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

How I Lost 130 Pounds and Fell in Love with Bacon

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!

My story of how I gained and lost 130 pounds is intertwined between psychological drugs and diet. First, I’d like to give a bit of history. I’ve been on different medications for “ADHD”, “Insomnia”, and “Bipolar” disorder since I was 8 years old. I’m now 24, so two-thirds of my life has been neurologically influenced by drugs.

It started when I was 8. I was having issues concentrating at school, and rather than looking at my diet or questioning the educational merits and practices at my public school, a neurological disorder was determined to be the culprit. I was sent to a psychiatrist who – after some “tests” – diagnosed me with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder; in order to cure this “diseases”, I was put on Ritalin which is an amphetamine that is similar to another well known drug – cocaine.

When I was on Ritalin, I began to respect and never question authority. Much like a zombie, I just existed without actually living. About 5 years later, at the age of 13, I was put on Adderall – another type of amphetamine. This can cause issues with temper, heart problems, and insomnia.

My emotions began fluctuating more often and going through puberty didn’t help. I got into a few fights and got into more than a few arguments. As a result, I was then sent to another psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder, at the age of 13. I was then placed on a bipolar drug, known as Depakote, that would begin to truly destroy my individuality.

Depakote, normally prescribed to patients to prevent seizures, causes massive weight gain as well as, in my case, a drop in IQ and ambition. I had always been quite energetic, but this completely wiped me out. In order to compensate for the drop in IQ, my dosage of Adderall was raised. And then, in order to compensate for insomnia due to Adderall, I was put on an anti-schizophrenia drug called Zyprexa that also causes weight gain and severe drowsiness. All this happened within a year.

Then the inevitable happened, and my body crashed. One night, at the age of 14, I collapsed to the ground. I was suffering from atrial fibrillation – i.e. severe irregular heart beat – brought on by the mixture of drugs, the largest culprit being the Adderall. I was sent to the hospital, where an electrical cardioversion – the restoration of the heart rhythm through the use of electrical shock – was used to get my body into working order.

As a result, I was taken off of Adderall and put on a heart medication. Adderall, being a stimulant, was the drug that prevented the weight gain side-effect of the other drugs that I was put on – which I was on due to the side effects of Adderall. On top of this, the heart medication I was given slowed me down even more. By preventing my pulse to get high, the drug didn’t allow me to exert enough energy while exercising, and a lowered my ambition to do anything. So the inevitable happened again, and I began putting on a massive amount of weight. From the ages of 15-18, I went from being 180lbs to 330lbs.

(320LBS at the age of 18)

When I got up to 320LBS, I was incredibly unhealthy. I had such severe acid reflux, that I was vomiting twice a day and had chest pains all the time. I couldn’t do a single pushup; I had terrible skin and severe sleep apnea as well. As a result, I switched psychiatrists again. The psychiatrist I saw didn’t deal with insurance companies, normally dealt with the elderly, and wasn’t as keen to giving children drugs. He looked at my drug history and was shocked. He began weeding me off of all my drugs, and gave me a very light mood stabilizer so that my body wouldn’t go into shock. I immediately began losing weight.

At first I simply switched my diet to predominantly whole foods (still consuming grains, though) and started losing 2-3LBS a week. Within a year I lost 80LBS.

(At 260LBS)

My weight loss stopped, so I took an unhealthy approach of almost starve dieting. I was going all out on the elliptical machine for 2 hours a day, while consuming a high carbohydrate low-fat diet. I felt like hell, but I continued to lose weight.

Once I was at 230LBS, my body refused to lose any more weight. Then a friend told me about the Low-Carb Diet and Mark’s Daily Apple, and everything got better after that. I knocked out all grains, table sugar, processed food, and the majority of post-agricultural food. I began eating a lot of fatty meat, which I had always been told to not eat, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Though I do not have the budget to only eat grass-fed beef, pastured raised chickens, and organic veggies – college students do not make much money – I still do the best I can to live the Primal life. After I implemented these changes the weight began shedding quickly, I was able to get off my heart medication, my skin cleared up, my joints stopped hurting, and my acid reflux issue diminished significantly. I recently cut out dairy (except for whey protein) and lost even more weight and my psoriasis and acne – which I have had issues with my whole life – went away.

