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

I Am Now the “Healthy Guy”

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!

Dear Mark,

I was never concerned with my health, my weight or my looks. I joined the Marine Corps in 1998 weighing 190 pounds and left boot camp at 165 pounds. I quickly gained back about 15 pounds and sat at 185 throughout most of my Marine Corps career. During this time, I exercised a lot but didn’t really restrict my diet very much. I had a high body fat percentage even though I was making weight requirements. When I injured my knee and could no longer keep the Marine Corps PT pace I began to gain weight. I left the Marine Corps in January of 2002 weighing 200 pounds. I quickly began eating junk that I had not allowed myself while in the service. By the time my wife and I moved back home to Mississippi in 2003, I was weighing around 250 pounds. I got a job working in corrections when we moved back. The hours, stress, and lack of time to exercise caused my weight to bloom to an all-time high of 315 pounds. I wore a size 48 pants and a size 3XL shirt. I spent 8 years in corrections. Six of those years were in a supervisory role. My blood pressure was regularly at 190 over 95.

Gabe - 2010 Gabe - 2011

In 2012, I decided to leave corrections because it was killing me. I didn’t have time to spend with my family or my church. I was unhealthy, stressed, and grossly overweight.

Leaving corrections gave me the opportunity to enjoy social media, which was a security risk before. When I got onto Facebook, I found and friended a former Marine Corps buddy of mine, Seth Williams. Seth told me that he’d had a life changing experience with this new lifestyle he had discovered called the “caveman” diet. He gave me this website,

At first I was very skeptical. I have seen so many “lose weight” schemes that I had become jaded. I was wondering where the hook was, or the catch, or the money making trap. But I had come to a point in my life where I wanted to change. I wanted to hit the “reset” button. So I went to MDA. And it seemed very very simple. It fit totally with the lifestyle I wanted to have. I always enjoyed meat and veggies and never really loved bread and pasta. I didn’t want to believe how easy it sounded.

I started at the end of June 2012, with the diet change. I stopped eating bread, fried stuff, sugar, and legumes. I stopped going to the gas station for chicken and chips. I stopped eating fast food completely. Because I was trying to lose weight, I began watching the amount of carbs I took in. I fasted through breakfast and lunch a couple of days a week. The only thing I refused to give up was Coke Zero.

After a week, I began to have to cinch up my belt. At the end of a month, I couldn’t keep my pants up and had to punch holes to make my belt fit. At that point, I began to exercise as well. When I started, I could only do one single push-up. The rest was done on my knees. I began to work out doing pushups and sit-ups every other day.

In September 2012, I had to buy a new wardrobe because my clothes were all too big. I was wearing a 36 pants size at that point and a size large shirt. By Christmas 2012 I had dropped below 200 pounds. My stomach had gotten so used to small portions of meat and veggies, that when I eat more than I normally do, I feel sick. I can’t handle large portions. Even the thought of eating bread is revolting to me now. Now I weigh between 185 and 190 pounds. I am in a size 34 pants and a medium size shirt.

Gabe - 2013

I have introduced more carbs into my diet since I have begun to level out my weight. I cheat on the diet every now and then, with some sweets (about once a week), but still stay away from grains. I have not been working out as much as I want to. I still have some fat that I want to lose and the Primal lifestyle is the way to do it.

I ran 4 miles last weekend up hills near our home while my 8 year old rode her bicycle. That was something I could never even have imagined doing a year ago. My blood pressure was 126 over 76 when I checked it last. I can do 40 pushups and over 100 crunches. I feel better about myself, the way I look, the way I feel, and the way I live. To top it all off, I was able to fit into my Marine Corps Dress Blues last week. I am now the “healthy guy”. Everyone has been asking me how I did it. I always give them the MDA website. MDA changed my life. Thank you, Seth, and thank you, Mark!

Gabe - 2013


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. awesome.

    wpj wrote on June 15th, 2013
  2. Very inspirational! I am very happy for you and your family, but especially for your daughter who has an amazing role model. Also, with better health you will enjoy life so much more. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Kathryn wrote on June 15th, 2013
  3. would love to see you in your dress blues!

    Melissa wrote on June 15th, 2013
  4. Very nice transformation , slim , sleek physicque . Fantastic work. Have you been able to give up coke zero yet? :)

    Gayle wrote on June 16th, 2013
    • I am still holding on to Coke 0. I have, however, cut down significantly on the intake. Ive gone from 4-5 a day to about 1-2 a day. I am subing coffee a lot.

      Gabe Swann wrote on June 17th, 2013
  5. Fantastic job! If you have not had a blood panel done recently I believe you will be very pleased. I was never obese and my previous numbers were considered normal but now I am apparently super low risk!

    The other day I got my blood work back from the lab, compared to the previous year my total cholesterol went from 194 to 161. triglycerides from 121 to 65! HDL (good cholesterol) from 51 to 59. LDL (bad) from 119 to 95. VLDL from 24 to 13. And Chol / HDL ration from 3.8 to 2.8.

    Every category showed marked improvement ranging from 15-20% up to 47%! That’s after only 9 months of primal diet.

    bayrider wrote on June 16th, 2013
  6. After you leave the service it can be hard to keep that routine or even something similar so congrats on getting your life back on track. The transformation you have made is absolutely astonishing.

    Matt wrote on June 17th, 2013
  7. You look *sing song* awesomeeee!

    Melinda wrote on June 17th, 2013
  8. Your fellow Marines are proud of you. Ooh Rah!

    Wayne wrote on June 18th, 2013
  9. Wow!!! (y)

    Hamy Jae wrote on June 18th, 2013
  10. I’ve always been an instigator…. Just so happens that this time it was for positive effect! I’m proud of you, brother! Talking with another cat I turned on to MDA the other day…. We both thought we had accomplished some things until you dropped those before and after pics… Incredible!

    Seth Williams wrote on June 19th, 2013
  11. Hey Gabe! Thanks for sharing your story. I like it becase you look to be about the same body type I am which gives me encouragement that I can actually succeed at this. I also like the time-frame you did everything. It seems very realistic and do-able. I struggle with high blood pressure (among other things) and want so much to get off the meds. Keep at it, sir. You’re awesome.

    Alan wrote on July 9th, 2013
  12. Gabe,
    Your life post USMC sounds alot like mine. I served at Pendleton from 1998 to 2002. During my time on active duty I constantly struggled with my weight, even with running almost every day. I am currently wieghing in at 243lbs and I hope I can the same type of success as you have.


    Rob Seibel wrote on December 30th, 2013

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