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

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July 29 2011

I Didn’t Just “Manage” My Condition, I Beat It, and Wiped the Floor With It

By Guest
129 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, Carrie, and Bees,

This letter is long overdue, but the recent article you posted on the Weekend Link Love made me want to share my experience with a Primal lifestyle and PCOS.

I was an active and skinny kid, generally healthy except for some seasonal allergies and a tendency to pick up every single cold that went through school. My family attributed it to a crowded public school, and I took all kinds of immune-supporting herbs that seemed to help for a while. Add to that, my diet was pretty awful: I subsisted on pasta, breads, and sugary stuff. Again, it didn’t strike my family as being too out of the ordinary. All the kids I knew ate that way, or worse. My diet and health were never connected and never any cause for concern.

By the time I was fifteen, it started to alarm my family and doctors that I hadn’t yet developed a regular menstrual cycle. I was also physically underdeveloped. I didn’t break 100 pounds until my sophomore year of high school and had no hips, breasts, or any markers of puberty. The only sign of any hormonal change was a wicked case of acne. A quick trip to the gynecologist with some blood work confirmed a hormone imbalance and a testosterone level three times the healthy range for a girl. Not good. Not good at all. I got put on the pill to straighten things out.

Instantly, I was having regular cycles. Within two months, all the missing “parts” exploded out and I looked normal for a girl my age. My acne cleared up. Finally! The drawback, however, was a scorching case of depression (I nearly failed out of school that year), a huge weight gain (something like thirty pounds) and constant migraines (several storms a week that disabled me for the rest of the day). Doctors fixed one set of problems with the pill, but brought on a slew of new ones, and my health was (sorry to swear, but I feel it’s the only effective word) a goddamned nightmare.

Doctor’s visits became the norm for the next several years. Dermatologists, gynos, internists, family practitioners, and everything in between couldn’t figure out what my problem was. Still, they had no problem giving me all sorts of drugs for weight control, acne, hormone balances, everything to treat just the outward symptoms with extra side effects. The only one that I felt did any good was migraine medication, which I depended on with my life. I never left the house without my wallet, keys, and drugs. My bag rattled with half a dozen meds. I lived with constant ailments, knowing that I felt awful that day and would feel just as awful tomorrow.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I started hearing about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. All the symptoms fit and I knew I had it. My mother and I sought out an endocrinologist specializing in PCOS. He recruited some more blood work and after a short interview, determined I did have PCOS. Then the magic combo came: the pill and metformin! I lost a decent amount of weight, my skin cleared up, everything seemed cool… for a while.

During college my health would turn on a dime. I’d be fine for a few months, and then everything would fall apart. For seemingly no reason, too, I never felt there was a correlation to activity, meds, diet, anything… I felt out of control. My body was self-destructing and there was nothing I could do about it. The doctors and drugs continued since I just kept getting sicker and sicker. The worst part hit after my junior year: huge stress plus a break from some of the meds brought on hair loss. SIGNIFICANT hair loss… I was 21 and GOING BALD. I could deal, mentally, with the stress and the bad skin and the weight but hair loss?? Aah! I knew I had to make changes, but… didn’t. Not for a few more months. What a bad idea. I sat things out until graduation, when I moved home.

With college stressors out of the way, I decided to take time off and focus on my health. I tried all the SAD ways and fad diets and heavy exercise (running, which wrecked up my hips with bursitis and isolation weight machines, which made me weird-looking and bulky). I managed to drop a lot of weight, 150 lbs to 120 lbs, and a decent amount of hair grew back (not all of it, just enough) but I felt awful. I was tired, weak, and still felt like I was “swollen”… I was thin but I looked odd. My face looked almost swollen and my body felt bloated and inflamed all the time. I couldn’t recognize myself in photos, it was so severe. Good ole skinny-fat.

Someone recommended the GI Index to me and it made a lot of sense… Insulin secretion was my big issue with PCOS, so a low-insulinogenic routine clicked. It was easier than other diets but still left me with a huge calorie deficit (cue sugar-binges). However, in the book I was reading, the author was joking about how we evolved on low-GI foods and if we could all eat like cavemen, we’d be in great shape, but “ha-ha, that’s so silly! We need grains and processed foods, it’s a modern world after all.”

This was the greatest possible thing anyone could ever have said to me. I remembered that a friend of mine had started something called “Primal” living. It wasn’t impossible to eat like a caveman! All my problems could potentially be over… people out there are doing this “caveman” thing!! A quick search online brought up Marks Daily Apple and I was smitten. The next week was devoted to reading all things Primal. I consulted nutrition journals to make sure everything was lining up right, and no article or resource pointed to grains = healthy, fat = unhealthy. I started eating Primal right away. Lots of healthy fats, proteins, fruits and veg… Relaxed exercise… It was a remarkably quick transition. There was a sudden surge of energy I hadn’t had for years. My skin cleared, weight fell off, and get this: NEW HAIR GREW. I literally cried with joy when I saw my new hairline filling in.