(Left: Costume Party :) (Right: Doing a little gardening)

I’m now at 200LBS and feel amazing – I can do one armed pushups and pull-ups and run a half-marathon without the need or want for neolithic junk. The majority of my health issues are gone and the Primal Blueprint diet, along with other positive life changes, has helped my concentration and depression tremendously.


– Carlos

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. Wow, way to go, Carlos. So pleased for you.

    I wish I could say that what you went through could never have happened in the UK, but I’m afraid it’s just as bad, if not worse here. We just about accept that diet influences our weight but, generally, if people aren’t obviously obese but get ill, we blame genetics rather than question the diet our government advises us to eat. And here too, drugs are always a first resort with most physicians.

    Olly wrote on September 9th, 2011
  2. wow…fantastic…it’s so sad what they do to kids. Glad you are enjoying your life now and I’m sure your story will inpsire a lot of people.

    Jana wrote on September 9th, 2011
  3. Carlos — wonderful story. Like a BOSS!

    evadnefrances wrote on September 9th, 2011
  4. Congrats Carlos! What a great story!

    Your story highlights the fact that too many medical professionals treat symptoms instead of causes and whom many are willing to do so to children. I am an engineer and we call this the ‘build-test-fix’ cycle where it’s just trial and error and a shoot from the hip approach. This approach by a medical professional practicing with real people, should be criminal!

    Congrats again!!!

    Mike wrote on September 9th, 2011
  5. I swear, generations from now, ADHD, Aderall and Ritalin will be revealed to be one of the biggest medical blunders in history.

    Congrats on getting off the drugs and fixing your life.

    jinushaun wrote on September 9th, 2011
    • There is a long, failed history of treating hyperactivity disorders with special or restricted diets. The final chapter on ADHD has yet to be written.

      correcty fairy wrote on September 9th, 2011
  6. I think this is one of the best stories to date. Congrats, Carlos. How amazing!

    It’s always astonishing to me the way prescribing one medication turns into a cascade. Side effects treated by drugs, more side effects treated by more drugs, etc. etc.

    I almost fell victim to this when I started taking Zoloft for PPD. I’m really lucky to have found PB in time.

    Madelyn wrote on September 9th, 2011
  7. Wow, awesome story. You’ve provided some great motivation.

    I peaked at 310 lbs when I graduated college. I’m now 25, loving primal, and down to 235, but still have more of a gut than I would like.

    Those after pictures of you, after being around the same weight as I was, are incredibly inspiring. I feel like I will always have extra skin around the stomach, did you do anything special to fix that?

    Kyle wrote on September 9th, 2011
    • Well, 235 is still pretty heavy unless you are REALLY tall or bodybuilder/professional powerlifter-level muscular. So I’m sure your gut will continue to shrink along with the rest of you as you keep improving your health!

      Congrats on your progress so far, man.

      Uncephalized wrote on September 9th, 2011
      • Well…there always has to be at least comment that is complimentary but just has to include a backhand.

        Peter wrote on September 9th, 2011
      • Gut? What gut. He looks awesomely hot to me :-)

        bbuddha wrote on September 9th, 2011
  8. Your story is amazing and I am sure other people struggling with the same issues will learn from you. The way doctors are medicating kids is criminal. I am so glad you found MDA and are enjoying better health and strength. AWESOME!

    Anne wrote on September 9th, 2011
  9. Another amazing story! Congratulations Carlos, you look great!

    David wrote on September 9th, 2011
  10. Congrats Carlos! I have a niece, as well as a 20 year old friend, who I am sending your story to. They’ve both been “diagnosed” and are now being “treated” for many of the same things. It’s heartbreaking. Best of luck to you! And I’m so very, very happy that you found PB!

    Rozska wrote on September 9th, 2011
  11. Want to echo the sentiments of all those who responded with outrage and sadness on what was/is done to children with (insert miscellaneous disorder here>. It is unbelievable, it really is. May the rest of your life be blessed and long, Carlos! Pay it forward!!

