February 17 2012

I Decided I Had Nothing to Lose

By Guest

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!

My name is Pamela Mathews and I’ve always been an active person. I also have never been shy when it comes to eating. After three kids (the last one having an emergency C-section) and two arthroscopic knee surgeries on the same knee (six months apart), my weight started to skyrocket. I bought my first pair of size 14 jeans and I weighed 180 pounds. I could no longer play on my city tennis team due to my knee problem. Two doctors told me I needed a knee replacement but they wouldn’t perform one until I was 50 years old. I had almost 10 years to go. I couldn’t run anymore and I thought my stomach didn’t have a chance after my C-section. My husband, David Mathews, and I have a garage gym that we used at least 6 days a week. We also thought we were eating correctly. You know whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, black beans and brown rice, Kashi cereal, plain yogurt, meats, fruits and vegetables.

In June 2007, my husband went to a certification. When he returned he said, “Something is not right. The people running the certification are all so lean. We are missing something.” David did some research and discovered they were eating Primal. He bought your book, The Primal Blueprint and after reading it he started to eat Primal. He spoke with me about eating this way. He suggested at first I cut out cereal in my yogurt each morning. I did and I lost a little weight but then he told me he was going to eat Primal for good and he wanted me to do the same. I’ll have to admit it was not an easy decision for me. I thought long and hard about it for a while. I thought, “This might cause a huge problem between us. If I prepare a meal and he doesn’t eat it then I’ll be upset.” I wasn’t sure I could eat Primal for good but David was dedicated to this way of life. I decided I had nothing to lose, I was 41 years old and overweight and I was concerned about developing diabetes.

On November 15, 2007, our 21st wedding anniversary, I went Primal. I made my decision that I was going to give this a month. I cut out all pasta, bread, sugar, beans, and potatoes. I had already eliminated cereal from my diet. I was now eating nothing but meat, vegetables, very little fruit and a few almonds and walnuts. After two weeks, I was looking in the mirror and it looked as if the fat on my midsection was melting away. What an incentive! After one month, I lost ten pounds. The next month, I lost another ten pounds (I had a lot of fat to lose). I ended up losing 40 pounds and since I continued to exercise while I lost weight I became toned. It was amazing!! I was back to wearing a bikini. I never thought I’d see that day again and my jeans are now a size 6.

During this time I cleaned out our pantry and donated everything we were no longer eating. We became a Primal Family. One of our boys lost 15 pounds before tennis season started by eating Primal. My husband’s dad is on your Primal program and he now takes zero medications. He is 79 years old.

My husband and I have been married for 25 years and we walk the walk and talk the Primal talk. It works!! I forgot to mention that I have excellent blood work. You can’t get any healthier than that.

Our boys are in college and they cheat a little, but they know Primal eating works. They saw their mom’s body transform for the better. Our teenage daughter struggles, but I believe she will change to strict Primal one day. She knows so much about it.

Thanks for writing The Primal Blueprint. It has helped me, David and our family. We have shared your book and recommended it to others to purchase and they too had success. My husband recommended your book to someone recently and he lost 20 pounds in two months. For others that didn’t need to lose much weight, it helped their blood work.


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118 thoughts on “I Decided I Had Nothing to Lose”

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  1. Wonderful story! I am so glad you found a lifestyle that is working for you and that your family is happy and healthy. Keep up the good work

  2. Love Success Story Fridays! Thank you for sharing your inspirational journey with us 🙂

  3. Awesome story and pictures! So inspiring. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Way to go, Pamela! I LOVE how you brought the whole family along with you for the Primal ride!

      1. I love to hear about the kids. I, too, have a son who has also lost a significant % of body fat since we’ve been primal and the ripple effects outwards within a family are one of the best things about PB, IMO.

  5. Awesome results and outcome. I know where you’re coming from regarding the both of you needing to be Primal. My wife & I struggle with this as I push for Primal and she still reaches for the chips/pasta/rice. It’s a work in progress but I think we’ll both get there. Congrats to your family for finding the right path to success!

  6. Congratulations! You and David have established not only a health middle age – but also set the stage for healthy senior years. Now is the time for that.

    And, those pictures really tell the story. Handsome family, mom and dad definitely into middle age. Then, THAT’s a middle aged couple? Wow do they BOTH look great! What’s their secret? LOL!

    I totally get what you mean about eating “healthy” – I was doing the same thing. Yet, I can promise you that eating “healthy” doesn’t stop the creeping weight gain nor the risk of diabetes.

