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

Primal Evolution: Change Within Weeks, Transformation in Mere Months

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!

Hi Mark,

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma!

I’ve been debating sharing my success story, as I’m not really one to “toot my own horn.” However, I’ve thought about how others might benefit from hearing it – so here goes!

I was a very active kid and teenager growing up and liked to play a variety of sports (baseball being my favorite). Throughout middle and high school I tried my hand competitively at baseball, soccer, basketball, golf, and some recreational distance running. I always enjoyed being known for my speed, although not so much for my athletic abilities ;). Much of the reason I was fast was because I was very slender (about 135 lbs at 6’ tall). My freshman year of college I continued to stay active by playing intramural softball, and even some skateboarding. As my college years went on my activity level declined some, but I was still able to manage the same body image and general level of health, for the most part. Additionally, being a college kid, I never worried about what I ate or drank.

I took a full-time job (with the Tulsa Drillers, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) in Tulsa after college and moved from upstate NY to begin my career at age 22. For the first few years here I drank often (mostly beer after games), but for six months to a year drank a few too many Jack and Cokes. Boy did my body change! During this time I also struggled with terrible/debilitating back spasms. Finally two years ago (at age 25) I had enough of the back problems and began to do some cardio and some strength exercises to try and help combat the problem.

Last year, about a month before Thanksgiving, I discovered your blog by happenstance, and ordered your book The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation. My views on health, diet, and working out all changed from that point forward. I went from weighing 180 lbs to my present day 150 in a matter of a few months. (I was heaviest at 195-200 lbs in 2010 (above).) I truly enjoy clean eating, and working out now.

This is how it happened: Since I had already incorporated some exercise into my routine, the next step was to begin eating correctly. It was amazing to learn (initially through your book, then through my own additional research) how the food we eat reacts in our bodies. I cut out SAD foods, bread, pastas, most processed foods, etc., and noticed a change in my body within a few weeks.

Once I felt I had a grasp on eating correctly I began Primal Essential Movements regularly. From there I realized I really enjoyed challenging myself with weightlifting. There’s no better feeling than being able to increase strength through hard work. I’ve continued to lift weights 5-7 days a week, and have continued to make strength gains. I recently completed a 50-day pullup challenge! 1,785 pullups in 50 days. First day begin with 10, second day do 11, and so on until you get to 60.

My diet is pretty boring now, really; my staples are eggs, bacon, steak, chicken, broccoli, asparagus, fish, and bananas. I don’t try cooking much, so these things are easy for me. Although, I have tried a few of the Primal Blueprint user submitted recipes. I particularly enjoyed Almond Banana Pancakes and Omelet Muffins. I use quite a bit of the following: organic whole butter, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, and almond butter sparingly. Occasionally I will drink organic whole milk with my Primal Fuel after a workout. The biggest challenge for me is eating enough vegetables, so I’ve begun to try and incorporate more of those in my diet (e.g. blending kale into my protein shakes). I supplement each meal with a protein shake (three per day). Occasionally I will add raw eggs to the shakes, and regularly add a bit of olive oil in each one.

I like to experiment from time to time with eating, and have found that I really like the LeanGains approach to meal timing. (Eat from 1 PM-9 PM, fast from 9 PM-1 PM). One of the reasons I like the approach is because I enjoy working out in the morning while in a fasted state (tons of energy typically!).

The biggest challenge I faced when making the switch to Primal was pizza. I really, really like pizza, so not eating pizza is tough! Mainly the hardest part for me is continuing to eat correctly. I don’t really know anyone else in my life who eats like I do. At work there are always cakes, cookies, etc., around. When eating at restaurants people sometimes find it hard to believe that I don’t want the loaf of bread or the baked potato with my meal. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these foods (hell, I like everything), I just choose not to eat them, and do what’s right for me. It sounds very selfish, but I’m not really concerned with what other people think I should be doing. A lot of people say that I don’t have any “fun” anymore because I choose to not go out drinking each weekend. My idea of fun is bettering myself, and continuing to learn what it takes to get stronger and healthier. I want to live a long life!

Mark, I’ve shared your book with family members, and co-workers. Reading it was the spark I needed to fuel the now fat-burning machine that is my body. Thank you!


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. Although looks are not the primary reason we embark on this way of life and (for many) it’s about the way we *feel*…these were my reactions to your pictures as I read through this article:

    First two-Oh he’s cute!
    Next one-He looks good!
    Next two-Oh wow, he’s starting to get that sexy little line off his hip…
    Last two-Well hot damn there it is!

    Vanity aside, great story and congrats! I’ve also started cutting back on the going out on weekends. Many times I’ll go and either not drink or have a whiskey and water, but that is quickly starting to lose its appeal when my time is better spent on workouts, resting, or even reading. I’m just waiting for the comments from friends to start, telling me I’m “no fun.” They don’t realize that I’m still the same fun person, I just don’t have an interest in their type of fun anymore.

    Keep up the good work!

