Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Jan

A Cereal Addict Goes Primal

real life stories stories 1 2Many of you may relate to the story of Derek and his wife. It’s not a tale of dramatic weight loss, but a story of discovering an ideal body hiding within the body you’ve grown accustomed to.

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

Hi Mark,

Love your website and all the success stories. Our story is a little less profound than some in regards to total weight lost, but eating Primal has significantly improved both my life and that of my wife’s.

I’m 38 years old and my wife is 36 years old. I’ve been athletic my entire life, nordic ski racing, bike racing, climbing, backcountry skiing, endurance running, etc, etc. My wife, since she has been married to me (10+ years), has been very active as well. With my athleticism, I always had a ferocious ability to consume food, with my staple being Frosted Shredded Wheat, home made bread, pasta, and a myriad of other wheat based foods. I’m 6 feet tall and have weighed 200lbs for the past 15 years. I could run a marathon off the couch or ride a century, endurance was my specialty. I was always really aerobically inclined and just assumed that 200lbs was my ideal weight. But then I saw a picture of myself one day, then my mother joked to my wife that I was “getting a gut”, then I hopped on the scale and it read 204lbs. That was the beginning of the end for me.

My wife, when I met her, was a “skinny fat” product of the standard American diet, weighing in at a paltry, protein deficient 105lbs at 5’3″ tall. Over the years, her activity level rose and she became quite athletic and a strong rock climber. During those years, her back went south and she suffered with sciatica and eventually had a microdiscectomy to correct a bulging disc. After surgery, and even before, her weight steadily crept up to an eventual 135lbs despite being very active. She too just considered that her homeostasis.

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So last February I decided to measure what I ate for breakfast every day. I was shocked when I realized my morning bowl of Frosted Shredded Wheat with 1% milk was 900 calories! I have been a cereal addict my entire life. I could eat it three meals a day. So I started simple by eating 1/3rd less, then eventually 1/2 less of my cereal. I cut out the big cookie I had at lunch, then quit snacking throughout the day. Eventually my breakfast self-evolved into egg whites, 1 piece of toast, and some ham. Then it was usually flat bread, tuna or lean meat for lunch, and a light meat diet for dinner. I was burned out on back country skiing and skiing in general that winter, so I spent 3-5 days per week lifting. Needless to say, my weight plummeted by about 1lb per week or slightly more. I was pretty excited.

As time progressed, my diet continued to self evolve into a more Primal Blueprint diet. I stumbled across your website, and upon first read, I thought it was a little extreme. But after more and more reading of this site, and others like it, I decided to gradually eliminate all wheat and processed foods. The weight continued to come off, I felt very healthy, did far less “chronic cardio” and primarily lifted and did aerobic hiking/cycling about 4 hours per week total. Last spring I reached 175lbs (lost 25+ pounds) and have stayed there since, fluctuating by a few pounds lately due to increase muscle mass. I have absolutely no difficulty maintaining.

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Besides the pleasant side effect of losing weight, the biggest improvement in my health has been no more acid reflux and no more exercise induced asthma. I used to have terrible acid reflux that would keep me up at night and plague me throughout the day. It is now ENTIRELY gone, but will come back in a hurry if I get tripped up in eating wheat to any extent. I also used to have terrible cold weather, exercise induced asthma leading to frequent winter pulmonary infections, a constant cough, wheezing, and the need to take Albuterol and inhaled corticosteroids, and often times antibiotics for mild pneumonia following otherwise benign chest infections.

My summary: Eating Primal and exercising “smarter” allowed me to be leaner, fitter, and stronger in everything I do, it has also rid me of asthma and acid reflux. The benefits of eating paleo are in no way subtle for me, they are night and day.

