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

It IS Possible to Take Control of Your Health and Your 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 2My name Kevin Pollack. I’m 34 years old, I’m happily married for 8 years, and have three boys ages 6, 3 and 15 months. I’m 5’10″ and weigh 195 lbs, and I consider myself in good health (at least I do now). But that wasn’t the case two years ago. I’m about to share with you my personal struggles with my weight and with my health, the rude awakening I received that made me change the way I approached my daily living, and how I came across the Primal Blueprint and my current means of exercise.

Let me take you back to when it all started. I was 15 years old when I got my first “on the books job.” I was working at a fast food restaurant called Roy Rogers. It was a fun job. I worked the grill and made the best damn fried chicken in that store, but more importantly (at least for me) was that I could eat all the food and drink all the soda I wanted for free. I was a very active kid growing up. I played baseball, football, soccer, basketball (I had a mean jump shot), lifted weights and rode my bike everywhere, so burning off the food that I ate was not a problem for me. Unfortunately for me, Roy Rogers closed down when I was 16, so I was left without a job, and an appetite the size of the Grand Canyon. Like my father would say, I would have an egg sandwich in one hand and a hot pocket in another – come on, those things were good. So I did what any other kid who liked to eat would do, I got a job at another fast food restaurant, Burger King to be exact, and couldn’t have been happier. I loved whoppers and french fries and those chicken tenders were awesome. I worked a lot there after high school and never had time to make food at home. I didn’t really need to because of where I worked. Soon my diet consisted of lots of fast food cause that’s all I ate, but I wasn’t really gaining weight or if I was I didn’t notice because I was always a big kid. My high school weight was 220 lbs. I had pudge but you would never have known it. I carried my weight pretty well. Soon I was promoted to team leader, then shift manager, and then eventually store manager. My job consisted of very long hours and to make things worse I had a 110 mile round trip commute to my job. All I did was work, sleep and eat at the job, and could barely make it to the gym. Although I did go at least four times a week. I literally had no time to go food shopping, let alone cook.

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I don’t know when it happened because it didn’t hurt, but I had what they called a sports hernia (no, that was not the rude awakening I mentioned) and I needed surgery to fix it. It was a big tear (I have a 6 inch scar because of it) according to the doctor. After I recovered from the surgery I was too afraid to go back to the gym because I didn’t want to risk tearing the hernia so I didn’t go, but my appetite was still there. I gained weight and became depressed because of it (plus other reasons that I would not like to mention) and I knew I had to stop eating all this fast food but I couldn’t. I guess you can say I became addicted. That was my life till I was 22. I quit my job because I was too stressed out and was not happy (my weight was about 260 lbs) and my current job came along, that was Feb. of 2002. I work for the post office as a mail handler. For the past 11 and a half years I have been working overnight and my eating habits only got worse. I would wake up in the afternoon at 3 or 4 o’clock and I would eat nothing but heroes and dinner type of foods for breakfast. On my way to work I would stop by a fast food joint and spend 10-15 bucks on food for the trip to work (I would eat in the car on the way to work). I commuted 80 miles round trip, and when I got to work the only thing that was open was Chinese food and pizza places, and it didn’t help that there was a 24/7 bagel shop down the road that made the best bagels on Long Island. So that’s all I ate for years. During this time my weight ballooned up too 315 lbs at my heaviest, my weight would fluctuate a lot. I was fat.

In early February of 2005 I had gone to my doctor because I was drinking a lot of fluids (soda, juices and all sorts of sugary soft drinks, etc.) and nothing would quench my thirst. After a simple blood test I found out that my A1C level was close to 9% and my blood sugar was 450. The doctor told me I had type 2 diabetes which made me even more depressed and to add insult to injury I had high blood pressure (no, this not the rude awakening I was referring to, I’ll get to that soon, there is just a lot to my story). He gave me metformin, 2000 mg a day, for my diabetes and 10 mg lisnopril for my blood pressure. I started to feel a little better soon afterwards and decided to go back to gym and go on a “diet” (I’ll explain why the word diet is in quotation marks a little later). I tried doing the Atkins diet, and along with going to the gym I lost about 30 lbs in five weeks. A lot of it was water weight. I weighed 250lbs. I was feeling good again, but I found that my energy level was low and I started to have intense cravings for all the foods that made me sick to begin with. Little by little I would “cheat” on my diet until I gave in to the cravings and gave up. I got married in May of that year to my beautiful wife Kelly and I remember that morning when I jumped on the scale, it said that I weighed 275lbs. I said to myself that after our honeymoon I would go back on my “diet” and try to lose weight again. Well, we went on a cruise to Alaska, and anyone who has been on a cruise will tell you all you do is eat, eat, and eat some more, and that’s all I did, but I didn’t care cause I knew I was going to go on a “diet” as soon as I got back. (By the way, I’ve been on many cruises as a kid and by far Alaska was the best one. I tell people all the time the scenery alone was worth the trip and that I’d love to back someday.)

