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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!

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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+.

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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.

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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.

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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 want your girlfriend’s enchilada recipe! Has she posted it on the recipes part of the forum?

    Sanctus Real wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • It was on her blog, but sadly her blog moved and it never got transfered.

      Jeffrey Strickland wrote on March 9th, 2012
  2. I’ve found that acupuncture has really helped a lot with my compulsive eating.

    Ruth wrote on March 9th, 2012
  3. God Bless you! Your story is wonderful. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your success in life!

    Nay wrote on March 9th, 2012
  4. I always look forward to these inspirational stories. Making a change is a slow gradual process. it doesn’t happen over night. So glad Jeffrey reclaimed his health!

    Sarah @ The Healthy Diva wrote on March 9th, 2012
  5. Hi Jeffrey,
    thanks for the story. My experience parallels yours to some extent, particularly the heavy cream and coffee addiction.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Andrew.

    Andrew wrote on March 9th, 2012
  6. Dude. You look AMAZING. My favorite thing about these before/after photos is the HAPPY factor – I can just see it in your eyes. So awesome. Kudos, Jeffrey. You deserve all the praise you get. Such a great story, and it sounds like you got all the right takeaways. Way to be inspiring! I’ve shared your story with tons of people today :)

    Nick wrote on March 9th, 2012
  7. Correction:

    “All of my achievements and success can be attributed to one thing.”

    Change to:
    All of my achievements and success can be attributed to two things:
    Lovely and Beautiful Ikaika and Time

    Congratulations, very nice and touching story, I am forwarding it to everybody!

    WildGrok wrote on March 9th, 2012
  8. Well done you look great

    Further proof that Paleo is the way to go

    David Quinn wrote on March 9th, 2012
  9. What a win at life!!!

    I totally get the never-feeling-done-eating thing. I became a boredom eater as a child. I don’t really know why, but it happened. All the healthy diets I tried throughout college told me to train myself to eat every 3 hours or my metabolism would supposedly shut down. I’ve been adapting my diet to me more primal/paleo for about six months and I am just now being able to shake the urges to eat when I’m not hungry. It takes HUGE effort to wait until I’m hungry instead of eating according to what time it is. I guess we’ll get the hang of it eventually, but until then it’s a conscious effort.

    Kristina wrote on March 9th, 2012
    • I struggle the most with this, as well. Eating is just so pleasurable for me… I’ve always been a huge boredom eater, and I also find it hard to stop eating once I’m full, as if I don’t know when my next meal will be. I’m trying to be a lot more conscious about whether or not I’m ACTUALLY physically hungry, or if I’m just trying to comfort myself. When I’m finding myself with a sparked appetite but no physical hunger, I’ll usually make some herbal tea or try to distract myself somehow.

      Elizabeth wrote on March 9th, 2012
  10. I am so happy to see a young man take action for healthy reasons. My own sons, while incredibly smart and capable, are still lettering in bullet-proof.
    I still live on commercial grade food out of necessity. I just eat the best available, eat lots of veggies, and exercise when I can. You inspire me!

    TruckerLady wrote on March 9th, 2012
  11. Cheers for your commitment and congrats on your achievement! You both look awesome! Grok on!

    Sam J wrote on March 9th, 2012
  12. Yes, it can be done by yourself, but it’s so much easier if you have a partner. I just hope that those of you who don’t have a partner don’t give up – sometimes it just takes a little bit more work/effort but YES it can still be done!

    The never-feeling-full scenario hits home with me because as a child it was the way I got acceptance and attention: oh, look at how much she ate – isn’t that wonderful??!!

    I just love that you’ve stated all the blips and bumps that go with trying to change, deal with, give up., etc., the lifestyle we grew up with and change it to something different.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on March 9th, 2012
  13. I’m so proud that Jeff could inspire you all… he is a very bright soul and an inspiring fella!

    Ikaika / Shaleah wrote on March 9th, 2012
  14. This is such an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing and motivating the primal community!

    Kledia wrote on March 9th, 2012
  15. Great story, thanks for sharing.

    Steve wrote on March 9th, 2012
  16. Made me Smile and made me cry!
    Good on ya!

