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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 24 2010

Tons of Doctors and No Solution

By Guest
140 Comments

It is my pleasure to share Tara’s success story with you today. Follow her journey through marriage, the birth of her twin boys, and a year and a half transformation to a healthy lifestyle. When doctors fail, when WebMD fails, it’s time to take health education into your own hands.

If you have your own Primal Blueprint success story and you’d like to share it with me and the community please contact me here. Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Hi Mark!

I had been fairly healthy my entire life, but had always carried about 10 extra pounds. When I turned 24, that changed. All of a sudden, I started experiencing allergies. Major weight gain. Depression. Acne. Itchy scalp. Boils. Missed periods and debilitating pain when they did come. Joint pain. IBS. These were all new things to me.

I saw dozens of doctors – German ones, Canadian ones, American and Dutch. Some told me I was suffering from allergies. Others made me keep a food journal and count calories. Some gave me acne medication. I was poked, prodded and bled. The one conclusion that all of the doctors shared was that I was overreacting, hysterical and wasting their time. According to them, I was just fat and lazy – and probably a hypochondriac.

I was miserable. I tried everything to lose weight, but I was just so tired all of the time. I diagnosed myself with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Metabolic Syndrome, endometriosis and depression, which the doctors then confirmed. They put me on Prozac, which made me gain more weight. At my heaviest, I was around 235 lbs. I am a 5’9″ female. 235 lbs is not a healthy weight. When I asked the doctors HOW to lose weight, I was told, “We don’t know. Just lose it. Then symptoms will go away.” So, Google it was.

After months of trying to find information on PCOS online, I discovered a random comment on someone’s journal that said that some women with PCOS had had success losing weight with a low carb diet. That was the only help I could find. I dropped carbs that first day. I went zero carb overnight and felt amazing. I got my energy back. Exercising became fun again. I shed 40 pounds in two months and kept it off. I stabilized at 185. I realized that my previous diet had consisted of nothing but simple, refined carbs. Thinking I needed lots of carbs for energy (thank you, USDA!) I had thought nothing of eating an entire plate of white rice for dinner, with nothing else.

Things got better – but only slightly. I started eating carbs and grains again – in moderation. When I found I could maintain my weight and pretty much eat whatever I wanted, I let it slide.

I practically killed myself to get down to 175 for my wedding in April 2005. I had to go to the gym and work out 5 days a week, hard and watch everything I put in my mouth. I was still eating grains and everything was going soooo slowly. The minute I said, “I Do,” I gained 5 pounds. By the time we got back home from Las Vegas, I was back at 185 lbs and didn’t know why.

From 2005 to 2009, my hormonal issues were wiggin’ out of control. That was 4 years of hair falling out, suicidal lows, no sex drive, mysterious hives, rashes and boils. Tons of doctors and no solutions – the only help they would give me were useless tests and pharmaceuticals. I had my thyroid checked over 10 times. Each time it was fine. Google and I were on close terms, and according to it, my hormones were way out of whack (or I had some sort of cancer. Nothing like WebMD for scaring the crap out of yourself!) Because I didn’t know any better, I didn’t realize the part that insulin was playing, and instead, concentrated on getting my estrogen/testosterone levels right. Which didn’t work. Once again, the doctors had failed me.

The whole time, I was freaking out for a baby. We had to resort to IVF to get pregnant, since the endometriosis had ravaged my fallopian tubes. I had a miserable, sugar-soaked, bed-ridden pregnancy and identical twin boys in January of 2009. My kids were born two months early, but I had somehow managed to gain 80 pounds during the short pregnancy. By May of that year, I was still 235 pounds and PISSED OFF because I had been told (and believed) that breastfeeding burns calories and that the weight would “just melt right off!”

My brother, who I am super proud of and who is one of my greatest influences and motivators, sent me Mark Sisson’s book, The Primal Blueprint in May of ’09. It literally changed my life. It made so much sense to me that we should be eating the way we had evolved to. I looked up the Primal/Paleo lifestyle and found a community of people who had been suffering from a lot of the same maladies as I had been but who now seemed to be completely CURED. Where did I sign up?

I immediately cut out all grains and sugar, but I still didn’t have it right. I had been eating so much sugar before that cutting it out completely was unbearable to me. It was my only vice so it seemed so justifiable. Instead of Sweet Tarts and donuts, though, I ate fruit. A lot of it. And tons of nuts, too, since they are allowed on the Primal diet. I didn’t stop eating dairy, either. But cutting out grains and white sugar was having an effect. I lost 20 pounds pretty quick.

I started tweaking my diet. Way less fruit – mainly berries and the occasional apple. Whipping cream instead of half and half. Limiting nuts to once a week. More fat, fewer carbs. My palate changed. Biting into a kiwi gave me the same satisfaction that Sweet Tarts used to. Salads came alive and cooking became fun again. The Primal Blueprint allows for “cheats” if you stick to the lifestyle 80% of the time. So, I allowed myself treats from time to time but I planned them and enjoyed the hell out of them. I didn’t suddenly pack on 10 pounds if I ate something bad, because I stopped at that one thing. Instead of “falling off of the wagon,” I listened to my body and occasionally gave into cravings when they came. It became easier and easier to say “no.”