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When I came back I jumped back on the scale, it said 285, 10 lbs in one week. I started my “diet” like I said I would and was doing really well. Instead of the Akins diet, I went on low-fat “diet” because I knew I loved bread and pasta and pizza and all those other high carbohydrate foods that Akins tells you not to eat and this time I was watching what I ate which was low fat stuff like cottage cheese, low fat yogurt, whole wheat bread and pasta, cold cuts, and, well you get the idea. I was still taking my meds, but my blood sugar and BP was still high, probably because of all the bread and pasta I was eating, but I didn’t care so much. I was going to the gym four days a week again and feeling great. I was back down to around 245 lbs.

I have a younger brother and in late August of 2006 he went missing. Ten days later his body was found. He had committed suicide. He was only 21. I’m grateful that earlier that year in May we had celebrated his 21st birthday at my house. All of his family was there for one last time, I have some of the last pictures taken of him while he was alive. This really hurt me. My brother and I were close. We shared a room together while growing up and I can still remember all the late night conversations we had while going to bed. He was a very curious kid growing up and extremely smart. I have a tattoo on my left leg to memorialize him with one of the last things he said before he took his own life.

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Needless to say, I lost my will power for my diet and stopped going to the gym and I sank into another depression. I started binge eating, not caring what I ate and when I ate it. Six weeks later I went to Stony Brook hospital emergency room because I was having really bad stomach pains. I was admitted for four days with what they said was IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and a bad case of pancreatitis. My triglycerides were threw the roof. They starved me for two days, no food or water, only an IV to keep me hydrated. They doped me up with meds and sent me on my way. I was feeling better. When I came home from the hospital I was still depressed, but I kept it all inside and put on a happy face because I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do, be strong. Soon after, the pain in my stomach was gone, but I still wanted nothing to do with a “diet” and sure as hell had no motivation to exercise. I don’t remember what meds they gave me for it because I stopped taking them soon after I came home. I was young and dumb. My first son was born later that year in December and for the next two years I went about my life.

In May of 2008 I weighed 315 lbs and because I had no regard for the food I ate. I found myself back in the ER with the same pain in my stomach only this time it was on my left side, a blood sugar of 400 again, and of course my BP was high. They didn’t admit me, (I had gone to Brookhaven hospital because it was closer). They gave me pain killers and morphine and something else for what they were now saying was UC (ulcerative colitis). I checked up with my doctor and he prescribed me a round of steroids and something else for it but I forget what. I think it was asacol and antibiotics. This kind of opened my eyes a little bit into what I was doing to myself, so I went on another “diet”. Actually, I went on several. This time I was sure that I would stick to it because I didn’t want to feel that pain again. I tried everything, South Beach, Atkins, no sugar “diets”, Mediterranean and any other fad “diet” that was going on at the time. I never felt satisfied and when I was hungry, I would find myself cheating on my diet again. The pain never really went away. It was just numb, not severe. I just learned to deal with it. I just said to myself “this how you are supposed to feel while trying to lose weight and have UC, this is normal”. I was also going back to the gym to get into better shape. My routines at the gym became boring, just like all the other times that I went and I stopped going and came off my “diet”. I yo-yoed a lot with my weight during the next three and half years. I’d lose 40 pounds and put back on 30. When I started having that severe pain again, I just went back on my diet and then stopped after I saw results and had that numbing pain. This happened several times during that time, but I managed to get down to 210 lbs.
This is the part where I received my rude awakening. Some parts may be a little graphic, but I tell you to give you a good idea of what was going on with me.

