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

I Am Finally on the Right Path to Optimum Health and Happiness

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!


Whenever someone asks me about my history with Ulcerative Colitis I respond with something along the lines of, “It feels like a bad dream that will forever be imprinted in the back of my mind.” It was 2006, my senior year of high school, everything was going fairly well. I was a healthy (or so I thought) 6’3″, 180 lb. 18 year old about to graduate high school and head into the next stage of my life: college. However, life had different plans in store for me. Around my second semester I began to feel consistently nauseous.  It felt like anything I ate (S.A.D. mind you) would just pass right through me as though I hadn’t absorbed any energy/nutrients. I figured it was a relatively normal side effect from consistent partying that year, though it persisted. Bouts of nausea would come and go, as would horrible abdominal pains that would make even the toughest man curl into the fetal position. I decided it was time to get checked out. I had my first colonoscopy done within weeks of my first symptoms.

“You have Ulcerative Colitis,” the doctor said. I remember my mother and I looking at each other absolutely confused. Neither of us had heard of this illness before. He proceeded to inform us that Ulcerative Colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is an inflammation of the colon. I remember pondering for a moment about what all of this could mean. I finally looked up and asked, “So what do I do?” He responded with, “Well, we can treat it with different medications depending on which one you is most beneficial to you.” “Treat?,” I thought. “You mean I have to live like this for the rest of my life?” I remember the doctor’s face vividly…it was an expression of reservation, confusion, and sadness, as if he were trying to formulate the wisest, yet least alarming way possible. “Not necessarily. A lot of people go into full remission with the right medication.” I carefully considered his response and asked, “How is this disease caused?” He looked back at me regretfully, “Unfortunately we don’t really know.” I didn’t know what to say to that. Still completely shocked and puzzled at what I was told, I continued through the next few months now under the supervision of a gastroenterologist and given several medications to take daily.

Sadly, things only got worse from there, I missed my college SAT tests on three different occasions due to having virtually no energy, constant joint and abdominal pains, as well as never-ceasing nausea. My friends and family would wonder where I was, why I wasn’t answering their phone calls, and why I would never leave the house anymore. My attempts to eat were pitiful, and as a result I was losing weight fast. Fast-forward two years later…After several failed medications and treatments from pharmaceutical to alternative, I ended up at a emaciated weight of 127 lbs only sleeping perhaps 2-4 hours per night.

Before surgery and the Primal Blueprint

I’ll never forget the feeling I had during this period of my life. It was as if I was on the brink of life and death, a sort of limbo. Nothing seemed real anymore. After stubbornly refusing to go to a doctor (due to my strong distaste for the medical field at that point), my father more or less forced me to our family clinic. My family doctor looked me over with noticeable concern, checking my blood pressure/pulse three separate times. He looked up at me and said, “You need to go to the hospital immediately.” My dad quickly rushed me to the E.R. and within an hour or so I was wheeled into a room and pumped full of pain-killers and fluids. I remember my father telling me what the doctor had told him, which is something I’ll never forget, “If you would have brought him in any later, he could have died.”

The good news is I stabilized, albeit only temporarily. Through the following months my weight shifted like crazy, the medications stopped working, and I was back at square one. All of the false hope I was getting from each new medication I would try and ultimately fail was taking its toll on me not only physically but mentally as well. My only other option to consider was surgery, in which I finally agreed to. My doctor recommended a three-step surgery. My first surgery was a total colectomy (removal of the entire large intestine) resulting in my need to wear a colostomy bag for nine months while my surgery site healed. My second step was to construct a “J-pouch,” which is basically the conversion of part of your small intestine into a a “J” shape to form a make-shift colon. Step two lasted a few months to let the J-pouch heal up while I still used the colostomy bag. My third and final step was to reconnect the plumbing, so to speak. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I don’t regret it for a minute.

My symptoms decreased to a manageable level, allowing me to eventually become independent, living and working on my own. Though the actual Colitis was at a stand-still, I was constantly bloated and sick, and my J-pouch would develop chronic pouchitis (infection of the pouch) which would be temporarily resolved by very powerful antibiotics such as Flagyl and Ciprofloxacin, but would eventually reappear. All of these chronic infections I was getting didn’t make sense. I was cured right? This shouldn’t be happening.

Still bloated and sick

Well that’s when I really began analyzing my diet, which eventually  brought me to your book, The Primal Blueprint.

When I finally ditched the SAD diet and started living primally, (eliminating processed foods and most importantly, GRAINS and adding more healthy fats, plants, and animals) I noticed the pain had been reduced to a minimum, my weight stabilized, and I had no more bloating which would usually appear after a good carb/grain-dense meal. This seemed to be working for me, so I stuck with it. After several months of living primally, at the age of 24, a stable weight of 182 lbs, and a height 6’4″ I can safely say that I am in the best shape of my life and feel better than I ever did pre-Colitis. My energy levels are stable. In fact, I hardly ever get mid-day crashes unless I eat something I shouldn’t (which only reminds me that I’m moving on a path towards the dark-side and I better recalibrate.) I lost over 30 lbs. of fat and gained a significant amount of lean muscle mass, but most importantly, is that I feel healthy. While I may never be “normal” again, I know that I am finally on the right path to optimum health and a life full of happiness. Thank you Mark for the selfless wisdom that you have imparted to myself and many others that have conquered their trials and tribulations via The Primal Blueprint.

