Primal Blueprint Success Story: Former Marathoner Beating Diabetes

Thanks to active forum member and fellow Primal Blueprinter, DiabetesCanKissMyButt. Let it be an inspiration to anyone who is living a similar story.

Follow DiabetesCanKissMyButt as she journals her Primal progress in the forum boards.


I used to be a long distance runner and a vegetarian. I was the epitome of health, or so I thought. I even hired a nutritionist to help me with eating during marathon training. She had me eating mostly “good carbs” which was whole wheat everything with some vegetables and protein thrown in for good measure. My protein intake at the time was less than 50 grams a day. Fat, you ask? No way. My fat intake was negligible. That coupled with Gu, Gatorade, Cytomax, and carbo loading for energy and recovery was a sure way to go into sugar overload- which is exactly what I did. I had no clue about the dangers of low protein and fat for endurance events. I was following the advice given to me by my educated running peers, my nutritionist, and my doctor.

I made it through training by the skin of my teeth and toed the starting line with a wicked upper respiratory infection. This was the single worst idea I’ve ever had in my life. This would be the pivotal decision that would change my life forever. I finished that marathon in 6 hours and 37 minutes with bathroom breaks every few miles because I had diarrhea from the powerful antibiotics I was taking. It was only force of will, stubbornness, and sheer stupidity that kept me going. Well, it wrecked me.

My health spiraled out of control over the next two years. I continued to eat the way I had been taught, not understanding why this was happening to me – an extremely healthy and fit person. I ended up contracting some sort of ear virus that caused severe migraines and vertigo. My hearing declined and I thought I was going to go deaf. It was a labor to get through each day. Then when I thought things were going to even out a little, I got mono. Mono is not good to get when you are 38 years old. It kicked my ass and I had to take medical leave from work for 3 months. I could not get out of bed, I had to crawl to the bathroom, and my heart rate was consistently over 110 beats per minute at rest. The worst part about the whole thing was that people did not understand. Friends, family, and work colleagues thought I was exaggerating or faking it because mono is not that bad. I’m here to tell you, it’s bad. Mono is way more insidious than anyone gives it credit for. It wreaks havoc like you wouldn’t believe especially if you are a worn out vegetarian who runs alot.

I started having more complications. My tonsils were abscessed and I was in severe pain. My stupid doctor could not figure out what my problem was and I suffered for 3 months before they finally decided it would be good to take the tonsils out. Duh! I ended up having a tonsillectomy, adenoid removal, sinus surgery, and had tubes put in my ears for chronic inflammation. Maybe you are thinking this is the end of the story because surely things started getting better after this, right? Wrong!

In the midst of having mono, my blood sugar started running high. It’s a fluke, I thought. I can’t have diabetes because I’m not overweight – I was 135 at 5’6″. As the months ticked by and my blood sugar steadily increased, my doctor kept telling me I needed to go on medication. I kept refusing. I repeatedly asked my doctor how I could change it without medication – should I eat differently? The response was to just eat whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables. Exercise, of course I knew that. I couldn’t do much but take short walks because of the energy level mono and multiple surgeries had left me.

After 6 months of refusing medication, my blood sugar topped out at 250 and I accepted the fact that I had diabetes. I reluctantly started taking Metformin, 500 mg, twice a day. I started researching on my own how a diabetic is supposed to eat since my doctor was not helpful. Everything I read smacked of low carb, higher protein, and higher fat. It was blowing my mind. I figured what do I have to lose? I’ll just start experimenting with different eating styles and see what happens. I started to eat with the South Beach diet principles, restricting starches and fruits to 2 each per day. My blood sugar improved drastically. I mean I was the shining example at my doctor’s office of someone who had taken control and was turning this thing around. But it wasn’t good enough. My fasting sugars were always still in the 120’s and 130’s and the goal was to be truly in the normal range which is below 100. What else could I do? I had been slowly increasing the exercise and I was running again, although very short distances. My blood sugar stayed in this range for quite some time and I really felt like crap.

After a year back to running, I didn’t feel it was giving me the benefits I was looking for so I purchased P90X and started the program 9 weeks ago. But I still couldn’t get away from this nagging feeling in the back of my mind about grains and bread. I wondered what would happen if I cut out grains and starches altogether? Would bad things happen? I started researching higher protein again and came across Protein Power by Dr. Eades through a recommendation of a colleague at work. This took me a step further and completely changed how I thought about carbs.

