I Have Never Felt Healthier in My Life

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 don’t have a dramatic story to tell but I have had fantastic results from changing to the paleo diet and I now for the first time in my life feel good all the time and I am not concerned that I’m headed for diabetes or a heart condition. Throughout my adult life I have had several health issues, while not as severe as many of the stories told on this website, were definitely keeping me from a high quality of life. It was very difficult for me to accept that the paleo way of eating was an appropriate and safe diet as I have been brainwashed like everyone else to believe eating certain foods cause health issues which is just not true.

For most of my entire adult life I have felt very lethargic. This has been a huge drain on my life as I never felt like doing anything and was always feeling tired. I tried everything I could including seeing doctors, having blood tests done, tried different supplements, etc. It was very discouraging. Then in my 30s I noticed that after I ate, almost all the time, I sneezed about 10 times! I eat out a lot and it’s pretty embarrassing and annoying to have that happen on a regular basis. I had no idea why it was happening and it continued for many years without me addressing it. I also developed HORRIBLE sleeping problems. I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. Variations of my sleep issues have been occurring for about the last 10 years. About three years ago I went to see a homeopathic doctor who, in his own unique way, diagnosed me to be wheat and dairy sensitive. I agreed to remove foods from my diet that contained wheat and dairy which was extremely difficult for me to do. The sneezing stopped and only occurred when I wasn’t aware of ingredients that were in my food when I ate out (like tons of butter in a rice dish). I seemed to not be as lethargic either which made me very happy.

However, I became of the mindset “if it doesn’t contain wheat, then it’s ok to eat”. I had no problem eating greasy French fries, tons of sushi (surrounded by rice), gluten free crackers, breakfast cereals like “rice chex” that were gluten free, Thai food with rice noodles, etc. I thought I was doing great. Another problem I still had was always feeling hungry. I would wake up in the middle of the night starving and nothing seemed to fill me up. I was having bowls of cereal, crackers, fruit, etc. It was very discouraging. I thought it was due to the weightlifting I had been doing. The final blow was my yearly physical with my doctor in November 2012. My cholesterol was 249 and my glucose was 101. While these numbers aren’t terrible, they were WAY higher than the year before and that was very bothersome as I was concerned they would just keep going up every year. I was very discouraged and didn’t know what to do. I was talking about it with a guy at work who then started telling me about the paleo diet and directed me to Mark’s Daily Apple. Most people here at work don’t agree with his philosophies regarding food, but it all made sense to me. He also had me watch the movie Fathead which was an eye opener.

I started reading the Mark’s Daily Apple, reading other success stories, learning the Primal Blueprint and having all of my questions regarding the diet answered. The website has been a great tool to help me stick to this plan. The philosophy made sense to me so I decided to give it a shot for six months and see if there was any improvement. I was a little uncomfortable eating at least two eggs a day and bacon for snacks when I was hungry but I stuck with it. I cut out almost all grains except I started allowing myself one slice of Ezekiel bread when I feel like it. One thing I should mention is I don’t follow the diet COMPLETELY. I do eat corn and black beans occasionally, and a small amount of brown rice once in a while (and I definitely blatantly cheat sometimes). For the last six months I have eaten mostly eggs, limited amounts of fruit, almonds, sweet potatoes, many salads with tons of veggies, all proteins including fish, chicken and steak (mostly grass fed) and vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. I drink a big cup of coffee in the morning with cream and Truvia. The biggest change was cutting out the grains. It was really difficult at first but now it’s second nature and I’ve learned I still get to eat lots of food that taste REALLY good. I made my first batch of paleo brownies and they are delicious! I went for a six month check-up a week ago and was shocked at the results I got (see below for comparison charts). First of all, I lost 7 pounds (I am 5’0” and weighed 111). I was not trying AT ALL to lose weight but am thrilled that I lost all my “belly fat”. I do need to mention that at the same time I started eating paleo, we started a “walking program” with walking challenges here at work. So I am definitely walking more than I have in the past. This may be a part of the weight loss although the weight came off and I was NEVER feeling hungry or deprived. My cholesterol is now 203 which it has never been in my adult life (we have a family history of very high cholesterol). In June of this year I had the particle test done regarding my cholesterol and my LDL size is 21.6 which is considered light and fluffy so my bad cholesterol is not even that bad! My glucose level went from 101 to 88. I have more stamina and I am definitely sleeping better as I am not waking up starving in the middle of the night. Also, I have had a throbbing pain in my gums since I had an impacted molar removed as a child. The pain is pretty constant and my dentist had no idea how to help me. I just realized the other day that the pain is gone. It’s truly amazing. I have never felt healthier in my life and I’ve been around for a pretty long time!