During this time, I noticed that most of my hormonal issues were disappearing. My periods became super regular. I barely noticed them, to be honest, which was NOT the norm for me. My skin cleared up, I didn’t need to use moisturizer anymore, I was freakin’ HAPPY all the time, and I was losing weight. It was slow, about a pound a week but it was coming off. And I wasn’t really trying all that hard! The Primal Blueprint mentions that nutrition is 80% of the battle. I especially liked Mark Sisson’s take on fitness – you don’t actually have to do as much as the industry would have you believe. I also learned that most people are working out incorrectly. Hours of “chronic cardio” on the treadmill is actually having the opposite of the desired effect – people are overtraining, injuring themselves and making themselves hungry as hell. (It’s a lot easier to justify a donut when you’ve worked out hard, right?!) I didn’t have to work out hard to see results. I now do CrossFit once or twice a week, yoga once (maybe), sprints now and then and the occasional walk around the neighborhood with the kids. I guess when I stop to consider it, I probably do do more exercise than the average person – I tend to do a proper deadlift when I lift each one of my 30 lb boys and will sometimes drop down and do a couple burpees for no reason at all. I blame that on all the extra energy I now have.

I’ve just passed my one-and-a-half-year anniversary with the Primal lifestyle. I’ve been so enamored with this way of life that I have completely changed the way I live. I’ve done tons of research, reading and studying. I had never really thought too much about the environment, but some of the stuff I uncovered – about pesticides, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics being used in the food industry – has made me change a lot of the ways I do things and I feel like I’m doing my part for the environment now. I compost with worms for the free fertilizer, I’m growing a lot of my own vegetables and I even got a few chickens for my backyard. I get 4 organic, free-range eggs a day and I don’t have to worry about them being loaded with antibiotic residue. I eat grass-fed beef.

Mainly, I eat real, whole foods and I eat less than I did before. I’m at 153 lbs as we speak. I’m 5’9″ so I’m at my goal weight for the first time ever. I weigh less and am smaller than I was in high school! In order to lose the dreaded “last 10 pounds,” I incorporated intermittent fasting. Since my insulin and blood sugar are working properly now, going a whole day without food actually leaves me feeling fantastic and energized. I couldn’t have imagined missing even a single meal in my old life! In fact, since my blood sugar was so out of whack, missing a meal meant bouts of hypoglycemia, where I felt like shit and was a total bitch to everyone around me. That’s gone. I take 6000 units of Vitamin D a day and I’m sure that is helping towards my overall health. My depression, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and everything else is just… gone.

I’m currently training to become a Certified Personal Trainer, and when I’ve finished that, I’m going to get a certificate in holistic nutrition so that I can officially start helping others. Mark Sisson, the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple have changed my life and I would like to pay it forward.

Tara



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140 thoughts on “Tons of Doctors and No Solution”

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  1. Congratulations Tara, you look amazing! Mark has done fabulous things for people in the last couple years….with this blog and his books….i just hope as you say, other people can —– ” pay it forward” pay it forward!

    2011 should be a record setting year for Primal thinkers and movers….

    happy christmas..

  2. Congratulations, Tara! Your words are inspirational, although I can’t see the pics for some reason. I’m 5’9″ and would love to be where you are.

  3. Congrats Tara, you look great. You are a true success story. Keep up the gardening and chickens!

  4. Fantastic accomplishment. You look great. Very inspirational. I just got done reading Primal Blueprint myself and am ready to start. Got 40 lbs to shed and keep off. Thanks for the story.

    1. Womens studies? Puhleeze. I draw cars and hot rods for a living. I’m just speaking from experience after having two daughters and dealing with the hormones involved, especially this last time around at age 37.

      In just one week, after cutting out all grains and gluten, I feel like I’ve gone from a boat anchor old Windsor to a Coyote 5.0L. I just wish I’d done it sooner, well before my pregnancy.

  5. Fantastic – it’s the whole hormone balance you get from Primal that is so fantastic isn’t it 🙂 without a pill in sight.

  6. Awesome job! You look great and your story will resonate with a lot of women out there so thank you for sharing 🙂

  7. Dear Tara, You are so beautiful now! Your achievements are really something to be proud of. What a beautiful mother!
    Good luck!
    (I am a girl by the way 🙂 )

  8. Wonderful! Bless you for sharing!

    I remember well the stark lack of good info when I first started that search, and the total lack of help and support from my doctors (“Why don’t you just go on the pill?”).

    The more info, and stories like yours, out there… the easier it will be for the next PCOS sufferer to find useful information when she googles 🙂

  9. You are gorgeous! Amazing story and I am glad you are finally healthy and happy.

  10. Katy Perry move over! You are a true inspiration Tara. And I am so impressed with how you have completely embraced the lifestyle…gardening, chickens, and using your boys for weights! 🙂

    And thank you Mark. I have had some of the same results as Tara and many others. And your book, your blog, your forum have been a big part of the positive changes in my life too.

  11. WOW! Great work. You look amazing. I am so happy for you. You are an inspiration.

  12. Tara, I hope you dont mind me asking a bit more about the PCOS issue. Did the change to the Primal diet and lifestyle also help you with your hairloss? (I see you have gorgeous hair on the picture, so I guess yes!) Thanks so much for your answer.

