Friday, April 28, 2017

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

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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I tried…

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

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

My ME Forever Plan:

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

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

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

Blood_Sugar_2Carrots, tomatoes, onions, most fruits (with the exception of berries), wild rice, white (& to a lesser degree, sweet) potatoes, beets, and stuffing myself with even heathy foods, caused significant glucose rises in my tests, so I eat them sparingly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


The post Success Story Follow-up: It’s about a Healthy, Real Life! appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

from Mark's Daily Apple

Super Quick, Last-Minute Dinners

In our house we rotate through three levels of dinners depending on our schedules:

  1. Classic productions of made-from-scratch food (weekend nights, entertaining, or Blue Apron, etc)
  2. Planned quick and easy recipes (favorites like Mexican bowls, Cook Smarts recipes, a quick fish/grain/veg meal, etc)
  3. Throw-together meals (cooking for one, use up what’s in the fridge, or no groceries in stock)

I generally plan these based on our schedules, Mazen’s schedule, weekend verses weeknight, and other deciding factors. Well, I guess I don’t plan the throw-togethers too often, but I know they will pop up every now and then!

I made this omelet on one of those “I’m alone and have nothing planned for dinner” and it turned out so great I want to make it again! I used three eggs, chopped smoked salmon, havarti cheese and dill. And I had a few spears of leftover asparagus on the side. Dinner, done and done in 5 minutes.

I’ve been doing a sheet pan of roasted vegetables every week lately, usually while I’m cooking Sunday or Monday night’s dinner (whichever requires the oven!) Then I have veggies to use for lunches or Super Quick Dinners all week long. This week’s was zucchini, two bell peppers, and a package of shiitake mushrooms that were to die for when they were roasted! So buttery-good. I drizzled on olive oil, salt, pepper, and dill and roasted for about 30 minutes.

The veggies went into a wrap for lunch the next day with tuna salad and melted cheese. (Note the Bark Thins on the side for dessert!) And I had them for lunch another day and a picnic dinner on Thursday.

Other Super Quick Dinner staples in my house are: big salads, No Bull Burgers, beans + rice with leftover cheese, pasta salad, and any veggies I can find. I can’t wait until the garden grows enough to do a lettuce and herb salad on nights when I have no veggies left.

I’ve been loving Cindy’s Kitchen dressings from Whole Foods lately. This started when I asked the salad bar team which dressing they used on their kale Caesar so I could make it at home, and they pointed me to the Cindy’s Kitchen Roasted Garlic Caesar. These are super creamy and not low-fat at all, but they are one of the few pre-made dressings I have consistently liked. I have the Caesar and the Chipotle Ranch, but after perusing their website, there are SO many more I want to try! They aren’t cheap though (I think $6.99?) so I’m going to use up the ones I have before trying more. Wish I could sample them all first!

Lastly, Cook Smarts is offering 25% off all plans in honor of its 4th anniversary! If you’ve been wanting to try it, now is the time! When I need a simple, quick and awesome ____ recipe (fill in the blank with crockpot, chili, frittata, etc) Cook Smarts is where I go!

What are your favorite Super Quick, Last-Minute Dinners?

The post Super Quick, Last-Minute Dinners appeared first on Kath Eats Real Food.

from Kath Eats Real Food

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust

Clean Eating Chocolate Pie Crust

So I’ve been doing this grain-free thing for a while now. And with the exception of a few slip ups, it’s been a pretty good experience, albeit a bit strict. And while eating grain free automatically ups your healthy fat intake, I’m finding that I haven’t gained any weight either. So I’m not arguing!

In fact, my cholesterol used to be high on the LDL (bad) and very low on the HDL (good). But since I’ve gone grain/dairy/legume free, those numbers have completely flipped! I have a huge supply of healthy cholesterol and the bad type is down considerably low. Can’t argue with that!

So while I may not continue with being as strict with following a Paleo plan, I can see myself enjoying recipes like the one here for many years to come without guilt and without worry.

Is going grain-free something everyone should do? No. In fact, while I understand the science behind going grain-free, I still stand firm in the fact that every person is different and every person’s body will need something slightly different. So it’s important to figure out what works for your own body and stick with that.



The hardest part about being in Ireland is learning to drive on the opposite side of the road and the opposite side of the car.

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust

Thankfully, I haven’t had to do it myself, but my mom… God bless her. Thousands of years haven’t destroyed some of the walls built by the Vikings that run along the road here in Ireland, but my mother might just get it done.

I’ve been hanging on to the “oh s#!$ bar” for dear life (thank goodness the car has one!). In fact, the number of near misses we’ve had just in the first three days has been nothing short of a world record. How I’m still alive is beyond me. My mother seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to ride with only her side of the car in the driving lane. The other half… well, that just scraps along the curbs, the walls, the lovely green grasses…. I’m just waiting to lose the side view mirror. It’s only a matter of time.

But life threatening driving skills aside, there were some beautiful sights between Avoca and Cobh. Here are a few…

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie CrustClean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie CrustClean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust

Then there are always the endless number of sheep. This particular cutie scared the pants off Mini Chef and I when we walked past his trailer at the gas station. Apparently our presence there was not appreciated. We walked by and the beast grunted at us. Scared us half to death. In turn, our reaction set off the entire trailer of sheep into fits of baa’s and the scattering sounds of paws trying to back away from us as best they could in their confined quarters. Mini Chef and I had a good giggle over that one.

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust

And then there was Cobh…

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust

More on Cobh in my next post…


This recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 5/8/13.

Clean Eating Grain Free Chocolate Pie Crust



Yield: 1 standard-sized crust


  • 12 ounces cashews
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup


  1. Blend in a food processor for approximately 3-5 minutes, then press into a pie tin.
  2. You can freeze it like this to fill later, or fill and bake immediately. If freezing, be sure to freeze in the pie pan inside of a large ziplock bag or air-tight container.
  3. NOTE: Not recommended as a top crust.


from The Gracious Pantry