    StaceFace wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Glad to hear that I’m not the only one who struggles with the issue of drinking/going out, etc.

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  2. Does anyone have that recipe for cauliflower-cheese crusted primal pizza for the pizza-cravers here? I have it somewhere, can’t find it. People are very enthusiastic about it.

    Oh and nice work man!

    Merel wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Mike, I am super impressed with your results of following a healthy lifestyle. I hope you are ignoring the guys saying you are no fun; I am going to bet the girls you meet are disagreeing with them! Keep up the great work!!

      I have a cauliflower crust recipe that I have tweaked several times, it is now really yummy and very “pizza crust-like” in texture as well as taste:

      Take one head of cabbage and shred/grate, then microwave ½ the head for 8 minutes on high, uncovered and without adding any water. Repeat with second ½ and allow to cool.

      Preheat baking stone in oven to 375 degrees
      Whisk together:
      3 eggs
      2 tsps garlic powder
      1 tsp black pepper
      1 tsp sea salt
      1 tsp oregano
      3 TBSP almond flour
      3 TBSP coconut flour
      ½ cup parmesan cheese

      Stir in cooled cauliflower until well mixed.
      Remove stone from oven and spray liberally with olive oil

      Press ½ the cauliflower mixture onto the center of the stone and carefully press down and shape into crust until @ 1 inch border of stone is all that you can see of the edge. Remember stone is very hot and will burn you! Use wooden spoon to smooth edge of crust as you are pressing out circular shape.

      Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, remove from oven. Apply your choice of pizza toppings, and bake until cheese is melted (about 10 minutes). Repeat with remaining cauliflower mixture to make second pizza

      Hope you like it, my family and friends have all been amazed to learn the crust was primarily cauliflower, it really is great!


      Rae wrote on August 5th, 2012
  3. Good to hear of a fellow Okie going Primal. Keep up the good work and you are a shining example of how well this works

    Jeff wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  4. Congrats on your success! Regarding pizza, I always feel terrible after eating the regular stuff, too much bread!
    However, I recently tried using almond flour cracker as the crust (MDA has a good recipe for this,) and it was yummy. I add Italian spices and parm cheese to the cracker crust too. Toppings include tomato sauce, spinach, bell peppers, feta,some shredded mozzarella and ground beef, etc. Bake until bubbly. YUM and primal!

    Arlene wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  5. Misery loves company. In my family if you don’t eat the donut you’re not only crazy and boring, you’re not part of the team…Team Muffin Top!

    While I can’t say I have felt selfish about saying NO to eating their trashy modern food, I have felt anger that it’s pushed on my husband and especially the kids! But my kids eat liver…theirs eat chicken nuggets!

    Time works everything out…and in the future while all the “fun people” are being spoon-fed MSG soup in their nursing homes, we’ll still be active, healthy and smiling because we took the steep, narrow, rocky path to awesomeness.

    BTW…I concur with the other cougars here…meow. This coug has already caught her morsel, and she’s buying him this book today thanks to this post! He’s slender and beautiful…but muscles rock. 😉
    Awesome success story!

    Kim wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • “…we took the steep, narrow, rocky path to awesomeness.”

      +10!! (And doesn’t this path have just delicious scenery!?)

      Elenor wrote on August 4th, 2012
  6. Thanks Mike for the giving the rest of us affirmation that this lifestyle is worth all the efforts of working out and changing our eating patterns. You look terrific and it is very evident that you feel great about yourself. Life is ment to be enjoyed not “dedicated” to the needs and wants of others…I’m working through the same issues of coping with others not respecting my choice to no longer poison my life with breads, pasta, etc. Keep up the great work and love to see more pics as you continue to progress.

    Stacy wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  7. As far as everyone talking about alcohol, I’ve actually found that this is just fine for me… I still get pretty hammered on the weekend with roommates… I just don’t eat dinner that night if I’m drinking, so I don’t have to drink as much to get fuzzy, and I stick to red wine and clear liquors and STAY AWAY from junk food.

    Actually, I often make an entire package of bacon toward the end of the night when we start to sober up and go home-ALWAYS a hit with drunk people!!!

    Primal_Libertarian wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • And when we make bacon, we pour the grease into shot glasses and drink it, lolol. It’s pretty easy to convert people to TBP after they see me with my health food B-)

      Primal_Libertarian wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Agreed. I’ve cut back on drinking, but still drink a few glasses of wine a week, and get pretty hammered every few months (the reason it’s not every weekend anymore is not for health reasons, but mostly life/responsibility reasons). When I was still in school a few years ago, I would drink fairly often, and eat well/exercise hard the rest of the time. Really it comes down to what you *want* to do. When it gets to the point that you just don’t WANT to drink anymore (or get totally wasted), because you’d honestly rather read a book or workout or whatever, then I think that’s the time to stop. It should come naturally, and not feel like too much of a sacrifice.

      Michelle wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • I agree Michelle. That is essentially how I feel about it, although I had never quite put those words together. Thanks for helping me do so for when I explain it to other folks!

