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

I Have Never Felt Better in My 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!

The beginning of my success story starts out as most might, with very unhealthy eating habits. I can remember as a kid in 4th or 5th grade making my own version of a milkshake which consisted of a whole row of Oreos that was mixed up with milk until it was a consistency that was near impossible to drink. Around that same time I also became addicted to Pepsi cola. It seemed like I had 2-3 cans a day and this continued throughout high school. I was a somewhat active kid and I did not seem to ever put on weight.

After high school I attended an art college where food took a back seat to my artwork. When I would eat, it was the typical college food, e.g. cafeteria pizza, breakfast bars, steak-ums and a lot of frozen microwavable meals (especially taquitos), while changing my consumption of cola to 4-6 Dr. Peppers a day. On the outside I seemed to be very healthy, but inside I was doing great harm to my body daily. I weighed about 130 pounds at 5’7” with barely any muscle at all.

Shortly before I graduated college I was physically assaulted. I had one side of my face crushed so badly that the bone fragments became so small I ended up having to have two six and a half hour surgeries where titanium plates were implanted and a bone grafting had to be done. To say that I was depressed is a gross understatement. My time after that was invested in personal creative projects. I shut myself off from the outside world and with the exception of the artist in me I really didn’t care about myself. I could feel myself declining into a sad state mentally, physically, and emotionally. Around this time I also noticed a gut forming.

About a year and a half after I graduated college, I landed a salary job which included a yearly travel season. Between my newfound income and not having a kitchen on the road, I was eating at restaurants and fast food joints daily. My favorite go-to food at bars were deep-fried breaded appetizers. I kind of knew these were not the healthiest decisions, so when I would buy groceries I tried to counterbalance it by buying anything that said reduced fat or fat free. Little did I know back then that saturated fat should have been my friend and that sugar and carbs should have been avoided. I assumed that fat made you fat and sugar and carbs just gave you energy. So I kept eating tons of snack food while at home and continued drinking 2-3 cans of Dr. Pepper daily. Over a five year period my weight shot up from around 135 to over 180 pounds.

Now, at a weight of over 180 pounds I put a lot of effort into pretending that I was happy. I have always been a comedian, if you will, always joking around, but I wasn’t kidding myself, I was miserable inside. I would wake up in the morning having to pop my back into place because, while sleeping on my side, my gut would twist my back out of whack. Almost daily I would throw up stomach acid, which, let me tell you, was not a great way to start the day. Headaches were a daily occurrence and I was always tired after lunch. As an artist, I did not just work from 9 to 5. I continued working on art and other projects well into the night wearing myself thin and getting stressed out way too easily.

In 2010, I can remember having a typical busy day and stopping by the grocery store after work. I decided to take my blood pressure in one of those machines by the pharmacy. I ended up doing it three different times because after I saw the first result I knew it had to have been wrong. It wasn’t. I was borderline stage three hypertension. During my next doctor appointment I was told that I had to take blood pressure medication and that for my height I was technically obese. I remember thinking to myself that the guidelines were a joke. What if it was all muscle? Would I still be obese? I was in denial.

When I turned 30 in March of 2011, I started to question my health and purchased my first scale. I had taught myself how to make sushi rolls at that time and thought it would be a great way to lose weight and “get healthy”. I actually made a sushi rolling station in my living room and ate tons of the stuff. This approach definitely did not work. My next approach was to purchase a little blender and make fruit smoothies. I was successful with making something that tasted extremely good but there was so much sugar in the drinks that my weight did not budge; it may have even gone up. Was I doomed? Was I always going to be unhealthy?

My next doctor appointment was in May of 2011. My blood pressure with medication was still in stage 2 hypertension and I was still right at the obese mark. I remember thinking that I really needed to change my life around and not knowing how to do it. I couldn’t settle with failure.

I had been reading a blog almost daily that posted an array of different authors from different websites with the common theme of personal liberty, economics, health and wellness, among other subjects. When I read the articles from what I now know was a godsend of a website showing success stories of how people were able to lose weight and become healthier by eating bacon, I knew it was too good to be true (just like all of the gold that was waiting for me to pick up in a Nigerian bank account). Around August of that year I noticed a friend of mine losing weight who told me it was easy. He was following what Mark’s Daily Apple talked about daily. I said I would give it a try. I knew it was going to be a challenge since I was going into my travel season and so much of the food I ate was on the list of what not to eat.

