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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!

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(Left: Costume Party icon smile (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.

Bacon=Happiness.

– 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. Ok, haven’t read all the comments, but have been reading MDA for some time.

    This is abuse by the ‘state’- as it were i.e. professionals who are in positions of trust and responsibility.

    99% of these personality ‘disorders’ are b*ll*cks, simply made up to keep you in line doing as told by massa. Obviously diet and enviromental conditions decide the state of your mind- not some man made adhd pidgeonhole…

    The parents in these cases often take the doctors word as gospel- most people behave like sheep when a doctor or professional power

    Remember the saying ‘doctor knows best’- I’ll bet it was a politician who made that saying well known..

    brad wrote on September 9th, 2011
    • my people are destoryed due to lack of knowledge…wisdom never returns void.

      Dasbutch wrote on September 10th, 2011
  2. Ok, haven’t read all the comments, but have been reading MDA for some time.

    This is abuse by the ‘state’- as it were i.e. professionals who are in positions of trust and responsibility.

    99% of these personality ‘disorders’ are b*ll*cks, simply made up to keep you in line doing as told by massa. Obviously diet and enviromental conditions decide the state of your mind- not some man made adhd pidgeonhole…

    The parents in these cases often take the doctors word as gospel- most people behave like sheep when a doctor or professional assumes power

    Remember the saying ‘doctor knows best’- I’ll bet it was a politician who made that saying well known..

    brad wrote on September 9th, 2011
  3. Reading the first half of your story makes me SO angry at whoever is responsible for the ridiculous medication of young people! But the second half of your story is amazing, inspiring, and it gives me hope (: Thank you for sharing, and a huge CONGRATULATIONS at getting your life back! Stories like yours make me even more committed to fighting for the Primal way of life.

    Alyssa wrote on September 9th, 2011
  4. Carlos, I’ve read every post so far on here and there’s nothing more I can add to the volumes of good wishes written here so far, but I really feel the need to tell you how happy and proud I am for you for overcoming what probably would have been a monumental effort for most of us. Having the balls to tell all the experts to basically “stick it” and doing what you felt was right for you is phenomenal. And a great big hug to the counselor who decided you had too many drugs and guided you in weaning yourself off all the meds.

    All the very best to you — I’m sure with your tenacious spirit you’ll continue to do what you’ve done best so far and that is be yourself! Thank you so much for sharing your story – I’ve sent a link to this post to everyone I know.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on September 9th, 2011
  5. Carlos, I am so happy that you figured out a solution at the young age of 24 and sorry that you had to suffer so long.

    ADD, ADHD and bipolar were unheard of when I was a kid. You hardly ever saw fat people either, well, at least not obese people. And I never had any friends with asthma. Now the grocery store shelves are loaded with processed foods and our children are the ones suffering the most. It’s a damn disgrace!!!

    Melissa wrote on September 9th, 2011
  6. Carlos – so happy for you! the smile on your face says it all!

    Congrats!

    Shelley C wrote on September 9th, 2011
  7. Carlos, you look fantastic and your story is mobilizing. So many here are ready to hang someone for what they did to you. I notice you don’t point fingers; you just list the chronology of events. You are an unusually wise and responsible person. I would like to see you put those shoulders back and shove that chest out and take pride in who you are. You have done an incredible job of finding and developing your real self, but your posture says that you are either denying or hiding it. Maybe this article is one way you are taking some deserved credit for your amazing remake. You deserve the accolades and more; you deserve to hold yourself with pride and look yourself in the eye and say, “I HAVE overcome the world!” Your posture doesn’t yet say that in these two photos.

    Sharon Burress wrote on September 10th, 2011
  8. Carlos, this is awesome! So proud of you.

    My little sister has been on VERY MUCH the same road as you… I think she’s been on all the meds you’ve been on, and she also weighed upwards of 250-275 lbs and has had horrible skin issues… BUT now she’s following the primal blueprint and this gives me so much hope for her! She’s off all the meds and has lost some weight too.

    So encouraging. Thank you for sharing!

    Hilary wrote on September 10th, 2011
  9. I want to say thank you for this inspiring story! I have a four year old that is possibly bipolar and you have given me hope that the diet restrictions I have placed on him are helping, even though he has an extreme drug regimen. And before anyone goes negative on that… it was either medication or hospitalization forced by the state. My son was a danger to himself and others and now he is a happy, crazy, wild, boy who finally seems happy and has friends.

    katabrea wrote on September 10th, 2011
  10. Fabulous story! Your early life is one I know too well; I see it daily. It’s a testament that as an adult you were able to make better decisions for yourself than the “experts” did when you were a minor. Congratulations!

    RDOwens wrote on September 10th, 2011
  11. Great story Carlos! I’ve seen Pharmecutical drugs just destroy people – From work to family memebers. The lesson learned from this story is that diet and exercise is the best medication you can ever get Period!
    Tim

    Tim wrote on September 10th, 2011
  12. the New York Review of Books had a two part series about mental illness that discussed the way in which kids are started out on ritalin and progress to much stronger psychiatric medicines, because the ritalin, and then the other medicines, have such terrible side effects. This appears to be the trajectory that Carlos was on.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jun/23/epidemic-mental-illness-why/

    shannon wrote on September 10th, 2011
  13. That was truly a beautiful story. Much continued health and happiness to you!

