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

A Simple Flip of a Switch: Body Fat Lost, Athletic Performance Improved, and Inspiration Served

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!

Having always been relatively healthy—no chronic diseases or weight loss demands—I came into Primal living differently from many of the stories I read on Mark’s Daily Apple. Now 13 months into my Primal journey, I am grateful to be physically and mentally healthier than I’ve ever been.

My journey did, however, begin with a doctor. Despite my cushy shoes and custom orthotics, clicking, popping, and throbbing in the base of both big toes led me to seek a podiatrist’s help. I was quickly diagnosed with arthritis. A procedure had to be performed at a hospital to correct the problem and I was told to stop running and mountain biking. After telling the good doctor that I wasn’t going to take his advice because I absolutely love running and biking, I asked what he’d recommend to lessen the future degradation of my joints. He said, “Vibram FiveFingers, and read Born to Run.” I took that advice and “ran with it.” My feet have healed themselves, and now it’s rare for me to ever wear shoes. If I do, I’m in my huaraches or FiveFingers.

While talking to a colleague at work about my FF, he recommended that I check out MDA. I did and I never turned back. The Primal concepts were so simple—so logical—that I felt compelled to try it.

Like many guys in their 30s, I enjoy being active and tried to do whatever I could to stay active and not get fat. With two young boys, a career, and the Standard American Diet, this seemed to get harder every year. I wouldn’t consider myself a chronic cardio kind of guy, but runs of 5 or 6 miles and mountain bike outings for an hour at time were common. I also enjoyed an occasional 5 or 10k race where my times were respectable.

Trip - Before - 2011

Going Primal seemed like a simple flip of a switch that improved everything in my health. The very first thing I noticed was that my energy level was always the same, no matter what time of day, assuming I got the proper amount of sleep. Peaks and valleys of energy were gone. I noticed that my athletic performance drastically improved. I went from competing with myself in 5k runs to placing in my age group in almost every race—without really training for it.

Trip Running

Although I was never drastically overweight, I wanted to trim down for reasons of vanity (and subsequently, health). I cut ten pounds through calorie restriction prior to going Primal, but had energy problems and I really decimated my enjoyment of eating. When I discovered The Primal Blueprint I cut another 20 lbs while feeling great. I learned to love real food and discovered a passion for cooking that I never knew existed! My waist is now the same size it was when I was a competitive sprinter and soccer player in high school. My body has found its ideal composition and I’m very happy with it.

February 2013

What makes my experience more fulfilling is watching my parents have even more success than me. They saw my physique change, my diet become more fulfilling, and my athletic performance blossom, so they asked what I was doing. I introduced them to PB and their success has been astonishing. My mom doesn’t have to take her diabetes medicine anymore and my dad hasn’t weighed this little since the 1970s! They look great, feel great, and have had to replace their wardrobes because they lost so much weight!

Trip D. - 8 Months Primal

Nowadays, my siblings, my parents, and I will be seen together eating delicious plants and animals, avoiding grains, wearing goofy shoes with toes built in them, and enjoying the Primal lifestyle!

Trip D.

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. Great Job! Reminds me that I really need to give the FF a shot. I gotta get by the way they look with “work” clothes (dress pants and button downs etc).

    It’s wonderful that you were able to enlighten your family to the primal life style as well! Kudos for that!

    Primal and Proud wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • There’s actually minimalistic dress shoes that are similar to the Vibram FF except the there’s no individual toes. You might look into those.

      Jacob wrote on October 25th, 2013
      • For instance Vivobarefoot–definitely office-grade minimals in their arsenal.

        Tom B-D wrote on October 25th, 2013
        • Sweet! been looking for something like that, those heals on men’s dress shoes made me feel like i was walking on stilts

          Fish wrote on March 22nd, 2014
        • If you’re like me, and you don’t find those shoes “dressy” enough you might be able to modify a traditional pair of shoes to your liking. I managed to do this with a trendy-lookin’ Kenneth Cole shoe. I used various hand tools to pry off the heel block, discarded the block, then glued the thin rubber heel piece back on. They turned out very nice at nearly a zero drop. I will admit, this was an incredibly laborious project, but it was completed in one night. It’s a amazing how many staples and glue go into the heel block of dress shoes.

          Trip wrote on March 23rd, 2014
    • Thanks! I got over the look with dress clothes very quickly once my foot pain and back pain went away. I’m lucky to be at an office where the let me wear FF. Although, if not doctor prescribed, I’m not sure how that would have gone over. I even had my desk raised earlier this year so I stand most of the day now, or lean against the arm of my chair if my feet need a break.

