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

Primal Blueprint Success Story: More Like Grok

GrokandKorgFor anyone that is now familiar with The Primal Blueprint, you’ll recognize both of the characters to the right. It’s our lovable Primal role model, Grok, and his modern antithesis – your average overweight and over-stressed American – Mr. Korg. (A quick aside: When I read “Grok” I hear it said in my head like “Grok On!!!” But, for some odd reason, when I read “Mr. Korg” I hear it said in the voice of Eeyore.)

In short, my goal with this site and the PB is to help people go from looking and feeling like Korg to looking and feeling like Grok. This is why I am always so thrilled to hear success stories: triumphant tales of people taking control of their health and lives.

I recently received a success story from reader Sterling. It’s the sort of response to the Primal Blueprint that makes all the effort worth it.

Check out the before and after pics and read Sterling’s personal account of transformation below.

Before

Pre PrimalMontage

After

Post PrimalMontage

5’8”, 225 lbs, 42” waist, multiple asthma medications, depression medicine, blood pressure medicine, topical testosterone. That’s where I was 4 ½ years ago – a freaking wreck and a dream patient for big pharma.

June 2006: Through hormone therapy and a low-carb DIET only, I trimmed down from 225 lbs to 170 lbs. Great? Not so great. Like so many people, I was able to lose weight and that in itself is a good thing, but I did not do it the right way. How do I know? Because when I stopped the meds and went back to a ‘normal diet’, I quickly climbed the scales back to 210 lbs. I had not changed a damn thing!

June 2007: I was watching TV in the wee hours of the morning. I came across an infomercial for P90X (very Grok-like). What I saw was an incredibly tough workout with real people who had great results. It looked so difficult that I figured it had to be legitimate. So in June 2007, I began P90X. This was my first introduction to Mark Sisson as he talked about sports nutrition at the end of one of the workouts. Mark would later become a larger part of my success as I started to eat and move more like Grok (unknowingly at the time). We’ll get to Mark and Grok a little later. As I moved forward with my new workouts, little did I know a Pandora’s Box of health, extreme fitness, and a completely new way of life would engulf me and my entire family. Between June 2007 and November 2007 I would complete 2 rounds of P90X. End of story? Happy ending? Not quite. Hang with me…I’m getting somewhere.

November 2007: 2 rounds of P90X complete. I was moving more like Grok and eating more like Grok…but not completely. I had trimmed down to 178 lbs and felt worlds better than I had in a long time. But after a nagging shoulder injury, multiple business trips, the flu, and pneumonia, 3 months had quickly passed since I had exercised, at all. And when you struggle with guilt from making bad decisions…again, not only do you not take care of yourself with exercise, but proper nutrition suffers greatly. And they did for me. This is the story for so many people.

Although not the drastic weight gain of times past, I crept back up to the 190 lb range much to my dismay and frustration. That feeling of stepping out of the shower and in front of the mirror after having been in great shape just 3 months earlier…what a feeling a failure. Why did I let myself down? Why did I not start back earlier? Why did I not at least maintain proper nutrition? One sentence sums up the answer to these questions: Do it for the right reasons. I was not doing it for the right reasons. I set myself up for failure before I even started. I wanted to look good and have other people tell me I looked good. After realizing that fact, I was ready to start doing it for the right reasons.

March 2008: my life changed for good. This time I would do it for all the right reasons: physical health, mental health, gene reprogramming, & family. And this is where my story takes a dramatic, compelling, and incredible turn. My eating habits were better and I understood why I was eating the way I was; not only for results (although great results were what I wanted) but rather to feel better and feed my body the proper foods with purpose. And although I struggled with lowering my body fat to my satisfaction, a much bigger change was morphing inside my body. Underneath the skin and muscles that everyone else was seeing, my blood vessels, lungs, heart, chemical makeup, hormonal makeup, genes, brain cells and tissues were changing in dramatic and unprecedented ways.  Within the next 3 months, not only did my weight get down to 170 lbs, and my waist shrink to 31.5”, but my life had changed forever. Remember the litany list of medications I mentioned before? Depression medication: Gone. Blood pressure medication: Gone. Testosterone: Gone. And for the first time in 30 years…let me say that again…for the FIRST time in 30 YEARS. Asthma medications: Gone.  Done. Finished. Wow! What a concept. Proper nutrition and exercise – the best medicine available to mankind. Big Pharma and FDA beware! We are coming after your business.