    Kathy wrote on September 9th, 2011
  12. Is that a plant or are you just happy to see us? 😉

    Mark wrote on September 9th, 2011
  13. Jesus! Your story plays like that movie “Hospital” or something from decades ago when a guy goes in for something minor and tries to escape with his life.

    I cannot BELIEVE the lengths people go to with medications/pills etc. when a CHILD has attention problems in our crappy school system – big surprise.

    What a rat wheel you were finally able to get off! Congratulations! You look fantastic, healthy and happy like a young man should!

    The over-medication of kids is a tragedy (and I’m a surgeon).

    Stay well! :-)

    Jill wrote on September 9th, 2011
  14. Wow, your story knocks my socks off. I’m so happy you found your way to happiness and strength. My son had so many behavior problems in class all the way through school, thank god for his dad who always refused to allow any psych meds. He’s doing great now that he’s in college, and it sounds like you are too!

    You have a very handsome smile.

    cj wrote on September 9th, 2011
  15. Congratulations, that is an amazing story!! Great job, you look incredible!

    Mandy wrote on September 9th, 2011
  16. wow, what a story. I know that docs in America are more than happy to pump people full of drugs,, but crap,, where were your parents when all of this was going on. Did they just have blind faith in all the docs? Anyways,, glad you were able to turn things around.

    Alex wrote on September 9th, 2011
  17. This really started out like reading a horror story. On drugs at age 8 for ‘mental’ disorders…WTF!
    Someone should go to prison for that.
    What could your youth have been, had you not been growing up drugged!

    And your parents allowed this to go on for years?

    You really impress me, breaking free from this horror cicle on your own, just awesome. Congrats on your success!

    Arty wrote on September 9th, 2011
  18. Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate your comment about not being able to afford grass-fed beef and organic foods. I’m in the same boat. It’s encouraging to see that even though we can’t afford the best foods right now, we can still see great health benefits by eating the primal foods that we can afford.

    Lorna wrote on September 9th, 2011
  19. Awesome, inspirational story, maybe my favorite Friday success story yet. Indeed, what was done to you and 1000’s of other children being pumped full of drugs is indeed a sin and a crime. Someday soon hopefully people will wake up and realize almost all these so called ailments can be cured by diet alone. Continued success Carlos. (Though I must say when you were heavier in the photo with the guitars you remind me of the late, great Lowell George!)

    HankT wrote on September 9th, 2011
  20. Carlos, thank you so much for sharing a very difficult story. I have an active, energic little boy who people have been quick to label, and stories like yours help me do what I need to protect him from those kinds of drugs. My younger son is on Depakene for serious nighttime seizures, but we’re hoping to wean him off soon now that he’s close to primal and seizure free. The above poster was right–shame on the doc who put you on that for behavioral issues. I’m so glad you found happiness. Keep up the good work, and know your story is helping this mom stay on track!

    Dtnmommy wrote on September 9th, 2011
  21. Wonderful accomplishment Carlos and all the best for a continued happy and healthy long life.

    I’m still on my double digit weight loss pursuit.

    For those wondering “how could that have happened” I suggest the book

    Mistakes were made – but not by me.

    I’m about 1/2 way through it now and its sad but I totally understand how that degree of wrong was done in the name of trying to help.

    minerva wrote on September 9th, 2011
  22. WOW! I just wanted to cry at the beginning of this story. It just broke my heart! i am so GLAD that you found MDA and it changed your life. WHat a wonderful life you have now!!

    JoAnne Isgro wrote on September 9th, 2011
  23. Truly inspirational, I cried reading this story because it pained me to hear of all the meds you’ve been on since the age of 8! I just watched Generation Rx on Netflix…amazing how the drug companies targeted children for their meds! I am so glad to hear you turned everything around..I can’t wait to get rid of my high blood pressure pill…it’s only 2 mg, but I worked it down from 8 in the last 2 years…and can’t seem to shake the last 2…maybe…

    Michelle wrote on September 9th, 2011
  24. Oh my gosh – this is one of the most powerful stories I’ve read so far. Looks like you must be pretty tall? For 320 you didn’t “look that bad”

    Meagan wrote on September 9th, 2011

    what a story!!!!! Thanks for posting this

    Ryan Denner wrote on September 9th, 2011
  26. So glad to hear this.