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In late September of 2011 I fell off my diet. I started gaining weight again. I’m not sure how much I weighed at the time because honestly, I didn’t want to get on a scale. A few days after Thanksgiving of 2011, I started to get that pain in my left side again, only this time it was really bad and each day it was getting worse. It felt like someone was reaching in my intestines and squeezing with all their might. It hurt. I was also having bowel movements about 20 times a day and the only thing coming out was blood and mucus. I called my gastroenterologist at the time and told him what I was experiencing. He gave me a three week round of steroids and prescribed me Lialda, two pills a day. During this time I stopped going to work because I just couldn’t even get up off the couch without having to use the toilet. After about a week of this not working and still having about 20 bowel movements a day with the same stuff coming out and experiencing extreme pain, I called him up again and told him that it wasn’t working, I asked him if should go the hospital and he said that it wasn’t necessary, and that the meds just needed a little bit more time. So, I listened to him because, after all, he was the doctor. I waited another couple days and nothing got better, so I called my doctor again, but this time he gave me a stronger dose of steroids and upped the Lialda meds to four a day, saying that I should see improvement within a week. After about another week of excruciating pain and 20 trips to the bathroom daily, I didn’t see any improvement. I thought that it just need a little bit more time, so I started procrastinating saying to myself , “just one more day, and I’ll start to feel better.” This went on for about one more week and by this time Christmas was two days away. At this point I wanted to go the ER but I didn’t want my kids having a memory of their dad in the hospital for the holidays, so I waited until afterwards to go. In the early hours of 12/27/11, my wife finally drove me to the Stony Brook hospital ER, a whole month after this ordeal started. I weighed 205 unhealthy pounds. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even walk inside to triage, they had to wheel me in. After a bunch of tests and an 18 hour stay in the ER (and tons of pain killers), they finally admitted me. The next morning the doctors said that I lost so much blood that I needed not one, not two, but three blood transfusions. After that they had me on a heavy dose of antibiotics through my IV and a powerful dose of steroids, all the while my blood sugar hovered around 450 because of the steriods. I was given the powerful pain killer oxycodone, 50 mg every 6 hours on top of the morphine every 4 hours and a host of other meds that I took orally and through my IV. I still had pain but it wasn’t as bad. I was put on a strict diet. After the ninth day I wasn’t getting any better and the pain was still there, it was just numb and I was still going to bathroom about 20 times a day. I told the nurses, the doctors and anyone else who was seeing me at the time. They didn’t ignore me, but I was thinking that they didn’t believe me. I honestly was thinking that they thought I was some drug addict who was making up my symptoms just to score some pain killers, so I took matters into my own hands. Let’s just say that I had a pretty bad bowel movement that day and instead of just flushing it away, I showed one of the nurses. She took one look at it and her exact words were “wow, that’s a lot of blood, let me go the doctor.” After the doctor came up and took a look, he ordered me for a colonoscopy for that Friday morning. After the colonoscopy I remember the doctor coming in and asking her if everything was normal. She looked at me wide eyed and after a long pause said “Mr. Pollack, your intestines are so badly inflamed that we had to stop the procedure because we didn’t want to risk tearing the wall of your intestines, we couldn’t see inside because of this.” This was not good. Later in the day the doctor came back and said that I have two options, the first one was that the next morning they were going to give me a medication called Remicade. I asked her what the second option was and what she said scared the crap out of me (no pun intended). She said that if the Remicade didn’t work, my only other option would be to have an emergency surgery in which they removed my entire large intestine because this was the only known “cure” for the type of UC that I had. That night I looked up on the internet (I had my smartphone with me the whole time) the procedure she was talking about and after reading up on it I thought to myself that this can’t be, how did it come to this. I thought I was too young to be having all these health issues, but in the end I had no one to blame but myself. The next morning they started me on the Remicade and thankfully, by Monday the pain, for the first time in six weeks, started to get better. I was in the hospital from 12/27/11-1/10/12, exactly two weeks and when I left I weighed 183 unhealthy pounds. I didn’t return to work until 2/15/12. I was out of work for almost three months. To this day, every seven weeks I have to go to the Stony Brook Cancer Center to receive the medication Remicade. I’m hooked up to an IV for three to four hours every time. As crazy as this sounds, I look at this as constant reminder of a time when I was down and out and I use this as one of my motivations every day.

After I came home I started to regain my weight before I started to go back to work and by the end of March, I weighed 225 lbs. All the while the pain was still there but it was like the numbing kind I mentioned earlier, and again, I thought that this was normal. Knowing now and fully understanding what was at stake, I wanted to get better, not just for myself but at this time my wife and I were pregnant with our third child. I had to be there for these kids and stop punishing myself for all the things that went wrong in the past. It was not fair to my kids or my wife. So I sat back and thought about all the times in the past when I went on these “diets” and what I did, down to what I ate. Now don’t get me wrong. When I would “diet” in the past, I would actually like the foods that I was eating, it’s just that they all said it was ok to eat processed food and grain based foods which is what my weakness was, and my body craved and eventually led me to cheat each time leading me to gain more weight. So I took a different approach. I said to myself, “what if I stopped looking at my diet as a ‘diet’ and started to think of it as a change in eating habits.” I knew what foods to avoid that would cause flare-ups to my UC and started to eliminate them from my every day consumption. This was fried foods, fast foods and sugary soft drinks. I did this for a while and started to notice that the numbing pain was getting less and less (but never really went away), but my blood sugar was still kind of high along with my BP. I didn’t care because now the pain was less and I was eating better and feeling better too. I still ate whole wheat breads and pastas and pizza and processed foods. I would treat myself to cheat meals and noticed that when I did, the pain would come back. But I thought that it was a small sacrifice for being good all week. My weight went back up to 250 lbs and hovered there for the next eight months. My new year’s resolution this year was to get off of taking my diabetes meds and BP meds that I was still taking every day and to try to find a way to get rid of this numbing pain in my left side.

