April 26 2013

I Was Astounded at How Quickly the Weight Came Off and Stayed Off

By Guest

It?s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark?s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I?ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Hello Mark,

I’ve been wanting to send in my story for a long time but I think I was waiting for a “happy ending” before I felt I could put it out to the world. I finally feel like I’m in a great place to send this out, though I would hardly consider it an ending.

My unhealthy relationship with food starts at the age of ten or eleven. I was swimming several times a week, so I was not overweight – but my eating habits were putting me on a track of a lifetime of unhealthy eating. I would come home from school before anyone else in my family and eat an entire bag of chips or candy and hide the evidence, because even at the age of ten I realized that this was an odd thing to do, and felt guilty about it.

At the age of thirteen my family moved across the continent and I stopped swimming. The absence of physical activity, and bad snacking habits coupled with depression all caught up with me. I steadily gained weight and thought nothing of it.

By the time I started high school, I made more friends and got to a generally happier place, but the bad eating habits had settled in. I remember loving the weekends when I was baby-sitting because I could snack on junk food while the kids were in bed. I was 5’7″ and around 160 pounds. This isn’t a bad weight to be at for the average woman, but for a 16 year old this was well outside of my comfort zone. I was really unhappy with seeing that number on the scale, but had no idea what to do about it.

Amanda - High School

During University, I decided to be a vegetarian. This involved eating a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries while on the school meal plan. By the end of the holiday season after my first semester of art school, I had hit 175 pounds. That was my limit. I still had no idea of what to do about it, but I figured limiting the french fries and pop tarts was a solid start. By the end of the school year I had lost 15 pounds just by making slight changes. And I do mean slight – I was still eating the grilled cheese sandwiches, I was just not also eating Oreos.

Over the next summer, at the age of 18, I decided I wanted to get more serious about my health. I looked up the government calorie count website and calculated my meals religiously. My goal was 1200 calories a day, and I was usually thrilled if I came in under that. I also spent hours walking on the treadmill and went swimming several times a week. To the calculator’s credit, it was consistently telling me I was not getting enough calories – I took that as a win. An interesting thing to note was that though I had been a vegetarian for a year at this point, I started craving meat after my swim sessions – once or twice I gave in and snuck a few pieces of turkey when no one was around and immediately felt guilty about it. Over that summer I lost thirty pounds, but even though I was a healthy and happy weight, I still had sugar-obsessed eating habits coupled with a desire to keep losing weight. I would spend one day eating fluffernutter sandwiches and then do a juice fast the next.

In 2008, I spent a semester abroad in France, and the vegetarianism and food paranoia couldn’t hold out against all of the delicious meat, pastries, wine, and butter. I gained 10 pounds in that semester, but enjoyed every minute of it, for a change. Of course, when I came back I immediately began my old regime – with the addition of weekly running, purely with the intention to burn calories to make up for dietary trespasses.

Fast forward to just three years ago, I met a guy, and at the time of our meeting he had just lost 30 pounds and several inches off his waistline on the paleo diet. We started dating and really enjoyed cooking together and I perfected my grain/sugar free chicken tikka masala and the occasional paleo pancake.

Two years ago, the guy and I moved in together, and I finally read your book – not going to lie, it had been sitting on my nightstand staring at me for quite some time before I actually picked it up and read it. We decided to do a strict 30 day paleo challenge. During that time, my skin cleared up, and I lost weight without counting calories – a huge revelation for me.

Over the year, my commitment to eating paleo waxed and waned, but I had a much better idea of how to be healthy, and psychologically I was in a much better place. This January I started off the year by re-reading The Primal Blueprint and starting another strict 30 days of paleo and was astounded at how quickly the holiday weight came off – and stayed off. I also decided to join a local CrossFit gym. While I love the workout, I love the community more – I had never met other primal people out in the wild until then.

And that is where I am now. I no longer run or workout simply to reduce the circumference of my thighs, but just for the thrill of seeing what they are capable of. I can’t share my current weight – I ditched the scale several months ago, but my clothes fit and I’m happy. My now-fiancé and I still love to cook together, and eating is no longer something to be stressed out about or calculated, just something to enjoy.

