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!

Folks, I have been grateful for every story that has come my way over the years. It’s an incredible privilege being on the receiving end of your reflections and evolutions, and they are why I’ve kept at it all these years—knowing the message and information have made a difference in people’s lives. I appreciate every single one. I’ll add that today’s has inspired me on a new level. It’s a powerful narrative and huge testament to the impact of diet and lifestyle on our mental well-being. Thank you to reader, Megan, for sharing her strength, tenacity and hope with others today. 

Hi everyone. Mark recently requested success stories and work-in-progress stories. I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and took that to be my personal kick in the butt. I am a work-in-progress story. I was waiting until I was a success story, but as you will see even though my journey isn’t complete, I already am a success story. I have found inspiration from other stories, even the work-in-progress and failure stories; it is good to see that imperfections exist, and it is ok to fail. I can only hope to inspire others. Because, my story is one of hope—hope for myself and hope for others like me.

I had a difficult upbringing with a mother who had an undiagnosed and unmedicated mental illness. She tried the best she could to be a mother, but she was overly critical toward me and even competitive with me. I would hide in the outdoors, books and food. Secretly eating a bag of cookies by myself or hiding Halloween candy that I would binge off of when she wasn’t looking. I lived solely off macaroni and cheese for dinner (yes, every night) for about a year and a half in fourth and fifth grade until I suddenly couldn’t stomach the smell anymore (At 40, I still can’t to this day). Friends in middle school and high school thought it was amusing how hyper I would get from sugar and would feed me pixie sticks and other candies on purpose. You would think that I was extremely overweight with these eating habits, but I was active as a child through high school (marching band, track, hiking, cycling) and looked every bit the “normal kid,” albeit an emotionally scarred one; I was happy and bubbly on the exterior but falling apart inside. I was regularly sick with sinus infections or bronchitis. When I hit puberty, my mother’s criticism’s turned to fat shaming me even though I was actually technically underweight. I refused to eat healthy foods as a way to rebel against my mom. I excelled in school and read more books than ever as a way to escape.

I started to exhibit signs of a mood disorder when I was in high school with extreme bouts of depression and some episodes of rage, typically around “that time of the month.” The beginnings of grandiose ideas also manifested, on occasion. The depression was severe enough for me to have suicidal ideations, but no actual attempts. The depressive lows continued into college, but then the highs started to come. I would not be able to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning and then wake up ready to go at 6 am for days on end. Then I would crash and swing back to extreme lows and want to sleep for hours. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I went to the health fair at school. On a whim I filled out a “how are you feeling questionnaire.” I checked off a few boxes, handed it over and thought nothing of it. I was so used to feeling the mood swings; including extreme depression that I thought that feeling that way was “normal.” The staff at the tent looked over the results and was so concerned that they would not let me leave. They walked me right over to the mental health clinic to get checked out. That fall (2000), I was diagnosed with Bipolar I. Around the same time I also was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and began thyroid hormone support.

Enter a series of different cocktails of psychiatric medications. My weight yo-yo’d along with all the side effects of the various medications (mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines). I continued to have all the classic symptoms of Bipolar I, grandiose ideas, paranoia, severe depression, anxiety. I wouldn’t allow myself to have a credit card because I couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t spend the whole thing in a matter of a couple of months. I made one major attempt to take my life by intentionally overdosing on about 40 slow-release lithium tablets (please do not try this; after dialysis I am lucky to be alive and not a vegetable). I was also hospitalized on several occasions for short inpatient psychiatric treatment stays. I didn’t have many friends because I wasn’t stable enough to be a reliable friend. People didn’t know how to behave around me and treated me differently, like someone who needed extra care instead of just like anyone else. I went through various cocktails of medications and found I responded better to the older, but that I was never truly “stable.” I tell this part of my life story not to shock, but to say that there is hope for healing. I want to show how far I have come and how far it is possible for others to go by adopting the Primal Blueprint. Photo: me in 2007 after several years of medication.

