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Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
24 Aug

I Have a New Lease on Life

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!

real life stories stories 1 2It was November 9th, 2009. I remember that day vividly because it was the day I reached my breaking point. I was 28 years old and I broke down into tears and decided “enough was enough”. The words that come to mind when I think of that day is the quote from the movie “Animal House” when Dean Wormer says to John Belushi’s character: “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life”.

Let me give you a little background. I was always active in high school and college. I played high school football and tennis, and continued my tennis career into college. While that kept me fairly active, my diet and partying ways always kept me on the larger side. After college, I got married to a wonderful, beautiful woman. However my inactive lifestyle and partying ways continued. We had our first child in September of 2008. As our daughter became more active, I simply did not have the energy to play with her. My greatest fear was not living long enough to walk her down the isle. I did not want my daughter growing up without a father. And it broke my heart.

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You see, shortly before I made the decision to go Primal and begin an active lifestyle, I had ballooned to 291 lbs. I was having serious panic attacks and living in a constant state of anxiety. I had been to every kind of doctor imaginable. Cardiologists, chiropractors, family MD’s, and naturopath doctors. I had received two stress tests and visited the emergency room twice because I swore I was dying. They could never find anything wrong. I just thought that that was how I would have to live whatever life I had left. Miserable, fat, inactive, and basically a useless blob taking up space in the house. I was a terrible husband and father. My doctor threatened to put me on cholesterol meds and BP pills. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and forced to sleep with a C-PAP machine. There I was, 28 years old, sleeping with a C-PAP machine.

My wife had already started eating more Primal and was very active. She actually is now the owner of Barefoot Fitness in Watertown, SD. She has been a great mentor of mine as I have made this transformation. I started slowly. At first I cleaned up my diet. I dropped 50 pounds in about a year with a Primal Blueprint diet alone. But then my progress stalled out. I was feeling better but still didn’t think I felt good enough to workout.

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On my 30th birthday, I decided that my 30’s were going to be the best decade of my life. I got up, hit the gym, and have never stopped. I train primarily with kettlebells and bodyweight exercises. That was almost two years ago. I have been very strict with my Primal Blueprint diet now. As a result, I have lost 110 lbs and currently weigh 180 pounds. My cholesterol numbers are that of a very healthy person.

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I no longer use my C-PAP machine, and I feel like a teenager again. All of my health issues are gone! I feel like I have a new lease on life. I look forward to every morning and cherish every day. Because honestly, when I was at my worst I didn’t know how many days I had left. We now have a second child, and I am able to play with them as much as I want, roll on the floor with them, and just be there for them. I truly have a life I never thought possible. I went from feeling like I was dying every minute of every day, to living the life I have always dreamed! It is truly a gift that I cherish every day.

Brent

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. Aw, Brent! I am so happy for you, your wife, your children . . . and on and on! Pass it forward, please; you are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Susan Kelly wrote on August 24th, 2012
  2. What a great transformation. I’m always so happy to hear that a child was part of the inspiration for change. I see so many overweight and unhealthy parents walking around with overweight and unhealthy kids. Not only will you be around to walk your daughter down the aisle, you’ll set her up to live the happiest and healthy life possibly through your example. Way to go!

    Decaf Debi wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I too, unfortunately, see these parents and kids….It’s all about setting an example for the next generation! Great work Brent! There are so many new books and tools to help teach primal parenting, but I think with the AWESOME way you turned out, you’ll have no problem setting a great example in your community.

      Grok on!

      Josh Singer wrote on August 25th, 2012
  3. Way to go Brent! This is one of the main reasons we choose to make the Primal change too…for our kids!! We wanted to keep up with them, give them the best go at a healthy life and later on be able to play with our grandkids!!

    Grok On!!!

    Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 24th, 2012
  4. Wow, I did a serious double take at your before-and-after photos. Amazing!

    I’m new to my thirties as well and, like you, refuse to take any notice of the people who say: ‘there’s nothing good about aging, everything falls apart when you get older”.

    I call BS. It’s never too late for a health overhaul! Well done!

    Cat wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Meh, life can still throw lemons at you even though you’re eating clean and working out. I just got hit with ‘frozen shoulder’ and it totally sucks. Been primal for 1.5 years.

      Jenn R. wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • I like lemons. They taste nice.

        J Squared wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Hey, this may be no help at all, but have you looked into doing Graston therapy on your shoulder? I use it for other problems but I heard that it helps with ‘frozen shoulder’. I never knew what that was but I heard my chiro say she uses it for that as well. Graston hurts like the dickens but works like magic! Just a thought for those of us falling apart…

        Katie B wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • I am also a fan of the Graston Technique. I had an Achilles tendon injury that was just not responding to Conventional Wisdom treatment -in other words stomach shredding prescription strength anti inflammatory drugs. Ended up at a sports oriented chiropractor who used the Graston Technique. Yes it is a bit painful but it worked when nothing else did!

