Sick of Counting Calories, Now Hooked on Primal

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!

Hi Mark,

First, thank you for your website and books. They have changed me.

I love that you post success stories. I read them when I am having a hard week to help me stay on track. I met my weight goal a few weeks ago and would love for my story to encourage someone to try paleo. I am still working on just being strong and healthy.

I grew up on the American diet and often had unresolved digestive and blood sugar health problems. I can’t blame the doctors since I know they said to keep a food diary (and didn’t jump to expensive procedures).

Leah - Before PrimalYears later I think so many foods were the problem I didn’t see that it was a diet problem (sugar, wheat, pasteurized dairy). From puberty through high school I was always at the top end of my weight range. University (plus lots of fast food) hit and I think I gained 30 lbs during the 1st  year, and more so by fall 2007. I was somewhere in the 190 lbs on my 5’ 2” frame.

My now husband introduced me to the world of organic food and eventually I became vegetarian. Well, giving up the fast food and a lot of personal stress, my weight dropped off. At 155 lbs a year later, we got married and I started birth control. As soon as I started it the weight loss stopped and I gained it all back. I went off of it a year later at 175 lbs and was never able to make it under the 160s.

While working at an International school in Africa for the last two years, I tried distance running and ended up very ill twice, thwarting my running progress. I gave up during dry season and came home last July for a month. After I realized I had gone up to 177 lbs again and seeing pictures from that summer I started running again. This time though I was continually hungry. It was impossible to make enough health foods, so I started a vicious cycle and if I didn’t run I still ate like I was. Missing a run would set me behind and I just got too overwhelmed dealing with it.

Leah - Before Primal

Don’t ask me who told me about paleo. I think I read the name somewhere and looked it up online since I was sick with counting calories. I came across your website and it just clicked. I never liked Atkins because it seemed like non-organic meat and cheese (that didn’t seem healthy), and I watched a lot of people lose and gain it right back. Living in Africa, I would think about what we would have eaten before farming culture. Wouldn’t that make sense? So I got my husband to agree (he hasn’t fully joined) for a month. After that month I was hooked. I was losing and FEELING FULL and great. My skin and hair changed and my blood sugar is great. I rarely feel nauseated and haven’t gotten sick since I started last September.

I started CrossFit around 140 lbs. I seemed stuck there for a bit, but in two months I lost the last 10 lbs plus some. I hit my weight goal of 130 and then continued to lose to 125.

Thank you, Mark, for you website. It changed my life.

This was the last picture taken before I got pregnant. I am 20 weeks along now and so far I have had a perfect pregnancy.

Leah - After Primal


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40 thoughts on “Sick of Counting Calories, Now Hooked on Primal”

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  1. Awesome results! The patient/doctor takes two but maybe it is time to start blaming doctors for a lack of nutritional knowledge. Congrats on the wee one!

    1. Bon Rurgundy,

      I’m a huge fan. Absolutely love the avatar and name. I can’t help but read your comment in Ron Burgundy’s voice, LOL!


  2. Congratulations on your weight loss, overhaul, and healthy pregnancy. As an international teacher myself, I know how hard it can be to get the healthy foods you want to eat. I was recently in Brazil, and every meal contained potatoes AND rice. Way to persevere!

    1. One positive about living internationally is that in many foreign countries, people are closer to their food source and know where the food comes from.

  3. Awesome story.
    It makes me happy reading about young people changing their diets and doing research via the net (before it gets controlled and regulated).

    Good luck with your pregnancy! 🙂

  4. Leah!! You look amazing and it sounds like you’re feeling great. Congrats on hitting the halfway milestone of a healthy pregnancy: hoping the next half is just as smooth as the first. And happy for that little one who won’t grow up on cheetos and rainbow bread. 🙂

  5. Well done Leah!!

    Your time in Africa must have been so remarkablel for perspective when it comes to diet and lifestyle. You will be a wonderful role model for your child, good on you!