I went back and forth with running over the years as a way to lose the weight that the medications put on. Running also became an addiction and a meditation for me; a different way to escape reality. Add in my rescue border collie to run with, and I was in heaven. Running with her was my happy place. It saw me through broken friendships, a divorce and meeting the incredibly supportive and loving husband I have been with for the past 10 years. On the first date I told him my diagnosis, and he said “ok, let’s do this.” My friends told me I was crazy to tell him. I guess they didn’t know my diagnosis…. Photo: happy wedding day. (Me in 2013.)

Without realizing it, running made me sick with more inflammation. I ran six half marathons and one full marathon before quitting due to severe tendonitis in one ankle. At this point I was frustrated. I had been heavily medicated for over 15 years and never really felt well; I felt like I was hiding behind a veil and not letting people see my true self. I started doing research on scholarly articles for how gluten and casein could play a role in exacerbating mood disorders. I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. Within a week my husband asked where my stomach had gone. I had been so bloated for as long as I could remember that I thought it was normal.

Nursing my ankle back to health and still feeling frustrated, I continued with my research and somehow stumbled on Mark’s Daily Apple in early 2016. AND IT ALL CLICKED. The pieces of the puzzle finally came together. The health and environmental impacts of following the PB made complete sense and I was all in. I was already GF, but I started adopting more of the PB principles. We bought organic grass-fed meats from the local farm, ate organic veggies. I ditched process foods and sugar. I stopped drinking caffeine. I identified that gluten, caffeine and sugar gave me anxiety, and that dairy gave me depression. I eventually also ditched alcohol, which I realized also caused depression and sleep disturbances. I went from brittle nails to being irritated with how often I had to trim them. The extra 25 pounds slowly fell off over the next year and a half. I was on the lowest maintenance doses of my medications ever. My period was normal for the first time in my life ever, regular and with no PMS.

This is me on vacation in St. Croix in 2017 – I’m at my healthiest ever but still medicated.

I was doing kundalini yoga at the time and without realizing the power of the practice, I put myself into a manic state. Despite my pleas not to, I finally agreed with the psychiatrist to go back on Zyprexa. This medication destroyed my gut microbiome I had worked so hard to repair, and I gained 20 pounds back in a matter of two months. Once I was off the Zyprexa, I continued to eat Primally, but not as well as I had been. My psychiatrist is thankfully one who is a bit more progressive than most. He listened to me tell him that I felt like I was pinging back and forth on low doses of mood stabilizers to anti-depressants. He decided to take me off medication and see what happens. After 17 years of psychiatric medications, I took my last dose Thanksgiving of 2017. If that isn’t a success story, then I don’t know what is.

A year and a half later, I am still struggling to lose the weight, and have my periods back to normal. I struggle with sleep on a regular basis. I am working with a naturopath to identify supplements that support the methylation pathway issues we identified, and sleep is slowly normalizing. But I am still off psychiatric medication and my thyroid hormone medication dose has slowly been lowered by a third of what it was two years ago. I have had no paranoia, and no mania. I have not been hospitalized in almost three years. I have had only minor bouts of depression, mostly associated with hormones.

I can’t do the 80/20 rule like most folks can and am much closer to a 100% rule. That works for me, but doesn’t work for everyone. I do not eat gluten, except for maybe one special “treat” while on vacation once or twice a year. I do not eat dairy. I meditate and practice mindfulness and compassion. I do yoga, hike, walk, play with my dogs, and do body weight exercises when I am up for them. I use a kettlebell for my sprints once every week or two. I run a 5k once a month to get my running in but won’t allow myself to do more than that. I have embraced minimalist shoes 100% of the time, if I am not allowed to be barefoot (happy ankles and feet again). I have slowly been reducing my need for glasses for myopia. I began removing environmental toxins from my life years before I discovered the PB. Allergies are less severe and I have much less frequent sinus infections, and, when I get them I recover much quicker. So, while I feel like I am struggling to get back to where I was and feeling really frustrated, I have to remind myself that I already am a success story. My psychiatrist now jokes that I am a boring person for him and has discussed discharging me. He asked what I think precipitated the illness. I really don’t know the answer, but my guess is an unchecked thyroid condition (my antibodies were negative the one time I checked, so I don’t know if I have an autoimmune condition), a really bad diet, emotional trauma as a child and extreme stress. I don’t know the answer, but I guess it doesn’t really matter because I have a way to manage my symptoms.

