August 26 2011

Stare Your Excuses in the Face, and Take Control of Your Health

By Guest
149 Comments

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!

Mark,

Thank you so much for e-mailing me back! I’d love to share my story! I find that even though people are constantly asking me how I lost so much weight, they tune me out immediately when I try to answer.

Believe it or not, my story starts with a car accident. I fell asleep at the wheel, and I realized that I had a problem. I had been much more tired than usual, my decrease in cognitive ability was affecting my grades, I was “throwing things” or falling for no reason, and my crazy hallucinating nightmares were keeping me completely stressed out. Since I was 18 when this started (I’m 19 now), I had a hard time finding the help I needed. I was sure that I had a neurological disorder, but my family and friends kind of thought I was crazy.

Since I was tired all the time, I was eating constantly. I was a chubby kid starting in middle school, and my weight had never really affected my happiness. All I wanted to eat was grains, even though I have IBS and grains make me incredibly sick. I knew that on top of my other health issue, I had some sort of weird addiction to grains and sugar. My stomach problems were enough to land me in the hospital for a night, and get me a colonoscopy/endoscopy as a high school senior. Though I tested negative for celiac disease, grains were definitely the culprit. Following my gastroenterologist’s suggestions I cut out all grains for a while, and my stomach started to improve. However, I was still eating a bunch of processed crap that I knew I shouldn’t eat; but I kept telling myself that it was normal for college students to eat that way.

Finally, I found a physicians assistant that would see me about my neurological issues (no one would see me without a referral from my doctor, which was impossible to get because my pediatrician was unreachable 99% of the time and my new adult doctor couldn’t give me a referral because I’d never actually gone to him). My physicians assistant’s name, ironically, is Mark and he changed my life. I went through some crazy tests and found out that I have narcolepsy. I was so incredibly tired all the time, I was actually damaging my memory and my thinking ability. Even though I was sleeping, my body wasn’t going through sleep cycles correctly. My body was looking for the energy that I missed from sleeping, so I tried to fill that need with food. Finding out I have narcolepsy was a difficult thing for me. I had done poorly in my first semester of college, and I was disappointed in myself for letting my health go for so long.

When I finally coped with the fact that I have narcolepsy, I started to take control of my life again. Medicine and new advice about how I could improve my situation allowed my life to go back towards normal. I realized that I wanted to be as healthy as possible so I started exercising. I was always active, playing sports up until high school and taking dance classes until college, but I was definitely not fit. Overweight and lazy, I started slow. When I saw results, I decided to stop “winging it” and find a plan that would work for me. Through my search, I was changing what I would and wouldn’t eat by the day – one day I would eat sugar and the next day I would only use artificial sweeteners.

I found real structure when I bought a pair of shoes. A friend of mine bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and I fell in love. Before long I blew a week’s pay (my babysitting money) on my very own pair. I knew that Vibram’s were a cultural phenomenon, but I never realized that a pair of shoes could start what they started. Every time I wore my FiveFingers in public, someone would tell me to “Grok on”, ask me if I’m “Primal”, or say something about “Mark’s latest post”. I was confused. Finally, a mom that I babysit for told me about a friend of hers. She told me all about MDA and The Primal Blueprint, so I bought the book.

I jumped into the Primal Blueprint eating and fitness lifestyle full throttle. I started losing weight immediately. Now, I’ve lost a little over 100 pounds and I’m still going! I had to make a few psychological changes when I started to get healthy, and these changes are what I like to share with people most:

1. Stop rewarding yourself with food – I thought that I “deserved” a “treat” for everything. If I got a good grade I could “skip” a workout and go “relax” because hey, I worked hard. I had to change my mindset. I realized that unhealthy food will never be a “treat” because all it does is hurt my chances of reaching my weight and fitness goals. Food is something that humans eat in order to gain the necessary nutrients to survive. Fueling my body correctly is important for living the life that I am living, and that is the “treat” that I “deserve” for working hard. OK, let’s be honest, this mindset is harder to change than it sounds. So, I stopped biting my nails. I grew them out and began getting weekly manicures. My new reward was relaxation, pretty nails, and smooth hands.

2. Prepare yourself mentally for the people that will sabotage your good intentions – I’m Italian, and my family eats pasta. Thankfully, my parents are very supportive and they ALWAYS make sure that there is something for me to eat. My boyfriend’s family, however, is not as supportive. They don’t intentionally trap me by only serving food covered in flour, they just simply don’t understand that “no grains” doesn’t mean “a little bit of grains”. It’s hard to change people’s minds. I’ll never be able to respectfully get it through their minds that I will never eat “low fat” salad dressing (or any dressing out of a bottle) because it’s full of sugar and other chemicals that I don’t want in my body. They are sure that these foods are healthy, so I am still learning how to speak up for myself about my dietary preferences.

I knew that it would be at least slightly inconvenient to eat out (at restaurants or other people’s houses) but I didn’t realize how much my feelings would get hurt. It’s really hurtful to watch people in your life completely disregard your lifestyle and cover everything in stuff you can’t eat. My favorite is how everyone chooses Italian restaurants to eat out at; I am Italian so nothing there is going to impress me anyway but unless there is steak on the menu, I can’t eat there. I’ll admit, I had my share of hysterical fits when I came home to find my perfect organic (and expensive) chicken marinating in something that had sugar in it. It’s important to educate your family and friends about your choices, but it is imperative to your own mental health for you to realize that they won’t listen at least some of the time.

3. Listen to your excuses… they are the hurdles you need to overcome before you can commit to a healthier lifestyle. I am the first person to call bull$#!% (excuse my language) when someone says that they are simply too busy to eat healthy. The time a person spends at the drive-in could easily be spent preparing a salad. However, if you have no salad in the house, you aren’t going to make one. Instead of saying you’re too busy to eat healthy, realize that you are too lazy (probably because of the tiredness invoked by your hectic schedule) to eat healthy. However, if you feel that eating healthfully is “too hard” for you, then you’re not going to do it. You need to make it easy. McDonald’s isn’t going to start serving Primal meals, so you have to take your health into your own hands. Find one recipe that you can do quickly and easily and keep the ingredients around. Slowly expand your healthy meal making, and you’ll love the food you’re eating so much, you’ll be “too busy” to eat unhealthy food before you know it!