I’ve continued to see the same endocrinologist a few times a year, always with blood work. I decided to experiment. I finished up the pill and metformin prescriptions I had and, unlike other times I’d stopped taking pills, saw no onset of symptoms. I was healthy, alone, with just Primal Blueprint diet and exercise by the time I went to get blood drawn. The results two weeks later confirmed everything: all my numbers were in range. Mark, friends, this has NEVER happened. All the years I’d struggled with my health, tried different diets and exercise, went on and off a million different meds, my numbers had never been even CLOSE to good. And now, without drugs, they were perfect. Absolutely perfect. The doctor was stunned. He didn’t believe me when I said I stopped taking meds and was eating lots of fat. He advised I get back on meds and switch to a low-fat, low-protein diet, but… nah. I’m good. For the first time in my life, I’m good.

It’s been close to a year now that I’ve been living Primal. I’ve experimented with different foods, different intakes, and occasionally indulge with grains (sorry, sorry, I know they’re bad) always in way smaller amounts than I used to, with very little effect on my overall well-being. CrossFit introduced me to weightlifting, which I love and actually have a rack and 300 lb set in my home. Easy walks, jogs, and bike rides are the norm, and hiking has become such a pleasure now that I have the energy to keep up for long hauls. I’m awake during the day without the gross caffeine that used to be the norm, and I sleep well at night. My weight has settled to about 125 lbs with ~19% body fat. My skin is clear, my hair is better, and I can’t remember the last time I had a migraine. I have the mental acuity to get through difficult projects at work and at home, where before I’d get frustrated and punk out. I get regular monthly cycles. I actually grew half an inch (posture? growth? not sure, but it’s cool either way). My body and face lost that swollen appearance and sensation. I feel like I look the way I’m supposed to.

Mostly, Mark, it’s the freedom. I used to feel great one day, and awful the next. The dread of what might happen next, the uncertainty of my day-to-day health, put a grip of terror on my existence. Years of struggle with my health left me questioning my control. I believed doctors when they told me I’d be an infertile wreck by 30, diabetic by 40, and dead of heart disease by 50. It was a losing battle and I had to simply accept what was my fate… My wretched, disease-ridden fate. I was told PCOS was a disease I was born with and would never overcome. The best I could hope for was to “manage” my condition. I hate that word, “manage”. I didn’t just “manage” my condition, I beat it, and wiped the floor with it. I feel great today, and I’ll feel great tomorrow. Knowing what caused PCOS, and learning how to change those patterns, has completely changed my life. I don’t fear my body. I don’t fear tomorrow, or the coming years. There are no more limits. I am Primal. I am free.

Mark, you haven’t changed my life… You’ve made it possible. You shocked my ignorance of the human body and started a wonderful quest for health and knowledge that I’ll carry with me and share with others forever. I can’t thank you enough.

Sincerely,

Alison

UPDATE – 09/12

Hi!

Just wanted to share some good news, regarding my success story from a while ago (PCOS, I didn’t just beat my condition, wiped the floor with it). I recently revisited the sonogram doctor who initially diagnosed me with PCOS. Back in the beginning of this journey he had told us I have a fatty liver, and guess what? Four years after the first sonogram, no more fatty liver! There were 0 indications on the abdominal sonogram of FLD. The ovarian cysts are still there (grr) but this is a HUGE step, and my endocrinologist is super excited about the prognosis.
Many thanks again, all the best to you.

Alison

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129 thoughts on “I Didn’t Just “Manage” My Condition, I Beat It, and Wiped the Floor With It”

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  1. Great story Alison — thanks for sharing it. I can’t believe your doctor advised you to go back on meds and a low-fat diet after seeing the improved blood work.

    1. Isn’t that malpractice?
      I guess that particular doctor was on the list for a big bonus from the pharmaceutical Co. at the end of the year. All common sense flies out the window.

      1. I think it’s more that they’re used to associating paleo/Primal with Atkins, and are used to the stories and studies that show that Atkins makes great changes in the short term but isn’t feasible (and might even be dangerous) for the long term.

        1. There’s no way anyone has ever shown that, because they haven’t *studied* Atkins for the long term.

          I am beyond tired of people who refuse to even check the Atkins books out of the library (if you have a halfway decent library system, I promise they are there) and read them for themselves. Because all Atkins really is, at the end of the day, is a template for someone to find out what their individual carb tolerance is. You can plug any foods into that template, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. The company is even now trying to appeal to vegans because apparently vegans can do most of the phases. No need to get into what I think of that here (hint: it’s not flattering to the company). But you can DEFINITELY do Paleo/Primal and use an Atkins template and no, it’s NOT going to kill you.

          Seriously. Atkins was a lot more sympathetic to the idea of Paleo or Primal eating, and even the WAPF folks, than the reverse and I’m tired of seeing it–learn more about what you’re criticizing before you criticize it. Was he absolutely right about everything? Heavens no. I’ve got three editions of his diet book and in at least one of them he says canola and soybean oils are acceptable sources of fat. But he was right enough to have helped one heck of a lot of people. He at least deserves credit for that.

        2. Actually Adkins is what I call POLITICALLY CORRECT PRIMAL, cause if you READ his first book he states his reasoning for low carb was a belief that the modern obesity epidemic was due to mans’ genetics had not “evolutionized” as fast as our palate. His acceptance in later years of legumes & soy is the “politically correct” part!

