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

It’s Not Just About the Weight Loss

Toss the scale!A whole lot of people come to the Primal Blueprint looking to lose weight. Some come with significant excess weight. Their before and after photos showcase amazing physical transformations that can have us doing a double take wondering how it’s the same person. Others, however, come to the PB with few actual pounds to lose. Their photos display less dramatic outward differences, but their stories tell otherwise.

Inherent to many of their narratives is the common refrain that people didn’t understand their interest in going on a “diet.” Why would they bother? What were they trying to prove? What exactly are they trying to accomplish anyway? As reader Stephart shared in her comment to last week’s gluten-free post, she’s been directly told, “You don’t need to diet. You’re tiny!”

Readers who begin the PB without weight loss goals tell me they’re often accused of being obsessive or vain. Family and friends worry and admonish them for imagining a problem where there is none. Others guilt them for their commitment, taking offense at their concern, which surely must be some kind of slight to those in their lives who really do have weight issues. Such are a few of the uninformed, insensitive or just inappropriate judgments they receive.

Not only do these accusations cross some serious personal boundaries, but they completely disregard the larger health picture any person may be dealing with at a given time. Sure, a person might look like a “normal” size, have a normal (or even low) BMI. They might even have genetics or youth or an expert side pose to suggest that they’re the ideal everyone else in mainstream society seems to be going for. We here know better. Weight isn’t the issue. Size isn’t even the issue. It’s health. And while thinness is correlated, it doesn’t guarantee it.

How many people fit the “skinny fat” label? Skinny fat means looking thin but having less lean tissue and more body fat – particularly around the abdomen – than is healthy. Those who are skinny fat are more likely to develop (or have) osteoporosis. Research suggests they’re also a lot more prone to developing diabetes than you’d guess. Almost 1 in 4 people of normal weight are “metabolically obese.” What’s more? They’re more likely to die, as well, than their slightly heavier counterparts, in part because they were likely less rigorously tested and followed by their doctors for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

We all know people (or perhaps are one of these people) who can eat a typical S.A.D. diet or worse and not gain anything noticeable. It can be maddening, in fact, for the folks who work harder to maintain their weight. That said, don’t think for a minute that skinny folks get off the hook. They might not suffer the same social stigma or bear the inconvenience and weight-related mobility or joint issues that their heavier friends do, but they might be lured into complacence about poor health choices without the indicator of added weight. As our Success Stories show, those who begin with less weight to lose end up gaining more in their health and vitality than they ever thought possible.

What have “skinny” Groks reportedly lost in lieu of weight? Check it out.

I’m Going Into My 40th Year Feeling Healthier Than Ever

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Night sweats
  • Bone pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Bloating
  • Dry eyes
  • Sinus headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Menstrual pain
  • Diminished energy

Primal Ripples: Deeper Than Just Food

  • Less need for pain medication

The Primal Lifestyle Has Given Me a Life Worth Living

  • Chronic heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Crippling hunger
  • Random nausea
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Debilitating joint pain
  • Body stiffness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Random chest pain
  • Memory Loss
  • Low testosterone
  • Acne
  • Low sex drive
  • Teeth grinding
  • Liver problems
  • Cracking joints
  • Body odor
  • Balance problems

I Was Unhealthy and Getting Sicker: Something Had to Change

  • Dizziness
  • High Triglycerides

We Have More Energy to Be Better Partners, Parents, and People

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Shakes

Finally, I Am Me

  • Anxiety
  • Knee pain
  • Back pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Migraines

I Am Finally on the Right Path to Optimum Health and Happiness

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic infections

I Am in Harmony with My Body and Mind for the First Time in a Long Time

  • Psoriasis

It Will Pass and I Will Be Stronger

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

How the 21-Day Challenge Helped Me

  • Sugar addiction

The Pain and Stiffness Disappeared and Has Never Returned

  • Mid-afternoon energy crashes
  • Finger pain and stiffness

I Feel Healthier, Stronger, and More Energetic

  • High blood pressure

The Primal Lifestyle Has Been a Game Changer

  • Sleep apnea
  • Gall bladder issues

And the list goes on and on…

Now, I’m not claiming the Primal Blueprint will solve all of your problems. There’s no such thing as a panacea in health and wellness. But I think it’s abundantly clear that its impact reaches much, much further than just weight loss. With all the benefits of the Primal Blueprint, it’s hard to justify withholding all the possibilities from your life. Am I wrong? If you’ve been on the fence or dabbling in the PB, the perfect opportunity is right around the corner. How about committing the upcoming 21-Day Challenge (commencing Monday, September 16th) and see what the PB can really do for you? And, yes, the skinny are encouraged to join. Your tribe awaits.

