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

I Feel Healthier, Stronger, and More Energetic

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.

March 2010In 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.

April 2012

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.

March 2013

Thanks, Mark, and keep up the great work!


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. Primal eye-candy! Nice work Eric :-)

    (and well done on your improved health too 😉 )

    Primal-V wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Yes!

      Susan B. wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • What a cutie/hottie! I am forwarding your Success Story to my 20 yr old nephew who is still doing low-fat and chronic cardio. :(

      Lainey wrote on May 31st, 2013
      • Show him the way, Lainey!

        Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
  2. Great work Eric. I am 41 and have lost 30 pounds in the last 4 months going pretty strict Paleo and lifting weight/sprinting. Headaches, high blood pressure, snoring, lack of energy are all gone. I have found the fountain of youth. Can’t thank Mark enough for all his insights!

    Tommy G wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Thanks Tommy, and great work to you! It’s amazing how the human body can repair itself when it functions like it’s suppose to…

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Tommy,

      Seems like you are a success story yourself. Why not jot it down and send it in.

      Petra wrote on May 31st, 2013
  3. Nice abs!

    Bev wrote on May 31st, 2013
  4. Well hellooooooo, Eric! 😉

    Well done! It’s amazing how much a body can change without gaining or losing a single pound, isn’t it? You look both happy and healthy. Congratulations!

    JennF wrote on May 31st, 2013
  5. How inspiring! Primal beefsteak I say, not candy! You look amazing. Is it getting hot in here?

    elle wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • ditto!

      Cindy wrote on May 31st, 2013
  6. This is a really striking success story because it shows how different a person can look while at a healthy weight. These pics look like 3 different people to me. The primal version is definitely rather dazzling. :-)

    Alice wrote on May 31st, 2013
  7. Further evidence that way too much emphasis is put on the scale. While weight is not irrelevant to health, it certainly isn’t as important as your doctor makes it out to be.

    Congrats and keep up the good work!

    Fritzy wrote on May 31st, 2013
  8. I agree with the eye-candy comment — looking OUTSTANDING!! What an inspiration — I am so happy for you and your success!

    Olivia wrote on May 31st, 2013
  9. Look great man! Keep up the good work. Good job on taking your health into your own hands!

    luke wrote on May 31st, 2013
  10. Oh my. You look like Mark’s younger brother. Is that a slam against Mark? Hell, he can take it. Way to go!!!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • You mean Mark’s “son”, right?……

      Maurice wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • I know! We need a Sisson look-alike contest here…

      Way to go, Eric–you have a healthy future ahead. Those of us who came to this in our 40’s and beyond all wish we knew about it earlier. Looking great!

      Tom B-D wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • I’d hope he didn’t look like Marks older brother at 28…. lol

      Sarah wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • 1+

      Ionela wrote on June 2nd, 2013
  11. Eric’s skinny-fat photo shows pretty clear man-boobs, even on someone who is considered thin and trim by CW standards. Getting rid of the wheat got rid of the man-boobs.
    Dr. William Davis is right!

    oxide wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • So true. And the chronic cardio and lack of weight lifting didn’t help either…

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
  12. Fantastic story Eric. People always talk about losing weight, which really bothers me…but we should always talk about losing FAT!!! Love that you look like an Indian Hunter/Gatherer and not a bodybuilder.

    Nocona wrote on May 31st, 2013
  13. Eric, nice work! (And Mark, I really appreciate these posts that emphasize health and strength over thinness: THANK YOU for that.)

    Also, a live-in wellness chef sounds pretty amazing. :)

    Anne wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Thanks, Anne. That’s why I love this community. We all understand that getting healthier is the primary goal, and all the positive side effects come as a consequence.

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Anne, we all can be a live-in wellness chef.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on June 1st, 2013
  14. Looking good Eric. Well done.

    BW wrote on May 31st, 2013
  15. Can anybody tell me an easy way to get drool off my keyboard–it’s all between the keys and everything!

    Wenchypoo wrote on May 31st, 2013
  16. Nice work, Eric. I completely relate to your story as a former “skinny” kid. Grok on!

    James wrote on May 31st, 2013
  17. Whoa Dude, you are seriously *hot* in the after photo! Glad you feel better too 😉

    Julia wrote on May 31st, 2013
  18. Lucky wife. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on May 31st, 2013
  19. Good job man. Once you start its hard to stop.

    Matt wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Well said, Matt. Thanks!