      Trip wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • Trip,
        Is this your personal story? Would you be willing to speak with me personally? I just want to ask you a few questions, etc. If you are willing, please shoot me an e-mail at Thank you my friend. I hope to hear from you soon. Great story by the way!! Keep up the good work!

        Brian Smith wrote on October 26th, 2013
  2. I think it’s awesome that your parents followed suit. Nice job being an inspiration!!

    Amy wrote on October 25th, 2013
  3. Wow! you look great> such an inspirational story. I always thought that you reach a certain age and point where you cant look like you did in HS. But youre proof that you can and with the PB lifestyle it can be achieved. Thanks for sharing.

    brittanee wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • It’s a funny thing many of us have assumed, myself included, that age necessarily comes with a certain degree of physical degeneration. But I think modern day hunter gatherers likely look like they did in HS – or rather, at that age!

      Anna wrote on October 25th, 2013
      • Yup, just look at the old men in Papua New Guinea…freakin’ studs.

        Nocona wrote on October 25th, 2013
  4. Dude, you look awesome! Well done for coming so far in such a short period of time. What a wonderful doctor you must have as well for recommending vibrams! Maybe some of them are catching on after all. Bonus points for getting your parents on board, keep spreading the word!

    Josh wrote on October 25th, 2013
  5. Great story Trip. Sounds like a cool doc you went to! Congrats on getting your parents healthy I’m sure that was hugely rewarding!

    Luke wrote on October 25th, 2013
  6. I’m happy for you, and so grateful that your parents were reasonable :)

    Debbie wrote on October 25th, 2013
  7. What a change in the last before and after picture!! You look great. And your parents are improving their health too — not too many parents take advice from their grown kids so yours are smart. Great story, thanks for sharing.

    Sandy wrote on October 25th, 2013
  8. Smile its more fun 😉

    Great story!

    sjoshua wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • Noted :) Guess I do look a bit too serious in those pics!

      Trip wrote on October 26th, 2013
  9. So glad I got to read this! But it got me very curious know more about what you eat? I’m mostly wondering about how much carbs, if you take any supplements and recovery meal? I’m also a FF-runner, and have been eating 90% paleo over the last three months, i feel so good and full of energy, but nothing has happens with my 20 lbs I want to loose…

    // Swedish fan

    Sofia wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • Sofia, have you heard about The Whole 30? Look it up if you get a chance.

      Terri wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • Thanks for your answer! Yes I have… The thing is that I’ve been compeeting in orienteering during the last months, used to be att elit level but now after injuries I’m trying to come back. So I’ve mostly looked att “the paleo diet for athletes”. The competitions has aslo meant that I’ve been travelling and living in hotels which is the reason for only eating ~90% paleo. The first 1,5 month on paleo I ate around 50-70g carbs per day, except for evening before competition. But after being one month on paleo my performance was getting worse and worse without any apparent reason. It was so bad I even went to my doctor and checked my iron-level and thyroidea, but the lab results were fine. So I had no explaination for my terrible performance, but I came up with two theories: lack of magnesium or I wasn’t eating enough carbs… So I started with magnesium spray and doubled my carb intake, and after 3 weeks I felt like my performance wasn’t getting worse each day and after 5 weeks it felt much better! So I belive it was because of lack of magnesium, but I don’t know, I’ve been reading as much as can about paleo/LC/weightloss and training, but unfortunatly nothing has made me less confused… But I think I will go lower on carbs again, and now the race-season is ower, so I will definetly look more at whole 30, but I’m still not sure about eating carbs in recovery meals or not…

        Sofia wrote on October 26th, 2013
    • Part of the primal lifestyle that was so appealing to me when I got started was that that I didn’t have to create a rigid plan for eating or exercise. I never have, and still don’t, count my macro nutrient intake or calories. I don’t have planned meal times either. I simply eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m satisfied (not full!). I exercise when and where I’m able and make sure to mix in some soft of lifting (or pushups/pullups) as often as possible. I know that’s vague, but workouts are generally 2 or 3 times per week for me, and vary from running, biking (road/mountain), swimming, lifting weights, sprinting, or whatever else sounds fun.

      Although I don’t count, I’m positive my carb intake is less than 100g per day. I eat tons of vegetables. But it takes a huge amount of veggies to reach 100g/day. A whole head of lettuce only delivers about 20g! I don’t eat processed carbs of any type. Just fresh veggies, and the occasional sweet potato, fruits, and berries. I don’t drink carbs either. I drink water. My coffee stays black. Fruit juices get consumed after a good workout, but I don’t drink those very much.