How did this happen? I started to live more like Grok. I cut way back on whole grains and legumes. I was eating lots more plants and animals, whole lean proteins, fruit, and tons of veggies. I lifted heavy things often. I got 8+ hours of sleep every day and napped when I could; even if only 30 or 40 minutes.

During this time period, I discovered numerous resources online that helped me tremendously. Tom Venuto was one, especially in understanding macronutrients and calories. Mark Sisson and MarksDailyApple.com was another. Through visiting MDA and pestering Mark with neurotic emails on how to get leaner he encouraged me to do several things: eliminate grains, sprint, continue to do the things that had proven successful, and try intermittent fasting. Since that time, I have leaned down to 11% body fat, 157 lbs, and a 30” waist. Self-admittedly, I often do too much – a neurotic decision fueled by my obsession to get to single digit body fat (aka, Mark Sisson ripped), but MDA and Mark have taught me the right ways to get there. Sprinting has become a permanent part of my routine (at least 1 day/week but usually twice/week). And no sprinting routine would be complete without my Vibram Five Fingers (as close to barefoot as you’ll get with a ‘shoe’); yet another introduction that Mark is responsible for. If you don’t have any, go get them now. Your knees will feel better and you’ll feel more like Grok as he sprinted either from being killed or to kill (except he was barefoot).  Intermittent Fasting (IF) is my newest ‘endeavor’ and I feel a sense of accomplishment and clarity. As I continue to eat and move more like Grok, I’ll be glad to update my accomplishments.

Lastly, as I sat at a recent sales meeting (I work for a Biotech company that sells hormone replacement therapy for diabetes – yeah I know I’m in a unique field considering my belief system regarding obesity, diabetes, and overall health and fitness), I wanted to take the stage and scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to scream! I wanted to scream that pharmacologic intervention and the billions spent on their marketing would be completely and utterly unnecessary if companies (pharma, agra, government) and doctors would spend a fraction of their time, money, and energy preaching the truth about exercise and proper nutrition. Although, at times, I don’t think that they even know (educated ignorance I guess). Sure, they offer diet and exercise as first-line treatment for a lot of medical problems. But only to fill a ‘check-the-box’ requirement for insurance companies before they move on to drug therapy. If people truly knew the healing power of proper exercise and proper nutrition, there would be nothing to stop them. But alas, the almighty dollar and the greed that fuels companies and politicians will always trump common sense and hard work. The masses have been fed a load of crap and Big Pharma, the federal government, the FDA, and Big Agra are keeping the masses fat and (un)happy. I want to be a messenger for Grok! Will you join me?

_________________________________________________________________________

Thanks to Sterling for his inspiring story! Check out his blog – Sterling Advice.

If you have your own success story that you’d like to share or would just like to read more success stories like Sterling’s visit this page. If you are new to the Primal Blueprint and would like to learn more check out the Primal Blueprint 101 page or visit PrimalBlueprint.com to start getting Primal!

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. Amazin story…im doing P90x too, im half way of my second round. Just this week i decided to cut the “cardio” workouts like Plyometrics, Kenpo, etc…and just stick to weight training, since intenste excersise 6 days a week is not really Primal…although i have to admit im a little scared working out 3 days a week instead of 6 is gonna come bite me in the butt. we´ll see….

    MikeGP wrote on June 12th, 2009
  2. Congratulations Sterling! What an inspiring story!

