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

From Athlete to Overweight to Primal

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!

On the day I graduated high school I made sure to weigh myself.

Weight: 175 lbs.

I figured the day was one of those landmark days in life. For some reason I figured I’d always look back on this day as the day I was in the best shape of my life. It would be the peak of my life from a physical and mental standpoint. I was young, athletic, and ready to take on the world.

Growing Up

Up to that point, my life was full of sports. Athletics was a year round activity for me throughout my childhood and teen years. As a young kid I played organized baseball and soccer. When I wasn’t doing those I was playing football and basketball with the neighborhood kids. During the winter I kept plenty busy shoveling the snow in our driveway. The combination of the harsh Wisconsin winters and a dad that loved having a new helper kept my young body in shape as I spent hours moving heavy snow after every storm.

When I got to high school I participated in three sports: football, basketball, and golf. I had to give up football after taking a helmet to the back. I probably could have kept playing, but the doctor suggested it wasn’t worth it. Basketball became the sport that kept me in shape most of the time. Golf was great for enjoying the spring and summer days and getting in some great walking exercise as well.

As you might imagine, I had the typical diet of a kid in the early 21st century. Throughout my childhood and teen years I would have cereal every morning. When I hit high school I also had yogurt each morning. That was my healthy food to offset the healthy bowl of grain cereal.

Lunches consisted of some breaded meat with fries and maybe a small scoop of veggies. Dinner consisted of pastas and frozen dinners.

My parents were great, though. They did fix us delicious roasts, venison, fish, and usually included vegetables as well. But life gets busy and the frozen foods take over. It was just easier for a young kid.

I realize now that most of my life was fueled with carbs. Those little cups of yogurt, I later found out, had 30+ carbs each and were filled with sugar.

I figure I was able to stave off most of the effects by constantly being in motion as an athlete. I wasn’t overweight or so I thought.

I graduated high school. Weight 175 lbs.

Off To College

College started off with much of the same eating habits as high school. It wasn’t unusual to eat some form of fast food two, three, or even four times each week.

With the mixture of class, parties, and hanging out with friends it was just easier to hit the fast food joint for a burger and fries or half of a pizza with buddies.

As a wise person might expect, my weight ballooned to about 200 lbs. by my sophomore year. I was also on a kick that saw me drinking about a six pack of soda every day. I knew this was not good, but sometimes you just let yourself fall into these routines.

By my junior and senior year I was out of the dorms and into a house with a couple buddies. My meals consisted of Tuna Helper, pastas, fast food, and occasionally venison (thanks to a couple successful Wisconsin whitetail seasons).

My saving grace, I think, was two jobs I had during my last two years in school. The first was driving a fork lift on the second shift at a local home supply chain. I’d have my usual cereal breakfast each morning at about 9am. From there I’d have a Tuna Helper lunch and I’d pack a sandwich for dinner during my shift.

The second job came as a delivery guy for a furniture store. This is where I regained some of my strength. Lifting heavy reclining couches down into people’s basement will make you feel muscles you never thought you had.

On a side note, I remember one person asking my co-worker if it was right to tip a furniture delivery guy. My co-worker rested the heavy couch on his knee for a second, looked at the guy, and said, “You typically tip the pizza guy, right?”

He nodded agreeably.

“Well, he carries in your pizza. We’re carrying in your sofa.”

I left college weighing about 185 lbs. I never worked out in college. I never did much for activity. And yet I was only ten pounds over my high school weight. I figured that wasn’t too bad.

Time to Join The Real World

After four years I graduated college and went off to join the real world. I found a job in marketing and management. It was off to adulthood complete with offices and email.

The company I went to work for was great. They paid pretty well. The people were wonderful. The company offered great benefits and even paid for half the gym membership.

I signed up right away and started attending spinning classes and a strength training class. I really enjoyed these activities. It was a great way to break up the day by hitting the gym during lunch. I went with co-workers and we all enjoyed keeping ourselves in a little better shape than what we’d be without the gym.

My diet continued of pastas and processed foods. I still enjoyed red meat, fats, and fish. Those have always been staples of my diet, but so were the carb-filled foods. I’d never shy away from a big plate of fries and a burger from the local restaurants.

After four years in the real world and after a particularly hearty holiday season my weight had once again tipped over a barrier to 190 lbs.

This was this January 2011 and I was determined to get back down to my high school weight. I set a goal of eating fewer calories each day and working out just as I had been. Something wasn’t making sense to me.

After three months of the year I was down to about 185 lbs. I was working out four times a week on average. I was eating fewer calories, but I still had the makings of a Wisconsin beer belly and an inner-tube around my waste.

I didn’t understand.

Primal Revelation

Enter Mark’s Daily Apple.

