It’s Monday, 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 Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My Primal Story begins with myself being an athlete most of my life. I am 37-years-old, have had 4 back surgeries, and currently consider myself an endurance runner. I only began running in 2012. As I have increased my mileage and ability, my body has changed. I never used to think about my diet and how it affects my health.

Recently, I mean this past November 2016, I knew I needed to make a change. I was always in GI distress during and after my longer races or harder efforts of training runs or shorter races. I was referred to the Primal Diet by a friend and it all began making sense.

After implementing these methods, the change was remarkable. After three weeks, my body responded very well. I was able to recover sooner (zero ibuprofen when I used to take it a few times a week) after my long runs or races. My GI distress disappeared…I mean gone! My skin cleared up where I used to have minor blemishes on my face and back. I dropped 8 lbs—173 to 165. That doesn’t seem like much, but I didn’t have a lot to lose and my goal was not to lose weight. It was mainly, in my opinion, bloating, water retention, and a general cleansing of my system that lost me the 8 lbs.

I am able to train harder, recover better, and my energy levels are through the roof. I am so pleased with my transformation that I find it very hard to even think about “cheating” with my diet and really do not have an urge to anyway. I don’t take a lot of photos or use social media that much, but attached are a couple of photos. Again, my transformation is not that much in the physical appearance category, but overall health in general. I am the guy in the green shirt in the picture on the bridge. The other picture is of my daughter and myself before our daddy daughter dance.

Thank you,

Jason G.

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The post I’m Able To Train Harder and Recover Better appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, 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 Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My first MDA Success Story was published in June 2016. Towards the end I said “My story isn’t over. It is just beginning.”

Those words couldn’t be more true.

That success story was about overcoming decades of chronic cystic acne, along with digestive issues and anxiety.

And the Primal lifestyle truly helped me to accomplish all of that. After decades as a vegetarian, pescetarian, and sometimes raw vegan, making a gradual transition to a Primal diet really changed my life.

The big thing for me was the acne. It’s painful enough to grow up with it, but for me it never really went away, despite every prescription drug in the book. There were even three rounds of Accutane along with some horrible side effects. Removing grains and dairy and adding animal protein and fat back into my diet reduced the inflammation very quickly, and within about a month my skin looked dramatically different.

At the same time my skin was miraculously clearing up, my sometimes debilitating digestive issues and anxiety quietly left the room.

And if my story ended there, it would have been a happy ending.

But things just keep getting better.

At the age of 51, my energy levels have increased and I have better body composition than ever. But it’s so much more than that. I’m more adventurous, confident, creative and intuitive.

Since my last success story was published, I’ve gradually transitioned to a keto lifestyle. I refer to it as “borderline keto” since I do not track or measure anything. I know that works great for some people, I just don’t care for it. But by increasing the healthy fats and moderating the protein I feel even more focused and energetic. Even though I had already made the switch, reading The Keto Reset Diet was helpful, and I’ve recommended it to so many people.

I’ve also completed my Primal Health Coach certification (even though I had another health coaching certification under my belt already.) I believe so strongly in the value of this lifestyle and want to learn everything I can, so I continue to educate myself by attending events like Paleo f(x) and reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m also taking my first digital cooking class, Paleo Cooking Bootcamp, and loving it.

When my last success story was published I had been writing a blog called “happy, healthy and hot” for about six months. It was mostly recipes and natural beauty tips presented in a playful, sassy style.

As I wanted to share my message with more people, I started posting on Instagram as well (@happyhealthyandhot_elizabeth), and eventually started sharing more of my lifestyle, including travel, fashion, personal development, and short videos showing easy workouts that I do at home (many times with a cameo appearance by my dog). I used to be a very private person, but I know that sharing these snapshots of my day to day life can show how easy it to live a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also been featured on other health related websites and have been interviewed for podcasts, including the Primal Blueprint Podcast. Love sharing the happy, healthy and hot message with as many people as I can.

I truly believe that everyone deserves to look and feel amazing, and the Primal lifestyle is a great way to start. Living this way should be fun and easy…if it feels like a chore you’re not doing it right!

What started out as a little health blog is organically growing into a lifestyle brand with followers from all over the world.

Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. During this time I’ve dealt with some major personal challenges just like everyone else. But I’ve come out of them stronger than ever.

People are always asking me what I eat. Here’s a typical day… I start with lemon water and coffee. I always blend Collagen Peptides or Collagen Fuel (vanilla is my fave) into the coffee. There’s usually a blended green drink too…typically something like spinach or baby kale and fresh lemon.

A few hours later I get hungry for some real food, and might make eggs with leftover veggies, or just eat leftovers from the night before.

A second meal will be another form of protein…fish and beef are my favorites and a bunch of non starchy veggies. For example, today I had salmon, roasted brussels sprouts and avocado as a late lunch. Salmon or sardines make an appearance a few times a week…love what they do for my skin.