This is me in the early morning after hiking to the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia NP in 2018. Feeling healthy and happy being medication free! Mark, my husband, my dogs, my family, my friends and I thank you for saving my life. My psychiatrist told me several years ago that of all the people he treats with Bipolar I, only about 25% are able to function in society (complete college and hold a successful and functional place in the career world/society). Statistics indicate that I would have eventually either taken my life or the psychiatric medications would have done it for me. Thank you again for saving my life and giving hope to others. I’ve often been told that I am strong to have been through so much and made it this far. My husband tells me how much he admires that I get up and face the world every day even though all I want to do is curl up with the dogs and a book in bed. He asked if I was scared what people might say if they found my story. It doesn’t matter. I’ve found that people are too quick to dismiss me because of a label. I’m sick of being a label and an outcast. If my story is out there and can help one person, then I feel fulfilled. Because maybe someone else is out there looking for another way, but they can’t find it because someone didn’t speak up to tell them that there might be. I really appreciate you giving me a way to take back control of my life. Thank you for giving me the means to help myself. Hopefully my story can provide help and hope for others.

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The post Feeling Happy and Healthy, Medication-Free 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 progress will forever be in the works. But it does have a beginning.
I wasn’t born fat. I never even thought about weight or body fat until I realized that I had become too chubby. Around the age of 14 or so. I guess the hormonal changes and probably the decreased activity did it. Not really sure. Because I had always eaten incorrectly for my body. Too much sugar, wheat, processed foods. My belly has been bloated for as long as I can remember. I remember eating Grape Nuts as a kid and feeling bloated minutes later. I never put two and two together, until much later. Even though I was nowhere near fat then, food was still having an extreme effect on my health.

After having my two children, things got worse. I focused on them and forgot about who I was. Being a mom, wife and working a full-time job literally left nothing in the tank for me. I was still bloated, stressed out and definitely sugar addicted.

And then the weight crept on. By the time I was 45, I was at least 70 pounds overweight. And, I felt horrible. And because my children were almost grown, I was also able to see it and feel it more. I was depressed. And I ate more chocolate.

I remember clearly one fall day, raking (or attempting to rake) the lawn. My whole body felt like it was on fire. My back had sharp pains and I was too out of shape to complete the task. That was my final straw. I started to research a solution. Even though I knew a lot about food and what I shouldn’t be eating, I had so much more to learn. The diet choices were endless, but I settled on a well-known one, The South Beach Diet. And my journey began. My body was happy with the lower carbs (I still didn’t understand the sugar/gluten issues), and I immediately began to feel better. I ordered a kettlebell exercise program and began my journey into fitness. By the time my son was getting married in 2012, I had lost 30 pounds, and I was feeling pretty good about the way that I looked. But I still had the nagging stomach issues and bloat, and I was still clearly addicted to sugar.

In June 2013, my youngest son was home from college, and I got it into my head that he and I would find something we could do together for the summer. I happened to open the paper and see an article for the grand opening of a Crossfit gym in our hometown. I mentioned it to him and he said, yes, he had heard of Crossfit and we should try it. Full disclosure, I had never heard of Crossfit and I wonder now, if I had, if I would ever have wandered into that gym.

That weekend, he and I checked out the gym and committed to three days a week, starting the following Monday. Ironically, that week is also the week my best friend died of breast cancer. There were so many things in play at that time, I find it hard to sort out in my head, but I credit Crossfit for getting me through it. One, because I was so sore and tired, it was hard to think of anything but my body and two, I felt instantly like I was doing what was right for my body. My emotional pain was lessened by my physical pain—and little did I know, I was training my mind to beat anything that came before me.