    1. Thank you Rainbow!! My hair loss seemed to be cyclical – I would lose large amounts every spring and it would be super brittle and dry for months. Then, the loss would stop for about 6 months and the texture seemed to improve, as did the thickness. But then, the following spring, it started to fall out again. When I noticed that the hair around my temples wasn’t coming back (I felt like I had a receding hairline and refused to wear my hair tied back), I started to freak out. My hair changed drastically when I got pregnant so I have to attribute some of the good changes to that. Also, I’ve stopped washing it every day (I only wash it about 1-2 times a week now!) and use setting lotion and pin curls instead of hair dryers and curling irons. I know the Omega 3s I take also improve the texture. I haven’t experienced any thinning since I went primal, so I guess the round about answer to your question is: yes, the PB has helped!

  13. Tara! Congratulations on your health and obvious well-being. You look vibrant and beautiful.

  14. Awesome story Tara! I just hit 159 myself (though I’m 5’7″ so I have a smidge more to lose). You look great! Congratulations!

  15. Awesome job! Considering I had a hysterectomy at 22 (I’m 36 now, I believe I had PCOS but 14/15 yrs ago it wasn’t so known as it is now) which left me with one malfunctioning ovary, this gives me hope that I can get healthy! I’ve been flirting with the primal lifestyle but for some reason (can you say carb addiction) haven’t embraced it 100% yet… I think I’ll start today. I haven’t eaten anything yet, why the hell not. Merry Christmas!

  16. Looking at the before/after pictures was a jaw-dropper. That is seriously one of the greatest changes I’ve seen while researching low-carb diets. Congratulations on your new life, and I hope you continue to improve and help others as a trainer.

  17. Congratulations! I am LOVING these success stories once a weeks. This is incredibly inspiring and encourages me to keep leading a primal lifestyle.

      1. I third it! Keep sharing your successes everyone, it’s so encouraging! May 2011 be the best year for all of us.

  18. Congratulations on your accomplishments. It is too bad the body doesn’t come with an ownership manual that you can follow from day one. I was smiling the whole time I was reading your story, this is the type of change that can inspire so many. Spread the word, you can make a change and here is a great story to prove it. Merry Christmas to all.

  19. What an amazing change! It never ceases to amaze me how everyone looks so much more vibrant and young in the after pictures.

  20. Tara, congratulations on your amazing transformation! I love these stories of people not only losing weight and looking jaw-dropping and hot, but of HEALING. That’s what makes this ‘diet’ so easy to stick to!! Thanks for sharing, Tara, and thanks again, Mark!

  21. Keep it up with the amazing transformation, Tara. I’m rooting for you. 🙂

  22. Tara Lee,
    I’m so proud of you! Thanks for being such a fantastic big sister. I’m so happy that you are so much happier and healthier now. Your success inspires me. Love Jeff

  23. Congrats Tara! You look so vibrant and healthy, not to mention beautiful! I love your style 🙂
    These success stories always make me smile 🙂

    1. Yes, such an amazing & inspiring success Tara! Thanks for being a leader to many who are struggling…True beauty, inside and out:)

  24. In the ancient language Sanskrit – ‘Tara’ means ‘Star’ – Yes, Tara, you are indeed the one that shines bright in the Primal Constellation which I will happily call “Mark”.
    Merry Christmas to everyone here

  25. congratulations Tara, what a great story of transformation! I’m sorry you had such a hard time getting diagnosed. 2 sentances into your story I thought, “hmm, sounds like PCOS”.

    As an aside, as an RD I just have to mention that the SAD diet that gets a (deserving) bad rap around here is NOT the same as the USDA recommendations. The usda recommends that the average adult get about 6oz of grains a day, with at least half of them being whole. So that’s like a bowl of cereral, a sandwich and a cup of cooked rice for the whole day. So while we don’t eat grains around here, I have to say that if the average person just reduced their grains to that level they’d still be making a big improvement.

  26. You know the amazing thing about MDA is not only the great information we get, or the great success stories we get to read. It’s also the community that exists. I’m sitting here after being blown away by Taras story an I’m just as blown away by the supportive comments everyone posts. I’ve noticed this on every post that’s put up. I think mark has gone beyond just starting a following of low carb believers, I think he has created a tribe!

  27. WOW! You look great! I’m a tall woman like you at 5’10” and have been hovering about 200-230lbs for the last few years. I just had another baby in October at age 37, and am SO much more affected by the food I eat now it’s just crazy, my hormones have been wild. The breastfeeding hasn’t helped me lose weight either, because I’ve been a sugar/grain hound!

    Today is day 3 of no gluten whatsoever, and wow, my peaky cravings are completely gone (with just a couple days of feeling weird). I adore protein, but it’s been the consistent grains, dairy and sugar that have allowed me to get like this. I don’t even want to know how many calories I’ve consumed in sugary coffee drinks over the years… eesh.

    I see your after pic and it reminds me of the last time I was that weight – in 1996! What perfect timing to be extremely motivated. Working out has always been fun for me, but I’ve lacked focus and discipline on the nutritional front – MDA is the final piece of this healthy lifestyle puzzle that I’ve lacked!

    Keep up the great work! You look wonderful!

  28. Great share, very inspiring and motivational! I am very happy for your dramatic transformation and will share it with others that are in dire need of transformation.

    Thanks!

  29. You look amazing! This was so motivating I cant even begin to tell you! My family and I have just started our primal journey and I cant wait to see the results in our lives! Thank you for sharing your story!