Would you describe yourself as presently – or formerly – skinny fat? What’s been your experience when you’ve told people you’re doing the PB (or any other dietary and lifestyle change)? What health issues has the PB changed for you, and what would you tell those who have fewer pounds but just as many benefits to gain by going Primal? Thanks for reading, everyone. Enjoy the end of the week.

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. I started PB a size 10& 3 yrs later I’m still a 10. After all the awesome things that have happened as a result of 100% primal I still wish being slender was a part of my story. Now THAT is vain.

    Dart wrote on September 12th, 2013
    • Look into IF (such as Leangains), that may be the missing element for you. Mark has some nice articles on the subject.

      George wrote on September 12th, 2013
  2. I’ve gained a better relationship with food and have been able to combat the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease by keeping my blood sugar stable and inflammation down. My skin is clear and I had a wonderfully healthy pregnancy. I have been breastfeeding exclusively for 4 months and feeling great (and eating a ton)

    Truly amazing how great I feel! (And recovering from pregnancy has been much easier than expected! )

    MommaH wrote on September 12th, 2013
  3. It is just shy of 2 years since I went primal. Oh how things have changed. In the past two weeks I have gotten comments from my massage therapist,”you are in really good shape. Compared to a lot of younger people you are doing so much better then them. And I mean it, your muscles are smooth, no knots, very good shape”. I was at the gym today doing a session of boot camp and the comment from one in our group was “man you are in such good shape”. Earlier this summer I’m walking down the street in shorts, but shirtless, wearing my vibrams and I get photographed by a woman in a passing car. I feel great and must be looking better too haha. I love it! I had my 53rd birthday in August but feel half that age. Weight wise I’m down about 25lbs but have also gained over 10lbs of muscle. Body composition doesn’t lie. My eyes are bright and clear, skin is smooth, hair is shiny. Nice muscle definition. No joint pain, no back pain, toe fungus is gone, gums don’t bleed. I’m alert, energized, totally freaking happy. I absolutely love food. I have become a wicked cook. Sex is awesome. When I reflect I just can’t believe the transformation. And so achievable. This is life and I’m glad to be enjoying it.

    Rob wrote on September 12th, 2013
    • “When I reflect I just can’t believe the transformation. And so achievable.”

      You’ve captured the essence of my experience with PB. I’m 57, female, 5’2″. I’ve never been obese or excessively overweight but after menopause, I started packing on the pounds-about 35–and couldn’t take them off. I accepted and made jokes about my pudgy self; I thought that’s just the way it’s going to be so there’s no use getting upset about it.

      The problem was I felt horrible. So I took the PB plunge in late February of this year after a miserable winter of aching joints and one illness after another, figuring, what did I have to lose?

      Surprisingly, I lost a LOT: chronic hunger and cravings!! (I would eat all the time and never be satisfied); chronic heartburn with pain so excruciating, I’d been to the ER 3 times thinking I was having a heart attack; back fat (ewwww!); muffin top; saddle bags; bloated, lookin’ like I was 7 months pregnant belly; puffy, pasty, dry skin, most of my joint pain; chronic fatigue; 27 pounds; 3 dress sizes (approaching a 4th) and the list goes on. It simply blows my mind!

      I now have nice muscle definition and cuts (!!!), an almost flat belly and a mirror-friendly body. :) My original goal was to lose another 10 pounds but I’d be thrilled if I stayed right where I am, which is totally achievable; I love primal food and don’t have a problem sticking to it. I have far more energy and endurance. I can hardly believe how much better I feel! Yeah, about half my age is accurate.

      My work is outdoors and fairly physically demanding (likely why my transformation happened so quickly). In the summer, I usually wear shorts and a tank top. I’m not one for seeking external approval but I sure have gotten a lot of it and I’d be a liar if I said it isn’t enjoyable. Rarely a day goes by that someone, friend and stranger alike, doesn’t say something to me about what great shape I’m in. I’ve been whistled at, “hit on” a number of times and even told, “nice abs” (I had to go home and look in the mirror; I hadn’t even noticed hahahaha, probably too busy admiring my “new” legs). This just makes me laugh and laugh. Seriously? I’m 57! This is not supposed to be happening! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d look or feel this good at this age.

