There’s nothing like a receiving an email from a reader that chronicles their Primal journey. It makes my day. This one, from active forum member Timothy Williams, was sent in a couple months ago (and then an update last week). Timothy has seen tremendous results following the Primal Blueprint principles. Read his inspiring success story and then begin (or continue) your own. Grok on!
Thank you for your kind email. I’m a little star-struck to be addressed in person! I want you to know that I am a huge fan of your web site, and it has radically changed my life, even though I’ve only known about it for a few weeks. Allow me to explain a bit.
I stumbled across MDA a few weeks ago on the recommendation of one of my favorite writers, Karen de Coster. I was blown away by the wealth of practical conclusions on MDA, all drawn from the simple premise that our bodies are finely tuned for an environment of evolutionary adaptedness that existed before agriculture.
I studied anthropology and early humans for many years in the context of economic and social behavior. For some reason it never occurred to me to apply the same context to nutrition. Palm on forehead, I felt like Thomas Huxley after learning about Darwin’s theory — how stupid not to have thought of that! But I guess all great ideas seem obvious in hindsight.
So I was very eager to read all I could about primal fitness and implement it immediately. I read some research on grains and couldn’t believe that it never occurred to me that the human body might have trouble digesting monocot grass seeds when it was adapted to meat and dicot plant foods, and that the USDA recommendations might have more to do with politics than nutrition. Then I read the MDA success stories and was entranced by the testimonials. I couldn’t stop until I had read them all.
Grains, it turns out, have been destroying my body for years. Since my mid-twenties I suffered with horrible intestinal symptoms, diagnosed with IBS, then ulcerative colitis, and maybe celiac disease. All I knew was that when I ate some foods such as bread, my abdomen swelled up as if I had swallowed a beach ball. The only doctor-prescribed solution that did anything for me was psyllium husk. (Needless to say, I never touch that stuff now.) Last year, my wife got pregnant and I became extremely motivated to get fit. I shed the first pounds with grueling exercise, grim determination, and replacing most of my diet with kefir, but my symptoms doggedly persisted and I did not feel well. I thought I was permanently damaged.
To make a long story short, I made a complete recovery within a week of discovering MDA. A week! After seven years of illness!
Please feel free to use anything I write on the success stories page (or anywhere else). I’m also looking forward to producing some before and after pics eventually. I’ve only been doing the PB for a few weeks, but having gone from 200 pounds a year ago to 160 now on a 5’9.5″ frame, the difference is already dramatic. I had to throw out my entire wardrobe and buy all new clothes! Everybody in my life seems amazed at my physical transformation, but only a couple have inquired about the method. I send them directly to your site, which speaks for itself.
Thanks again, Mark. I look forward to reading and implementing your crucial insights for many years to come.
About four weeks ago, you published my story and I set myself a goal of living as primally as possible and taking progress pictures. It’s been quite a month!
The black and white photo is from my wedding in 2002. The second photo is from December 2008, when I finally decided to buy a tuxedo instead of rent one because my body composition was so inert. My waist was 38″ and my weight was somewhere above 200 (I wasn’t checking). Not surprisingly, I can’t find a swimsuit photo of myself. But I think you know what moobs and an enormous belly look like.
The third picture is from late 2009, after I had launched an all-out fitness effort for about seven months. Our son was about to be born and I was really proud of what my hard work in the gym had achieved. I plateaued at 185 and a 34″ waist, and as you can see, I was feeling pretty good about it.
Then I discovered the Primal Blueprint. I have described it as a second puberty, and better by far than winning the lottery. I hope these photos from this afternoon, demonstrating two months’ progress, will show that I am not exaggerating.
Today I weigh 153 pounds, my waist is 30″, and my body composition is still changing rapidly.
I would like to emphasize the ways I did not achieve this transformation. I did not ask my doctor if Lipitor was right for me. I did not call 1-800-GET-SLIM. I never counted a calorie or calculated my protein-to-fat ratio. I did not hire a personal trainer to goad me, nor did I join a class to keep me consistent. I didn’t buy any exercise gadgets or meal replacements. I no longer went to the gym to perform narrowly targeted exercises under fluorescent lights.
