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!
I’d like to start by saying that I’ve always been a “skinny” kid. Growing up I had been called lanky, bones, or whatever name you want to insert here. And at the same time, I was always active. Coming home from school and playing dodgeball, football, basketball, etc., with the neighborhood kids was the norm. Granted I never ate well, but at that age it didn’t matter because of how active I was.
My slender frame stuck with me all through high school and into the first couple years of college. My horrible eating patterns continued and I slowly started putting on weight. I’m talking about daily fast food, tons of soda, any packaged food you can think of, and of course tons of beer. I didn’t remain too active except for a weekly visit to the gym where I’d mostly half-attempt my reps while talking with friends. The “weight” I put on was not very noticeable but it was different for me and I started to get that skinny-fat look some of us are familiar with.
In March of 2011, my wife and I went on vacation and I got serious about getting in shape. I saw pictures from the year before on our honeymoon, and I didn’t want to hit the beach without some attempt of getting in shape.
So I did what everyone does when they want to get in shape: RUN! I laced up my running shoes and hit the trails 3-5 days a week for a nice 3 mile or so run. My diet slightly changed by the incorporation of fruits and some vegetables. But I still ate a ton of processed, packaged foods and plenty of carbs to fuel my runs. I continued this pattern until our vacation and I dropped a good 10 pounds.
When we got home from vacation, I had lost any momentum I built prior to the vacation and I started putting on weight again. In November of 2011, I found the nearest gym and signed up for my first membership. I remember huffing, puffing, and sweating on the treadmill until I reached the elusive “400 calories burned” number on the LED. I would continue to hit the treadmill every other day and churn out a solid 30-45 minutes of steady cardio. My diet was still pretty poor and consisted of the typical preservative-filled packaged meals that were low in calories. My favorite was the frozen Tyson chicken fingers that I had with frozen french fries that I could throw in the oven. Even with a diet full of crap food, I managed to drop around 15 pounds.
Even though I thought I was in shape, I continued to sustain random injuries. It started with a knee injury which was diagnosed as Runner’s Knee; so I bought expensive running shoes. But I didn’t get too far until a bulging disc in my lower back caused some back pain and tingling down my leg. I eventually fought through these injuries until I started getting exertion headaches caused by my high blood pressure. The doctor tried putting me on meds, but at 28 years old I respectfully declined. So I did what you’re supposed to do: reduce your sodium intake, which is much harder than I thought. Sodium is in everything, especially my favorite frozen meals. I did the best I could and took some time off to reevaluate my lifestyle.
It didn’t take long after some aimless research when I stumbled across the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. It all made perfect sense to me, and I was immediately hooked on the idea and started further research by reading blogs and articles on websites like Mark’s Daily Apple. I immediately signed up for Mark’s newsletter and completely absorbed the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws.
I cut out all processed foods, including fast food and packaged frozen meals. Grains, soda, and most sugars were out the window. I added in more animal protein and even more eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats. I currently never “count calories”, and eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I also completely changed my exercise habits. I quit the chronic cardio and now focus only on weight training (squatting, deadlifting, pushing, pulling), light biking, and occasional sprints. Needless to say, I feel great and I haven’t experienced any of my injuries that I mentioned earlier. No more pain in my legs or back, and the headaches are completely gone. More importantly, my blood pressure levels have shifted to normal ranges. After a follow up with the same doctor who wanted to prescribe me meds, he was floored by my blood pressure numbers and told me to keep doing what I’m doing.
I still have plenty to work on as I continue the Primal lifestyle. I need to focus on better quality meats and oils for starters, but I know I am on the right track. It does become a challenge to make quality meals throughout the day, but I’ve found some shortcuts like grilling a bunch of meat at once for the week, and utilizing the Crock-Pot. It also helps that my wonderful wife is now a practicing wellness chef, and she’s completely supportive of my new way of eating. My body weight hasn’t changed in the past year, but my body fat percentage has plummeted and I feel healthier, stronger, and more energetic.
Thanks, Mark, and keep up the great work!