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

I Feel Alive for the First Time in Years!

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!


After one full year of Primal Living, I thought now was as good a time as any to share not only my story, but my thanks as well for where I am today.

I feel alive for the first time in years!

A friend of mine had been chirping in my ear for months about Primal/Paleo as well as her obsession with CrossFit. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm was a bit much at times, but it was nonetheless curious to me. I had spent the past few years living a high stress, sedentary, and depressed lifestyle which, looking back on now, was extremely unhealthy and setting me up for an early demise. It’s odd how easy it is to blind yourself to the unhealthy actions you take upon yourself without a conscious understanding of their effects. However, after a few emotional breakdowns and panic attacks that hit me in the latter half of 2011, my awareness became attuned to the dire emotional and physical situation I had put myself in.

So, on a whim I decided to ask my friend what she was talking about. In late December 2011, on a Saturday afternoon, she sent me straight to Mark’s Daily Apple. Five hours later, I realized I hadn’t stopped obsessively devouring everything I was reading on this site. I consider myself a fairly smart person, and as I finished reading each of the Definitive Guides, it was quite literally a face-palm moment of clarity; “This makes so much sense. How did I not understand this before now?!” Needless to say, the very next day, I decided to give this new way of life a try.

I’m 33 years old, 6’1”, and started the year at 322 lbs which was very near the heaviest I’ve ever been. I stopped weighing myself during that time, but I think I peaked around 330-340 earlier the previous year. The photo was taken last December.

Andy - Before

On January 1, 2012, the only thing I changed at first was what I was eating. I eliminated all processed foods and grains and switched to healthy fats, meats, and veggies. I continued to work long days and lead a sedentary lifestyle. However, just changing the food I was eating yielded IMMEDIATE results. Within the first few days, I felt like I was no longer living in a fog – my mind was clear – and I found myself with newfound energy. I dropped four pounds the first week, four and a half the second, and another four pounds the week after that – and I didn’t feel like I was even trying! Talk about motivation! It turns out we really are what we eat! I furthered these efforts for a few more months, and saw continued and consistent weight loss, a lack of mood swings, and crazy amounts of newfound energy. In March I started jogging a bit following the Couch to 5K program, simply because I had to do something with all the energy I now found myself with.

Now a full year into my new lifestyle, I find myself 105 lbs lighter, with ALL of my previous health issues and risks eliminated completely. It’s enjoyable to see my doctor dumbfounded and in awe of my results. The second photo was taken just a few days ago, the little guy is my beautiful new nephew.

Andy - After

I’ve completed a 5K, a 10K, and have started training for a half marathon. Now that I’ve established a base, and felt the effects of healthy living, I need to focus more on a few of the finer points of Primal Living; lift more, play more, and (reluctantly) give up beer. I’m not quite where I want to be physically, but I’m well on my way to a long and healthy life as I continue to “Grok on!”

Thanks Mark, for simply making sense and dispensing it to the masses. I don’t know where I’d be today without having found this journey.


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. “It turns out we really are what we eat!”

    This axiom should be extended to: “We are what we digest”.

    Gut integrity and individual biochemistry are big factors.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • Love the extended axiom Ron. Health really does start in the gut!

      Chika wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • So, so true.

      Alyssa wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • Brain fog is common with gluten sensitivity. So many people suffer needlessly.

        julianne wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • I love this quote, “we are what we digest”! I first heard it from the originator, Liz Lipski, author of “Digestive Wellness”. I’m glad to hear it again…such a great reminder to eat well!

      Gwendolyn wrote on February 19th, 2013
  2. Great work!! I needed to see this one today.. time to get back on track!