  30. Absolutely amazing! Congrats Tara, Im very happy for you! Thank goodness your health is back in order!

  31. What a great, inspiring story! You’re a motivator. But aren’t having chickens driving your neighbors crazy? I’d LOVE to have some of my own but I fear the backlash against me…

    1. My neighbors love the chickens, I just made sure I informed them before I got them (just a courtesy call) and bring them eggs every so often. One of my neighbors even throws her leftover food over the fence for them.
      It’s been difficult letting them be completely free range, though, because they freely range throughout my vegetable garden and are able to decimate it in 20 minutes. I’ve had to keep them in a fenced in area, which thankfully is very large. If you have a small backyard, or plants you don’t want them to eat, that’s something you will have to consider…

  32. Okay that was weird, this post nearly brought me to tears. Perhaps it is an emotional time of year, but wow. So many of your stories are from men, or women who I don’t quite relate to, but certain aspects of Tara’s story hit home, and I think it is amazing the changes she has seen.

    Keep up the inspirational stories Mark and keep up the awesome work Tara!

  33. One word: Awesome. Oh, and Congrats! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  34. i think you looked just as good with the weight on, but i’m glad that now the outsides match the insides. congrats

  35. What a wonderful Christmas Gift, Tara!!! Thank you so much! Incredible, Awesome! Thank you for putting this out here! 🙂 What a Tranformation!!

  36. You go, girl! A lot of the diagnoses such as PCOS, fibromyalgia, IBS, etc, just simply mean…”We don’t know what the hell is wrong with you..here…take this prescription and get out of our hair”. And people get worse and worse, take more drugs, end up in nursing homes, and then die…and cost our economy BILLIONS of dollars on unecessary medical treatments. This plan, or should I say LIFESTYLE, saved my life as well. Good job…you look great! But how you feel is even more important.

  37. We are so proud of you Tara!!!!<3 You look absolutely FANTASTIC!!! What an amazing journey you have taken so far! You are an inspiration!!! Let us know when you officially become a nutritionist. We would like to look and feel better too!!!

    1. You don’t have to wait until I’m a nutritionist! I’ve been telling you about this website for years now…

  38. As someone who is living with the same hormonal conditions, your success story just made my Christmas. Thank you Tara and congratulations on your AMAZING success :o)

  39. Tara,

    First let me say I’m proud of your determination to change your life and not lay down and quit. Take your testimony and tell it to everyone that will listen. Good work! And welcome to the nation of Groks!!!

  40. Oh Tara, what an inspiration you are. I hope in 18 months it will be MY story people are reading on here. Thanks so much for sharing.

  41. Wow! Your progress is amazing. It’s so wonderful that you found an answer to your health problems. Best wishes.

  42. What a great story! So inspiring and a bit heart-wrenching also. Tara – you should be very proud and happy, as your transformation will surely help give many people hope they can do the same! Grok On!

  43. Especially, on December 25, we all rejoice at Tara’s success story but it may simply be peculiar to her and those with similar constitution. I have no problem with getting back to pure food basics, without antibiotics, pesticides, etc. However, if she is trying to recommend the austere low-carb diet for all, that seems to be the rage today, I have a problem with it.

    Grains and fruits have been part of the planet’s vegetable kingdom since its creation. It strikes me as highly unlikely that we were placed amidst this without the ability to metabolize their constituents. PCOS is a very complicated disorder, with implications for hormonal malfunction that we can only barely understand. There are probably hundreds of hormones we know about but don’t completely understand and likely thousands more to be discovered.

    Tara’s home grown garden does have the added benefit of being a victory garden for the impending financial collapse that is just beginning and it is good she benefits. But all I can say is caution for it as any health panacea.

    I’m a physician & specifically an osteopathic physician which comes into the healing arts from a non-traditional aspect so I do respect alternative solutions.

    1. To one of your points, we were placed amidst many dangerous and poisonous subjects in the “vegetable kingdom”. It strikes me as highly unlikely that all natural things that we are capable of metabolizing are indeed optimal for human health.

      May your victory gardens flourish!

  44. Limits nuts was probably a good idea. Some of them have a very high omega-6 content, including walnuts:

    bit.ly/ewAAHL

    Eat too many nuts and you are entering industrial vegetable oil territory, in terms of omega-6 fat consumption.

    1. Thanks for the reminder Ned. I tend to eat a few too many macadamia nuts.

  45. Great story but I feel there’s something missing..?

    What happened with your long-suffering husband, who put up with the moods, zero sex drive, boils etc?

    If he stuck by you I feel you owe him something, not just Mark.

    It’s often forgotten but we ALL have issues with friends and family when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle.

    Some are supportive, some are outright damaging but no-one transforms their body like that in a vacuum. So congratulations – and congratulations to your long-suffering husband too. ;o)

    Jus’ saying….

