living and happy that I am living life again!

Thanks, Mark!

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185 thoughts on “I Cannot Imagine Living Any Other Way”

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  1. How brave you have been for sharing your story! Congratulations on your journey to battle the eating disorder. Those are hard to come back from. You look wonderful, and your smile says it all!

  2. WOW! What a change! You look so beautiful and healthy! Congratulations on taking back control of your life!

  3. You look as though you have returned from the edge of death! Congratulations on having the courage to
    try something new and your perseverance in seeing it
    through. You now look beautiful: healthy, proud, clear-eyed, and confident. Thank you for sharing your
    inspiring story.

  4. Gorgeous final pic! you look great! Amazing Primal eating can even help cure mental/emotional issues

  5. Nice story, I always guessed that Primal eating would be amazing for people recovering from anorexia since it make the cravings stop. Now I just have to say, girl you looks amazing now! Congrats!

  6. Thank you for sharing this story! Women need to see that eating paleo/primal can help you recover from an eating disorder. We need more brave women like you to tell their stories!

    PS – The new book from Whole9, It Begins With Food, talks about how those grains & sugars really DO mess up your brain & hormones. It’s a physical addiction, not just a mental one.

      1. Hello, I am also recovering from an eating disorder for several years and am still finding it really hard to resist carbs/sugars. I work out several times a week and feel like maybe I am not fully fat adapted. Would you consider chatting with me more about what you went through so I feel like Im not crazy for trying to gain weight back while trying to be Primal?

      2. Also try Diet Cure by Julia Ross. She attributes (part of) anorexia to nutrient deficiencies caused by CW dieting and/or veg*nism.

  7. Wow! You are glowing. Congratulations! Primal living helps holistically, there is no doubt, if you embrace it fully and sounds like you have done that with great results. Inspiring. 🙂

  8. “I feel very fortunate that I got out of that hell in a relatively short amount of time and am healthy again.”

    This is such a great story. Thanks so much for sharing!

    (Mark, I am LOVING these not-your-typical-weight-loss success stories that have been featured recently!)

    1. I agree, Anne. It has been very inspiring to see others struggling with disordered eating and using a primal lifestyle to overcome.

      I am struggling with binge eating and finally joined a support group about a month ago. It’s been very helpful in teaching me new techniques to cope with my emotions instead of always turning to sugar.

  9. I’m so glad you were able to come out of that! I agree with you…saturated fat is SO important for our mental health. When I was a vegetarian I became terrified of saturated fat. The longer I went without eating any, the more obsessed I became with limiting my calories. I spiraled rapidly into an eating disorder limiting my calories to 300 a day. My anxiety rose and I all I thought about was food. It was awful and listening to CW made it so very easy to happen.

    1. Yes, the only time I have ever struggled with depression was while experimenting with a vegan diet. I have NO DOUBT that food is at the heart of many mental issues.

      1. My mania/depression/eating disorder cycles were at their peak in my Ironman triathlon vegetarian days; I can see that now, looking back, hindsight and all that.

        Without a doubt food has a huge effect on mental health.

        Emily Deans has given a good review of the new Whole30 book over at evolutionary psychiatry dot blogspot dot com.

    2. Yes!!! When I was vegetarian I also became a sat fat nazi, and I really struggled with anxiety. It was even worse when I tried a raw diet!! (just fruits and veggies and nuts, no meat or dairy) I didn’t realize it then, but looking back I can see that hose diets were terrible for my mental and physical health.

    3. Congratulations on your recovery, too!! It’s crazy how much food can influence both physical as well as mental health.

      Interestingly enough, I was reading a biography of Karen Carpenter, who was a so-called “chubby teenager.” At 17, she was put on a low-carb/high-protein diet by her doctor. She hated the diet, but lost the weight in five weeks and ate normally afterwards for years. Later on, in her mid-20s (by the 1970s, “fat phobia” had firmly took hold in the “healthy diet” world), she hired a personal trainer, who put her on a low-fat/high-carb diet. Instead of losing weight, she gained it (surprise, surprise, knowing what we know on MDA), freaked out, fired the trainer, and switched to a diet of only green salads and iced tea. She lost the weight, but about a year after eating that way, anorexia nervosa was firmly entrenched. She began obsessing about calories, was very anxious, etc. Before that, friends described her as a very happy-go-lucky girl who loved tacos and chili (MEAT!)

      Obviously there were plenty of psychological factors involved, don’t get me wrong, but a nutrient-starved brain can’t think straight. I wish all this was known in Karen’s time, as she may still have been alive today. 🙁

  10. Wow, terrific story!! I found the same thing with mental health actually–not with an eating disorder, but I suffered from general anxiety disorder/panic disorder for a long time, and even though I had thought it was gone by the time I started primal living, now its like the last lingering traces (which I guess were physical the whole time) are gone as well.

    Way to go, you look great!! 🙂

  11. Wow, you look so healthy. Thank you for sharing your story, and what you’ve noticed related to mental health.

    I have 3 friends who have been diagnosed as bipolar. All 3 of them eat high carb diets, and all 3 had children spaced closely together. My suspicion is that not eating enough healthy fats, combined with the drain on our fat stores caused by pregnancy and breastfeeding, are big contributors. I was primal for my last pregnancy, and primal now that I’m breastfeeding, and I feel great, much better and happier than after my second child was born.

  12. Congratulations on your recovery, your mental stability and happiness and for your beautiful baby. All of these things by themselves are intense life changes, but all together is pretty amazing.