At the time I started changing my diet, my wife obviously did too. It was winter, and she doesn’t ski much, so she started doing P90X. Her weight plummeted as well, about 0.5lbs per week by simply eating less processed foods, counting calories, and doing strength training. Her goal was initially 120lbs, which she reached fairly easy in about four months, with a few plateaus along the way. She eventually phased out wheat almost entirely as well, only eating small amounts very infrequently. Over last summer, she reached 115bs, was very lean, looked great, and was an aerobic machine when we went hiking or biking. It was pretty amazing. I would be hiking my normal pace, which was usually quite a bit faster and out of her comfort zone, but last summer she was absolutely killing it. Always right behind me, charging away, even sometimes with a heavy pack on longer trips.

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Intelligently losing 20lbs and gaining muscle on her already small frame was impressive, but this wasn’t the most significant gain for her from eating paleo. We have been trying to conceive for the past four years with absolutely no success, none at all. About mid summer last year is when she eliminated wheat/grains almost entirely from her diet and had reached a comfortable set point in her weight, and was doing mostly strength training with some light cardio. This last September, she announced to me that she was pregnant. There’s no proof, but it seems suspicious that we had no luck with this at all until she started eating Primal and eliminated wheat. Perhaps it’s just coincidental, but I don’t think so.

During her first trimester she had significant nausea and vomiting and a highly erratic palate for foods. During that time, she pretty much ate whatever she could, which often times was processed foods, lots of sugars, etc. But it was that, or eat nothing at all. We didn’t worry about it in the slightest. She is now in her second trimester and back to mostly eating Primal, getting her carb cravings from potatoes and fruits. She looks great and mostly feels great. The funny observation about her “diet” is that of her coworkers. They are all convinced she should discuss her “diet” with her doctor, because apparently, eating whole foods isn’t healthy. Hahahhaha! I love the logic of the ill informed.

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My wife’s summary: Eating primal and exercising “smarter” has allowed my wife to become a lean, fit, healthy woman, and we think, was a significant adjunct in her being able to get pregnant.

We are looking forward to busting myths that having a child means you have to eat processed foods and live in the drive through window. I’m sure we’ll both be just as fit at forty as we are now. Maybe more so.

Best regards,

-Derek

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Isn’t it amazing how you think you are healthy and your normal weight and build is the best you can hope to be. Then you start eating primal and you see what YOUR NORMAL was really meant to be!

    Sue wrote on January 21st, 2011
  2. The wife probably had PCOS until she went primal and was able to conceive.

    Sue wrote on January 21st, 2011
  3. awesome..been there..keep it going…

    richard wrote on January 21st, 2011
  4. CONGRATS on all your accomplishments – and not to get all broken-record-y – but please investigate all the medical procedures (vit k, vaccines, shots) that the hospital will try to perform on your little new one and make sure YOU are comfortable with them –

    PLEASE REMEMBER YOU CAN REFUSE ANY AND ALL OF THEM until you have been fully informed! (sometimes they will try to tell you you can’t…)
    good luck!

    DaiaRavi wrote on January 21st, 2011
  5. I will totally agree with your assertion that living a Primal lifestyle increases fertility (either that, or we’re genetic freaks). When my husband and I got married, we decided we weren’t going to “try” for a baby, but we would let nature take its course instead of obsessing over preventative measures or timing, etc. of our *ahem* activities. We had both been Primal for some time.

    Five weeks later, I announced the conception of our daughter to my husband!

    I would also like to share that our midwife made me go in for a test to look for gestational diabetes, the idea of which was to chug a 50mg glucose solution, wait an hour, and draw blood to see if it had any deleterious effects. I never found out the exact test results, but boy, did I feel like crap the rest of the afternoon!!

    Erin wrote on January 21st, 2011
  6. Congrats on your success and the little one! Its amazing what side BENEFITS come from living a primal lifestyle. Grok on!

    Primal Toad wrote on January 21st, 2011
  7. Congratulations on changing your lives and the new baby on the way. What a great gift to your baby to raise him/her primal. It’s so much harder to change their ways when they are older.

    Fitgrl09 wrote on January 21st, 2011
  8. Congrats on the pregnancy, and a great story. My son and his wife also conceived, after three years of trying, within a month or two of switching to a not-totally paleo diet, but more of a WAPF-real foods sort of diet. My 16-month-old grandson is the joy of my life! His favorite real food, when he began supplementing his mom’s breast milk with real food, was pureed liver and banana. :-)

    He’s never been fed any commericial “baby foods”, just real foods. He even loves steak, which his parents – in a true primal fashion – pre-chew for him, since he has no molars yet.