    Several years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and also the potential of Lyme disease. I finally got fed up with all the drugs and supplements and stopped my treatment. Like you, I ended up experiencing much more improvement through changing my lifestyle habits. It’s amazing how much better things can be when we simply live how we’re designed to. In a way, it’s unfortunate that the body can partially withstand so much abuse that we give it because it makes it harder for people to realize what they’re doing to themselves.

    When I was searching for answers for my own recovery and realized how much we’ve been misled by corporate interests, it made me furious. It inspired to be a “messenger” as well and is why I started my Natural Bias blog.

    Vin - NaturalBias wrote on June 12th, 2009
  3. Thank you Sterling, and thank you Mark! This is so inspiring!

    I can’t wait to show this to my husband, who has begun implementing PB himself.

    Grok on! (And I hear you Mark–Ken Korg does have an Eeyore ring.)

    Ruth wrote on June 12th, 2009
  4. OMG, Sterling- what a story. You are aptly named! You are the transformation from Korg to Grok personified. I must say, you barely look like the same person. I’d love to know how your coworkers have reacted to your physical & mental changes. And tell us about your family – are they on the PB? Details, please!
    And how great that Mark has touched so many people’s lives in such a meaningful way. His positive influence cannnot be understated. Yay Mark!
    But kudos to all involved. I am going to have an extra-good workout now with this in mind- I am so inspired.

    marci wrote on June 12th, 2009
  5. What a great story! Way to go Sterling :D

    It can be so depressing for people when they try over and over, doing exactly what the “experts” tell them to, and barely make progress or even continue to get worse. A lot of them just give up and it’s hard to blame them.

    Congratulations for continuing the search until you found what you needed :)

    Candace wrote on June 12th, 2009
  6. Yes, serious kudos to Sterling from me as well. I love that middle picture in the After series of photos. It embodies the “Play” aspect of the Primal Blueprint. Having fun with it helps tremendously. If anyone want to see more (and larger) After photos of Sterling check out our community Flickr photo stream:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/14316944@N08/

    Mark Sisson wrote on June 12th, 2009
  7. Well done, sir. I love how your story isn’t an, “I lost X pounds in X days!” story. It’s an, “I learned how to live healthy. And now I am” story.

    Barry wrote on June 12th, 2009
  8. “and baby, you look mahvelous”!

    Peggy wrote on June 12th, 2009
  9. I love reading these success stories! (there are some fabulous ones on the “success stories” section too!). Sterling – that was so well put! I think many of us can read between the lines and pull out the struggle & emotions that had to be inherent in your journey, since, I’m sure, many of us can relate. How can any one read these kinds of stories and not be at the LEAST curious about the PB? Grok on!

    Holly wrote on June 12th, 2009
  10. Great story and very inspiring! Sterling you look so much younger in your after photos!

    I too came to Mark Sisson via Tony Horton and I thank both of them for turning my life around. I still love my P90X style workouts but I’ve switched to interval training in place of some of the cardio and I’m making play a bigger part of my life (hiking in beautiful Colorado). I have to get back to work. I took the day off to fix my rock garden and flagstone walkway. Talk about lifting heavy thing!

    Dave wrote on June 12th, 2009
  11. Congrats sterling… you look great!

    The SoG

    Son of Grok wrote on June 12th, 2009
  12. Congrats man! Those photos look like two entirely different people.

    Kyle wrote on June 12th, 2009
  13. Awesome job, Sterling! Great success story for a Friday. Its amazing what happens when you finally give the body what its been craving for years.

    Eeyore and Mr. Korg are truly sad-sacks. “Thanks for noticing me..” Hah. : )

    Cheers everyone!

    Ryan Robitaille wrote on June 12th, 2009
  14. Great job Sterling! P90X is a great program. It was my first step toward getting fit too. Nowaday’s I lean toward more of a strength/sport training regimen, but I still appreciate that its what got me off my butt in the first place.

    And the post-workout segment was my first exposure to Mark too. I wonder how many people that’s true for haha

    Yash wrote on June 12th, 2009
  15. amazing… doesn’t even look like the same person!