December 13, 2012

June 10, 2013

Chart 1

I would like to give a big thanks to Mark and Mark’s Daily Apple for all of the free content he provides to help people live a healthier, productive and happy life by living the Primal way! I can go there to literally have any question I have answered – in a very thorough and understandable way.

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70 thoughts on “I Have Never Felt Healthier in My Life”

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  1. Congrats!! I love seeing the health stats, maybe even more so than before and after pictures (i never thought i’d say that) but those numbers are really the ones that matter most. Keep it up!!

  2. Awesome! Good job :). And your numbers do look great.

    I changed my eating to grain free because of energy levels, and was surprised when my aches and pains went away.

  3. Congrats! I know how it feels to have the “always hungry” and “can’t sleep” it’ not fun! That was on of my huge benefits as well!

    I will be showing this to people who say I can’t eat paleo because I can’t give up ____. Your story shows the 80/20 works and offers results! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’ve been Primal for over a year but I’m always hungry and can’t sleep, I’m pretty sure it’s the bun in the oven’s fault though – I really need a Primal metaphor for my future baby!

      1. Way to go Primal Pregnancy! I love hearing of other pregnant/breastfeeding Primal women 🙂

  4. Nice work! Thanks for sharing a story that’s, as you say, not as flashy as some of the jaw-dropping transformations that have been featured here, but makes a huge difference to your quality of life nonetheless.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep it up!

  5. Great story thanks for sharing, congrats on your improved health and biometrics! I’m going to keep it real here, and this may make some people upset, but even as uplifting as it is to read the “drastic transformation” stories (and it really is, you are so happy for those folks who healed themselves physically and mentally), some of the people that let themselves get so out of shape or engaged in binge type of behavior and destructive ways to cope I sometimes find a little disturbing, albeit I am very sympathetic. Bottom line … to read a story about a person who appears to be disciplined and psychologically stable but implemented new habits / replaced old habits based on research and reaped healthy benefits is just as powerful a story IMHO.

  6. Glad to see your second test vs. the first one. Most hospitals still run with the first test and unfortunately, it’s not the most accurate. Because of that thousands of people are placed on Statins each year. The second test you had is the more accurate and should be the one that everyone asks their doctor for.

  7. I am 5 feet even too and I wish I weighed 111, what a great number. I am hanging somewhere around 120, having not made all the shifts that you have. Congratulations for making all those big/little changes. I believe I am somewhere around 70/30 as far as following a primal diet and I don’t workout much. I am all about sugar and still claim Snickers as a fallback when I am really hungry. You can be my hero.

    1. I’m in about the same boat – nice to see I’m not alone. I’m 5’3″ and about 117/118. Still have some belly fat. I’m probably 80/20 or better in my diet but don’t have time to exercise with 2 boys around. Going out weekly (mostly to Mexican places) does not help – I love me some tortilla chips!! I’m trying, though….

    2. I’m also 5′ 0”, and I started at 150 lbs about 2 months ago (maybe 3?) and have gotten down to ~140, and while that is a definite improvement, it can be a little disheartening. I do my best to stick to Primal all the time, but I feel like certain things beyond my control (my family’s need for cheaper food, for instance) keep me from really shedding the weight.

      Thanks Anita for reminding me that it’s not just about the weight, its about overall health, too. Like Vanessa says, I’ll let you be my role model and won’t let the fact that my food isn’t 100% primal stand in my way. I’ll find other ways to make adjustments to my lifestyle!