I’ve tried intermittent fasting but don’t do it on a regular basis. Instead, I just try to listen to my body and eat when I’m truly hungry. Lately I find myself eating two meals rather than three, and maybe having some small snacks.

Most days I’ll have a few squares of super dark chocolate or some type of Paleo “treat,” especially if I’m trying out a new recipe for happy, healthy and hot. Totally enjoy dry red wine from time to time too.

I’m not really into supplements, with the exception of using Collagen Peptides in some form every single day of my life. I’ve been doing this for years, and my skin is firmer now at the age of 51 than it was ten years ago. I also think the collagen keeps me from getting sore when I work out. Some nights I take a magnesium supplement before bed, and the only multi I will take is Primal Master Formula.

I don’t belong to a gym, although I have in the past. For now, I feel great doing some simple workouts at home (love my boss ball) and my dog forces me to get out and walk every single day. Working part time as a bartender is pretty physical too.

There are two things I plan to add this year to increase my fitness: sprinting and pull-ups. I learned so much about the value of sprinting in the Primal Health Coach course, but still haven’t made it part of my fitness routine. So this is the year! And right now I can’t do a pull up to save my life, but that’s going to change in 2018.

I’ve attached some pics from a recent trip to the Bahamas with my daughter, and one from a recipe I posted on my blog.

So I’ll say it again…my story is just beginning. Life is full of adventure and possibility. Can’t wait to see where the next few years take me. Thanks for reading!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post Life Is Full of Adventure and Possibility appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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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!

We live in a stress-filled world. Poor quality nutrition, toxic chemicals, xenoestrogens, EMFs, blue-light, deadlines, and traffic have us competing for our health. But on March 20, 2011, life got much more stressful than I could have ever imagined.

That particular day, I found myself in an ICU bed after recently being hit by a series of large vehicles. I recalled crossing a busy street in Traffic Nation, a.k.a. Los Angeles, where I was unexpectedly hit by a Land Rover headed west. The force of the blow threw me into the eastbound lane, where I was then run over by a Toyota Tundra. Needless to say, my world was rocked.

Lying unconscious in the middle of Melrose, paramedics and first responders aided my broken body. Upon impact I had seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and “the worst compound fracture’ the maxillofacial specialist at the hospital had ever seen…BUT I was still alive. Perspective.

For any person, this would be a traumatic experience, but for a young, 30-year-old working actor and model, my future was suddenly completely unsure. At this time, my physical appearance was a huge part of my livelihood, and quite honestly, I wasn’t certain I would ever look the same.

My body wrecked and my confidence not far behind, I found a silver lining by focusing on what I DID have rather than what I didn’t. Some say true purpose is born from tragedy, and luckily for me, this was the case. As easy as it would have been to give up, my near-fatal accident turned out to be the ultimate blessing in disguise — that experience sparked the fire in my soul’s purpose. I set forward with passion to recover my health and to get back in better shape than I was before the accident. Along the way, I shared everything I had learned about nutrition, natural healing, skincare and how to feel better about the reflection in the mirror with the rest of the world.

All Natural Recovery

My recovery wasn’t easy, physically or mentally. I had pain from head to toe, my jaw wired shut and nubs for front teeth, I felt myself turning into a zombie from the antibiotics, CT scan and monthly x-rays. It was dark. I lost my zest as a human being. I definitely wasn’t my ‘happy-go-lucky’ self, and it is a scary thing to witness yourself changing for the worse as a person. But I didn’t give in to that feeling, I quickly decided I was going to do everything in my power to ‘beat’ this funk that I was in and recover as quick as I could, as best as I could. A walking ball of inflammation, I began researching ingredients for how I was going to accelerate my healing both internally and externally. I met with several Chinese herbalists and developed a morning tonic that would help build my blood, assist in ridding my body of toxins and provide the best nutrition possible while not being able to chew food. It was extremely tough. Deer Placenta, egg yolks, bison liver… You name it, I tried it. I just wanted to get back to the old me!

In addition to this, my face was extremely swollen, covered in abrasions, and I had an unsightly deep scar on the left side of my face from point of impact that really was an eyesore. Social situations were uncomfortable, so I spent most of my time in my little apartment researching. Unhappy with the toxic, paraben-laced products that my doctors were recommending that I use to heal my skin, I began obsessive research into creating my own remedy. My simple understanding of the negative side effects of the medical and conventional led me into an ever-evolving journey of education of ingredient decks. I learned a lot about the physiology of toxic fragrances, artificial colors and other synthetic chemicals.

It turns out, most conventional skin-care products were going to do more harm than good for my skin. Parabens, one of the more common ingredients, is estrogenic and antagonistic to androgen production, meaning they interfere with the endocrine system’s ability to produce and regulate hormones—this physiological mechanism makes them correlated with breast and other cancers. This sort of research only further validated my protest against the recommended creams and further fueled my desire to heal my body, naturally. I understood that the skin pores are vulnerable to everything they are exposed to, so I only use products that are free of any known toxic, carcinogenic, inflammatory substances. I also ensured that every ingredient that touched my skin came with beneficial, therapeutic effects for my skin cells. I deeply felt that my skin would respond best to a blend of nutrient dense organic ingredients, clays, superfood extracts, cold pressed essential oils and butters.