A lot of Crossfit gyms prescribe to the Paleo method of eating, and this gym was no different. Eight months after I began my journey, they posted a Paleo challenge, using the Zone method of eating. After I completed that challenge and within the next few months, I had dropped another 40 pounds, literally without trying. My body had finally found the way it needed to be fueled, to maintain its optimum weight.

Since then, I have continued to Crossfit (just started my seventh year) and I eat Paleo for the most part. I have dabbled with Keto and found that I always go back to not wanting the strictness of counting carbs. I just eat veggies, with a bit of fruit. I eat no grain still (found that was my poison) and try to make/eat any treat I have without sugar (I have found sugar substitutes that work).

I prescribe to the Big Ass Salad method and faithfully eat one every day at lunch. We raise chickens, so I eat plenty of fresh eggs and meat too. I believe in organic and whole food. Simple is better for me. No processed foods.

My weight may fluctuate 5 pounds or so now, but I remain lean and fit. I have gained quite a bit of muscle over the years, and I wouldn’t consider myself thin.

But here’s the thing. I am 55 and I feel like I am 20. I have no aches and pains (other than sore muscles). My resting heart rate is 50 and my blood pressure is awesome. I take NO prescription drugs. Could I drop dead tomorrow? Yes, and I truly hope that is the way that I will go. But I won’t finish out my life in the same shape I was in 10 years ago. It has been a long journey and not one that you can describe to younger people, but to the older ones who know, isn’t life great when you feel awesome?

I hope this inspires someone who may just be at that tipping point. When you find your groove, it will transform you and your relationships and how you see everything else in life.

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The post I’m 55 and Feel Like I’m 20 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!

Two years ago, I was walking around our farm with a cane. I have always worked out hard, mostly weightlifting, calisthenics and martial arts. But at the age of 50 I was feeling the cumulative dings of my active youth. A clicky and sore shoulder; pain in my hips. With time I found myself banging out minimum-effective-dose type workouts just to maintain my strength and physique. I had given up on yoga and martial arts because it was no fun with the pain, and they seemed to aggravate the situation.

By the time I took to using a cane to get around the farm, I was really starting to feel sorry for myself. I saw an orthopedic surgeon. He tried to find the right anti-inflammatory that wouldn’t make my stomach bleed. When I suggested a more holistic long-term solution, he replied, “Well, hip surgeries are really good these days.”

As the co-director of Gingerhill Farm Retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii, we have the luxury of constantly tweaking our daily routine. We had experimented with so much already. From gluten-free to paleo. Keto to eat for your blood type. Alternate day and intermittent fasting. I started again from the basics. I figured the pain was inflammation. But from what? We grew our own food and protein and only bought organic for the few things we didn’t grow. Why wasn’t I feeling better?

It took me years to tweak my routine to where I am finally working towards back flips and gymnastics strength progressions. The breakthrough for me came about in a series of “aha” moments. Research led me to mitochondrial health and specifically, the effect of light on our cells. I realized that even though I lived in Hawaii, I was not getting enough sunshine. Worse, I had gotten in the habit of watching YouTube videos at night, zapping myself with harmful blue light in the process. I decided it was time to overhaul my light exposure patterns.

By this time I was so desperately missing the joy of movement, that I adopted “a move it or lose it” philosophy. I started varying my routines to include a much wider range of movement. From slack line to cart wheels, lizard crawls to spinal waves. My wife and I picked up Zouk dance and at the same time started offering a weekly Ecstatic Dance at the farm. I picked up Martial Arts again and trained some of my farm staff so that we could play together.

I tweaked my diet in new ways. Not so much with what I ate, that was already impeccable, but more when. I had come across some of Dr. Satchin Pandas work with time-restricted feeding, and it resonated with me.