    Ryan Denner wrote on June 12th, 2009
  16. Great story. Of course Sterling’s first mistake was thinking of low carb eating as as “diet” and going off it back to the same old same old once he’d lost his initial weight. Of course it’s not a *diet* – it’s a forever way of life. But of course lots of us have to have the truth knocked into us more than once before it truly becomes ingrained. :-) And the important thing is that he finally did make the connection. Great story.

    Debbie wrote on June 12th, 2009
  17. This is great , it is incredible. I hope I could send my sucess story one day.

    I live in Spain, is there anyway I could get the T shirt? The book I guess i have to get it through Amazon.uk??

    thania1 wrote on June 12th, 2009
  18. Wow what a transformation, stories like this keep me inspired!

    Dollface wrote on June 12th, 2009
  19. Awesome and truly inspiring story! Totally looks like a different person!

    Grok on!

    Warren D wrote on June 12th, 2009
  20. I have to say, my jaw hit the floor when I read that you had not only shed your antidepressants and blood pressure medication – which I had expected – but your asthma meds as well! I had no idea that proper diet and regular exercise could help such a wide variety of symptoms. I will be bookmarking this page and showing it to my poor Korg relatives.

    Thanks to you, I look forward to diving into another day of relentlessly intense exercise (and the resulting soreness) with much greater enthusiasm.

    GeriMorgan wrote on June 12th, 2009
  21. Incredible Sterling or I should say inevitable following PB. I was much like you lost in a sea of misinformation; it is liberating to have broken through to the simple truth, welcome home cave man.

    freeagent wrote on June 12th, 2009
  22. Congratulations, what an incredible story! I find it very, very common for people to start living off of P90X! I did, before I found Crossfit.
    Anyway, this is so inspiring — can’t wait to show it to my friends who sometimes question my constantly ‘picky’ food choices and desire to train.

    Best of luck with all your training, hope to hear more great things soon

    -Samantha

    Samantha Aurelio wrote on June 12th, 2009
  23. I wish there was a woman sucess stroy too

    thania1 wrote on June 12th, 2009
  24. This is amazing it just goes to show that once someone is armed with the proper knowledge and puts theory to practice good stuff starts happening. I am really pleased your off the meds and living your life. I am sure this post will have given a lot of people loads of inspiration and motivation to live better. Thannks!

    Chris - ZTF wrote on June 13th, 2009
  25. Sterling,

    The pics tell all!!!
    Congrats and way to stick with it!!!

    Marc

    Marc Feel Good Eating wrote on June 13th, 2009
  26. Everyone -

    Thanks for all the wonderful and encouraging comments.

    I must say that my wife is about 20 pounds lighter than she was in the picture AND she threatened me with a cup of high fructose corn syrup heated in a low quality plastic in the microwave when she saw that I did not crop her out of the pic.

    My family does eat much more like Grok, especially my wife, but not quite to the extent that I do. My kids do know, however, how & what to eat to stay healthy and enjoy eating my primal inventions. We have 4 beautiful kids (15, 11, 9, & 7) and are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia.

    Again, thanks for all the comments. With the PB & P90X as my BASE for fitness & health, I’m enjoying life in a much richer and fuller manner.

    Sterling wrote on June 13th, 2009
  27. - Sterling

    Sterling wrote on June 13th, 2009
  28. Dude, congrats. I just sent Mark my before/after pics too… my story is not even close to as amazing as yours, but the PB WORKS.

    I’m gonna tell you one thing honestly. You need to quit your job. You can’t perform well in a job if your heart’s not in it. I’m in sales and I can only sell products I believe in. Start looking, my friend, there’s better stuff out there to sell.

    Berto at PricePlow wrote on June 13th, 2009
    • Berto, I totally agree about the job but felt uncomfortable saying so without knowing more.

      Not only is it difficult to perform well at a job that your heart’s not in, but it can seriously detract from your well being if it contradicts your core values.