Researching and finding these hidden gem ingredients became my own little creative outlet! I would isolate certain ingredients and note their effect on my skin, I would pay close attention to the activity of the ingredients and the synergy that they created together. What started as a carefully formulated blend of clays sourced from all over the world, quickly turned into a mineral rich, superfood regenerative meal for the skin on my face. Not only did it help reduce the swelling, and completely heal the abrasions on my face, but my complexion was crystal clear and silky soft. I knew I had something special. The same people that saw me in an ICU bed were blown away by what they saw just a few weeks later. Wondering what I did to heal so quickly, I drove all around town with my backpack, wooden spoon and bowl and would mix up a mask for them to try.

Blown away by the feedback, I knew I had something special. The Alitura Clay Mask was born! Next thing you know I’m melting down cacao butter in a cast iron pan in my kitchen, combining it with Manuka Honey, adding Sea Buckthorn Oil and other skin healthy botanical extracts…. And the best part…seeing and feeling results! The concoction made out of that cast iron pan became my Alitura Night Cream. It was great because I really became my own biggest science experiment. The cell turnover process was sped up by staying extremely consistent with a routine of using the Clay Mask which exfoliated dead skin, then following with the cream that I was making to heal, hydrate and deeply nourish the freshly exfoliated skin’s surface. I started to look forward to doing it.

Just 2 1/2 months after a life threatening accident, I was back on the runway, modeling for Macy’s! My first victory in my recovery.

Shortly after that, Bulletproof CEO Dave Asprey heard about what I was doing and had me on his top ranked podcast ‘Bulletproof Radio.’ Our podcast got such a response from it that he invested in me and my brand and the rest is history. Four years after launching the business out of a dingy studio apartment in North Hollywood, California, Alitura Naturals now has 20 products and is in 76 countries. Alitura is Latin for ‘feeding and nourishing,’ and we maintain that in our core brand mission and ingredient integrity in every product that we make.

I specifically want to say thank you to Mark Sisson and the extremely kind staff at Primal Blueprint, Primal Kitchen® and Mark’s Daily Apple. The first book that I ever read in the health and wellness space was The Primal Blueprint. From cover to cover, I found myself devouring information in that book and implementing it into my and my family’s lives. That book flat out changed my life, and was the catalyst in leading me towards an enriched quality of life by keeping me on a path towards my ultimate purpose.

It truly is an honor to contribute on a blog that I have read and been a fan of for years. Thank you!

— Andy Hnilo, CEO & Founder, Alitura Naturals

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Folks, I hope you enjoyed Andy’s story as much as I have. I’m happy to share that Andy’s offering Mark’s Daily Apple folks a generous discount. Check out his product line and use the coupon code “primal” (of course) to receive 20% off anything in the entire store—and enjoy free U.S. shipping, too.

Be sure to catch Andy on this coming Monday’s Primal Blueprint Podcast (10/22/18). Our own Elle Russ chats with Andy about his near death experience, his commitment to full recovery, and the thriving business that came out of his resolve. 

Have an awesome weekend, everyone. 

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The post From Bedridden to Radiance: How I Used a Holistic Lifestyle to Heal From a Near-Death Accident appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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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!

I found Mark’s Daily Apple through a fortuitous and random conversation one morning with the guy I was seeing sometime around 2010. We were lying in bed, dreaming up delicious Sunday breakfast ideas and started talking about bacon, which then led to a heated argument about bacon, cardiovascular disease, dietary fat… oh boy! He name-dropped yours and MDA, and it made me step down from my high horse (I was a recent doctor of physical therapy graduate) and take a whole new look at nutrition that has- no exaggeration- completely changed my life.

Here is my story:

I had been swimming competitively since age 10, so I knew my body. I had always been tall, thin, and full of enthusiasm for whatever I pursued. Back in 2002, as a senior in high school, I started to feel something quite different. If I approached my physical limits, I would feel sluggish and weak and there was no way to push through. Each week, I swam slower. A few months later, I started noticing more and more of my hair falling in the shower drain and in my hair brush. As someone who had always been a night owl, I found it strange that even during matinee movies the second I sat down I would feel tired and fall asleep, like turning a switch. I could sleep ten to twelve hours and still would wake up exhausted. I even passed out a few times for no apparent reason. At this point I felt fatigued constantly, was having trouble finding enough energy to pay attention in class, and I knew something was wrong. I told my mom (a nurse), and we decided to wait out the end of the school semester. After graduation, I took a solid week off and basically slept and rested all day, after which I felt completely normal. I shrugged it off, and headed off to college a few months feeling healthy.