Today, we wake and meditate with the staff for thirty minutes. Then, I take some anti-aging supplements I have been playing with. Currently, Resveratrol and NR. I stretch out real good and work out for an hour. I climb ropes, practice muscle ups, work on my press handstands, pistols, and walking on my hands. Whenever I can, I walk barefoot. I run sprints and jump. I still lift weights—deadlifts, squats, again the basics, but I don’t worry so much about the weight.

I still get sore hips sometimes. My shoulder still clicks. But my range of movement is improving, and I am making gains on all levels. Best of all, I am having fun.

Here are my tips, in order of importance:

  • Try and watch the sun rise and set every day.
  • Get as much sun as you can without burning, daily. They are lying to us. The sun does not cause cancer. Burning your skin does. This does not change the fact that you need sun. Everything has its dose. Increase your time as your tolerance increases. Do not use sunglasses unless you have to. No sunscreen. Naked is best.
  • Avoid artificial light after sunset. This means your phone and computer and TV too! LED bulbs are a deal breaker. We use red bulbs when we have to. Candles are better. Use blue blocker glasses when blue light is unavoidable. People will like your red lenses.
  • Move it or Lose it! Variety and consistency over intensity. Remember to challenge yourself. Always be working on a new skill. It’s good for your brain.
  • If you ignore these basics, light and movement, I don’t think it matters too much what you eat. You won’t be able to derive nutrition from your food. You could eat organic food in a cave with no sunlight, and you would get sick. And the opposite is also true. Plenty of sun mitigates a host of potential health hazards.
  • Eat real food. The clock begins with your first cup of coffee, which activates liver enzymes. Try to eat all your calories (no need to count them) in no more than 9 or, better yet, 8 hours.
  • Don’t rule out the obvious. Drink plenty of clean water. Avoid GMOs and moderate sugar intake. But we know this stuff already. We just don’t follow it all the time.

Following these tips will go far in giving your body the best chance of maintaining its circadian rhythm. I think health is most directly affected by the quality of your rest and recovery. I will be 53 this year and I feel like I am back on track again and excited for what’s to come. Remember a cheat day every now and then is a good thing. It will not offset your progress if you are diligent. We are the sum total of our daily habits. Create your perfect daily routine and stick to it.

Zachary Nathan
Gingerhill Farm Retreat
gingerhillfarm.com

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The post I Am Making Gains On All Levels 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!

Yup, success stories are back! And I’m looking for more. Follow-ups, mid-progress reflections—every story at every stage has the potential to inspire folks out there who are getting started or contemplating a new beginning. Contact me here to share your story—long or not so long. You never know who you’ll impact by doing it. Enjoy, everyone!

My success story isn’t one of weight loss amazement, but it’s still about an overall remake. Tyler version 2.0, I guess. My Primal path started about four years ago because I simply got fed up with feeling gross and tired. I had some friends and social media acquaintances who often touted the benefits of Paleo living and how eating real food made such a difference for them. I was skeptical. At the time, I remember being on a kick of eating more rice because I thought, “healthy carbs in large quantities are surely a good thing.” But on a Saturday morning in March of 2015 I told my wife I had had enough of feeling like garbage.

The next day I went to the grocery store on a Primal shopping mission. I loaded up on meats, fruits, and veggies with the determination to eat from those three categories for two weeks. If I didn’t like it or didn’t find it helpful, then I’d find a plan B. Well I’m still on Plan A, thank heavens. I went through the carb flu and came out on the other side intact. Yes, I had a couple of cheat moments those two first weeks, but I kept the 80/20 rule in mind and didn’t beat myself up over it. Heck, I still don’t!

Like others, I reveled in the fact that I could indulge in eating almost endless amounts of glorious meat (and fatty goodness), yet not gain weight or feel lethargically disgusting like I did when eating mounds of pasta, pizza, or other SAD foods. It was so wonderful to not count calories or watch my portions while on this new “diet” I was trying. The diet became a passion, and it became pretty darn easy. I went through the phase of telling everyone else they were eating wrong and that Primal was the only way. They didn’t all listen. Bizarre, I know. So I adapted to quietly telling the benefits of my lifestyle when asked, but I stopped shouting it from the mountaintop.

