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. Excellent story and Congratulations! Very inspiring.

    Rob wrote on March 9th, 2012
  2. This story is F#*&^%$$ great!!! Way to go man. You look so strong and full of life.

    apical meristem wrote on March 9th, 2012
  3. This makes me so happy! Good for you Jeff! So glad Jeff2006 & Ikaika found primal love ;)

    Jasmin wrote on March 9th, 2012
  4. Great story, congratulations! Just curious, what is your current healthy weight?

    Chas_NJ wrote on March 9th, 2012
  5. Jeff – what a transformation! You look amazing and so full of life. And thank you for describing your real-life primal issues – probably very helpful to many of us.

    Is there such a thing as the Perfect Primal? Hope not – frankly it sounds a bit boring.
    Come join us ‘Imperfect But Willing to Keep On Trying Primals’!

    Sian wrote on March 9th, 2012
  6. And hey look, there was a cutie hidden in there too :P

    Nion wrote on March 9th, 2012
  7. Awesome testimony, Jeff!

    Love you, brother…so proud of the healthy changes you’ve made & how you’ve encouraged many others.

    Love,
    Your sister

    Jen wrote on March 9th, 2012
  8. I love the success friday stories. I can’t wait to send you mine too someday in the future. :) Grok on!

    Drenka wrote on March 9th, 2012
  9. Thats a FANTASTIC story! I am(was)the exact same starting size as you, when I started in December (now 280lbs!)!! I have the same issues with eating, as well! Thanks for the extra inspiration!

    Scott wrote on March 9th, 2012
  10. Good job homie!

    Judolizard wrote on March 9th, 2012
  11. Great story! I’ve read through it a couple times and I don’t see what your current weight/ waist size is. Am I just blind or was that not included?

    Stratispho wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • I didn’t include it. I currently am at 200lbs, 34 size pants. I hit a low of 185 a few months ago, but didn’t try to maintain it so i gained some back. Needless to say I would like to hit 185 and stay there, but I don’t want to sacrifice my health nor my happiness to do so.

      Jeffrey Strickland wrote on March 9th, 2012
  12. I really love hearing stories like this.

    Going to a healthy lifestyle has so many more benefits than just “losing weight”.

    Becoming a life-loving man is priceless. Keep it up!

    Chris Pine wrote on March 9th, 2012
  13. Beautiful, inspirational story. Congratulations and continued happiness and health to you!

    Sethro wrote on March 9th, 2012
  14. Love it!

    Cherly wrote on March 9th, 2012
  15. “I am a strong, happy, healthy, life-loving man.”

    Isn’t it AMAZING?!

    The photo of you in your old genes is awesome. It definitely paints the picture quite well! Hopefully folks will be inspired by this and do the same.

    Grok on!

    Primal Toad wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • Your “old genes”! That’s great.

      Tina wrote on March 11th, 2012
  16. You look like Bob Harper the trainer from biggest loser in that last picture haha looking good man!

    justin wrote on March 9th, 2012
  17. Glad I didn’t put my makeup on yet cuz this one bought tears to my eyes – awe heck! most of the success stories do!

    Congratulations on turning your life around. You look so happy. As for Crossfit, you don’t need it. Just find body-weight exercises and plyometrics on Youtube – plenty of stuff you can do at home with little or no equipment.

    HillsideGina wrote on March 9th, 2012
  18. Great story!

    I have been feeling kind of down because I’ve been Primal for almost a year and feel I have little to show for it. I figure it was too much “80/20″ during the holidays. I’ve buckled down since then. In any case, you give me hope.

    Grok on!

    Rob wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • forget 80/20 for a while, try to make it 95/5, and cut the carbs… leave the exceptions to when youre already in the shape you want.

      but you didnt waste time! small changes are easier to make, and you are certainly healthier than before.

      sorry if I sound rude, but english is not my mother language :p

      primal headshrink wrote on March 9th, 2012
  19. Oh, oh, look at that! Great job, Jeff!