        3. Im not saying those stories and studies are RIGHT im just saying theyre used to hearing them.

  2. And the doctors… the doctors always want you to give up that silly fat and go back to taking lots of drugs and feeling like crap. Genius.

    1. Not all doctors are pharmaceutical company puppets, nor are they all unwilling to go against conventional dietary guidelines. They are specialists, but not nutrition experts for the most part. Remember that lots of them are long out of med school and focused on recent advances only in their own field – and evidence based peer reviewed research on the efficacy of nutritional therapy isn’t always as clear as individual stories of success and health, like Allison’s (way to go Allison, by the way!)

      Instead of this unhelpful ‘all doctors are idiots’ attitude, why not just try to give them the same consideration as you would anyone else who hasn’t been exposed to the information and stories of how eating primally can have health benefits.

      No, I’m not a doctor 🙂 But I have several family members who are, and deal with doctors for my own medical condition regularly, and I have found them all open to listening to my opinions and willing to consider many things are that’s conventional medical practices, as they ultimately have my well being as their goal.

      1. Oops -type – last paragraph “consider many things that aren’t conventional medical practices”

    2. Hell yea they do! They want that copay and want to see you all the time. Making money!

  3. WHAT A STORY!!

    I’ve had some blood sugar issues crop back up again after a long dormancy, but after reading this I am so inspired to tighten up my diet (I’ve been putting it off).

    Beat my condition and wiped the floor with it. Too awesome.

  4. I am loving all of these stories. Congratulations to you Alison!

    An ex-girlfriend of mine used to suffer through migraines and chronic headaches. Though her disorder proved to be a spinal/brain malformation that was corrected with surgery, I am curious if the reduction of inflammation that accompanies the Primal diet would have helped ease her pain at least.

  5. Great story… amd well written…why no photos though? There doesn’t need to be huge changed in weight to spot that “glow of health.”

    1. I would love to see a photo on all success stories. I understand some people might be uncomfortable but just a picture of their face smiling would be enough.

    2. I totally agree – we don’t judge here at MDA! We just want to see a happy, post-CW face 🙂

  6. What an inspiring story!

    As I read this, I couldn’t help but think about my co-worker who also suffers from PCOS. I think I will send this link to her. Thanks for writing.

  7. Loved your story…..brought tears of happiness to my eyes. Keep up the good work….you are an inspiration.

  8. What a great story!!!! Thanks for posting I am about 200 pounds and have tried to get back on track ,you have given me encouragement.

    This is the first week I have stayed with primal and I have been very depressed, that it is coming off VERY slow (I am 48)well slower than it used to .I am going to keep trying and wipe the floor with this thing!!!

    1. Sherl, I was in the same boat. 40 yro, 205 lbs, and it was SLOW going. Once I added IF to the mix, 30 lbs gone in 4 months. Hang in there. I’m sure you’ll find the right combo that works for you.

      1. What does IF stand for? Sorry if this is a silly question–I’m new to this! Thanks!

        1. Kesha, fortunately there are good archives on this site… you can check by category or see all the posts in any give month. Good luck.

    2. Sherill, I know how you feel. I am 50 right now and started to eat low-carb at 46. My weight then was 198 lb. I am 5’6″. It it 163 lb now. May be it is difficult to believe for you now, but I think that slow speed of a weight loss is the blessing. My midsection doesn’t look like a deflated balloon, neck is tight and firm. Some people who lost too much too fast are having terrible bodies, especially ladies in boobs department.
      During those 4 years I experienced even 2 years long plateau. Who cares?! Low-carb is the perfect diet for premenopausal time – will take care of awful moods, hot flashes, problem with energy, possible weight gain. You just have am extra reason to stick with the diet. Don’t be depressed. Besides IF (http://gettingstronger.org/2010/11/learning-to-fast/),try to be in ketosis most days of the week.

  9. Love the stories. I have signed up for the free e book twice and haven’t gotten the confirmation link. Can you help? I checked my junk file.

  10. I feel like the docs are getting a bit better, at least mine. Last suggesting I was given by my doc is too eat fat from healthy sources fish, avocado, nuts. Go heavy on veg. Stay away from sugar and anything processed. She still wants me to eat some whole grain, but I thought the message was much better.

    1. Now if only she’d clue in that saturated and animal fats are healthy too.

  11. Hey Alison, congratulations!

    Those hormonal imbalances are a silent, unrecognized evil IMO, and so easy to put right when you know how. I know that feeling of never knowing how you will feel every morning and how it controls your life. Don’t you just feel like you have the key to the secret of life?

    I wish all the women I know who are so obviously suffering would change the way they eat.

    Congratulations again, my friend. I’m sure you feel like you have a whole new life to look forward to!

  12. Wow! Inspiring story! Good for you to go out and find a solution even when the doctors are telling you otherwise! I’ve also had problems with my health for a long time. With the primal lifestyle I too may have finally stumbled on to a real solution!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Awesome story!! I so love the no migraines! I’m not brave enough to leave my house without migraine meds yet. I hope I can be as awesome as you!