As a frame of reference, my diet at this time was atrocious. I didn’t like most meat, so I would eat processed meat approximately once a week. I hated eggs. I didn’t have much of a taste for any vegetables, so again, maybe once a week one would make it to my plate. I liked bananas, kiwis, and a few fruits. I loved processed food and would primarily eat cereal, bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta. I also struggled with having very little musculature on my body despite being active. At 5’10” my calves were so narrow that speciality narrow boots looked like fishermen’s boots on me! My abdomen fluctuated between being completely concave and sunken or distended to the extent that people would ask me if I was pregnant. My face had a constant red rash and break outs of both acne and rosacea. All of these things made me self-conscious.

When I went off to college, unexplained symptoms struck again. Except this time once I got to the point where I was passing out and fatigued, I kept going. My immune system went nuts. I acquired very bad strep throat, pink eye in both eyes, an ear infection, and a bad UTI all at once. Every week for the rest of the semester I felt worse despite several courses of antibiotics. Fast forward to end of semester: I finished finals, I rested for our 2 week holiday—100% better.

This became the pattern. Three more semesters exactly like this. It started to take a toll on my endurance, and I could not even walk up the stairs to get to my classes without stopping and resting for several minutes. I was embarrassed to be in social situations because I couldn’t focus and didn’t feel like myself physically and mentally. I was struggling in my classes for the first time in my life. I decided that fall semester my junior year would be different: no matter how sick I felt, I would push even harder.

That didn’t go well. I crossed into the next threshold of bodily rebellion. I started feeling sharp abdominal pains as if I were being poisoned followed by bouts of vomiting after taking my birth control, drinking milk, eating anything fatty, taking even a sip of alcohol, and sometimes after indecipherable aggravations. I stopped getting my period. One morning I woke up and could barely open my eyes. I felt confused to the point where I was staring at people talking and pretending to understand what was going on. Morning classes were a blur, and as I sat in my French class, I somehow fell asleep in the front row. My professor woke me up—not too happy—and sent me to the school doctor. Even though there was an entire waiting room full of students, she took me right away. I didn’t question it, but the second she sat me down she explained why: I had yellow skin, yellow eyes, and that awful, unmistakable death-like look of jaundice. She diagnosed me with mono (many of the other times I had been to the health center they suspected mono but the test was always negative). I was put on immediate bed rest until my liver started to cooperate. I could barely stomach eating, so I would munch on saltine crackers and eat unseasoned ramen but little else. My liver enzymes actually tested worse and worse, despite the rest. I got to the point where I could barely eat anything, but then slowly, I started feeling better. Hallelujah.

Spoiler alert, that’s not the end of my story. The very next semester it started happening. Again. Despite being told that you could only get mono once. I was emotionally devastated, scared, and yet determined. I gathered all of my medical records and went to see a doctor off-campus. He was dismissive and cold and told me that I was a woman, and women get depressed. That was his medical advice. End stop.

I was embarrassed to the point I didn’t seek further medical attention and tried to make some changes on my own, this time being a bit kinder to my body. I cut my work hours to almost zero, my class schedule in half, my workouts out altogether, and I just tried to get by. I was able to finish my last few semesters of college with fatigue, constant infections, and poor mental clarity, but I finished! I started working as a physical therapy aid full-time and teaching swim lessons to make money before grad school, and suddenly I was thrown off balance again. I could feel my body crashing as it had before, and I ended up making the radical decision to take 3 months off before physical therapy school to convalesce. This seemed to work, because I made it through 3 years of graduate school with only occasional and much less dramatic periods of illness.

That brings me to 2010, lying in bed, chatting about bacon. This little argument inspired me to read from the amazing Michael Pollen and delve into the wonders of the MDA blog. Mark’s words hit home as I had already begun to understand the importance of rest and recovery, listening to my body instead of overriding its messages (a work in progress), and the way food could make me feel. I drank the kool aid. I was inspired by the large body of evidence in the primal diet and primal lifestyle. Little by little, I started learning how to love vegetables and to prepare them well, to embrace fats, to eliminate grains, and to enjoy delicious meat and eggs. I started eating real food. Relationships don’t change over-night, so neither did mine with food. I had a long way to go, but I could feel a difference in my digestion and my energy. My acne and rosacea disappeared completely, and I felt like I had at least some control in my health.

Unfortunately though, my health continued to decline. It was not exactly the same as it had been before. I was constantly fatigued, but rarely did I have the ear/eye/throat/bladder infection extravaganzas as I had in the past, nor would the symptoms go away anymore with a little extra rest for a week or two. Instead, I started having random, scary symptoms. Over the course of the next four years, several times I would develop excessive water retention, followed by coughing up liquid deep in my chest, followed by pneumonia, followed by waking up in the middle of the night barely able to breathe. I would prop myself up on four pillows so that I was almost sitting up so that I could breathe. I would have fevers in excess of 104 degrees sometimes every Friday after a long week of work and would lie in bed until Monday morning. One time I felt desperately thirsty and was drinking water by the liter until I collapsed with squeezing in my chest. My left arm would randomly swell up. I had strange ulcers in my mouth. Other times my right eye would randomly start dilating, once to the point where I could not see anything out of it for hours. I would have sharp abdominal pain every time I was on my period that caused me to double over. I could keep listing crazy symptoms all day. I lived in fear. In addition, the years of being ill had led to metabolic damage. I could barely eat 1000 calories a day without gaining weight, so I slowly started gaining more and more weight. I had prided myself on being fit, so this crushed my self-confidence.

