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!
Yup, success stories are back! And I’m looking for more. Follow-ups, mid-progress reflections—every story at every stage has the potential to inspire folks out there who are getting started or contemplating a new beginning. Contact me here to share your story. You never know who you’ll impact by doing it. Enjoy, everyone!
It has been 8 years since the start of our journey so going back to the beginning after so much time has passed will be interesting for me.
My weight issues didn’t start until my mid-20s. Within a 5 month time period I went from an an active job to a completely sedentary one, got pregnant, and quit smoking. It was the perfect storm. My diet was horrendous. At my active job I routinely ate doughnuts and chocolate milk for breakfast, lunch was a smoke break and Surge soda, supper was fast food (a favorite was a double Whopper meal from Burger King) or a *home cooked* (that meant stuff out of boxes and cans most nights) dinner consisting of a meat and carb heavy sides. My youthful metabolism allowed me to eat what I wanted without gaining weight though I had no idea of the unseen damage I was doing to my body. My husband was holding his own as well with basically the same diet.
After starting my new job I immediately gained about 10 pounds. I don’t even remember really worrying about it—just went out and bought bigger clothes with some abstract idea that, surely, this was an anomaly and I’d miraculously wake up one day thin again. I was blessed enough during my pregnancy to not have any measurable morning sickness but I had a wicked and unending craving for ice cream. I don’t even want to know how much money Dairy Queen made off of me during that time period. The end result was that after our child was born I was carrying nearly 180 pounds on my 5′ 4″ frame.
Again, caught up in this whole new baby business and not really having any true understanding of weight gain, I still thought it would work itself out in time. I continued to wear my maternity clothes for WAY too long because I didn’t want to spend money on a larger sized wardrobe when this fatness was only temporary. It amuses me now to think that I had zero idea or plan of how to fix it—as if I were just a passive bystander who had no control over the outcome and could only wait and see.
I did eventually decide to join Weight Watchers, convinced that a few months of following the program would divest my body of the approximately 50 extra pounds it was carrying. I started at 177 pounds and s.l.o.w.l.y. reached the first milestone loss of 10%. And 160 pounds—give or take 5 pounds—is exactly where I sat for the next decade.
During that time, we’d decided that we did not want our daughter raised to eat the same crap diet we had so we overhauled our eating habits. We had oatmeal in the mornings, whole wheat bread sandwiches with low fat mayonnaise for lunch, dinner was chicken breasts or ground turkey patties with brown rice and a vegetable—all of the *healthy* stuff that guaranteed I’d drop the extra weight like a hot potato.
Except I didn’t. Over the years we had 2 more kids. Because I started out those pregnancies already overweight I managed to only gain *baby weight* so after each birth I hadn’t gained any extra…but that was little consolation since the scale was still sitting at around 160. I’d pretty much resigned myself to the idea that this was just how it was going to be. I was a married mom and married moms just aren’t young and thin anymore. CLEARLY my body liked being at 160 and I needed to accept that and move on with my new plus sized life.
By the time our third and last child was born in 2009, my husband had managed to put on about the same amount of weight that I had. We both were sitting at about 40 pounds over our wedding day weight. We would periodically comment on our own weight gain but never mentioned the other’s. I wasn’t concerned about his and he didn’t seem concerned about mine so we just sort of settled into our fat and happy family life.
The turning point came in November 2010. My husband and I had gone out to eat for our anniversary and, having gone to Marble Slab for dessert, were sitting on the bench outside the shop eating our ice cream when he said those fateful words. “We’ve gotten fat. And I’m not happy.” The blood roared in my ears as I sat there in shock, trying to digest what he’d said (along with my Sweet Cream with M&Ms). I thought, “Did he just call me fat?” Nevermind that I WAS fat…hearing those words come out of the mouth of the person you love more than life itself is still a punch in the gut. The only thing that kept me from dissolving into tears was that whole *we* part. That one little word allowed me to move past the trauma in a matter of seconds and look at it objectively.
“Ok. I’m not really happy either but I’m not sure what to do about it. I feel like I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.”
“Maybe it’s a matter of motivation. Next year is our 15th anniversary. Let’s plan a big trip to somewhere exotic and use that. We have a year to get ourselves into shape.”
I was equal parts excited and terrified about what lay ahead. I knew now that my weight DID bother him and that did more than anything to change my mental state from *I can’t* to *I have to and I want to*. But I had so many years under my belt of making changes and trying different (many times unpleasant) things that left me no better off than before that I just didn’t see how I could accomplish this.
We spent the first few months of 2011 planning and booking our vacation to the Virgin Islands, haphazardly trying to fit workouts into our schedule, and not ordering Dominos for supper. We weren’t seeing any progress and each month we lost out of our 1 year timeline caused me to panic a little bit more that this problem was just unfixable and I was going to let him down in the end.
That’s about when I started hearing about this thing called Paleo and a guy named Mark Sisson. On a completely unrelated forum I belong to, people were starting to discuss it in depth and sharing their experiences. It seemed crazy to me that people could A) willingly give up the foods I loved so much and B) achieve drastic results from it. The other diets I’d tried over the years all centered around counting calories and fat grams, weighing and measuring every bite, trying to acclimate yourself to being hungry all the time, having to arrange your day to be able to eat every 2-3 hours to *keep your blood sugar up* and *fire up your metabolism*. Paleo, in spite of the loss of my beloved bread, seemed so…..freeing.
I laid out the basics of it for him, shared success stories, and although he was as skeptical as I was, he was fully on board to try this crazy new thing.
We jumped into it in May and, after the first couple of weeks where our bodies were trying to adjust to the absence of sugar, were amazed at how GREAT we felt! I’d been having constant brain fog and exhaustion and my wrists always hurt and I’d started having heartburn after almost every meal. All gone. Along with a steady loss of 5 pounds a month for each of us. For the first time in about 10 years I was losing weight! AND IT WAS EFFORTLESS!!!
By the time November and our anniversary trip rolled around we each had lost 30 pounds. We went on to lose 35 pounds each total then settled into maintenance.
Two years ago, Hurricane Harvey hit our area and flooded our home. This was actually the second time in 9 years as we flooded in Ike in 2008 but Ike was before our Paleo journey. Having our home in disrepair for over a year caused us to get REALLY lax with our eating. Convenience was the word of the day and not having a functional kitchen meant we were eating almost catch as catch can. We started having fast food again and even the meals I was able to cook at home trended towards the quick and easy and were based around which cooking apparatuses I had available to use at any given time. As expected, weight started to creep back on.
As of today, we have each gained back 10 of the pounds we’d lost. We have a fully functioning kitchen again and just had a conversation about how we KNOW what we need to do. We KNOW what works. We have the ace up our sleeves and it’s time to toss that sucker on the table and get back to the lifestyle that changed our lives so many years ago. There is no terror this time. No worrying that it’s going to be just another diet I fail at and I won’t have any success. This time, there is only excitement as I know what lies ahead—a healthier, more energetic, thinner, and happier us.
Tiffany (and Wes) Bailey
Have a story to share? Email me here. Thanks, everybody, and have a great week.
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.