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • +1

      Josh S wrote on May 31st, 2013
  20. Fantastic story. I feel like what you’ve achieved is exactly where my current goals are. My plan is to start doing those big compound lifts (deadlift ,squats, press) combined with some sprinting and good primal dieting. Seeing your results, I have more faith that I am on the right track.

    Keep up the good work!

    Tom wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Tom, great plan to start with the compound lifts. They’ll help out tremendously. My favorite blog Mark’s done is the “How to Gain Muscle” one. Tons of good info there if you haven’t read it yet. Thanks and good luck!

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
  21. OMG!!! This is a GORGEOUS transformation!! What a Grok!!!

    Alexandra wrote on May 31st, 2013
  22. Is that really the same person? I am not so sure :)
    Holy smokes… healthy looking at the end. It’s inspiring as I have had similar health concerns..need to stick to primal eating. Room for improvement for me. Thanks Eric for your story….way to go :)

    Marta wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Thanks, Marta! Those last 2 photos were taken about 11 months apart, and I went “full Primal” for pretty much that entire time. Good luck!

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
  23. Eric, what a transformation! You look amazing now –l ike a different person. I am sending your story to my son who is just a bit younger than you are. He looks more like your first picture when he wants to look like the last one! I agree with the other comment, lucky wife!

    Sandy wrote on May 31st, 2013
  24. Hubba hubba!

    Erin wrote on May 31st, 2013
  25. Holy cr*p! You look amazing. I’m sure you feel great and you’re healthy and all, but you look amazing!

    joey wrote on May 31st, 2013
  26. Wow! Just goes to show you what steady exercise and nutritional eating can do! What a journey you’ve been through! Keep up the good work and thank you for sharing this story. It’s important that people know what’s possible if they just make up their minds to get healthier and commit to doing the actions to make it happen.

    coffeediva wrote on May 31st, 2013
  27. Easy ladies… take it easy!

    The Primal Minister wrote on May 31st, 2013
  28. You look great, Eric!! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Kathleen wrote on May 31st, 2013
  29. Hey, Eric, my husband wants to know what your wife thinks about all this.

    dragonmamma wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • This is the “lucky wife” herself. I couldn’t be more proud of Eric and how far he’s come in the last couple of years. I thought he was hot 13 years ago when I first met him, and obviously still think he’s hot now! It is unusual to have women from all over the world commenting on it… but it’s not the first time other women have found my man attractive! I’m just glad he’ll finally eat the veggies I make with dinner instead of the bag of frozen French fries :)

      Anna wrote on May 31st, 2013
      • Eric: Awesome that you let the real you come out…and turned into an athlete, and not a bodybuilder (look).

        Anna: Good job! It’s not easy with these stubborn men;)

        ruffian wrote on June 23rd, 2013
  30. Healthy on purpose, Hot by accident!

    Natalie wrote on May 31st, 2013
  31. Great transformation, you seem to be doing pretty much everything right. You appear to be close to my son’s age, he is really ripped also and has that male model look (and his name is Eric LOL). If you want to take that next step check out leangains dot com (a site that appeared in one of Mark’s articles) that really takes things to the next level (Hugh Jackman used this diet to get ripped for his role as The Wolverine for the latest X-Men movie). Anyway, big time props and keep up the good work!

    George wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • I’ve heard of, but I have yet to try it out. Maybe that’ll be the next thing once I plateau with my current workout program. Thanks for the heads up!

      Eric R wrote on May 31st, 2013
      • I’ve been doing the leangains eating part of the protocol (14-hour fast/10-hour eating window for women) but not the working out due to an ankle injury. I’ve lost weight, but I don’t know if it’s fat or muscle. :-)

        Darcie wrote on May 31st, 2013
      • I would not bet anything on leangains being healthy. If all one cares about is his looks and strength, then well…., but I see far too many 30-ish heavy lifters in the gym with BP issues. If blood pressure problems genetically run in your family, the best thing you can do is stay as slim as you are and keep doing what you are doing. Age is a factor and most of us will get prehypertensive sooner or later, except perhaps a lucky few. So the goal is to push that date as far into the future as possible. As Johnny Bowden put it: “stay as lean as possible without being underweight”. The guy hit the nail on the head. Fat or muscle, if in excess, is a burden on the circulatory system.

        einstein wrote on September 18th, 2013
  32. Wow- your wife is a lucky women- you look very fine :) I have a similar story- always super skinny, but would get sick and injured often. I also started having really bad painful digestive problems at 18- primal diet and fitness has been extraordinary. You and your wife sound like an absolutely beautiful match! Xo

    Sophia wrote on May 31st, 2013
  33. Eric,
    What a transformation! Great work!

