I Find This Journey a Joyous Experience

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!

 I started my Primal journey in mid-2007 at age 47. I was tired of being fat with a fat belly. I was tired of not feeling good when I got up. I was tired of the arthritis in my lower back which made it hard to walk some days. I was tired of being tired. I had blood sugar problems and was concerned I would become diabetic. I refused to believe it was an inevitable consequence of getting older. I had been reading books on sugar addiction and thought “That’s me”!

I started Atkins Inception phase and stuck with it for 3 months. The first 10 days were agony! I felt sick and groggy, but I stuck with it. By 2 weeks, I realized I felt pretty good. I did not have the morning aches and pains. My head was clear and I had lots of energy. Because I felt so good, and because I had other people around me trying to find a healthier diet, I was able to stick with that very strict diet for 3 months.

I had kicked the sugar addiction, but was really craving things with wheat. I tried adding back starches by having some pasta one night. The next morning was just agony. My back hurt so bad I could barely get out of bed and walking was extremely difficult. I decided I was gluten intolerant. While I did continue to include starches in my diet, by staying gluten-free I was mostly pain free.

I moved to a new job in 2008 and left my health conscious friends behind. (I work on a contract basis so it is common for me to change jobs every 2-3 years.) While I tried to stay low carb, no one around me saw the benefits, including my husband. Without the support of other people doing low carb, I found it too hard to resist bread, potatoes, and corn, though I did stay mostly gluten free (arthritis pain was a great motivator for that). The weight I had lost on Atkins came back.

BeforeThat’s me in the ponytail, blue shirt, and white pants touring on a London street summer 2008. I particularly notice the fat arms and dimpled elbows.
In 2009-2011 I was in South Wales with my husband, who was pursuing a Masters degree. I found staying gluten-free was easier than in the U.S. I found that Europeans in general were more aware of where their food came from. Produce and meat were labeled with the farm it came from. Organic and GMO free was easy to find. Starches were also easy to find, especially white potatoes. I was doing some work in Ethiopia at the time, where people in general are not concerned that they are getting too many calories. Being fat was a sign of wealth and prosperity. While it was easy to eat modest amounts of protein, carbs were a large part of the diet. Injera, a bread made from teff flour, was used to pick up and eat the various colorful and spicy dishes served at each meal. While teff is gluten-free, I was eating a lot of high-carb food.

In 2012, now back in the U.S., I started a new job with several of my buddies from 2007 and some new health conscious friends. A small group of us made a habit of eating lunch together daily, and dinner once a week, and we encouraged each other in Primal eating habits. I’m not sure when I found Mark’s Daily Apple, but it was around this time period. From 2012 through 2013 I lost 40 pounds and felt terrific. My husband liked my lighter look, but I still could not convince him to try Primal, even though he wanted to lose weight.


Here I am at Christmas 2013 at the Alamo, down to 165. I had more weight I wanted to lose, but my weight loss stalled. I kept to Primal for many months, but I was discouraged by the lack of weight loss. My contract ended and I parted ways with my Primal buddies. I gained back all I had lost, though I was much better at staying gluten-free than I had ever been.


Here I am summer 2016 with my family at Niagara Falls. I was not quite back up to 205, but you can see I’m much heavier than the previous photo. And I’m not the only person in my family struggling with excess weight!
At the start of 2017, I was back up to 205 pounds. I went back to low carb eating and lost 20 pounds in the first 3 months. Then my weight loss stalled for 6 months, but I stuck to the low carb diet. Mark announced he was publishing the Keto Reset Diet and I determined to get it, read it, and figure out what I was doing wrong. Not only that, my husband (100 pounds overweight, now diabetic too, and diagnosed with bipolar II), finally cared enough about his health to change his diet.

I found that while I was pretty good at eating low carb, I was actually getting too much protein and not enough fat. I decided to go full keto with a reduced eating window and my fat started melting off. My husband was unwilling to give up sugar and starches, but I convinced him to get his daily carbs down to 150 grams (and now he is down to 100 grams a day). He started losing weight as well. For both of us, the change of diet has brought increased energy which makes it easier to exercise more. My husband’s moods have evened out. We are looking forward to his next checkup to see if his blood sugar numbers have improved.

We have both found that eating low carb is not the hard part of Primal. The hard part for us is keeping the amount of protein we eat to a modest level (especially since neither of us is a big salad fan). Since we are both living a Primal lifestyle, it is easier for each of us to stay with it. Every day is not a perfect Primal day and that is alright too.

