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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 14 2019

Nine Doctors Couldn’t Help Me

By Mark Sisson
18 Comments

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!

My primal journey started in 2010. I had just attended my last Weight Watchers meeting ever. I had been doing Weight Watchers since 2005, and was at my highest weight ever. I was massively obese, I was severely lethargic, and I lived with daily brain fog. I was having miscarriages, but was being told there was nothing wrong with me. I went to a new doctor who told me that when I got pregnant again, I should come in and immediately start running tests so that when I lost it, we might have some insight as to why.

That was at the end of April. I was depressed and desperate. My dad had stumbled onto Mark Sisson’s website and pushed me to try Primal eating. I was extremely skeptical. In 2001, when I had first started dealing with health issues, I had been diagnosed with peripheral insulin resistance and had tried the Atkins diet. I was living in a dorm room at the time and failed miserably. So I was skeptical about trying another low carb restrictive diet.

But what did I have to lose?

Within a month of going Primal, I had lost several pounds, my brain fog was slowly clearing, and my gut was healing (another problem I hadn’t realized existed!).

And in July, I got pregnant again. This time it stuck. My son was born 9 months later. After 3 miscarriages, I am firmly convinced that I stayed pregnant because of my diet changes, and I became a full Primal convert.

After my son was born, I immediately resumed my Primal lifestyle. His first real food was bacon, and he loved liver as soon as he was old enough for real food. I continued the Primal journey, and continued slowly losing the weight and regaining my health.

Then I got pregnant again. This pregnancy was a whole different situation. I had hyperemesis gravidarum for both pregnancies, but this time I couldn’t eat anything. I lived off of cinnamon rolls, as they were the only thing I seemed able to keep down, and I drank nothing but gatorade. I was miserable, I was unbelievably adverse to the smell of all meat so I couldn’t even try to be Primal. I developed eczema on my arm so badly that I had to wear sleeves to work so my clients wouldn’t think I’d contracted ringworm! Luckily, my daughter was born healthy. I ended that pregnancy 10 lbs above where I started. And then my health disappeared.

The rash on my arm never really went away. I soon had eczema on my legs as well. Furthermore, I was so constipated that I wouldn’t go to the bathroom for days at a time and had constant crippling, severe stomach cramps. I had horrible brain fog, and who knows how much of that was a daughter who wouldn’t sleep versus dietary issues.

But more importantly, when she was not quite a year old, I broke out with hives. At first we didn’t know what they were and thought they were bed bug bites! Finally we clued in and I went to the allergy doctor. I knew I was reactive to wheat. As soon as I had cut it out in 2010, I noticed I got sick every time I ate it. I was suspicious of eggs and dairy. But I tested positive to literally every single food, plant, and animal they tested me for with the exception of white fish!

He immediately confirmed that it was an allergy problem. But that night I ended up in the emergency room with full body, raised, angry red, large diameter hives (like inches in diameter). He put me on all sorts of steroids, antihistamines, and beta-blockers. I cut everything out of my diet, and literally ate nothing but unflavored ground beef and vegetables for months.

And the huge, angry, red, full-body hives never went away.

I went from the allergist through eight other doctors. I went to conventional doctors, homeopathic doctors, acupuncturists, herbalists, etc. The hives never went away. I finally took myself off of all meds because they were turning me into a zombie. Unfortunately, even off of meds, nothing improved. One doctor started me on progesterone, thinking it was a hormonal problem because my cycles were so irregular (they had been like clockwork up until my daughter), and that made me much sicker. Unfortunately, those side effects didn’t go away once I took myself back off the meds.

Finally, out of sheer desperation, I gave up. I stopped going to doctors. I cleaned my diet up to be 100% Primal. I started meditating daily. I changed my job to reduce the stress.

And between less stress and diet improvements, finally, the hives started to go away. It had been a year and a half. They weren’t gone completely until after the two year mark, and even as recently as a few months ago they’d still pop up if I became too stressed or ate the wrong things.

Since then, my health has been a slow improvement. The eczema slowly disappeared. My gut slowly healed. But my weight wouldn’t drop. All the signs that showed up when I was put on hormones (heavier periods, breasts that were so sore you couldn’t look at them for a full 2 weeks each cycle, twenty day cycles) were still present. And I was plateaued. I would drop to 188 lb (I’m 5’3), but could never get below that number.

I was stuck there for nearly 3 years. I was feeling better overall, but I was stuck. I would be extremely clean for about 2 months, then I would give up since my weight wasn’t shifting anyway. Then a week later I’d be back to Primal eating because the brain fog and low energy would have come back.

Finally, this last spring, I broke that plateau. I had been 100% Primal for a few months, finally, and everything suddenly balanced. My cycles regulated, I stopped being in pain, and my weight finally started to drop again.

It’s still a journey. I’m not quite to my ideal weight yet as I’ve hit several other plateaus since. But for someone who has been obese since they were 16, now that I finally know what works for me, I can be patient. And more importantly, being Primal allowed me to heal up such severe disease after nine doctors couldn’t help me that I became an even stronger advocate than I’d been before.

I was already a licensed veterinarian and was using Primal principles in my animal patients, but after finally healing my own body, I became a certified Primal Health Coach so I could help the humans as well!