In March of 2011 I stumbled on this site via a link from somewhere. I can’t remember exactly how I came across the site, but it changed my life.

I dove headfirst into the articles. I read everything about how the body handles carbs and sugar. It was all making sense. I realized I was living the typical American diet. Those yogurts I’d been eating every day for a decade were causing me to be fat.

My life was flipped upside down.

Immediately I stopped eating carbs. No more pizza on Sundays. No more pastas – oh, how I missed pasta and so did my girlfriend.

When I went out to dinner or lunch with colleagues I’d order a salad. No more Friday burgers. When I’d go to lunch I no longer ordered pasta off the menu. This was difficult. Some of the restaurants around here have 90% of the entree menu filled with pasta or rice dishes. Not anymore. It was meat or fish and a side of veggies.

And you know…it was great. I’d always loved these Primal foods. They are just more part of my life now. I don’t drink soda or juice anymore. I have eggs for breakfast. I’ll have a handful of nuts during the day with a salad once in a while. We’ll have a meat and side of veggies each night.

I do conform to the 80-20 rule. My vices are cheese. Us Wisconsinites can’t help having our cheese. And I’m also partial to the occasional sugary treat for dessert.

After about 9 months of being Primal I’m down to about 165 lbs, but even more than the weight is my physique. I’ve lost about an inch or two off my waist. I’ve worn 32 inch waist jeans since I was about 12 and now those nearly fall off my body. I’m down to a 31 or even 30 inch waist with all pants.

My shirt size is down to a small or sometimes a medium.

I still work out about three times each week. I try to work in some interval training on the bike. I still go to the strength training class. My biceps are bigger than they have been, but they’re a lean muscle. My legs are more muscular than they ever have been. My chest is a bit more defined.

Since I was sixteen I’ve been on high blood pressure medicine. I’d have annual physicals with my family doctor. He and the nurse nearly flipped when I registered something like 200 over 100 at my check-up sophomore year.

At one point I was taking the same medication as my dad only my dosage was four times what his was.

Now my blood pressure is low. I’m hoping to slowly work my way off the medication. I’ve already started and my blood pressure has remained as low as ever – 110s over 70s.

My other tests have been good.

Triglycerides are good. My good cholesterol is very good. My bad cholesterol is higher than what doctors would like. It’s probably a result of all those eggs, but overall the numbers are great.

I still have things to improve on. I’m working on cutting back on the salt, sugar, and dairy. This will be my first holiday season being Primal. I’m sure there will be a few strange looks when I pass on the cookies and pies.

In fact, I’ve had people question my Primal ways. Even though I’ve lost 25 lbs in the last year people will still tell me they don’t believe in not eating carbs.

What can you do?

I don’t tell anyone they have to be Primal. I just go about my business. It’s my life.

About two or three years ago I had an annual physical with a new doctor. I weighed 185 lbs. He told me I should weigh somewhere around 145 lbs.

40 lbs. overweight?!

I laughed as I walked out of the room.

How could a former athlete that worked out 3 times each week be 40 lbs overweight?

Today, I look back on that day and realize the doctor was on to something. Maybe I even realized it at the time. I was overweight. I just didn’t know what to do.

Now I’m in the best shape of my life. I fluctuate around 165 lbs. I’m lighter than the day I graduated high school and I feel great.

I’m 27 years old and about 10 years out of high school.

Weight: 165 lbs.

Dayne Shuda is a professional blogger, hunter, and golfer. For more information or to connect with Dayne visit his website at

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. I love Fridays here. Way to go, Dayne!

    Anne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Thanks Anne. :)

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  2. awesome story dayne! I don’t tell anyone they have to be primal eiteher, i just try to live by example. You’ll always have your haters… but people come around eventually! So far my sister, and both of my parents have :)

    Becca wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  3. Truly inspiring, Dayne! Congrats!

    Abel James wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  4. Wonderful story! It is ironic that you are ending up much closer to the weight that your doctor recommended but you had previously discounted. I have a feeling many of us would feel healthier/better much lighter than we think we are capable of being.
    Great job – congrats!!

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  5. You gotta let haters be your motivators!

    Maureen wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  6. Cool first name btw!

    james wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Thanks. I’ll have to give credit to my mom for the name. :)

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  7. Im from California rather than Wisconsin, but frankly you can pry my cheese from my cold dead hands.

    cTo wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Preach it!

      Sarah wrote on December 9th, 2011
  8. Congratulations Dayne! Loved your story. Thanks for sharing. :-)

    Love Fridays at MDA. Keep the stories coming! It helps keep me inspired and focused.

    Jessica wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  9. Great story =) can’t wait til you kick those meds!

