It’s about Being Fit, Happy, and Healthy!

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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in line Knowing where to start when telling your story is a difficult point to figure out. After all I don’t want to bore you all with a blow by blow account of my life, but I am going to take it right back to the start, when I was brought kicking and screaming into the world, complete with a dislocated hip. I know what you’re thinking, that’s probably not so much of a big deal, just pop it back in there why don’t you?! Well this wasn’t exactly the plan. Most of my childhood was spent in and out of hospital due to my dodgy hip.

My first major surgery was at 6 months old, then again at 7 years old, when at a routine check-up the doctor realised my hip was hanging on by a thread. A new hip was created from other bits of bone from my leg, but the healing process of this left me in a wheelchair for the best part of a year, having to relearn how to walk and missing out on things like learning to swim and being fully active like my peers. The reason I am telling you this is that it really gave me a perceived limitation, one I have recently realised I was approaching all the wrong way.

Really if I am honest, my dodgy hip was the least of my problems. I could move, walk, run if I wanted and even learned to swim at the tender age of 25. I wore my two large scars (11cm and 13cm) on my hip like a tiger that earned her stripes. They didn’t bother me, the dodgy hip that has never regained its feeling didn’t really bother me, what bothered me was something else altogether.

Cropped_Before_FeatureGrowing up, I was from a disadvantaged area, and I can’t say that I was educated in the ways of nutrition and exercise…we were raised on potatoes. Through my teenage years and even more so in my early 20’s, I started to really notice that I wasn’t comfortable in my own body. Every time I ate, I got uncomfortable cramps and looked and felt like I was pregnant. I often got bouts of terrible nausea which left me lying in bed wondering should I just make myself sick to feel better. Attractive picture I have painted for you eh? I wonder how I managed to nab myself a boyfriend, never mind getting him to agree to marry this picture of beauty.

So off to the doctor’s surgery I go, hoping for him to give me some answers. Well, guess what….I left more confused than I went in. I explained my symptoms, and with no examination and minimal questions, I left 5 minutes later with a prescription for tablets which decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach. But hey, I was going to gobble them up, because a doctor knows what he’s talking about, right? Wrong. Back to the doctors I go again.

second_beforeThis time, I get a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Great, right? Now I can actually make a plan of action. Wrong. I’ve left once more confused and with now two sets of tablets for different reasons….one pill to prevent spasms and one for when that failed to work. Fan-tas-tic. The problem is that quite frankly I don’t want to take 6 tablets a day and have to schedule eating times. I want to eat when I am hungry and not take anti-spasmodic pills when I have had a spontaneous meal.

Now, I work 40 hours a week, so another trip to the doctors really grinds my gears, because I just don’t have the time. But third time lucky (I was hoping). The locum doctor indeed confirmed my diagnosis of IBS, and this time offered some extra advice. To be fair, she was a little more informative but I still didn’t really understand what this meant for me. So I just continued on with how I always did and just sucked in my swollen belly in to appear thinner, took painkillers for when the cramps got too much and came home every day to get changed into my husband’s tracksuit bottoms that accommodated my circular disposition.

After_1Fast forward to June 2016 when I attended an awards ceremony and entered a charity raffle, and won, yay go me! What I won was a free session with a Personal Trainer (none other than Fionnbharr Toolan of Virtu Belfast– Irish, European and World Kettlebell Champion – pretty impressive wouldn’t you say). Chatting to my husband, he actively encouraged me to take on the session, knowing how unhappy I was at the time with my physical appearance.

So, off I go, nervous as hell about what this was going to entail. After all I had a limitation of a dodgy hip remember. Well guys, I cannot tell you how much my perception of exercise changed after leaving that first session with Fionn and the sessions since. It wasn’t all cardio, high intensity, sweat inducing workouts….instead it was mobility work, strengthening muscles that I didn’t know I had. I started lifting weights, a thing that I firmly believed was only for men who watched themselves in the mirror grunting and panting. I could see serious progress. I was, and continue to be hooked.

But for me, lifting heavy things and being able to move in ways I thought impossible due to my ‘limitations’ was secondary, compared to the amazing change that the paleo diet has had on my life. When I told Fionn about my IBS, he went off and did a little research and talked to me about why he felt I should turn to a paleo lifestyle, and he was the one that pointed me in the direction of The Primal Blueprint. This was the first time someone actually took the time and effort to explain how my body used food and nutrients, and how it was different for me as a sufferer of IBS.

After_2Fionn made me write a food diary, monitored it weekly (which was daunting but oh so necessary) because let me tell you something, I knew nothing about nutrition. All the stuff I knew – the stuff I believed to be healthy (the brown rice, the boiled potatoes, the low fat yogurts), was the very thing blowing little holes in my gut. I had to basically rewrite all my knowledge and educate myself in the ways of primal living. I cannot express how much it has changed my life, and I genuinely mean it. There is no bloating, no nausea, no cramping and I can spend the whole day in my own clothes (bonus).