    Paul wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • I could not agree more! I have been working so hard in the wrong areas and your story has set me back on course. Thank you for taking the time to help others and of course a minute to pat your self on the back. You look fantastic

      Rose wrote on February 15th, 2013
  3. Awesome transformation! Congrats!

    calahmae wrote on February 15th, 2013
  4. Amazing results! I’m really pleased for you. I always love the bit where the doctor is ‘amazed’. What we have to remember that our MD or GP are not nutritionists and do not have all the answers. If they did, there would not be the obesity crisis there is in the US and the UK.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Michelle wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • I think nutritionists are even worse than the doctor because their line of works consists entirely of regurgitating conventional wisdom without almost any understanding of the underlying chemistry going on. Most doctors would just say “hey if it works, it works” (after checking your blood work for cholesterol numbers and after it actually worked), while the nutritionist would tell you that omitting whole grains and low-fat, processed food products is going to kill you, even after such a dramatic reversal of health.

      Charles wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • +1!

        Becky H wrote on February 16th, 2013
      • Yes, one nutritionist said that “the weight you lose from a low-carb diet is just a loss of water!” Looking at all these success stories, seeing the pictures and hearing of the results, you know she’s full of it.

        Erik W wrote on February 17th, 2013
        • yeah apparently were all camels walking around with 50 plus pounds of water on our backs

          tyrone wrote on February 17th, 2013
  5. Give up beer?!?! NEVER!

    Encino Man wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • Me too! Absolutely Never!!! I have cut way back though but there’s nothing like a cold beer after an awesome hike or day of skiing…

      Ara wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • Agreed. Giving up cheap, light, flavorless beers for occasional microbrews is a good thing. Then I brew my own! :)

        Tom wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • How about a cider?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • Mmm, cider… Thanks Paleo Bon, now I’m thirsty!

        BonzoGal wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • Fox barrel pear cider or Crispin apple cider.

        George Brodie wrote on February 16th, 2013
    • After four years of no beer, I found a couple of gluten-free brands at my local booze shop (I asked). They’re a bit expensive, but golly-gee-whiz, they go down so easy, and I don’t get lazy like I do with wine or whiskey. Even home brewers can make gluten-free beer.

      W. J. Purifoy wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • I’ve given up beer for three months, it was easier than I thought it would be, especially I’m a Wisconsin guy. BUT, I am looking forward to March 2nd, that’s the day that I penciled on the calendar to have a beer.

      Kudos to you Andy…feels great, doesn’t it?!

      Bryan wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • You made a date with your beer? How cute is that! I like it.

        Pure Hapa wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • Great progress in a year Andy, very impressive !
      When it comes to beer I like to invoke the 80/20 rule-I try to save most of my 20% for beer 😛

      Mick Dann wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • i allow myself 1 or 2 beers a month & all is good. that is my real treat :)

      Jolene wrote on March 13th, 2013
  6. You look so much younger in the after photo!!! It never ceases to amaze me! Great story!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on February 15th, 2013
  7. Way to go, Andy. I too am struggling with giving up the fermented wheat, especially because I have been an amateur home-brewer and have all the equipment. I have used other smartphone apps, like Lift, to track habits and make those changes like abstaining from beer or getting my workout in. Keep up the awesome work.

    Brent wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • Switch to making kombucha, kefir, (if dairy is okay for you), and other foods (like fermented sausages).

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • He’s talking about beer, not eating actual fermented grsains

        RedYeti wrote on February 15th, 2013
        • It was confusing because he said “fermented wheat.” The vast majority of beer is made by fermenting barley.

          Either way, the toughest part about paleo/primal for me is definitely cutting back on alcoholic beverages, whatever the source.

          I rationalize that at least the rest of my life is pretty healthy, so a few drinks a week aren’t going to derail me. I’m just at more of a maintenance level right now. But Andy’s story is definitely inspirational!

          Mark A wrote on February 15th, 2013
        • But Ron is bang on – make your own Kombucha, kefir or water kefir – and experiment with flavours ( i have added hops to kombucha and it starts to taste like you-know-what).

          We enjoy carbonated, fermented and slightly bitter drinks – there are many ways to do that with kombucha and water kefir.

          If those don’t do it for you then its time to face up to the fact that what you are really after is the alcohol….

          and if that is the case, then red wine is the best way to go..

          Paul N wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • Are there smartphone apps that help one starting out on the Primal Blueprint?


      jacalore wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • There’s a feature on my iPhone that I use when I’m trying to get more Primal. It’s called the off button. I may need to utilize that one a little more.