  14. I have it too 🙁 It’s inspiring to read! Hope for the same success…

  15. That is so inspirational. I am still working through my health issues, but to hear such a radical transformation is very inspiring. Like you, I can’t imagine going back to my previous eating style. Congrats on getting the hair back. I have had some hair loss (I am female too) from low iron and thyroid issues, and I feel with you for the stigma you get from it. I can’t say that mine has improved much yet, but I am only 5 months in, so I’ll just give it some more time.

  16. This story made me cry. How inspirational!! And Mark, you should know how much good you are doing for the world with your website and blog and spreading the “Primal Word”

  17. Awesome! The 2 best things that happened to me when I went primal was my skin cleared up and I stopped getting migraines. Hormone imbalances suck!

    1. Agreed. I happy to say that that can happen to the guys with migraines too. I used to have them every few months, way more in the summer, and they were completely debilitating to the point where I would self medicate heavily (alcohol, ibuprofen) and then hide in the darkest place I could find with a pillow over my head. I never tried to get treatment for it and that’s probably good because I haven’t had a single one since I went primal (one year in two weeks). I’ve also seen my asthma disappear (bye bye advair) and my allergies dull to almost nothing. I never thought that would ever happen… I thought the extra weight might go (it has, back to my weight when I was 20) but I figured I was stuck with migraines, back pain, allergies to everything and asthma forever. Nope!

  18. Easily one of the best success stories I’ve read in a long time.

    Glad you found us.

    Congratulations!!!

  19. Excellent story.

    I’ve cured the bipolar disorder through finding Primal.

    I exclude dairy now and dropped alcohol too a little while back; the final keys. It’s given me the head space to review the rest of my life and I’m now working with Taoism, Buddhist psychology and yoga (in their original non-deity forms)to undo all the ‘mad’ years!

    When you understand how the body actually works it all makes perfect sense.

    This is such a fantastic resource here at MDA – thank you to everyone who makes it possible; let’s keep those ripples spreading.

    1. Just increasing animal fat and coconut oil intake and cutting way back on carbs, especially grains, has helped me manage my depression a lot better. I am not all the way there yet, and part of the problem is I think I need to eat more than I’m currently eating. But I am totally night and day versus what I used to be. This works even better than antidepressants, at least for me.

  20. I am moved to TEARS. Thank you for sharing and YEAY on new-found LIVING!

  21. I’m glad I was able inspire you to share that magnificent and terrible story! PCOS is so miserable and embarrassing. I went all the way through two college degrees with it – didn’t have the time to learn about what was wrong with me till after college either. The world which had been a big huge struggle is just fun and entertaining, and it’s all because of Primal eating and living. I’m so happy for you and for all the girls who have and will conquer this!

    1. Hey Peggy,

      I would love to know what books you would reconmend for someone suffering from PCOS. Primal living has been a tremendous help yet I know there is more I should, can and will do to get it under control.

  22. Alison,

    Great story. Our stories almost mirror one another to a T. I am also PCOS and like you I went bald. Not exactly the easiest thing to explain to others about why you are bald and female. I’m slowly growing my hair back after losing a great deal of it 10 years ago. I’m definitely extremely proud of you and hopefully within a years time, I’ll have my own success story!

  23. Good story.

    This: “There are no more limits. I am Primal. I am free.”

    would make a great t-shirt!

  24. Grok getting misty-eyed. Must be raining in cave.

    Congrats on healing yourself, Alison!

  25. Awesome inspirational story! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m new to the primal lifestyle (3 weeks!) so it’s great to hear about your attainment of this kind of success and good health. Cheers!

  26. A great story.

    I was wondering, if anyone else has noticed that his hair came back? I have been getting a bald spot (at the back top of the head) the last 10 years and have the feeling the hair is thickening again, but wonder whether I am fooling myself. I am only primal since 7 month. It is encouraging to hear that new hair growth is at least possible for women.

    1. Amazing story Allison and I too think it is “raining in my cave” Being blessed with a very loving and deep friendship with both Mark and Carrie I experience such a deep level of joy reading these stories. Thanks for sharing!!!

      1. Posted on It has always been my ibeelf that good writing like this takes research and talent. It’s very apparent you have done your homework. Great job!

    2. The reason women with PCOS are going bald is because the high testosterone levels that cause male pattern baldness are part of the hormonal imbalance. Other effects are male pattern hair growth- facial hair in particular – male pattern fat distribution more abdominal, less hips and thighs. As the hormones get properly reregulated in women recovering from PCOS, they get back their normal female characteristics and the male pattern diminishes.

      Perhaps in men, the return to a normal hormonal balance might include proper amounts of the “female” hormones in relation to testosterone, that encourage more and thicker hair growth.

  27. Awesome Alison…you should be proud of yourself for not giving up on trying different things to take back your health and your life…and glad you found going primal is what did it!!

  28. Amazing! So happy for you and your transformation. The fact that your Dr would want to put you back on meds and a low-fat, low-protein diet after such tremendous results is pure insanity.

    It’s absolutely amazing what a change in diet can do for us. Good on you for starting on the primal path!

  29. Very awesome Alison, I’m happy for you.
    I was in a similar situation but with my bowels.

    Congrats on your extreme success!