      I’m also loving watching the transformation in some friends and family whom I’ve talked into trying the PB lifestyle. It’s amazing!

      I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark and the community here-I read all this for about a year before I took the plunge. My life and health has been transformed. Thank you all!

      Tammy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Yes!!! I constantly get people telling me that I don’t need to “be on a diet.” I explain that it isn’t a diet for weight loss, but for health. This is also confusing since they say “well you look healthy to me.” To which I explain that it is more of a long-term health that I seek plus how can someone tell if I am healthy by looking at me. One thing you forgot to mention in thyroid imbalance by the way, a very common autoimmune condition that can often be resolved with a gluten-free and paleo lifestyle.

    Natasha wrote on September 12th, 2013
  5. So many reasons I’m primal still after a year and a half, and none of them to do with the scales or the size of my waist:
    – More hair (on my head)
    – The longest, strongest fingernails I’ve ever had (seriously, they’re like acrylics)
    – Fewer headaches, haven’t had sinusitis in ages
    – Better sleep
    – More energy and drive to do things I used to put off, like the dishes or cleaning the car

    My eczema’s still in full swing, but I have at least determined once and for all that none of my triggers are food – they’re all environmental – which takes me a step closer to managing it better.

    Cledbo wrote on September 13th, 2013
  6. Mark, loving the site as usual. Got some really great feedback from others which is nice but it did take me so long to read through them all. Very popular man lol x

    Nat wrote on September 13th, 2013
  7. I’ve had a lot of health improvements:

    – zero heartburn (I’d go through Tums like candy before)
    – no more stomach pain, constipation, bloating, and crazy flatulence (I’d miss 3 or 4 days of work a year after being on the toilet in agony for hours in the middle of the night).
    – much better sleep (my head hits the pillow, and I’m out)
    – greatly reduced snoring (and likely sleep apnea)
    – almost no issues with carpal tunnel syndrome — I used to need to wear a wrist brace when I slept or else I’d be doomed to utter misery all night long, waking up every hour or so with a painful burning numb hand. Sometimes I wear it out of habit, but often I’ll go for days without it with no problems.
    – fewer colds of much shorter intensity and duration (I’d typically get 2 severe colds that led to bronchitis and antibiotics 2x a year for at least a week each, but I haven’t missed work for a cold in over a year)
    – no more reactive hypoglycemia and ravenous hunger — this is HUGE
    – tons more energy
    – greatly reduced allergies
    – I’d had some issue with my throat for several years that felt like I needed to constantly clear it. That’s gone.
    – my asthma is extremely well-controlled – I haven’t taken my rescue inhaler in well over a year
    – my sexual drive is WAY higher
    – my skin looks much healthier, and I don’t have dandruff any more (and I have smooth elbows now too)
    – I have more patience and much less of a temper. I’m much more even-keeled now and am generally in a much better mood

    Oh, and I lost 83 pounds and gained muscle as a nice “bonus.”

    Despite all of these improvements, my friends and family still think I’m being unhealthy by eating too much saturated fat. Sigh. I’ve given up trying to explain.

    en2ec wrote on September 13th, 2013
  8. Whats the 21-day challenge?

    Mike wrote on September 13th, 2013
  9. Improvements in allergies/nasal congestion, sleep quality, energy levels, eczema, muscle mass, sports performance, self confidence, mental performance, joint pain. And I too have smooth elbows now…weird!

    Danielle Thalman wrote on September 13th, 2013
  10. One of my favorite ‘side effects’ of going Primal as been my reaction to bug bites. All my life if I’d get a mosquito bite [or any bug bite, really], it would swell up to a huge, itchy welt and wouldn’t go away for weeks, sometimes longer. It became a huge deterrent for going outside in the summer time for me. Occasionally I’d have to go to the doctor to address bites that wouldn’t heal on their own and I’d be given steroid creams.

    Since going Primal, I’m happy to say I don’t always notice when I get a mosquito bite anymore, sometimes until a day or two later when it’s almost gone. I no longer have the crazy inflammation and intense itchiness. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a LOT more time outdoors this summer. That alone has been a big bonus for me, among so many…

    Helena wrote on September 13th, 2013
  11. I think everyone that knew me was feeling pretty smug that I had gotten skinny-fat. Now that it’s gone they would probably like to accuse me of being anorexic. again. but they can’t, because anorexic folk don’t have muscles like mine!