    Steffo wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  10. I wish there was a success story everyday!! Because friday articles are my favorite and really keep me going during hard days! :) Thank you for sharing!! you look great!

    Pandaglam wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  11. Thanks for sharing this story, Dayne! What an inspiration you are. And I, too, have to join in on the love for MDA Friday stories. I look forward to Fridays even more now because of them.

    Jen wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  12. Awesome job!!! It’s sorta sad that the haters just don’t know what they’re missing out on :) Keep up the great work!

    Kathleen wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  13. Very inspiring story. It’s amazing all this can be accomplished just by eating whole foods w/o grains. Those pesky grains and gluten are in everything!

    Continued success!

    Justin wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  14. Awesome story, I love reading MDA on Fridays! So inspirational. One question. How many eggs do you eat? I usually go through 4 to 9 a day. Of course I’m looking to gain not lose.

    S Hill wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Two eggs every morning. For a while I was eating the yolks raw and the whites in an omelete. I’m not sure if 2 each day is causing my bad cholesterol to increase. I think I’m alright, though, since my good cholesterol is high as well (good ratio).

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  15. Great story Dayne!! You look terrific.
    FYI: eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods won’t impact your overall cholesterol by much at all. Enjoy those eggs – they are a healing food as I’ve learned on GAPS ( Salt is another ‘misunderstood’ food. Unrefined gray/pink/black/etc. salt is perfectly fine (unless you have high blood pressure) and exhausted adrenals actually love salt!! I’ve been salting to taste for the last several months as I suspect adrenal fatigue and the food tastes great! I have never salted food before on my plate (except eggs) but I feel like my body needs it.
    Enjoyed your story!!

    Magda wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Thanks for the info re: eggs, Magda. That’s been the one thing I’ve wondered about still. I love them for breakfast and definitely don’t want to give them up.

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
      • Go to the forums and read Griff’s Primer on Cholesterol. He explains cholesterol and how to interpret the numbers from your labwork.

        My total cholesterol went up, too after going primal. I reluctantly shared them with my husband (a non-primal MD) because the total was over 200 and you hear all this scary stuff in the mainstream media about cholesterol over 200… he said my ratios were ideal … and it’s because of the way I eat. No decent doctor would put me on statins with those numbers.

        Griff’s primer helped me understand it all.

        Congrats on your success, Dayne – loved your story and will be sending it on to my son who is finishing his first semester away at university. He’s heard it all from me before but it never hurts to send him “food for thought”!

        Annette wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  16. I really do hate when people tell you they “don’t believe in not eating carbs” despite the fact that they are staring at the results of… not eating carbs. Or, when they ask what led to the success and you start explaining the paleo/primal diet, they act like you are lecturing them… you asked, buddy, I’m not trying to convert anyone!

    Anyway, great story! Very inspiring, thanks for sharing :)

    Samantha wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Totally. Drives me bonkers. I especially hate it when I think we’re having a conversation about nutrition and they make into something personal. I’m never quite sure where that wrong turn happens.

      Karen P. wrote on December 3rd, 2011
  17. Enjoyed reading your story Dayne.

    “Those little cups of yogurt, I later found out, had 30+ carbs each and were filled with sugar.”

    I remember those cups of yogurt well, lol

    Keep up the good work.

    dragan wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  18. It’s awesome when you can enjoy your health. Keep it up!

    Paul Alexander wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  19. “I don’t tell anyone they have to be Primal. I just go about my business. It’s my life.”

    Well said my friend! And congrats on your success! Keep living primally and overtime your family and friends will be wondering what the hell you are eating! Trust me, they will ask!

    Primal Toad wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  20. Dayne, great work!!! You’re an inspiration… don’t sweat the haters. They all come out in force when they see something or someone they envy in some way. I’m a little further back in my journey but making solid progress!

    Jim Sifferle wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  21. Wow that is a familiar story for me…it seems like a lot of guys go through the same thing…good work and I wish you more success…

    Ed wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • I knew it couldn’t just be me. I ate whatever I wanted when I had basketball practice every day – never gained a pound. Later on it became impossible to eat that way.

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  22. Great story. You look fantastic.

    sqt wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  23. I had my own ‘yogurt’ moment on Tuesday of this week. Finally put together the amount of carbs I’ve been getting on a daily basis for awhile. Quite scary.

    Your transformation is outstanding, and you look so happy! :) Send some of that WI extra sharp cheddar out my way please. It’s the best I’ve ever had (and I’m in CA) 😛

    Kristina wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  24. Don’t worry about the cheese Dayne.
    There is a synergy between vitamin D, Vitamin K2 and vitamin A.
    I hope you’ve optimized your vitamin D levels, worth getting tested if you don’t know yours.
    Cheese, especially grass fed raw fermented is an excellent source of K2 along with grass fed butter.
    Liver and other organ meats are good for A and K2.
    Richard Nikoley has a recent article on D K2 A synergy.