Doctors led me down many rabbit holes. Some were dismissive, cold, and made me feel embarrassed or crazy for telling them what was happening. Others were compassionate and did what they could to help, but they could only put small pieces of the puzzle together. I tested positive for several antibodies that suggested autoimmune disease and was told it was likely lupus, and steroids seemed to help my “infections” better than antibiotics which was quite telling, but my symptoms never stopped recurring and every day was a struggle.

I also attempted to conquer my body by running marathons, hiking mountains, and portraying a life of a “healthy woman.” These outward goals always led to me being very sick, sometimes for months, but for some reason I continued to fight my body every step of the way. I climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States (with a broken tailbone no-less). Two weeks later I came down with a kidney infection that wouldn’t respond to antibiotics or steroids and kept me in bed for 2 months with fever, fatigue, and brain fog as well a complete loss of appetite. I kept frozen salmon, avocado, fresh orange juice, and almond butter in my kitchen and if I ate ONE of those things each day, I felt accomplished. I became scared that I was losing too much weight, but surprisingly, I felt stronger each day. Slowly, my appetite returned.

Finally, two months later I felt completely healthy, and I decided to go out to celebrate my birthday. My first day out. My first day with food outside of my kitchen. I ate fried chicken, drank beer, and polished it off with a birthday cupcake.  The next morning I woke up with 104 fever, vomiting, the works. It started all over again, and I had an emotional break down.

All of these years I had tried to be patient and to trust my doctors, my body, God, and the universe to somehow fix this, but I could no longer handle living my life in constant fear and confusion, and I had reached a breaking point. The merry-go-round of looking for outside help, finding no clear solution, giving up, and then starting all over again was getting old. I truly believed I needed to accept that I  would never have the health and energy of a “healthy” person, so I should start adapting my life to live with my limitations as best as possible. I started tracking every symptom each day, I started dialing back my work hours, my social time, and my exercise, and this seemed to help. I started eating much cleaner according to the Primal Blueprint, maybe 90/10. I slept 10 hours every day. I felt “ok,” but I was depressed at the outlook of my future.

One fateful day, June 21, 2014, I decided to try keto, which I had recently read about on Mark’s blog. It was actually easy for me to get into ketosis for the first time, because my diet had been consistently clean for the six months preceding it. I woke up on day 3, and it was crazy. I could see clearly. I felt well-rested in a way that I didn’t remember existed. I felt boundless energy. I was strong. I could breathe better. I still remember that feeling so clearly. I actually feel healthy! Even when I felt “ok,” I didn’t realize I was never actually feeling well.  It had been so long. I peed on the stick, and it was purple: ketosis was achieved. After a week of eating keto, which I had never intended to maintain permanently, I decided that I would add one half piece of whole wheat pita bread to my diet (I know not primal at all but I feel lucky I made that random exception to my diet) every other week and to attempt to cycle into and out of ketosis. The next morning I woke up with mouth ulcers, a fever, brain fog, and the beginnings of a UTI.

It hit me. The writing had always been on the wall but I hadn’t I seen it. This was clear, objective measures I couldn’t ignore: Do I have celiac disease? I got back into ketosis over the next few days, and all of the symptoms cleared. Like magic. I grabbed a beer, walked down to my hot tub, and cracked it open. This would be my test (and with bittersweet sadness my final beer). As I enjoyed the crisp, cool refreshing beverage, all of the things I had been through over the past 12 years ran through my mind. Even if you reread my story, it seems so obvious once you know. All of that struggle and such a simple solution. Yes, the ulcers and the fever came back the next day. I did a week of completely primal, gluten free, but not keto to test out my theory. I remained healthy. (I have the genetic marker and antibody for celiac but am unable/unwilling to do a 12 week challenge).

Over the next four years, I gained muscle I never knew I could gain. I can wear narrow boots quite well now, and I have muscle in my core and arms. I live a completely normal life. I can run, jump, and play, so I do! I have slowly forgotten the feeling of that daily struggle and fear. I have continued to change my relationship with food. While I am always gluten-free, I am 90/10 with primal eating and cycle in and out of keto. I can finally say that when my body tells me something, I listen. Whether it’s to fully recover between workouts, to limit chronic cardio, to sleep, to get fresh air and daylight, to eat more, or to reach out and connect socially, I no longer try to fight those impulses for my own ego’s sake. I preach this to all of my patients and all of my friends.

Here is a picture of me on Halloween dressed as the iconic Leia finally with some lean muscle!