    Not going to have regrets about not making this change earlier in life. But, you and David are definitely ahead of the game! Give that man a big hug for encouraging you to make this journey with him. Hope you both have many more happy, healthy years together. 🙂

  7. Pam–YOU LOOK FANTASTIC IN YOUR BIKINI!!! (hubby is lookin’ great too!!) I worry my kids (who are still so young–6 and 7) who also know so much about primal eating even so young–will end up rebelling as young adults and choose a SAD path. I think that is my greatest fear as a parent!! I guess if that is my greatest fear, we are doing alright. Take care, Pam. Thanks for sharing your story!!

    1. It seems like once kids are done rebelling, they realize that their parents really had the right idea, and they eventually go back to the old ways. Don’t stress, it will just make it harder for everybody if and when they start eating CW foods. Plus, if they’ve been eating Primal for so long, they will just end up feeling awful when they eat poisonous foods, and it won’t be hard to quit.

      1. Our teenage daughter really struggles with primal eating. She has days when she binges and I can always tell because her attitude changes. It upsets me because I want her to be healthy too. My husband always says to her, “What everyone else is eating or doing, do the opposite. The majority of the population is sick.” We only keep primal foods in our home but if the kids want something else then they need to buy it. She is probably rebelling but I believe in my heart she will see that her parents are right.

        1. Its great that you expect your kids to finance their own detours from the primal diet. You are already fully meeting your responsibilities as parents by making sure that they eat well and regularly. That’s how we handled teen age fast food rebellion in our household, too.

        2. I’d suggest not making it an issue with her because it’s a battle you can’t win. A teenager’s developmental job is to separate from parents, and part of that is rebelling against limits set by parents. If you draw hard lines, she’ll rebel.

          In addition, teen girls have raging hormones that ultimately affect their insulin levels and their cravings, so she has to learn to deal with that.

          I’d say keep your home primal, be a good example, and let her eat what she wants on her own dime.

  8. You look amazing, congrats!

    Proof that you can banish the “mummy tummy”. Love it!

  9. This is really encouraging to hear. 🙂

    I talked to my folks about me going primal. My dad has type 2 diabetes/sleep apnea and they’re concerned that he might have colon cancer. I REALLY hope they give primal a go, since last I checked their pantry was stocked to the gills with wheat/pasta/flour items.

    Good to hear about how going Primal can change not just your life, but your loved ones’ lives as well.

    1. I wish all our loved ones would go Primal. All we can do is try. Unfortunately we can’t help everyone. My whole family saw what happened to me but they didn’t change their eating habits.

      1. What’s that saying – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Hard when we care about someone but there it is.

  10. You two look amazing! I’m glad to hear you’re teaching your kids about it too…we can’t have too many Groks running around.

  11. You guys look fabulous! I really want my kids to eat primal but we are struggling. What is your workout routine like?

    1. Thanks. You need to be committed to Primal eating. When we started all the meals we prepared for the family were Primal. I can’t control what my kids eat outside our home. As parents we need to keep teaching them what’s best for them and hopefully they will learn from it.

      I workout six days a week. The 7th day is housework or yard work. David works out 7 days a week. He is my trainer. We do a maximum effort lift each day followed by a short crossfittish workout.

      Good luck to you and your family.

      1. Thanks for replying! I’ve been primal over 18 months, DH is new to it. The kids are fighting tooth and nail as they love bread (and one of them won’t eat veggies – I sneak them into smoothies for him). We’re trying to do it in baby steps…

  12. Wow! You guys look great. My story is very similar. My husband started on the diet then got me hooked on it. I just started 2 weeks ago. You’re story inspires me to keep going

    1. Keep it up!! It’s great when you both are in it together. You can do it!

  13. You look AMAZING in a bikini! Awesome job, congrats.
    I especially enjoyed reading about how your entire household is pretty much Primal. That’s a goal I have for my own family. I’d love for my husband to be as passionate about the lifestyle as me….Maybe one day!! You’ve motivated me, thanks. 🙂

  14. You look hot! I hope my girlfriend looks that good when she is 40+ 🙂

  15. Another thing that is so great in this account is the longevity of your success. To have started in 2007 and be still going strong in 2012 is inspiring!

    What has happened to your knee pain? Are you back to playing tennis?

    1. Primal eating is our way of life. The muscles around my right knee are so much stronger that I don’t have any pain. I still don’t play tennis. David and I did the Warrior Dash race in January and I ran most of the 5K and I didn’t have any pain or swelling. I was so Happy.

      1. That is inspiring to hear! I am 17 and i’am already having knee issues. ugh. It’s so great to hear of someone proving the doctors wrong! Hopefully by eating well I can be as active as you are at 40+! You guys are an inspiration!