If your excuse is that healthier food is more expensive, I’m going to tell you that you’re flat out wrong. Grow your own vegetables, buy what’s in season, use the money from your daily run to Dunkin’ Donuts to supplement your new healthy food grocery bill. Whatever you do to figure out a way to buy the foods you should be eating, just remember that eating healthy now will probably save you costs in the form of medical bills in your future.

Another excuse I hear a lot is “well, every time I try something it doesn’t work so I’m just going to eat whatever I want”. Here’s the deal: you haven’t tried the Primal Blueprint. DO IT. If the success stories, the easiness of the plan, and the clarity of the core ideas aren’t enough to prove that the Primal Blueprint is awesome, then try it yourself. you will see the results that you want to see. Why would you stop trying to get healthy just because you think it’s hard? What if a heart surgeon stopped operating because it was too hard?

If you examine your excuses, you will be able to come up with a clear plan of how to jump over your own personal hurdles when it comes to getting fit. Seriously, the only thing standing in your way is you.

4. Take control of your health – When I was trying to find out what was wrong with me, I blindly listened to any medical advice I got. Instead of fighting to see a doctor, changing doctors when I should have, and putting my health first I acted like I was wrong for seeking answers. I felt that I should be apologizing for “wasting” people’s time. I felt like a big baby who was whining about my problems. Here is what I didn’t realize until later: it is never wrong to be cautious about your health. Don’t let a busy doctor or a person who can’t feel what you’re feeling tell you that there is nothing wrong. You know your own body, and your health is something to fight for. If you feel like you might have a medical issue that is affecting you, let that become part of your new healthy lifestyle. Take control of your whole health, not just your fitness.

After you commit to stop rewarding yourself with food, prepare yourself mentally for the hurdles you might encounter, stare your excuses in the face, and take control of your health, here are some tips to make the transition a little easier:

  1. Prepare a few “healthy” recipes that you LOVE. These should be foods that you look forward to eating.
  2. Do something fitness-wise that you’ve always wanted to do: go on a hike, swim laps at the local pool. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, break down your barriers when it comes to exercise and you will reap the rewards.
  3. Plan rewards. I bought myself really nice new clothes for my vacation because for the first time, I love to shop and I can’t wait to take pictures on the beach (something I never would have done at my old weight). When you see results, celebrate them.
  4. One thing that I did was make a “thin-spiration” poster. I put pictures of the resort I’ll be visiting on my vacation, a swimsuit I’d love to wear, fitness moves I wish I could do, and a quote from Kim Kardashian: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” to remind me that my goals are so much more important than the momentary temptation to eat something unhealthy.

I’ve attached two pictures, one of me before I started the Primal Blueprint (last fall, peach picking) and two of me taken recently (at an outdoor concert with my boyfriend, and a picture of me and my boyfriend before a night out). I hope my story is helpful in some way. The Primal Blueprint has really changed my life!

Thank you again!

Sarah

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149 thoughts on “Stare Your Excuses in the Face, and Take Control of Your Health”

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    1. Agreed – inspirational.
      I especially appreciate the thought you have put into writing the tips that you used to make this work for you. As a nutritionist – I find that having one’s mind in the right place is a big part of the battle.

      1. I thought that was the highlight of the story! No one has ever asked me if I was primal when I wear mine, but they do love pointing them out and asking me about them!

        1. That’s actually how I found out about Primal people on campus… via VFFs and barefooting conversation. 🙂

        2. I did too. This really stood out to me as I have NEVER been asked if I am primal or paleo or a caveman. But, I do get asked questions a lot. And, whenever I wear my bacon T someone asks about it or stairs at the written words on the T.

          I may have to start doing this… asking people if they are primal if they are wearing vibrams… I am in a perfect city of Chicago to do this!

        3. Primal Toad, I’m not a huge “commenter” but I always enjoy your comments. I didn’t realize, though, that you are also in Chicago! Awesome! I may have to join the Chicago Primal Meetup group and meet you sometime, seeing as you’re a Primal celebrity and all 😉

        4. Hey Aimee!

          Please do join the primal chicago meetup group! There are 75 groks/grokettes and we will take over the NY City group soon! They are my target.

          It’s Chicago vs NY!

          I enjoyed the potluck with 8 of us 1.5 weeks ago and I met about 5 people today at the greencity farmers market which may have to be an every saturday event!

    1. You can now get silver, sparkly Vibrams from Molton Brown in London? Who knew they would become a fashion statement. But perhaps it was only a matter of time. 😉

      1. silver sparkle vibrams? that got my attention. I googled that store and went to the website to find them but I don’t see them. Do you know the model name?

        1. I believe they are only available in the physical store in London. A friend of mine had them sent over to her in the US. They do look cool though so if you know someone over there…

  1. Great work! I like that you mention taking control of your own health. I have been thinking this a lot lately… Why do we listen to others explanations of what is healthy for us when it clearly is not working?!

    It sounds like you have found what ACTUALLY works for you. Great job!

  2. Go girl, great job. Your right can’t listen to the “it can’t work sayers”, there always seem to be people who will find something wrong or lacking with great success such as your. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing

  3. Congratulations and thanks for the helpful advice.
    I, too, found no support from my friends. They just don’t understand the changes, what “grains” means and when eating in public (at picnics, get togethers) I don’t find explaining it helpful to them. Like you said, they just don’t get it.
    Again, congratulations and thanks so much for your input.

  4. I love the story and the tips. This week my wife and I “treated” ourselves with some frozen custard. We both felt horrible physically the next day, and I said why do we “treat” ourselves by hurting ourselves? I love the idea of treating yourself with something else like new clothes instead of bad food. Keep it up and enjoy the vacation.

    1. Whenever I eat anything “bad” now I get dizzy and don’t feel right. Not worth it!

      1. yeah, isn’t that strange? When I eat suger, I feel like I just drank a generous double whisky.

        1. My wife actually passes out as if she drank too much!

          This time it was actually a quinoa salad. (Not even a grain!) She ordered it thinking it would be Mediterranean and full of olive oil… instead it was a PeiWei style HOT MESS, drenched in cheap (improperly fermented) soy sauce. (I know there was some residual gluten in the soy sauce b/c it gave me a stomach ache and I’m gluten intolerant.) Almost no fat or protein (except in the quinoa itself)… and she’s down for the count.