    I also noted as I started living more primal that the use of fat to be sated AND to reduce body fat seemed strongly connected to the anoretic’s mindset. The fear of fat is so strong and debilitating that the complete reversal – I mean total 180 degree turn around – is therapeutic and miraculous in a way. Just trying to eat a “balanced” diet is really not enough of a change for someone who is obsessed with and terrified by food. But eating in a way that is filling, energizing AND will keep the body lean in a healthy way seems like a really perfect solution.

  13. I think it’s interesting that your eating disorder peaked when you had eliminated all animal products from your diet. Studies have shown that a lack of high-quality animal fat in the diet can cause brain chemical imbalances that can trigger depression and aggression. Why not eating disorders too? I have wondered about that phenomenon myself, and one of my biggest motivations for getting my 5-year-old daughter to eat primally is the hope that she never has to deal with the body image issues that I did as a former ballet dancer. Thank you for sharing your story and your insights. You look fantastic, and happy, and healthy (even your hair is shinier in your after picture!).

    1. “Studies have shown that a lack of high-quality animal fat in the diet can cause brain chemical imbalances that can trigger depression and aggression.”

      Could anyone please cite these studies? I have found that to be true more often than not and would LOVE to follow up on my theories with some studies.

  14. This is such an amazing story. Thank you for sharing!

    I also have been trapped in eating disorder hell and reading how Primal helped someone recover just pulls at my heart strings.

    I haven’t had my period for 7 years!!! I know!!! Bad news!!! I’m hoping Primal will help me get it back. I want to be a mama someday.

    Were you a cardio junkie before primal? I’m a big bike rider/runner and probably spend 10 hours/week doing these endurance sports, which probably doesn’t help with the lack of period…

    1. Elle, I’m sure everyone here is pulling for you. I do think that Melissa’s story shows that the Primal approach will help. With Mark’s guidance, I’m sure you can be super-strong without the chronic cardio AND get your period back. Take strength from the community here — there are so many amazing stories shared in the forums.

    2. I was not a a cardio “junkie”per say. I do believe that primal eating helped me get to where I am at now, but you DO need to up your caloric intake. The body wants to accumulate a certain amount of fat so that it knows its safe for child bearing. You can’t freak out if you want seconds or thirds for a while. I have leaned out a little bit since the final picture. If you are not seeing a therapist then I would highly recommend seeing one. Primal can only do so much, you need that extra support.

      1. Melissa, do you lift something heavy regularly, like at least once a week? If not,pls give it a try. To maintain lean muscle eating primal you need to do it, otherwise you might lean out more than you want.

        1. I actually meant lean out as in losing a little fat and building muscle. I have remained the same weight, but feel al little “less jiggly.” I lift at least 4 times a week.

      1. LOL I read one of her article on body odour… she is so into CW. Blames low-carb diets and thinks keto-breath is a sign of low blood sugar and dangerous. Also thinks eating a zero-fiber diet will make you smell like shit from not having to take a dump everyday.

    3. I used to be a total cardio junkie- 12+ hrs a week, running, cycling, plus extra hours walking everywhere…Nowdays I don’t do more than 45 mins. A day, twice a week (intervals). You really have to go with the ‘less is more’ approach, maybe even try different forms of training. I did and I’m having a lot more fun with it now! Good luck to you!

      1. 45 minutes is quite a lot. I think you should cut down your cardio to a warm up only. Think of it as you are trying to “bulk up.” You need to focus less on cardio and more weight training to be healthy again and get your hormones back to normal. That is what I did. I only did 10 minutes of moderate cardio. That’s it. Just as a warm up. I know it is hard to break that habit but you are continuing to damage your body. If you need any help, feel free to email me. lvgrl90@yahoo.com.

  15. Congratulations on your recovery. You look beautiful and healthy! I am very proud of you even though I don’t even know you. I have a friend who struggled with anorexia & bulemia from the age of 17 until 30. I saw her in the hospital on feeding tubes with legs smaller than my arms. It was heartbreaking. She went in and out of recovery for years and it really tore her family apart. She ended up committing suicide on Easter Sunday about 4 years ago. I’m not saying this to depress anyone, but anorexia/bulemia is a very very serious disease and most do not recover. So I want to congratulate and applaude you!!!! Not only did you save your life, but you probably relieved a lot of worried people who care about you!

    1. That is so sad, I am sorry for your loss. I do agree that people don’t take eating disorders seriously enough. Their mentality is “Oh its better to be too thin than too fat” or “Just eat a big meal” or suggest some other kind of quick fix. That is definitely not the case. I still have those thoughts sometimes, but as long as I am not starving my brain of nourishment, it will never get to where it was before.
      It is equally unhealthy to be starved as it is to be obese.

  16. Thanks so much for sharing your story! One of the first things I realized after switching to Primal is that it is an amazing antidote to anorexia nervosa. I am so glad to hear your story and see your transformation to radiant health and beauty.

    Grok on, girl!!! 🙂

  17. I literally gasped at your before pic. You look so healthy now. Congrats on getting well and eating well.

    Monica
    San Diego

  18. Congratulations on your terrific success and for sharing your very important story with everyone. If you encourage even one other person into changing their life it will be fantastic. Very well done.