    Laurie D. wrote on September 10th, 2011
  14. I’m with Sylvie. The physical change is obviously fantastic – but the look on his face in those last photos is really the treat! So glad you found health early in your life so you can hopefully enjoy many long years!

    karyn wrote on September 10th, 2011
  15. Mate, you look phenomonal! Well done shifting all that weight but shifting your mental health as well.

    ms jane wrote on September 10th, 2011
  16. Carlos,
    It is amazing what you have done. As a mom with one son who was treated for generalized seizure disorder and another who is currently being treated for ADD, I fully understand everyone’s outrage at how you were overmedicated. Even when we were dealing with the top pediatric neurologist in our very large city, I had to make sure I read all of the info on the drugs that were being prescribed for my son (for epilepsy) – he was proscribed a drug (Topomax) that can cause heat stroke and my son is a sweater -so I asked for him to be on another medication.

    This being said, I have to say something that may upset many people on this board. And I am saying this as a person who has not had any grains or sugar (except for family birthday parties) since January of this year. I also was a vegetarian for 9 years (relying on pasta and lentils mostly) until I kept gaining weight as I grew older. I finally turned to Atkins and am within 10 lbs. of my goal weight. I have always fed my children as much organic food as possible, no artificial colors/flavors or corn syrup.

    So. I don’t feel bad that my ADD child takes medication. I look at it from the perspective that we eat an extremely clean diet and my children get plenty of omega 3s, eat limited grains (ask them they will tell you/complain about it!), etc. and my son STILL needs the meds. Sometimes it is more than diet. He is happier and more settled when he takes them. The reason I am writing this is because there is still a sigma about meds for behavior/mental/neuro needs. When my middle son was on anti-seizure meds and I got flak from my family, I finally let go of the guilt and realized that if my child had a heart murmur and needed meds, would I ever hesitate to provide them? Why would I even hesitate if he needed meds to not have a seizure? Is it any different for ADD? I honestly believe it is not.

    This is coming from a mom who limits screen time to 30 mins/day, only serves water and milk (pls. don’t harrass me about dairy), has no artificial foods in the home, serves organic as much as possible and homeschooled said add child.

    Kristin Smith wrote on September 10th, 2011
  17. Carlos,
    So happy for you. I’m encouraged to hear about your results, even without going totally organic and grass-fed (not an option for me right now, either- though I try.) Thanks for sharing.

    Michelle wrote on September 10th, 2011
  18. Just WOW!!!

    Brett wrote on September 11th, 2011
  19. Congratulations. I’m so happy for you that you’re off those soul-killing drugs and have found real health. May your tribe increase.

    Damaris wrote on September 11th, 2011
  20. Wow, congratulations Carlos. That is one remarkable transformation.

    bryan wrote on September 11th, 2011
  21. Way to go, Carlos, that’s AMAZING! And such inspiration that we can overcome the chemical ravages of Not Knowing Better … your story is going to bring hope to so many.

    (And YAY!!! for bacon!)

    Pippa * Jeanne wrote on September 11th, 2011
  22. What an AMAZING story! That scares me to death and makes me so sad that you were put on so many drugs at such a young age! I’m so happy to hear that you’ve taken control of your life and are healthier than ever! You look GREAT!! Spread the word about the Primal lifestyle, Carlos- you are walking inspiration! :)

    Chrissy wrote on September 11th, 2011
  23. You look wonderful!

    but it makes me very angry reading your story about the mainstream medicine.

    best,

    pam wrote on September 11th, 2011
  24. cool man!

    Feli wrote on September 12th, 2011
  25. I love these stories. They make me tear up even. Congratulations on getting your life. I won’t even say “back”, because this is probably the first time you’ve been able to LIVE.

    Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple wrote on September 12th, 2011
  26. Stories like this …keep me going! Congrats and thank you for sharing :)

    PandaGLAM wrote on September 12th, 2011
  27. Congratulations, Carlos! What an inspirational story to share. So glad you figured it out now so that you can enjoy the many healthy years ahead of you and share your knowledge with others.

    Tricia wrote on September 12th, 2011
  28. I read all of the replies above, in regard to the diagnosis and medication of school children. Carlos, I’m so happy for you to that you were able to come out on top of your catastrophic experience with western medicine which you are clearly much better without.