      Sterling, why not start a blog, share your story with the world, and help spread the word about healthy living? Eventually you can create some kind of product(s) just like Mark and be supporting yourself through your passion for health.

      Vin - NaturalBias wrote on June 13th, 2009
  29. You are working for a company that exists at the mercy of a mis-informed population that doesn’t understand health and diet, yet you want to be a an agent of change for that kind of diet?

    Cognitive Dissonance Overload.

    Jack wrote on June 14th, 2009
  30. I’d also like to comment from the standpoint of someone who’s had asthma. My asthma attacks were triggered by particulates in the air (smoke, exhaust, pollen, etc.),various chemicals (carpets offgassing, solvents, perfume, etc. There were times these attacks were severe enough that I thought I might die–though the panicky feelings induced by the attacks make those thoughts easy to have.
    I have significantly resolved my asthma through diet. Interestingly, I did it initially with a vegan raw food diet. I think the diet eliminated a lot of grains, processed food, and also allowed my badly compromised digestive system a rest. I also had irritable bowel syndrome, now also essentially gone, though I still have a sensitive stomach. From what I’ve read, asthma conditions are often connected to digestive problems.

    I started doing quite a bit of yoga and breathing exercises and think that has also been quite helpful.

    Subsequently I’ve realized a lot of the limitations of a vegan diet, and have added some animal protein (lightly cooked) and more fat foods.
    I can’t speak for all types of asthma, but believe it is certainly worth trying to improve asthma through diet and accompanying exercise.

    mjcarr wrote on June 14th, 2009
  31. Lisa R: WRONG! Diet and exercise cured my asthma. I had it for over 30 years and I’m very well trained in the area of medicine, specifically asthma since I’ve lived with it for so long. Asthma is largely an inflammatory condition. Poor nutrition and little exercise exacerbate, worsen, and can even cause asthma. It can be corrected and cured with the combination of proper nutrition and exercise; I’m a living case study…and don’t tell me that it was something else that cured me or I grew out of it, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada. I know the timeline of my own health improvements & it’s not coincidence or hocus pocus that allowed me to breathe freely without medicine. Do you know how many foods cause inflammation? I’ll make it easy for you — just read the Primal Blueprint. If that’s not enough, go do some research. And in most cases, medicine is not necessary if you are exercising and eating the right things. However, medicine is certainly necessary in a variety of disease states or situations.

    Sterling wrote on June 14th, 2009
  32. Jack – Actually my company is one of the good guys (I spoke of BIG Pharma in my story. You could lump Mark in with the greedy, mass-marketed supplement industry – be he’s not one of them, he’s different. And while this is his living, I believe he truly cares about people and believes that the PB is the best way to live your life). My company actually wants to help people with their diabetes. Our medicine helps you lose weight and lower your blood sugar. A big part of what we do is talking to diabetes educators and dieticians about nutrition and exercise. The issue is that most patients don’t want to work for it, they want the easy way out & so the medical community gives it to them. Much of this driven by drug companies and by insurance companies. Insurance companies won’t reimburse you for helping them fix their diet & helping them exercise, so it becomes a fiscal issue.

    Now, obviously I think it’s best to do it without medicine, because you do it the ‘right way’ and you do it long-term without ‘quick fixes’.

    And as far as my career, my journey has brought me to the place of my employment and that’s where I am for now. I don’t apologize for what I do and I do it with integrity and sincerity. I also have a family of 7 to support and would love to support them with a career in health & fitness if that ever presented itself.

    I know (but very few do) that you can beat type 2 diabetes/insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome without diabetes medicine…unless you are in need of temporary, emergency insulin in cases of extreme hyperglycemia. And obviously, type 1 diabetics have no choice because their pancreas produces no insulin.

