I Feel Strong and Powerful In My Own Body

It’s Monday, 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 Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Growing up, I was very bookish and avoided all forms of exercise despite my parents’ best efforts to get me involved in some sort of sport. I was also a very picky eater, especially when it came to veggies, so my diet wasn’t the greatest.

Throughout high school, I always carried an extra 10-15 lbs and my lunch consisted of stuffed crust pizza, strawberry milk and fries swimming in ranch dressing.

My weight yo-yoed in college depending on how excited I was about the gym and whether I was on a salad bar or buffalo chicken wrap kick. I did gain a lot of weight after I got married and hit my all time high of 170 lbs. I was able to lose most of the weight through a low carb diet, though I still avoided the gym.

My first experience with primal eating came in 2014 when my husband came home talking about this paleo diet he’d heard about from a colleague. I started doing a lot of research and decided to start this new way of eating. We weren’t super strict about, using dressings and condiments that were not ideal and I refused to give up cheese (I now know that including dairy is more aligned with the primal way of eating). My husband lost a bunch of weight, and I felt really good even though the scale didn’t move.

Unfortunately, after only about two months, we went on vacation and fell back into our SAD eating habits even after we returned. Fast forward to 2016 and I had moved to another state, finally gotten a full-time job after a year of under employment/unemployment and was steadily gaining weight again. I didn’t realize how lucky I’d been to have been able to walk or bike to work before moving to a bike and pedestrian unfriendly area! I started calorie restricting, but that just left me feeling hungry all the time and my pants were too tight. I weighed in at 155 lbs.

In January, I finally gave in and let my husband sign me up for a gym membership. As much as I disliked exercise, I knew that I had to get my body moving if I didn’t want to look like a lot of the people in my office when I got to middle age. I started strength training which was way more fun than cardio and lost 5 lbs in the first month. But despite hitting the gym 3 times and week and participating in a Crossfit style workout once a week, my weight loss stalled after that. I knew I was building up muscle mass that I’d never had before, but I was mostly motivated to not have to buy new, bigger pants at this point.

By the end of March, I realized that I had to make some serious diet changes if I wanted to get my health completely under control, so I decided to do my first Whole30. It was hard but amazing! I felt great, finally kicked my diet soda habit, reset my taste buds and learned that dairy gives me migraines and makes my seasonal allergies go crazy. I also rediscovered MDA during this time and read years of primal success stories which gave me the courage to keep up this style of eating long term using the 80/20 principle. I also made it a point to try every (primal) food I thought I hated one more time and now I eat many of them regularly. Hello onions, peppers, brussels sprouts, squash, zucchini, fish, nuts, carrots, pineapples, sweet potatoes, tea, and so many more. I’m still working up the nerve to try sardines but there’s a tin of them in my pantry for the day I’m feeling brave!

For the first time in my life, I felt fit and strong. My body learned to love and crave veggies, even at breakfast. I was empowered to make better food choices. I still get anxious about food in social situations sometimes when my social anxiety combines with my fear of accidentally eating dairy and getting really sick, which has, unfortunately, happened. Now if I don’t feel comfortable with my food options, I eat beforehand or bring my own food. My health is totally worth being that weird person for. I have also learned that most people have no idea what is in their food or what is actually good for their bodies. I am so glad to have come upon this way of eating while I’m still young.

My next big health change occurred in the fall of 2018 when I started getting into long distance running. I came into running knowing that I wanted to do it in a way that aligned with my health and nutritional values that I’d worked so hard to get straight. This led me to using the run walk run method to decrease risk of running injuries and to primal keto to avoid all of the sugary fuel and recovery products aimed at endurance athletes. I do all my training runs fasted and eat a bit more carbs right before and after races. I also make sure to focus on keeping up my strength training by incorporating the Primal Essential Movements, even the two I dread-pushups and planks. There is something awesome about being able to take yourself 13 miles on your own two feet, but nothing makes me feel as badass as using the assisted pullup machine.

Doing keto while staying dairy free, maintaining a high veggie intake and properly fueling my athlete body has taken some extra effort but the benefits are amazing. I no longer get hangry if a meal is delayed. I feel strong and powerful in my own body. I weigh less than I did in high school. I have way fewer migraines. I even have abs. I have learned so much about my body and my personal nutrition needs. I still ended up needing to buy new pants twice but smaller rather than larger. I have so much more energy to do the things I love. Most importantly, I now know how to take care of my body properly for a long and healthy life.


