Regaining Control: Michelle’s Primal Journey

My weight struggle began when I turned 21. I got really stressed out at my job, and in turn I became depressed and very anxious to the point that my Doctor put me off work. That was the beginning of my search to feel well again…so here’s my story.

In 2002 I was prescribed Antidepressants, which at the time I definitely needed because I was not in a good place. However, this increased my appetite like crazy and I really started gaining weight. I ballooned up to 87kg and I’m 5’6”, so my ideal weight is something like 60kg. I searched online for an answer and I came across Atkins, so I started it straight away. I was really successful with it and I lost a lot of weight. I got right down to 54kg so I was thin…great, ah not really. I didn’t emphasise health enough. Veggies weren’t a large part of my diet, but diet coke and artificially sweetened chocolate was. I kept the weight off for a wee while but I was still having anxiety and depression. So in my search to find a cure I did more research online and came to the conclusion that low carb was exacerbating the problem….

In 2005 I started eating whole grains after what I had read, and I was convinced that they were the key to healing my body… boy was I wrong. I was so stubborn that I had found the answer that I just kept eating and eating, hoping that one day my anxiety would vanish.  I still can’t believe how much faith I had in eating this way.

2008 This is the year where I reached my lowest point and my highest weight. I was now considered morbidly obese and I was extremely unhappy. I was eating every 2-3 hours and even before bed just to keep my blood sugar “stable”. I would eat whole grains, protein and “good fats” thinking I was eating well, but I was constantly hungry and just getting bigger and bigger I was so stubborn and convinced that this was the right way to eat. My anxiety levels were not good, and deep down I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea just how misinformed and misled I had been.

I knew that I was large but you see what you want to see in the mirror, and although I knew I was fat, I was definitely in a state of denial for months. I remember buying a size 20 pair of jeans and thinking “oh they must be a big sizing” until I hopped on the scales and saw 107kg!! And even then I thought the scales were giving me the wrong reading. Then my husband suggested he take a photo of me. I was so shocked that I was actually that size and I remember just sobbing, and being so angry with myself.

In Oct of 2008 I started my online search again  Knowing that Atkins had worked in the past was my main motivator, but I was a bit apprehensive. Now there had been a lot more research done, so I managed to find some great websites and blogs that were very informative, which helped me make my decision. With the combined ideas of Atkins, Protein Power and Paleo, I cut out all my whole grains and started eating plenty of veggies, protein and fat, and quickly started dropping weight. No diet coke this time, just water, soda water and herbal teas. I started feeling energised and so great. I still had a little anxiety, but nowhere near as bad.

Once I’d lost about 10kgs I came across Marks Daily Apple and was glued to the site for days!!This is what I had been looking for. It helped me to change my mindset, and to realise it is all about lifestyle, not just about dieting.  Since then I have lost another 25kgs and now I weigh 72kgs, and fitting a size 12! I joined the gym to start weight training about 2 months ago and I’m hooked! I’m really looking forward to changing my body composition. My anxiety is far more manageable now and I finally feel like I’ve got it sorted.  I now know what works and what doesn’t for my body.

The primal way feels so natural, coming from a person who had to eat every 2-3 hours otherwise I would be lightheaded and sometimes even dizzy. Now I can do the odd 24hr Intermittent Fast with no problems, and if a meal is late it’s no biggie. I finally feel freed from my obsession with food, and the handcuffs of my eating timetable.  That is one of the best things about going primal.

When people ask me “what’s my secret?” I don’t talk about it like it’s a diet. This is just the way we were meant to eat. Hopefully I can help others to realise it’s all about mindset, feeding yourself with the best fuel, and using that knowledge to maximise exercise and movement. I’m definitely a bit of a preacher when it comes to Primal living, and talk about Mark Sisson like he’s my best buddy. I started a blog so I wouldn’t drive my friends and family crazy talking about it.

So, it can be a tough pill to swallow when you realise there is no magic pill, and you have to make some major changes if you want real results. Now, when I’m in a situation surrounded by unhealthy foods I have to make conscious choices. Most of the time it’s easy because eating primal foods are so satisfying and makes me feel so good that I never feel deprived. And holding onto my old pair of size 20 jeans is a great reminder and motivator of just how far I’ve come!

Michelle – New Zealand

Thank you for you inspiring story, Michelle!

Read all about Michelle’s Primal journey on her fantastic blog.

If you’d like to share your story (and photos) with fellow MDA readers and enter this season’s Tell Your Story contest in the process submit your own personal story by August 28 for a chance to win a pair of Vibram FiveFingers and a Grok t-shirt. Grok on!

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27 thoughts on “Regaining Control: Michelle’s Primal Journey”

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  1. Apologies to anyone that left a comment here earlier. We had a brief technical glitch that has been worked out but means we may have lost any early comments. Apologies again…

  2. very inspirational! so many have anxiety/depression that is helped with this plan. thank you for speaking out. you’ll help lots of people 🙂

  3. Wow, Michelle, your story is so inspiring! You look absolutely great! I, too, fell into that whole grains trap and now I’m on my way to finally feeling better thanks to MDA!!

  4. Hey, primal looks good on you! I totally agree that it just feels natural — I really don’t miss the grains at all. I’d love to read your blog if it’s public and get yet another point of view on the primal thing.

  5. Great story! Really inspiring, and is another great example of how well Primal eating works! It’s stories like this that reassure me that I made the right choice to go Primal…although feeling the way that I do does that pretty well already! 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us Michelle. I wish you all the best in life.

  7. Wow, Michelle…very inspiring! You look great! I have suffered from depression and anxiety too and have been amazed how much better I feel by eating the right way and getting some exercise. You Go Girl!!

  8. Oh thank you, Michelle for posting this — there is so much of my story in here. I am still healing but headed towards health again finally! You give me hope; thank you!!!

  9. I am so glad to read your story and find your blog. I’m bookmarking it to send to ladies who insist the Primal way of eating doesn’t work the same for women! Good for you!!

  10. Michelle,
    You’ve made great progess. Enjoy life…you look fantastic!

  11. Wow, thank you all so so much for your positive comments, I’m so pleased that I can be an inspiration 🙂

  12. It’s really nice to read stories like this. I’m still 206 and the weight is coming off so slowly it’s discouraging.

  13. Good for you Michelle..You look great. Grok would be pleased and offer you more steak, preferably uncooked!

  14. Fantastic Michelle,
    I am also from New Zealand and work at CrossFit Auckland as their nutritionist.

    Paleo / Primal eating plus Zone diet balance (a bit less carbs and a bit more fat) works really well for me.

    You could try adding more more Omega 3 to manage anxiety.
    Julianne (Auckland, New Zealand)

    1. Hi Julianne, I love hearing about fellow NZ’ers going primal! I’ve tried the Omega 3 thing and everytime I’ve ended up with lightheadedness (journal told me this) so I just stick to trying to get it from my diet. Magnesium helps a little and I’m about to begin Vitamin D.

  15. Great story, Michelle! Congrats on your success. You are an inspiration to me!

  16. Oh my gosh, what I story! This just about made me cry. I could FEEL your pain and just wanted to make it all better, but you have done that for yourself haven’t you. What an inspiration you are to so many.

    Well done chick – you look stunning!

    1. Great job Michelle! What do you feel was your biggest struggle in your eating habits? Just curious. Have a great New Year. Your primal brother, Dan.

  17. Hey Dan, biggest struggle would have been avoiding the non primal foods when others are eating some of my old favs like chips/potatoes. Other than that though not too many struggles, luckily for me I love all the primal foods and I never had a huge emotional attachment for food it was more of a hunger thing eg. insulin imbalance