So what have I done since I received my certification? Since I received my certification, my life has gone in all sort of directions!

I was already using Primal principles in my holistic veterinary practice. I have absolutely continued using those principles to help heal the pups who walk through my door, and I have created an educational website and Facebook group for owners interested in healing their pets through diet!

However, I still wanted to help people, too.

When I first graduated, I obtained two informal coaching clients. One was a friend of my mother’s who had suffered from IBD, allergies, inability to lose weight, and masses around her thyroid (although they said her thyroid values were normal).

When we first started talking, she was eating grains with most meals, avoiding fat, and filling her diet with things like vegetable oil!

The first thing we did was cut the grains and vegetable oil, reintroduce real foods, and increase the healthy fats.

Within a month, she had lost 20 pounds, her energy was returning, and her IBD was feeling more controlled than ever!

My other client was a friend of mine who had also suffered from IBD, but who also had her gallbladder removed a few years before. In addition, she couldn’t lose weight and had all sorts of fluctuations in her hormones.

Again, with nothing more than diet changes, she slowly started to recover. Her weight decreased more slowly, but it was the first time she had ever succeeded in getting it off! More importantly, the IBD that flared with every menstrual cycle started staying controlled, and her hormones started to balance.

However, that wasn’t the end of coaching for me.

Around this time, I started having other veterinarians approaching me, asking how I had changed my life around. I had gone from severely burned out and feeling trapped and desperate in my job to outsourcing myself from my own business, moving to another state, and learning to love life and travel again!

And they wanted to know how I had done it.

Well, the first answer to that question was that when I started to get my stress under control (which started with getting my diet and health under control), then changes just started to take place that allowed me to completely turn my lifestyle around.

So I also began coaching veterinarians and other health care professionals on how to change their lives around. That coaching isn’t just about health, but health is almost always a piece of what we have to cover since these are women under massive loads of stress, and we have to deal with the health effects of that stress.

Today, I do both health coaching and mindset coaching. I believe in helping people live their best lives, and I will use whatever means necessary to help them do that! So while much of my focus is on veterinarians and other health care professionals, I still do regular health coaching as well.

I teach people that it is definitely possible to live the life of your dreams, and in my case, it all started with learning about ancestral health!

– Jenny Elwell-Gerken

Jenny’s listing in the Primal Health Coach Institute Directory

Website: www.drjeg.com

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.

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18 thoughts on “Nine Doctors Couldn’t Help Me”

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  1. Hi Dr. Jenny,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I made the change to Primal eating around 2012 and like so many others, feel like life is starting all over again. Since the holidays, I took a food holiday as well. It is reading stories like yours, that reminds me to always take care of myself. It should be my #1 priority.

    Seven months ago, my 14-year cocker spaniel started to have seizures for the first time. After going to the urgent clinic, the vet was recommending all kinds of medication for him. I just changed his diet to a raw food diet, make sure I read the ingredient labels. If I don’t want to eat it, then I certainly would not feed it to my dog. We also added a few drops of CBD oil to his morning raw food meal, and that seems to help as well.

    Wish you the best!

    1. I’m glad he’s doing better! And yes, we need to make ourselves a priority! <3

  2. Joined your fb group for healthy pets! Very happy to see the primal methodologies in animal care.

  3. Thank you for writing your story.
    I too get hives from stress. Usually it’s the result of a high fever/virus and when they show up I know that my body had “won the fight” and will be getting better soon. I accidentally got a sun burn once and it gave me hives as well (on the parts that were not burned so I was bright pink/red everywhere).
    I eat as primal as possible and typically don’t get sick unless I’m stressed on several levels, then hives, allergies, virus’ and etc show up.
    Again, thank you for this encouraging account with all the ups and downs.

  4. So your n = 1 experiment lead to the conclusion that subsiding only on cinnamon rolls and gatorade was not optimal eh? 🙂

  5. It’s fascinating to see the connection between the Primal Diet and Gut Health. Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe more and more people are growing conscious of how powerful this diet can be for certain individuals.

  6. Hyperemesis gravidarum is no joke. I had that with my pregnancy and pretty much only ate chocolate ice cream, fudgecicles, and bread. The other systemic consequences we’re awful, but those were the only foods I could sort of handle. You deserve a medal for get through 2 HG pregnancies.

  7. Hi Jenny,
    Very inspiring, I’ve had major inflammation for several years now and have been experiencing regular headaches. I’m, going to go pretty much total primal and see what happens
    Thanks
    Cary

  8. Congrats Dr. Jenny! Quite a transition. Very inspiring. I know firsthand what hives feel like (chocolate is my trigger) and 9 months of hyperemesis gravidarum. I only kept down one bottle (glass containers back then) after another of cream soda. The smell of any other food or drink was intolerable. I don’t know how my son survived but he was born very skinny, but otherwise healthy. (He’s now 47 and still healthy.) I wouldn’t wish either of those conditions on anyone. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  9. Congratulations on the family and your improving health. Way to stick to your beliefs through such a difficult and lengthy period in your life. Very inspiring. Wishing you all the best in your life and mission to help others.

  10. How did your client who had had her gallbladder removed do with the fat content of the Primal diet? Did she need digestive enzyme supplementation?