          I’m sure her A1C “looks” perfect, but like most Americans, she can’t handle the giant bolus of raw carbs. Blood sugar disaster.

      2. Me too! I get kind of a headache and feel so off after grains. Everyone else thinks I’m silly and it’s all psychological. It’s kind of frustrating

        1. Tell them it’s an allergy. It may actually be just leaky gut syndrome or some sort of non-allergic auto-immune mess or maybe just blood sugar gyrations playing with your brain, but ya know? Just say you have a mild allergy (“not to worry, I don’t have to carry an Epipen”) to wheat.

          Headaches are caused by a lot of things. One of those things is inflammatory cascades inside your body. Listen to your body and don’t make yourself sick for the sake of other people and their completely uninformed, non-medical opinions.

          I personally have a lot less headaches and migraines when I avoid eating things that don’t agree with me!

    2. This comment convinced me not to “treat” myself with pizza tonight. Thanks!! I know I would have regretted it.

      1. Keep this up and pizza won’t even seem like a treat any more. (Unless you live in NY or NJ.) Sugary sauce, awful, smelly dough, and cheap, carby cheese with a miniscule amount of meat. Whatever. After 6 months gluten free pizza just seems like fool’s gold to me. Wheat flour is bitter and doesn’t even taste good and the amount of real food on a pizza is rather disappointing. I’d much rather have a nice country sausage or some eggs cooked in saturated fat or some nice beef stew.

        Chicken breast is also low on my list these days. Too dry! And forget about using chicken fat–grain-fed chicken fat makes me break out!!! (I guess I will not be eating traditional Kosher cooking, which uses shmalts.)

      2. what you should do is get some of those large brown mushrooms, grill them for a bit, and while that’s going on, fry up some bacon bits in garlic. Take the mushies out, put the bacon bits and garlic on, slice up any other veggies you feel like (sometimes I take a walk on the wild side, and put just a few pieces of banana on, then add a small amount of your favourite grated cheeze over the top and bake till the cheeze is golden brown. Tastes just like pizza, with none of the icky side effects! We have ‘pizza night’ quite regularly now!

  5. Congratulations on your success! You look radiantly happy (and wide awake!) now!

  6. Fantastic story. I definitely will be referring people to it. Very well written. Also, it is great to see a success story from a woman.

    Your experience of finding a PA who would help parallels my own. Three doctors brushed off my side pain as “arthritis.” “You’re getting old. What do you expect?” Finally a PA sent me for an x-ray that confirmed my suspicion of a kidney stone. Over the years 6 different PAs and nurse practitioners have given me the time that doctors never seem to have. When I call a doctor’s office and they ask if it would be ok to see the PA, I say “Sure!”

    1. Wait… you had long term chronic pain from a kidney stone? Was this lower backpain by any chance? I’ve wondered since last December if I have one.

      1. From time to time I would have some pain on one or the other side of my lower back. It was not the “as painful as giving birth” pain you hear described about kidney stones, although I have had that with more recent stones. All it takes is an x-ray to find out.

        1. If it’s the kind that shows up on x-rays. Not all kidney stones will. Glad yours was and they found it though. I love PA’s! Of course, my son is one so I have to say that.

  7. Hey beautiful girl, you look gorgeous!

    I have a friend with narcolepsy and she found it difficult too when she found out, so I can imagine how you felt with your diagnosis. And at such a young age.

    Love your ideas – I always say, nothing good in the weight loss department ever came out of an Italian restaurant. And you’re right on about it not costing more. Not if you plan, organize and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.

    Congratulations, Sarah!

    1. Agreed. It does not cost me more, either. And I even eat grass fed and free range.

    2. Not fair, the Italian restaurants in Rome, Italy were wonderlands of bufalo mozzarella, tuna, and arugula (rocket). :DD

      They do sell Roman pizza but it’s really meh. I did have a nice pizza once in Tivoli. It was covered in the local ham. They are very serious about their ham. You see the whole hog’s leg in the window, hoof and all. Now that’s primal. ;-D

      There was also the Pieroni brewhouse which had Bavarian-style grub. They brew dark-style beers but you really can’t get those in a the States. Too bad.

      And meloncello. Oooooh, ghoooood. Move over, limoncello.

      Italian-American restaurants are usually Americanized Sicilian-Greek cuisine with an overemphasis on pasta. (Pasta today is made by machines out of subsidized grain so it’s cheaper than feeding your guests real food.) From what I understand, real Sicilian cooking has a lot more seafood and fresh produce in it.

      And Greece is getting slammed by the obesity epidemic as rising prosperity has introduced all sorts of sugary and convenience foods–the improperly leavened, gluteny breads, and chocolates, ice creams, and fast foods displacing offal, oily fish, spring vegetables, and so on.

  8. Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your story!

    My kid has narcolepsy as well, since he got the H1N1 flu in 2009. His symptoms include tiredness and crazy hallucinations and he’s got cataplexy as well.

    So I’m interested to know: did you find that going primal helped at all with dealing with narcolepsy apart from increased energy? If so could you detail the changes?

    Congratulations with your result, again and grok on!

    1. I can’t speak for the author, but I can tell you that high fat (ketogenic) diets were used years ago to treat seizure type disorders.

      1. Hi,
        yeah I know. But I’m more interested in knowing whether gluten free would help. My kid could do gluten free, and/or mostly primal.

        Ketogenic, I’m not so sure about.

        1. I too got the H1N1 in Fall of 2009. Started developing symptoms immediately but brushed it off as ‘recovering’ for a few months and stress from school.

          Around March 2010 I started suspecting that all the problems had something to do with carbohydrates, so I started looking for low carb recipes online and found this site. Did a week of Primal and felt a lot better almost immediately! I continued to do elimination diets until I narrowed the source of the problem down to gluten a couple months later.

          I don’t do 100% Primal now, but going gluten free/mostly Primal has improved my health SO much and made me suspect that gluten was a problem even prior to getting H1N1. Though I wasn’t getting the ‘typical’ (eg celiac-like) symptoms, I used to have a lot of mood swings and food cravings that i just don’t get much anymore.

          Hope this helps, it’s worth a shot anyway!