Fast forward to 2017 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Without yet knowing my preferred diet, my doctor gave a short sermon on how I’d have to radically shift my lifestyle away from a normal Western diet and avoid processed foods. When I told him of my Primal ways, he gave me a nod of approval knowing I was already on the right track. Having Crohn’s is a little scary (and many other people have ailments way worse, I know), but knowing my diet and lifestyle were already strong helped me feel a little more at ease. I still take the prescribed medication, but I’m confident my lifestyle will pay dividends in the long term helping me avoid heavier-duty prescriptions, surgeries, etc. And I now look back at my early days with even more gratitude for you and other Primal/Paleo advocates. You gave me something healthy, sustainable, and satisfying that I can use for the rest of my life.

In March of 2015 I weighed a little over 180 pounds and now weigh in around 165. I feel good, like this is what was meant for my body. Now in my early thirties, I am confident I won’t get that “dad bod” I was worried I’d someday have to face. I still eat mostly meats, fruits, veggies, and nuts and seeds. I don’t worry about missing meals or having all the food groups in that pyramid thingy. I lift heavy things and run up the hill in my yard just for a short sprint now and then. Because why not. I am not perfect – I don’t have a workout routine, I should probably eat even more veggies, and I still partake in non-Primal indulgences like beer or a half pan of brownies in a moment of weakness. Yeah, I could try harder, but I’m happy and I like this version of me. And I’m excited for the growth that might just yet come.

Thanks, Tyler

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The post I’m Confident My Lifestyle Will Pay Dividends 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!

Yup, success stories are back! And I’m looking for more. Follow-ups, mid-progress reflections—every story at every stage has the potential to inspire folks out there who are getting started or contemplating a new beginning. Contact me here to share your story—long or not so long. You never know who you’ll impact by doing it. Enjoy, everyone!

Dear Mark, Thank you for asking for my contribution. And thanks for your unending support, inspiration and courage that you show everyday in your writing, your offering of healthy food, and your very presence.

I was a food addict. I was unhealthy. I didn’t really care.

Interestingly, I had Mark’s Daily Apple on my computer for years and never put it together that it was you or that it could be of any real help to me; some cool ideas….someday. When the stronger inkling of doing something about not feeling so well came up in me (age 65), it was the book Primal Blueprint that was there for me and that I was drawn to. Ultimately, I would need to lower my carbs even more to succeed at weight loss, but I am glad I started with your book because it talked about wonderful things like walking barefoot and volleyball on the beach with young studs. It got me feeling/thinking and opened my perspective on food and life.

The pictures above are the beginning middle and ongoing part of my keto/new lifestyle way of living. I now use fasting and lower carb eating to continue to sculpt and improve and perhaps lose a bit more. I think of it as reshaping and renewing now rather than aging.

I now kayak with people younger than me and train with a gyrotonic instructor a few hours a week. I am 19 months into my new journey.

Once I made the decision and choice to do keto, and my body switched to burning fat as my fuel instead of carbohydrates, which for me took 3-4 months, when it became easy for me and has been a joy ever since. Let’s see…..eat this piece of bread or FEEL FANTASTIC. No chance, especially since I can have my own bread which I make with all organic ingredients.

I enjoy my life so much more. Food is this glorious celebration after fasting for a bit. I continue to read and tweek things, and the adventure will never end.

This final picture is just for fun. I feel playful now and frisky. Not sure if the world is ready for me……..

Submitted with so much JOY!!!

Paula M.
September 2019

The post I Enjoy My Life So Much More appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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After decades of one step forward and two steps back, Lucy Hilton finally found her stride.

For as long as she can remember, Lucy Hilton was overweight and her family’s Portuguese heritage meant a dinner table filled with bread, sweets, meat and potatoes every night. “As a child, I ate ice cream for breakfast while watching cartoons,” Hilton says. “Eventually, I stopped getting on the scale and wore jogging pants all the time.”