    To a point I agree with that in certain situations, particular medicines are needed.

    However I worked in medical research for years and I have seen that many times data was manipulated to convince doctors and patients that our medicine were the best.

    Most of it was all about making money. Thankfully part of it was actually about helping people.

    My message is that you need to live and eat well. If you do need extra medication, do your research and questions your doctors.

    Jessica wrote on September 9th, 2011
  27. It’s time for parents to wake up and refuse to drug our children. This story sounds criminal to me–the relentless drugging of a child for BEING A CHILD!!!! This is our future. We are being conned into turning our children into zombies!!!!!

    Pure insanity. Congrats for taking control of your life and for finding a doctor who didn’t sell his soul to the devil.

    karen wrote on September 9th, 2011
  28. Inspiring tale indeed. When faced with a chronic problem, look to your diet, not your doctor.

    The above does not apply for infectious diseases and emergency care.

    ZenBowman wrote on September 9th, 2011
  29. Hooray for you Carlos, job well done. What a tremendous will to live and ability for stay focused. You are very lucky to have crossed paths with a doctor who also believes in life and not profit. (Excuse me; don’t even want to go off in that tangent) Welcome to the primal camp. Kudos to Mark, thanks daddy GROK! Thanks Carlos for a most inspiring story. It is indeed a lifestyle worth living.

    Dasbutch wrote on September 9th, 2011
    • Dasbutch, for some reason this story was recently reposted so I’m a couple of years late in responding… But your is my favorite response so far! You’re so right – doctors are supposed to be in the WELLness profession, not the ILLness profession, and that includes mental health practioners (of which I’m currently training to be). Diet and nutrition should be discussed thoroughly in the first session. Love your comments and your joyful energy!

      Laura wrote on October 15th, 2013
  30. What a fantastic transformation!!! This is proof that changing your mental state goes hand in hand with your physical changes. Good job, Carlos!!

    Tara wrote on September 9th, 2011
  31. awesome story

    evan wrote on September 9th, 2011
  32. Inspiring story, Carlos, you have achieved so much, amazing ! Long may it continue !

    GailQB wrote on September 9th, 2011
  33. My favorite part about Friday is reading these success stories. Makes me want to get better at this primal thing, especially when the weekend is here and I want to eat junk. But I always keep in mind that I would rather not feel like crap after a slice a pizza and a bike ride is so much better for me. So happy for you Carlos and you may not know it but you have inspired many,many people today! Congrats!=)

    Sylvia Jimenez wrote on September 9th, 2011
  34. Congratulations, You survived and then thrived. way to go.

    bbuddha wrote on September 9th, 2011
  35. Fanatastic success story!! Thanks for sharing with all of us. Congrats on getting off the meds.

    Billy wrote on September 9th, 2011
  36. Carlos you are bloody amazing to survived and come out of it so much better. You look fabulous (and feel fabulous).
    This is another story I am bringing to the attention of my sister-in-law whose son has just been diagnosed with ADD at 9 yrs old.

    Sue wrote on September 9th, 2011
  37. What an inspiring story! Congratulations to you for gaining your life back after all the drugs that “professionals” and “experts” threw at you.

    Jean wrote on September 9th, 2011
  38. Carlos, I am so glad you kept searching for answers! The vibrancy in your “after” shots says it all! Great job being responsible for your own well-being!

    Erin wrote on September 9th, 2011
  39. Wow! What a transformation! They put me on lots of pills, too. I got sick of being a zombie and just quit. They wouldn’t met me go to school unless I was high on adderall, so I quit school. Got to do right for yourself even if it looks bad to the world.

    knifegill wrote on September 9th, 2011
  40. Carlos, what an inspiring story. I’m so happy for you that you finally got off all those drugs and regained your life. It really is criminal to drug a child for being childish. Congratulations on your new found health and of course how great you look now and how much of your youth is still available for you to be healthy, strong and joyous.

    marika wrote on September 9th, 2011

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