    2. Going primal definitely helped me deal with my narcolepsy. That being said, it is important for me to eat PLENTY of protein- for some reason, if I go light on protein I see more symptoms. Chronic cardio was hurting my sleep cycle so primal fitness has helped me over come that a lot!

      1. Thanks! He’s doing karate, which I don’t think is too much for him, but I’ll keep an eye on protein and too much cardio.

        Also thanks to you gator! The reply link seems to missing from your post from some reason 🙂

  9. This is an awesome story.
    I know so many that ignore their own bodies signals that something is wrong and they try to satisfy that wrongness with food, because it is the only pleasure that they feel.
    Also, I think heavy folks shouldn’t be embarassed about being seen from the neck down. Take the bicycle and take walks in a tank top and shorts, buy a big bathing suit and go swim laps…start somewhere.
    You did the right thing, Sarah, big congrats on your success. Beautiful smile btw 🙂

    I can relate to your #4. For me it was hard to figure out what was wrong because Internet didn’t exist back 20 years ago, like it does now.
    I had severe allergies (from outdoor stuff I thought), that I now know was high Omega 6, grains, processed sugar and ultra-heated 2% store milk. I used to have a monthly medical bill of around 150 bucks, just on over the counter + prescription allergy meds.
    My husband and I are dishing out 400-500 bucks LESS every month on food now because we shop local, fresh, in season and healthy. This allowed us to also feed our 4 dogs primally and we cut down on their vet bills completely, too.

    Your story is very inspirational to all the other girls out there wondering wth is going on with their bodies.

    Grok on, girl!

    1. I feed my dogs Primal too for the most part! I’m involved in Dog Agility (which, of course, I run in my Vibrams) so when I’m training I have to use kibble (highest quality I can find, of course).

      Cool to know that other people have thought the same way and are feeding their pets healthy food.

      Grok on, indeed.

      1. Why not use some all-grass-fed beef jerky, instead of kibble with grains and corn and soy? Sure it’s costs more, but you won’t be feeding poison to your dogs!

        1. Elenor,

          True. I will look into it. But just so you know, the kibble I have does not have ANY grains, soy or corn. It is Orijen brand kibble. Look it up, you might be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  10. “Prepare yourself mentally for the people that will sabotage your good intentions” Great line. People are always going to question what you do and why you do it. Just got to prepare for it.

    “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” -John R Wooden

  11. Bravo Sarah! What inspiration. Some of her points are spot on, especially the one about always feeling the need to reward yourself. Honestly, I feel eating Primal is the biggest reward unto itself because you feel absolutely amazing. No bloating, no intense cravings, decreased appetite overall, better sleep, better performance, better mental clarity.

    Personal success story… I’m down 15 lbs in 20 days. I hope to lose 45 more by Halloween!

    1. Alright… then you can wear that King Leonidas costume from 300!

  12. I can relate to the lack of support from the friends and boyfriends family. My family however is incredibly supportive. Stay true to yourself and do what you need to do. You do look beautiful!!

  13. one of my biggest things is being embarrassed to be seen when i exercise. im very self conscience. its something i really need to work on, thanks for the tip as its something i dont really think about much although it effects me greatly

    1. Hey Mike,

      Find a secluded trail if you can. Work out in the garage with the door closes, a basement, a nighttime sidewalk, all work great to help alleviate the problem. I’ve been there done that!

  14. What a nice twist on the usual story…no exercise plan, no eating details (which everyone here already understands), but thoughtful dissection of the pitfalls that make all of us less likely to succeed. AND how to overcome them. Outstanding!

    “Instead of saying you’re too busy to eat healthy, realize that you are too lazy… to eat healthy.”

    Tough love, there. And #2 and #4 go hand-in-hand: there are just as many “health” professionals out there as loving-but-not-getting-it relatives, who will give you the look and sabotage your efforts with a dismissive comment. Good for you for persevering in finding the right fit!

    Keep it up, kiddo. You’re a winner!

  15. Sarah, I am struck by your maturity. Your analysis and conclusions qboit your situation have saved your life, no doubt. At the very least, they have improved the quality ten fold! I also love that a simple, seemingly superficial act like buying a pair of shoes launched a giant change in your life. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and thanks again to Mark for being such a positive force in people’s lives.

  16. “Stop rewarding yourself with food – I thought that I “deserved” a “treat” for everything. [….] Food is something that humans eat in order to gain the necessary nutrients to survive. Fueling my body correctly is important for living the life that I am living, and that is the “treat” that I “deserve” for working hard.”

    I’ve been having a hell of a time with this lately, and it’s incredibly helpful to hear somebody else nail it so succinctly. Thank you.

    Grok on!

  17. Actually the only comments I ever get from my VFF’s are “eww those are wierd” or “are those comfortable?” (as if I’d be wearing them if they weren’t.)
    It would be cool to meet somebody who ate Primal because of them.

    I had a doctor once who thought I had narcolepsy because I was so fatigued and fell asleep so easily, even though the sleep study did not show that. He put me on the drugs anyway. I dumped that doctor and finally discovered years later it was the grains that were making me so tired.

    Also – it makes me sad when family members do not support our eating habits. Never apologize for your diet!

  18. Sarah, congratulations on dropping 100 pounds! You look fantastic! I hope the narcolepsy is no longer troubling you.

    Your tips are excellent. I especially like “don’t reward yourself with food”. Rewarding yourself with an addictive substance like grains is a method of self-destruction.

    Also, I second your recommendation to first learn to make one healthy meal. I never cooked before going primal, so the first thing I learned to do was make bacon, eggs, sausage, and broccoli. I leaned on that pretty heavily for the first couple months, and slowly branched out until now I can prepare a dozen different meals that I love. When you get to that point, restaurant food isn’t even appealing, because it doesn’t come close to your own home cooking.

    I only wish that I had your insight at such a young age. Keep on grokking, for your journey has barely begun!

    “Bliss was it in that primal dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.”

    1. “restaurant food isn’t even appealing,…” OMG, I so agree with you there.
      We went to our favorite (used to before primal) restaurant, thinking we deserved a night out and be lazy not cooking at home. We came home bloated, sick and extremely fatiqued, something I hadn’t experienced since primal. And on top of it the food tasted like shit…

  19. Thanks Sarah. I passed on your great advice to a friend who is in the process of changing to a Primal diet. Perfect timing.