With no foundation of healthy habits, Hilton reached 225 pounds by age 21. “I ate what tasted good, and what tasted good were sweets and carbs,” she says. An unhealthy marriage further contributed to her weight gain.

Lucy Hilton, before her transformation. 

Fitness and Nutrition Starts and Stops

In her early 30s, Hilton finally found the confidence to leave her marriage, move back home and start over. “I started moving my body more, which felt good, but my diet still needed work,” she says. “I started reading fitness magazines and began to incorporate meal-planning tips into my routine.”

Things really kicked into gear when she met her now-husband Derek, who was following a sugar-, dairy- and wheat-free diet — and challenged her to try it for a month. Hilton ditched the ice cream in her freezer and jumped on board. She also expanded her food horizons to include sushi, lamb, seafood and salads — without the heavy dressing — and with the help of a boot-camp class, she had soon lost 30 pounds.

Despite her success, life got in the way. Hilton went back to school to become a dental hygienist. Her workouts and healthy eating habits were sidelined, and her weight began creeping back up.

Second Chances

While mourning the death of her father in 2013, Hilton realized she had stopped prioritizing herself — again. “I knew that to be happy, healthy and strong for those around me, I needed to put my health first,” she says. “That might seem like a selfish thing to say, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle for anyone who struggles with their weight.”

Hilton spent a few more years yo-yo dieting and working out sporadically, but in 2017, she took on a new challenge: to do a figure competition. She hired a competition coach to help with her training and nutrition and began a 16-week contest prep program. Hilton swapped out her granola bars and boxed cereal for vegetables, salads and healthy proteins and fats. “Detoxing from sweets was probably the hardest thing for me. However, as long as I stuck to my plan, those cravings waned,” she says.

She also became an early bird and began to go to the gym at 4 a.m. “I found a gym ‘family,’ and once that family knew my goals, they pushed me to work harder on those days I just wanted to nap!” she says. 

Hilton competed in her first figure show in April 2019, taking third in Novice Figure and second in Masters Figure at the NPAA BC Classic. She now has her sights set on bringing an even better body to the stage in April 2020.

Lucy Hilton, after.

Stats

Location: Nanaimo, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada

Age: 48

Height: 5’5”

Occupation: Registered dental hygienist

Lucy’s Favorite

Athletes: Nicole Wilkins, Jamie Eason Middleton, Tosca Reno and Erin Stern

Exercise: Lying leg press on the Smith machine

Advice: When I come face to face with my old food vices, I ask myself, Why I am craving this? Am I thirsty? Tired? Bored? Then I walk away. If I am still craving something, I will have a small bit to satisfy the craving and will never regret it or feel guilty because life is about balance.

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Having dropped 30 pounds, Tonyael Miller is now inspiring others to get healthy.

A chronic yo-yo dieter, Tonyael Miller was stuck on replay: She’d follow an extreme diet from January through June, reach her goal weight in time for her birthday in July, then party the remainder of the summer. By winter, working out was a thing of the past. She was also in an abusive relationship and used food as a coping mechanism for her depression, binging on barbecue, fried food, sweets and pizza — no matter what her mood. “I would eat when I was happy, sad, mad or just because I felt like it,” she says.

At her therapist’s recommendation, she agreed to incorporate fitness into her routine and booked an appointment with a trainer. Though she was inconsistent, she managed to lose 30 pounds and even ran a 10-mile race. Things were looking up — until she moved to Atlanta for a new job.

“I had worked really hard to keep the weight off, but at that point, I decided to live it up,” she says. “I instantly gained all my weight back and was at square one again. I was disgusted with myself.”

Tonyael Miller, before her fitness transformation.

Competitive Consistency

Miller vowed to get into the best shape of her life, and in 2017, she decided to train for a fitness competition. She hired a new trainer who specialized in contest prep and committed to one year of consistent workouts. “When I first started, [my trainer] had me do sprint intervals,” she says. “I would have to take a break after like 10 seconds and couldn’t even complete 10 sprints.

