Marks Daily Apple
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!

It 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.

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.

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.

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.


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. 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
  2. Bravo, Brent! You gave your family a great gift, as well…their husband and father.

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on August 24th, 2012
  3. Terrific story Brent! I too am interested in some more specifics on your diet changes since your 4/1/11 test — seems like many of your markers really changed. I think you said you started working out as well, maybe that contributed to some of the change in your numbers?

    John wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Very strict paleo diet, lots of saturated fats, regular exercise, and intermittent fasting. Honestly, that is it.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  4. Wow Congratulations, quick question! What does your daily diet look like? Thanks!

    Eric wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Typically, I fast with powdered BCAA’s in the morning. Then a paleo lunch, a paleo snack in the afternoon, and a paleo supper. I only eat from noon to 8 PM every day, then fast the rest of the time.

      I have found what works for me, and I encourage everyone to do some research and play around to find what works for them.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • What are BCAA’s?

        DarcieG wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • Branched Chain Amino Acids–looks like they help with blood sugar regulation!

          Joy Beer wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • Joy Beer is correct. I use them to maintain muscle while fasting. I also use them for my weight training.

          Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  5. This is wonderful. A complete inspiration. I even passed it along to the fiance who is frustrated with some weight gain despite lots of exercise and whole grains. I eat primal and wouldn’t have it any other way, especially having finally hit the sweet spot for my own, now 30 lb., weight loss. Also, I love the barefoot training gym concept! Keep up the good work!

    Ms. Zing wrote on August 24th, 2012
  6. Hey Brent,
    We also have a dentist here with your same last name. Any relation?

    AuroraB wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Where do you live? My brother is a dentist.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Well! If he likes to play volleyball and his office was flooded this summer, then I guess we’re all in Madison. :)

        AuroraB wrote on August 24th, 2012
        • Haha, I believe we are talking about the same person. Yes, Troy is my brother. What a great man he is.

          Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  7. Right on man, you just inspired me.

    Peter wrote on August 24th, 2012
  8. Hey Brent, first off amazing job. A real inspiration.

    Secondly I thought I recognised your face from somewhere then I remembered the T-Nation V-Diet forums from a year ago! Hard to believe you are the same man.

    Bravo, take a bow.


    Steve-o wrote on August 24th, 2012
  9. Brent…I’m truly impressed and proud of you! Keep on trucking big fella. Your grandparents are just as proud, I’m sure.


    Cousin Rob wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Thank you so much Cousin Rob. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 24th, 2012
  10. Congratulations, what a fantastic change! I love hearing about families who work together. :)

    sapphiric wrote on August 24th, 2012
  11. Amazing story! I am so happy that you found this diet, and that it made you healthy again. A big congratulations to you and your family!

    Opera wrote on August 24th, 2012
  12. About a couple months ago, I started at the same weight as you, I’m currently down about 30 and progressing smoothly. I also played tennis pretty competitively as a kid and through college. I hope after some time I can get into shape like you and be able to run around like I used to on the court. I’m also 28 years old, so your post has left a big impression on me.

    ki wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Awesome Ki. One day at a time. Best wishes to you as you start your new life!

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  13. Thank you for sharing your story. I like that your success story takes place over a few years and not “after 30 days I lost 30lbs and all my problems are solved” I appreciate reading there are others out there who are noticing slow changes and really are taking it slowly. So thank you for that.

    I have a observation or question for any one reading this regarding the statement:

    “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.”

    I’ve read in several online postings similar statements of changing the eating habits first and then after they lose weight they begin to excercise. Is that what is recommended? I was a gym goer and then a primal/paleo eater. Will I see slower results because I am working out before I lose the extra weight?

    RM wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I would certainly recommend working out if you can. But for me, I literally felt too crappy to work out. I felt like if I elevated my heart rate, I would die. So for me, it really wasn’t an option. Then when I did start, I started slowly. Just do as much as you can, as soon as you can.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • You’d probably lose *weight* slower, since you’d be building muscle, which has weight.

      I think if your body is too weak exercise will feel awful and is probably not a good idea – too much stress for an already worn down body. But if you’re relatively healthy and exercise feels okay, I don’t see any reason not to do it.

      Personally I didn’t exercise at first since it felt horrible, but just eating paleo I gained muscle, and after a few months exercise didn’t feel so bad.

      Sofie wrote on August 26th, 2012
  14. One of the best transformations I’ve ever seen. Great job man!

    Mario wrote on August 24th, 2012
  15. Congratulations, Brent. You look great and the lifestyle makes all the difference.

    James Hunter wrote on August 24th, 2012
  16. Time for the Aussie’s to join in on our Saturday morning……..Congratulations Brent, a fabulous result for you. Looking after yourself is the best gift you can give your kids. And are you sure you didn’t sneak someone else’s before photo in there? I don’t think I would recognise you if I knew you before & bumped into you now? Do people walk right past & not realise it’s you? But seriously – a big well done to you and your wife.

    Hilary M wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Ha, thank. Yep, it really is me. I have had some people not recognize me. I have had to get good at re introducing myself. :) But it is worth it.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  17. why will your daughter be walking down an island in the future?

    Justin wrote on August 24th, 2012
  18. Great job! What an amazing transformation!

    aliseya wrote on August 24th, 2012
  19. Oooh… that is one sexy lipid panel!

    Kris wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Never though of it to be sexy, but I like your choice or words. :) Thank you.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  20. While the HDL increased and the LDL & triglycerides decreased,the total cholesterol being as low as it on 07/23/12 puts Brent into a statistical danger zone based on much of the information I have been coming across. A graph Mark put up in a previous post has the highest all cause mortality rates being amongst those with a 160- total cholesterol. Seems safer to have good HDL and low triglycerides but with the total being between 200 and 220.