          Rene R wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • I know exactly where you are coming from. I had adopted an extremely low carb lifestyle for about two years, also working out, when I began to have a series of problems. Severe tendinitis in both elbows, then one frozen shoulder and the second one starting to follow. The doctor told me it was common among diabetics. I thought if anyone was not a high risk for diabetes it was me. What could I possibly have in common with diabetics? Then it hit me – ultra low carbs. I started experimenting with adding carbs back into my diet – plain yogurt, sweet potatoes, fruit, and even some rice. The transformation was amazing. The frozen shoulder went away and the dual tennis elbows I had been battling for over a year also relented completely. So I no longer understand nutrition the way I thought I did but I feel way better now. Hope this helps.

        Paul wrote on August 27th, 2012
  5. Brent, Congrats! What an inspiring story. You said “I have been very strict with my Primal Blueprint diet now.” Can you elaborate on that? What do you eat? Do you ever cheat?

    andy wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I too would be interested to hear a little more about your diet. You do look wonderful. The smile says it all.

      Brooke wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I would say I eat Primal about 95% of the time. I do indulge on some ice cream on some Saturday nights. :) But honestly, after living this way for awhile, my cravings for that kind of food are pretty much gone. Like all primal eaters, I eat a ton of meat, nuts, berries, veggies, etc. My wife is an amazing cook with Paleo food. She makes paleo muffins, breads, cakes, desserts, etc. Just get creative and do some research. You can “Paleo-ize” anything.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Such a great transformation. Congratulations, Brent! That’s empowering. :)

        Gift Clumsywarrior wrote on August 24th, 2012
  6. Awesome success story Brent!

    I’m 7 weeks into my primal lifestyle change, and i hope after a year or two that i can make the same claim to health and fitness you now have. Keep it up!

    Chris wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • You can, Chris. One day at a time. Just keep doing “the next right thing”. Best wishes to you!

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  7. WOW! Great transformation and story. I’m just down the road from you about 60 miles south :)

    AuroraB wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Awesome, fellow Midwesterner Brent. Great to see you looking healthier, even better to hear that you FEEL healthier! That’s the main difference between CW “healthy” and Primal healthy- CW people usually just LOOK healthy, Primal people ARE healthy (and they look it).

      AuroraB, are you near Sioux Falls? If so, we’re practically neighbors (I’m in NW Iowa) by Midwest standards, lol. Always nice to know there are like-minded people in the land of Big Agra.

      Trav wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Yep, about 50 miles NW of Sioux Falls. Your right, it’s nice to know there’s another Groker in our sparsely populated area.

        AuroraB wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • I am only 30 minutes from Watertown (new here). I had no idea there were primal people in SD,

        Debi wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • WooHoo! Thank goodness! I was feelin’ pretty lonely.

          AuroraB wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • There is a cluster of us “Primal People” in Watertown. :) Come find us. haha.

          Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Congratulations Brent!

        Also giving a big woot! to midwest primal folks. My wife and I live in Omaha.

        And a nod to the comment of Big Agra. People in NE tend toward a look of horror when we say we don’t want any corn. Pretty sure brawls would ensue if we just flat out said it’s unhealthy!

        Danny wrote on August 24th, 2012
  8. I really enjoy the Friday stories. Thanks Brent.

    Colleen wrote on August 24th, 2012
  9. You rock (“grock”?).
    Well done!

    Anders wrote on August 24th, 2012
  10. An amazing transformation. Congratulations!

    Dan wrote on August 24th, 2012
  11. Awesome, dude! Way to go!

    Nick wrote on August 24th, 2012
  12. It has long been my opinion that CPAP contraptions are like many of today’s overprescribed drugs in that simple lifestyle changes render them
    unnecessary. It’s truly reprehensible that our dysfunctional allopathic medical profession rarely mentions this. I have two male cousins who use CPAP machines. Both are overweight, sedentary junk food eaters.

    Shary wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I hear ya. It’s frustrating and sad when people you care about seemingly refuse to take care of themselves. I have family and friends who eat nothing but junk and gobble handfuls of pills and/or use contraptions to remedy ailments that a few relatively simple lifestyle changes would alleviate. Most of the ones I know would rather make excuses- usually blaming genetics- than lift a finger to strike at the root of the problem.