    Oliver.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. You look beautiful!! Amazing how much food can do for your mental health, isn’ it? Your little one is adorable…

  20. In my family, obesity can be a consequence of eating low-fat diets due to our significant genetic IR, but even more prevalent is a panoply of mood and energy disorders. My daughter, now a healthy, happy paleo/low-carber, weighed 320 lbs in high school She lost half the weight with low-calorie, high exercise, but was left with bulimia, depression, and insomnia. She realizes now that her last terrible bout with her eating disorder coincided with her last attempt at going vegetarian. My son had ADHD so debilitating that he “self-medicated” with pot and other drugs and nearly ended up in jail, or who knows, even worse. He switched to low-carb at age 19 and his life has completely turned around. He is a now a yoga instructor and works at Whole Foods, with the propaganda pushed him to try a 60-day vegetarian pledge. He couldn’t finish it, and gave up when he started to get strong urges to call a pot dealer. He says the only way he survived was through his yoga practice and meditation. My brother, who was a macrobiotic, organic vegan, says he “felt like he wanted to die every afternoon,” and was going to see a shrink or Dr. to see if he had chronic fatigue. He and I both changed to low-carb 12 years ago and our mental and physical health are spectacular.
    I absolutely believe that we are missing the point by focusing on obesity when we talk about diet and nutrition, I have no doubt that the neurological and behavioral disorders that plague so many from ADHD to autism, to Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and eating disorders, are directly attributable to sugar and grain consumption.

    1. I agree fullheartedly. Going HFLC-paleoish I solved DECADES of depression. I think it has everything to do with the natural fats and the abscence of grains and refined sugars.
      Like you I think that with proper food we cuold heal or at least alleviate lots and lots of both physical and mental suffering lika ADHD, Alzheimer, the plethora of degenerative diseases we se around us. the state of things as is sometimes makes me so angry I could scream.

    2. That is very inspiring to hear that I am not the only one to feel the mental clarity that primal has given me. I agree that we do focus too much on obesity levels. There is much more to health than having a perfect bod or looking “lean.” It frustrated me that people think vegans are the epitome of perfect health just because they are skinny. Skinny does not = great health.

      1. my husband doubled in weight on a vegetarian/vegan diet! and his cholesterol was literally off the charts. thankfully he came back to a more balanced way of eating and regained his health.

  21. So happy for you! Now you can live a balanced life and enjoy your time with your family! Keep up the awesomeness!

  22. Oh my goodness! You are SO beautiful! Stay strong, stay primal! As someone who has flirted with eating disorders, it’s so wonderful to see this story. 🙂 Congrats! You deserve it!

  23. AMAZING!!! I can completely relate to feeling mentally healthy after starting the Primal Blueprint! I went through 2 1/2 years of high anxiety and depression. Eating this way has been a complete blessing for me! I have never in my life felt this good! =-D Congratulations! You look absolutely Gorgeous!!!

  24. Wow these stories are the proof that PB really works. Her first photo, atleast to me, was pretty frightening. Then I read on to find her last picture, Wow! Now, that’s a recovery. The very simple point of eating good foods your body nourishes and doing activity your body approves of is just…indescribable! I hope more people discover this way and feel better.

  25. I was bulimic for about eight years, all of my teen years. Through counseling and prayer I was able to “get better” and live on one diet after another, vegetarian, Weight Watchers, whatever. I was always starving, not skinny, just freaking hungry. Primal sets you free and makes you feel good, because you can get full and stay thin. Enough about me, I just wanted you to know you aren’t alone, and you look so pretty.

    1. Hi,
      I have been battling bulimia for a while now but it’s been worse the past year – as in extreme binging and attempts to purge every night of the week. Every night. It’s always on junk food too – cookies and tons of chocolate. I feel disgusting and have gained weight – mostly all in my belly. I look horrible and am terrified that I have ruined my body – particularly that I’ll never get my flat, toned stomach back or will always struggle to get it again. Is this true??

      I know people talk about eating too much or binging but that’s usually not to the extent I have been doing – nightly binges for close to a year now (and weekly before years before that). I fear I need to do a year-long cleanse just to even try to get the “sugar” and crap out of my body.

      1. You have come to the right place if you want to change. Keep reading the stories on this site, let yourself be inspired by others, and stop abusing and damaging your body. What you need is a strong, healthy and good looking body. Eating is not a sin! It is a pleasure. Make sure what goes in stays in and that it is of good quality. If others could do it, you can too. You are no worse than anybody else. Put on a fight and you’ll win. Bless you.

        1. Thanks. I’m wondering if I need a strict cleanse though after all the abuse I’ve put through my body this past year and ongoing. I want to be healthy and ready to go when I move in 6 weeks…is that possible? Should I start with a cleanse first to get rid of all the accumulated crap I’ve done to my body?

      2. JLeah- if by “cleanse” you mean one of those fads where it’s some sort of lemon juice/maple syrup/juice “cleanse” (what the heck was the rationale behind THAT combination, anyway?!), then no. Just start eating primal (ease into it if necessary), and you’ll be weaned off the sugar. The body’s quite good at “cleansing” itself if you let it. There are plenty of people here in the same boat who are rooting for you! “A Different Kind of Success Story” on this website featured a former bulimic.

        Also, I’m sure you know binging/purging can really mess up the digestive system, as it can lead to esophageal tears and nutrient depletion. Besides that, it doesn’t even work for weight loss. That’s because despite conventional wisdom, weight loss isn’t just “calories in, calories out” (read Gary Taubes’ “Why We Get Fat.”) High glycemic index foods such as sugars and grains spike insulin levels, which signal fat cells to store fat. So despite the purge, the damage has already been done as far as insulin levels are concerned. This is why anorexics (who never had insulin-spiking foods in the first place) are skinny, and bulimics usually aren’t, even though (in theory) they both “had” very few calories.