Wow, what a leap of faith. Eating more of the foods that I was taught were bad for me (bacon, eggs, butter, and other saturated fat filled foods), however, eating no sugar or grains (wait no pasta, I’m Italian, that’s not possible!). The first ten days of not eating grain or sugar was pretty difficult, but noticing the 10 pounds that shed off “effortlessly” without exercise was a great motivational factor. I was very strict with sticking to this but maybe once every 2 months I would cheat by having a piece of cake or pizza to avoid being “that person” at a social gathering. I did not cheat weekly like I hear some people do because honestly I did and still do digest grains, they are just in a liquid and fermented form. I really enjoy craft beer and did not want to give it up, and the fact that a bar opened up right by me with almost 600 different beers makes it pretty difficult to stop drinking them.

At the beginning of my travel season I started going on all my business trips with a bag of organic apples and almonds as my snacking foods, and avoided all of the foods that I had learned were bad for me. I noticed that the weight kept coming off without exercise. And when I would occasionally look at the FDA’s recommendation for a daily intake of saturated fat I was usually double or triple what they called for so I stopped reading that daily percentage and just focused on the ingredients. I used to get a kick out of it when I told people, who said they were “nutritionists,” that I would randomly eat spoonful’s of coconut oil out of the jar.

On a mission, I wanted to see how much weight I was able to lose without any exercise other than daily walking. In about 5 months I ended up losing 47 pounds and took myself off of anti-depressants and my blood pressure medication. For the first time since I can remember I was looking forward to my next doctor appointment.

As I started to think even more health consciously, I became a huge fan of kale and spinach and would blend them (with my Vitamix blender) with other vegetables like carrots and beets to add some natural sugar. An all-vegetable smoothie actually did not taste bad, it just looked god-awful to the layperson. So when I went confidently to my next doctor appointment with my smoothie in hand I was hoping for a rewarding experience. I was a little nervous because I had heard stories that doctors go crazy when you take yourself of medication. I honestly had not taken my blood pressure for quite some time because I knew I felt healthy. I did the typical weigh-in and then sat in one of the rooms. The doctor that came in looked at my chart and immediately asked what the heck I did. I was ready to have my blood pressure taken, which I used to be very nervous about, but this time I wasn’t. When he got the results he shook his head from side to side in amazement. My blood pressure was 108 over 66 with no exercise, just diet! From that point forward my doctor appointments have gone in reverse. Now they are asking me questions and apologizing for having so many to ask. They actually agreed that the FDA works hand-in-hand with big pharma and that the food pyramid was definitely way off course.

In the past two months I actually started to exercise. At this point, my main workout is doing pull ups with my door-frame bars. On my lunch breaks from work I try to do as many of them as possible as quickly as I can which adds cardio along with strength training. I never thought in a million years I would be at this point. My weight actually dropped all the way down to 127 pounds even with all of the additional muscle. During my physical 3 weeks ago, I had my cholesterol check and the results are: Total:180, HDL (good):74, LDL (bad):84, Triglycerides:109. Before I left the doctor he told me that I was a great “role model”. I don’t think I have ever heard someone tell me that before. I have never felt better in my life. Every day I am getting stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally, and Mark Sisson I have you and all the other paleo health advocates to thank along with my doctors who were so supportive. I hope my story inspires and helps others the same way that other Mark’s Daily Apple success stories have helped me.


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. Great transformation. Was the third picture taken (the one that looks like you’re going to chop something with an axe) taken before you started exercise? Or were you just doing pull-ups at that point? Because your muscle tone is great.

    James wrote on November 26th, 2012
    • James – I was just doing wide-grip pull-ups for about a month at that point. That photo was taken 2 months ago

      Michael Bonardi wrote on November 26th, 2012
  2. Michael,
    Your story is inspiring…and you look AMAZING. Great job…and keep it up. Thanks for sharing.

    LiveTruong wrote on November 26th, 2012
  3. Really, really enjoyed your story and am inspired to continue this lifestyle … Im just starting to feel better and hope for some more benefits soon. This will help me greatly to continue. Thanks for sharing!

    Marcia wrote on November 26th, 2012
  4. Good to hear that you did so well, Michael. This part says it all:

    “When he got the results he shook his head from side to side in amazement. My blood pressure was 108 over 66 with no exercise, just diet! From that point forward my doctor appointments have gone in reverse. Now they are asking me questions and apologizing for having so many to ask. They actually agreed that the FDA works hand-in-hand with big pharma and that the food pyramid was definitely way off course.”