Most importantly, I have learned to open the discussion of this diet and lifestyle to people around me.  Not everyone has celiac disease, but 1% of the population does and most are not diagnosed. Many people have autoimmune conditions, and we have connected deeply on how similar food journeys have changed their lives. Many people simply have weight to lose and insulin resistance. My next goals in my personal journey are to gain a six pack (something that symbolizes both inner and physical strength to me) and to share this lifestyle with as many people as I can.  Keep spreading the light Mark!

– Maureen

 

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The post All Of That Struggle, and Such a Simple Solution appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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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!

I’m thrilled to share Cristina Curp’s success story today. You might know her as the creator (and chef) of The Castaway Kitchen. And she’s now the author of the brand new Made Whole Cookbook, just out this week—a book I was proud to write the foreword for. She’s got an inspiring Primal story to share as well as awesome recipe and generous giveaway today. Enjoy, everyone!

You’d think a foodie with restaurant chef experience would have their food situation down pat right? Well, this chef didn’t. While I have always loved fresh foods, veggies, cooking from scratch and more…I found myself about to turn thirty and pretty damn unhealthy. Living with what was probably leaky gut and definitely a predisposition to autoimmune disease as a kid, I was sick, a lot. Combined with being overweight for as long as I can remember and a diagnosis for Hidradenitis Suppurativa when I was 13. I settled into a subpar quality of life and just dealt with it.

A constant parade of binge eating and crash diets. The constant struggle to not only cope with my debilitating skin condition but hide it from others too. How I lived like that? The person I am today hardly knows. What I do know is that I was able to turn it all around.

Obese, pre-diabetic with chronic fatigue and inflammation. Two years post-partum, depressed and about to thirty, things felt dire. Dire enough for me to stop playing the ol’ “but I eat healthy enough” excuses in my head. So I began to research alternative remedies for my skin condition, and I found a post on Robb Wolf’s website, and then a book titled The Hidden Plague by Tara Grant. There it was, in black and white. FOOD AS MEDICINE. DIET TO REMISSION.

Down the ancestral health rabbit hole I went. Sort of like the Goldilocks of elimination diets and healing protocols. I tried them all. Whole30®, Paleo, Primal, Autoimmune Protocol, Specific Carbohydrate Diet. With each passing month, I got better. What one approach didn’t do for me another did. I saw enough improvement to know that I didn’t want to give up.

I had a newfound love for moving my body, lifting things and connecting with nature. This crazy venture of mine had become a full-fledged lifestyle.

All of my N=1 experiments pointed to keto. However, there weren’t many keto resources two years ago that spoke to my ancestral health roots. So, I did the Primal Blueprint Program! From there I tweaked my macros, lowered carbs, kept out the foods I learned were inflammatory to me via the autoimmune protocol. 

I became fat adapted. I had energy. Visceral fat melted off of my body. Brain fog lifted. I had boundless energy. It was the missing piece to my puzzle.

This AIP-Paleo-Keto mashup I call life has been liberating and empowering. Most of all the major commitment to my health and to myself has been cathartic!  I have found remission, I love my body and I’m living the life I always wanted.

Made Whole is my gift to this amazing community that helped me heal. A book to empower, inspire and guide others. A book full of amazing recipes so you enjoy every bite of your own journey.

Salmon Salad Avocado Boats

Made Whole Cookbook by Cristina Curp | @thecastawaykitchen | thecastawaykitchen.com

No-cook meals don’t have to be boring. These delicious avocado boats come together in minutes. Canned wild-caught salmon is a fantastic affordable option that delivers omega-3 fats and protein. I always opt for the boneless, skinless version. Mixed with crunchy and spicy radishes, sweet and juicy blueberries, and creamy mayo, it makes this seafood salad absolutely stunning. So many textures, flavors and colors packed in to one easy meal.

Makes 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium hass avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 (6-ounce) can wild- caught salmon
  • 3 tablespoons homemade mayo (or Primal Kitchen® Mayo!)
  • Pinch of fine Himalayan salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • ¼ cup Pickled Red Onions (also in the book, page 88), for serving

Instructions

• Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Cut a ¼-inch grid pattern in to each avocado half with a paring knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the few squares of avocado where the pit used o be and surrounding area. You want to make space for the salad.

• Place the scooped-out avocado in a small bowl. Add the blueberries, sliced radishes and parsley. Drain the salmon and use a fork to flake it into the bowl.

• Add the mayo, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Then spoon half of the mixture into one avocado boat and the rest into the second. Give them a squeeze of lemon (if desired) and serve with pickled onions on the side.

Substitutions:

  • To make this egg free use Primal Kitchen Vegan Ranch or AIP compliant mayo.
  • If you don’t like radishes you may use cucumber or celery instead.

Per Serving: Calories 450, Fat 36.9, Carbs 13g, Fiber 7.5g, Protein 19.1g

Now For a Giveaway!

Enter HERE to win one of three signed copies of The Made Whole Cookbook. And for good measure, we’re throwing in the entire line of Primal Kitchen® Avocado Oils, Condiments, Dressings and Marinades for each winner. Winners will be chosen at random on 7/25.