        So a good place to start would be getting the tempting foods out of your house, replace them with paleo/primal foods, and “binge” on all the high-nutrition food you want, guilt-free (and keep it in you!) You’ll feel naturally full, and since your brain will be getting the nutrition it needs, you’ll be in a good mood and begin to feel better about yourself. And don’t be afraid to seek help. Best of luck!

        1. Thanks for your reply. No, I don’t mean a cleanse a la master cleanse or a fasting cleanse. I guess I mean keeping it light and sticking to most green juices, broths, salads with some protein for a couple of weeks straight at least with no room for error at all. I guess I just feel that I’m full of crap and “toxins” from what I’ve done to my body that I need a year to even get it back on track. Is it possibly to be “cleaner” after just a week or two of eating better? I do eat very healthy but get messed up with the evening binges big-time. I think that even binging on the healthier paleo foods get me in trouble. I wonder sometimes if all the veggies are leading to more bloat. And eating too many nuts, etc. is still high-calorie. I do allow for some hummus and cheese at times for variety.

        2. I suppose you could do the “mostly liquid” thing if you really wanted to, but if it were me, I’d get hungry REALLY quickly (and it could lead to another binge, which would have made it all for naught). Words like “toxins” get thrown around so much. You may feel like crud the first week of paleo as your body transitions from carb-burning to fat-burning, but the second week is much better.

          Higher-carb paleo items (as you mentioned, hummus, cheese, nuts, certain vegetables) could lead to trouble. Again, the best thing would just be remove the temptations first. Willpower’s like a muscle- to use it effectively, you have to exercise it, but if you use it too much, it gets exhausted. So save it the hassle and remove the temptations first. Remember, it’s not calories so much as the source of calories (carbs vs. protein or fat). I really do recommend reading Gary Taubes- everything made so much sense!

        3. I think for a bulimic (or anyone with disordered eating habits for that matter), it’s not as simple as ‘switch to paleo and eat as much as you like, your body will tell you when it had enough’. I can binge on pretty much anything, sometimes I eat 3 lbs of nuts in a day, plus regular meals! No matter what the food is, if you eat way too much (as binge eaters tend to) for way too long (let’s say a 2-3 hour binge without stopping), you will have high blood sugars and create a huge insulin response as a consequence, which completely defeats the purpose of eating paleo in the first place. The most important thing is to find coping strategies for whenever the urge to binge comes up, as these episodes are actually rarely about the food – most of the time they have to do with supressed emotions, craving for comfort, security, anxiety, habits, boredom, etc.

      3. Sorry, I’m just seeing this. Primal can set you free from all of that. Not only can you have a flat belly, you can get back to not worrying about it. You can go hours without thinking about food, and you can never feel hungry and be thin. You really are in the right place.

      4. Forget the cleanse, stop punishing yourself. Accept your body as it is now and love it for supporting you all this time. Treat yourself to food that nourishes you – as a gift to yourself, not a punishment. Find something to do at night that makes you feel better. A binge is not a crime – it’s an attempt to treat distress. Go slowly and give your body and mind a chance to adjust, and they will start to work with you instead of against you. They want to be healthy too! 🙂

  26. Melissa, you have shown amazing courage in making such a dramatic change in your approach to wellness.

    Your story is one more piece of anecdotal evidence that mental AND physical health are closely tied to what we put in our mouths. I am convinced that in 10, 20 or 100 years (depending on how stupid and recalcitrant the medical establishment is), everyone will be looking back and realizing the laundry list of problems — beyond obesity — that were caused or aggravated by pushing the high-grains, low-fat North American diet.

    Thank you for sharing and continued health to you!

    1. Not just North America, the whole world is going down this path. It is insane that the medical establishment has not backed down from the low-fat diet mentality.

  27. Congratulations on your recovery! You look wonderfully healthy and strong and beautiful, and I hope you feel as good as you look.

    Best of luck going forward!

  28. Wow, what a story, thanks so much for sharing. It is amazing what the right food can do. You have become a beautiful woman and you look super healthy. Congrats!

  29. Wonderful story, I’m so happy for you. Vegetarian/Vegan also destroyed my health physically and mentally. I’ve gone from anorexic to bulimic to binge eating and everything in between.I have never fully recovered from my obsessive relationship with food BUT Primal is the only thing that’s helped immmensely and eating Primal quiets down all that background noise about food in my head. I agree that it’s the carbs, grains, and lack of fat that screw with your mind.

  30. I know I’m jumping on the bandwagon here, but I just want to point out that she’s super hot in the past picture. Giant improvement.

  31. Your story really hits home… Eating disorders ruled my life until about 5 years ago. I wasn’t skinny, but always hungry, and always feeling like a basket case. Primal has really changed the way I feel as a whole! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean by not being skinny anymore, but still eating like I was. Nothing is more depressing to me than eating bowl after bowl after bowl of oats and peanut butter and *still* being hungry.Not only hungry, but jittery and anxious about eating so much but wanting more. Now I eat my 3 egg breakfast with half a sweet potato and be good for at least 4 hours. I am glad you found PB! I wish more people would believe that this is a lifestyle not just some fad diet. Some people I mention it to kind of look at me like I am crazy. Or they think I am restricting myself again. BUt I am so not. I still eat non-primal things here and there. The difference is that I don’t binge on it if I eat enough primal foods prior to that.

  32. Wow, what an amazing story you have! Thank you for sharing! From reading the blog, it appears your story will help others that are suffering from an eating disorder. Your story brought a tear to my eye. You are absolutely gorgeous in that last picture. You look so happy, healthy and fit! Congratulations!