I remember googling ways to get off diabetes meds and came across several blogs and forums that kept mentioning this thing called The Primal Blueprint. I googled the Primal Blueprint and it brought me to Mark’s blog and website Marksdailyapple.com and I started reading about what it was all about. It sounded simple and not complicated at all, and most of all it made sense: eat what our ancestors ate. This involved getting rid of processed foods and eliminating sugar from the diet and only eating foods that are not only good for you but that are also nutrient dense – things like any type of meat (preferably grass-fed free range), free range eggs, organic veggies and fruits, along with nuts and dairy, and most importantly, bacon. It also mentioned that I should incorporate more healthy fats into my foods. This put a smile on face because I was remembering all the “diets” that told me to eliminate fats. I thought, why not, nothing else that I have tried seemed to be working or gave me the results that I wanted, and looking at the types of foods that were allowed I knew I would like them because I have eaten them before. I could do this. I weighed 255 lbs when I started my new change in eating habits. I say change in eating habits (that’s why I was putting the word diet in quotation marks), because I believe diets don’t work. People approach them wrong. They see short term results and wind up falling off the bandwagon due the cravings their bodies have, and go back to eating what they ate before, leading to more weight gain. I realize and acknowledge that this is not the case for everyone who chooses a diet that works for them. I’ve always said, to each his own, but in my case I couldn’t look at this as a “diet” but rather a change in eating habits. So I started the Primal Blueprint in mid-January of this year and was eating all the different foods that were allowed. I found recipes on Mark’s site and others for some creative meals, and found that they were easier to make than some of the classic dishes like lasagna, chicken parmesan, fried chicken, fried french fries, etc., that I made before I found this way of eating. I found myself enjoying what I ate, it tasted good plus I knew it was healthy for me because I wasn’t using anything artificial or processed, everything was fresh. I ate when I was hungry, which was often, but only ate what Mark outlined and said was good to eat. I ate a lot, but was surprised to find that after a couple of weeks my appetite between meals was less and less and that I was also eating less food at meal time. I was feeling satisfied, but more importantly that numbing pain in my left side was getting better. I still had cheat meals and ate some sugary foods, but I would only keep it one meal. I lost 25 lbs in five weeks and at the beginning of March. I was feeling good and looking good. I figured that now was the time to experiment with no meds. Little by little I weaned myself off my diabetes meds and my BP one too. I was testing my blood sugar and BP six times a day because I was paranoid that it would get to high, but it wasn’t. My 30 day average for my blood sugar was 108 (when I started my 30 day average was 131), and my BP was steadily going down. By May, my 30 day average was 85 and my BP was 115/75 so I stopped taking my meds altogether. I still tested six times a day but found that as long I stuck to the Primal Blueprint, my levels were right where they should be. This made me happy because for the first time in seven years I wasn’t taking any meds for my diabetes and BP. I actually found something that worked without having to starve myself or go on a fad “diet”, and found that most of the foods that I was eating I really liked.

After

One of the side effects of the Primal Blueprint was that I had an abundance of energy. This was not a bad thing. I wasn’t going to the gym during the time I had started my new change in eating habits because I wanted to get to a weight that I was comfortable with where the muscle heads weren’t judging me. I knew the look that they would give and what they were thinking. I’ve seen it before all the other times I went to the gym and tried to get in shape. I wanted to do something different. While I was reading up on the Primal Blueprint and reading other blogs and forums related to this type of eating, people kept mentioning this thing called CrossFit. I knew of maybe two people who were doing this type of exercise and wanted to know more, so I googled CrossFit and tons of articles and blogs and sample workouts popped up. I started reading CrossFit blogs and forums and thought to myself that there was no way that I can do this type of exercise. These people were out of their minds. I mean after all, who does muscle-ups, burpees, wall balls and WODs called “Fran” and “Grace”? It looked hard, but the more I kept reading about it I found that most of them had one thing in common: they were eating the same stuff I was, paleo/primal. It seemed like the two of them went hand and hand, the ying and yang. The more I read the more to me it looked like a sport rather than a gym type of exercise and coming from an athletic background I started to get curious. So I did a quick search of CrossFit gyms (or boxes as we like to call them) and found that there was one within 10 minutes of my house called CrossFit Kryptonite. I went to take a look. When I got there I was talking to the owner/trainer Mariana Goncalves-DeTore. She explained to me what CrossFit was all about. I was able to see up close what these WODs were all about and noticed that people of all shapes and sizes, young and old, were doing them and more importantly for me, it seemed like nobody was judging you based on your ability. Mariana also explained that all the different types of moves and lifts can be modified to your ability. I mean come on, who can do muscle-ups right off the street without practice? So I signed up for the ramp classes (intro classes to get you accustomed to the lifts) and on July 1, 2013 I started my new workout regime. I weighed 228 lbs. I had a goatee for 12 years and shaved it off the day after I started CrossFit because I figured I needed a change in my appearance to help motivate me; nothing big but something to help me psychologically tell myself that I can’t go back to the old me – overweight, lazy and unhealthy. The first three weeks were brutal. It was hard. I was sore everyday (I still get sore after every workout) and my body had never worked that hard before. The summer heat didn’t help. I just wanted to give up. But a funny thing started to happen and by the end of my one month trial (that’s the amount I gave myself to see if this was for me), I noticed a HUGE difference in the way I looked and felt after I completed the WODs. I liked the fact that CrossFit challenged me the way that no other gym based workout could and most of all I liked the fact I was in competition with myself. The fact that Mariana and Scott (her husband and an owner/trainer himself, he won the 2011 CrossFit games, masters division, with Mariana as his coach) were extremely friendly and eager to assist me in reaching my goals, and that everyone there was friendly and willing to help and explain certain ways to train that have helped them, I knew that this is what I wanted to do, so I signed up for three more months, and after those three months were up, I signed up for another three months.