    Libs wrote on September 13th, 2013
  12. I was definitely skinny fat for a lot of my life! Eating mostly paleo/primal has helped me stabilize my blood sugar, feel hungry less often, stop having shakey hands, sleep better, and (most surprising to me) the excruciating pain that I always felt when descending on an airplane completely disappeared!

    I get a lot of “you don’t need to be on a diet,” but what is more amusing to me is the judgements people make about what I eat. “Oh, I could never eat so much heavy meat all the time,” “oh, so you’re just eating whatever you want because you work out so much?” “bacon and eggs for breakfast again? yikes!”

    K wrote on September 13th, 2013
  13. A big +1

    Nocona wrote on September 13th, 2013
  14. I appreciate this post. I did not see the pounds “just dropping off” when I began this “diet” and I don’t feel that losing pounds is any part of why I’m doing this… I feel less bloated, I feel less tied down to normal mealtimes and less desire to “snack”. I have noticed that my chest and back acne has cleared up completely, and it wasn’t bad before, but it was annoying and slightly embarrassing. I have noticed that I’m happier. I’m not sad or snippy for no reason. I’ve only been following the Primal Blueprint for about 2 months, but these are good changes to me, and I just FEEL better. I think that’s what makes it all worth it.

    Kelsey wrote on September 13th, 2013
  15. As a former skinny-fat, I totally appreciate this post! Even on forums here, I’ve heard the “people can’t relate to you because you don’t have weight to lose.” As if PB was just about weight loss and LGN!

    When I started Paleo, I lost seven pounds in a week, and I didn’t even know I had seven pounds to lose. I’m 5’9″, and I went from a “whopping” 120 pounds to a frightening 113 pounds. That didn’t last long at all, and now at 130 pounds, I think in a lot of ways I look better.

    My husband celebrated the day I said that we were stocking eggs and bacon for breakfast in the morning, and I’ve discovered that I like cooking enough to explore real techniques that actually take time.

    All is not perfect, though, given that I still break out and haven’t seem to have found a solid food connection. One day my hormones will balance out, and I’m sure then life will be even more awesome, but at this point I have to attribute the hormonal imbalances to unresolved stress and anxiety.

    So geeez-oh-man, there is nothing like hearing “you don’t need to be on a diet” to really make my day…

    Deanna wrote on September 13th, 2013
  16. This is exactly what I need right now! Super excited for this challenge!

    smithnm00 wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. It’s sad to see how self-destructive and or accommodated people discourage those who are brave enough to try to change their patterns. It’s beyond jealousy or envy IMO.

    Midlife Crisis wrote on September 18th, 2013
  18. Many good features to this article Mark. Too often do people make judgments based on what they see externally only, when we all know there is so much more to a person’s physical, mental and emotional health than that. I don’t have any dramatic transformation stories however I know that I was leaning towards the skinny-fat side of things. Since going Primal though, I have better muscle definition than I’ve ever had and my abs are showing a 4 pack with a 6 pack not far away!

    It was after reading The Primal Blueprint that I made the decision to not only change my life but dedicate a great part of it to helping others achieve their goals of health and wellness. The Primal community is truly inspiring and only seems to be growing thanks to Mark and many others including everyone who reads this blog.

    BradH wrote on September 19th, 2013
  19. I haven’t had any primal challenge whatsoever, but reading those testimonials are truly overwhelming. Interesting! there’s more to life than just weight loss and that is to feel good about yourself and living the healthy way.

    Stuart wrote on September 23rd, 2013
  20. I didn’t have too much weight to lose, but I just couldn’t burn off the stubborn layer of fat. Even with the amount of physical activity I was doing, I still felt lethargic and foggy at times. Since I’ve started going primal for about a month now, I’ve notice less hair fallout (great if you’re a guy worried about hair loss), better skin and more energy. I always had skin conditions like eczema and rash-like symptoms but that has cleared up for the most part. The only part that is bad now is people don’t like eating out with me and me constantly explaining, “no, it’s not atkins”.

    Joseph wrote on October 16th, 2013
  21. “Much of the so called health foods today are filled with food chemicals, processed foods cause inflammatory obesity, many of us have been set up to become overweight which makes the food manufacturers rich, they profit from obesity.”

    Zoran wrote on November 15th, 2013
  22. Yes! Finally someone writes about weight loss.

    Millie wrote on February 7th, 2014

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