Amanda - 2013

All the best,


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73 thoughts on “I Was Astounded at How Quickly the Weight Came Off and Stayed Off”

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  1. Amanda, I love hearing these stories from the “happy middle.” Thanks for sharing yours before you made it to your happy ending.

    Keep up the great work! I’m so happy for you and the enjoyment you’ve found in your new life.

    1. Love the stories too… and I find that appetite is much easier to regulate now I’ve cut out the grains and sugars.

  2. Great job Amanda! Sigh. I am a little envious of those in their 20s finding paleo today. The low-fat, no cholesterol was all the rage when I was your age . . . and no internet to find the opposing view. Keep up the good work!

      1. +1 I started following Primal (not even strictly) at 67. I’m 70 now and feel years younger than when I started. It is never too late!

        1. Harry, do you have any advice for seniors interesting in going paleo/primal? My parents (64 and 72) and interested, but mom has heart problems already and dad has rheumatoid arthritis, so they are a little hesitant to go off the (typical) doctor’s advice.

        2. Advice for seniors–start by going fairly low carb with healthy fats, and then have cholesterol tested to see the improvement in triglycerides. That should result in the support of the doctor to continue towards primal

        3. I’m a senior (61), went primal the end of January, and haven’t looked back. Best health move I probably ever made. No regrets whatsoever. I had/have high bp, but have been able to cut my meds more than 25% after such a short period of time!

          And GREAT job, Amanda!

  3. Well done!!! You’re looking great!

    I totally get how it feels to see the scales going up with no real idea of how to make it stop (my adolescence was the same).

    We shouldn’t need to calorie count, our bodies should be able to guide our appetite, and by eating the whole natural foods we are evolved to eat I’ve found this holds true. Well done and congrats on your engagement!!

  4. I’m glad you’ve found healthy balance in your life and a supportive partner to continue on the path. Did your sweet tooth vanish as your diet improved, or did you just muscle it to the ground?

    1. Oh, it’s still kickin’ but I try to never feed it mindlessly. Because I eat so much healthier the rest of the time, when an exceptionally good treat comes along, I don’t sweat about it as much.

      1. Congrats!! Can you share your tikki masala recipe?!? I’m dying to find a good one! 🙂

  5. Great story Amanda! You look beautiful. I too wish I had learned about this “old way” of eating when I was in my 20s, (almost 40 years ago) but better now than never!

  6. Fantastic! You have great definition in your face now. It’s called a BIG, HAPPY SMILE 🙂

  7. You look fabulous! If you can, please share your chicken tikka recipe! 🙂

  8. I want SO DESPERATELY to throw out my scale and stop counting calories. I am just afraid I will start eatling like a mad-woman if I do not have a check on myself. But reading stories like yours reminds me that it can be done! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Think of the scale and counting calories as tools that are helping you form a life changing habit. Once the habit is formed, you won’t need these tools.

      I use a scale and count calories but I don’t intend to use these tools forever.

      It’s all part of the journey.

      1. I agree on ditching the scale to weigh yourself. I encourage the use of a digital kitchen scale. I think it is so important that I rank it #5 on Bon Rurgundy’s Basic Bachlelor Kitchen Essentials, or BRBBKE for short.

        A digital kitchen scale is really handy. Especially for making dry rubs, brines, and any bake good. The right ingredient amounts almost guarantee a consistent, quality product, especially in baked goods. I initially struggled with scaling paleo recipes that were 4-8 servings by half. Sure, I could have lots of leftovers. Often too much. While I do freeze food, I prefer fresh whenever possible.

        Then I read the cook book “Ratio” by Ruhlman and learned how to scale recipes up or down with ease. I highly recommend most of his books, including “Ruhlman’s Twenty”, which goes into detail on the 20 key cooking techniques. Soon to be released is “Schamltz” (yiddish for rendered chicken fat).