    I’m just starting my student teaching in 2nd grade, and one of the kids is being observed for an ADHD diagnosis. It kills me, because he is a great kid with a good heart, whip smart, and good at his school work. Sometimes during a lesson he will call something out, and he gets restless, but it’s really something that is not unmanageable–I’ve talked to him several times about why it’s important not to call out when someone is speaking and he always shows understanding and readiness to improve. However, it breaks my heart that this kid, who really wants to do well in school, learn, and be a good friend will be jacked up in medication in a matter of weeks. No one seems to consider life style factors such as diet, exercise, sleep, etc. I haven’t even become a teacher yet and I am already disillusioned! I can’t imagine telling parents “read Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple,” it would just be so out of line to give such direct parenting advice. The PC thing to do is to assure them that you will keep an eye on the behavior and adhere to the decisions about the diagnosis which are made which are totally out of the kid’s control. If only parents would stop listening to the government’s advice about the important of grains in the diet! Sheesh!

    Erin wrote on September 12th, 2011
  29. Thanks for the inspiration, you look fantastic!! What a wonderful journey you have had! Good on you for making these changes in your life, my friend!!!

    Randy Clere wrote on September 13th, 2011
  30. On behalf of medical professionals, I’m sorry. Most of us have honest intentions when we decide on our profession. In short, we are trained in drugs from the beginning of school, to the end and drug companies don’t stop “educating” us when we graduate. We, sadly, are completely under-educated on diet. But have hope! Some of us are open to learning and are slowly challenging the former trends!

    Tinkers wrote on September 13th, 2011
  31. Amazing story!

    Steve wrote on September 13th, 2011
  32. Good for you dude! That is a HUGE amount of stuff to overcome at such a young age. Very inspiring.

    Kate wrote on September 14th, 2011
  33. Awesome story…I hope a paleo diet also helped you understand the folly of libertariasism!

    M wrote on September 19th, 2011
  34. Gosh, what a great story. Congratulations on your amazing success. Sometimes I think the Big Pharma is going to kill us all with the drugs they’re prescribing.

    I just recently went primal after living a high=carb, very, very low fat (I avoided saturated fat like the plaque) for many years. Even though I was running about 30 miles per week, I did chronic-cardio, too. I NEVER lost any weight, I just kept gaining and loosing the same 10lbs & couldn’t figure out why. The last straw was when the scaled topped 152, my highest weight; I’m only 5’3, so I could barely fit in my pants anymore.

    I cut out all grains, pasta, beans, rice, soy products, most processed foods, and now just eat meat, vegs, fruit, and some dairy like cottage cheese, high-fat yogurt, organic butter, red wine, and dark chocolate, walnuts. I was able to stop adding sugar (2-4 tsp. per day) from my morning coffee by adding cream.

    My afternoon cravings for something sweet have vanished, and my 3pm desj=k nod-off stopped, too. I have been able to forego the office donuts, bagels, snacks, birthday cakes, etc — it’s like they no longer appeal to me. And I lost about 8 lbs effortlessly and without “dieting.”

    When I was eating what I thought was a “healthy” diet with a lot of complex carbs (300+ per day), low fat, lean protein, I was constantly hungry — like every three-four hours. Now, I can go several hours (12 or more hours) without feeling hungry, and the last few weeks I have even skipped a meal, because I wasn’t hungry.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and thanks Mark for liberating me from the shackles of low-fat eating.

    MDL wrote on September 26th, 2011
  35. I was also given psychoactive prescription drugs as a teenager, and they also caused me to gain a bunch of weight (though not as much as you). Healthier diet and exercise cured my psychological problems – the drugs were worse than useless, and when I stopped them the weight fell right off.

    Steve wrote on January 6th, 2012
  36. Wow what a difference! In the before photos you look dozey, whereas in the after photos you look awake and happy :) So happy for you

    Roz wrote on January 23rd, 2012
  37. OH WOW!!!!!!!!! Congrats on an awesome life change!!!

    Helen wrote on September 2nd, 2012
  38. That took a bit of balls to write that. That truly is a new view on the diet. Fair play to you , carlos. Hopefully you’ll be happy for the rest of your life now. Good man.

    Peter donnelly wrote on September 30th, 2012
  39. My son has been on ADD and bi-polar medicine since he was 12 and he’s 15 now. Nothing seems to work with his poor memory and lack of ambition for school. My nephew suggested that he might need to change his diet. Im certainly going to give it a try.

    Cheryl wrote on December 28th, 2012
  40. Awesome story, it pains me to say that although I’m getting healthy and losing weight the paleo way, and my 4 year old son is growing strong and fast my sister-in-law thinks I’m mental…

    Her son (my fabulous nephew) has multiple food allergies – gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, beef (could it be the grains the cow’s fed!!! D’oh!), peanuts and soya. She buys him so many processed foods(?) that he finds it difficult to maintain a consistent weight, he’s underweight and struggles to get through the day.

    Oh! and my brother – her husband – is diabetic, and she’s obese.

    I have suggested to her and my brother that they try paleo, and suggested MDA as an amazing starting point, she can’t/won’t even consider it – she believes all the BS that the doctors and the pharmacuetical companies pour out.. I think that the allergies and other problems in their lives would be greatly helped by Carlos’s story, and even tho I feel it will fall on deaf ears I plan on sending it to her…

    Dianne wrote on February 7th, 2013

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