    Sterling wrote on June 14th, 2009
  33. Reading this type of story literally makes me feel a lot more positive. That story was highly motivating and I’m very happy for your success. Andy.

    ajmeacock wrote on June 15th, 2009
  34. PS – I just looked at the pictures again, incredible, what an improvement.

    ajmeacock wrote on June 15th, 2009
  35. Lisa: Wow! I feel sorry for you. And of course I created a calorie deficit: THAT’S THE ONLY WAY TO LOSE BODY FAT. That’s exactly what most people either don’t ‘get’ OR they don’t want to ‘get’, i.e. act of that very fact. Eat less, move more, lose weight. They want an easy way out.

    I’m sorry that you have chosen to respond in such an immature manner. Just go do some research. Cutting out unhealthy processed foods has a dramatically positive effect on one’s health and immune system. I have severe allergies and by cutting out those things, diseases such as asthma go away. And when I was living in an unhealthy way I was blessed to have medical care and I was ever-grateful for adrenaline shots, nebulizers, and steroids. But guess what? I doesn’t have to be that way. I’ll choose to make this my last communication with you.

    I think I can speak for all us here. Why are you on this site?

    Sterling wrote on June 15th, 2009
  36. I don’t see them here, but I got two emails with comments from Jason saying that Lisa is correct in that there’s no cure for asthma. He also requested that we get our information from peer reviewed and credible sources.

    Here’s a double blinded study that showed omega-3 fatty acids to reduce bronchial inflammation in asthmatics after being exposed to a known allergen.

    http://content.karger.com/produktedb/produkte.asp?typ=fulltext&file=000170386

    I’m by no means an expert on asthma, but it’s pretty well established that inflammation is a big part of it. It’s also pretty well established that food sensitivities (which are quite common) aggravate the immune system and cause inflammation. As such, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that food can exacerbate asthma symptoms, and in turn, that avoiding certain foods can prevent or reduce them.

    Perhaps this is a matter of semantics. If someone is genetically susceptible to asthma, I agree that it’s probably impossible to change that. However, if an unhealthy lifestyle triggers asthma symptoms in such a person while a healthy lifestyle keeps the symptoms at bay, then whether or not you call it a “cure” doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that it successfully improved someone’s health and well being, and that’s exactly what Sterling’s story is about.

    The point here not to imply that there’s a cure for asthma, but rather that a healthy lifestyle often causes the symptoms of many medical conditions to disappear. If you’d like to label this as “outgrowing” poor health, then that’s fine too. ;)

    Unfortunately, Lisa is right that a majority of doctors would disagree with this. Perhaps it’s because many doctors know very little about healthy living or nutrition and are educated in a system that is funded by the drug industry. How do I know this? Because time and time again, in my reading, I come across MDs who admit it.

    By the way, the book I cited earlier that describes how dehydration can cause asthma was written by an MD and peer reviewed as well.

    Vin - NaturalBias wrote on June 15th, 2009
  37. Sterling – you’re an inspiration! I’m struggling with some of the same things you did. But you show that yes, even though we can try and fail, there is a way out! Your success is so inspiring, it’s going to get me off the couch and *doing* something about it. Keep it up!

    Michael wrote on June 15th, 2009
  38. Awesome story! But I too think you should look for a new job. “I have a family of 7″ is an EXCUSE to take the easy route and stay where you are. Its not easy to get a new job, or start a new career, or a new buisness. But it’s doable. If you can change your eating habits you can change your job. :)

    Fixed Gear wrote on June 17th, 2009
  39. Sterling,
    WOW!! What an incredible transformation!! I, too, started with P90X. I guess I never watched long enough after the workouts to see Mark talking about nutrition, but I’m glad I found him when I did. Congrats on all your success. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing your inspiration.

    Clint wrote on June 17th, 2009
  40. Mark knows what he is talking about!
    Great Job Sterling!!!!
    I am a BeachBody Coach and I hope anyone who reads your story can understand that “they can do it too”!!!
    They have to put away the excuses and get busy!!
    Sincerely, FitLikeTerri.com

    Terri McCann wrote on June 18th, 2009

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