        If I can go from cooking skills zero to cooking skills hero, so can you. (I stole that from the show “Yan Can Cook”. Remember Yan? Yeah. He was awesome).

        1. I second Ratio as a guide to making all kinds of cool stuff. The Flavor Bible is another good one if you come across a new ingredient. It tells you what it goes with. Get that material down or keep the books handy for a reference, and you won’t have to go googling for recipes nearly as often.

    2. I just use pants. 😉 When they are more tight than usual I review what choices I’ve been making lately about eating and drinking.

    3. I think the scale and calculating work for some people; for others, no scale is the way to go. I tried “ditching the scale” for a while, and the end result was gaining back an extra 15 pounds. For me, I don’t stress about counting, I actually kinda like knowing what I’m eating (calories, proteins, carbs, etc).
      And as you said, there’s the chance of going crazy once the scale is gone, which is what happened to me. I don’t say that to instill fear in you, just to argue that the “end point” for different people may not always be a scale-free existence.

      1. Both the scale and counting calories sever a specific purpose. Scale is a great way to track your progress but NOT the only way. Instead of the scale take pictures once a week or take body measurements.

        Counting calories and macronutrients is not necessary but it does help you be more aware of what you put in your body – at least it did for me.

        Bottom line, use whatever tool you need till your new lifestyle becomes automatic. There is no “ultimate way”…. your journey is yours.

      2. The daily weigh in works for me. But I hate counting calories. Won’t do it.

        1. I’m the same! I’m still losing weight little by little and the morning thrill of it (plus the immediate consequences if I stray and buy a pizza->+500g) has been motivating.

    4. I try very hard to remember that the scale is just one measure of how I’m doing.
      Along with how my clothes fit, how my body feels, how my body looks, etc.

      It’s not always easy for me to not weigh myself like a mad woman, old habits die hard at 52 (and everyone asking about numbers doesn’t help) but it’s getting easier!

      My biggest revelation in this came recently when I realized my abdomen felt different even though the scale had remained the same. CrossFit and Primal eating are putting muscle where fat was!!

    5. I threw my scale out a few months ago and felt pretty scared that I would go on a non stop weight gain bender. Well, I went up a little bit at first, then dropped back down again. I used to think it was great to weigh myself daily, but in the decade plus period of daily weighing I never maintained any weight I lost. I am far from perfect, but I feel much more sane now that I gave up the scale obsession. Chuck it!

  9. Congrats,

    This is why I love primal paleo it’s true freedom. No counting calories, stressing or having anxiety about simething that should be a simple and natural part of our lives!

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Great job Amanda!! You’re an inspiration to so many.

    Who needs a scale when you’re in it for the long haul and living life? pssshhh… 🙂

  11. Bravo and glad you two are tying the knot!

    Your story like so many others shows the simple yet powerful changes we can make to achieve lasting healthy lifestyles.

    Keep on doing what you’ve been doing — primal living is not just good for you– it’s a blast!

  12. I’m so glad you shared! I’m 25 and just learned about this way of life, and I have to say the way your story is spread out over a year is so encouraging- so far it’s been 4 1/2 months for me, and I can’t believe the changes, even when my commitment level waxes and wanes. I’m encouraged by the way you see food and eating as enjoyable, not stressful! Thanks for sharing, I feel I’m on the right track!
    Congratulations!! Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Love that happy smile!!! You go, girl! I am also glad you decided to share right now. None of us are at the “ending” either. My journey so far has been about 6 years in the making and I still don’t feel as though I have all the pieces together. But it is oh so much better to be here than where I started. Way to go!! Keep grokking on!

  14. Congrats! Reading your story was like reading parts of mine – even height, weight, and university vegetarianism. Thanks for sharing your success 🙂

    1. Haha, I glad to hear you “overcame” your vegetarian phase also!

  15. Great story. I’m in my 50s and went through the vegetarian thing, the cardio thing (remember aerobics?!!) and have been doing the Primal thing for almost 2 years. Makes me so sad that I put my body through all that low fat, meat-free deprivation and stress. I’m so much happier now in every way. My body’s different, but I’ve never, ever felt better. I’m much stronger too. A lot of my friends who are my age gave up on the calorie counting, but still believe in the no red meat, low fat way of eating and they have a lot of complaints about the way they feel. So, you are very lucky to have found this at this stage in your life. Congrats to you!!