    ShelleyC wrote on March 9th, 2012
  17. appreciate you sharing your story

    Robert wrote on March 9th, 2012
  18. You look wonderful (both of you) so clear eyed and healthy. Well done! Primal lifestyle really rocks.

    Odille Esmonde-Morgan wrote on March 9th, 2012
  19. I seriously teared up; congratulations!!

    Ro wrote on March 10th, 2012
  20. Thank you so much and very honest and inspirational story. Once again for sharing!

    Stefan wrote on March 10th, 2012
  21. Jeffrey, your story got noticed in Slovakia, Europe! You are officially famous worldwide! :-) feels good, ha? :-)

    Jan Rendek wrote on March 10th, 2012
  22. Very good transformation. :)

    Michael @ somebodylied.com wrote on March 10th, 2012
  23. SOOO cute!! WELL DONE, BOTH! :)

    gilliebean wrote on March 10th, 2012
  24. Congrats! A very heartwarming story.

    Mike wrote on March 10th, 2012
  25. This is one of the best ones I have seen. So cool!

    Nick wrote on March 10th, 2012
  26. Primal girlfriend? I think we just figured out how to end obesity!

    Abhay wrote on March 10th, 2012
  27. I love Mark’s posts, but I have to admit my favorite part is reading the Friday transformation stories!

    MarieD wrote on March 10th, 2012
  28. Really great story. I like how you comment on the time factor. I think that is really important to remember. Even if things take a while, any step forward is a great one.
    I used to work at Sbux for a long time. I totally get the making do with what you have. I used to take the expired turkey and swiss sandwiches and just eat the turkey and swiss and leave the bread :)
    Congrats on your success Jeff!

    Ande wrote on March 10th, 2012
  29. Well I say god damn. Well done. Awesome story. High five.

    BW wrote on March 10th, 2012
  30. So wonderful that you found and did this when you are young. You look hot at the hottest time in your life, your YOUTH! So many young men and women look like you before photo and I am sure you inspire them.
    Congrats and stay on the primal path

    Gayle wrote on March 10th, 2012
  31. I spend a lot of time wishing I could fast forward to 2013 so I can stop feeling so unhealthy. I know that similiar results are in my horizon, just gotta keep doin what I’m doin. Thanks Jeffrey

    keith kucerak wrote on March 10th, 2012
  32. Totally. Freaking. Awesome! Congrats man!! To infinite and beyond!

    Jay wrote on March 10th, 2012
  33. Wow. Huge difference (sorry for the pun).

    James wrote on March 10th, 2012
  34. Your before and after pics are great! You look so happy! Congratulations and keep it up! I feel the same way about Primal being way more then just about weight loss ;-)

    Jennifer wrote on March 10th, 2012
  35. Congratulations! When I scrolled down to the second picture, I felt like cheering. Incredibly well done!

    Donald wrote on March 10th, 2012
  36. Amazing work Jeff! You’re sure to inspire many with your dedication in effort.

    Regarding Crossfit boxes, the only words that come to mind is “rip off”. Most here are $150/month and I just can’t fathom anyone paying that kind of money for what you can largely set up it your own home/garage. I’ve never been impressed with the trainers either, consider anyone can pay $1,000 and become “certified”. Crossfit workouts are awesome, but too many people get wrapped up in a cult-like mentality and lose sight that it is a business first, methodology second.

    Scott wrote on March 11th, 2012
  37. Good on you, man! And, what a nice, happy ending/beginning. You’ll reap so many benefits starting Primal so young, and having a partner who is primal helps a lot.

    You’re not the only one who battles compulsive eating but, I agree, it’s easier when you’re Primal.

    Tina wrote on March 11th, 2012
  38. Very motivational. I really appreciate how you described your approach. You slowly “evolved” into a primal man, ironically. Thanks!

    Jim wrote on March 11th, 2012
  39. Thanks for the story. I’m 2 months in and starting to slip. I’m pushing myself to get back on track this week. Friday stories help tremendously!

    Jeff wrote on March 11th, 2012
  40. Wow! Great job! I live Fridays

    Dwayne wrote on March 11th, 2012

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