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Success Story Follow-up: It’s about a Healthy, Real Life!

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story [1] 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 [2]. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here [3].

Back in 2014, I submitted and you published my Primal Blueprint Success Story [4]. Today I’m celebrating 3 years of maintaining my 40 pound fat loss and reversing my Type 2 diabetes. Woohoo!

The power of the real food Primal lifestyle didn’t stop with better weight and glucose, it improved every area of my life. I’ve made new friends in my dance classes, commiserated, learned and taught primal concepts (able to help several people get healthy!) in social media groups, I’ve become more accepting of others and more confident in myself, my body has become its own bad-food-detector that I can trust, I’m physically able to do the outdoor play activities and explorations that hubs and I love, and I’m just happier.

Since statistically, it appears that those of us who lose weight and keep it off are in the minority, I thought your readers might be interested in my process.

Maintaining my weight & blood sugar losses post-success hasn’t been perfectly simple, but it has been a great learning experience. There were a few surprises along the way. I found that I began to regain weight, even eating 90% Primal, and my glucose numbers went up, without a bit of constraint. I also yearned to lose another 5-10 pounds, and get my glucose numbers well under ‘normal’ (they were slightly above).

So, with the help of the good people in my online food & exercise group, The F’nE Club (they’ve been integral to my journey, in terms of support, education, and accountability), who often joined me in ‘challenges’, I experimented with numerous versions of Primal to get to what works best as my life plan. I used myself as a guinea pig and tested ideas for a month at a time.

Here are some of the things I tried, and what I’ve decided on as my life plan:

Me Minus – I wrote about this in my first post. When the scale reached above the top of my range in my daily weigh-in, I’d cut out everything except meats, veggies & good fats. Although effective, this was so restrictive that I began to resent it, and to cheat.

So, I tried…

~ Cutting carbs – I got an app and tracked my carb intake, trying various numbers and combinations, with varying degrees of success.
~ Removing, adding, glucose-testing, combining, increasing &/or limiting certain Primal foods, such as starchy vegetables, chocolate, fruit, nuts, coconut products, red meat, fish, oils, sweeteners, dairy, etc.
~ Fasting, numerous options.
~ Various types and quantities of exercise. I bought an activity bracelet and synched it with a food tracking app for testing (tools I still use daily).

Many of these trials were successful, at least to a certain extent. A few produced no or even negative effects. I took parts and pieces of the best, and finally settled on this lifetime plan:

My ME Forever Plan:

I learned that my maintenance level of carbs is low, about 40/50 per day. But I can earn more carbs with exercise, without gain. I use a formula of 10 extra carbs for every 300 calories burned during workouts. I allow myself to choose any Primal foods within those limits, so I can spend it all on sweet potatoes, if I want. (I don’t, but I *could*. It’s very freeing, so I don’t feel resentment.)

It finally resonated that all sweeteners hurt me (stomach ache, inflammation, & raised glucose), so I quit eating them, even honey and stevia. (Trust me, as a former sugar addict, I had to hurt myself *a lot* to get this through my thick noggin!) Today I only eat the rare Paleo treat (once every few months) made with maple syrup, which doesn’t cause me pain. However I do tolerate a bit of 85% dark chocolate, which in itself is a health food, so I eat one small square daily.

Dairy proved itself to be a problem, gave me cold symptoms. I gave it all up, except raw cheese.

Carrots, tomatoes, onions, most fruits (with the exception of berries), wild rice, white (& to a lesser degree, sweet) potatoes, beets, and stuffing myself with even heathy foods, caused significant glucose rises in my tests, so I eat them sparingly.

Eating 2 meals a day within an 8 hour window is satisfying, convenient, and keeps my weight and blood sugar down. In addition, I fast for 36 hours once a week, broken by only one meal of 500 calories/15-20 carbs. Since becoming fat-adapted, this is not terribly difficult.

Getting on the scale every morning keeps me in line, because it’s very easy to fool myself. If my weight is up, choosing fish or shellfish and veggies will always drop it.

Once a month, I allow myself an unrestricted meal (which sometimes hurts me, but is mentally therapeutic! I’ve learned the hard way not to choose conventional sweets!).

I dance, taking 4 1-hour classes of HIIT Zumba & BollyX workouts per week (which include squats*, lunges, punches, light weights & leaps), during which I find myself singing and smiling like a fool (it’s ok, I’m not alone)! (*I once counted the number of squats we did in our one hour Zumba class, and was shocked that the count was 102!)

In addition hubs & I enjoy 3-4 hours of walking, hiking, swimming or kayak paddling per week, which qualifies as our play! I do push-ups after class twice a week (definitely not my idea of fun, but necessary).

Too much jumping hurts my heel tendons. Easy does it.

Most every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes under the sun in a pretty corner of my backyard, being mindful, grateful and forgiving. That little habit has helped me sleep better (usually 8 hours) and given me the gift of peace of mind.

Every ‘Monday Funday’ is all about eating out, a walk in the park or local trail, a movie, and sweetheart play time with my hubby.

Hubs and I travel often, camping in our little trailer, boating, road trips or the occasional cruise. We explore natural areas on foot or in our yaks wherever we go, and delight in finding Primal food everywhere. This is our bliss.

Remember those extra 5-10 pounds I said I yearned to lose? Yes I did it, and I liked how I looked. But it took near starvation, and that’s not worth it. I was hangry and no fun. So I’ve settled at the 40-pounds-off mark, just barely over the BMI ‘normal’ range for my height. I’m not skinny, but I am happy and healthy.

Getting my blood sugars well under the wire: yes, it can be done, but the carbs must be very low. I’ve settled for the just over the norm (100), most of the time. Still lower than I was 3 years ago, and dramatically less than a decade ago.

As you can see in my journal, back in 2008 [4] both my weight and my fasting glucose were in the high 170’s (and that was on meds!). Today my weight ranges from 138-142, and my glucose (without medication of any kind) is often in double digits.

Sometimes I mess up. That makes me human. I don’t chastise myself anymore, I just dust off the dirt, get right back on the horse, and ride ’em, Primal cowgirl.

It’s not about perfection, it’s about a healthy, real life.

Must say, life is good. My hubby cured his own SIBO gut bacteria health issues with diet, supplements & vagus nerve stimulation (but that’s another story). He and I have each lost 40 pounds and maintained it. My glucose stays under control. We need no meds, and feel great, having more energy and enthusiasm at ages 61 & 66 than we did a decade, maybe even two, before.

We’re big proponents of The Primal Blueprint [5]. We read MDA daily (and I often post your articles to my group or friends). Keep up the great work, Mark, you changed our lives!