    Debbie wrote on January 21st, 2011
  9. Congratulations!

    Hire a doula!!

    (consider a homebirth–it’s so Grok.)

    Sally wrote on January 21st, 2011
  10. I love that story and I love this website. I get constant inspiration to keep doing what I’m doing, despite all the naysayers.

    Melissa wrote on January 21st, 2011
  11. Great success story Mark! Congrats to both of you on the coming baby!

    In regards to GERD: I tend to favor the theory that grains (and sugar and unfermented, pasturized dairy, along with other factors, like prolonged stress, not enough sleep, etc) are the culprit in cases of GERD, not “acidic” foods such as tomatoes and oranges.

    The ingestion of grains, so the theory goes, throws off the very acidic nature of the stomach, actually making it’s contents more basic. In order for the body to trigger a dump of the chyme (what that bolus of food is called once it enters your stomach), as well as a flood of the appropriate digestive enzymes, it must reach a certain level of acidity. But grains, being very difficult to digest, and very basic (opposite of acidic,) stay in the stomach for a while, not really reaching the appropriate level of acidity, particularly for those sensitive to grains. During that time, the grains start to ferment in the stomach, causing you to burp up stomach content, hence GERD.

    The really fun part is after the grain-containing chyme does finally dump into the stomach. Remember those enzymes I mentioned earlier?–because the chyme was never acidic enough to trigger the flood of digestive enzymes, there is nothing present to make this acidic chyme basic again (which it must be to appropriately absorb through the intestinal lining and into the body.) The body must find a way to make the chyme basic enough to be absorbed. The body, having many back ups for terrible situations, takes calcium, a relatively abundant, negatively charged ion (basic) from the body and sends it to the chyme so that it will be basic enough to be absorbed by the small intestines, into the body (this is why TUMS contain calcium.)

    Unfermented, pasturized dairy has a similar but less profound effect. This, in combination with the fact that the calcium in milk is not particularly bioavailable to humans is why milk is such a lousy source of calcium (some would argue it leads to a net loss of calcium from the body.)

    Of course, this throws off the PH balance of the entire body, leading to (at least in theory) diseases that the body could normally fend off, as well as fun conditions like osteoprosis.

    “Acidic” fruits and veggies do not cause GERD. I eat a bundle of them every day and never have a problem (as I’m sure is true of most Groks out there.) As was pointed out by Dana, these foods (in fact, ALL foods) are LESS acidic than your stomach lining, so the idea that they cause GERD (which we should think of as a symptom, not a disease) is ill informed.

    Of course, if you have ulcers from GERD, it’s probably a good idea to avoid acidic fruits until the ulcers heal up. But, and I think everyone here can agree, the first step is to do what Mark and his wife did–go Primal and cut out the grains!

    fritzy wrote on January 21st, 2011
  12. I always love to read these stories, but this one had a great surprise at the end. Woo hoo! Congratulations on your health and best wishes to you and your growing family :)

    kristiina wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  13. Excellent testimonial! I also have no doubt that the conception is at least partly due to changing your diets.

    I also support the idea of primalizing your whole family’s diet. I’ve got three kids, have nursed all of them at least 2 years (well, the 15-month-old is still going strong), and simply start them on solids from our plates: meats, eggs (watch out for allergies with this one — save the whites for closer to 1 year old), cooked veggie, some cheese, some fruit.

    Baby food tastes awful and is a waste of money — and pureeing stuff for them is a waste of time. We just wait until ours can sit up, have a few teeth, and reach for food with bright, happy, eyes, and they do great learning to feed themselves. (I cut food in tiny bites and mash hard stuff with my fork.) Our first baby literally didn’t eat more than a tablespoon or two of solid food until she was 8 months old (exclusively breastfeeding the whole time), but she was the picture of health and gained weight right on schedule. The others really didn’t try eating until 6-7 months either, and sometimes not even every day. You can be much more relaxed about this than the standard advice would lead you to believe.