  16. Yay for Fridays!

    Awesome story Pamela! You two look AMAZING in your after photo. What a eye opener for people who have not been exposed to the PB. I am always sharing the Friday stories out to my friends and family (who know we’ve made the change but still remain skeptical) in the hope that we’ll convert others with constant steady pressure of the success of others. 🙂 Cheers.

  17. Awesome Pamela! I have preteens so it was interesting to hear about your kids. I just *know* they have pizza when I’m not looking. But one day, I hope they will get on the PB bandwagon for good with the example they’ve been set at home.

    You look great, so does your husband, what a transformation! 🙂

  18. great story! did the weight loss help signifiantly with your knee pain?

    1. Definitely. It’s so much easier walking around without carrying another 40 pounds. Years ago I had a custom made knee brace I had to wear. Today, I don’t need it and it’s a good thing since the brace doesn’t even fit my leg. The strength training has also helped.

  19. Amazing story, Pamela! You guys look so great and vibrant! This is good encouragement to keep working on my grain-loving husband. 🙂

  20. This story hits home for me. Postive reinforcement!!! Your after picture speaks volumes. Just started the transition to primal about 2 weeks ago and hoping I can be a success story just in time for summer! My daughter (21) is trying to make the change too – but struggling, so I am trying to just SHOW her it works!

  21. I’m confused. I thought The Primal Blueprint came out in 2009.

    1. I think the blog’s been around longer, but I could be wrong. This story is great. I love Fridays! I just sent this to my mother :)Hope she doesn’t kill me!

  22. Both you and your husband totally look ten years younger in the second picture 😀 Congratulations on building a healthy family!

  23. Congratulations you two!! You look incredible. I’m going to make sure my mom reads this because it’s very inspiring. She went primal less than a month ago and has already lost 12 lbs!

  24. Holy cow! Great job, Pamela! Did you have stretch marks before your weight loss? I’m nearing my goal weight now, and I don’t think I’ll ever be confident enough to wear a bikini again. My stomach and sides are just covered in stretch marks and losing weight so far hasn’t helped them much. Did yours fade on their own?

    1. I have stretch marks and some did fade but it still doesn’t stop me from wearing a bikini. I’m proud of my accomplishment.

  25. Another inspirational story: congrats to Pam and David- who would have thought that middle age could look/be so good? Are you sure you are not just out of college? 😉

  26. Pamela, you didn’t mention how your knees are now.
    I would imagine after 5 years grain free that they are fully recovered.
    A great success story!

    1. My knees feel great. I’m still bone on bone on the right knee but it is stronger and I have no pain. My legs are much stronger since I do heavy back squats and front squats.

  27. Pamela, you and your husband look GREAT on the beach–lovin’ those six-pack abs!

    Congrats on all your progress, and thanks for being a little bit of inspiration to all of us today 🙂

  28. It’s so great that this is a family thing for you guys!! I’m on the other side- I’m the teen who keeps trying to convince her parents and brother! Congrats on your success and on having such a beautiful family to share it with 🙂

  29. Admit it, that After picture was taken on your honeymoon, right?

    Just kidding, but it looks like it!
    Congratulations on being healthier!

  30. Great job! I’m Primal for life an my fiancee is currently struggling with making the transition (much more of a sugar problem than I ever had), so this really resonates with me. Verrry hard to turn down food someone has made for you without majorly rocking the boat.

  31. Great job by the whole family, Pam! You look wonderful, and are an inspiration for this 40-something to stay the course!

  32. I love hearing inspirational stories like this but must admit they upset me a little because I have been eating strict paleo since October and have not lost a pound. I work out 5 days a week. I eat low carb paleo- no high glycemic foods, limit myself to one glass of wine a week, no dairy except occasional goat cheese. I mainly eat eggs, veggies, and meat. I take my vitamin d etc. I have been feeling much better, more healthy, stronger immune system etc. I have PCOS and my symptoms have improved significantly…would just LOVE to see some actual weight loss that everyone talks about when they go paleo. I am getting married in 3 months and freaking out. I’ve struggled my whole life and for someone who eats and lives so healthy, I feel like I deserve a better body.