    Alan

    1. Hi Alan,
      I wasn’t going to respond to your comment, but I can’t help myself.
      “No one transforms their body like that in a vacuum.” Actually, for most of the time I’ve been Primal, my husband was deployed to the desert. Leaving me completely alone with one-year old twins. While he was away, I was able to choose what I wanted to eat and was actually faced with LESS temptation than when he was home. My husband is one of those annoying people who can eat whatever they like and not gain weight. So, when he was sitting next to me on the couch eating Doritos, I would get up and vacuum. So perhaps you could say that “no one transforms their body like that WITHOUT a vacuum.” LOL
      Other than the Doritos, my “long-suffering husband,” as you so very eloquently put it, is very supportive. He is happy to eat whatever I cook for dinner. He’ll go out and get fast food for himself when he wants it but never brings it home. Yes, he put up with me through the mood swings, the low sex drive, etc. but that is what a supportive partner does. There were also many good times during those years, obviously enough to keep him in love with me and to want to have children with me. I asked him what he thought of your comment and he told me to write:
      “It was all worth it because now I have a smoking hot wife. Consider the debt paid in full.”
      So there you have it. 🙂

      1. You’re lucky to have such a great man! Mine’s the same way, can eat anything…. Ugh! At least he likes my primal cooking too 🙂 glad you responded to this, btw 🙂

  46. Tears in my eyes…again! These stories are amazing!

    Tara, you are so beautiful!! Congrats on what you’ve done for yourself and your family! Good for you!!! You are an inspiration! 🙂

  47. Totally inspiring. I would love to know if you were losing hair during that entire 4 years or just a window of time in that 4 yrs AND if your hair grew back in. I can stand a sluggish day (so used to it), but gimme my hair back. 🙂

    A friend and I have so many of these “mystery” symptoms and no diagnosis or useful help from years of doctors (on doctor no. 12 for me), and we’re both doing 30 Days of Paleo starting Jan. 1. Really hoping to see some big changes.

    1. Hi Jenny,
      I hope your Paleo challenge is going well! To answer your question, my hair loss seemed to come in waves – each spring it would start to thin until I noticed thin spots around my temples, and then it would stop in late summer and seem to be fine all winter. Until the spring, when it would start again. After a few years of that, the hair around my temples never seemed to grow back. When I got pregnant, my hair was amazing all of a sudden, no more hair loss and it was thick and shiny. I went Primal when my kids were 5 months old, and haven’t had a problem with my hair since.
      I really hope the dietary changes work for you. I could have probably handled all of the other problems I had, but the hair loss was the toughest one of all.

  48. Tara, Try substituting primal exercise for your modern exercise. What did primal hunters do for exercise? Slowly stalk the game, then a mad race to get close enough for a kill, oops missed. Slow stalk, mad race, oops again. And again. And again. Today they call it interval training. You can just search the web for it. Dr. Mercola has a nice intro titled “Foods You Should Never, Ever Eat After Exercise.” Go to mercola.com and search for “peak 8” with the quotes. If it’s allowed on this site, here’s the URL: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2010/07/27/the-growing-promise-of-shorter-more-intense-strength-training-workouts.aspx

  49. Congratulations, Tara. I have a very similar health history, including the twin boy thing 🙂 I have only come to PB recently having used other methods to lose the weight but the rest of it including the reversal of health problems once diet issues have been resolved is very familiar.

  50. How many excuses can you put in one article for your being fat? Do you think it could have been because you ate too much?

    1. Wow, so many passive-aggressive posts by men in the comments of this post, but yours just takes the cake.

      I’m no feminist, but damn. Try living with the soup of female hormones for awhile and get back to us.

      I used to be all for the calories in > calories out bandwagon, but now that I realize how the source of those calories matter a lot in regards to my hormones and mood…. yeah it’s not that simple.

      1. “Try living with the soup of female hormones for awhile”

        That was indeed my point about her long-suffering husband…

        I’m still on that ‘calories in V calories out’ bandwagon, because it works. You’re absolutely right that it matters where you get the calories from, fats, proteins or carbs and so on, but the fact remains a calorie IS a calorie.

        BTW, even protein boosts your insulin levels, just not as much as sugar does.

        Calorie simply means a unit of energy, measured as heat. Over-eat and you’ll store the excess as a reserve supply; that’s what fat cells are for.

        I’ve seen far too many people lose their fat simply by counting calories. It doesn’t work as a ‘prescription’, given by someone else, because you have to be serious about it. Reducing calories is like giving up smoking – you can’t be forced, in fact that’s likely to make cravings worse but it can be done.

        As such I understand J’s view of just eating too much as a likely cause. That often is the case, with no fancy diseases, theories or in-depth study of molecular engagement required.

        I think he’s wrong in this case; this wasn’t just over-eating.

        I do think however that all too often such symptoms become the problem. Read that sentence again at least twice.

        And those symptoms often do stem simply from over-eating.

        In short then, this is a classic example of the conversation the world’s having, isn’t it? A woman eats to much, slides into the hell that this causes, suffering disease that goes beyond counting calories. Someone then declares “She ate too much”, you then pounce and decry his ignorance.

        You’re both right.

        She ate too much, too many calories.

        Once too far down that route, reducing calories won’t work (unless forced, such as a slave labor camp, which always works).

        Thing is, with our modern sugar-laden diet, you can’t blame someone for eating too much. “Normal” eating will make you fat.

        So Mark is right, John is right, you’re almost right, the lady in question certainly got it right in the end.

        Why do I say you’re almost right? Because you brought sexism into it. It could have been a woman making that remark, it could have been a man suffering these problems.

        Someone’s sex affects the way this problems manifest, as the sexes are different physically. But please, leave your womens’s studies stuff out of it.