      Trav wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Unfortunately for many people sleep apnea is uncontrolled by their weight. So many people medically require cpap regardless of their weight. Their are many who are able to stop using it after weight loss but for many this has no bearing on their sleep apnea.

      maria sanchez wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • I’ve had sleep apnea my entire life and have never been overweight. I think I simply have a poorly structured/developed airway that is blocked whenever I sleep, plus I can’t keep my mouth closed when I sleep. Yes, some people merely need to lose the weight to help open the airway, but in my case and many others that alone simply won’t do the trick.

        Ryan wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Read this fantastic article about one sleep doctor’s experience at optimizing the Vitamin D levels of her clients:

        http://drgominak.com/vitamin-d

        Sondra Rose wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Sleep apnea is not always an obesity problem, though. My mother has sleep apnea (though she could not tolerate a CPAP machine), and she’s slim, very active, and her diet is very clean. It’s just some sort of structural issue with her throat.

      When she first went to the doctor about it, the kneejerk response was “Lose weight” – which infuriated me. Not every case of sleep apnea is weight-related, and if she lost any more weight, she’d look like a concentration camp victim.

      LM wrote on August 24th, 2012
  13. Congratulations Brent! Wonderful story. So happy for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

    Jessica wrote on August 24th, 2012
  14. Wow, You look so different! Congrats on living life to its fullest!

    Shara wrote on August 24th, 2012
  15. Wow! What a difference. :-) I hope you can involve your children in your primal lifestyle. So much easier to get them on board when they are young.

    Happycyclegirl wrote on August 24th, 2012
  16. What an amazing story! It’s hard to believe those before and after pics are both you! Great job, Brent!

    Anne wrote on August 24th, 2012
  17. Congratulations! What an incredible transformation. Your wonderful journey will provided inspiration and great deal of motivation for all of us who follow this blog.

    John wrote on August 24th, 2012
  18. You look fantastic! Even more important is to feel well and be truly healthy. Great job!! The rewards are well worth the sacrifices of whatever junk foods etc you gave up.

    Miss Understood wrote on August 24th, 2012
  19. What an fantastic success story, Brent! Let’s hear it for some South Dakota primal living! Woot!

    HillyRu wrote on August 24th, 2012
  20. Wow! You look like a different person! I’m sure you feel like one too. Such an inspiration.

    Best to you and your family

    Sarah wrote on August 24th, 2012
  21. Just in time, you were absolutely swimming in triglycerides! Umm, you may owe the wife a little thank-you…

    Moshen wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Trust me, she gets many thank you’s. :)

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  22. Your total cholesterol and LDL are even better than mine and my MD wanted to frame my lab results! That’s so great!

    What exactly are you eating? Do you include dairy? How often do you work out?

    An inquiring mind wants to know. :)

    Nicole wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Thank you Nicole. I appreciate that. I work out at my wifes gym three times per week for an hour each time. For details on my workouts, you can check out the website in my article here. But otherwise, I just live an active lifestyle now. I spend lots of time on the water wake boarding, jet-skiing, etc.

      I eat what many primal people eat. Meat, nuts, fruit, veggies, berries, etc. I would say I eat paleo about 95% of the time. I do eat SOME dairy, but not much. A will eat some full fat cottage cheese, greek yogurt, cheese, and cream. But I don’t drink glasses of milk like I used to.

      Hope this helps.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Thank you!

        It must be the dairy. Cheese is a STAPLE of our diet. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there’s cheese or full-fat yogurt or heavy cream in there somewhere. It’s worth the trade off.

        Oh, and that active lifestyle! I do what I can, but I am not as active as I want to be. Or you are! Especially jet skiing at will! Nice!

        Nicole wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • Best wishes. Thank you for the kind words. I truly appreciate it.

          Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • sorry,I do not call those “healthy” cholesterol numbers. Cholesterol is one of the most important substances in the body. Healthy LDL is 126, anything higher or lower leads to increased cancer risk. All of your hormones are made from cholesterol. Every cell in your body requires cholesterol. Please stop promoting the body”cholesterol myth”

      Greg wrote on August 28th, 2012
  23. Brent, this is awesome, congratulations dude.

    Mark, keep these coming please. I’ve slowly been getting into primal over the last few weeks and progress is slow. These stories are a REAL encouragement though.

    Chris wrote on August 24th, 2012
  24. Congrats Brent! I’m finishing my second week of Primal living and already feel the difference. I love the Friday success stories, they give me such motivation, I can’t wait till I can submit mine. Grok On!

    Adelina wrote on August 24th, 2012
  25. You look awesome and it gives me hope to read about how your wife inspired you. My partner sounds like the “before” you- I hope if I can get more into the primal lifestyle he’ll eventually realise that I’m onto something good and follow suit.

    Leah wrote on August 24th, 2012
  26. Holy crap, you don’t even look like the same guy. I mean, I can tell looking at the face it’s the same guy, but wow.
    That is amazing.