  8. Anita: If what I have read in several medical sites is correct, you are likely heart attack proof:

    A Harvard-lead study author reported:

    “High triglycerides alone increased the risk of heart attack nearly three-fold.

    And people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL — the “good” cholesterol — had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL in the study of 340 heart attack patients and 340 of their healthy, same age counterparts.

    The ratio of triglycerides to HDL was the strongest predictor of a heart attack, even more accurate than the LDL/HDL ratio (Circulation 1997;96:2520-2525).”

    If one’s triglyceride/HDL ratio calculates to:

    2 or less is ideal
    4 – is high
    6 – much too high

    Your ratio of triglycerides to HDL is 0.42, which is lower than any ratio I have personally seen. So it seems you have nothing to worry about.

    Nevertheless, congratulations on the many successes you have realized!

    1. Thanks. You are correct but coming from a family that has really high cholesterol it just gave me such a good feeling to see the numbers I achieved with no meds.

  9. Anita, great job and keep up the good work. Is hubby going to come aboard soon? Is that photo from the Inside Passage up in Alaska? Grokette on!

    1. I’m trying to get him on board. Not easy!!!! He loves bread and it makes me cringe!! Yes that pic is from a cruise in Alaska. Thank you!!

      1. I’m a bread lover too and thought it would be really difficult to stop eating bread, pizza, pasta, pastries, etc. But now that I’ve been doing it for over a year, I find that I mostly don’t miss it and I generally feel miserable if I do eat wheat-based food. A bagel for breakfast will make me feel worse than a hangover all day, without even the pleasure that comes with a few drinks. Eating in restaurants can sometimes be challenging because it’s a bread parade – it’s almost like the National Wheat Council is paying restaurants to pimp their products!

  10. Good job Anita. Your numbers look great. I wish you continued success. On a side note you sure have a nice looking husband.

  11. Great work! As someone who has been considering paleo for a while (and lives about 50-50, but hasn’t made the whole transition), your story is really inspiring to me. I also don’t have a ton of weight to lose, but do suffer from exhaustion routinely and a family history of heart problems. Seeing your stats is really inspiring me to try harder to make the jump!

  12. Nice! I think there are more individuals out there that experience this problem but don’t know how to fix it. You made it work and are an inspiration to others. Grok on!

  13. Very inspiring story Anita. It seems that the subtle shifts are the most difficult as they aren’t brought on by great drama or physical distress. Like you, my energy increased exponentially after switching to paleo life. Having this kind of energy feels amazing and is priceless. Excellent job!

  14. Great job Anita! I am also only 5 foot tall but weight 120 on average. I started my transformation 2 years ago starting at 150ish. This spring physical/blood tests showed my numbers a HUGE improvement for me from the previous 2 years as well. Is my body rock hard and cover page photo perfect? no way. Not after 9 pregnancies and 5 full term births…but am i feeling positive and healthy? absolutely! And that is a HUGE transformation. Thanks for taking the time to share your story and encouraging me with your results.


  15. That’s great news for you and this does work very well with yesterday’s story.
    My wife is 5’0″ and is now maniacal in her Jillian Michaels workouts. We are both late to fitness (started late 50’s) so for us it is kind of an exciting new lifestyle that is making us quite a bit more hopeful concerning aging. The economy is out of our control but we keep telling ourselves health is wealth and we definitely have control over our health. You are right, after a year a lot of our fibromyalgia or arthritic type aches have disappeared. We are quite strict on no sugar, grains or legumes, no processed crap whatsoever, but allow ourselves butter, cheese, Greek yogurt and limited organic milk. Our biggest cheat is Garden of Eatin Organic Blue Corn Chips with plenty of guacamole and salsa, they are gluten free and make you feel good all over! I hope your husband will get with the program, most guys are happy to swap bagels and oatmeal for bacon and eggs. Offer him some Porkchops, NY Strips and Ribeyes with mushrooms grilled in butter!