  30. Great great story!
    I’m a heavy PCOS gal myself. And yes, unfortunatly, I’m a 31yo infertile.
    BUT! I know that sticking with a Primal lifestyle will help tremendously w/ the weight loss efforts, PCOS symptoms and will eventually help me start the family that I so desperatly want.
    Your story is very inspiring and just reinforces that this is the right path.

  31. Awesome story. Well done.

    No thanks Doc, I’m good. Keep your poison.

  32. I have a friend who has been diagnosed with pcos and the docs have her on one drug treatment plan after another. She admits to having the same depression, mood swings, good one day/bad for the next week kind of feelings…your “pre-primal” description sounds very familiar.

    She loves her breads and cookies and baked goods and pasta and on and on…

    I’ve mentioned that there’s a lot out there that seems to show a link between ir and pcos, but she swears that there’s nothing to it because “she’s been tested for it and she’s not ir” I’ve countered with the idea that even if she’s not “classicy” ir (based on a reading of a test) that she might still benefit from a concerted effort to reduce consumption of stuff that makes the body produce insulin for, say, 30 days and see what happens…

    She doesn’t want to hear it. Oh, well. Nothing I can do about it, but it does make me frustrated. I will probably forward the link to this at some point. She probably won’t read it, though.

  33. I don’t have PCOS but I’ve grown up under a hypochondriac mother so I know what it feels like to live as a hostage to your own health, terrified that it will swing the wrong direction without warning and there will be nothing you can do about it. Since switching to Primal, all the random migraines and body aches and dizziness I used to suffer from periodically have just disappeared. Being able to rely consistently on my health makes me feel like a superhero.

    I am so happy for you 🙂 Congratulations!

  34. I have it too. Probably due to being a no fat junk food vegetarian in middle and high school. I reacted to Metformin and I gain weight like crazy when I exercise strenuously. But, your story is tremendously inspiring.

  35. It brings joy to me to know that your life has been brought back to you. 🙂 Mark is an amazing man who has and will continue to change the lives of people everywhere! I wish you the best!

  36. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I was diagnosed with Type II a few years ago at a relatively young age. It was a slap in the face as I thought I was following a healthy lifestyle and on the surface looked healthy. (Although I’d suffered from the same terrible dips in energy you describe that always made me think something was wrong).

    I threw in the towel and accepted defeat rather than taking the bull by the horns as you did. Your story has inspired me to stop being a victim and take control of my health.

  37. Just a great story Alison!

    It’s so nice to see that others have had similar results when going primal. I am certain that I was suffering from undiagnosed PCOS, with migraines and VERY irregular cycles for nearly 16 years. I found it astonishing that the month after my transition to the primal lifestyle, it returned and has been like clockwork ever since. Now if only my sister, who has been diagnosed with PCOS, would be a little more open-minded, I think it would definitely benefit her. Maybe I will send her a not-so-subtle link to your fabulous success story! 🙂

  38. Alison, this is ME!!!!! Omg, I’ve been reading up on primal, started it, then got the stomach flu and could only eat soft carbs to keep my energy up. But now I’m better and I know I need do this. I’m 29 and I bet I’m an infertile wreck by now! PCOS is so frustrating and doctors just wanna shove all kinds of nasty pills into us! Not any more!

  39. Super invigorating to hear of such amazing results. Congrats Alison.

    I’ve noticed that my eyelashes are growing like crazy. Is that weird or what?

  40. Thanks for the story, my little sister (14)has PCOS and has a lot of these same issues.

    Irregular menstrual cycle’s, goes through the good and bad spells, and gets sick a lot of the time when she shouldn’t be. (Like having colds in the summer) I forwarded this link along to her in hopes that she reads it.

    I hope that your story will help her and others.

  41. Same story. I am now eating between 50g and 100g of carb a day and lifting a lot of heavy things and slowly but surely this weight is coming off. I lost 7 lbs last month. I have 40 more to go–sigh. But, at least now I know what works for me and what doesn’t. Jogging around for 5 years and doing Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers as my docs recommended was NOT IT!

  42. Wow – such a great outcome! Thank you for taking the time to share this. An inspiration to many – and Mark, you have been the impetus for all this! I am so very grateful for your enthusiasm for spreading the word. Life Changing!

  43. Thankyou for sharing. I am planning to wipe the floor with my spondyloarthritis (autoimmune arthritis associated with gut issues, which is treated with a low starch diet ie a natural healthy diet lol), and your story is inspiring. Give me a year and maybe I’ll have my own!

  44. Inspiring story but the photos are what I really look forward to each Friday! Can you give us some, Alison? It would be the icing on the cake (or the coconut oil on the free-range eggs!) for this wonderful story!

  45. Got goose bumps when you turned the corner and I knew how it was going to end…Grok always wins!

  46. Well done, Alison! Such a great story. Despite all that happened, you’ve been open to new things, and you’ve given them a try – long enough to see and feel the good effects. And then you kept going with them until you transformed your self in so many ways. There are a lot of people out there who won’t give Primal a try, and won’t walk into a CrossFit gym. I admire you for doing both and so many other things. Thanks so much for sharing!

  47. I can never stop saying how motivational these stories are every friday. I love them and it gives me the motivation to help others to make the transition to a healthier lifestyle. I willingly give my time to help others get healthy. Keep putting them up Mark because it is what everyone loves to see.