Additional research and a plug by someone over on, brought me to Mark’s Daily Apple and finally it clicked. I spent hours on Mark’s blog, pouring over all the information regarding the Primal Blueprint and finally decided I needed to give it a go. The people I have met on the forum have provided invaluable advice as I attempt to increase my protein and fat while cutting out grains and starches. The responses have been so thoughtful and respectful – I have never come across such a helpful group of people online. I’m just a couple of weeks into eating Primal and can tell you that my fasting blood sugar has been below 100 every single day. How’s that for proof that this works?! Not only has the blood sugar improved (before carb restriction I started at a 7 A1C (diabetic) and now am at 5.7 (normal person range)), but I am rid of the insulin roller coaster. No more massive hunger attacks, no more sugar or carb cravings, no more mid-afternoon crashing, no over-eating at night, no more feeling like I’m a slave to meal times. I feel like I have been freed at last! I still have “fat fear” and am still a little scared of red meat but it’s a process that I’m dedicated to because it is working when nothing else has. I am beyond excited at the possibility of getting off diabetes medication and owe a debt of gratitude to Mark and the MDA.

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45 thoughts on “Primal Blueprint Success Story: Former Marathoner Beating Diabetes”

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  1. This is an inspiring and illuminating article. Thank you for sharing.
    I myself am just beginning to learn of the principles and am still trying to NOT flinch at the article on fats from earlier in the week. I’ll get there though, because no matter how healthy and fit I like to think I am, I feel like crap.

    1. Fats is a tough one. It was a big stretch when I bought coconut oil for the first time.

      1. Ditto. I cooked with coconut oil tonight and it was awesome… but yeah, so weird to go from low-fat or fat-free everything to not only not fearing fats, but embracing them.

        So far so good though.

        1. There is nothing better than sweet potatoes roasted with coconut oil.

  2. What a great story! This is just another testament that the PB works. It’s not a diet, it’s not a whim, it’s not a ‘oh yeah, i used that to lose some weight’, etc.

    Continue to persevere and you will win! Getting your A1C from 7 to 5.7 is awesome. Your story should be printed and posted in every patients room in every doctors office of Internal Medicine and Endocrinologists across the U.S. Congrats!

    If you need any help with P90X, I’d be glad to help. I’ve been doing it for over 2 years, although I’ve incorporated sprints and hour-long walks and bike rides in place of the cardio routines (not always).

    Grok On!

    1. Thanks! Do you cycle the P90X sessions- like 3 months on, 2 weeks off, etc? Trying to figure out what the next step is after I finish these first 90 days (which will be in about 3 weeks). Definitely will be taking a week or two break before starting in on anything else.

  3. Congratulations!

    You’ve been through a lot, and your story is inspiring and empowering.

  4. Brilliant. If you keep walking along the right path, you always get to where you want to be 😉

    Grok On!

  5. Here’s Trouble: Tell people Type-2 diabetes is a self-inflicted condition and not a disease. Wow! Watch the sparks fly! Still, I’ve tried to be a paleo-vegetarian, subbing in nuts and good seeds for critter. Hemp (write you congress-thingie to decriminalize hemp!) is one of my main proteins. We do only raw milk: perfect, non-homogged fat from grass-only diets. Before we did venison (from winter road-kills along MN 61, Lake Superior north shore). I’m only toying with veggie-dom because I HATE factory meat. I’m sure Grok had an understanding with all the critters he killed, found, and ate. Out in nature it’s the “honor system”: I’m killing you because I need to eat, not because I’m a) wacko, b) macho, c) cruel and unusual, d) read Camus’ “The Stranger”. And of course Grok finally volunteered for menu duty too. That is, he lived a perfect circle. But I digress…. So as a pre-diabetic with a family history full of diabetes, I know paleo-primal is right. All my weird pre-D symptoms went away within the first few days of the “Teaching Drum’s” (Wisconsin-based Grok-Ed camp) primal diet. And when I finally got bod to run well on fat and oil, my running was tireless (losing 30 lbs. helped too). So, yes, diabetes is a little like “lung disease”: You did it to yourself with poor choices. I’m confident the medical world will someday realize the human bod is taking on easily 3-times the carbs it should see. Carb addicts literally wear their bods out. I’ll even predict massive carbs causes all sorts of things besides diabetes, and that “carbetes” (along with environmental poisons) are responsible for cutting off many decades of lifespan. Enough for now…..

    1. Just a quick response to your first line- many diabetics take offense to this kind of reasoning because it implies that type 2 diabetics did something wrong, when in fact they’re usually just eating like everyone else. Are they really hurting themselves more than everyone else is, or were they just unlucky enough to start having high blood sugar numbers? Of course it’s caused by diet, but let’s not be snarky about it.

      1. Right you are. Didn’t mean it to sound so … so OBNOXIOUS! When I first got the hypoglycemic diagnosis, my doctor (very cool guy) told me the first part of the puzzle: work out! Later, second half of puzzle was solved: paleo-primal. But now lots of wags are saying “low-carb is out.” Sad how faddy diets can be….