  6. wow, great story and health change! how great to have figured all this out before getting pregnant! i started figuring it out after my 2nd pregnancy, which has made a BIG difference in my life!

    just curious, because i have blood sugar/diabetic issues that i’m always learning about how to care for. what’s happened with your blood sugar? how often do you measure blood sugar.

    1. HI Jenny,
      I was hypoglycemic. I would black out worse case scenario- normally though I would get super light headed, nauseated, cranky and feel blacking out coming on. By the way running and calorie counting did not help. I would have to eat protein to fix it (people would try to give me juice which would make it worse). Anyways they ran all sorts of test- mixed results. I never went to regularly checking my blood sugar (sorry). I guess it gets checked with my being pregnant and it is perfect now. Honestly switching to paleo laying off sugar (I cheat I’ll be honest) and grains did wonders. I find now eating paleo I don’t ever worry about blacking out or having it drop honestly if I missed or was late on a meal. I know this doesn’t really answer your questions. I don’t have any secret blood sugar tips.

      1. Before I ate Paleo, I used to have hypoglycaemia where I used to feel faint, dizzy, foggy headed & irritable if I went too long without food & used to have to eat about every 2 hours, but now I can go at least 4 or 5 hours without food & feel fine. Some people tend to assume that because you have low blood sugar, it is sugar you need, but it’s not, it’s protein & fat! Sugar gives a quick fix, then makes the blood sugar level dip even further down very quickly, so causing a vicious cycle. I now find that the more protein I eat at a meal, the longer I can go without food.

        1. I was the same… starving every 2 hours, and low blood sugar at times causing shaking, weak, lightheaded, and I would become very withdrawn and not want to talk to anyone. I am fairly new to paleo, only about a month now, but right away I couldn’t believe how satisfied I felt, and how GOOD I feel. I am happier, my workouts are more powerful, just all around much better. So glad to find this site and hear everyone’s stories!

  7. Leah–you look healthy and happy! As I told my sister this morning, Paleo (Primal) Rocks!!

  8. I love Fridays, Well Done!! Talk about a transformation. Grok on. Good luck with the pregnancy.

    1. It was dyed in the first picture- second picture its all natural but I had been living in Africa (more sun bleached) and the last picture my hair tends to darken without so much sun, also my hair is in the shade. Nothing really to do with diet. My hair grew better and had a nicer texture than before on the diet.

    1. Home stretch and you get to cuddle your little one face to face!

  9. Way to GO! and GROK! I know you will keep active thru your pregnancy–it helps.

    My wife jogged every day thru her 8th month of pregnancy and then walked the last month.
    The day she went into labor we went to the hospital and when she heard the groans coming form the other moms in labor–she put on her Nikes and we walked thru her labor for four hours up until the delivery!

    I think I was more exhausted than she was!

  10. What a transformation!! Awesome job. Congrats on all of your hard work. You look like a completely different person. Congratulations again. This is awesome.

  11. Leah, Congratulations on your life changing transformation! You look younger, happier and healthy.

  12. Wow, way to go! My wife went through her entire pregnancy on Paleo and did great. Hope yours goes well!

  13. Wow, thanks for the story! I love how real all of these are, each week! They all give me the encouragement to stick with it (despite my horrible will power at times… :/). Keep up the great work, you’re looking great! And congrats on the baby!

  14. Well done Leah – you look great! Continuing good health with the pregnancy.

  15. Why to go Leah, you look really good!!! I though, don’t have a problem with dairy and I know the paleo diet doesn’t care too much for it but when some of the dairy countries in Northern Europe live about as long as the Japanese I have to wonder if dairy is more of a correlation thing with people more than a causation thing?

  16. Great Job Leah! I am so happy when I hear that healthy people are having children. Nothing is sadder than healthy, intelligent people choosing not to raise kids. Good for you!

  17. A story with a happy ending! Love it! Congratulations on taking charge of your health and for your pregnancy. So glad you figured out what was causing your blood sugar issues.

  18. What a transformation! Great job and congratulations on the little one on the way. Primal/paleo lifestyle rocks in so many ways:)