    I have had similar results as yours, all my blood results were 20-50% improved and all in excellent range except for one, my fasting glucose that went from 101 to 105. I’m told 100 or above is considered pre diabetic. Frankly I don’t understand how that went up or why it’s elevated in the first place, how on earth that could move the opposite direction to everything else. Might be a genetic disposition. Now I eat absolutely zero sugar other than an apple a day and my blood is more sugary?

    1. Maybe it just spiked that day for some reason. Doesn’t make sense at all. I bet it will be down the next time you get tested.

    2. This is just a thought, but you might look into the side effects of any prescription meds you are taking (assuming you are taking any meds). For example, a side effect of HCTZ for blood pressure is “sugar in the urine” according to the Mayo Clinic and “elevation of blood sugar levels” according to medicinenet. Also, Dr. Mercola has some good info on why carbs raise blood sugar levels.

      Hope this helps—-

      1. Like Bayrider, my bood sugar hovers at that 100 mark, too despite eating Primal. I’m also on HCTZ. Thanks for the info– I’ll definitely bring it up at my next doctor’s visit and stop beating myself up about it till then.

    3. I was listening to a Robb Wolf podcast a while back and I vaguely recall him mentioning that a lot of paleo people react to the glucose tolerance test as pre/diabetic because they don’t use glucose normally and so the body reacts differently.

      Sorry to be so vague with this (as I can’t remember all the detail) but perhaps there is nothing wrong…anyone else know something about this?

    4. From Chris Kresser:

      One caveat here is that very low-carb diets will produce elevated fasting blood glucose levels. Why? Because low-carb diets induce insulin resistance. Restricting carbohydrates produces a natural drop in insulin levels, which in turn activates hormone sensitive lipase. Fat tissue is then broken down, and non-esterified fatty acids (a.k.a. “free fatty acids” or NEFA) are released into the bloodstream. These NEFA are taken up by the muscles, which use them as fuel. And since the muscle’s needs for fuel has been met, it decreases sensitivity to insulin. You can read more about this at Hyperlipid.

      So, if you eat a low-carb diet and have borderline high FBG (i.e. 90-105), it may not be cause for concern. Your post-meal blood sugars and A1c levels are more important.

      You can read more here: http://chriskresser.com/when-your-“normal”-blood-sugar-isn’t-normal-part-2

  16. Hi Anita. Thanks for sharing. I just found the paleo/primal way literally a week ago. Everything’s been going great. I’ve been pretty strictly adhering to the dietary rules. Other than one day of “low carb flu,” I’ve felt great. Except about a half hour ago, I started panicking. “Can I really do this for the rest of my life? Am I never going to eat chips and salsa or pasta or cereal or any of the things that are such a big part of my life again?” Then I sat down and read your story and it gives me great comfort that the 80/20 rule really does apply, and you can get wonderful health benefits without going crazy. THANKS!

    1. I would estimate my wife and I are at least 95% primal eating compliant. We stay pretty much 100% at home other than organic corn chips and alcohol so when we go out we don’t worry about potatoes or rice or some quality bread. I won’t be passing up on the occasional Pad Thai or Linguine and Clams. Just don’t keep the grains or sugar around the house. We used to declare cheat days every week or two and it always seemed to me that those were beneficial for weight loss, shakes up the system a little.

      And it’s pretty clear to me that 80/20 will be more than adequate when we arrive at our body composition goals, at that point we will add more healthy carbs back into our diet on an ongoing basis. One thing we will never do is drink another crappy corn syrup soda again. If the average American would just swear off corn syrup it would probably have enormous benefits across society.

      1. I’m hoping the “shakes up the system” thing is true. I tried a paleo bread recipe yesterday that knocked me off course (I’m well on my way to one of those big weight loss transformations…).

  17. Great story, Anita; thanks for sharing! I totally relate as I’ve had similar cholesterol results, pre-primal, and haven’t had it checked since going primal. Who did the particle size testing for you? Was it expensive, if I may ask? I told my dr that I’m not doing another regular choesterol test because it’s a waste of time/money but I might like to see one that gives a good idea of particle size. I, took have a family history of high cholesterol (and heart disease) so it would be nice to know if I have the nice big fluffy LDL.