  6. Another great story! Congratulations!

    What a shame that your doctor told you to eat whole grains! Just goes to show that we all need to take responsibility for our own health!

    Hypoglycemia was one of the first things that made me truly aware of my history of poor health and the nutritionist I was sent to told me to eat whole grains as well.

    The fact that you were a vegetarian makes this story especially powerful. Some people manage to do well on a vegetarian diet, but a lot of people don’t, and there’s too many people promoting it as a healthy way to eat.

    1. Fantastic Joe Dirt’e ref…

      Now on to something more interesting, mainly your eyes… Ellen, in the West perchance? We need to go primal with one another… thought? discuss

  7. Your doctor isn’t stupid. He had bad advice. All physicians in practice now have spent their entire lives having the low fat/high carb dogma preached to them and then preaching it to others. I hope you don’t ditch him and instead educate him. As a humble lay person, perhaps.

    You are right about the people on this forum being helpful. Let me add, for the most part smart, too. Solid knowledge and critical analysis. Sometimes I stumble onto another diet (or other topic) and I can’t leave fast enough!

    I’m passing this on to my friend/ex-girlfriend/R.N./Health trainer/Forty year Type 2 diabetic.

    1. I agree completely- but I need to clarify a few things that I didn’t put in my story (thought it was getting too long). The “stupid doctor” I was refering to was actually my ear, nose, and throat Dr. at the time. He completely disregarded an MRI that I had done that clearly showed an abcess between my throat wall and tonsil. He later admitted having disregarded the finding. So yes, I read him the riot act and kicked him to the curb. He was pompous and arrogant and he caused me unnecessary prolonged agony. The doctor that diagnosed my diabetes was open minded- I will give her that. I did tell her what I was doing and she was always particularly interested in my talk about cod liver oil. She has moved on to a new office but I hope she using the info I gave her with other patients.

      Hope this story helps your friend/ex-girlfriend/R.N./Health Trainer/forty year type 2 diabetic !! 🙂

  8. Oh yeah, I’ve heard that the Dali Lama has to eat meat or he isn’t healthy. If ANYone is supposed to be a vegetarian……

  9. Congrats on all the progress, welcome to the club. My mother a type I lost 30 pounds going primal and reduced her need for insulin by 1/2. Amazing results and a better life. Keep up the good work.

  10. Wow what a tough time you had been through, though look where you are today. Congratulations on your achievements so far and I look forward to reading more in the future.

  11. Good on you! I’ve been eating Paleo for 3 weeks now and while I haven’t checked my CBG I know that my energy levels are steady throughout the day. Great story.


  12. Stories like this are one of the reasons this site is so terrific. I appreciate that DCKMB chose to share her story – it’s definitely inspiring.

  13. Holy cow – quite a journey. In a way you may have been lucky. I guess some people’s bodies don’t complain so much when subjected to the high carb, high exercise lifestyle – but then perhaps just give up totally later on. You now have the opportunity to build up your health in the coming years whereas people whose bodies don’t complain until later in life have much less time to repair the damage…

  14. I’m loving this blog –so great how it breaks just about every “politically correct” food rule; and this story is especially inspirational. Many, many thanks to Mark and DCKMB!

  15. I was diagnosed as diabetic 5 years ago, but I’ve never actually taken any medication for it. About the same time I was diagnosed, I cut out the grains and starches, and as a result, every time I’ve gone to the doctor since then they’ve told me I’m in great control of my blood sugar levels. My question to them is, how much great control do I need to have before they will stop calling me diabetic? 🙂

  16. I had a similar story. I’m diabetic, but I had the other kind of diabetes (type 1, which kids usually get, can’t be reversed). My doctor told me nothing about what to eat except for to give me an American Diabetes Association exchange list pamphlet, which had me eating a very low fat, moderately low protein, and very high grain diet. Total BS. So thanks to the online community at places like Mark’s Daily Apple, UndergroundWellness, and primarily, I figured out the real deal. It’s been a great thing for me.

  17. Now THAT’S healthcare reform! Just think of how much money the US would save if we just ate right. Unfortunatly it’ll never be embraced by the gov’t, we just have to do it ourselves on person at a time.
    My blood sugar problems (long resolved and in the distant past) were self inflicted. Even thoug I looked thin I absolutly ate myself to blood sugar issues. Had I not recognized that, I’d be one of millions on meds, thinking that it was just unlucky genetics. I even raised money for the ADA, until I saw how their dietary advice will keep you on meds forever.