  33. Thank you, Chica, for your support! One of the reasons I just love the Primal lifestyle and MDA is because of the supportive community. Y’all rock and inspire me to make changes in my life for the better!

    I just hope that I can be a walking role model for Primal. 🙂

  34. You look so beautiful and HEALTHY! I am so happy for you and your family that you were brave enough to try something different and take on the challenge of eating what felt like scary foods (fat!) anyway. You look amazing, congratulations!

  35. What a courageous woman! You are gorgeous! Thank you for being strong enough to speak out – and brava on all you have accomplished!

  36. This is easily my favorite success story. Congratulations on your successful return to health! And I agree with the other commenters: these features on “success besides weight loss” are great. Let’s see some more of them!

  37. Wow, what a great transformation! Congratulations on your return to health.

  38. Holy Moly! This story should be required reading in every school in America to help the anorexic/bulemic/obese –everybody. I am not just impressed by your dedication and results, but how you and so many have found more than just excellent health and have restored a much happier balance in your lives. Way to go!

    1. Pastor Dave,
      I agree with what you said! This is the sort of health class material we need in high schools.

    2. Thank you!
      I don’t think that it is a huge coincidence that many of anorexics and bulimics I have known are vegans or vegetarians. I mentioned the PB to one of my friends, who has been bulimic for years and vegetarian since she was 10. She didn’t really want to hear about it, and was angry at me for doing so. I just wish more people would realize what they are doing to their health by following this so-called perfect diet that the government preaches. I hope this becomes mainstream some day.

      1. Yes, Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride of the Gaps Diet (very similar to primal in many ways), says she has encountered in her clinical practice many, MANY cases of eating disorders that began with vegetarianism. Perhaps it is the lack of fats that starts screwing with your mind…

        1. Exactly. 2/3 of the brain is fat and needs essential fatty acids to function. Myelin, the protective neuron sheath, is mostly fat. Without it, we literally cannot think straight.

  39. Congrats ! You’re glowing !! Thank you for sharing your story. Truly inspiring.

  40. Not the typical story, great to see the Primal way of life helping all sorts of issues. You look amazing!

  41. A sincere congratulations to you for turning your life around. You do look pretty and healthy:)

  42. Thank you for all of your kind comments! I was a little embarrassed to post this, and was a little apprehensive. But now I am glad I did! I hope this can inspire someone struggling with the same issues I had. What a great a community PB has!

  43. WOWWOWWOW!!! You look absolutely fantastic!! I am so proud of you!

  44. Your story is very encouraging–thanks for sharing it. You look radiantly healthy and healthily radiant!

  45. You are amazing! I was struggling with eating disorders from my teenage years up to late 20-ties as well. And I thought I was the only one. Now that I can spread the word about primal & strength training to other women I hear that most of us have all been there.
    Sharing stories like these really open our minds to the actual reality and are ending the B.S. that we were absorbed in. Grok on Girrrl! Grrrr :))))

  46. Fantastic! You should caption the bottom photo, “This is the body FAT built!” That might help some of the people who are still convinced SAD is the way.

  47. Wow! What a story, and what a transformation! Nutrition has been key to my mental health, too. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and congratulations on your success!

  48. You are absolutely glowing!

    The change in your facial expression, body language, and general energy is astounding.

    Congratulations!

  49. What a great success story! Congratulations on your improved health, both physical and mental!

  50. One of my favorite stories so far on MDA. You look incredibly healthy and happy in those last two pictures. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. The second picture I was still vegan and at a pretty unhealthy weight. It’s probably hard to tell cause I had a major fruit binge before that picture was taken! lol. But thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  51. You look amazing and healthy. Its fantastic how far you have come 😀 a true testament to yourself!!!

  52. One of the most inspiring primal/paleo stories I’ve read. You look outstanding and your transformation (MENTAL and physical) is just unreal. Really shows how food has such a huge impact on how we look and feel – although every time I say that now, I can’t believe there was a time in my life when I thought otherwise. Your son is lucky to have you back, and I’m glad you have your life back. Keep doing what you’re doing! I have no doubt that this post will save lives.

  53. Wow……thank you so much for sharing your story, I’ve been struggling to go “primal” for awhile now despite knowing how important eating real food is. After reading how much it has done for you mentally – its the kick up the bum I needed – Thank you!

    Also I just wanted to say, you look amazing now and so much younger, you could pass for the daughter of your old self it that makes sense?!

  54. I have a similar story with Primal living basically turning around my depression and anxiety as well as gaining 20 pounds of pure muscle and huge strength gains.
    Congrats and Grok on

  55. Great job ,congrats on your recovery i’m very happy for you that you made it through such a trying time in your life and welcome to the best group of people in the world.

  56. This is probably one of my favorite success stories. I really believe processed carbs are causing a lot of anxiety problems. I notice that I am a lot less anxious/OCD when eating primal.

  57. Soooo, happy for this young woman! I had bulimia an did not get well until I ate healthy fats and lots of protein. Now I know I can point anorexics toward MDA also! I learned about the screwed up brain chemistry from Julia Ross’s “The Diet Cure”, I was so astounded by my mental and physical recovery I researched all I could on nutrition, and found myself here 2 yrs ago. I hope I can get some people I know to read this young woman’s story…she looks so healthy!