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The post The Missing Piece To My Puzzle (Plus a Recipe—and a Giveaway) appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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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!

Six years ago, I was a freshman at Kalamazoo College, majoring in biology and tentatively planning to go to vet school. I was known for my ability to pack away refined junk food and not gain a single pound. I was a two-sport collegiate athlete, starting goalkeeper for the soccer team, acing my classes, and working in a research lab. By all measures, my life was wonderful. That is, except for my eczema.

I’d had it for as long as I could remember. As a baby, it was on my cheeks. Through middle school, it was the inside creases of my elbows and the backs of my knees. In high school, it was cracked, dry eyelids and painful, scaly skin around my mouth.  In college, it also began to show up on my hands. I hated it with a vengeance. I’d tried all kinds of steroid creams and seen dermatologists, pediatricians, and allergists to no avail. I basically assumed I would be stuck with eczema for life.

faceIn summer 2013, my sister sent me a few articles on the connection between eczema and food intolerances. At this point in my life, I was a full-blown sugar addict, and my definition of a vegetable was Ragu sauce or corn.  I was skinny and fit, so clearly my diet was fine, right?

I was skeptical that changing my diet would do anything for my skin, to say the least. But I was desperate. I was sick of being asked things like “Is that paint on your hands?” (in neurobiology lab) or “Are you wearing pink eyeshadow?” (one of my relatives at Thanksgiving).

So, I began to slowly cut out grains, refined sugar, and dairy, replacing them with whole foods. I found Mark’s Daily Apple and ChrisKresser.com and spent nearly all my free time poring through evidence-based articles and research studies related to nutrition. I quickly transitioned to full paleo and found that eating a diet of fresh, whole foods from quality sources made all the difference in the world.

soccerNot only was my eczema disappearing rapidly, but I had increased energy, less joint pain, and faster recovery from workouts. I slept better, got sick less frequently, and generally felt great throughout the day. It was almost as if I hadn’t fully lived the first seventeen years of my life, and was finally experiencing how great I could feel once the heavy fog of chronic inflammation had lifted.

I became a true believer in this new healthy lifestyle and dove further into research. I learned about the connection between the microbiota, leaky gut, and autoimmune diseases like eczema. And it made a lot of sense; I had experienced many of the environmental triggers known to cause microbial dysbiosis and leaky gut: repeated antibiotic use, heavy consumption of processed foods, etc. After eighteen-some years, I had finally found some answers as to why I had this awful chronic skin condition. And more importantly, some hope that it could be reversed.

My eczema improved significantly on paleo, but it didn’t go away completely. After many more hours poring through articles, I decided to try the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). Thanks to a few hiccups along the way (i.e. don’t eat a full forkful of raw sauerkraut if you’ve never tried it and have histamine intolerance), it was a slow process. I was full AIP for about seven months, and AIP/low-histamine for the last three before the last of my eczema cleared up. But hey, a year and a half is pretty good to undo the damage of eating nothing but junk food for 17 years! And I had the best soccer season of my career, even earning Academic All-American status, while on low-histamine AIP.

It soon became obvious to me that nutrition, gut health, and ancestral medicine was something I was truly passionate about, and that I should pursue it as a career. I switched from pre-vet to pre-med, got involved with research on the gut microbiome, and started looking into dual degree M.D./Ph.D. programs.

Today, I’m still eczema-free and am in the third year of my Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois. My research focuses on the effects of diet and exercise on the gut microbiota and gut barrier function, and how this impacts health. (Our latest study was recently featured in the NYT.) I’m also a part-time research assistant for Chris Kresser.

I will be starting the M.D. portion of my training in the spring of 2019, after which I plan to practice functional and integrative medicine. It’s going to be tough to navigate four years of conventional medical school, but I hope that having the credentials and background of a traditional degree will allow me to be at the forefront of the movement towards a new and improved healthcare system—one that recognizes the power of diet and lifestyle to combat chronic disease and brings together the best of functional and conventional medicine. I also hope to perform clinical research that provides evidence for the ancestral approach.

with husbandIn the meantime, I’ve started a blog at NGmedicine.com to help others discover the power of nutrition and optimal health. I am incredibly grateful to Mark and all of the other people who helped me on my journey, because I not only found my health—I found my purpose in life.

P.S. As for my diet nowadays, I successfully transitioned off AIP/low-histamine to full paleo and now hover in what Mark calls “the keto zone”—dipping seamlessly in and out of ketosis. I love the mental clarity, sustained energy, and improved management of my lingering SIBO. You can read more about my personal experience with a ketogenic diet here.

P.P.S. My husband also experienced major improvements in his health thanks to a paleo-type/primal diet. I may have to convince him to write his own success story some day!

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The post I Found My Health—and My Purpose In Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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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!