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Photo credit: CrossFit Kryptonite
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I now look and feel incredible. No one recognizes me anymore and they all ask me the same question, how did you do it? My answer is simple. I tell them that there is no magic pill, that it’s just good old fashioned diet using the Primal Blueprint, and exercise. Since I started CrossFit back in July, I have lost a total of 35 lbs and 63 lbs in combination with the Primal Blueprint. I currently weigh 193 lbs and my body has gone through a transformation that even I didn’t expect. I don’t feel tired during the day or have hunger pangs, and gone are my cravings for sweets and processed foods. Never did I think that I would look and feel this great after just a few short months. The pictures speak for themselves. With the help of the Primal Blueprint and CrossFit, I’m happy to report that I have no pain in my left side, nada, zip, zilch and that I no longer take my diabetes medicine or BP meds. My current A1C level is 5.1, my BP is 110/70, and my triglycerides have gone back in the normal range. My gastroenterologist is starting to lower the dosage of the Remicade and the frequency at which I receive it. Getting off the Remicade is my next challenge.

I don’t know how to end my story because quite frankly, I’m not finished. I’d like to one day in the near future open my own box and share with as many people as possible my struggles with my weight and my journey that led me to the Primal Blueprint and CrossFit. To show them that it is possible to take control of your health and life. I hope that my story has inspired you to do the same. I’d like to leave you with a line from a song I feel suits me and my situation in terms of my new lifestyle. It’s from the band Audioslave from the song “Show me How To Live”: “is this a cure, or this a disease.”

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Special thanks to my wife Kelly – for without her support I would have never been able to accomplish my goals – Mark Sisson for creating the Primal Blueprint and to CrossFit Kryptonite in Center Moriches, NY.

Kevin P.

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. Is that even YOU?? Holy crap, Kevin. Well done. This is one of the best success stories I’ve read on MDA, and that’s saying a lot.

    Anne wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • I had the same reaction!! I bruised my chin when it hit the desk from seeing the “after” pictures ;-)

      Peggy wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • Ditto! My jaw DROPPED at your after pictures!! I’m so, so sorry that you had to go through all of that pain and misery until you found a “diet” that worked for you…but DUDE, did it ever work for you!! CONGRATS!!!

        AustinGirl wrote on December 20th, 2013
        • My first thought was “Photoshop,” and then “body double….” LOL

          Inspirational. I’ve been thinking about CrossFit for a while. I’m going to do it in Feb 1st – to avoid the “New Years’ Resolutioners.”

          Tom wrote on December 23rd, 2013
    • I’ll drink to that. This story is up there with the amazing!

      Paul in Australia wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • ^^ I could not agree more! I always gobble up these success stories but this is the first one that left me with tears in my eyes and googeling CrossFit. I know this sounds cliche but you really are an inspiration!

      Tricia wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • +1

        Elizabeth wrote on December 22nd, 2013
    • This is the sound I made when I saw the “after”:

      “Wha?!”

      Utter shock. Amazing.

      pablo mablo wrote on December 21st, 2013
  2. Kevin, you are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story! :)

    Simone wrote on December 20th, 2013
  3. That was the longest success story ever lol, and well worth reading. Congrats Kevin!! Can’t imagine living with all those bowel issues :/

    Justin wrote on December 20th, 2013
  4. Amazing transformation. I can’t believe you were in the hospital with that kind of diarrhea and none of them had any interest till you pointed it out. Why weren’t they testing you for clostridium?

    Alice wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • I think they thought that I wad a drug addict looking for pain pills, the nurses and doctors keep saying that people with UC don’t stay in for as long as me, what puzzled me is that why did it take them 10 days to finally do a the colonoscopy

      kevin pollack wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • No flip. I’m an RN and worked a surgical unit for a couple years. When I read that part of your story, I was thinking “They should have done a scope at like day 2.” Ridiculous! BTW, my other half took the surgery option. It is only bad initially but gets better after a few months. So glad you were able to heal your gut through lifestyle. Let’s spread the word! It’s sad to hear others struggling for so long with IBD with no hope on how to heal.

        Erin wrote on December 21st, 2013
  5. This is a fantastic story — I was almost in tears. Congratulations to you!

    Lindsey wrote on December 20th, 2013
  6. the best, the greatest, without any doubt the most inspiring story I have heard in quite a while. one word : respect

    jb wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Word, bro. Word! Grok on.

      ninjainshadows wrote on December 20th, 2013
  7. Amazing, courageous, inspirational. I had tears in my eyes reading this b/c the story is so similar to mine. I was diagnosed w. Type 2 a few years ago but at the time I was normal weight (5’3” 121 lbs). This was before I knew about Primal. I got depressed about this prognosis, gave up on myself, gained weight and now weigh 170 pounds. I have zero energy, my optho has found early signs of retinopathy in one eye, I have neuropathy in my feet, gastroparesis and had horrific fissures that required surgery. I’m 35 y/o and barely have the energy to make it through the days. My family is scared for me and my co-workers (who don’t know of my health issues) are frustrated with me.

    Thank you for showing me that I can find a way out of this deep dark hole that I’ve dug for myself. I’ve been so depressed, thinking I’m too far gone to do anything for myself. But your story proves otherwise. Thank you so much again for sharing your journey.

    Shema wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Shema

      This is why we come here. We find Inspiration, Hope, Courage, and Strength. I am so sorry to hear of your health struggles and thank you for sharing. I want to encourage you to start. Start small if you have to, but start. Like Kevin said even shaving had a psychologically positive effect. I hope to read your success story soon.

