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

I Am a Strong, Happy, Healthy, Life-Loving Man

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 name is Jeffrey, and I am Primal. I started my Primal journey over two years ago, beginning on Aug 21, 2009. I weighed 310+lbs and was an unhappy person. I luckily started young enough that serious conditions never developed for me. I frequent MDA forums, under Jstrick, but typically am more of a stalker and not a replier. Primal changed my life forever, and this is how:

Childhood for me was many things, but health never was much of a concern. All the way through adolescence into young adulthood I put very little thought into the fact that my dietary choices were in fact playing a large part of my health. As a young boy I had always been bigger than the other kids; I had a stockier frame and was heavier set than most. Luckily for everyone else I was also a gentle soul (bullies didn’t bug me much either). It wasn’t until junior high (around age 12) that my size began to really increase. By age 15 I was easily 250lbs, but at 6’2″ that was not too much of a concern, especially in the minds of my football coaches. On life went as I carelessly ate whatever I wanted. I remember a few distinct times being allowed to buy no-bake cheesecake, and on the following Saturday morning I would sit down and eat the entire thing. (Not exactly sure what my mother was thinking, allowing me to do that.) When junior year of high school hit I made varsity football which kept me in a very physically active lifestyle. With the heavy weight lifting, plus the frequent intense cardio I was able to maintain a 270lb body weight, even with my compulsive eating.

They call it the freshman fifteen, but this hardly applies to me. With my dead football career, so followed all my physical activity. The lack of exercising paired with my still unchecked eating habits I not only begun to gain fat, but lose muscle. My favorite meal at the time was either: A.) A minimum of four plates of food at my favorite Chinese buffet or B.) A 98 cent Totinos pizza topped with shredded cheese, and a quart of store bought potato salad. After a year of community college I dropped out and started working full time at my local Starbucks. This introduced a whole new world of food and drinks to consume. Even at this point my appetite and waistline were only growing in size. I was a size 44 and weighed somewhere in the ballpark of 310+.

One day however, my mother sent me a link to a website on five tips on how to get a great night’s sleep. This was very interesting. This website was full of facts and science I had never heard of before. What was this Primal living? So I spent some time investigating the website, and eventually decided to buy the book to find out more. This is the point where everything changes.

I was living with my dad at the time so I had zero influence on the foods I was eating. However, upon moving out I made the decision to take over my health and go Primal. I had read as much as possible and with this new found knowledge I implemented to the best of my ability. At first it was very hit and miss, what I thought was okay then I know now wasn’t very good (although at the time it helped me transition into Primal). Also, what I thought may have been a no-no back then I couldn’t care less about now (like my large veggie consumption). No more grains? Check. No more sugar? Check. No more bad oils? Check. Stay under 50 carbs, check. With these changes came instant conflict. Still in my career at Starbucks, I was daily under pressure to consume non-Primal fare. The only way I made it through this phase I believe was some unknown will power to resist. I knew that if I gave an inch in this area I would in fact take a mile. So all things but coffee with HWC were out of the picture (which is 98% of the menu, mind you.) Early on I implemented a once a month cheat meal, which worked for the first 5 or so months, but as time went by I became more and more lax, which at the time may have slowed progress, but I feel was completely necessary for me to stay Primal without being overwhelmed by the strictness. In some ways it was kinda eating Primal, I never really cared for bread, and who doesn’t want to eat bacon everyday?

At home Primal looked pretty plain Jane to most people, but it created the simplicity I needed at the time. I typically wouldn’t eat until around lunchtime, because I found my hunger being satiated after having a cup of coffee with a good helping of heavy whipping cream for what most would consider “breakfast”. Around lunch time was when I would first eat, and it was usually 3-4 slices of bacon, 5 eggs. Delicious and simple. If I was working a closing shift at work, for the longest time I would do a very odd thing. At work we have a plethora of lunch and breakfast sandwiches adorned with various meats, cheeses, and egg. So I would just take a few slices of ham, turkey, what have you and make a big messy pile of sandwich fixings without the bread and heat it up in our store oven. I made due with the resources I was given. This worked for quite a long time until I became more serious about avoiding the extra chemicals and additives that are used to keep these foods fresh for very long periods of time. Once I started purging my diet of the hidden ingredients I resorted to precooking my suppers at home; so it had to be something quick and easy and reheat-able. This is when I started being a little more creative with my cooking, preparing bigger more intricate dishes that I could eat at home or pack up and take to work.