      I also got wise words from my brother when I started to pay more attention my body. He’s one of the most muscular guys I know with deep knowledge of the science behind building muscle. I greatly valued his opinion on weight/body composition when he said “Don’t weigh yourself. Let the mirror be your guide.” I weighed myself for curiosity’s sake, of course, but certainly relied on the mirror to let me know how I was doing :)

      Good luck to you! Sounds like you’re off to a great start!

      Trip wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • Okey, thanks again!! :)

        Sofia wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • Well done Trip! And your response above to Sofia…well, you nailed it, for me at least anyway. Your approach as you described it is exactly why PB and going primal in general works for me…and I suspect quite a few others.
        Thank you for putting so succinctly into words…couldn’t have said it better myself.
        I’ll add…using the same approach, I just hit 50 and I’m happy to say…hit it pretty hard! I didn’t think to take any before pics but the after pics keep me going, stronger and happier than ever!

        Tom wrote on October 30th, 2013
  10. Love this story. I am at the point where I need to lose about 15 more lbs. This is inspiring to hear that primal concepts got you there.

    Captain Competition wrote on October 25th, 2013
  11. Way to go, Trip! I love how you did it for vanity, and that inspired your parents to do it for health. So awesome.

    Anne wrote on October 25th, 2013
  12. Congrats and thank you on two fronts; one, for commenting on FF and two, for talking about your parents’ success. Most success stories are by people younger than I am (middle aged) so I like to hear the “we older folks” PB success stories. We are the most indoctrinated by our doctors on SAD because we are moving into the “at risk” categories.
    For those of you wondering about “oddness” of FF with business attire, I bought a pair of New Balance’s Minimus in black. While they are a compromise from the FF design (probably) I like that I can get the minimalist shoe concept but look “normal” enough to wear them in office. For men, there is almost an all-black choice.

    gardengal wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • +1

      Lisa wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • Vivo Barefoot also make a few shoes, in all black, that should be acceptable with most business casual attire. I work at a law firm and no one bats an eyelash at mine! (Although, I do live in Alaska and the dress here tends to be more casual than other places. To each his own!)

      Stacie wrote on October 25th, 2013
  13. Congrats. Great story.

    Matt wrote on October 25th, 2013
  14. Good job. The red mohawk photo reminds me of the wrestler “Hawk” of the Road Warriors.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on October 25th, 2013
  15. Sharing the love. Great story!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on October 25th, 2013
  16. Good to hear you have a podiatrist who is wise enough to step away from the unsupported “well cushioned, supportive shoes with good arch support” mentality. The idea that there is something inherently wrong with feet that needs to be corrected by modern footwear appears to be a concept that is (thankfully) on it’s way out the door, even in conventional medical circles.

    Congrats on you and your families successes. Great job!

    Fritzy wrote on October 25th, 2013
  17. Great story! While it’s always interesting to read about someone who lost 100 pounds by going primal, I think a story like yours actually has wider applicability. Like you, I always had enough discipline to remain relatively thin and reasonably healthy, but I knew deep down that I did not feel or look “optimal.” That’s what primal living has given me.

    perelmanfan wrote on October 25th, 2013
  18. Cheers on the transformation, and double cheers on inspiring your parents. We’ve worked to do the same, and have had little success–although they will eat whatever we cook them and not miss the junk. Baby steps, right?

    Brent wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • Trying to convince your parents? Robb Wolf has lost both of his parents to diseases and complications of the SAD – his dad 8 years ago, and his mom 3 months ago. He has a couple interesting posts about it (including the personal toll it costs trying to convince someone to change).

      Papa Hotel wrote on October 25th, 2013
  19. So great when you inspire other people! Thanks for sharing your story.

    Siobhan wrote on October 25th, 2013
  20. I love the success stories! Alway great reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. :-)

    Stephanie Paris wrote on October 25th, 2013
  21. Thank’s for sharing! Very inspiring :)

    Christin wrote on October 25th, 2013
  22. Great story!

    I’ve had a similar experience with introducing my parents to the PB. I’ll have to share my success story soon!

    Algebra Grok wrote on October 25th, 2013
  23. Did you ever ask your doctor why he first went to a procedure before recommending PB?

    Evan wrote on October 25th, 2013
    • I was wondering the same thing. If he knows that VFFs will help heal/prevent problems, he is also probably aware of PB. Kudos that he did finally recommend VFFs when you refused surgery, but why on earth was he sending a young guy like you to surgery in the first place if he is even semi-enlightened?!?!

