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

I Can Only Show You the Door

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint success story. Many thanks to Ronald for sharing how he stepped through the threshold and lost 70 pounds in the process.

If you have your own success story you would like to share with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as you send them in. Thanks for reading!

I first took up dieting around the age of 14 when I attended a class for overweight kids that talked about nutrition, how to portion meals, what a mass of five pounds of fat looked like, etc. At that age I wasn’t really fat mind you, however I was starting down that slope. While I was motivated right after the class, old habits returned quickly and I continued to eat unhealthily. I come from a family where pretty much everyone has or has had weight issues. My aunt was morbidly obese and died of complications of type-II diabetes, so diabetes has a history in our family as well.

The pattern of trying different types of diets would continue. I managed to keep things somewhat in control until after high school. At age 20, I was right around 200 pounds, and I am 5 foot 11 inches tall. Soon after that I met the girl I would eventually marry. Once married, both of our weights really increased. We both liked similar SAD foods in large portions. By the time I was 25, I was around 275 pounds. I remained heavy despite always trying to make healthier choices and exercising when I could. By the time my son was born in 2008, I was going on 300 pounds. I remember the day where I went to the doctor on March 12, 2008 and hit exactly 300 pounds on the doctor’s scale. That was the wake up call. It was time to do something or suffer the consequences. This was it! I seized the day! Right? Not exactly.

I did manage to lose about 20 pounds or so by counting calories. I bought a bunch of meal replacements and meals that were chemically altered to be lower in calories and sugar. You could take one of these meals that had meat and pasta that didn’t have to be fridgerated and it would be ready in one minute in the microwave. Great, but the chemicals in the list of ingredients was a bit disconcerting.

So in 2008 I am 35 years old, weigh about 280 pounds, often feel tired, bloated, irritable. I know I am at risk for diabetes. I have frequent heartburn and always carry around a bottle of Zantac just in case. Wake up call to get healthy? Not yet, but soon.

I wasn’t being totally worthless in regards to health. A friend of mine introduced me to working out with Russian kettlebells, and I began to take instructor led classes over my lunch break three times a week. Unfortunately my diet wasn’t in line with the exercise, but the kettlebells did help spark that motivation to get healthier.

Still, January 20th, 2009 I was at 285 pounds at the doctor’s office. I managed to lose 10 pounds in the next few months and weighed 275 on April 22nd, 2009. I stayed there for a while until two things finally happened. I discovered the Primal Blueprint and I separated from my wife of 14 years.

Now I am not going to launch into a spiteful story of how my ex-wife sabatoged my dieting efforts and it was all her fault that I was the way that I was. In reality she was always very supportive when I was trying to adjust my eating habits. I would make a meal for myself and she would cook for herself and the kids, and sometimes the two would be combined. The reality for me though was I did not have the will power to stay away from their food or the snack foods. It was in the house and inevitably I would pick at it. That and we were always big into convenience, eating out far more often than we should.

Now all of a sudden on May 23rd, 2010 I moved out and I am on my own. I was able to control what I had in the house, prepare meals just for myself (unless I had my kids for the weekend). I had a bit more time to get out an exercise and play sports. The stars were aligned. This was finally the time I would get healthy! Right? Not exactly.

… just kidding! Yes, in fact it was the time. Now I wasn’t perfect by any means over the next ten months, but I was very serious about getting healthy and sticking to eating primal. I read several books on Paleo and Primal eating. I read forums and read about the experiences of others. I learned what foods were good and what foods to avoid. Any slipups that I had never lasted long and I always returned back to eating Primal very quickly. I embraced and owned the times I would eat non-Primal foods. I didn’t beat myself up over it or even feel guilty about it. There was never the idea that I would “blow my diet”. This is now my lifestyle.

Unfortunately for me I am not much of a cook. Also unfortunate was that most of the cooking utensils, spices, etc I left with my ex. I was able to get the basics. A lot of times I tended to make the same meals often since I enjoyed them. I still do that now.

One of the things I learned to do was make a lot of food in one sitting. Instead of making one meal, I would choose a couple of days a week to make several meals worth of food. I would buy 8 or 10 chicken breasts and cook them all at once. I would cook up 3 pounds of hamburger, a batch of chicken wings, a few pounds of turkey, a dozen eggs, three or four steaks. Then I would sit in front of the television for the next two hours and eat it all.