      Pamela Swanner wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Shema, you’re in the right place. There is hope, and we are all here to help support you!

      Nick wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • You can do it, Shema!! Start small, with one meal and one day at a time, and take time to look around this website and forums. This isn’t just a group of people high-fiving eachother for our “cool Caveman diet”, this is a group of supportive folks who can help. Many of us have been in your shoes, and know how daunting this can be. Just start small, focus on healthy foods and be gentle on yourself.

        AustinGirl wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Shema, I haven’t commented here before, but after reading Kevin’s story, breaking a huge smile at his goofy-smile-while-flexing photo and with tears in MY eyes, saying out loud, “I’m so happy for you, Kev!”, I felt hope and inspiration, too. I read your comment and the ones that others left for you and want you to know that I have confidence that you CAN get outta that hole! I am praying for you and I have a feeling we’ll be reading your submission down the road here!! Really! Not just throwing weightless words at you, promise! I’m pulling for you, Shema!!

      Merry wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • Shema, what everyone here is saying is true, start small, its the little changes that make the biggest difference and then before you know it, it snowballs into what it is, a healthier lifestyle. If you have a questions or need someone to talk to just let me know

        kevin pollack wrote on December 20th, 2013
        • You guys are very awesome, I really appreciate the kind words. My first “small” step is to print your story out, Kevin, and keep it on my desk at work to remind me every day that it’s not too late, I can turn myself around. My motivation this time is to FEEL better and rid myself of the constant pain and debilitating fatigue, to have energy to live a vibrant life. It’s so different from when I stayed in shape for vanity reasons in my teens and twenties. Thank you so much again Kevin for showing me that there actually is a way out of this deep hole that I’ve dug for myself, and thanks for everyone else for cheering me on!

          Shema wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Read Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution! Between it and this website you can heal yourself.

      Susan wrote on December 21st, 2013
    • Shema, a friendly word or two of advice. Don’t jump in and go cold turkey, otherwise you could end up with low carb flu and you’ll feel like garbage which is just what you don’t need at the moment. Start by dispensing with sugar in your coffee and/or tea and replacing it with stevia. Give your system a fortnight to three weeks to adjust and then start tapering off the grains. If you do this you should be able to wean yourself off carbs without the unpleasant side effects.

      Paul in Australia wrote on December 21st, 2013
      • I agree. I had a blinding headache for 3 days straight when I stopped eating grains and sugar, but after that I felt fantastic and my hunger reduced drastically.

        Lisa wrote on December 21st, 2013
      • I’d been wondering about this exactly! I’ve never craved grains (bread, pasta, etc.) so giving that up is easy. But I do crave sweets (ice cream, candy, cake, etc.) and I use them to comfort myself emotionally. That’s been my downfall particularly given this past year’s circumstances where I was coping w. PPD and returning to a stressful job with long hours, hence rapidly gaining 30 pounds in the past 6 months and host of medical problems including reflux. (And I swore I would never touch proton pump inhibitors given their rep but my docs told mold I would exacerbate the damage if I didn’t start on meds).

        Anyway as I’d noted I’m desperate for relief from physical discomfort so I’ve considered going cold turkey, rationalizing that an alcoholic or smoker can’t just wean themselves from an addiction but must go cold turkey. Maybe I’m wrong. I suppose the nature of sugar addiction may be different. So would it be considered gradual enough if say I replaced a daily bowl of ice cream with a bowl of berries and whipped cream or even an apple? Or should I still have the ice cream but start by limiting the quantity before transitioning to fruit and then cutting the fruit entirely? (Maybe I should move this conversation to the boards…)

        Shema wrote on December 22nd, 2013
        • Shema, I started with small changes like no sugar in my coffee (I drink it black now and actually love the taste), instead of pasta I would make spaghetti squash with ground beef or grilled chicken. Having a piece of fruit intead of a candy bar, making my self a salad instead of a sandwich with processed meats etc.. before I knew it, it snowballed into what it is today which is 95% primal/paleo and the other 5% is cheat snacks. I still eat my ice cream for my cheat snacks. My advice is make little changes at first and don’t be afraid to try new foods.

          kevin pollack wrote on December 22nd, 2013
    • Shema, you deserve to be well. I hope you can take the plunge and be a future success story here! Take it one day, one moment, at a time and love yourself!

      Casey wrote on December 21st, 2013
    • Shema, my child has type 1 diabetes and we all eat paleo since he was diagnosed just a year ago. all his blood tests and health exams are completely normal, and his doctor is astounded – he told us he has never had a patient in his whole career with test results so good. If this can be achieved for someone who produces no insulin, imagine what it can do for you. After a few weeks, you will feel so good you will never want to go back to your old ways. If you cut out grains, processed food and sugar your blood glucose levels will normalize very quickly. Every time my son tests his blood (8 times a day) I feel an amazing sense of achievement when I see normal readings. This really motivates our whole family to eat this way. You can do it too!

      Lisa wrote on December 21st, 2013
      • Lisa we also have a diabetic son, aged 12. I started this search for myself as I would like to get fit and healthy, and benefit my family too, so was so excited to read your post! So inspirational, I can’t wait to start. Thank you!

        Amanda V wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  8. Kevin, way to come back from the verge of death. Amazing!