So after two years of Primal what does my diet look like? Well, I still do the cup of coffee in the morning, although (prepare yourself) I did switch from HWC to just Half and half. I found that I was consuming a large amount of excess calories, which was preventing further weight loss. I still eat the same breakfast, albeit a little bit earlier than I used to. Four slices of bacon and five eggs (it’s a magical ratio). For my second meal (it no longer fits into typical eating times) it is going to be something simple and easy, usually ½ lb of ground beef with frozen veggies. I’ve incorporated a third meal into my day for the most part, purely out of the fact that I get hungry later in the day (therefore I eat).

About six months ago I met a fellow Primal, one who goes by Ikaika on the MDA forums, and she helped propel me towards a more refined, consistent Primal way of living. During my Primal life before her, I was the only Primal I personally knew of, so I had no real reference point for what Primal life could look like at its fullest. However, after a few Facebook conversations and such we decided to get together and hang out for a few days. Let me tell you, it was such an influential time! She ate all grass-fed, no compromises, and she also made the most delicious meals ever! She put my ground beef plus veggie combo to shame with her Primal Enchiladas. The next morning we went to her local CrossFit box and got dominated. When we eventually made it home we had Cod wraps, with homemade mayo, taking my typical 4 bacon, 5 egg lunch and making my usual lunch seem like cardboard. Anyways, here is a post about my trip. When I eventually made it home I was much more determined to live Primal to the fullest, and that is what I did… eventually. With one more move (which put me closer to Ikaika) I am now far closer to The Perfect Primal (I just coined that term, just now) that I was my first year and a half being Primal.

I don’t want to mislead anyone by suggesting I am able to be the perfect Primal. To this day I still have issues with maintaining a healthy level of exercise. I contribute most of it to working on my feet 8 hours a day, but also I tend to like to sit at my computer and do stuff (computer science major). This summer was a great time for me because I consistently lifted weights 3 times a week, but have once again slipped into old habits with school starting back up. Also, I am a compulsive eater. This has been true since I can remember, I eat until I’m sick or out of food. *Ikaika* my Primal girlfriend (who I mentioned previously, we started dating shortly after I moved :D) can attest to this. To this day I can easily consume over a pound of meat plus a very healthy portion of veggies and still not quite be done. It is possibly a mental condition but is something that I just have to make due with. Primal is the perfect fit with my compulsion however, because it gives me a lot of leeway in the sheer amount of food I can eat without going over a calorie restriction or some-such.

All of my achievements and success can be attributed to one thing. Time. With time my desire to eat non-Primal dimmed. With time my coffee addiction turned into an appreciation of coffee. With time my body has been transformed, not only from weight loss, but it has also gained many healthy full years of living. This has become much more than a way to lose weight for me, it is ingrained into who I am.

I am a strong, happy, healthy, life-loving man.

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. Hey, Jeffrey, you look awesome. Congratulations. I totally agree simplicity is what we often need when we start this primal journey. And I can relate to eating huge amounts of food – no matter what it is. Great story!

    Alison Golden wrote on March 9th, 2012
  2. YAY!!!!! not only a success story but an MDA romance. squeeee!!!!!!

    peggy wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • LOL @ “sqeeeee!!!!”

      Griffin wrote on March 9th, 2012
      • lol @ ^ lol @ squeeee!!!!!!

        Jenn wrote on March 9th, 2012
        • SQUEEEEEE! x4!!! Congratulations on all of your success and your found happiness!!!

          Ada wrote on March 10th, 2012
    • +1 Internets

      RW wrote on March 12th, 2012
  3. Thanks for sharing your journey. You both look super. Congrats all around!! NG

    Neandergirl wrote on March 9th, 2012
  4. Wow! What an amazing transformation! You both look so happy AND healthy. Nice…

    Chandra wrote on March 9th, 2012
  5. Jeffrey, this is a wonderful success story. While attending college, I have worked at 4 different cafes and can attest to how hard it is to stay away from the baked goods. You have some gnarly will power! I am inspired, keep it up man :)

    Steven wrote on March 9th, 2012
  6. You look great! Keep up the good work.