All I did was extensively study your articles, draw inspiration from the many successful and supportive MDA forum members, and buy a sledgehammer and a pair of Vibrams. Then I did what came naturally.
When I first started the Primal Blueprint, my goal was to lose body fat and gain muscle. But that has proven only the tip of the iceberg, the most visible manifestation of a full spectrum of health benefits that have left me feeling reborn. So I would like to share my top ten most unexpected benefits of going primal:
- Endless energy. Sure, I expected to feel a bit more peppy. But I did not expect to find myself, on a whim, running shirtless for miles through winter rain after a 24-hour fast on a day I’d already exercised.
- Ironclad immune system. I used to get sick every couple of months. Since going Primal I haven’t had so much as a sniffle, even as the other office workers have succumbed to winter sickness left and right.
- No more migraines. Who knew that my crippling migraines were a function of diet? I never figured that out. I thought they were due to skipping meals or not getting enough sleep.
- Tinnitus no longer noticeable. If you’ve ever had constant ringing in your ears, you know how annoying it can be, and how much you wish there were a way to make it stop…
- Mad chef skills. My whole life I resented cooking. I didn’t mind cleaning up as my contribution towards the tedium of home-cooked meals. But now I find that with a few simple ingredients, I can easily make things at home that are far more delicious and nutritious than the finest restaurant fare. This has been extremely empowering.
- Food bills slashed. You would think that buying grass-fed, organic everything would be more expensive. But actually I eat a lot less often, deriving far more nutrition from what I do eat, and consequently I have already saved a great deal of money on pre-cooked, unbalanced meals and snacks. I can and often do go for a whole day without hunger after one well-planned feast.
- Connoisseur’s palate. Just like a man who eats nothing but spicy food fails to appreciate any other taste, so I had been blinded by my carb-centered diet to the full range of flavorful fats and proteins. I eat all sorts of stuff now that I previously considered inedible: kimchi; sauerkraut; sardines; chicken liver. And I realize that far from depriving myself of my favorite foods, I have discovered new favorites that are much tastier than the toxins to which I had been habituated. When I eat a piece of fruit these days, it is a treat as stupendously delicious as it is rare: just as it was for Grok.
- Hormonal balance. I never realized it at the time, but my body was drowning in cortisol and insulin, and that threw off my entire hormonal balance, particularly by suppressing testosterone and HGH. My secondary sexual characteristics (facial hair, musculature) were quite weak. Now that the proper balance has been established, I feel the unmistakable effects of testosterone coursing through my veins. My beard is thicker and I’m having to get used to feeling particularly confident and intense all the time. But that’s a problem I welcome solving!
- Near-immunity to sunburn. Throughout my life, a half-hour’s direct sun exposure left my skin looking and feeling like it had been scalded with boiling water, and it took weeks to recover. Now, I spend hours in the sun shirtless without even a patch of tender skin afterwards. I can only conclude my body has become orders of magnitude better at protecting and repairing tissue. To me, this suggests many startling implications, not least among them the prevention of cancer and senescence.
- Food is medicine. I never suspected that the world’s greatest medicines, the cures for almost every disease, the elixirs of strength and youth, are freely available in nature’s most delicious foods. I used to be a ward of the medical industry, plied with expensive prescriptions and intrusive diagnostics and lectured on my blood pressure by morbidly obese doctors. Now that my health is in my own hands, I am a free man at last. I don’t expect to take another pharmaceutical as long as I live.
I still can’t believe it’s been only two months since I started the Primal Blueprint. I look, feel, and think like a different human being. I feel connected as never before to the vast chain of human existence, all the way back to our early hominid ancestors. My life is now filled with a sense of adventure and possibility.
To all those thinking of giving the Blueprint a try for the first time, especially those who, like me, have grappled with health and weight issues all their lives: I eagerly invite you to join me. For this is not the end, but only the barest beginning!