        AC

        1. Agree with you Alan 🙂 My husband is still in the habit of eating too much. He is also still on the sugar/insulin roller coaster and is hell to live with if he does not get what he calls his dose of “blood sugar”. I am making progress though and have him almost Primal 🙂 I just need to get him off that roller coaster where he thinks he needs rice/honey/etc
          So, its got nothing to do with sex. It can happen to anyone.

  51. John, her story was not just about weight. I weigh a scrawny 105 lbs, yet I have all her other symptoms. It’s about achieving health, and her new eating approach has proven itself whether people buy into the theory or not.

    1. Hi Jenny, in the same boat 🙂
      I have been Primal for about 6 months now, and its working well in that I am only about 58kg (173cm tall), but I still have quite a few of the other symptoms to work through. I am still fatigued most of the time, have skin problems, and sometimes hormonal problems. I think it is a matter of fine tuning the diet, and as Ned reminded me above, I still need more omega3 compared to omega6 (eating too many nuts). So today I am going to start eating more raw veges 🙂
      Thanks Ned

  52. I’m 6 months in. I had my daughter a little more than a year and a half, but had hormonal imbalances for years. I think it’s fantastic to look back and find balance where imbalance always existed in my life… just by adjusting the quality of my consumption. No hormone loaded meat, no nitrates, no sugars, no grains, no legumes… But I EAT SO MUCH and never feel hungry also!

    Tara I’m happy to see your before and after photos and to read your story. While I’ve lost 40 pounds to date, I still have much more to go and this post is reassuring that I’m on the right path.

    *High Five and Thanks for Sharing*

  53. Nice going Tara. Hope you find the right website genius to help you when your kidneys fail from processing way too much protein, and your bones start getting brittle because animal protein leeches the calcium out to try and process all the animal protein.

    This faddy diet works fine for a while, but bites you in the end.

    1. Hi dogg,
      I found out a short while ago that my doctor has been on this diet for about 10 years now. When I first saw him 20 years ago he looked like a bent over, weak, and scrawny old man. Now he is about 7 foot tall (he is standing up straight), muscular, and extremely fit; and also runs the occasional marathon (he is in his 60’s). He is always doing blood counts to check what is happening in his body and he is not losing calcium, getting brittle bones, or getting kidney failure.
      I was very curious about his transformation and started asking questions about his diet and exercise routine. He even does the Primal sleep pattern. He has never heard of Mark or the Primal Diet; he is an unusual doctor who has continued to study and research and found out for himself what would make him young again.

  54. What a wonderful and inspiring story!!! Thank you for sharing. You have inspired me to keep going on my primal journey. Thank you.

  55. Tara..

    THANK YOU so much for sharing your story. It is nearly identical to mine in every way. Such an inspiration…And you look amazing-your skin,hair,everything.

    Just beginning my Primal adventures..and hope to have a “story” of my own someday with a happy ending like yours!

  56. This is really amazing, Tara! You did the right thing. Doctors are often a pain in the ass and Google was my help when doctors were not. Without my own research I wouldn’t have found the Paleo community. I live in Germany and only a few people here know about all the grassroot movements from Food Inc to Gary Taubes, Jimmy Moore, Robb Wolf, or Mark Sisson, let alone crossfit or kettlebell training.

    1. I lived in Germany for 10 years, and I found the medical community to be a bit of a paradox. On one hand, not one German doctor suggested that I change my diet. On the other hand, they prescribed lavender, massage and a break from work for my depression. Since you have the Internet, you have access to all the same information that we do now – and the same, if not more, access to the types of food required to live Primally. I miss the local markets in Europe most of all. Hell, CrossFit can be done in your garage or your backyard. You can be the one to spread the word in your community!

  57. This is such an amazing story big cuz! You look/are wonderful and have absolutely inspired me to change some things in my life. xxx

  58. Great story!

    Please, please, please keep these types of stories coming. If nothing else, it helps keep your mind focused on what you KNOW to be right, even when everyone and everything around you is spouting otherwise.
    Including doctors.

  59. Finally got to read your story, Tara. How amazing! You are particularly motivating to me because (minus having kids), it sounds like you were in the same boat I am in right now. I’m so angry with doctors that I can’t see straight. But I’m sooooooooo happy to know that it’s do-able for people like us (well, like you WERE). I also took note of your comments on dairy and nuts. I’ve probably been relying on them too much while going Primal. But if I take away the cheese & nuts, I have no idea what to snack on. So I still have a lot to learn. Thanks again, Mark (for posting) and Tara (for sharing). You guys rock!

    1. I never completely cut cheese out of my diet, but I did cut down on the amount that I ate. Same thing for nuts. Mark has got some great recipes for snacks on this site – the Cocoa and Coconut Snacks (I call them Nut Balls) are amazing when I have a sweet craving. I make up a double batch and freeze most of them. Then I ration them out to myself. I make my own beef jerky which is an amazing snack. I bake with coconut flour, which is high in fiber and fat and makes great treats. But mostly, I don’t snack. I eat 2 to 3 large meals a day (most days) and (try to!) only eat when I’m hungry. 🙂

  60. Well done, this is very inspiring, you look like Katy Perry in the last pic! 🙂

  61. Congratulations Tara! You look fantastic. I, too have begun the same journey that you have taken. I am amazed at my results and the Primal Blueprint way of life. Thank you, Mark and all you other GROKers out there for sharing your results.