    Vince wrote on March 9th, 2012
  7. so cool! sweet couple!

    francisman wrote on March 9th, 2012
  8. I seriously can not get enough of these stories! So very inspiring. Jeffrey, you look amazing, happy and healthy. Very well done!

    Fair Flavors wrote on March 9th, 2012
  9. So you live in Texas???

    Gman wrote on March 9th, 2012
  10. You look amazing! Congratulations on your success and here’s to a stronger, healthy, happy life! And yay for Primal bringing two people together. :) The happiness just shines off of you two.

    sapphiric wrote on March 9th, 2012
  11. Jared’s got nothing on you.

    Tyler wrote on March 9th, 2012
  12. I love Fridays and your story. So romantic… You do both look so healthy and happy.

    perennialpam wrote on March 9th, 2012
  13. Love your story. And you two make a really cute couple!

    Rachel wrote on March 9th, 2012
  14. I do live in Texas Gman. Also, the blog post is my Girlfriends, not mine. Thank you guys! This community definitely played a major role in my success!

    Jeffrey Strickland wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • Awesome story!!! And…

      I recognize the restaurant in the pic.

      Do you still CrossFit? If so, which box?

      Primal Texas wrote on March 9th, 2012
      • Being a poor college student I can’t afford to crossfit sadly enough. The restaurant is Company Cafe, and if that is the one you’re thinking of, well then its a small world!

        Jeffrey Strickland wrote on March 9th, 2012
        • Congrats again on the massive progress you’ve made. Not CrossFitting isn’t sad… it just isn’t for “right now.”

          If you do reach a point where you want to work CrossFit into your life/budget, there are a few great gyms in our area. My wife and I are regulars at CrossFit White Rock.

          Primal Texas wrote on March 9th, 2012
        • CrossFit’s website is free — I lurked for a year before I ever set foot in a box. There are lots and lots of body weight exercise routines (with demo videos): even poor college students can do CrossFit! Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!
          If you have access via the college to a gym, even better: weight work, exercise machines, medicine ball, etc. (But today’s WOD — workout of the day — was thrusters with 25# (can use books in a backpack) + burpees; GHD sit ups — helps to have a machine, but even sit-ups help; KettleBell swings (Dick’s Sporting Goods, if not dumbbells at college gym) and hand-stand push ups: I’m a real newbie at these — at almost 70. If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!

          Sam J wrote on March 9th, 2012
  15. Congrats – to the both of you.
    Dramatic, and inspirational transformation.

    svend wrote on March 9th, 2012
  16. Jeffrey, this is fabulous! Well done, and thanks for being real about how going primal is a process.

    Anne wrote on March 9th, 2012
  17. Wonderful story! You look fantastic (bod and smile), and it sounds like you will for many years!

    maddieaddie wrote on March 9th, 2012
  18. Great job man! you look awesome!

    Brian McKenna wrote on March 9th, 2012
  19. Behind every successful caveman there is a cave-woman or something like that.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • and a dead grizzly bear (dinner)

      Bruno wrote on March 9th, 2012
      • Lol!! @ “and a dead grizzly bear lol!

        Rae wrote on March 24th, 2012
  20. Congrats, my good man. I also went from over 320 pounds down to under 190lbs. Fantastic to hear more people are having wonderful success.

    Carlos Morales wrote on March 9th, 2012
  21. Thanks so much for sharing. I hear you on the compulsive eating. Still binge on sugar. Drives me nuts! But, like you, I have slowly refined my eating and that has been wonderful. I eat very little dairy now and feel so much better.

    I, like you, think that I too will have to just contend with this compulsive nature. It surely could be a lot worse (and used to be!). :-)

    Happycyclegirl wrote on March 9th, 2012
  22. Great to see a former athlete take control of their health after playing competitive sport. So often you see them continue the downward spiral toward obesity and sickness. Great story and inspiration. Free your mind, and your Grok will follow.

    p.s. props on finding a Primal GF:-)

    Dennis wrote on March 9th, 2012
  23. This is such a great story – not only did Primal transform your health, it also brought you love :)

    Well done and g’luck for the future!