    1. I learned about the screwed up brain chemistry of vegans from Julia Ross as well- most of the girls in an eating disorder clinic were indeed former veg*ns. (Whether it was the diet itself that pushed them over the edge or using the lifestyle as a “cover” for avoiding food remained to be seen. Still). But quite possibly, apparently it’s a lack of zinc, tryptophan, and fat from animal sources that starve the brain of essential nutrients and screw up normal thinking patterns.

      So, to the original poster: Many times over, I’m so happy for you (and for your baby to have a healthy mom!!)

      You said, “Although I am sure there is no proof, I believe that the lack of saturated fats and too many carbs completely messed up my mental health.” You’re in luck- there actually IS proof! Julia Ross’ “The Diet Cure” was already mentioned, but also there was a study during WWII called the “Minnesota Starvation Experiment” in which previously healthy men voluntarily ate a diet consisting of only potatoes, grains, and certain vegetables (to resemble a postwar European diet). No meat. Not only did they become extremely thin and weak, but their mental health declined as well, and some of them even developed symptoms of eating disorders before people even knew what they were(!)- low body image, depression, mood swings, binging/hoarding, etc. (Remember, these were previously healthy MEN!) I wish more people knew about this stuff. The fact that eating this way can contribute to eating disorders is NOT a popular viewpoint within the ED community.

      1. Wasn’t Hitler himself also a vegan? Or at least a vegetarian? How long did he keep to that diet until he got paranoid and surrounded himself with yes-men, until Germany began to lose WWII?

  58. How long until your periods were recovered? Mine have been gone since 2007 and now with my body at a normal weight still haven’t returned 🙁 I’d love some advice

    1. It took me only 25 months. The only thing I can honestly say is eat more calories and exercise a bit less for a little while. I am not sure of your stats, but it doesn’t really matter. The reason why you loss your period was starvation. Eat a bit more and don’t be afraid of eat non-primal things as you are gaining. As I mentioned, I ate 3000 calories of both primal and non primal food for a short period of time.

        1. How did you transition into the diet from your bulimia? I have been binging with some bouts of purging for a year now. The binging has been horrendous and makes me feel awful. Bloated, lethargic, puffy, fat, etc. I feel I need to give my body a break with a detox before to get out all the accumulated crap I’ve put in it and through it. Any thoughts?

  59. Beautiful story further validating the importance of healthy animal fat and the primal diet. The healthy saturated fat of the primal diet is necessary for maintenance of neuron membrane integrity, preserving the proper flow of nutrients into neurons and waste products out of neurons.

    Animal fat from clean sources (wild – clean environment and from chemical-free sustainable farms with free-range grass-fed meats) contributes profoundly to prevention of irritability, depression, Alzheimer’s, premature memory loss and loss of cognitive function.

    No CAFO meat or dairy or factory farmed chickens or turkeys. Find out exactly how to source your food from the best chemical-free sustainable farmers in your area by visiting:
    http://www.nu-gen.net/securing-best-food-sources/

  60. All I can say is “WOW” — “Wonderful Outstanding Wrecovery!”

    I’ve never had to deal with what you had to go through, but I can only imagine how difficult it can be. You’re definitely an inspiration to everyone who is in your situation.

    Your fortitude and resolve are a wonderful message to those gals (and guys, too) you need help and who sometimes think there’s no end to the misery.

  61. I am in tears – you look beautiful, but more important your story says you are happy and that gives to all of us – including your baby. You have given me the courage to truly embrace what I know is good for me, no matter the vegan pressure around me. THANK YOU!

    1. If being vegan is so great, why do those around you need to pressure you to participate?

  62. I can attest to primal eating helping mental health. I’ve suffered from depression and apathy which got worse after quitting nicotine cold turkey (anxiety and the blahs even though my body felt better). I ‘pampered’ myself with any comfort food I wanted but continued to loose weight from under eating due not really caring. Weight loss leveled and I was always in a bad mood and nervous, tired, drained, etc. My mind felt like mush. Since cutting grains and moving in a primal direction my thoughts are positive, I WANT to move (had sushi tonight, walked to the store, bought a smoothie blender, walked back and made a blackberry and coconut water smoothie), and I catch myself smiling and feeling energetic and engaging. It really helps. Congratulations!

  63. “I know this is not a typical success story, but I feel that my mental success is equally as important as my physical success.”

    Not typical in the sense that most success stories are about losing immense amounts of weight, but still not that far from the rest in that Primal living really is about making peace with food and with yourself. You are like much of the Primal community in that you have regained control of your life and are at peace (or at least as much at peace as any of us can be in this hectic world.)

    Congrats–your story brought tears to my eyes. You look beautiful. Way to go on Grok on!

  64. What am amazing story and transformation. You look fantastic. Thank you for sharing your story – the mental is one of the biggest parts! Awesome job overcoming your fears and going for it. What an awesome pay off for your efforts. 🙂

  65. What a great post! I can say that you are so right about this subject. I had a different issue with health but you are so right about your post.

    Thank you for sharing

  66. Awesome! So inspiring and thank you for bringing the topic of mental health into a success story. I have seen tremendous changes in my mental health and have experienced freedom from depression and anxiety with Primal/Paleo eating as my foundation. Thank you for sharing your amazing and inspiring story.

  67. 30+ years ago, I was on the roller coaster of bulimia and anorexia. It was a horrible way to live. After three years, I decided I didn’t hate myself enough to kill myself to be thin, but I never developed a healthy relationship with food or my body. Last year, I discovered the Primal Blueprint and I felt, for the first time, that beating my body into submission and ignoring the existence of my body as much as I could wasn’t the only way to keep from getting “fat”. This past year has been my best ever. With a little blip caused by a paleo challenge (food logging and rigidity skirted far too closely to the edge of obsessive), I have maintained a healthy and positive attitude. I just want you to know that this way of life will serve you well, even when you’re not a sweet young thing! Congratulations on coming so far…sharing your story (with pictures!) was so brave!