I do not have a current photo, but I am just a bit below my weight in the San Antonio picture and look much the same. I just had to buy another new belt. I am definitely losing belly fat and am generally thinner all over.

While the weight loss is great for so many reasons, the best part for me is how I feel. I wake up naturally at dawn each day feeling really good. I have tons of energy throughout the day. I do not worry about when I will have the next meal. I’m playing around with new ideas for recipes, especially vegetables. I’m having fun with this, so much so that I completed Primal Health Coach certification for my own education and to help others who want the benefits of Primal. I am considering taking a degree in Nutrition and making a complete career change. I am not perfect, I am not yet at my ideal body composition, but I see Primal as a journey, not a destination. I am finding this journey a joyous experience.

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

19 thoughts on “I Find This Journey a Joyous Experience”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Love to see a story like this! The struggle and falling off the wagon and getting back on is, I believe, what most people experience. Thanks for sharing this! Keep going!

  2. Love seeing a story like this. I think a lot of people have lived this sort of journey, and not a linear one. Great that the husband got on board and is seeing improvements on his health conditions as well!
    I have the same trouble with protein. I adopted paleo with Cordain’s book and started out eating higher protein as a result. Dropping it down is tough, harder than dropping carbs down!

  3. Beautiful illustration of self-experimentation and embracing the journey – over years (and a lifetime, really), not just days or months.

    Also, beautiful example of why “just” going paleo or primal or gluten-free or keto or, or, or…isn’t “the solution.” So many factors – including so many individual factors – come into play.

    Way to go and thank you for sharing!

  4. Excellent that you are working and learning what works for you! Also what a traveler you are! Peace from N.C.

  5. Well done! I have found that while gluten is one problem that I more or less manage, sugar is another one entirely and I haven’t even tried to work on that. The arthritic stiffness in my hands keeps me on the straight and narrow pretty well, it’s good to have that instant feedback.

  6. Such a long journey and yet such perseverance. No, you may not be perfect, but you sure as hell are a guiding light for the rest of us. All the very best to you and thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Big yes…it’s a journey, not a destination. And that’s pretty much true of life. Things are never linear. So happy to hear about your increased energy…that is so much more important than a number on a scale!

  8. Great story! Glad to see you stuck with it. I also reached a point where the weight wasn’t really coming off and, like you, tried the time reduced eating window (intermittent fasting) and it kick started the fat loss again.Keep it up!

  9. Here’s a quickie way to eat your veggies–take either a full “bunch” of kale (my favorites: lacinato, & curly red), chop from stem end up the bunch, about 1/2 inch pieces. Alternatively, buy it bagged & chopped. Massage in plastic baggie with olive oil OR use coconut oil/olive oil mixture on skillet or griddle. Place on baking sheet (parchment paper, too) and bake about 20-30 minutes at 225 or so. Alternate: fry up on griddle, low temperature.

    The little crispy bit are held together by the crunchy stem. Eat like popcorn.

  10. Ahhhh! I, too, have been through the too-much-meat problem. also not being a salad aficionado. I am remembering how nicely I gained weight on the Atkins diet. That was before understanding how important fat was. How great that you have figured it out! I still get sad at how little meat it takes to get to a good serving size of protein, and even sadder that eggs don’t have more.

  11. At age 51 I have had much the same journey. Love eating low carb and primal but not losing weight because I believe I eat too much protein. Trying to Intermittent Fast but find it very difficult, not because of hunger but because of food cravings and stress in general. Eliminating sweet things (even diet soda and stevia stuff) helps, and so does eating high-fat snacks and making sure I get enough electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium). Now I am all about trying to keep insulin levels low for as long as possible throughout the day. Very slowly making progress.

  12. Would love to know what your actual meals consist of for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks?

  13. Love your story, it is so encouraging for me… I am about to embark on primal for the third time. For me, I always get good results (weight and other numbers, mood, head and other aches and pains) but get weighed down by constant snide and defensive comments by colleagues and family members. This time around I am thinking of it as a 50th birthday present for myself – a mind and body that has been primal for a full year (enough sleep, great food, plenty of moving about!) I’m 49 in a month and am easing into full primal by increasing my sleep and giving up grains and sugar… Thanks, Rowena.

  14. Wonderful story of real-life Primal experience. I also was 47 in mid-2007, when I started down the path that would eventually bring me to Primal. Middle-aged health issues are a great motivator to improve your lifestyle factors. Now, at almost 58, I take no medications, nothing aches and I love life and what I eat. I’m not perfect either, and don’t look like some of the other “success stories”, but I consider myself blessed to have such robust good health at this age. Good for you for making the changes!