    P.S. You look great!

  20. SO glad to see younger people taking charge of their health – you are our hope (for the future)!!
    Very well written and thought-provoking. Thanks for saying so many of my own thoughts when confronting non-primals.
    Congratulations on your successful journey!!
    and +1 on that gorgeous, infectious smile! that alone should win over more converts 🙂

  21. Awesome lifestyle transformation, congrats! Most people twice your age can’t get it right, so well done! BTW, where is that outside concert pic taken….the scenery looks strangely enough like the arts center that’s in my hometown!

  22. The “treat” mentality is huge. I went 12 weeks completely grain free, alcohol free, totally primal….28 scale lbs gone, and my body finally getting that healthy, toned look back again…15 more scale pounds or so to go.

    So this past Sunday, it was my birthday. I did a 2 1/2 hour mountain bike ride, (2 hours of it climbing)…but then that evening, broke down to “treat” myself. With several sips of bourbon. Which then led to late night gorging on crusty italian bread I had bought as a “treat” for my mom who is staying with me for the summer…I have her 80 percent primal too.)

    Monday…I felt like absolute CRAP, and was STARVING hungry…two things I had not experienced for 12 weeks. I was wracked with regret for throwing that curve ball at my body. And it was supposedly a “treat”???? Which friends were encouraging me to enjoy (the bourbon) because “It’s your birthday!!! Live a little.”

    And my “treat” is seeing in the mirror the changes in how my body looks, and being inspired to stay on that path. And simply feeling healthy. Nothing I put in my mouth as a “treat” will ever compare to that.

    Great post Sarah!!!!

    1. Peter, don’t beat yourself up for eating the way you used to. Look at it this way: you just verified the reasons for going Primal and verified why you gave up all that junk in the first place. Now that you’ve reminded yourself, it will be “full steam ahead” for your Primal lifestyle.

      As far as that “live a little” BS from well-meaning friends — tell them you don’t intend to live a “little”, you intend to live a “lot” — they can live a “little” if they so choose. Grok on!

      1. Live a lot…love it, and will use it next time the opportunity comes up. Probably this evening, as I’m heading to someone else’s bday party, and as I will be drinking water and avoiding cake, the odds or high at least one person will tell me to “live a little.” Ha! I’m ready…

    2. Peter,
      First off: Happy Belated Birthday!
      Second, I’m glad you shared!! My birthday is coming up this Tuesday, and I’ve been pondering how much leniency I’m going to give myself, but you’re right, it’s not really a treat at all! So, my plan has shifted back towards ordering the steak dinner, and taking ‘er easy at the wine bar after dinner.
      Sarah and Peter, thanks for the reminder/kick in the butt!

      1. It’s interesting…in the moment, I did consider the bourbon, and the bread, a treat. And could have easily gotten past it and back to my primal nutrition on Monday. But the problem was, that couple of hours of “living a little” cost me more than a full day. Monday I felt tired, dull, and in no way able to do anything physical. And was so hungry when I got up. I did eat only primal foods, but leaned too much in the satisfying (eggs/sausage/meat) direction, with very little vegetable or fruits. I felt completely “off” all day.

        Everyone reacts differently, but I know I have to go VERY easily, especially with alchohol, to avoid the same thing happening. I have felt so good every day, and how I felt Monday was NOT worth it, and NOT worth the little “buzz” I enjoyed on Sunday night. Oh, and I didn’t mention how lousy I felt at bedtime, when the alcohol started wearing off, and I felt like garbage…and got a terrible night’s sleep.

        In any case…Happy Birthday to you too!

      2. For your birthday have someone make you a speacial primal cobbler with coconut ice cream or something of the like. Its the one day you can make all about you. Primal desserts are awesome anyways.

  23. Hey guys – I think “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is actually a Kate Moss quote and is pretty much the banner slogan for the pro-ana (anorexia) crew. I can absolutely understand why Sarah used it here in sharing her wonderful story with us but thoguht I’d caution that both this phrase and “thinspiration” are widely associated with pro-ana (sounds weird that there is a pro anorexia movement, doesn’t it? but there is). Maybe “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels” is a sentiment more in keeping with PB?

    1. Thank you for mentioning this. This is a great story, and if it is going to be shared with many people it is good to point out the main focus of the Primal Blueprint is HEALTH, not getting thin.

    2. I was going to add this. This is an amazing story – I love reading primal/paleo testimonials and this is a great one. Everyone needs motivation to stay on track, but I do agree that the focus should be on health rather than weight or thinness. Besides, one of the best things about the primal lifestyle is that it isn’t about self-denial!

      Congratulations to Sarah for getting healthy!

    3. Love “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!” So true. People ask me all of the time how I “do it” (say no to bread/pasta, etc) and I always reply, “It’s really easy when you know how good it feels to be ‘off’ the stuff.”

      1. Yeah, I LOL’d when I saw that quote described as coming from Kim Kardashian…it has been around probably 50 years….seriously!! But, great job on getting healthy ! Grok on!

    4. I would like to very strongly second this comment. Having a lot of experience with eating disorders, this point made me extremely uncomfortable. Primal is so much about loving food and teaching your body AND mind to dislike NON-food, and its principles seem so far removed from the mindsets of disordered eating, that I felt really disappointed and in disagreement with pro-ana terms and slogans being incorporated into this post.

  24. You could be a very good motivational speaker. Took away all the excuses I hear when I talk Primal. Well done.

    1. I thought the same thing! You would make a wonderful inspirational speaker, especially on this topic. Congratulations on your transformation, too!

  25. Another great success story.

    “Another excuse I hear a lot is “well, every time I try something it doesn’t work so I’m just going to eat whatever I want”. Here’s the deal: you haven’t tried the Primal Blueprint. DO IT.”

    This is where I was at before I discovered MDA and I did DO IT and haven’t looked back. 😀

    1. Well, that one I can identify with:) PB did not help me loose my extra-pounds that I was so hoping to get rid of. In fact, I gained about 7-8 lbs since I started this lifestyle 2 years ago, but I’ll be damed if I disagreed with my overall wwell-being and just a simple piece of mind knowing that I treat my body like I’m suppose to.