  48. Awesome, I can feel the power of you taking control in your words. I am so happy for you and you are very inspiring!!

  49. Alison, what an inspiring story. I am only 7 weeks into primal but notice a big difference already, especially emotionally. I got adenomyosis in my 40’s and wish I knew then what I know now because I believe it was due to hormonal imbalance and am hoping that my thinning hair will recover. Good for you, trying until you got it right!

  50. Alison, this is so cool! Freedom is what it’s all about, and I’m so happy you found it. It’s amazing how fresh and energetic your body feels once you rid it of all the crap we fill it up with! Congratulations! Live it up!

  51. Wow!

    I agree with one of the previous statements – one of the most inspiring success stories I’ve ever read!

    Congratulations! Amazing what listening to your body can do 🙂

    1. Not everyone is comfortable putting pictures of themselves on the internet.

      Stop being an asshole.

    2. I find this to be a curious response. What could be her motivation for not telling the truth? What would be her gain. Maybe she just doesn’t want to show her face. Hopefully, she could care less if you believe her or not. I certainly wouldn’t care what you think.

  52. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It made me very emotional because I am currently fighting this health battle myself. I was diagnosed with PCOS as well, and want to use the primal way of eating to overcome this disorder instead of meds. Right now I have been on the primal diet for almost 3 weeks. Already feeling better, but I know it will take awhile to feel the full effects! I started a blog about it in hopes that one day I can help others get through this naturally, and give hope to people that they can overcome this just as you have! Thanks again!

  53. Thank you for sharing your story! The best thing is that you listened to your body and never gave up trying to feel better. It’s just like something deep down inside told you that meds were not the answer and you listened, educated yourself, most importantly kept an open mind and made it happened! Hopefully your post will be forwarded to lots of gals with PCOS or it’s symptoms and they, too, will keep an open mind and at least try they way you did.

    I have to admit my favorite stories are the ones that prove the doctors and CW wrong and we seem to be getting lots and lots of those lately!

    All the best to you, Alison!

  54. OMG!!! your story has alot of elements that I can relate to!!! When menstration hit me it hit me hard and I just wanted to die. I have alot of the clasic symptoms of PCOS. However, they have gotten alto better since switching to primal.

  55. Amazing story, Alison!

    Reading these each week continues to inspire me, I just wish some of the people in my life would at least listen… The biggest issue with two of them (two of my best friends) is helping them understand that grains/fat switch – both friends are following Weight Watchers, one of whom has been doing so for about 15 months and lost something like 80lbs (his goal is 100), for the last couple of months he’s been yo-yo-ing around the same weight (putting on a couple of pounds then losing them again, but not actually losing weight anymore) and he’s frustrated… I’ve tried to explain Primal to him, that his carb intake will be stopping him losing more weight, is messing with his energy levels and insomnia and joint pain and, and… you get the idea, but no he says he’ll stick with what he has been doing cos he’s got this far… the other friend has been following WW for a couple of months and just had a heart attack. His doc is INSISTING on a low fat (well low everything really by the sounds of it) diet… I just cringed… I know I can’t make them do anything they don’t want to, but I get frustrated cos I care and worry about them, and I know from even just these few last months Primal the difference it makes… Maybe I’ll forward them a few of the best stories (including this one) – they probably won’t read them, but at least I tried, and they might just look around the website…

  56. Great story Allison, thank you for sharing, I hope to share my story some day.

  57. Good for you. Doctors, almost a swear word in my book. You took control and figured it out for yourself. Right on sister. Thanks for motivationg us.

  58. Fantastic!

    This: “He advised I get back on meds and switch to a low-fat, low-protein diet” is just INSANE.

  59. Alison, your story made me cry. So glad to hear of your success.

  60. Alison – wonderful story – thankyou so much for sharing. A great issue to discuss especially with the PCOS link to syndrome X inflammation, linked to heart disease, diabetes etc

    I was diagnosed with significant PCOS (via a scan) about 10 years ago when my staple vegetarian diet was lots of rice, pasta, oats etc. Since then I’ve done lots of yoga, shiatsu, acupuncture etc and followed a paleo diet for a couple of years (but not particularly well as I was too hungry & bored by it) and then primal for the last 6 months (not hungry/bored anymore!).

    At a recent scan, there was absolutely no sign whatsoever of PCOS (the technician’s didn’t believe me when I said I had been diagnosed with it – I think they thought I was making it up!). My cycle for about the last 4 months has been wonderful – totally regular, virtually no PMS, short and (guys turn away now) a flow with the most wonderfully vibrant & healthy colour! It’s almost nice to get my period. This is in total contrast to 10 years ago when I would have pmt for about 2 weeks and it turned me into a monster.

    I have lost weight and am becoming leaner but am still definately curvy (although maybe lean curvy is a good look?!). I need to lose about another 25lbs as the fancy scales said I was 30% body fat.

    My problem is that my skin still isn’t quite normal. It’s still oily with lots of blackheads and pimples and my hair is still greasy(& I’m 43!). Heck even my ears get really greasy. I’m wondering if it will all clear up as I continue with primal or if I should cut out remaining dairy (which is just a few yoghurts a week, butter for cooking and milk in daily tea). Would IF help? Any supplements that would help, as I’ve obviously still got an issue with those androgens.