    WuJi wrote on August 24th, 2012
  21. WOW!!!

    jacquie from Oz wrote on August 24th, 2012
  22. You are a hottie! And such a sweet face. I bet your whole family attracts attention when you walk down the street. Best regards and well done!

    TruckerLady wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • Thank you so much.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  23. Powerful, dude!! Just inspired me to a whole ‘nother level!!!

    Rhyno wrote on August 24th, 2012
  24. holy crap, man! What a transformation! You’re an inspiration to everyone I’m sure.

    Patrick wrote on August 24th, 2012
  25. All I can say is good grief! (in a good way). Rock On!!

    Sandip wrote on August 24th, 2012
  26. I’m curious about the path you took. You say you stalled after 50 lbs weight loss, then began working out, and eventually lost another 50. But you also mention tightening up the diet, and then later on mention fasting, 8 hour eating window, just two meals a day.

    So for that second 50 lbs, which was more important: exercise, stricter paleo, or intermittant fasting?

    Any idea how many calories you consume in a typical day? (Two meals plus a snack could be a decent amount, or not so much. Just trying to put the food intake part into perspective.)

    Craig wrote on August 24th, 2012
    • I have just played around with what works for me. I have never counted a calorie throughout all of this. I eat when I am hungry, and eat until I am satisfied. I feel that all of what you mentioned were helpful in achieving my results. What I have found is that when you ear REAL food, you can pretty much eat all you want and get results.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
      • I understand you don’t count calories as a control strategy, but I thought it would be interesting to know how many calories you end up consuming as the result of your various eating strategies.

        When you say that you eat when you are hungry, and eat until satisfied: I assume that means when you are within your eating window. I assume when you are outside your 12-8PM window, you don’t eat, even when hungry?

        Craig wrote on August 25th, 2012
        • I honestly don’t have a clue how many calories I eat on a daily basis.

          Correct, I only eat when inside my feeding window. The first few times I did this, it was pretty miserable. But after I became fat adapted, I wasn’t even hungry. My wife and I were just talking about this. When fasting, food doesn’t even sound good nor am I hungry. Kind of strange how it works.

          I do supplement with BCAA’s when fasting, though.

          Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  27. Grok on from a fellow South Dakotan!

    Allan wrote on August 24th, 2012
  28. The pictures are nice, but the bloodwork stats are really awesome!

    Marcia wrote on August 24th, 2012
  29. Holy —t! Well done brother!

    Robert wrote on August 24th, 2012
  30. That’s a great transition. And now you can enjoy the kids and raise them in a better lifestyle. There is nothing better than that. My wife and I have done the same thing when your both living the same way life is so much better. Congrats and kepp on Gronkin

    borntobelean wrote on August 25th, 2012

    Dave PAPA GROK Parsons wrote on August 25th, 2012
  32. This is the website to where I do my training. Many good resources on here as well. Thank you everyone for your kind words and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without the support of so many great people.

    Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  33. Wow! This almost brought tears to my eyes this morning! You go Papa! I’m a mother of two and recently decided to start eating primally. I feel so much better and my boys are loving the primal diet too! There’s nothing like having children to motivate you to live a long and healthy life. Congratulations!

    Hiranya wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • Thank you so much. Yes, my children were a main motivator for me. I actually put pictures of my kids all over my office for when I needed reminding of WHY I was doing this.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  34. Nice work Brent. Good for you.

    BW wrote on August 25th, 2012
  35. Very inspiring. My daughter was born in September, 2008 as well, but it took me MUCH longer to reach the same conclusion as you.

    I’ve only been Primal for about 4 months now, but the difference is fantastic.

    Great job and impressive before and afters!

    JB Primal wrote on August 25th, 2012
  36. Great story, but just a heads up, with the information you provided, I was able to quickly find your wife on Facebook, which includes her general information and a picture of your two beautiful children. You might want to cut back on some of the information that you’re sharing!
    Not that I don’t trust us Primal enthusiasts, but other randies stop on this site too!

    Elizabeth R wrote on August 25th, 2012
  37. Hey man if it works for you then that’s awesome. When it comes to health people are to obsessed with their views. We need to keep a open mind.

    Timmy wrote on August 25th, 2012
    • I agree. I am all for whatever works for people. This just happened to be what worked for me and I found this to easiest to stick to. If someone else has great results with a different approach, more power to them.

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 25th, 2012
  38. WOW! What a big difference! Go you!

    Meagan wrote on August 25th, 2012
  39. Wow, way to go Brent! Such a wonderful transformation and story. Thank you for sharing it. I’m a little over a year into my own Primal journey and stories like yours keep me going! Best wishes for continued health and happiness :)

    Mary Shaw wrote on August 26th, 2012
  40. to me, this story means so much to me. im just beginning my journey (started, then went back to my old ways, but thankfully my new roomate has lost 50 pounds going primal and shes a huge support). one of my major goals is to be off my anxiety/panic meds. mine has been so bad i get ams seizures (altered mind state) in the car…and been in the hospital more times than id like to admit because i literally thought i was having a stroke or heart attack (constant palpitations without meds). although i do not know the extent of your anxiety, this gives me hope.

    thank you so much for your story. :)

    side note, im from wisconsin, and its SO hard resisting cheese!!!

    jes s wrote on August 26th, 2012
    • Best of wishes. You can do it! :)

      Brent Keyes wrote on August 27th, 2012

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