        Mark A wrote on February 15th, 2013
        • +1!

          Happy Paleo Girl wrote on February 15th, 2013
        • ^Nominated for comment of the week!

          Andrew wrote on February 16th, 2013
        • Second the nom for comment of the week.

          oxide wrote on February 16th, 2013
        • Now that was funny…and true..

          Jim Thrower wrote on February 17th, 2013
  8. Wow!! You look awesome. What an inspiration.

    jess wrote on February 15th, 2013
  9. Such a simple and beautiful story! It is amazing how clean food just change everything!

    leida wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • +1

      Juli wrote on February 16th, 2013
  10. The power of food! Amazing man, keep it up!

    Luke DePron wrote on February 15th, 2013
  11. Very inspirational! Thanks for sharing!

    Jennifer H (Metric in MDA) wrote on February 15th, 2013
  12. Wow – looking good! Well done on your amazing results. And the baby is really cute too!

    Grokesque wrote on February 15th, 2013
  13. Thanks for sharing. You look great. Congratulations!

    Judy wrote on February 15th, 2013
  14. Dude! That is so awesome. Congratulations, and keep it up! It’s stories like yours that will inspire others and change lives for years and years. As Dave Ramsey would say, you changed your family tree. Kudos!

    Dan wrote on February 15th, 2013
  15. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story!

    When I visited my doc after losing 40 lbs and achieving stunning lab results, he simply said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. You should probably be sitting on this side of the desk instead of me.”

    You are what you eat – and I’m not a lentil or a bean.

    Siobhan wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • and how often can drs tell their patients to ‘keep doing what youre doing’ when the patient follows the CW their dr tells them?
      The medical field needs to get with it!

      Shawn wrote on February 15th, 2013
  16. Photos tell everything. In the first one, a tired guy in 3XL outfit. The second, same guy, like 5 yrs younger, and NO chin!

    Switch beer with ice cold lime soda once a week, and start lifting really heavy once a week. Then you decide to keep up or not.

    Congrats encore!

    Mert wrote on February 15th, 2013
  17. Fantastic job my man. You are now primed for your prime years. What a great future in store for you now!

    I am working on the beer reduction as well, it’s keeping the last 5-10 lbs on my waist. After watching Skyfall last night I googled Daniel Craig exercise routine. He does a Paleo diet plus Olympic lifting. Alcohol is allowed only on Fri and Sat nights. This my goal for this year, to muscle up to that killer 007 style.

    Bayrider wrote on February 15th, 2013
  18. Sure you have shrunk quite a bit and maybe lost some of your ‘presence’. But the present you get in return is greater mobility, a body that seems right and a mental clarity that is like an awakening.
    It make me wonder what other blackspots we are blind to that are like a lightswitch being flicked like Paleo is for a great many people.

    Seosamh wrote on February 15th, 2013
    • I’ve noticed this loss of ‘presence’ when you lose size. You do regain the presence but it takes several years. Don’t know if it’s due to people getting used to you, or you getting used to the new you.

      Moshen wrote on February 15th, 2013
      • I lost 30 lbs. a few years ago (actually, on essentially a paleo diet, without knowing what it was at the time–just focusing on meat, veggies, and real butter) and I never could get used to the loss of presence combined with people openly staring at me (as an introvert, it’s unsettling). I’m a 5’9″ 27 year old woman who takes public transportation in a sort-of sketchy area, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel safer and less at risk now having gained 15 lbs. back. I know I need to commit to get healthier again, but I can’t reconcile getting smaller/more attractive with my need for safety/unattractiveness/enough presence to suggest others should back off. Has anyone else ever dealt with this?

