Overcoming Anxiety: I Finally Feel Comfortable in My Own Skin

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 have always been a fit person. In my teens and early twenties I spent countless hours both weight lifting and performing extensive cardio routines in the gym. I worked hard in all areas of my life— juggling school, work, and an excessive fitness routine. I was young and insecure and put in two (or more) workouts per day to attain an ideal figure. I was in great shape, but over-stressed and exhausted from over-training. I had issues with reoccurring anxiety attacks as well as hypoglycemia. I was a solid 120 with great muscle definition and a low body fat percentage, but I didn’t feel healthy. I often felt weak and fatigued. By the age of 22, the pressure of work-life balance was causing issues in all aspects of my life. After visiting a physician, it was determined I should be administered anxiety medication to help my stress levels. Like most medications, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are known to cause major side effect—one of the most common being weight gain. The medication, along with my heavy carbohydrate and low protein intake, sent my weight up by 20 lbs. At the age of 23, I weighed 140 lbs at only 5’2”.

Katie Before Primal

I still remember the day I stepped on the scale. I was positive it had somehow malfunctioned. I knew I gained some weight, but I didn’t think I gained that much. My biggest gripe about the weight gain was how I felt inside. I was ashamed of my appearance and every time I looked in the mirror I just hurt. I had never experienced the insecurities and deep down hurt that comes with weight gain. When I closed my eyes, I was a beautiful, confident and strong woman. The moment I opened my eyes and saw what was in front of me, it was like looking at a stranger. That was not me. That was not who I wanted to be. I was drained, and I knew I needed to drop the weight or forever be unhappy with myself.

I ultimately decided to stop taking my SSRI medication since it was apparent it was contributing to my weight gain. It took me three months to wean myself off of the drug. If I stopped taking it immediately I would have horrible withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, tremors, muscle spasms, and seizures. Sounds healthy, right? A month after completely stopping the medication, I had episodes of vertigo and often felt nauseated. I was still at my 140 mark and decided to try the weight-loss program Weight Watchers, as suggested by a friend. I lost ten pounds, dropping my weight to 130, but I was completely dissatisfied with the program. The best way to describe it is that I felt “hangry” all the time! I was so hungry each day that I was just an ill-tempered mess to be around. I could never turn Weight Watchers into a lifestyle, so I decided to do more research and find something better suited for me.

Around the time I gave up on Weight Watchers I came across the website Nerd Fitness, which was giving praise to Mark’s Daily Apple. I went to the website and became intrigued with the idea of a primal lifestyle. After reading several articles that Mark wrote, I decided to purchase The Primal Blueprint and give primal living a go. In the book, I was shocked to find out that 80% of body composition is determined by what you eat. In previous years I had been exercising extensively when I should have been focusing more on what I was putting into my body.

I started the primal lifestyle slowly. I cut out bread and pasta and increased my protein and vegetable intake. I dropped weight slowly and steadily; about a pound per week. In the following weeks, I felt my energy increase dramatically. With increased energy, I thought, “Why not start to exercise to speed up the process?” I decided to start cycling and rode my bike each morning after breakfast. I was both seeing and feeling phenomenal results. Seeing results while feeling both emotionally happy and physically satisfied (no hunger pains to be found), I removed even more unnecessary foods from my diet. I felt like I no longer needed legumes or dairy, and I started purchasing my produce from local farmers.

Katie After Primal

By the summer of 2013, I weighed 110 pounds without portion control or calorie restriction. I was absolutely ecstatic! I continued to do research and make minor adjustments here and there while exercising when and how I wanted to. I was still cycling daily, loving the fresh air and the gratification after a long ride. I added hiking to the mix and interval sprints every so often, whenever I felt like I needed a boost of exhilaration. Weekly yoga sessions helped calm my mind and my stress level was minimal.

Katie in Key WestNow, as of July 2014 at 25 years old, I fluctuate between 100-105 lbs. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in years and I feel satisfied with the primal lifestyle. I made friends who are also into primal living and we have dinners together every month—sharing new recipes and enjoying natural and wholesome foods. I have no intention or desire to ever go back to conventional eating or over-training. Many people who ask about my diet and exercise habits scoff at primal living, yet they are also the ones that are lethargic and overweight. I’m proud to have started such a journey in my life and I’m glad that I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel like myself again.


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