      And I want to live where you live: docs who recommend VFFs, colleagues who ask about them, then recommend MDA, and parents who listen to their son and follow his example! What a combo!

      Chica wrote on October 25th, 2013
      • What a combo indeed! It’s been a fun journey.

        The doctor said that the level of arthritis in my left foot (the one that had the procedure) should never been seen in someone my age, unless he’s perhaps a soldier or a professional athlete. When he looked at the x-ray I could actually sense the concern in his face about how bad the joint was. I’m sure this is a result of playing soccer for about 15 years in tightly fitting cleats and running in horrible cushy shoes with arch supports when I wasn’t wearing cleats.

        The procedure was essentially sticking a needle into the joint and injecting some goop to re-lubricate it. Otherwise the throbbing and clicking and popping would not have gone away because apparently the joint doesn’t have the capability to rebuild itself in this way.

        I agree that it would have been amazing if he’d recommended FF before recommending not running/mountain biking anymore. I will be sending him this story so he can know how he impacted my life and perhaps he can continue to help others the same way with a FF-first recommendation!

        Trip wrote on October 26th, 2013
  24. Great transformation!

    Mark: I’m eating according to the primal blueprint I’ve been avoiding grains and I like the results. Did you see this post on grains:

    I found it very interesting and would really like your input

    Adam wrote on October 25th, 2013
  25. I had a similar discussion about orthotics and cushy shoes with a physical therapist this week. I asked why, when people come to PT with low back pain, you don’t want them to wear a back brace or support. It relieves some of the pain and feels good, but docs and PTs all say the brace just weakens back muscles because they are so supported by the brace. Precisely my point with shoes! So why do they recommend “bracing” feet? The PT admitted that was a very good point. I told the podiatrist the same thing and he’s quit telling me to not go barefoot all the time.

    Laurie wrote on October 25th, 2013
  26. Great job Trip – well done to you and your parents on the success. Another great Friday success story to inspire us all!

    Grokesque wrote on October 25th, 2013
  27. Great work Trip! Keep it up!

    Erik wrote on October 25th, 2013
  28. Ha, goofy shoes!

    rlarson wrote on October 25th, 2013
  29. I had a show-and-tell discussion recently with two primal brothers about footwear. One was wearing a “dress” shoe by Vivobarefoot, and the other was wearing a BOOT by Lems ( Lems has some great casual shoes including one called Primal 2. (?) Returning my Merrell Gloves to REI (always fit too tight) and picking up a pair of Lems!

    Rob in Alaska wrote on October 25th, 2013
  30. Great story, please ask your parents to pay it forward and share their story with Mark, it might be very beneficial for those of us wishing to inspire our parents or other older folks with a story heard in their voice… Id especially like to see their thoughts, when they watched you change and how this made them open to trying new things… Im a little weary of the, “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” and think that a story by them might be just the trick some people need to get thinking about change….

    Jane Britton wrote on October 26th, 2013
    • Just talked to them about it this morning :) I hope you’ll see their story soon! Great suggestion.

      Trip wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • Yay! I was hoping they’d put their story up too.

        goldfish wrote on October 26th, 2013
      • can’t wait! thanks

        Jane Britton wrote on October 26th, 2013
  31. Thanks for your story Trip. I always a love the stories that talk about people taking control of their health issues without drugs/surgery if possible.

    And I too think it would be great to read your parents story. I am probably their age, and have had great results. But people ask me what I am doing, then look at me like I am crazy when I tell them, and then proceed to tell my why it is wrong! It frustrates me that so much of society has that “oh well, what do you expect when you are MY age” mentatlity. Rubbish! You are NEVER to old to make an improvement to your life, big or small, and ALL improvements count! Can’t wait to read their stories.

    Looking good Trip (but yes, you do need to smile)

    HillyM wrote on October 26th, 2013
  32. That’s amazing!! And so awesome that your family has gotten involved as well. I wish my parents would take it seriously, my mum believes in a balanced diet which involves grains and as I have always been pretty skinny, she can’t see any results to be serious enough to change. :(

    Helen wrote on October 26th, 2013
  33. That’s so great by reading your post!! Have heard somewhere that we should remember that in order to be in shape your lifestyle needs to change. Diets do not work. A more accurate way of measuring if you are on track with your weight loss is to record your measurements.

    Jenny Stafford wrote on October 27th, 2013
  34. Well done. You look so healthy.

    Lizzee wrote on October 27th, 2013
  35. Nice work! Grok on!

    James wrote on October 28th, 2013
  36. Great job!

    Pablo wrote on October 29th, 2013

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