    Any ideas anyone? I thought I should have outgrown greasy grotty teenagers skin by now.

  61. Would love an update pic!

    Either way, congrats. Its liberating, no?

    xo

  62. I found Mark’s Daily Apple a couple weeks ago and have been considering going Primal. Allison, your post caught my attention because… well… it’s very simillar to my own experience. My medical history reads something like this… major weight loss, menstration loss, major weight gain (but still no period), enter the pill, OK for a while, hair loss (all of it!), cycles of weight gain/loss and binging, all the while chronically deficient in iron and B12 and terribly fatigued. Over the last few years, I have also developed some terrible stomache/digestion symptoms (I’ll spare you all a description). Unlike you, I never got an accurate diagnosis. My latest diagonis was celiac disease, but that, like all the others, has proved inaccurate. I have always eaten quite well and excercised regularly. As a result, my condition is manageable but my life is far from normal. The possibility that a purely Primal lifestyle could eliminate my symptoms completely is earth shattering. After reading your post, I think I will go Primal whole heartedly. Here’s hoping I will be posting a simillar success story in the coming months.

  63. As a fellow PCOSer, I’d like to complement Alison’s story with a few of my own observations.

    PCOS often calls for the most stringent version of Primal diet. For many of us with PCOS even Mark’s Big-Ass salad may be too much carbohydrate in one sitting, or even in a day. Given that PCOS is caused by insulin resistance, one has to be in constant awareness of blood sugar impact of their every meal. My blood glucose meter has become my best friend, as Dr. William Davis of Heart Scan Blog explains so persuasively.

    While for some, a Primal diet may be an ultimate solution, for others it will only minimize the symptoms of PCOS. Primal diet and Primal living will make you feel great, get you lean and strong, improve blood test results, reestablish regular cycles … but many will still NOT OVULATE despite having regular periods. And if you do not ovulate, you do not have PCOS under control with plenty of negative consequences, including infertility.

    This leads me to my final point. If PCOS has ravaged you for years and you have developed full-blown insulin resistance with sugar spiking in response to even moderate carb intake, and if your hormonal system got so out of balance that you never ovulate and your ovaries do not make any progesterone, then you must not be afraid to give PCOS a lethal blow by augmenting your Primal diet with properly dosed medication (lower dose if you are eating Primal). Metformin is well-studied, long-used and highly effective at increasing insulin sensitivity, while bioidentical progesterone (brand Prometrium, or compounded) could help reset ovulation. Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior (M.D., Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of British regarded by many as the world’s foremost expert on progesterone,) has a handout on how to use progesterone for PCOS treatment.

    As Mark himself has eloquently stated, while describing Dr. Emily Deans’ attitudes to use of medications on her blog ‘Evolutionary Psychiatry’: “That’s Primal in a nutshell, really: taking advantage of all the unique benefits of both modernity and tradition when they make sense”. PCOS is a highly complex and stubborn condition, especially when left unaddressed during puberty, and while eating Primal is a cornerstone of the treatment, it may not be enough for many. So, if your PCOS isn’t wiped out by the diet alone, as Alison’s was, don’t get discouraged and don’t quit eating Primal. Learn about your insulin, check your hormone levels, and give metformin and progesterone a fair consideration. Taking a medication when it’s prudent to do so, does not constitute a “betrayal”of Primal living, or a personal failure, since Primal diet alone can’t be a silver bullet in many cases. This combo of traditional/modern approach may not make for some misty-eyed reading, but it can deal a blow to a depressing condition that is PCOS.

  64. 🙂 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 :):) 🙂 🙂
    …this is what it’s all about. SOO00 happy for ya, stranger and primal sister!

  65. Great story, I teared up a little when reading this due to Alison’s strong convictions. Also I don’t care about the photo – from what I gather this was not a triumph over weight loss specifically but rather a hormone condition.

  66. Congrats!! I’m so happy you found primal living and that it’s working so well for you!

  67. Hi Alison

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. I very much hope other PCOS sufferers find your post and are inspired to try the Primal diet.

    I’m so glad you are finally healthy and by the sounds of it very happy.

    Best wishes

    Kim

  68. As a woman with PCOS who is just starting out on the Primal lifestyle, this article nearly brought me to tears. To know that someone else with PCOS was successful mean the world to me, and now I know I’ll never have to *manage* my condition, but that I can also beat it down and mop the floor with it. Thank you so much for your inspriation!

  69. Mark,

    I’ve read countless success stories on your website, all from people who have been on the ‘paleo’ diet for a relatively short time span. This tells us nothing about the sustainability of this program.

    I’ve read similar accounts in regards to a wide range of fad diets – veganism, raw foods, isagenix. I’ve read countless horror stories that resulted after prolonged periods on these diets as well.

    I think you owe it to your readers to re-contact at least some of these people and discover how they have been able to maintain the paleo diet. I would love to see a post of non cherry picked ‘sustainability stories’ on this website.