  62. You look fantastic Tara and you are definitely an inspiration. I have most of the same symptoms as you (except that my doctor has confirmed that my thyroid is also under-functioning). I am only about 6 months into the Primal Lifestyle and you have confirmed that there is light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

  63. So fantastic!! Beautiful before GLOWING after. I am sending this to my sis who is having so many of the health “issues” you did before. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, and yet again, thank you, Mark.

  64. I am 27 and have PCOS as well and haven’t had a cycle without medications for 10 years! I am of normal weight so the first doctor said that I was “underweight” which is why I didn’t have a cycle. Then when my husband and I tried to conceive the ob/gyn told me to “have more (you know)” even though I never had a period so therefore… no eggs. They put me on diabetes medications which made me soooooo tired and dizzy I had to stop them. I was so depressed about what was happening to my body with cystic acne that I went back on birth control. I have recently stopped the pills again and I am on a mission to fix the problem myself. I have very little faith in modern family medicine! Thank you for the wonderful story! It gives a lot of people hope!

    1. I was also put on Metformin – it was the first thing the doctors suggested when I couldn’t conceive. The digestive upset it caused took almost a year to go away after I stopped the medication. I’m sorry that I don’t have more information on having PCOS and being underweight – my PCOS was caused by being overweight and insulin resistant, and went away when I lost weight. It must be frustrating to be part of the minority in this case. I also had cystic acne that went away once I got my insulin under control. Are you currently eating Primally? It took about 4 months before my menstrual cycles regulated and the acne started going away, so don’t give up!

  65. Well done Tara. Your story is an awesome tale and an inspiration.
    I will pass it forward to many. Congratulations

  66. Tara, I am so happy you were able to stick with primal principles and see such tramanedous results. It is, of course, the most important fact that you got yourself healthy by taking it into your own hands rather than relying on doctors and medicine. It’s also a great cherry on top you have lost so much weight.
    You look absolutely stunning!

  67. Thank you to everyone who has commented! We’ve just finished moving so I haven’t had reliable Internet or I would have written sooner. To be honest, reading all these positive compliments and comments all at once has been fairly overwhelming. I am so incredibly grateful to all of you for taking the time to read my story. I am humbled that some of you can relate to my problems and that perhaps, my story may give you renewed commitment and help you follow the Primal path towards your own personal success.
    It hasn’t always been easy to avoid the temptations of the S.A.D. but the rewards that I’ve gained through following the Primal Blueprint are too precious for me to ever go back to the way I used to live. I plan on blogging on some of the obstacles I encountered, including insomnia, anxiety and energy lags, so if you have any specific questions, please feel free to visit my blog or post here.
    Thank you again! You are all really sweet. 🙂

    1. I’ve been getting bouts of insomnia too, usually when I wake up for my daughter’s first feeding at 2am or so. I won’t be able to fall asleep for a few hours afterwards. One thing that has helped that tremendously is making sure I’ve taken my prenatal that morning, for some reason if I’m ‘topped off’ in that department I’m ok. I think my body struggles a bit with this change, but it’s getting better!

    2. Thanks for sharing your story, Tara. I’m going to try and get a few of my friends and family to read this and maybe push them down the Primal road.

      I’m constantly cheating on my own road and I’m still getting compliments on my weight loss. But the many other positive results (mood, energy levels, sleeping) are worth more than the 10-15 lbs. I’ve shed so far.

      And (at least for me) it’s pretty EASY, too. I eat well and don’t feel deprived.

      1. Hi Michael,
        I have treats quite often at this point – I just try to stick to the 80/20 rule. Now that I have my insulin sensitivity back, I’m finding I can be a little more relaxed as long as I don’t go crazy.
        Speaking from personal experience, trying to “push” someone down the Primal path doesn’t work too well. I tried that with dismal results. I learned about a year ago that the best way is to “lead through example,” for lack of a better term. Once people started seeing my results, they wanted to know what I was doing. Good luck! There are certain family members of mine that are killing themselves with a low-fat, high carb diet – even though they have diabetes, gout, are on medication and can’t exercise, they think what they are doing is “working” and I’ve been told that my “crazy diet” will not work for them. It’s so frustrating!

  68. You look so good! keep going… we share the same experience of doctors, Mark is my hero lol

  69. Just read this post after finding your blog, Tara.
    What an inspirational story! You look FANTASTIC!!!
    Will be passing this on to my girlfriend who has been suffering from many of the same symptoms as you for years.
    I’ve been suggesting she go Primal for over a year now; I think this article will be enough to spur her on.
    Thanks for putting a smile on my face 🙂

  70. Wow Tara! Amazing story, thank you for sharing it. I have struggled with many of the same hormonal imbalances and symptoms from too much insulin, etc. I have been eating primally for about 8 months and feel WAY better. I still would like to lose the last ‘ten pounds’.
    Can you tell me if you found a way to keep your calories down without counting them and staying satified too?

    1. I was only able to lose that “last 10 pounds” by incorporating intermittent fasting. I ate as much as I wanted, but cut down to 2 meals a day, and only ate when I was hungry. Initially, I expected to binge as a result of skipping meals, but that didn’t happen.

