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I Feel Healthier, Stronger, and More Energetic

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story [1] 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 [2]. 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 [3] and completely absorbed the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws [4].

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 [5] 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!