My confidence has seriously grown and it’s forced me into discovering new and wonderful ingredients out there in the world. The exercising bit for me is easy (not literally, Fionbharr works me pretty hard), but the psychological change I had to make to my whole entire lifestyle was immense. But do I regret it? Absolutely not. I’ll accept the weird looks when I sit down to steak and nuts for breakfast, I will accept the comments about eating ‘rabbit food’ for lunch instead of the bowl of mashed potato, I will even accept the eye rolls when someone doesn’t understand why I do and advocate for the primal life.

For me, it’s not about a fad diet, or being skinny or thin, it’s about being fit, happy and healthy. For me – I don’t do the ‘Paleo Diet,’ I do the Paleo Life.


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45 thoughts on “It’s about Being Fit, Happy, and Healthy!”

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  1. Wow Deborah what a mentally tough person you are with a great attitude. Love the weekly reinforcement of how lifestyle changes can transform an individual. You look beautiful in every picture from start to finish, but in your most recent pictures you definitely look stunning and primal strong.

  2. Hi Deborah. You look absolutely stunning in the evening gown. Good work!! You’re right about people not understanding Paleo food choices. I actually had a few people ask me if I was sick because I’d lost weight, never mind that I looked and felt so much better. However, I’ve found that most people don’t even notice what I eat or don’t eat. They are usually too wrapped up in their own lives and their own food choices.

    1. Wow thanks for the lovely comments. Yes you are right, I think sometimes people just like to comment on tour people’s lives!

  3. Fit, happy and ealthy…indeed! You are also very funny. Grokette on.

    1. Nocona thank you so much for your reply and taking the time to get involved. I am glad you found me funny ?? sometimes its hard to know how others will read your work!

  4. that is FANTASTIC WORK Deborah! you look tremendous and you have a spectacular story!!

  5. Wow Deborah. Your story is very inspiring. Love love loved that you enjoyed the weight training. (I enjoy the fact that I can still heave things at 56 and don’t intend to stop.) Stay Happy (healthy and fit!)

    1. Check you out being able to still lift heavy things at 56! I hope I have the energy to do that when I’m 56!! Absolutely love weight training! It definately is more than a physical exercise, gives mental stimulation also!

  6. Congrats on all the success, Deborah! You look great.

    I’m glad Paleo-focused shifts can help certain people change their lives. Though I am getting a little irked by continued blanket statements in the Paleo community that carbs like rice and potatoes are unhealthy. For many of us, Paleo-first LCHF diets have an adverse affect on our health. I’m one of those people that needs to eat more carbs and less fat. A LCHF diet skyrockets my LDL cholesterol and particle number, and intensely down-regulates my LDL metabolism. So nutrient-dense carbs like potatoes are essential for me.

    I think we need to hear a more “everyone is unique” message from Mark and other leaders in the Paleo community. I like Chris Kresser’s approach here, FWIW. LCHF doesn’t work for everyone, as LFHC also doesn’t work for everyone.

    1. agree that some need more nutrient dense carbs than others. And I also feel that our needs can change at different stages in our lives. Yes, everyone is unique and it is so important that we listen to our bodies. (Except when they are telling us to eat oreos!)

    2. Hey chris, thank you for taking the time to reply to this post. To be honest, I have enough trouble figuring out what I should eat to avoid a swollen stomach to worry too much about what everyone else is eating. For me, rice and potatoes are a massive trigger for my IBS. If higher carb and lower fat work for you, then rock on! I am jealous as I love potatoes. We all need to recognise we are individual and should be treated so….So do what makes you feel best. Primal just isn’t about food , it’s movement and lifestyle also! I hope you keep well and for and healthy!

    3. David, set some time aside and read this article by Denise Minger ( Just Bear in mind, that it’s not advocating a low fat diet, nor do I think that this is what you are doing but meant to show that some can do well on it. I too flirt with the amount of carbohydrates I eat…which is very low; potatoes are out due to autoimmune issues and it’s strongly recommended that I do not eat rice. Some do well with 50 or 100 gram of carbohydrates and some with zero and it’s best to experiment and find the amount that yields the best outcome.

    4. Chris, set some time aside and read this article by Denise Minger []. Just Bear in mind, that it’s not advocating a low fat diet, nor do I think that this is what you are doing but meant to show that some can do well on it. I too flirt with the amount of carbohydrates I eat…which is very low; potatoes are out due to autoimmune issues and it’s strongly recommended that I do not eat rice. Some do well with 50 or 100 gram of carbohydrates and some with zero and it’s best to experiment rand find the amount that yields the best outcome.