  26. I am three times your age and just now leaning how to eat healthfully. You are so far ahead of me! Good for you!

  27. Congrats on the healthy transformation!! Losing 100 lbs is an amazing accomplishment!!. I totally agree that rewarding with food is a terrible practice…but for most of us, we were rewarded as kids for good behavior or something else with treats. I reward myself now by buying myself something small from my ever-expanding Amazon wish-list.

    I also agree, and experience, the family-will-sabotage-you thing. It seems whenever I am at any family function [my family or my wife’s], since I am a larger guy [6’2″], whoever is getting ready to clear the table after a meal will always look in my direction and ask “do you want the last ?” It doesn’t matter how much I try to tell them about my eating choices or lifestyle, it still happens like clockwork.

    Taking control of your health at 18/19 years old can be difficult, with college pressures and family pressures, among everything else. That was the age that I took control of my health and I feel that I am so far ahead of the game in terms of being healthy and living a long, fun, energetic, happy life. Keep up the good work!!

    Great story!!

  28. Maybe I didn’t read carefully enough, but I’m curious to know whether her narcolepsy decreased in severity (or maybe even was completely cured) after going primal.

      1. I didn’t see a comment on that either and I am wondering the same thing….

    1. Hey guys! I wanted to answer your question about my narcolepsy…I still experience troublle with it if I don’t take my medicine. However, going primal (fitness and diet wise) has helped me very much! Getting away from chronic cardio has allowed my sleep cycle to get regular. Cutting out grains has made me experience less tiredness during the day!

  29. Wow, people — don’t you just love Fridays??!! It’s getting to where I can’t wait to read another inspiring story!

    Sarah, congratulations on your very inspiring achievement. Thank you for sharing your story in such a thoughtful and motivational tone.

    As far as eating in an Italian restaurant, it depends on the restaurant obviously, but I always get the biggest salad they offer and ask for separate olive oil and vinegar on the side. Some places have it in cruets so you can mix your own. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought my own dressing in plastic bottles. If I get any flack from anyone about not eating pasta or whatever, I just tell them this is how I choose to eat,and they are free to eat however they choose as well. That usually shuts them up—

    Grok on, girl! Great job!!

  30. Well done Sarah…you look GREAT! I too get lots of looks, comments, and questions re: my VFFs(I have 4 pair, and are all I wear).

  31. For someone so young you are very wise. Congrats on all your successes now and in the future.
    PS The ‘young’ reference wasn’t meant to be condescending, I’m old enough to be you’re Grandmother. 🙂

  32. Hey is that Polliwog Park? Great writing Sarah – you have a natural ability, and it shows your analytical skills as well. Congratulations on taking your health into your hands and winning!

  33. Sarah, what a wonderful story. All the others who raved about how well written it was? They’re absolutely correct! I especially liked the section about not letting healthcare professionals get away with not taking you and your concerns seriously.

    Not to mention you look great in your pictures, and so happy!

  34. I LOVE your insight and strength when it comes to taking ownership of your health and well-being! Every time I hear someone say “oh I don’t think I could give that up” or “but what about ” I think “Oh but you should educate yourself on what it really means to our bodies to eat that.”

    I can totally relate to people who want to sabotage your efforts; I have people in my life that constantly demand to eat high sugar/inappropriate food, make fun of the way I eat, or just don’t believe in it, and it does hurt. That being said, as I am sure you are aware, it is totally worth it. I have learned to throw research and studies at those who try to discount what I am doing; that generally shuts them up.

  35. ” … chicken marinating in something that had sugar in it.” Oh boy, I had one of these moments this week!
    My sister is allergic to tomatoes (anaphylactic reaction) so I’ve cut them out too, to see if they’ve been affecting me. And of course, I don’t eat grains.
    I’m visiting family this week and what was for dinner last night? Traditional spaghetti and meatballs. So frustrating.

    I’d also like to note, I was planning to make a meatza (pesto sauce, no tomatoes =P ) with that ground beef.

    Another highlight (lowlight??) of the week: My aunt was shocked that I was going to pour the fat from my bacon over my salad; she wanted to mix it in with the dogs’ food. Poor non-primal pups. Those kibbles do not look like food!

    1. I started my dogs on complete raw a couple months ago…they are thriving, and literally cry with anticipation when they see me getting their raw chicken thighs, hearts and gizzards, and bits of beef heart ready. They NEVER got that excited about their kibble.

      And…talk about return of the white teeth…simply amazing. Not to mention the reduction in dog poop in the yard, and how the little there is, disintegrates in a day.

      Grok on, dogs!

      1. Good for you Peter! Primal dogs for the win! My 9 year old looks like a young pup – never had any skin or teeth problems, no gray hair, muscular and beautiful. And the tiny poops always remind me that our own poops should be smallish too – all food utilized and well digested.

  36. “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” was a mantra used in Weight Watchers in the 80s, so it pre-dates both famous women who have been given credit.
    Thank you, Sarah for a success story so full of wisdom. And thank you, Mark, for providing a forum with such a wide variety of success stories to encourage us.
    This started out as just another ‘diet’ for me, but I’ve learned so much, and through stories like this I’m motivated to keep learning and growing. What an awakening!

  37. Great story! Thank you so much for sharing. I can totally relate to feeling like crap in college. I constantly got fed the “IBS” line from doctors who would only give me more and more drugs which made me loopy and did nothing to cure me. It wasn’t until I cut out gluten and dairy (though I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was a kid so that wasn’t a big transition) that I began to feel better, although this was a couple months ago and I’ve been out of college for a few years now. I’m going to buy the Primal Blueprint right when I get out of work! Congrats and thanks again!

  38. Sarah, you’re expressing the wisdom of a long term, expereienced cave dudette. Grok on! My granny worked as a nurse for 30 years and always said, “you can pay the farmer or you can pay the pharmacist. Great story!

    1. “you can pay the farmer or you can pay the pharmacist” Love it, love it, love it — a very wise Granny indeed!

  39. This is again another wonderful story!! I love hearing from people of all ages, but I really love hearing that someone who is just 19 has taken control of her health and life now!! Just think of all the great things that will come from this!! Way to go Sarah!! You are an inspiration!!! :):):)

  40. Wow! Very inspirational! So proud of you at your age figuring this all out. I wish I understood this when I was your age, instead of following CW for so many years.I do wish people were more supportive, but people are like sheep (sheeple). They follow the crowd & never question CW, even when it’s apparent that it doesn’t work. I mean, if your testimony can’t convince the skeptics, who can? You look amazing, Sarah! Congratulations!