    Mr. Anthony wrote on August 24th, 2012
  27. Brent,

    congrats… how casn i get a hold of you? i would really likje to ask you some questions on how you did it…

    again hell of a job!

    mario wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • brent_keyes@hotmail.com But honestly, you can find most of the info on this site. However, I would be happy to help if I can.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  28. just curious if anyone else’s “before” photos aren’t displaying on the site.

    Regardless – seriously way to go Brent! I’m passing this along to a friend of mine who could stand the sand life change.

    Brian wrote on August 24th, 2012
  29. Spouse-diagnosed sleep apnea is what started my journey, too. Way to go, Brent! Good to see a fellow Dakota boy on here!

    Erok wrote on August 24th, 2012
  30. wow, dude! What a transformation!

    Bruno wrote on August 24th, 2012
  31. Fantastic story and congrats to Brent! Keep it up for life!

    Brian wrote on August 24th, 2012
  32. Wowee! Thank you for posting the numbers in such a clear and easy to follow chart, too! This is an extremely-sharable Success story, and I’m going to do just that. Lots of guy friends here in Ohio would relate to your before and appreciate the quick and clear read!

    Joy Beer wrote on August 24th, 2012
  33. What an inspiring transformation! I have been right where you were at your worst, thinking you were on your death bed. Some days I wasn’t able to get out of bed because I was so sick. I wasn’t able to be “present” in my son’s life because of my health-related illnesses.
    Your drive and determination is very commendable and it is something to be celebrated. In fact, celebrate each day of your new life as a healthy and active being! Congrats!

    Holly W wrote on August 24th, 2012
  34. Wow, that is one hell of a physical transformation. Congratulations!

    One minor point of contention: the “Fat, drunk and stupid” line from Animal House is in reference to Flounder, not Bluto, Belushi’s character.

    ChocoTaco369 wrote on August 24th, 2012
  35. What an inspiration! You’ve made my day!

    Kim wrote on August 24th, 2012
  36. Brent you have inspired me to stay on track with being primal.So my husband will too. Maybe some day soon my husband will look like he did when we met, again.

    Debi wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Comments like these make me happy!

      I’ve stopped trying to tout to friends about the incredibly positive impact being Primal has made on mine and my husband’s lives because I start to sound preachy. So, I am absolutely thrilled to see someone sticking to it because they were inspired.

      Truly, the Best of luck to you!

      Nicole wrote on August 24th, 2012
  37. Amazing, very inpiring, congratulations!

    WildGrok wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Er, I meant, inspiring!

      WildGrok wrote on August 24th, 2012
  38. Once again somebody that was very active and muscular as a kid. This is not a “beginners” diet

    Tony wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • He said he was always on the larger side as a kid, though, even though he was active.

      DarcieG wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Well, a person has to start somewhere. We made small, gradual changes. Threw out the junk food, soda, etc. Then started working on one meal at a time. Eggs for breakfast instead of cereal, etc. You can do it too. I promise. :)

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Oh, but it is a beginner’s diet. We all start from the beginning for us. If you don’t have the physical stamina or energy to anything more than walk around your living room for five minutes, you can start this diet. It ceases to be a diet and becomes a way of life. If you look at it like a diet that you will only be on for a few months to loose the weight, you’re approaching it from the wrong perspective. Think about making tiny changes you can live with forever. Each week add a new change. You will get there.

      Jenn R. wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Agree, I love this way of life! I had a bit of an epiphany today, I’m not on a diet because I’m not giving up anything….I’m eliminating stuff that never should have been there in the first place :-)

        Simone wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • Tony, this is absolutely a beginner’s diet…I am 28 and was always very thin as a kid and started piling on weight (60 pounds!) in my early 20s. Despite being skinny as a kid, I was sick ALL the time with various stomach ailments, ear infections, colds, strep throat, you name it. I went primal a year ago and haven’t had as much as a sniffle. Again, even though I was thin as a kid, I could never tolerate exercise either – not only did I hate it but it made my heart race and made me feel sick. Now that I’m active every day, short bursts of exertion that would have made me puke a couple years ago hardly wind me. And I don’t do crossfit or anything like that, just daily yoga, long walks, occasionally sprinting during a kickball/softball game.

      TulsaGal wrote on August 29th, 2012
  39. wow! incredible! nice work brent, way to take control of your life and improve yourself and in turn become a better father!

    mars wrote on August 24th, 2012
  40. Brent, great job! I’m particularly interested in how your HDL increased (almost doubled!) in the past year. My HDL seems to be stuck in the 36-38 range, despite my Primal diet. What do you think was the major contributor(s) to your HDL increase?

    Mark N wrote on August 24th, 2012

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