    Idioteque wrote on March 9th, 2012
  20. Awesomeness! Congrats on your whole transformation. You guys look so happy :)

    Caleigh wrote on March 9th, 2012
  21. great story man, i can relate to a lot of it. gives me more motivation not to fall off the wagon like i did last year. congrats and keep enjoying life!

    insane grok wrote on March 9th, 2012
  22. Again, the smile says it all in the last two photos. Great work Jeffrey!

    Brent wrote on March 9th, 2012
  23. Ripped!!! Way the go, man!

    Gillian wrote on March 9th, 2012
  24. Congratulations Jeffrey! Welcome to the ranks of the slim, healthy and happy!

    George wrote on March 9th, 2012
  25. Nice job, Jeffrey! Very inspirational story. Thanks for sharing.

    Marissa wrote on March 9th, 2012
  26. awesome!!!!!

    Emily wrote on March 9th, 2012
  27. It would be interesting to collect the ethnic background of those writing in with success stories. Most of primal success types featured seem to be of European extraction, which links up pretty well with the groups at high risk for gluten intolerance.

    John wrote on March 9th, 2012
  28. Darn good.

    Love details of gave about your meals and how you progressed.

    Keep it up

    a wrote on March 9th, 2012
  29. Great story! Cute couple! Way to go!

    Shebeeste wrote on March 9th, 2012
  30. What I found in your story was the normalcy of it all…which I mean in a very positive way. I have often read stories of people who have found going primal changed a medical profile that was rife with all kinds of ailments. I am lucky to be generally healthy, but as the 42 year old mother of a 3 year old, I was looking for optimal health and weight loss. I haven’t connected with anyone’s story as much as I have with yours. I am slowly going primal and my desire for non-primal food is waning and I can pack away an extraordinary amount of food given my 5’3″ 150lb frame! And cheesecake, don’t get me started! Anyway, I want to honour your success and I look forward to a time when I feel as though I have arrived in some way to post a story here. Such a fabulous resource!

    Rebecca wrote on March 9th, 2012
  31. How totally AWESOME for you! My story is very similar to yours, and (like many others here on MDA) you have become an inspiration to me.

    I just started my Primal Transformation this week, and I plan to “contribute” more to the forums as I “come out of my shell”.

    Just wanted to say KUDOS! Great Job, and Grok On!

    Grokolicious wrote on March 9th, 2012
  32. Primal inspiration. How great you look and and finding love all at your own pace. Love your story.

    marika wrote on March 9th, 2012
  33. Well Holy Shit!!

    You look great and about 20 years younger…good on you!

    Steve wrote on March 9th, 2012
  34. What a FANTASTIC story! I LOVE this! I just love reading these success stories. They make me so happy.

    I think it’s so great that along the way, you met someone to share your Primal journey with. Congratulations on completely changing your life, on sticking with it and recognizing your challenges. Way to go!!!!

    SarahT wrote on March 9th, 2012
  35. Jeffrey, way to go! You look AMAZING! Great smile and a wonderful attitude. Best of luck on the rest of your journey.

    Grokette wrote on March 9th, 2012
  36. Awesome transformation! And awesome hookup! I can attest to having an endless appetite. I frequently eat over 1lb of meat in a sitting, having already had 2 whole meals earlier in the day, and still, I’ll be able to eat a “desert”. I’ve had a 32oz steak and still had room for more. Not sure what the deal is!

    Ryan wrote on March 9th, 2012
  37. Great transformation! Your success story resonates with me strongly because I too am a Computer Scientist and you started at almost the exact same weight I am. I’m having a huge battle with quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption, and cutting out fast food lunches. It’s inspiring to see what I’ll look like after I get down in weight. Thanks for sharing!

    Daniel Hensey wrote on March 9th, 2012
  38. awesome success story! Great job!

    Melissa wrote on March 9th, 2012
  39. Happiness itself looked at that last picture and said, “Damn!”.

    Chris wrote on March 9th, 2012
  40. Thanks for your story! I particularly loved the photo of you and Ikalka!

    alicat wrote on March 9th, 2012

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