    Nocona wrote on December 20th, 2013
  9. Wow. Good for you! There are so many ways you’ve positively changed your life. It’s so hard to “come back” to life after the suicide of someone close. That alone is worthy of accolades. IMO. You are an inspiration to others. Congrats on the success of first chapters in your life story. Can’t wait to hear of the success of the rest of your goals.

    cindy wrote on December 20th, 2013
  10. Wow, just amazing. And I feel your sadness about your brother’s suicide. My brother too killed himself

    Diane wrote on December 20th, 2013
  11. AMAZING! Congrats to you for taking back control of your health and your life! You are setting an amazing example for your kids!

    Merky wrote on December 20th, 2013
  12. Kevin,

    This is a beautiful story, one that I wish to share with as many as I can. Thank you for sharing your experience, and also, thank you for the beautiful writing style! :)

    Regards,
    Vishnu

    Vishnu N S wrote on December 20th, 2013
  13. Very inspiring story. I am so glad you are doing so well. Friday is definitely my favorite day on here. I got something new out of this story. I got that this is a change in eating habits, not a diet. I was having a struggle with this in explaining what i do to others. Diet seems to be a dirty word, and rightly so. I also got that I have been a nut ball fanatic over the past year, trying to push people and prod them. Asking people about their symptoms, then diagnosing a cure for them. I annoyed them but they love me so they were ok. It hard not do do it when you know that they could feel better or even be cured of their illnesses. And there are so many people suffering. Its time for me to tone it down a little, change my approach, worry about myself, and be inspiration.

    ReggieW wrote on December 20th, 2013
  14. WOW. What a turnaround. Glad you’re enjoying your new lease on life!

    Tom B-D wrote on December 20th, 2013
  15. Fantastic transformation, Kevin. Thanks for be so open an honest in your story. Your story will help more people than you know.

    Shawn Buddenhagen wrote on December 20th, 2013
  16. Dude, you rock. Thanks for being an inspiration.

    James wrote on December 20th, 2013
  17. Kevin, Thanks for sharing/caring! You are giving Papa Grok a run for his money as far as having the most inspirational success story of all time…GROK ON!!!!!!!

    skeedaddy wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • and THAT is saying a lot!

      Nick wrote on December 20th, 2013
  18. Awesome, dramatic lifestyle change, Kevin! You’re an inspiration!

    gibson wrote on December 20th, 2013
  19. I don’t feel like there’s a big enough word to use here. “Wow” and “Amazing aren’t sufficient. Keep it up man, good work!

    Luke wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • I AGREE… I do believe you have climbed a mountain. The feeling must be hugely wonderful… (guess I found a few words). :)

      JLB wrote on December 20th, 2013
  20. When you were talking about your commute I knew you were from the Island!
    Tremendous work here………you have transformed your entire life and conquered your medical issues. My sincere condolences on the loss of your brother.

    I would like to extend to you and your lovely family the warmest of holiday greetings.

    Jaws76 wrote on December 20th, 2013
  21. Definitely an inspiring story. I always look for the inspirational stories that my friends may be able to relate to so that I can say, “Here, take a look at this link…” I have another one to share now. All the best to you and your family!

    Kevin Grokman wrote on December 20th, 2013
  22. What an incredible story and transformation! Kevin, congratulations on turning your health completely around. You are truly an inspiration.

    Katie wrote on December 20th, 2013
  23. So very sorry about your brother, but it is wonderful that you were able to reclaim your own life! Your story had me in tears, but what a happy ending!

    Paleo-curious wrote on December 20th, 2013
  24. Kevin,
    absolutely amazing, stay strong and take care of your beautiful family.

    harry p. wrote on December 20th, 2013
  25. abso-freaking-amazing! I am with you on calling this a change in lifestyle rather than “diet.” Just started eating according to the Primal Blueprint Plan and also doing Primal Blueprint Fitness. Thanks for your inspirational story, and to Mark for this wonderful work he is doing!

    Norm wrote on December 20th, 2013
  26. If this story doesn’t speak to my former husband and father of my children I don’t know what will. Although graphic, thank you for taking the time (and being willing to share) to include the details. Many people with similar problems need to know they aren’t lost causes, there is always hope with the right information.

    Kelda wrote on December 20th, 2013
  27. Kevin,

    First I want to say I am so sorry about your brother. Survivors guilt can keep us from allowing good things in our lives. I am so blessed to read your story of triumph. It is easy to give up. It is hard to fight. Keep up the good fight.

    Pamela Swanner wrote on December 20th, 2013
  28. Congratulations, Kevin!
    I love the saying
    YOU CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF WHAT YOU DON’T NEED.
    I can relate to your yo-yo’ing in a BIG way. I have felt such self-loathing for years, because the cravings always get the best of me, and I gain back any weight I’ve lost, plus more – to the tune of over 130 pounds gained in 25 years. It has only been recently, that I finally understand (and believe) why I have had such a difficult time. I appreciate Marks Sisson, and others, who share the science of what grains and processed foods actually do to our precious bodies. As I learn the truth, I am becoming much more gentle with myself about the reality of cravings, and the fact that I just can’t get satisfaction from foods my body doesn’t need; the brain just keeps calling for more, because it’s starving for good nutrition!
    I decided about two weeks ago, that after Christmas . . . because, well, you know . . . I am embarking on this new Primal lifestyle. You have given me such hope! Thank you for sharing. What a blessing you are to so many, just by telling your story. I wish you and your sweet family the best!