  16. amanda, are you in ottawa? I think you’re the amanda at my crossfit box!
    either way, good job! 😀

      1. I thought so! we often are in the 5:30 together I think.
        you and I have a pretty similar story/history, except for the part about the weight coming off is where we differ, lol. anyway, if you’re game I’d love to chat about your experience sometime as I’m trying to tackle this myself. 🙂

        1. For sure! Especially because after we move to our new box there will conveniently be a coffee/tea place next door so we can chat over an iced tea on a patio!

  17. I love your story! Sounds like my eating/health history almost to a T. Grew up with baaaad habits and they are so hard to break! I’ve done and tried it all and although I can still overeat/bingo on Paleo foods it’s helped me get a better idea about what true health looks like.

    You are beautiful!

  18. Looking good big time props on adopting a healthy lifestyle. “I no longer run or workout simply to reduce the circumference of my thighs, but just for the thrill of seeing what they are capable of” … that’s a great line.

  19. Congratulations, Amanda. It can be a difficult process, but the journey is well worth it. Enjoy yourself and all that you have accomplished.

  20. Definitely remember babysitting and having free reign in those pantries and in my mind, the parents would think it was the kids that ate all those packaged processed chemical shit storm snacks! The perfect crime, Muahaha. It is so amazing how all that obsession with food is gone. I also just did a sprint on a walk and was amazed at how fast my legs could go and that I wasn’t winded when I stopped. Keep up the good work!

  21. Amanda, I’m so happy to see your story here today. Thanks for having the courage to share, and thank you for all your support on my paleo/primal journey as well. Like you, I’ve yo-yoed all over the place when it comes to diet and (un)healthy eating. Paleo has helped me find a way to connect with my body and eat to support and nourish it, not to satisfy junky cravings or fill an emotional need. I really appreciate hearing stories like this that contribute to this healthy community!


    1. Thanks Alicia! Your blog has been a wonderful addition to my reader and I love reading about your efforts as well!

  22. You look so much younger and healthier… and sassy-er… in that newer photo! Great job! Spread the word!

  23. Well, this is timely. My scale broke yesterday! Maybe I won’t replace it. Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda, and best wishes for your primal future with your caveman!

  24. Incredible! Amazing results. The cool thing is that you can stick to it 80% and still feel and look awesome.

  25. You look great, Amanda! And your story sounds just like mine. I am not at a fitness level that I am quite happy with yet, but this gives me hope!

  26. Congratulations Amanda, you look positively radiant in your “after” photo. I also love that you found the freedom of not counting calories or weighing yourself – which is my experience too. And I too love your line about exercising to see what you can do……….awesome!

    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  27. Wow….congratulations, great job….very inspiring…thanks for sharing

  28. So well done, Amanda! How different you look: beautiful, happy, and lean!

    It’s noteworthy to me that “vegetarian” means to so many people just what you describe: the likes of grilled cheese and fries (in the same meal, no less), or fluff sandwiches. It shows how mis-named the practice is. In other words, when it comes to looking at what vegetarians eat, one often wonders: Where are the vegetables??????

    Seems like the only sound thing in that old mix of yours that was the turkey you snuck and felt badly about. How good that you were open minded enough to try something new, and keep on with it.

    You’re inspiring! Really good of you to share your great story.


  29. Well done!!! You go girl!! I threw my scale out the window too as I chomped on some bacon! Lol, love this lifestyle so much! Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. Great story Amanda I’m 62 and have a blood pressure problem I’m 80% vegetarian for the last 3 months no great results yet .. maybe I should look closer into what your doing..

    Thanks John

  31. I’m late to reading your story, Amanda – but enjoyed it tremendously nevertheless. Love your before/after pictures too. You look so healthy and happy! Good job! 🙂