    Cat wrote on March 9th, 2012
  24. You’z guyz are beautifulz.

    Also, I’ve been looking for a band name.. Perfect Primal, you say?


    Bruno wrote on March 9th, 2012
  25. Awesome Story Jeffery (Jeff?) You’re doing amazingly well. You look so happy!

    Griffin wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • Jeffrey 😉

      Jeffrey Strickland wrote on March 9th, 2012
  26. Great job Jeffrey and cool to see another Company Cafe fan. Maybe we’ll run into each other there some day.

    WS wrote on March 9th, 2012
  27. Best story ever!! Primal love. So happy you found each other and can share this together. Congrats to you.

    Laura, RD wrote on March 9th, 2012
  28. I suffer from the same compulsion and eating Primal has helped me immensely. Thanks for sharing.

    Ben wrote on March 9th, 2012
  29. Yes! I love it! You look amazing and you can tell how darn happy you are too, which rocks!
    I totally hear you on your appreciation for the element of time, in your process from SAD eating (and lifestyle) to more of a Primal one. I found that that method works best for me too, and has made this a pleasant process, rather than a stressful one. Congrats to you, sir!!

    AustinGirl wrote on March 9th, 2012
  30. Gratz to you both. :)

    Onge wrote on March 9th, 2012
  31. You both look so happy and healthy! Good on you for finding a way to make Primal work for you. We don’t all follow the same path but health and long life are goals we all share.

    Linda wrote on March 9th, 2012
  32. Dude! Nice work. You look like you took about 20 years off with that. Keep at it.

    notarunner wrote on March 9th, 2012
  33. Awesome story. So glad to see someone else that struggles with the pace at which he has to go Primal. You also inspired a thought: a link or secondary page for MDA that links Primal people to one another through geographic location! Just a thought, Mark.

    Dugan wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • I’ve often thought this too. It can be difficult to find like-minded people, especially if you live in Big Agra-country as I do. I was really stoked to learn that Amy Kubal from Robb Wolf’s team lives in Sioux Falls, SD- about an hour away from me. Woohoo!

      Trav wrote on March 9th, 2012
  34. Smiled when I read this. It’s great to hear about your real-life, humble experience with the process. Congratulations times a bajillion!

    Liz wrote on March 9th, 2012
  35. Congrats on the awesome job. What weight have you ended up at? I know it’s not about the weight, but rather, how you feel. Just wondering because I’m also 6’2 and just starting out with primal. I’m lovin it, by the way.

    Busphan wrote on March 9th, 2012
  36. I love seeing the joy that comes when people are healthy and thriving!
    Thanks for sharing your story. And I am so happy you two found each other!! :)
    Feeling healthy makes for a good life and sharing love makes it even better.

    Taryn Kae Wilson wrote on March 9th, 2012
  37. Great job. You are too hard on yourself though! Being on your feet for 8 hours a day is actually a lot better than most who just have to sit at a desk most of the day. I just mean that even though you may not be getting formal “exercise” you are probably getting more -movement- than most people. In fact I would say that your job sounds quite physically demanding.

    David Cole wrote on March 9th, 2012
  38. Way to go man! Perhaps you could give StrongLifts a go, it has worked well for me. It’s a weight lifting exercise program. I just checked out their website, read the (free) e-book and found a gym near my house. What I like about it is that it doesn’t take much time or effort (I am kinda lazy), but you (and girlfriend/spouse) still see the benefits!

    Álvaro wrote on March 9th, 2012
  39. Dude, such a great story. Have to say, I’m quite impressed by the way you went about this. Happy for you and your Primal girlfriend (I could use one of those, lol). Hope your success continues in the future, for both of you. This was a great way to start off a Friday :)

    trekfan wrote on March 9th, 2012
  40. Hey Jeff,
    Way to go! I am inspired by your tenacity at sticking to your to your “Perfect Primal” routine while accepting your personal limitations along the way!

    David wrote on March 9th, 2012

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