  41. First off thank you so much for sharing your story. I love story days. They keep me going in a world of sabotagers.

    You had mentioned, “I had some sort of weird addiction to grains and sugar.” I’m now coming to realize the same thing about carbs. I feel like a recovering alcoholic or drug addict around them. I never thought of myself as having an addictive personality, but now with carbs…yikes. I’m glad now that my body reacts negatively to eating them. It helps to stay away when they make you feel like crap.

    Good job and good luck with the “in-laws.”

  42. Hey Sarah! Great article… so glad to hear you have made these major changes at such a young age! Fyi, life sometimes sneaks up on you, so just a gentle suggestion to have some way of reminding yourself in the future if need be.

    Also… here’s an Italian restaurant tip…

    I order two Italian meatballs in marinara (might be a little sugar, but it’s maageable) and a big salad. Or if there are no salads, I order vegetables… they usually have some sort of veggie serving.

    The meatballs work great for me! Or some sort of meat a la carte…. they can usually swing that.

    1. Ask about what’s in the meatballs. Most of the time they use bread crumbs as a filler/binder. Or just don’t compromise and eat at home.

  43. What a fantastic story. It seems some of the best successes are when someone stumbles on being Primal.

    I love all the tips. Things we all struggle with.

    Thanks.

  44. What a great story! I’ve read it twice, bookmarked it, *and* emailed it to myself. I’m just starting out with PB after a couple failed attempts at VLC paleo, so I’m definitely going to use these tips and remember your success when things get tough.

  45. I’m so with you on people who don’t respect your lifestyle, or, worse, think you weird for it or make presumptions. I’m a model, and so people automatically judge me as anorexic (how anyone chowing down a gazillion juicy lamb shanks a second can be anorexic is anyone’s guess…). I got so annoyed the other day, a guy I knew who once saw me eat salad (oil, steak, nuts, the works) said “how salad can be filling, I don’t understand you anorexic models. I had to visit my gym for a punching-bag boxing session after that.

    My family is very supportive (my gran doesn’t agree with what I do, but she’s still supportive and doesn’t try to force anything on me), and always respect my lifestyle when choosing somewhere to eat, or preparing a banquet table. It’s lovely that they always have some nice paleo stuff on the table for me. And, my dad is totally addicted to my paleo nut soda bread.

    But what REALLY gets my goat is other people. “Come on, just a little won’t hurt;” “you HAVE to have some of this”…NO. I don’t. no sugar means no sugar. Otherwise it’s like a friend of mine who said he was “vegetarian except for bacon.” I wonder sometimes why people care so much what I eat.

  46. Wow! I don’t even know you, and yet I’m so proud of you! Way to go, taking your health in your own hands! The idea of a thin-spiration poster is awesome 🙂

    I have recently been slacking off on having a primal diet and exercise plan. I blamed it on my friends and family, since they’re very ‘You don’t like what we make-You can leave!’ and ‘Have some fries please I can’t eat it all’- without a thought towards my primal eating plan. Sometimes people don’t understand that if you’re trying to do the best you can, then even a ‘little bit’ is not ok.
    Reading your post was just the kick in the butt I needed to realize I’m the culprit, no one else! I have to stick up for my habits, because no one else is going to.

    You’ve done a wonderful job, and I love your attitude!

  47. Thank you for the reminder to do what makes sense instead of what everyone else is doing. My mother-in-law is a diabetes nurse educator, and I am having some trouble sticking to my guns. Luckily I figured out that I’m allergic to wheat, but convincing everyone that I don’t want gluten-free stuff because it still makes me feel like garbage, and that I’ve had plenty to eat with “just” meat and salad is still not easy. I’m a people-pleaser by nature, so I’m struggling with being “weird” and not buying ice cream for my husband or son because they “deserve” it. Food is fuel. Thanks for the reminder. My weight still isn’t where I want yet, but maybe I’ll reward myself with “new” clothes from the thrift store instead of candy.

    1. Yes. This. Enough with the GF-baking.

      I think I had some of that wheat-opioid stuff going on before I stopped eating it because GF baking not only lacks the consistency/flavor characteristics of flour concoctions but it just lacks the food reward for me. No, I don’t “need” to eat GF bread. My wife is convinced that GF baked goods will make me happy. They won’t. They don’t have the food rewards of wheat-based goods, but of course I’m not eating those anymore because they trigger a painful auto-immune reaction. I’ll have the sweet potatoes, thank you.

      1. And if I want to take drugs I’ll stick with a glass of wine.

  48. Why head shots?? Congrats on the weight loss, but I could never tell from the pictures you submitted that you lost any weight.

    1. Look at the arms. I think the sunglasses make it hard to see what’s going on with the face. Primal people typically look a lot happier in their photos.

    2. I don’t have too many pictures from when I was heavier…I spent a lot of time dodging cameras back then!

  49. Awesome job, Sarah! You are wise beyond your years, especially the part about the sabotage. It’s very real. People don’t want you to leave them in the dust. You look great, and I love your lips!

  50. “Listen to your excuses… they are the hurdles you need to overcome before you can commit to a healthier lifestyle.” Exactly that! My birthday was Tuesday (must be something about birthdays) and I was doing great until we were driving by a favorite bar and I told my husband “Let’s go to Leo’s..” I didn’t stop with just one, sad to say. I also regretted it the next day, big time!
    I am going to remember that I create my biggest hurdles. Sarah, you are very inspiring. Have a wonderful vacation! Grok on.

  51. Sarah, your story was very interesting to me because I was also diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 19 (however, I had been experiencing symptoms since age 13. It can be very difficult to catch so you’re lucky to have found that doctor that would pay attention to you!)

    As it turns out, my narcolepsy was actually a symptom that had developed out of Lyme Disease. I found this out about a year and a half ago, at age 22. The narcolepsy meds made me feel better for awhile, but eventually I started getting other symptoms. It became obvious that narcolepsy was too simple of an answer.