… just kidding again! I wouldn’t make all that at once because it would go bad before I would eat it. But I would usually make two different things (like a batch of chicken and a few steaks) and store them in the fridge. This way I always had something to grab to bring to work for lunch. I found that on the days where I didn’t have something prepared and went all day without eating, I was far more tempted to eat off plan when I finally did eat. So always having Primal food on hand is very important to my success.

I love eating vegetables and I’ve always loved making huge salads. So far salad I do the same thing: I make a weeks worth of salad at once. I slice in some cucumbers, some jalpeno peppers, some red and green peppers, tomatoes, etc. I’ll grab a meals worth of salad and take it with me to work to eat with my protein that I’d prepared before. This ended up being very satisfying. I never counted calories, but the satiety of eating protein and vegetables must have come in under what I would burn during the day since I was losing weight consistently and regularly.

For dinner my favorite thing to do is cook up some protein (hamburger, turkey, fish, chicken, etc) and steam some vegetables. I mix it all together and add a healthy amount of hot sauce and consume it all. I do this often and so far it hasn’t gotten boring. It just tastes so good.

As far as supplements go, I was taking some Vitamin D soft gels, some DHA-500 fish oil, a multivitamin and a probiotic.

On May 24th, 2010, the day after I moved out, I decided to keep track of my weight loss progress online. My weight that day was exactly 281 pounds. Every few days or so I would enter my weight and track the progress. As you can see, it wasn’t a straight line down by any means, but over time it kept getting lower and lower.

Just to prove that eating Primal was making me healthier beyond having a lot more energy, being happier and feeling healthier, I decided to get a few blood tests done. On October 11th, 2010 I had blood drawn. I’d been making good but not amazing progress by then. At that time I weighed 259 pounds at the doctor’s office. Since the end of May I had lost 22 pounds. I was still going strong.

Four months later I went back for a follow up blood test. On February 18th, 2011 I weighed 229 pounds. I had lost 30 pounds in four months. Now we’re talking! My blood test results showed that my cholesterol (which again my family has a history of high cholesterol; my mother, father, etc are all on statins) ratios had improved. I had added 6 points to my HCL and reduced my LDL by 5 points. I cut my triglycerides in half from 94 to 49. I asked for as many tests as they would do just to see how I was doing. My fasting glucose level was 72 (normal range 70 to 99). My Vitamin D level was 42 (normal range 30 to 100). My ALT Serum (to test for potential liver damage) was 20 (normal range 17 to 63). Things were going good!

My problem during this whole process is that I would eat great for a majority of the day. Breakfast (if I ate it) was fine; bacon, eggs, some fresh peppers. Lunch was a breeze as long as I prepared it. However I still went out to dinner with my family a lot or would have a few good days followed by a slipup. There seemed to always be some event or another. Birthdays, anniversaries, the holidays, etc. I never went crazy but like I said, I wasn’t perfect. That’s why I lost 22 pounds in five months. Slow progress, but steady progress.

Not satisfied with this, I decided to do a personal 30 day challenge. For 30 days I would make no excuses. I would have no special occasions, no “it’s just one bite”, no excuses and no exceptions. For 30 days I would eat no grains, very limited dairy, no legumes. I would be as close to 100% Primal as I could get.

Interestingly, in the midst of the challenge it was much easier to stick to it than I thought. Once my subconscious knew I meant business and I would literally not even eat one chip or one bite, I settled into the challenge nicely. The results were very satisfying; I’ve done the challenge on three occasions now. The first time I lost 15 pounds in 30 days. The second time I lost 14 pounds in 30 days. The third time (Valentines Day 2011 to 3/16/11) I lost 20 pounds in 30 days, although some of that may be attributed to catching the flu from my kids the last week of the challenge.

So that brings us to the present. I’ve lost almost exactly 70 pounds so far, with my approximate goal being another 30 pounds to reach that century mark. I am asked almost daily what I am doing to lose the weight. “It’s not magic”, I tell them. I avoid grains. I avoid processed foods. I eat a lot of protein, a ton of vegetables, and healthy fats. I eat eggs and bacon. I put a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil in my one cup of coffee I have a day. I get outside and run around playing soccer and tennis. I lift heavy things with my kettlebells.

The effect upon them has been amazing. Their lives are changed by what I tell them. They instantly go Primal, get healthy and live happily ever after! Right? Not exactly. However the seed has been planted. Perhaps someday something will trigger in their lives and they’ll remember the information and links I sent them. Just like it was said in the movie the Matrix, “I can only show you the door. You are the one that has to walk through it.”