    Sandy wrote on December 20th, 2013
  29. Truly unbelievable. Most people would have given up after all you went through, but you kept on searching and finally found your way. What an inspirational story and I’m so happy that you are now healthy and fit and able to enjoy your life to its fullest. This is the greatest gift you can give to your family–being healthy to enjoy each day with them and to guide them so they don’t follow the same path you did. Keep it up! :-)

    Claire wrote on December 20th, 2013
  30. Oh MAN Kevin, you are awesome. What a fun story to read – so inspiring to see you beat these life-long afflictions. WAY TO GO my friend!!!!

    Nick wrote on December 20th, 2013
  31. For inflammation, there are only two naturals that will help your issue. First and foremost, continue your Paleo, the fat balance is ideal for low inflammation.

    Take MERIVA Curcumin. In studies, it was almost as strong as a steroid on blood markers of inflammation. It is pharma modified to do so, but it is still the same old turmeric extract that rocks. It is 500% better absorbed than normal curcumin. I believe it was key to removing my wife’s Crohns and she used to be on remicade.

    Also, fish oil, liquid. Don’t take capsules, the actual available dosage is way better via liquid or emulsified liquid (tastes the best).

    Dr Jason Bussanich, DC wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • I actually do take cod liver oil in the mornings with breakfast in liquid form, I sprinkle turmeric on my veggies but I haven’t heard of MERIVA Curcumin, thanks for the tip, I will be looking in to this.

      kevin pollack wrote on December 20th, 2013
  32. Congrats on your success.
    Sadly my husband went down that path 11 years ago and had his colon removed. Remicade didn’t exist until 2 years later after his guts were cut up and mangled. It destroyed our life.
    Now when people have fun in the sun, he sits in the shade afraid to break a sweat because those bags are attached with glue…

    I don’t have a husband, I have a patient, and I’m the nurse and this is what our life has been. No kids because of this…I can’t do it all.
    If only MDA would’ve existed then…but the internet was just starting to be born.

    Issabeau wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Can he not find a surgeon that will do a J pouch surgery? Does he still have a rectum? He shouldn’t have to live permanently with a bag. The SB can reconnect to the rectum.

      Erin wrote on December 21st, 2013
  33. Thank you for telling us about your journey. It was a very moving and powerful story.

    Colleen wrote on December 20th, 2013
  34. Thanks Kevin!

    Such an inspiring story. It so hard to come back from depression and loss, it can be overwhelming, but you made it. I am so sorry for your loss. That really is a wonderful tribute to your brother.

    Like many here, I had so many health issues in common with you. High blood pressure, digestive problems (though nowhere near your level), high A1C, high triglycerides, bad cholesterol ratio, morbid obesity. I started my Primal path in August of this year. My triglycerides dropped 200 points, cholesterol levels are normal, A1C went from 7.2 to 5.6, starting weight was 389, now at 335, blood pressure went from average of 180/110 (yep, time-bomb) to 138/80 and getting better, and ALL of the digestive problems I was experiencing (abdominal cramping, chronic diarrhea, acid reflux, etc…) have gone bye bye.

    Now if I could just stop crying when I read a lot of these Success Stories. Slim chance of that though!

    EOWoodman wrote on December 20th, 2013
  35. WOW!!!!!!

    Tazza wrote on December 20th, 2013
  36. Your story is almost too much to comprehend. You should be visiting hospitals and saving lives.

    Very happy for you.

    Moshen wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • Yes, I agree. Too bad GI doctors and any other kind of doctors don’t spread stories like yours.

      Melissa wrote on December 20th, 2013
  37. This is by far the most fantastic, exhilarating, phenomenal and bliss filled success story on MDA. As many have said in earlier comments – this is the best one.

    Truly, all the other stories on MDA are worthy and loving no doubt, however when I read this one, it gave me a huge AHA moment to take charge of my own situation.

    Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) from Honolulu, Hawaii ! xo

    Patrick :-)

    Patrick A. Inouye wrote on December 20th, 2013
  38. Kevin, your story is beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing. I have some tips about healing from inflammatory bowel issues that I could share with you – let me know if I can contact you!

    Sarah wrote on December 20th, 2013
    • I’m all ears, just friend request me on FB and we can talk on that platform

      kevin pollack wrote on December 20th, 2013
      • Okay – tho looking and not sure which Kevin Pollack you are on FB… :)

        Sarah wrote on December 20th, 2013
        • I live in mastic ny, the one with my profile pic with my mouth wide open looking at my son wirh chocolate cake on his face

          kevin pollack wrote on December 20th, 2013
  39. What a fantastic story. Writing this will inspire and encourage many and give hope to people who’ve wanted to give up. Thank you!

    joey wrote on December 20th, 2013
  40. Wow! What can I say? Your story is incredible, absolutely amazing. Best wishes for the future!

    Siobhan wrote on December 20th, 2013

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