    Our current baby eats sauerkraut, liver pate, chopped tomatoes, and all kinds of other things other people wouldn’t dream of handing a baby (or perhaps eating themselves!). Our older kids are also strong, healthy, athletic, and adventurous eaters to boot. Sure, they love bread and candy (and I’d like to know how other people minimize this stuff as their kids get older and eat away from home more!), but they also love the healthy food we eat at home (soups with our own bone broth and tossed salads are always popular), so they are in good shape.

    Dawn wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  14. my staple being Frosted Shredded Wheat, home made bread, pasta, and a myriad of other wheat based foods

    Too much of anything is not good. Nothing wrong with those foods, just limit the amount. Common sense.

    Jaques wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  15. Congratulations on the diet success and the new primal baby on the way. It put a smile on my face to think that a child will grow up to understand food (reality) as it truly is instead of growing up and believe lies. This is how a primal generation is started. :)

    Aaron Curl wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  16. Wow!! Congratulations to the both of you!!

    Félix wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  17. Looking good! So inspiring for others trying to do the same thing. Primal baby!!! Love it.

    sma wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  18. Peaks are Pheifferhorn, Devil’s Castle, and the approach to King’s Peak.

    I can eat whatever I want with no acid reflux, but a few days of grains will make the reflux return. I don’t drink much alcohol, but I can now enjoy a glass of wine without having to pre-post medicate with Pepcid.

    Weighing 25 pounds less makes mountain biking uphill much easier too;)

    Derek wrote on January 22nd, 2011
  19. great story. but why so much “lean meat?”

    please let go of the fear for SFA.

    regards,

    PHK wrote on January 23rd, 2011
  20. Great story!! I was a big cereal (and granola) eater once upon a time too. Now I get my cereal fix with “nutty granola” which I make myself. It is grain free, made with soaked raw nuts, dates, apple, a little maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, and a few other things. Food process and then dehydrate (I have an Excalibur which I use all the time, so I make big batches of this granola – it is a bit of work, but so worth it!!). I eat it with whole milk, cream, almond milk, or plain. My two-year-old loves this stuff more (thank god) than the Frosted Mini Wheats or Trix which his grandma buys for him.

    Dawn wrote on January 23rd, 2011
    • PRK, your grain free granola mix sounds divine. Can I have the complete “recipe.” Also, if I don’t have a dehydrator, would you recommend baking the batch in the oven at a low temperature. Thanks in advance, SRK

      SRK wrote on January 27th, 2011
      • Here you go – this is from Raw Food Real World. Once upon a time I was a mostly raw foodie (for a brief bit) and there are some holdovers in my Primal lifestyle – raw nuts being the main one, and salads of course :=)

        I honestly can’t make any recommendations for oven baking this granola. I have tried different recipes, oven baking nuts, and I always burn them darn it. You would have to experiment for yourself I guess!

        NUTTY GRANOLA
        Soak at least 6 hours, or overnight:
        1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds
        2 c. raw almonds
        3 c. raw pecans
        1 c. raw pumpkin seeds

        Soak separately for a few hours:
        2 c. dates (pitted)

        In food processor combine:
        1 apple, cored and chopped
        Soaked dates from above, drained
        1/2 c. maple syrup or raw honey (or less)
        2 T. lemon juice
        2 T. orange zest
        1 T. vanilla extract
        1 t. ground cinnamon
        2 t. sea salt

        Food process on high til smooth. Transfer to large bowl.

        In same food processor bowl (no need to rinse), place drained nuts and seeds that were soaked above (drain and rinse in fresh water first).

        Food process until coarsely chopped (how coarse is really a personal preference – just don’t process too long or it will turn into nut butter).