The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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24 thoughts on “I Feel Strong and Powerful In My Own Body”

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  1. Stephanie, You Look Amazing! Good for you for your effort and hard work and perseverance. I can also relate when you say that your “health is totally worth being that weird person for.” I’m that weird person too, and I don’t care what other people think or say about it anymore. This is not an easy lifestyle; simple, but not easy. I wish you lots of success continuing on. Smaller pants are so exciting! Btw, the tastiest sardines I’ve found are at Costco, Season brand, almost like tuna.

    1. Thank you! It can be hard being the weird one sometimes but I love the way I feel now and I’d never go back to the way I was eating before.

  2. Congrats Stephanie! These are the success stories that I love…the ones that involve falling off the horse and getting back on, sometimes over and over. And even better, the ones where you don’t just lose weight/get healthy but continue to push yourself to excel. Our diets sound similar…I am also Keto with little dairy (I am ok with a little bit from time to time) and plenty of veggies. It keeps me satisfied, focused and energized. Sounds like it is doing the same for you. Oh, and those sardines really aren’t so bad. I was pretty freaked out at first, now they are a staple in my diet and are AMAZING for your skin.

  3. Thanks for sharing Stephanie, what a great success story!

    It only gets easier over time, your heaviest lifting has been done!

    Continued success!

  4. Although my husband still leaves the room when I do so, I can eat a tin of sardines by mixing them in with a couple of scrambled eggs and sauteed veggies. I buy sardines in honey mustard sauce from Aldi.

    1. I love shopping at Aldi so I’ll have to pick up the honey mustard ones to try. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. What an amazing transformation Stephanie! You’ve worked really hard and it shows; and I believe it will be much easier for you from now on – you’ve got the discipline now.
    I never thought I’d eat sardines either …. I was always disgusted when my Father ate them! But now I have them at least a couple x per month, in-between my wild alaskan salmon. They taste awesome mixed with my own red onion, lemon, EVOO, dill and other spices. You can do it 🙂

  6. Good job, Stephanie!
    As long as sardines seem to be part of the discussion here, I would sure like to know some of the ways that people are eating them! I too have a six pack of the Seasons sardines from Costco in my pantry, but can’t get up the nerve to give them a try. I really don’t want to gag something down and then use if for an excuse later to eat something I feel is more tasty…

    1. So inspiring Stephanie! You look strong and confident.

      As for sardines, I’m completely sold on the Genius Foods recipe… Just mix them with guacamole. Truly amazing.

    2. My go-to is with hot sauce: either Frank’s or yuzu hot sauce from Trader Joe’s. Mark suggested (maybe in a questions post?) a recipe that includes preserved lemon, which I tried and liked a lot.

    3. Thank you! I wasn’t expecting so many comments about the sardines but I’m excited to have all of these ideas to try.

      1. Sorry to hijack your comments section for help with sardines, Stephanie. There are some awfully good ideas, though! I browsed your blog. Love it!

    4. Hi Cindy, When I don’t mix them up just like Tuna salad, I drain and eat them straight out of the can. They really are that tasty! Pair them with anything you would with other fish. Try them in ceviche!

  7. I live with a picky eater 🙂 One thing I’ve learned is that there may be a reason for it. We learned for instance, he’ll eat spinach in a much more primitive form than I will (for me, it has to be garlicked heavily if cooked), but won’t touch cabbage types of veggies, except cauli and broccoli. I will happily crunch through cabbage. Our food system is so limited now, it seems like an either/or question for so many foods. But creativity has saved us (this will be our 21st anniversary this year!) and foods neither of us have tried before has been a way to get around the ingrained biases he has.

    You look great by the way!

  8. If we’re talking of iffy foods, anyone have a suggestion for how to eat cod livers? I got some cans from Norway and now I’m too scared to open them. LOL we all have our food fears.

  9. Excellent and well written. We got to see how you created a lifestyle that works for you. Thanks for sharing. Peace from n.c.

  10. Great work. I’m so happy for you and it’s really inspirational as I’m at the beginning of this journey. You look great, and I’m glad you got yourself a lifestyle the works so well for you.

  11. I too bought sardines and looked at them for months. One day I took the plunge and now I buy them almost every time I go to the store. Nice variation from tuna and salmon. Honestly I think sardines only get a bad rap (?) because as children we saw cartoons portray them as smelly trash can fish that only the cartoon cat wanted to eat. Sardines are amazing. With an avocado and the PK green goddess dressing they are especially yummy.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story – your persistence and effort are admirable!