A huge thank you to Mark Sisson and the Primal community for showing me that door. I love this Primal lifestyle and will be doing this for life. Of that I have no doubt.

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. Ronald, such outstanding work! I know how challenging it can be to fix your lifestyle in your thirties, after a lifetime of bad habits, and coming from a family of obesity and all that entails. But the rewards are well worth it, aren’t they? You look fantastic, man. Enjoy your superhero incarnation that always lurked inside, waiting for the opportunity to manifest.

    You’ve reinforced an important point for me — the more completely primal you can get, e.g. with 30-day challenges, the easier things are. By adding cheat days, cutting corners on the ten laws, compromising for social convenience here and there, life becomes much more difficult and progress grinds to a halt. So congratulations on finding it within you to go whole hog.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Ronald!

    Timothy wrote on April 22nd, 2011
    • Thanks Timothy! It’s easy to do once you commit yourself that there will be no excuses or exceptions. Once I am in that mindset I seem to do really well. It’s the times where I make the exceptions that stalls the progress.

      Education about primal eating has been huge for me. I realize that I was doomed to failure thinking I could eat healthy without truly knowing that eating healthy means. It wasn’t until I learned what sugar and starch filled food does to us that I truly understood what was going on and why the things I tried never would have worked in the long term.

      There’s still a lot of work to do but I am convinced I finally have the right tools to get where I need to be and stay there for life. :)

      Ronald wrote on April 22nd, 2011
      • I completely agree that going “cold turkey” is way easier for primal.

        I’ve been primal for a year or two now, and whenever I slip and eat ONE PRETZEL, or have something like ONE potato chip I find myself on the floor of my dorm with a baguette, sub sandwich from publix and a coke. It’s like a trance…

        So yea, although I tend to bounce back (because in reality, primal foods just TASTE better anyway), I recommend going clean.

        Cheating is a sure path to failing, but do not beat yourself up about a slip.

        College Caveman (Musician) wrote on April 22nd, 2011
  2. What a wonderful story about living primally while living in the modern world with the real and unexpected joys and stresses that go along with it! Congratulations Ronald… You are an inspiration!

    September wrote on April 22nd, 2011
  3. Agree with the comments that you look younger … at least ten years younger. Fourth picture, the ‘before’ profile, I’d guess you were in your mid 40s. Last picture, ‘after’ profile, I’d guess early to mid 30s. Congrats!

    Dryden wrote on April 22nd, 2011
  4. Well, that got awkward quick. I hope Sisson hasn’t taken to using soap opera marketing tactics on us. Next week on the Love Apple, Bonny feeds the kids a box of popsicles, while Ronny struggles to figure out how to store food and use a kitchen. Meanwhile, the “witchy (but with a B) friend Lindsay” snoops around searching for fun to ruin. Will they ever procure grass fed beef!? Tune in next week to find out.

    A message to any and all future versions of the offspring of these two boobs that have sadly come across this, “It’s not your fault.”

    Richard wrote on April 23rd, 2011
    • I LOL’d. :)

      Ronald wrote on April 24th, 2011
  5. What a great story, thank you so much for sharing Ron.
    I must say that i was crying with laughter when i read the bit about eating all that food in two hours :-)
    So cool!
    Keep up the healthy lifestyle!!

    Nicole wrote on April 25th, 2011
  6. :-)

    Nicole wrote on April 25th, 2011
  7. Ron–you look great and it sounds like you feel great. I am so happy for you! I love that you continue the 30 day challenges. Keep it up! You will be a great role model for your kids and I hope you are able to make this a family diet –that would be the best legacy.

    Kathy wrote on April 26th, 2011
  8. I fully, fully understand how difficult it is to take kids along on the lifestyle change, especially when you’re not the one feeding them daily. Changing their food can make them resent you and can hurt your relationship with them, especially when “but mom does let us eat yummy things,” or “before we used to eat ice cream together all the time.” I have found that it helps–and it’s OK!–to allow for exceptions from time to time, as long as they are clear on the fact that it’s an exceptional and rare thing. And they understand the concept perfectly well! Also, I have found that home-made paleo desserts go down very well! Sell them on the taste, not the healthiness, of the food. For some reason, kids equate healthy with “eeeeuuuuwww”. Good luck and keep it up! :-)

    Alex wrote on April 30th, 2011
  9. AWESOME! This story just keeps me going I’ve e-mailed it to a few friends!!

    PandaGlam wrote on May 9th, 2011

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