    As a supplement to the antibiotics I started taking for Lyme Disease, I began eating Primal. Low-carb, gluten-free, sugar-free diets are sometimes recommended as an alternative or complementary treatment to bacterial infections like Lyme. The theory, I believe, is that bacteria in your body need some form of sugar to survive and multiply. I don’t think this has been proven by any study (God knows how hard it is to get studies funded for natural remedies as opposed to drugs that bring in $$$), but there are many people who say they could not recover from chronic Lyme Disease until adopting a Primal-esque diet.

    Anyway, I started eating Primal in March 2010 and noticed how much better I started feeling within just a few weeks. I has more energy and was actually waking up on my own, without an alarm, feeling refreshed and ready for the day! That hadn’t happened since I was a child.

    I kept taking the narcolepsy meds because I was told that this was likely a manifested symptom that would never go away. But on a couple of days I forgot to take meds and noticed that I didn’t have “sleep attacks,” at least not nearly to the extent that I used to. Finally, last December, I decided to quit the meds entirely. Turns out I was fine without them!

    I can’t “prove” that this is the result of eating Primal, but I have noticed that if I do “cheat” and eat sugar, I’m a lot more likely to feel sleepy again! This is good enough “proof” for me.

    In your case, Sarah, you may very well have narcolepsy that is just plan narcolepsy, not linked to an underlying condition like mine, in which case it may be that you have it for life. But I wouldn’t be surprised if eating primal at least helps with the symptoms, even if you do have to take meds. Thanks very much for sharing your story. I really enjoyed it and I always get excited when I hear people talk about narcolepsy, which is often misunderstood and which I know is extremely difficult to battle. Grok on and best of luck!

    1. Hey, this was a really helpful comment on narcolepsy. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’ve been slipping from 80/20 to more like 60/40 and I’m feeling the effects big time! You just crushed all the excuses I’ve been using on myself – thank you, thank you, thank you!

  53. Great story! I love the way you outlined tips and suggestions while also describing your experience with those points. Well done.

    Congratulations and warm wishes for continued success and spreading the good work of primal living!

  54. Sarah, first, CONGRATS on finding your way to health so young in life and on the weight loss. It is inspiring to me because I have seen a few questioning whether or not women could lose significant weight on this life program. I really believe in the tenets of it and since I have to lose just over 100 pounds I was very hopeful that I could also use it to lose weight. Although my issues are different than yours, your story tells me it is indeed possible and for that I thank you more than I can say!

  55. Wow! Very interesting!

    I suffer from hypersomnia, as well as multiple other health problems. If I have half as much improvement as you have had with your health, it would be freakin’ awesome!

    That and sparkly Vibrams… 😀

  56. Wow Sarah you look incredible and sound like a primal pro! Great to see women getting serious about primal, love reading inspirational stories like yours. Great tips too 🙂

  57. I loved everything about this post. I did not like the quote at the end, “nothing tastes so good as thin feels” — I don’t think this is what being Primal and healthy is all about. As a person that struggles with disordered eating, a comment like this doesn’t help the minds relationship with food. Anyone else see what I mean?

    1. I used that quote because it struck me so strongly when I heard it. It made me force myself to see food for what it is- nutrients. it’s not a comfort or a luxury. Also, It helped me see that as “comfortable” as I told people I was at my weight….I wasn’t. It’s not possible to be healthy if your 100 pounds over weight. I should have put “healthy” instead of thin, or maybe even “fit”, but I didn’t mean to imply that being thin is more important than being healthy.

  58. Sarah, I dig the list. I do that too much. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Right on. Later.

  59. I was reading this super awesome story and got up for a minute. When I came back my (non-primal, carb-loving) husband was sitting at the computer reading this story. I didn’t say anything and he didn’t say anything, but he sat and read the entire post. I don’t want to be the pushy wife that starts eating differently and expects the whole family to follow suit, but this was promising 🙂

  60. While I love seeing success stories from the ladies on here, and your tips are all awesome indeed, I hate that quote about nothing tasting as good as skinny feels, attributed often to La Kardashian or Kate Moss, but has actually been around since the 1920s or before. How about nothing feels as good as being healthy and fit? Because let’s be real: some dark chocolate with red wine tastes damn fine, skinniness notwithstanding.

  61. What an amazing post and a wonderful success story. Thank you very much for sharing.
    I especially enjoyed reading your success points. Very inspirational.

  62. What a fantastic story, and congratulations on your success!! I’m 20 (started Paleo/Primal right after I turned 19), so it’s SO nice seeing a story here from someone who’s my age that’s also having to deal with college/family/being a young Primal devotee. Grok on, girl! Thanks for sharing your story!

  63. awesome story! love that it started with five fingers=) I think I will have to reward myself with another pair of vibrams this weekend since I am down 21 pounds from primal eating;)

  64. hi, it was nice to see how you’ve changed your life so much through determination and going against the grains. and speaking of which, i hope you will be reading this, did you ever find out more about your IBS? i highly suspect you were either starting to develop a gluten allergy or, more likely you are like me, that you have a “lectin” sensitivity. i urge strongly that you google “the lectin story” and “leaky gut syndrome”. i have both of these and that was the reason why i stopped eating grains and nightshade veggies. it’s extremely informative and the two topics will likely improve your understanding and life even more!

  65. Great story! It really is amazing what can be done when you put your mind to something. Losing weight can be very challenging. It’s important to set goals from the start and reward yourself when they are achieved. Once you begin to see results it gives a little extra motivation to keep going.

  66. Wow. Thanks for the tips! This is the motivation I have been looking for. Congrats on your results!

  67. Sarah – WHAT AN AWESOME STORY AND TRANSFORMATION! I just came accross this in my newsfeed as I started hanging out on MDA (full time during work lol) after your story was posted, but have been trying to catch up on old feeds. I have been primal for many years and just want to say that of all the stories I have read on here, yours really is so well written and inspirational! I have kept a few of these to forward to loved ones when they decide to make such positive changes for themselves – yours will be one of them! Congrats on your transformation beautiful girl!

  68. Thank you so much for this post. It had me with tears in my eyes. I feel like we are the same person! Especially the part about your family not supporting you that much, which I am currently struggling with. I needed to see this because I am so sick of putting excuses in the way of a new life that waits for me. You are now like a primal sis to me! Thank you!