  68. Your baby is beautiful and so are you.! Best wishes for you and your family

  69. Great story. Good for you. Well done.

    And man, look at all the comments about shit carbs/low fat and anxiety/depression problems. Crazy.

  70. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing your story! I have battled anorexia since I was a teenager and seeing your before and after pictures made me cry. Your after picture is beautiful, you look happy and full of life! Before, I was so focused on just being THIN…whatever it took. And, boy, does it mess with your head when you’re not eating and almost faint and a boyfriend tells you how hot you look. (Yikes!)

    I think the real wakeup call was when I passed out at work one day because I hadn’t eaten. I was sick of feeling so fatigued, getting ill all the time, and having no emotional balance. Once I shifted my focus from “being thin” to “being healthy (meaning as close to whole foods as possible, eating regularly, exercising regularly but with a spirit of gentleness, not punishment)”, I was amazed at the difference. I gained about 15 pounds, and am now at a healthy weight for my height. Not only that, but I have energy and rarely get sick! I am only about a week into eating primal, but I already love it! My digestion (sry…tmi??) Is worlds better and I feel even more energetic and I don’t feel like I constantly need to “graze” to feel full.

    Huge congrats on gaining back your health, and thank you again for your inspiring story!

  71. Wow, this is scarily similar to my own story. You are amazing ^_^

  72. Thank you for sharing your story. I can pretty much relate to everything said – anorexia, food anxiety, binging and Primal Blueprint as a way of finding balance and TRUE satisfaction in terms of food and – well – everything. 🙂
    Thanks again and wish you all the best!

  73. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is so heartening for me to read this. I have struggled with anorexia for the past fifteen years. It is such a devastating, nightmare of an obsession. It is such a self inflicted prison. Hearing about your journey is truly inspirational and gives me a deep hope for myself and my freedom. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  74. You… look… MARVELOUS! Congratulations on your recovery!!! Now you can be a happy, healthy mom for your beautiful baby. Alright!

  75. Congrats on your primal recovery. On top of all the other comments, I just had to add, your son is a cutiepie! You will enjoy him so much more, now that you are healthy. And starting off right on the correct diet will benefit him for a lifetime. I am so happy for your whole family.

  76. I can really relate to your story. I’ve been anorexic/bulimic for about ten years and am finally finding my footing (recovering).

    Although I’m just getting started eating primally, I’ve already noticed the profound effect that eating grains has on my body. After not eating grains for about two weeks and then trying some cereal, my body just felt so bloated/tired!

    Congratulations on your success. It’s really inspiring to hear how well you’ve done eating primally, and how it’s helped you recover. You look radiant now, you look truly happy.

  77. Very inspiring. I also suffered from an eating disorder for many years. You look so beautiful and healthy! Keep up the good work.

  78. You are very brave for sharing! SO happy for you and your family! Now you can hunt and gather for your little one 🙂

  79. I want to make it clear that the second picture is NOT an after picture. I wasn’t even primal in that picture. I noticed that Mark thought it was an after picture. I don’t want anorexic girls to think that is recovery, I was at least 10 pounds underweight. this is a perfect example of people seeing someone lean and then think “oh they must e healthy” not! I had a lot of Heath issues when that pic was taken. And I can honestly see a huge improvement from the 2nd to 3rd pic. (almost a 25 lb difference). I know no one really cares but I wanted to make that clear.

  80. Girl, you were gonna die soon if you didn’t change something! You look very alive now.

  81. You really are beautiful! Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing. 🙂

  82. Melissa, what a great result for you, that great looking boy of yours is just perfect. Dont forget about him ! His primal start will set him up in todays society as probably one of the few to remain healthy due to the proper nurishment platform from an early age, the age when everything is developing. The most important time. Congratulation on your strength.

  83. Melissa, you look absolutely gorgeous in that final picture. You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. the difference in pics is night and day. Congrats!

  84. You look beautiful and so so healthy. You should be very proud of yourself!

  85. As a former anorexic, who is now slightly overweight from focusing on the wrong foods, this is so inspiring to me, i am new to eating this way and already feel sooooo much better

  86. Wonderful story, and you now look so healthy and beautiful and happy.
    Great!

  87. Wow, you look great. So healthy. Thanks for sharing. My sister was anorexic (“is”) , so this hit home. I hope you continue to live a wonderful, healthy life. All the best. Thanks for being brave and sharing.

  88. Congrats to you! Thank you for the inspiration! Enjoy your healthy life!

  89. Wow, what a positive change! You are now gorgeous, and what’s more important, healthy.

    My sincere congratulations for you and your family.

  90. Rrreow ! You look fantastic ! You even LOOK happy ! Way to take control !

  91. I have yet to post anything on MDA, but just had to post in response to your amazing story.

    I struggled with anorexia in high school and never even considered a possible link (among many other links) to my vegetarianism at the time.

    Thank you for sharing your story and opening my eyes – so, so inspirational and you look radiant!

  92. When I got to the third picture, I noticed your skin first. You are actually glowing with good health. Not only do you look ten years younger, there’s happiness in your eyes. Way to go!!