    1. Hey Ellie! Sorry to hear about your troubles 🙁
      I’ve had a similar experience, though I did lose some weight in the beginning I have about 40 lbs to go and the scale hasn’t budged for the last four months.
      Have you listened to Robb Wolf’s podcasts? He recommends females like us with PCOS and other androgen issues to try supplementing with Calcium D-Glucarate or Diindolylmethane. Mine are in the mail right now since I live in rural Thailand it’ll take a while but I’m sure you’ll be able to find yours at a regular health shop.
      Good luck! And congrats on your wedding 🙂

    2. I am speculating that in cases like Pamela’s where people haven’t been carrying a lot of body fat for very long AND were previously very active the body is more likely to let go of that pretty easily.
      I have to remind myself that for someone like me who has been overweight since their early teens and stressing their body with starvation diets it may take some more tweaking to shift the fat. I will keep researching and tweaking my Primal diet and activity until I find what works for me.
      I am so happy that I no longer feel bloated or moody, have eliminated the irritatiting post nasal drip and ongoing indigestion!

    3. It took 5-6 months for my body to start letting go of the weight. Over a year later, I still have weeks where I lose easily and quickly then plateau for a month or so. I’m halfway to my goal in pounds, but my body shape has changed dramatically for the better! Make it your lifestyle and you’ll get there, maybe not as quickly as some, but you will! Congrats on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

    4. If your doing everything right then don’t worry about the scale, go by how your clothes fit. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding.

  33. Thank you for the inspiration!! I was thinking of driving to Krispy Kreme after work. But after seeing your pictures, I changed my plans and bought 2 organic chickens and some vegetables. One for soup and one for roasting. It’ll be a Primal weekend. Wow, I want to look like you two. Your story offers me hope. Congratulations.

  34. I cannot believe you are the same couple as in the first picture! You look so amazing! I want to look that good in a bikini again – thanks for the inspiration!

  35. What strikes me is how successful you and your husband have been since 2007. It shows that the Primal lifestyle is one that works for both health and fitness. Very well done!

  36. Oh my goodness me – is it the same person??!

    Congratulations bikini girl! The transformation is just incredible – what a wonderful inspiration you are.

    Keep spreading that good primal word (and primal respect to gramps – btw is he the oldest primal success story??)

  37. Wow! Amazing, Pamela!

    I especially liked reading about how you decided to go Primal even though you weren’t so sure you could, long-term. Seems like it took being honest with yourself (overweight, risk of diabetes) and then just going for it. Sure beats excuses and rationalizing!

    David looks great as well. Nice beach pic of you two!


    1. Thanks. It wasn’t an easy decision but I’m so glad I did it. My baby brother had Muscular Dystrophy and he lived to be 27 years old. He was amazing. I watched him fight to live his whole life. Some of us have no excuses.

  38. Y’all look sooo good! Wow you started on this way back in 2007. I was on Atkins and low carb back in 2004 but I did not really know about Paleo/primal and MDA until 2010.
    I live alone but I envy people like you who are a couple doing primal together in a committed way and having gotten your kids (for the most part) and other family on board. Congratulations again you and hubby look fabulous such a dramatic change.

  39. This is a great success story! I am so happy that you and your whole family went “whole hog!”

    I convinced my vegetarian daughters to do this too. They are 12 and 15. I’m convinced it’s helping with allergies.

  40. What speaks to me about your story is that neither one of you are youngsters anymore! Pamela, you’ve had your pregnancies (3 of ’em!) and your husband isn’t a kid anymore, yet you’ve proven how effective a PB lifestyle can be.

    I love the way you eased into a Primal lifestyle not being sure that this was the way to go: “I made my decision that I was going to give this a month. I cut out all pasta, bread, sugar, beans, and potatoes.” I probably couldn’t count the number of people that I know that have that same feeling and reaction when hearing about PB.

    Without a doubt there’s hope for us “older” folks! Not to mention the health benefits that go along with it. Thank you so much for posting your story and all the very best to you and your family!

    1. It’s so much stronger now. I don’t have any pain or swelling.

  41. That’s fantastic! I have to admit, I needed to do a double check on the photos because it didn’t look like the same people… Well done.

  42. Only one thing wrong…. Not enough ‘after’ photos. Hotness is right!

  43. WTG!!! I read Gary Taubes’ book and started my journey 6 weeks ago. I just got Primal Blueprint and so excited! I am down 17lbs in 6weeks and my partner just started a week ago. Excited about this process and love seeing stories with great results!!!!

  44. Great story, congrats! inspired very much by it, good for you. I am approaching 48 years, been primal for 4mo, lost 30lbs, and it is the best thing that happened to me health wise.

    Same in our house, my wife is onboard, college going son is slowly getting into it, college and high school daughters not that much, but hope they do too.

  45. Very inspiring and congrats! You guys did turn back the clock and more, and look so much happier, which is what really counts!