        RachH wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • I felt the same thing over the years, and always wondered if my inability to lose weight had to do with fearing to look like a “pushover” if I were skinny, or perhaps fear of attracting other kinds of unwanted attention. I was an introvert too. I can only tell you that getting older helps a lot, as does learning some form of self defense (I recommend “Girl Power”, even though it’s geared to high school girls, as a starting point.) The main thing it will do is give you the confidence that you do have options if you are attacked, and confidence is everything — most perpetrators are looking for easy victims. Practice also “owning the room” when you walk into it, and “owning the street” when you walk down it. This last advice I got from a student in a women’s studies class I took many years ago; she regularly bicycled through sketchy areas of town and never had a problem. Finally, think about how much those extra pounds will hamper you if you truly get into a bad situation and need to get away fast, or fight. Fitness is your best defense. I am still haunted by the videos of the Japan tsunami showing people slowly toiling up the mountain to safety while the waves roared in. Many of them didn’t make it.

          Leslie wrote on March 7th, 2013
  19. I hope your doctor was encouraged to learn more. Just think, he could actually help somebody instead of just document (and prescribe) their decline!

    Congratulations, it’s a fantastic change you’ve brought about.

    Moshen wrote on February 15th, 2013
  20. Looking like you dropped a couple years. Great work!

    Johnny Grok n'Roll wrote on February 15th, 2013
  21. Good Job Man! I’m just 7 weeks into my journey, and your path seems a lot like mine. I’m having great results too (which would likely be greater if I too gave up beer – but this lifestyle has to be sustainable, and complete deprivation would likely result in worse adherance, in my case).

    Keep up the great work, and Go Bills! (I’ve tailgated in that same lot)

    Jeff wrote on February 15th, 2013
  22. So inspiring!!! Congrats!!

    Kate wrote on February 15th, 2013
  23. Looks like you could leap and bound like a deer just by looking at your last photo. Clean, light, fluid, happy and rarin’ to go. Great job!

    Nocona wrote on February 15th, 2013
  24. It’s so great to see success stories like this! If only everybody would tune-in to the PB lifestyle, we could all be so much healthier, happier, and bring about a much better world. Congratulations!

    Christopher wrote on February 15th, 2013
  25. Friday is my favorite day at MDA – thank you for sharing your story!

    Chance Bunger wrote on February 15th, 2013
  26. i would love to send this story to every obese person i know and say ‘yes, it really is this do it!’ (in a nice way) :-)

    Shawn wrote on February 15th, 2013
  27. Congratulations on finding the new you – not only by weight loss but clearing your mind and having the energy to really LIVE your life now!

    Pure Hapa wrote on February 15th, 2013
  28. Good for you for taking charge, learning, and making changes! I was a near-normal weight before Primal, and after I went Primal, I also experienced the fog lifting and having more energy. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing.

    Jenny wrote on February 15th, 2013
  29. Let food be thy medicine… Love your transformation. Great Friday success story.

    Chika wrote on February 15th, 2013
  30. Awesome story Andy. Thanks for sharing!

    Stephanie Turner wrote on February 15th, 2013
  31. Great Job Andy! An inspirational piece to end another Fantastic week at MDA. Have a awesome weekend everyone! And for the rest of us… Enjoy a weekend of night shifts! LOL

    Rod Hilton wrote on February 15th, 2013
  32. Congratulations, man. Keep it up!

    James wrote on February 15th, 2013
  33. Great story, Love a good MAN weight loss story! Never mind the awesome health!!! I noticed your jacket size displayed in your first photo. Love that! I say to all my little followers (I have a page on FB) make sure your before pic shows you in all your glory! You will be wanting to wear your sizes on the outside even more now! Love it xo

    Jane wrote on February 15th, 2013
  34. Incredible story and congratulations! Your tranformation both inside and out is extraordinary. Grok on!

    Bald and Angry wrote on February 15th, 2013
  35. Well done young man!

    Robert wrote on February 15th, 2013
  36. Thanks for giving me a boost with this amazing transformation story. I have been feeling the fog from being “bad” and need to remember how important it is to eat right. Congratulations!

    Sylvia wrote on February 15th, 2013
  37. Andy, well said…took the words straight outta my mouth :)

    Joe wrote on February 15th, 2013
  38. Touching story. Loved it! More inspiration to start my weekend.

    Cleo wrote on February 15th, 2013

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