In terms of nutrition, Miller eliminated red meat and pork from her diet and adopted a mostly pescatarian meal plan, with occasional infusions of chicken or turkey. She also focused on stopping her binging behavior, even when it came to healthy options like fruit. “I’m learning how to eat the things I love in moderation because this is a lifestyle change,” she says.

Effecting Change

Miller, now single, enjoys fitness modeling and has been working with Atlanta-based athletic brands as an ambassador. Fully embracing her new way of life, she is studying for her personal training certification and plans to pursue a career as a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. “I am also planning to start a nonprofit for children to teach them the importance and connection of fitness and mental health,” she says.

Miller has also conquered the art of intervals. “Now I can sprint for 30 seconds at level 12 for 30 minutes with a 30- to 60-second rest in between each sprint,” she says. And while Miller hasn’t yet done a fitness competition, it’s still on her radar. Look for her onstage in 2020.

Tonyael Miller, after her fitness transformation.

Stats

Location: Atlanta

Age: 32

Height: 5’5.5″

Size before: 12

Size after: 8

Occupation: Financial coordinator

Tonyael’s Training Split

Monday: Back and triceps

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Shoulders, biceps and calves

Thursday: Legs

Friday: Glute isolation and chest

Saturday: High-intensity interval training

Sunday: Rest

Miller does fasted cardio five days a week for 30 minutes before lifting. She will either walk on the treadmill at an incline or do sprint intervals on the treadmill or StairMaster.

Tonyael’s Favorites

Mantra: You are your only competition.

Move: I love glute isolation exercises to sculpt my butt. I also love sit-ups and Russian twists for my waist.

Message: It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

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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!

Yup, success stories are back! And I’m looking for more. Follow-ups, mid-progress reflections—every story at every stage has the potential to inspire folks out there who are getting started or contemplating a new beginning. Contact me here to share your story—long or not so long. You never know who you’ll impact by doing it. Enjoy, everyone!

I have been doing Obstacle Course races since 2013 and tried to keep myself active in training, but my diet was never really in alignment. I was the poster child to demonstrate that physical fitness is not the driving component in body composition in health—diet is. My heaviest was 188 lbs (5’9”), and I was always disappointed to see my race photos showing a fat belly and zero muscle definition.

In the summer of 2018, I ordered 21-Day Total Body Transformation, The Primal Blueprint, and Primal Endurance. I read all of them on my summer vacation and decided to really focus on my diet. I started by dropping bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and other standard “carbs.” I increased my protein, changed up my vegetables and added significant Keto recipes to my diet. I also eliminated alcohol. In terms of meals, I moved to IF, only eating between 12 and 8:30 PM.

AMAZING! Hunger went away! No “blood-sugar” drop, dull mind, “starving”…. There are many days I have to actually remember to eat. It has been the easiest weight loss I have ever experienced. In terms of fitness, I used the Maffetone method all fall and winter in my training, then kicked in to a twice weekly training group for trail running with a mid-July Ultra Marathon (North Vancouver’s North Shore Knee Knackering Trail Run) as my goal. The only time I didn’t use IF was when I had early morning training runs of over 2 hours. I ran the race with the goal of coming in “around” 7.5 hours. I came around the corner to the finish with the clock just ticking over 7 hours and 1 minute—talk about a re-alignment of goals! I laughed at myself as I was suddenly frustrated that I didn’t break 7 hours. The mind is a funny thing.

I absolutely love the Primal lifestyle and diet. It is EASY and the results are beyond anything I could have imagined. I am currently at 155 lbs with single digit body fat. My wife was so impressed with the results that she started as well and not only discovered a wheat allergy was the source of much of her inflammation, she also started dropping dress sizes in the most effortless way possible. She had previously lost weight, hit a plateau and watched it raise back up again. This time, it has not stopped. Her skin cleared-up, and she dropped multiple medications. Absolutely amazing.

Our biggest complaint with the program is that we have both had to completely redo our wardrobes as none of our clothes fit!

Brian Erb

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The post The Easiest Weight Loss I Have Experienced appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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