  46. Pamela, you guys look fantastic! You are my age and you are now officially my bikini hero! 🙂

  47. I have a story very similar to yours. I am a primal follower for life. My biggest struggle is not sticking to the lifestyle, my biggest struggle is not being annoying and talking to it about everyone I meet — especially when I see someone eating a bagel with margarine, potato salad, and soda!

  48. Congrats to you both, you look wonderful and I am sure feel much better than you ever did.
    I am dragging my teens kicking and screaming into the Primal life also.
    My 16 year old daughter is a carb addict and can not fully commit.
    It is sad to know that her acne, mood swings, and chubbiness would all be gone if she followed the Primal path.
    I can only pray that she will see how well we are doing and want to follow someday.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  49. Congratulations! You guys look great, with smiles to match.

    I’ve only been on this for a few months, but I’ve got a bad knee too and it’s definitely helping. I still don’t look as good as you guys do, but it seems more attainable with every Friday’s success story.

    My family is on board too. My mom and dad saw all the weight I lost and the change in my mood, and now they’re off wheat and doing their research. My dad is diabetic, but in the last few months his blood sugar numbers have really improved.

    It’s easy to get healthy and stay that way: Just listen to what the government tells you… and do the opposite!

  50. very inspiring.. what a marked change in body composition.. i have been primal for 2 months now and feel better and look better than i have in years..

  51. Seeing these results on you guys is amazing, you guys look great on the beach, if you did not say you were in your mid 40s I wouldve said you guys were in your mid 30!

    I whish I could get my parents to even think about this, I gave them everything to read, yet still when I ask what are you guys eating in the morning, they say “Oats”, or they bring out a whole bread at dinner and ask me if I want a slice?

    Ive been Priomal for 3 years they know what I eat etc.. Yet their minds are so stubborn that they just plainly ignore it, sometimes I think they do it on purpous.

    There isnt a day my dad has not made some kind of cake, its rediculous if you saw him youd think he was a pregnant man yet he still doesnt make a change! So sad…

  52. You youngsters do too many things the hard way.
    Want to be healthy? Eat no processed food. Drink only chlorine/flouride free water. Is that hard to understand?
    ‘Primal’ is for sex.

  53. You are one hot mamma! I’m not even kidding. I’m about half your age, but your body is absolutely rockin’!

  54. hi pamela- i hope you are still reading comments. after being paleo since 2009, i look similar to you except for my abdomen. i am wondering where you usually gain weight- is it mostly on the abdomen or all over? also, it would be so valuable if you could go more in-depth into your experiences. how can you workout and do squats with bad knees? i don’t workout nearly as much as you and now i’m thinking maybe i could lose my 3 month pregnancy look if i worked out more. i’m 46 and gained a lot of weight with both pregnancies. my last pregnancy was when i was 32. how old were you at the time of your last pregnancy? thx and congratulations.

    1. Hi! We are about the same age. I’ll be 46 in April and David is 52. I was 28 with my last pregnancy. The majority of my weight gain was on my stomach. As I lost my weight I worked out faithfully 6 days a week in our garage gym. My husband is my trainer. Contrary to what a lot of people still believe squatting is maybe the best thing you can do for your knees. I back squat(below parallel) once each week and front squat once each week along with dead lifts, press, bench press and power cleans/snatches. I do a short crossfit style workout after each of these. This has strengthened my legs and knees to the point where I can now even jump rope and I did the warrior dash recently, running very slowly. However, I can’t do box jumps so I do step ups. Also, I do a lot of rowing on our concept 2 rower in place of running intervals. Good luck to you!

  55. Congratulations Pamela. This is a great story. Are you able to play tennis now? Have you felt improvement in your knee pain?

  56. I just saw your reply to mommymd about tennis.
    I am glad you have felt improvement nonetheless. I hope your story gives my wife incentive to try primal life. She also suffers from bone on bone knee pain.

  57. I want to believe in the primal diet- but I think it sounds a little scammy- like those acai berry websites: “Buy this and you’ll lose 20 lbs in 2 months and live forever!”

    What furthers my apprehension is that I’ve noticed there is no c-section scar in the after photo. I worked in a Dr. office for years and never once saw a c-section patient with no scar.

    1. Primal eating works! It changed my life for the better. My c-section scar is under my bikini. It’s a crooked bikini cut since the doctor didn’t realize until I was 8 centimeters that my daughter was breech. I had to have an emergency c-section.

  58. This is very inspiring, thank you for sharing. I can really relate to your story. I to had arthroscopic surgery twice on the same knee 6 years ago. Began eating primal 6 months ago and the stiffness and lack of flexibility has disapeared…..amazing ! Love your pictures. I’m 52 and plan to be wearing my 2 piece swimsuit in May !!!