    Here’s mine incase you are interested:

    I personally had the same experience when I first experimented with the paleo diet. My health quickly took a turn for the worse, however.

    All sorts of inflammatory conditions set in – terrible sinus inflammation, joint pain, inflamed skin, frequent fevers. I also started getting weird infections I’d never experienced before. And no longer could I brag about never getting sick.

    I alo experienced a lot of hypothyroid symptoms – cold hands, low body temperature, fatigue.

    I also lost all exercise tolerance.

    All of those symptoms virtually disappeared with a major reduction in my protein and fat intake. Rice, potatoes, ample fruit, unbleached white flour and pasta brought swift improvements in my health.

  70. I continue you to eat as much animal products as I desire. Unencumbered by dogmatic thinking, that turns out to be far less than what Grok supposedly ate.

    I call my approach “listening to my body”. Imagine that, eh?

  71. I’m forwarding this article to a close family relative who has been struggling with the same ailment as you, Allison. Thank you for submitting your very encouraging story.

  72. WOW!!! I have PCOS as well and since being primal for only two weeks I have people contantly tell me they see a different in my skin and hair, nails. It’s amazing to know all it takes is the right foods and some exercise. I also love crossfit so I can relate to this story in so many ways. I never took the medications because I just couldn’t see myself having to do that for the rest of my life. I am now all about primal and love this site=)

  73. Great job! I too have dealt with pcos for years. Since eating mostly primal (I do eat sprouted grain bread occasionally) since January i have ovulated 3 times! After going almost a year with no period.

    I am not surprised though, lower Carbs diets have been promoted by many “cysters” and leading edge reproductive endocrinologists since the late nineties. I have found this lifestyle the easiest to maintain.

    I do still take my metformin because my body was so out of wack, but I imagine in another 30 lbs lost I should be able stop it.

    I am in the medical field and am saddened by your md’s reaction, but not surprised as nutrition courses are not required. I do disagree though that eating primally cures pcos. It manages it and treats it non pharmacologically by preventing the genetic predisposition to the insulin resistance from manifesting.

  74. Ugh. Pcos sucks. I just got the official diagnosis and can’t help but feel discouraged that it took 12 years of irregular symptoms for doctors to figure it out. I have been battling weight since I was 16 along with hot flashes and depression. I started the PB in September and although it’s the only diet that helped me lose weight without extreme measures, I was still discouraged to lose weight much slower than others… And stop all together at 7 weeks. I am st a cross roads. Mda has cured my ibs, but metformin has promised a regular life. I think I have to try it.

  75. Hey Alison,
    I know you might not see this one year later, but if you do, please reply , I would like to purchase the books for my niece who now has severe pcos and I would really like to help her! My email: zanejovanoska@yahoo.com

  76. I am almost 39, divorced, no children, devastated in mind and body by PCOS and recurrent miscarriages. I am hoping it’s not too late to recover my health and lose the weight that I have been carrying around for 30 years, hopefully meet someone and have children before menopause ruins my chances. If primal doesn’t work for me, nothing will. I am sick of being obese, sick of having facial hair where it shouldn’t be, sick of being so ashamed of my body that I don’t like going out in public.

    1. Belinda,
      I wanted to encourage you on your journey. Keep listening to your body, cleaning up your food choices. Your cravings are just that and may mean you need to increase your fat intake or perhaps salt. I for one needed to do some major “mind over matter” work when it comes to fat intake, it just seems like it’s wrong (all that propaganda of conventional wisdom of low fat, low cal is the road to happiness and health that gave me 30 extra pounds) to go ahead and eat enough of it. However, it really isn’t wrong, now I have no problem adding a tablespoon of butter and one of coconut oil to my coffee every morning because my body needs it. I’m glad you found primal eating and just wanted to encourage you to do the best you can to eat clean, read labels and cook some good food! Throw out all the bad food that has been hold you back. (and oh yeah, that 30 pounds is history!)
      Get up, get dressed up and hold your head up girl, you are on the right road. Glad to have you in our group!

    2. You’re not by yourself my friend. I don’t have PCOS, but waited to get married and finish graduate school before thinking of having kids. Now I’m 40, got married 9 months ago, and had a miscarriage 7 months ago. I feel the same way you do. I am insulin resistant, so my doc put me on metformin, which is a medicine that my cousin takes for her PCOS. Like you, I’m hoping that my primal diet will help me conceive and then not miscarry. I just need to kick the Splenda though. I was using Stevia prior to conception. When I got pregnant the doctor told me to stop taking Stevia and take Splenda. He said there were no current research studies on how pregnant women react to Stevia, which I found strange. How could taking something man made while pregnant be better for me than something natural like Stevia? Well anyway, I kept using Splenda and had a miscarriage. Not sure if they the two are related, I just found it strange. Well I’m off topic, but just know you are not alone and I will keep you in my prayers.

  77. I love this story! My friend shared this story with me after I explained my recent doctors visit to confirm if I have PCOS. I must say, I feel like this is the story if my life! I am still waiting on test results, but I was looking for something to help change how I eat so I could have an easier time getting off this extra weight I put on after going off birth control. I love that i have some to relate to and I thank you so much for sharig your story. I has inspired me to make some much needed changes in the way I eat!