From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

Kyel - After Primal


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. Great job Kyel! It takes a lot of determination not to give up when life drags on hopelessly over a long period of time. To keep your mind open to new solutions is difficult when the temptation for despair is so strong. You have demonstrated great strength and will. I don’t know you, but I am proud of you.

    chris wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  2. Thank you for sharing your story.Inspirational and just at the right time for me to show a love one who is going thry something very similar. Grok on and best wishes :-)

    alexandra wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  3. Wow!! I bet your story brought tears to Marks eyes – it certainly did to mine. I’m so glad you finally found the site!!.

    W. J. Purifoy wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  4. Like many have said, you look like a different person. And what a good transformation it is! I’m so happy that you have found relief from your prior struggles and for your new found life! Congratulations!

    sapphiric wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  5. great story! Thank you for sharing it with us. I love MDA Fridays.

    Did you take accurate as a teen? I was just reading that one of the side effects is ulcerative colitis.

    Nicole wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  6. Great Story Kyle. Mine is similar. I lived with UC for 11 years, initially managing it well (I thought) but in 2011 I deteriorated rapidly, living on prednisone and stays in hospital. When the specialist told me I must have the colonoscopy and J section you described. That was the turning point for me
    I changed my lifesytlye and discovered MDA. Now I am 30kgs lighter and take NO medications. Three months since I stopped my Pentasa that I had been taking daily for 12 years. At present I am symptoom free and feeling great. Time the doctors listened to all of these stories.

    Tony wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  7. Hot! You look hot!

    Meagan wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  8. Hey Kyel,

    Reading your story was just like reading my own, taking me back to the exact way I used to feel.
    I suffered with UC for 16 years, from the age of 24 to 40, having my babies in that time and constantly trying to battle this disease with a cocktail of medications, including very high doses of Prednisone. It all got to a point where my body couldn’t take it anymore, my whole colon being inflamed and nearly dying from a UC related infection.
    I finally decided to have the same operations as you but continued to have severe bouts of pouchitis that would lay me out for 7-10 days.
    Now, through meeting my second husband who was already paleo/primal and after a bit of convincing, I read everything on Mark’s site and it resonated big time!
    I am now following a primal lifestyle and have managed to get myself off antibiotics. Still taking an anti-inflammatory (Salazopyrin) but who knows…maybe one day I’ll be able to give that up too :)I feel better than I have ever felt before.
    Well done and thanks for sharing!! I wish you all the best :)

    Karen wrote on February 24th, 2013
  9. Congrats on your success with the Primal blueprint. Thank God you found it!! Such a great story! Stephanie

    Stephanie Turner wrote on February 24th, 2013
  10. I sympathize with you. At the age of 36 I was also diagnosed with UC and I went through the same steps as you but in a shorter period of time. My diagnosis was in February and my colon was removed in April. Thankfully, I did not have the pouchitis as you but once in a while I get them. I’m 52 now and became Primal/Paleo a year ago. Lost 25 lbs and look great. The only thing is that my knees have some artheritis but that doesn’t bother me in my daily life. I do not regret the surgery either but wish I had known about Primal/Paleo then.

    Rossana wrote on February 24th, 2013
  11. I get pouchitis too in my BCIR (no jpouch), small bowel bacteria overgrowth due to most of my stomach removed and now on a Candida diet, I almost think it is more strict than Paleo but same rules. Just can’t eat any sugar, not even fruit. It is rough to lose a colon though so I can relate! I can’t eat any veggies besides cucumber and have to chew them to death. I crossfit and lift heavy and for me I can’t get off antibiotics, the loss of 60% of my gut has a reoccurring overgrowth even on a diet but the diet change DOES help. Very hard for anyone to relate that has not had this surgery. It is a major change in your system since it is basically a new organ and the body treats it as an obstruction.

    You look great!

    Vanessa Truog wrote on February 24th, 2013
  12. Very inspirational!

    I’m wondering how does your body process food now without a colon, because I’m guessing you have a smaller intestinal tract, do you have to eat more often?

    I’m just curious?

    Goran wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Most of the nutrients from food are absorbed in the small intestine, which is still intact for people like Kyel and I who have J-pouches. The colon does absorb some things, but as far as I know, not having a colon doesn’t give people major nutritional deficiencies. Although it probably does in some rare cases! The colon mainly absorbs water, so some people have issues with dehydration, but I never have.

      I haven’t had to eat more often because of the surgery, and I don’t think that’s an issue for most people, but you DEFINITELY have to use the bathroom more often. Hopefully that answered your questions, although of course I can’t speak to Kyel’s personal experience with his j-pouch (:

      Alyssa wrote on February 27th, 2013
  13. You’re the best. Congrats to you, Kyel. Your story really touched me. What an amazing amount of vitality you emanate in the last photo–I am so glad you shared your story.