    Bill wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Thanks Bill. I’ll look into it.

      My Vitamin D level was good the last time I had it checked. It was at 100 (high I think…), but that was in the middle of the summer. I have to work harder to get sun in Wisconsin in the winter.

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  25. go wisco!!

    kell wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Go Pack Go! :)

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  26. Fantastic post and inspiring as well.

    I too eat eggs *every* day, sometimes two, sometimes three, and sometimes even four. After three primal weeks my total cholesterol rose from 170 to 212. Like yours, my HDL was great, and my LDL seemed high at 146. BUT, I made sure the test analyzed the LDL pattern and my LDL wast mostly Pattern A, the good, big, fluffy pattern. The total number may also be high because I read in Taubes’ book that your cholesterol can increase slightly as it can be released as you burn your body fat.

    Like you, man have I been burning body fat!

    I started at 183 and yesterday, less than 60 days later, I weighed 163 pounds! Twenty pounds of fat incinerated!

    Congrats on your achievement!


    Dan wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • Thanks for that tip on the eggs + cholesterol. :)

      And awesome on the weight!

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  27. Great success story! How tall are you. I ask because you look my height and my wife thinks 145 is too light, but I like the idea. Congratulations!

    George wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • 5′ 9″

      Same height today as I was at age 13.

      Dayne wrote on December 2nd, 2011
    • I’m the same height and for me 145# would fairly light. 145# would be great if I like to do distance running but seeing as if I like olympic lifts… that and I’m incredibly vain. I’d say your weight should follow your fitness goals. BF%, in my opinion, would be a better gauge than overall weight.

      Larry wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  28. Great story!! Thanks for sharing :)

    Meagan wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  29. Great story! I can relate to the experience of being an athlete. When I was done with my senior season (basketball) in college, I also thought to myself “this is the most in-shape I will ever be for the rest of my life”. :) However, like you, I was eating the full-on SAD diet then so it wasn’t like I was fully healthy. Going primal is the complete health package. Thanks for sharing!

    Kara wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  30. Congrats Dayne!

    Erik wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  31. I have been told that total cholesterol as high as 300 is okay as long as your ratios are good.

    Dragonfly wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  32. Dayne,
    I hear you brother. Years ago I would gladly give beginners exercize (just do a general physical preparedness [GPP] program like Crossfit) and nutritional (meat n’ veg) advice. Now I don’t even bother, actually I’m extremely hesitant, to the point of being mute, to dole out advice. What is the use when people don’t listen?

    My mother in law is obese; she has classic metabolic syndrome. I was giving her advice and it got the the point in the conversation where I was like “Hey, I read a lot on nutrition and exercize on a daily basis. You have two options: one, read up on it yourself and draw your own conclusions or, two, just take my advice.” My only vindication is that her doctor now, at long last, thinks that she may have celiac’s disease. I don’t think she’d ever admit that I beat out her doctor by 3 years (and I’m free!).

    Danye, congrats on your hard work keep it up. Don’t tire yourself with trying to help others. I know that advice runs counter to your upbringing (or faith) but people are creatures of comfort.

    Larry wrote on December 2nd, 2011
  33. It is always inspiring to read such positive personal journeys and how primal living has come to the rescue!

    This is a clear case of healthy habits making a healthy lifestyle – hope these habits remain permanent and wish you a long a healthy life!

    Luke M-Davies wrote on December 3rd, 2011
  34. Ah…the cheese!! First thing I get when visiting family is fresh cheese curds! Congrats to you and go Packers!! :)

    Tracy wrote on December 3rd, 2011
  35. Very hopeful for my husband who is blood pressure meds also. Thanks for the story. WAY TO GO AND GET HEALTHY!

    Kay Caringi wrote on December 3rd, 2011
  36. Great story, Dayne. Very similar to mine only it took me 28 years after college to wake up and smell the bacon.

    College is a tough time and I packed on my first layer there also.

    I think of my weight loss in terms of time…the last time I weighed what I do now, after losing 35 lbs, was probably back in 1983.

    Great job! Keep it up! And…a little cheese never hurt anyone.

    Paul Bourret wrote on December 3rd, 2011
  37. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your story. I love Friday’s and the inspiration they give me!

    Ryan wrote on December 4th, 2011
  38. Well done!

    Nick wrote on December 4th, 2011
  39. I’m 5’6″ and 140, not an ounce of fat on me, so I’d question trying to be 145 at 5’9″! Stick to what feels comfortable for you. Have you noticed any new veins or muscles popping out from nowhere? I’m happy for you!

    Patrick wrote on December 5th, 2011

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!