  71. I wish I could afford to go see you this year. I would love to pick your brain….. I have many of your old symptoms.. and want them GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  72. I realize this is an old post, but I just found it via a link in a newer Paleo Mag article.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s inspiring, and a perfect article to show my friends who are getting increasingly more interested in the Primal lifestyle.

  73. Wow! I’ve been following you on Twitter for awhile now, but just came across your story through Paleo Mag. Amazing!!

    I’ve been eating primal/paleo for a year now and have lost 95lbs. I’m also smaller than I’ve ever been in my adult life and feel the best I’ve ever felt. 🙂

  74. This is such validation and I will refer people here who doubt my own story! Just recently suffered months of debilitating gut pain (already dairy & egg free 2 yrs), 4 doctors, CT Scan, bloodwork and 3 invasive GI tests, all very $$$$$, and was told repeatedly I was in perfect health. Lucky me, a friend suggested I try Paleo and today, only 3 weeks later- the pain and misery are completely gone. I’ve stabilized at 10lbs lighter without trying, and have never had so much energy.

  75. Tara-
    I have been dealing with PCOS, acne, IBS, etc for years. A co-worker told me about Primal Blue Print. I just read your success story and it really touched me. Your story is great and encouraging. I have gained 80+ pounds in about 12 years. I am hoping this is what helps me gain control of me and who I am, really. Gorgeous photos!

  76. Hi guys! Just checking in. I’m still on the Primal path, but wasn’t being notified thru email about many of these comments so I’m sorry if I didn’t respond if you asked me a question. I’m still happy and healthy and at my goal weight. I’m blogging (intermittently) at http://www.primalgirl.com – for those of you that have any questions or want to pick my brain, I would love to help. I was at PrimalCon this year, which was life changing and the most amazing event I’ve ever been to. I went strict Paleo for a while, back to Primal and then (recently) figured out that I’m suffering from fructose malabsorption so I’m figuring out a brand new Primal diet for myself. I’m currently nightshade free as well, and have put a nasty autoimmune condition into remission. Thank you all so much for your words of praise and encouragement, they mean a lot. xoxo

  77. Slow weight loss of 1lb a week?!

    I can’t lose 1lb a month! 🙁
    I have all of the same symptoms that you do so maybe there’s hope…

    You look gorgeous! ;3

  78. It was like reading about my self. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It give me hope =)

  79. Thank you so much for sharing. My story is almost exactly the same as yours before you started PB. I have PCOS and have been trying to get pregnant for a long time and I am very much looking forward to how this lifestyle change will improve my life too!

  80. Heyy..well reading u..i realized we share exactly the same story….tara being my nickname,2005 got married,2009 twin boys, pcos,major weight issues..:))))did u steal my story?

  81. Tara, we have similar cases. I just discovered the primal eating lifestyle and I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat. If you are mentoring or wouldn’t mind to share some pointers with me, I’m just learning. I am off all PCOS meds in the last 90 days and trying to heal myself naturally. It would be nice to be connected to someone who knows exactly what PCOS is like and I’m most interested in learning exactly how you healed yourself. Thank you for sharing your story.

  82. Question – Did you have any loose skin? I am curious about loose skin and primal – I feel like primal is packed with nutrients so maybe people would have less of a loose skin problem than with other diets.

    1. I do have some loose skin on my tummy, but I had twins so that is to be expected. Because my weight loss was slow, steady, and healthy, and I apparently inherited good genes regarding skin elasticity, I don’t have a lot of loose skin anywhere else. 🙂

  83. Hi Tara, I was wondering where are you planning (or already) studying to be a nutritionist. I’m an RN and would love to pursue nutritionist education but learning the SAD way is not acceptable.

    Thanks Kamila

    1. Hi Kamila! I wanted to be a nutritionist, but couldn’t bear the thought of having to “learn” a lot of garbage I knew to be untrue. I think a Primal Certification would be much more helpful to someone like me. 🙂

  84. I’m wondering what stage was you HS, how often have u had it… and what was remission like, rarer inflammations, or smaller one, or both?

    thank you, your story is really inspiring

    1. For most of the time, I was in Stage 1. However, when my weight got really out of control, I went into stage 2, which was pretty severe. Stage 3 is actually a different disease, according to Dr. Cordain, and attacks the sweat glands instead of hair follicles (stage 1 & 2). Remission has meant a COMPLETE lack of symptoms. I do not flare up at all now (and haven’t in years) unless I am doing experimentation, or unless I eat some of my trigger foods (potatoes, wheat, and yeast. A combination of those three will cause a flare for sure.) Flares now induced by my triggers are smaller, not painful, and disappear within a day or two. 🙂 Hope this helps!

  85. Hey Tara!

    Just read this – thanks for sharing!!

    I have what you have, although going primal (and giving up dairy!) has sorted most of it – whoop!

    I have been travelling the world for the last 10 months…with the addition of having M.E/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – properly called M.E. …as its WAY more than just fatigue!) for about 18 months now…so it’s been friggin’ tough!

    I have finally settled in one place again and looking for inspiration to re-start ‘purer’ Paleo , as unfortunately Asia is full of mostly rice dominant dishes.

    I hope one day to post my own recovery story (here’s hoping!) and want to thank you for your inspiration, it means a LOT.

    Keep up the good work – you look amazing! xx