My Healthy Lifestyle Was Killing Me

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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!

Amidst all of the holiday parties near the end of 2010, my BMI tipped from normal to overweight. Concerned that at age 52 my luck might be close to running out in evading the type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease that run in my family, I decided that it was time to lose weight. I’ve never had a major weight issue, but 20+ years of treatment for endometriosis, the onset of menopause, and 20+ years of living the suburban, increasingly sedentary life with an obese spouse had finally caught up with me. I set a realistic goal of losing 20 lbs by April of 2011.

I’ve never believed in “diets” since I have seen what happens in the overwhelming majority of cases – follow the “diet,” lose weight, back to the same-old-same-old, pack on more pounds than before. So I decided to be sensible and follow conventional wisdom. By instituting sustainable changes to my diet (counting calories, adding more healthy whole grains, less fat, less junk food) and a manageable exercise routine (worked up to chronic cardio!), I met my goal. By mid-April 2011 I was down 23 lbs and 2 sizes. Woo hoo! I should have been ecstatic, but I knew I had a problem.

I’d lost the weight, but I was feeling weaker and had experienced a couple of really scary incidents of severe diarrhea which lead to incapacitating dehydration compounded with hypothermia. I had to be rushed to the emergency room twice over a two-month period. After numerous tests and consultations between my GP and the ER doctors, the diagnosis both times was stomach virus. Great. They were clueless.

The second incident had been worse than the first. By the time the paramedics arrived (quicker than the first time) my veins had already started collapsing and I was non-responsive. I didn’t feel too confident about surviving a third bout. I learned to become aware of the initial signs of dehydration and was able to manage it by drinking ridiculous amounts of water (12 – 16 glasses a day!) supplemented with Gatorade. There had to be a better way. Of increasing concern to me was that over the next three months I dropped another 10 lbs without trying, and started developing sagging skin – a sure sign of muscle loss. Being small-framed and with a family history of osteoporosis, this was not good.

Somehow I stumbled upon MDA. As I started reading, a lot started making sense. The exercise portion was a lot like what I did as a kid. Having grown up in NYC with no car in the family, my feet were a basic mode of transportation. Sprints were how my friends and I got to elementary school (had to wait for mom to catch up to cross the street), lifting heavy things was how we got groceries home and up the stairs, and let’s not forget going up and down stairs (2 or 3 steps at a time weighted down with books in Jr. and Sr. high school) in the train stations, as well as regularly climbing 2-5 flights of stairs to reach family members’ and friends’ apartments (elevators were not an option).

After reading The Primal Blueprint (the only u201Cdietu201D book I had EVER purchased), I came to the realization that my u201Chealthyu201D lifestyle was going to kill me, literally! I must admit that even in spite of that, I had a lot of trepidation about going without the grains and legumes and increasing my fat intake. I had no problem dropping processed foods because my dad didn't consider anything out of a can or pre-frozen to be u201Cfood,u201D and my mom made the distinction between real food and party (i.e. junk) food. For over 50 years I had eaten oatmeal or cream of wheat as part of my healthy breakfast almost every day. Breakfast without grains just did not seem like it would fill me up. Being of Caribbean ancestry, rice and beans had also been lifelong staples. However, on July 23, 2011, I decided to give this Primal thing a try for a week. One week later I was down another 3 lbs, but, in spite of my husband's concerns about my u201Canorexiau201D — no worries — I was also down one full size! Using one of the online body fat calculators, I estimated that my body fat had gone down about 3%, which correlates well with the 3 lb weight loss. Over the next few weeks I took a few forays back into the world of SAD foods, because who the heck was this Mark Sisson guy to deprive me of my old comfort foods. I quickly discovered that what Mark had to say didn't matter because my body was saying the same things loudly and clearly.

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