  18. Are we related??? I am passing this on to a cousin, skinny and fit and a marathoner, triathlete, swimmer, runner etc. yet already in her thirties she is starting to show unstable blood glucose much as her father (runner) did in his sixties and I (walker) did from age around five.

    I’m not optimistic about getting either of them to give up those Healthy Whole Grains though, despite the great benefits this has given me. Your story might help though.

    Did I say congratulations yet?

  19. WOW…that’s an awesome story!! wish I could pass on what you’ve learned to my type 2 “so bad, it’s almost like type 1” diabetic brother-in-law.

  20. You already know you are my inspiration! I’ve been diabetic longer and so have more damage to try to undo but posts like this keep me motivated!

  21. I just stubbled upon this story as I was looking up success stories on resolving TypeII. Although, I am doing the Atkins way of eating and not this diet, they seem very similar. Since last September I have lost 45lbs. But, most importantly, I have taken my A1C from 8.9% to below 5%. My cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. are now all within normal levels.

    Health care reform would come a long way if the “Low Carb Lifestyle” were embraced instead of frowned upon. My Diabetes Dr. was very skeptical when I told him what I was going to do, but is now a total low carb advocate. I am no longer Diabetic and off all medications…. life is good!! Especially when you live it low-carb style! 🙂

  22. I’ve heard the Atkins is not as conscientious about good and bad fat. Low carb should be based on “fat with class,” not just any old fat from the AgIndustrialComplex.

  23. The other day, a local TV station profiled a man who is Diabetic and recently had a stroke.
    They interviewed a RD to give him nutrition advice.
    They talked about soda. Not to eliminate it, but to drink the diet versions.
    The RD recommended that he keep his daily Fructose intake at 75 grams.
    They never said to eliminate his grains or bread.
    No mention of good fats, VitD, etc.
    The RD has advanced schooling ?
    Who owns the schools ? Kraft Foods ?
    They all for Institutionalized Sickness.
    I heard nothing about the subjects I read about here to combat his Diabetes.
    It’s so sad.

  24. Inspiring, thank you! I am right there with you, having started seeing pre-diabetic numbers last year. Conventional care being next to useless, I went low carb (Bernstein) and now primal, with a fasting BG dropped from 100 back to the very low 80s. System be damned, find your own health!

  25. Have spent the day doing a lot of research on the internet today and have to say that some of what I have read has turned my world upside down. Have been totally focussed on organic whole grains and vegetables, very little meat, fish, eggs or fruit and no dairy. Have to say I was totally ignorant of the effect of grains on blood sugar levels but I can’t argue the facts of your stories. Please, can someone take the time to give me a quick outline of what your typical daily diet consists of. Thanks and greetings from sunny Madrid,

  26. This story seems to confirm what I’ve read elsewhere – for some carbohydrate intolerant people, type 2 diabetes can develop even in the absence of excess body fat.

    One earlier comment did say that type 2 diabetes was strictly a matter of diet.
    It should be noted that some people who are diagnosed as type 2 diabetics actually have a third kind of diabetes, and they may eventually need insulin even with a proper diet. This occurs with the kind of diabetes that develops because your pancreas ‘craps out’ later in life. It is similar to type I diabetes, except that the pancreas runs out of steam much later, when you are in your 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s. It is sometimes described as Type 1.5 diabetes, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes.

    For those interested in a good, alternative view of the disease, I’ll suggest this excellent web site:

    “Blood Sugar 101 – What they don’t tell you about Diabetes”

  27. Some weeks ago I was just youtubing and came across the viedos of Mark– one where he said you could eat nothing but protein and fats and NO CARBS and be perfectly fine. Well, years ago I had read the book The Fat of the Land by an arctic explorer (Steffanson) who proved the same thing. I had already go very low carb– but it was the exercise portion that inspired me. I was way too used to long runs and bike rides–and no interval training.
    Needless to day I jumped on the treadmill and did the intervals– then with my heavy bag– then my bike– then my bodyweight sets.
    Holy Cow– I haven’t felt this good in years.
    I am spending less time exercising and more time feeling great. I only had about 15 lbs to lose but no matter what I did in the past the scale would hover within the same range.
    Now with the new training I’ already down 7lbs and only 8 more to my goal.

    BTW– I am 60 but feel physically that I am about 30 yrs old. No kidding. No aches or pains or stiffness. I do eat some good carbs (tomatoes, carrots,etc) during the week, but for the most part I love eggs, any meat, and oh– I do eat peanut butter! I also snack (for a meal) on almonds and pecans.

    Mark’s plan is so good, and I have sent his info to to ladies I work with — both of whom wasted their time going to the diabetes educators who had them gorging on carbs.

    Spread the word!