        Transfer to large bowl with rest of ingredients. Mix well. Stir in:
        1 c. dried cranberries

        Divide evenly between three Teflex-lined 14″ square dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 hours or so, flip the granola off the Teflex sheets onto regular trays, and dehydrate for a further 12-24 hours (again, dependent upon humidity, the type of dehydrator, personal taste, etc.).

        Enjoy!

        If you don’t live in a relatively dry climate, you may want to store this in the fridge.

        You can also vary this recipe – use different nuts, a different dried fruit, different spices, etc.

        Dawn wrote on January 31st, 2011
  21. PHK,

    I like lean meats for taste, that’s all. I’ve never had the ability to gobble meats with tons of visible fat hanging off of it.

    I make my “Powerbars” with coconut oil for the “glue” to help hold them together. Plenty of SF in those.

    Derek wrote on January 23rd, 2011
    • thanks.

      You’re like my husband who does not like fatty cuts.
      so he gets his SFA from butter/heavy cream/coconut oil.

      i am the opposite. i always found skinless lean meat, bland & dry. (even during my “SFA phobia” days.) i think i’m more a fat eater than meat eater. XD.

      cheers,

      PHK wrote on January 23rd, 2011
  22. Congratulations! I’m sure your pregnancy is not a coincidence at all. As someone who endured fertility treatment (and was successful) and then reversed reproductive problems with diet many years later, I’m glad you found this out now and can bring your family up Primal from the get-go.

    Alison Golden wrote on January 24th, 2011
  23. Good story — pregnancy part is nuts.

    Nicky Spur wrote on January 24th, 2011
  24. We have three kids and when they hear McDonalds they think ei ei ohh!!! As in the farm!!! So, the answer is definitely NO about having to eat processed foods and go to drive thru!!!

    peter Pain wrote on January 24th, 2011
  25. What an inspiring story, loved the pictures, thanks for sharing.

    Kim

    kim wrote on January 25th, 2011
  26. Congratulations! How can your results not be “profound” with the creation of a new little one? When I took out gluten, and most grains out…oops…three little ones arrived 6 years after we married. I definitely feel there is a connection. Congrats again, and as always, thanks, Mark, for all you do and creating a place for sharing all this information!

    Lauren wrote on January 25th, 2011
  27. Congratulations! Your story made me cry. You both looks so healthy. I’m sure you will be great parents!

    Liane wrote on January 25th, 2011
  28. It’s pretty funny how idiots who know nothing about nutrition like to make comments to people who are making obvious physical Improvements.
    I have a aunt who is a nurse (a complete imbecile) who likes commenting on my diet and supplementation.
    I am a 6’2″ bodybuilder who weigh in at 245 lbs (prior to 1-1-11).
    I’ve been on the Atkins diet many years (no grains)but my new years resolution was to eliminate dairy.
    I don’t want to lose weight but today I notice that my love handles are completely gone…(I haven’t weighed myself).
    I do not want to eliminate coffee but black coffee tastes pretty bad. I have been making coffee smoothies with black coffee, cashews and coconut flakes in a VitaMix It’s pretty good, try it!!!

    Duane wrote on January 26th, 2011
  29. I stumbled onto this website as I was researching celiac/disease gluten intolerance. Your wife getting preggers after eliminating gluten/wheat is pretty common from what I have been reading. In fact, my new doc advised me to cut out gluten immediately as gluten intolerances can flare up autoimmune disorders (rom which I already suffer…thyroid disease). He then proceeded to “warn” my husband and I “to take precautions” once I eliminate it as many of his patients get pregnant soon after (many after being told they were infertile and babies were a lost cause for them).

    I am looking to handle my autoimmune disease in a more holistic manner: ie through diet and exercise. Paleo seems to be a natural fit, so I’m a new fan :)

    Megan wrote on April 4th, 2011
  30. I already love Fridays. But I look so forward to these success stories. And I love reading the comments too. I’ll take anecdotal evidence over “clinical” evidence any day. Anecdata is personal experience – I find that a little more real. I wish I could get my man on board but he can’t do without the carbs. You don’t realize just how addictive they are until you stop but continue to watch someone else.

    Heather wrote on August 12th, 2011

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