    1. I just switched primary care physicians because after my last physical, I inquired about the specifics of my blood work and my old doctor just said that they don’t do tests like that (advanced blood lipid screening, etc.) I found a paleo-friendly doctor who insisted on the more detailed tests (still covered by my insurance), so now I have a good baseline. When I went to the lab where they draw blood, the tech took one look at my form and said “wow, that’s a lot of tests!”

      Check out the Paleo Physician’s Network on the Internet – that’s where I found my new doc.

    2. My regular doctor did the test for me. She seemed to struggle with reading the results over the phone so I’m guessing its pretty new to her. It wasn’t that expensive. The whole blood work was around $150 because it wasn’t part of my annual checkup. I thought it would be way more.

  18. I find this inspiring too. I have been really struggling with staying primal, because I keep lapsing back into my “all-or-nothing” diet mentality, which of course leads to no good. This is living proof that one can eat primal most of the time and still make major improvements. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. I’d like to encourage you to keep trying. I used to have that “all-or-nothing” issue but now that I’ve been primal about a year it’s really a lot easier to do well and just have those “whatever” times less and less. I have gone through 3 visits to my mom’s house, (she loves to feed people snacks along with fabulous dinners, with the snacks of candy, crackers, bread, cake, pie, sweet rolls, pancakes, breakfast cereals), all WITHOUT gaining the usual 2 to 5 pounds that NEVER come off, nor any digestion issues that come with all that. So keep going, it’s worth the happiness and painfree life that come as a result.

  19. Great seeing the numbers. Thanks for taking the time! Your story and the comments that followed made me think about family history and our predispositions to certain traits, i.e. high cholesterol, being overweight, metabolic syndrome, etc. But is it our genes or the food a family has grown up on? A rhetorical question.

  20. Yay, a fellow Alaskan! I love how your story coincides so well with yesterday’s post, that there is more to this paleo/primal thing than weight loss. Congrats on your success and keep it up!

  21. Well done. Thank you for sharing. I am sure that for every dramatic weight/health paleo story there are lots of stories like yours – and mine. Getting healthier, leaner and fitter. Keep up the good work and you can only show by example to your nearest and dearest.

    Well done, once again.

  22. Congratulations on your new found health! These type of stories are my all-time favorites. It’s always fun and encouraging to hear of the major physical transformations so many success stores have; however, for me, new found health and feeling great are the ultimate goal achievements.

    I’m 69 years old and although looking “good” is still somewhat of a priority, feeling good and being healthy is my number one goal.

    The title of your story says it all! Thanks you so much for posting your story and continued good heath and success.

  23. I congratulate you on your journey. I will be 65 in just a couple of weeks and I, too, have never felt better in my life. Just thinking about what you eat and what you do physically is an enormous step towards better health.

  24. Nice one!
    Like a few people have said…It’s nice to see the numbers.
    Pictures are nice too, but don’t always tell the full story.
    E.g. athletes who are FIT, but not disciplined enough to get their diet together and get HEALTHY

  25. And any question not answered in the articles, you can just search the forums for! That’s one thing I love about MDA. Sometimes there’s even an article for things I didn’t expect, like thickening soups. Or cabbage.

  26. This is just a thought, but you might look into the side effects of any prescription meds you are taking (assuming you are taking any meds). For example, a side effect of HCTZ for blood pressure is “sugar in the urine” according to the Mayo Clinic and “elevation of blood sugar levels” according to medicinenet. Also, Dr. Mercola has some good info on why carbs raise blood sugar levels.

  27. I love your story Anita! I just turned 70 a few weeks ago and started PB at the same time. Never too late I believe. Your experiences with this lifestyle are very encouraging and I thank you for sharing them.

    I went on an Inland Passage cruise years ago and loved every minute of it. Your picture brings back very fond memories.

    Grok On!