  93. JLeah try reading the book “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth. I would suggest it to anyone who struggled with an eating disorder. Primal helped stop the physical cravings, gave me more energy and focus, but the book helped me stop the emotional cravings and let go of some powerful “truths” I had been repeating to myself for years.
    Melissa~ you are Fn awesome! Well done on your journey to a happier and healthier place, and thanks for the inspiration!

  94. I rarely leave comments but just wanted to congratulate you on your recovery and success. You look wonderful and healthy! Good for you and your family. I wish you continued success!

  95. As a male, I can say with authority that few things are as shudder-inducing as a pic of an anorexic young female. Simply terrible.

    It´s great to see that you´ve recovered into a (attractive, natch) normal body comp.

    As an aside regarding some of the discussion in the thread, some people probably have terribly disordered leptin systems, etc. after a serious metabolic disorder and will not be able to simply “eat primal” in order to stay on the up-and-up.

    They will have to watch amounts and macronutrient ratios in order to be able to at least manage their condition.

  96. I still remember reading, in Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution, the words “no one ever binged on steak and salad.”

    While I had managed the emotion issues with bingeing by my mid-twenties, the physiological issues, such as the tiredness, the depression, and the constant hunger, had not become clear to me until I started low carbing.

    Then, with Primal; it all fell into place for me.

    You look so healthy, happy, and gorgeous in your last photo. I am so glad you are there for your partner & baby!

  97. Hi Melissa,

    I can’t believe that I’m reading your success story here! I actually stumbled across your youtube diary three weeks ago and am so happy for you that you’ve come so far. I really admire your strength, I randomly decided to do some reading on MDA and I had a double take when I was saw your picture here. You are an inspiration, and you are SO beautiful in your last picture.

    I too, was most unhealthy (physically and mentally) when I was eating very little fat and animal products. I am not fully recovered since the disordered eating thoughts are still present, even overwhelming at times. I still feel guilty for not exercising, and am scared to gain weight. I would say I’m about where you were in your second picture. I still have a long ways to go, especially mentally, but your story really gives me hope.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m feeling more optimistic now.

    Best wishes!

  98. Wow, great story. And by the way, you look great. Healthy and attractive.

  99. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your story, Melissa.

    I have a history with ED: was diagnosed with AN at age 12. While I thought I had overcome it, symptoms began reappearing, including problems with night eating, in university. I’m currently involved in a support group and seeking therapy.

    I’ve been eating Paleo for a little over a year now. I’ll admit I’m still largely afraid of increasing my fat intake – I have my “safe fats” and generally rotate between those… sticking largely to lean proteins as well.

    The body’s ability to ‘self-regulate’ is amazing and I would love to give my body back that control. Your story is so inspiring and has encouraged me to reevaluate my approach to ‘primal living’.

  100. Wow your an inspiration you should be so proud of yourself! Well done hun x

  101. Thank you for your story!! You look so beautiful and healthy. If you don’t mind me asking, how long were you on Primal before you got your period back (TMI? LOL)

    I’m seriously considering trying it for that very reason!

  102. You know I read your story weeks ago, but I just read it again….you just look *so* beautiful in that last photo. Healthy, vibrant, rosy-cheeked….and happy. Congratulations. 🙂

  103. This story really inspired me, congratulations. I am about to embark on my primal jorney, i am making good choices now but want to go completly primal, thanks for all the knowledge 🙂

  104. Wow. I am moved by your story. I struggle with food. You said it…carbs are like crack!

  105. This is truly inspiring to me, I am currently going through the same thing you were and I am on the road to recovery, I am very curious about your story. You should be so proud of all you accomplishments, you look great

  106. WOW. My story is identical to yours. Waking up from being entrenched in a horrific dream is bliss; isn’t it?

  107. Lovely to hear you’ve recovered that well! I really have kind of the same story; one year ago, at the age of 14, I developed an eating disorder. Fats were banned and even though I lost “just” 12 pounds, I felt horrible. I had been a real athlete all my life and I lost almost all my muscle mass. While recovering, I also really started binge eating; a lot of carbs, sugary bars, chocolate and other unhealthy foods. But, it did gain me weight. But I also started sports again to get that muscle mass back I had lost, because I wanted to look like how I used to look. So I started reading about nutrition and how you can build muscle mass. I kept searching and reading and came to your site like 2 months ago. I’m still not fully primal because I find it really hard to ditch the carbs completely, but I now know what my body needs and try to do as much as I can to give that to my body. I’m only fifteen years old and people around me do think I’m a bit crazy sometimes when I try to convince them grains just aren’t good for you and saturated dietary fats are. They won’t believe me. But I am feeling so energized and healthy now, it’s unbelievable. Thanks.

  108. That is a great story! I have been considering going into psychological counseling for a career and hopefully helping people who are either insecure or suffer from eating disorders and help then become creative and help find their path to healthy living and eating without fearing themselves of becoming fat.

  109. Melissa, thank you so much for sharing. I do not have typical anorexia nervosa, but I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight for some time now due to violent food allergies and stress-related stomach pain that makes me not want to eat. I am 5’9,” 20 years old, and have been teetering at around 97 lb for several months now. Of course I am receiving medical attention and have tons of support from a great family, but sometimes it seems like it will be impossible to gain and maintain the 20+ pounds I need to be healthy. It is so inspiring to see your before/after pictures because it helps me believe that there is a way to bounce back. I just stumbled on this website and can’t wait to give primal living a try! Thanks again for your brave and remarkable story.

  110. Congratulations- this may be the most inspiring story yet- overcoming the mental aspect of an eating disorder and saving your life! You look so healthy and happy!