Cancer sucks! Not that I ever personally endured cancer. I did however watch my father die of lung cancer when I was nine. Why would I start there? Only because I think it was the biggest factor in my descent into both substance and food addiction, not to mention the interspersed bouts of chronic cardio and caloric restriction that defined the next four decades of my life.

So if my fathers demise fueled the need to bury my feelings, the Standard American Diet (SAD) provided the vehicle. Processed and fast food was a large part of my diet as a child. In hindsight processed carbohydrates became my drug of choice. I literally buried my emotions in overeating crap food. Eventually this led to unhealthy weight gain.

This transpired between my 7th and 8th grade years. Fat shaming is real. Between my 9th and 10th grade year I decided to do something about it. Enter chronic cardio and calorie restriction. Coupled with the fact I had entered puberty and the benefits of the hormones that come with that I was able to slim down. I was able to control my weight for the most part till my early twenties.

By then I was doing a stint in the US Marines and that kept me fairly fit. Soon after I got out at the age of 24 I started to have weight creep. Enter my one and only attempt at a plant based diet. I was able to lose weight eating that way, but it came at the expense of muscle loss and in the end it really wasn’t sustainable for me long term. I was still fairly active and was able to rebuild the lost muscle and continue to maintain my weight.

Success Story BeforeAt 29 I changed careers and became an outside sales rep for a flooring distributor. Eating and exercise became less of a priority and I woke up one day in my early thirties at a hefty (for me ) 225 lbs. By the age of 33 I was going thru a divorce and doing what all single guys do, I decided I needed to get in shape. The only thing I knew that worked was chronic cardio and caloric restriction. That once again worked. I was able to drop the weight and get back in shape.

Back in a relationship (that I’m still in 23 years later and happily married) at the age of 36, I could no longer maintain the calorie in calorie out life style and once again my weight crept up, this time to 245 lbs. For some guys this doesn’t seem like a lot, but with my build, I was at least half body fat. Over the next decade I tried half hearted attempts at chronic cardio and caloric restriction with very limited success. In the end I would always default back to my set point in the 240s. At this point I was starting to show signs of metabolic disease. My fasted blood glucose was squarely in the pre-diabetic range and I was starting to show signs of sleep apnea. I had to have a hip replaced.

After another career change that involved less stress and travel I decided it was time to start dealing with it, but other than the calorie in and calorie out method I had no idea how. I had just turned 50 and was determined to make my 50s better then my 40s. About this time a friend convinced me to get a road bike. I did and fell in love with it. Coupled with a diet that consisted of weighing everything I was able to get under 200 lbs!

During this time I was reading a British cycling magazine called “Cycling Fitness” (no longer in publication) and it had an article about this crazy caveman diet. A few Google searches later and I landed on a website called “Mark’s Daily Apple.” That lead me to the Primal Blueprint. That was my aha moment. It all made sense! Being slightly (which may be a modest description) obsessive compulsive I devoured the Primal Blueprint and a myriad of books on the subject.

I wish I could report it was all smooth sailing from that point forward. Unfortunately I only took away part of the message. I continued to ride my bike way too hard, way to often and after a period of fantastic fitness I completely crashed and burned. Over training is for real. Along with it comes sleep issues, digestive issues and general fatigue. It’s not a simple hole to dig out of. I had managed to get my weight down to 160 lbs, but felt both weak and burnt out. I actually had friends do an intervention. They wanted to know if I was “all right.”

This all lead to a SAD food binge and before I knew it I was up to 195 lbs and climbing. I also was battling a really bad case of psoriasis. The medical industry was no help. About this time I had a bad alcohol moment. No legal trouble or abuse or anything, but I managed to totally freak my wife out and myself. That was July 1st of 2017. I decided then and there to retire from drinking and get my health back. Enter the New Revised Primal Blueprint. Once again I devoured it. This time I decided to really embrace the whole concept.

Shortly after I signed up for the Primal Health Coach certification program. Partly out of a desire to help other people to overcome their weight and health challenges and partly to keep myself on the right path. Since then I have completed the certification and have continued to embrace the lifestyle. I currently weigh 162 lbs but feel much stronger both physically and emotionally than I did when I had dropped to 160 lbs. My skin issues have resolved. Existing joint pain has diminished. My last A1c was at 5.2.

AfterSo what have I learned:
• Diets don’t work, lifestyle changes do.
• Food can be very addictive, treat it accordingly. If you crave it, it might be a problem.
• You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.
• Find a way to let go of old hurts, they can hold you back.
• Be willing to experiment and do your own N=1. You need to find the best way of eating for you (preferably within the Primal framework).
• Yes, sleep and recovery are important!

I still enjoy my time on the bike but with more of a focus on enjoying the ride. I also have had luck experimenting with the carnivore diet and although I recognize this is not the best approach for all it seems to work well for me and is a valid tool for some. I can also see a diet that leans more towards plant based working well for others. N=1 baby! A special thanks to Mark Sisson for his influence and resources.

Grok on Friends!
Jim Tipton
Certified Primal Health Coach

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