    Chris wrote on May 31st, 2013
  34. Just one word: Wow!

    W. J. Purifoy wrote on May 31st, 2013
  35. Nice job Eric!

    What is the current workout program that you were using? Days on/off, etc.

    I need to get me some of your results!

    Simon wrote on May 31st, 2013
    • Simon, check out my response to David below. Thanks!

      Eric R wrote on June 1st, 2013
  36. Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

    Ara wrote on June 1st, 2013
  37. Wowsa and well done Eric! It is obviously primal to find lean and toned sexy and, therefore, normal to find pudgy not sexy. I don’t know about the LGN scale, but it’s a 10 on the look good in shorts scale!!

    Grokesque wrote on June 1st, 2013
  38. Hi Eric,

    This is easily the most inspiring post that I’ve seen on MDA; since we are the same age, and share the same body type. Your results also match what I would like to achieve; a lean proportional body.

    I’d therefore love to know as much as possible about what your doing to achieve this; in particular:

    – often do you work out, and could you list the exercises you perform? Do you perform a similar set of exercises each time your at the gym?

    – could you detail a ‘typical’ days eating for you? I’d be particularly interested to know what you have for breakfast – as a fellow ectomorph my problem with primal has always been getting ENOUGH calories in!


    David wrote on June 1st, 2013
    • David,

      For my workout program, I took the 5×5 idea and kind of created my own routine. I only lift 3 days/week on M,W,F. It’s something like this:

      Week 1
      M – Squats/Bench Press/Chin Ups
      W – Overhead Press/Deadlifts/Dips
      F – Squats/Bench Press/Pull Ups

      Week 2
      M – Squats/Chin Ups/Dips
      W – Overhead Press/Deadlifts/Bench Press
      F – Squats/Pull Ups/Dips

      Once you feel the 5×5 getting easy with the pull ups, chin ups, & dips, get yourself a weight belt and start putting plates on. I guarantee you’ll be one of the only people in the gym doing this, but it’s beastly and a GREAT upper body workout.

      These are all huge lifts that hit every muscle group, and each day includes a compound lift. As Mark will tell you, you need the big lifts to secrete the most testosterone, burn fat, and build lean muscle. It’s especially important for us ectomorphs, or “hardgainers”, because bodyweight exercises might not cut it. Throw a sprint or HIIT day in there if you have the energy.

      And of course, don’t forget your low level cardio like walking, hiking, biking, etc.

      My diet is pretty simple. I have 2 or 3 eggs every morning with raw spinach, bacon or sausage. My wife makes an awesome egg bake that feeds us for the week and it’s really easy on the go. And I know what you mean by not getting enough calories. When doing these big lifts, you want to get the proper fuel to finish your workout. Because of this, I typically eat throughout the day: nuts, fruit, beef jerky, hard boiled eggs, etc. For lunch, I have a salad with healthy fats and last night’s leftovers. Dinner is always some kind of animal protein with vegs. On workout days I’ll have a large sweet potato or squash.

      As far as supplements, the only things I take are fish oil pills and whey protein after my workout.

      Because of my body type, I never worry about getting too “bulky” or big. Primal living will definitely help you achieve your natural body composition, and that’s what this is all about. Right?

      Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

      Eric R wrote on June 1st, 2013
      • Hi Eric,

        Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed reply; I found it very useful, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

        I have also been doing Mon/Wed/Fri workouts, but I’m gonna lose the dumbbell exercises (curls, lateral raises ect) and just concentrate on the functional, compound movements, in 5 * 5 sets for now. You never know; perhaps in a year’s time I’ll be making a post like yours!

        My only question is what sort of rest do you take between each of your sets?

        Thanks again for your help!

        – David

        David wrote on June 2nd, 2013
        • Glad to help.

          I generally wait around 2 minutes between each set, depending on the weight. If it feels light on a certain day, it’ll be closer to 1:30.

          Good luck and I’ll be looking for your post in a year.


          Eric R wrote on June 3rd, 2013
  39. Is it just me, or is he slowly transforming into Mark Sisson himself?

    ENM wrote on June 1st, 2013

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