  7. You look Awesome! Love the fact that your trainer focuses on mobility.

    1. Hi David, thanks for replying! Yes alot of my workouts are mobility focused and it’s really shown me what my body is capable of, even with my dodgy hip. It’s been a very enlightening process that i couldn’t have done without my trainer!

  8. Absolutely amazing story that teaches a thing or two about resilience…… sorry for staring but I couldn’t help myself 🙂

    1. Haha!!! Thank you! Yes resilience is def something we all need to have in our lives! Thanks for taking the time to join in the discussion!

  9. Wow Deborah, LOVE your story. Especially what you said about a “perceived limitation.” Perception is everything. You look gorgeous and it sounds like you feel amazing. Sooooo happy and excited for you!

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for taking the time to read and get involved, I really appreciate it! My life has def changed for the better! I hope you are well!

  10. You look amazing, Deborah! So glad you were able to surmount your lack of nutritional knowledge and poor medical advice and get on track with the perfect trainer and the Primal Blueprint.

  11. Oh my goodness, what a story and transformation! It is apparent that you are a positive, funny, and strong woman and your story was a joy to read. You were meant to win that raffle! I could relate to so much of your past; I too strongly resembled a post-dinner pregnant woman at many points in my pre-primal life. I am so grateful that more and more people are sharing there experiences as I feel that eventually this life-changing information will make its way into doctor’s offices and hospitals around the world.

  12. Great story!!! Looking fabulous. Love all the photos. Can you give more detail on your weight training and movement on a weekly basis? Thanks for the detail.

    1. Hi Pam. This can really differ and to be totally honest, my PT writes all my sessions for me…I’ve totally put my faith in him to do whats right! But typically I always do 5-10 minutes warm up/mobility, whether it be 3 minutes on the air bike to start, then maybe some hip flex stretches, ham string stretches with a resistance band, cat/camel stretch, some sprinter stretchers or dead hangs to decompress my spine. Then I usually move into weight training – hip thrusts with anything up to 60/65kg (I’ve worked my up from literally nothing ), weighted presses, flex arm holds, plank for 30 seconds, weighted lunges. It would normally be a weighted exercise followed by a non weighted exercise (set of hip thrusts followed by rows which are just body weight). I usially do a set of exercises then take a 1-2 minute break, then back into it again. I usually go through a full body workout, so we don’t tend to target just specific parts…as my trainer says, every day is a leg day! I hope this helps somewhat!

      1. Great info. I see why you look so great. Maybe I need to step it up or find a great PT like you. Thanks.

  13. I love your attitude, and how you were open to the trainer’s suggestions. I really believe those messages come to us only when we are ready to hear them. People can tell you stuff, but until the time is right you just don’t seem to absorb it. And that perceived limitation is such an important thing. How many times do people say “oh I’m too old” or “i’m not strong like you”? Amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it and have great support isn’t it? And I’m a 58 year old who still LOVES lifting heavy weights, and I only started 5 years ago. It’s improved my mobility more than I could explain. I think you’ve now set yourself up for a very bright, healthy future.

    1. Wow 58!!!! That’s amazing well done you! Yes you are right, it does only come when you are ready to listen! Keep going, your are an inspiration!

  14. Deborah, amazing transformation, congratulations! Although you look way better as a brunette than as a blonde and without the pale foundation and heavy eyeliner. The second last photo was your best.

  15. Wow! Just Wow Deborah. Sometimes we stumble across things or people in life that subsequently change the journey we’re on…..The light switch moment….Everything happens for a reason and all that. It’s about how we react to change and learning to trust that process. You should be super proud of not only your lifestyle change and progression, but also your beautiful writing. Inspirational read. Well done. X

  16. Adding this to my collection of email signatures:

    “For me, it’s not about a fad diet, or being skinny or thin, it’s about being fit, happy and healthy. For me – I don’t do the ‘Paleo Diet,’ I do the Paleo Life”

    Thanks Deborah for this post!

  17. “I don’t do the ‘Paleo Diet,’ I do the Paleo Life.” That sounds so gangster in a good way and I love it 🙂

  18. Wow–I’d love to know how long it took you to achieve that amazing body! Was it months–or years?

    1. Hi Cindy, I’ve been training with Fionn for 9 months! 3 times a week consistently!

  19. Thanks so much for sharing your very inspiring story, Deborah! How serendipitous to win a session with the very person that set you on the right road for your health. 🙂 You look incredible in all your pictures and I’m so happy that you’re not feeling all that old bloating and discomfort–Grok on!

  20. Deborah what an AMAZING story! I love how serendipitous the first training session came to be and how it sparked a whole new journey and life perspective. Thank you so much for sharing and being an inspiration.

  21. I’m late to the game but you definitely did a great job at changing things around. Totally inspiring.

  22. Deborah, congratulations on your amazing transformation. You have overcome so many obstacles, very inspiring. Thanks for sharing!