    Very noteworthy that the doctors agreed about the food pyramid and the FDA.

    I had been reading a blog almost daily that posted an array of different authors from different websites with the common theme of personal liberty, economics, health and wellness, among other subjects. When I read the articles from what I now know was a godsend of a website showing success stories of how people were able to lose weight and become healthier by eating bacon,

    Hey, you were reading LRC! That’s how I came to know about Mark’s Daily Apple too.

    Carpenter wrote on November 26th, 2012
  5. Michael, well done! Congrats on never giving up and always keeping an open mind. Enjoy your well-earned fruits of health and strength! May your example light the path for many others.

    I wonder if your improved vitality has impacted your artistic creativity as well?

    Timothy wrote on November 26th, 2012
  6. Excellent job! Looking awesome!

    Helen wrote on November 26th, 2012
  7. congrats man. I know the primal lifestyle is spreading like wildfire in the liberty movement.

    trey wrote on November 26th, 2012
  8. Well done!
    Great read and great motivational tool for others…well done!

    Duncan wrote on November 27th, 2012
  9. Don’t you have any older blood tests to compare the cholesterol numbers?

    I got some high numbers (docs wanted to give pills for lowering, but I refused) but I’m very concerned about all this bacon and fat stuff make me lean but skyrocket these bad numbers! :/

    Felipe wrote on November 27th, 2012
  10. Congratulations! I love that you both look vibrant and healthy but happy, too. Keep on keepin’ on!

    Tina wrote on November 27th, 2012
  11. Michael, you look amazing. Congratulations on turning your life around. I love how the doctors are asking you questions now. 😀

    Kitty wrote on November 27th, 2012
  12. Wow, very inspiring! I love eating coconut butter out of the jar too!!

    Nicole wrote on November 28th, 2012
  13. Well done, sir! You look (and look like you FEEL) amazing!

    I would like to point something out to the people who are intimidated by how quickly you went from zero to pull-ups: your website seems to indicate that a good portion of your art is in the somewhat(occassionally VERY)-physically-demanding fields of ceramics and blown glass (not to mention slinging around garbage-bags-full-of-paint-GOODLORDMAN!), so my guess is that you already had a decent base of muscle going on under the unhealthy fat. Or am I way off on that? <=)

    Regardless, your story is VERY inspriring, so thank you for sharing with us. ^_^

    Jenny O wrote on November 29th, 2012
  14. I love the life you live. You seem like you have a lot of energy.Micheal why do you think your head was clearer?

    Womens Fitness Program wrote on November 30th, 2012
  15. Michael,

    Good for you. And it looks like the effects have not only been physical. With my wife’s help and a change of diet, I was able to come off of my diabetes medicine twice.

    Steve wrote on December 13th, 2012
  16. Hey Michael,

    Congratulations Man! Your success story made it to

    Was that the website you were referring to in your testimonial?

    Mike wrote on December 13th, 2012
  17. Inspiring and touching story Michael. And while your transformation is awesome, I agree with others that the biggest difference can be seen in your face. We can all see the new look of self love and self ownership. That’s what its all about.

    BTW, in the after pictures you look like my long lost twin. Quick, what am I thinking right now…?

    Kudos to you and best wishes in your new life.

    Dutch wrote on December 13th, 2012
  18. Wow, you look so happy now! You are a babe!

    Larrissa wrote on December 14th, 2012
  19. beautiful!

    Madelain wrote on January 4th, 2013
  20. Wow I can’t help but notice how happy you look now; there is so much more life in your face! Congrats, so happy for you! I hope one day to send in my success story as well.

    Steff wrote on January 11th, 2013
  21. Hubba, hubbah! You look amazing, Mike, but obviously more impotantly you feel amazing. You’re an inspiration : )

    Bravegirl wrote on January 27th, 2013
  22. Mike, I am so happy for you. You look great.

    However, don’t expect too much support from doctors, unless you show them your before picture and blood tests and then take off your shirt.

    Roger Bird wrote on February 10th, 2013
  23. Absolutely gorgeous, I wish you lived in Australia……!

    Kathleen wrote on March 19th, 2013
  24. I’m slowly working my way through all the Success Stories, Michael and just now read yours (12/26/2013), Truly awesome and inspiring! So happy to see that last picture. Your smile says it all. Congratulations on a job well done.

    Eat your heart out – Gerard Butler! :) :) :)

    Darlene, San Francisco, CA wrote on December 26th, 2013

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