    My best,

    Lucia wrote on February 25th, 2013
  14. Thank u for telling your story…i know its sometimes difficult to talk about personal health issues liked UC….i as well have ulcerative colitis…i found out about 2 years ago that I had it…and I got hit bad with the abdominal pain and going to the bathroom literally like 10 times a day… Eating a small cracker even killed my stomach…i was on medication but it was not doing anything for me so I stopped taking it! I do believe that stress can trigger horrible health conditions

    Becca grafsgaard wrote on February 25th, 2013
  15. Wow! That’s a freaking amazing transformation! The sad thing is that I feel like I saw a lot of guys like you when I was in college, and wonder how sick some of them really were.

    Deanna wrote on February 26th, 2013
  16. Thank you so much for posting this! I dealt with Ulcerative Colitis from 2007 till 2012 — That was my last flare up, a year ago. I almost died on two different occasions, and spent over a week in the hospital a couple of times in very bad shape. This all came about after I graduated from college in 2006. Doctors told me I would have to be on drugs the rest of my life… and I might need to have my colon removed. Thanks to this kind of diet (first on Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Jordan Rubin, Raw Vegan, GAPS, and finally to PB)… I am on NO drugs and I feel like I’m getting healthier every day. It has taken a while to realize that rice crackers and Pamela’s Baking Mix are OUT. A rough road to travel, but the education has been it worth the experience. Glad to see others are also finding success through diet and lifestyle changes. :)

    Betsy wrote on February 26th, 2013
  17. Well done! It looks like three different people!

    nuraan wrote on February 27th, 2013
  18. Awesome!!

    George wrote on March 3rd, 2013
  19. My girlfriend sent me the article “Finally on the right path to optimum health and happiness” and I thought I was reading an article written about myself. I have lived Kyel’s story! The article inspired me to take on the Primal Blueprint way of life.

    Kyel, if you read this comment, I am curious about your transition to the diet. I seem to be low on energy and going to the bathroom more frequently. I was curious if this is just a part of the adjustment/cleanse period and would love to ask you for advice since our digestive systems are similar. I have had a J-pouch for 3 years now.

    I appreciate the help and thank you for the inspiration and path to live a happier and healthier life!

    Eric wrote on March 5th, 2013
  20. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!|

    Cheap Jumpers wrote on March 7th, 2013
  21. I have been healed of UC by doing a home fecal transplant. I aquired UC in 2009 after taking a Zpack antibiotic for a sinus infection then a month or two later I had knee surgery, where I was given an antibiotic during surgery.

    The very next day after surgery, I had explosive diarrhea, gas, cramps. Tests showed it was not C-diff or any other infection. Doctors said I would have to live with it for the rest of my life and take drugs the rest of my life that suppress my immune system.

    I learned about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and stopped eating all yeast, sugar, starch, wheat and lactose in May of 2012 after suffering for 3 years of bleeding, diarrhea, gas, cramps, etc. These are the foods that feed the bad bacteria, then your body tries to flush it out with mucus and beings to protect itself with inflammation. I don’t believe it is my immune system attacking itself – but it is attacking a bacteria that is causing damage and my immune system is trying to kill the bad bacteria off.

    The SCD diet did help but the stronger microbes began to die off, being starved from their regular diet of those things I quit eating and create a flare of my UC symptoms. After a two month flare I did a home fecal transplant.

    I have been symptom free every since. I still eat SCD as I want to give my digestive system time to heal and for the good bacteria to get well established in my colon. I don’t want to ever go through this again.

    I would recommend anyone with IBS, UC or Crohens to research fecal transplants and check out my blog –

    It had given me my life back.

    Teri wrote on March 7th, 2013
  22. Thank you for sharing your stories,
    im a young mum of 6, and have been suffering with uc for 4 years now- gosh has it really been that long?.
    The first two years I didn’t even know what was wrong, I was pregnant with my 5th baby- the midwife told me it was probably just hormones, I really suffered, I would be stuck in the bathroom all day with fever and chills with the most horrific pain, the pain feels like a mixture of labour and the flu- not good, my gastro docs have been useless,
    I’m allergic to assacol, pentasa, and mezavant, so now can only take steroids, which make me fat, spotty and moody.
    I’m definitely going to try primal and see what happens

    laila wrote on November 6th, 2013
  23. I’m so happy you found the PB lifestyle and the solution to your health problems, Kyle. Here’s to a long life with all the great possibilities that lay ahead!

    Grok On! :)

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on December 5th, 2013
  24. hey man great job ..happy that i found someone who put weight after UC surgery. My story is similar to urs .i had undergone two major surgeries at age of 18 in 2007 .now im nearly 27, but im not able to increase my weight more than 47kg(around 104 pounds) though im 5’11inch of height..main thing is that i have to go 4 times to washroom almost after each 4hrs interval..can u please suggest any diet which benefit u for weight gain.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Aniket wrote on October 12th, 2015

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