        Kevin A Goldman wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • Yep yep! You’re far more likely to stick with it for life if you allow yourself to still live life!

        Primal_Libertarian wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Awesome! I only happened to do that exact thing once before, but it was a hit the, too (cooked a whole pack of bacon after drinking!). Coincidentally, a friend who also talk about eating in a more paleodiet fashion was there and suggested taking shots of the bacon grease (no one did though!)

      As far as drinking alcohol, I think I had good success continuing to change my body composition last year (based on visual only) even while drinking but eating quite primal much of the time.

      I like the coincidences!

      Kevin A Goldman wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • Heheh, try the bacon grease shots. It feels weird going down the first time but it’s awesome!

        Primal_Libertarian wrote on August 3rd, 2012
        • I’ll keep it in mind :)

          Kevin A Goldman wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  8. T-Town Groks UNITE!

    Lookin’ good!

    Sophie wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Livin on Tulsa time!

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  9. Nice effort! The only thing I would recommend is to take some cooking classes or do other things to help yourself enjoy cooking and eating your own food more. If you limit your diet too much, you’ll burn out quickly or else eating will just become a chore. Transitioning to the primal diet has been pretty easy for me so far because I was already buying lots of fresh meats and veggies from good sources (and my wife has Celiac disease, so we had already cut back on grains). I agree that the hardest part is fending off the avalanche of non-primal foods that are so prevalent. I restaurants, even when I request sliced veggies instead of bread to go with an otherwise primal appetizer (like baba gannoush, olive tapenade, or a good cheese and cured meat plate), they almost always bring the veggies and the bread.

    MarkA wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Cooking classes seem like a good idea. I do get burnt out at times since I don’t cook much (during the baeball season it’s common to put in 80 hour work weeks). I do a lot of grilling when I’m actually home. Once the season is over I’ll give cooking a chance.

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  10. Congratulations on your journey, Mike, it’s incredible.

    As someone with a similar story, I will say that finding veggies was hard, but once I found the veggies that I like, it’s a lot easier to incorporate them. My biggest tip would be find yourself a farmer’s market and start looking around there for staples you may normally use, then branch out.

    While I don’t love big plates of veggies, finding different snackable veggies has proven to be a huge help. And they are really filling.

    Clearly though, you don’t need too much help. Keep it up, dude!

    Jeff wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  11. Way to go Mike! I’ll throw in my Cougar Call on this one too….you are looking hot!!!

    Krys wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  12. Good job! If only my son could be like you. He still likes to be like the boys But no beer. He has a few years to catch up to your age of wisdom. So there could still be hope.

    Debi wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  13. Great Going, Mike.
    And don’t worry about being “no fun” for not drinking. sooner or later it WILL catch up with you.
    My 46 year old neighbor is in ICU in Lourdes Hospital from drinking all his life. His liver started to fail about three months ago.They stuck a scope in his liver yesterday and found it has turned to mush.
    I am a 74 year old just starting out.
    Yesterday for lunch I had a can of sardines, a hard boiled egg, and a pint of blueberries.

    GROK ON!

    Fred wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  14. Wow…outstanding

    Elaine wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  15. Mike… Try a meat crust for the pizza cravings… Supposed to be a sweet trade out!

    Paul wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  16. Here’s what I’ve come to realize about the primal diet or any other diet for that matter. This is after a year and a half of training, perfect diet and research. Nothing works the same for “beginners” as it does for all these people that were fit as kids/teenagers and let there body go. You will
    Never get the same result as a beginner starting for the first time in your life as an adult. You can get there but it takes much longer and much stricter routines. This teaches me two things get your kids in shape so they have an easier time later in life and don’t expect it be as easy or work for that matter as a beginner adult.

    Tony wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Tony, I would’ve still considered myself a beginner even though I was fit as a teenager. Eating “correctly” never happened until I made the change (age 26). Additionally, it was, and continues to be hard work, even for a guy like me.

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • Sorry to be argumentative but this is not a beginners statement “I was a very active kid and teenager growing up and liked to play a variety of sports (baseball being my favorite). Throughout middle and high school I tried my hand competitively at baseball, soccer, basketball, golf, and some recreational distance running”

        Your muscle were built doing all that stuff as a kid. Had you not been that active, for example: a band member and eaten primal as that band member you would still have had a very low base of lean muscle mass. What do you think?

        Tony wrote on August 3rd, 2012
        • No worries, I didn’t think you were being argumentative. Tony, I guess I really can’t speak to if it’s easier for folks who played sports growing up as opposed to a band member. I really only have my own experience to go off of. I was just saying that it still wasn’t and isn’t easy for me; it takes work. Additionally, I probably lifted weights a maximum of ten times by the time I was 26, so this is all very new to me, hence saying I was a beginner.

          Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  17. Well Mike, I’ll have to check out the pictures when I have my laptop (when the content is not blocked)…seems you could have the start of a good cult following here! Even without pics, it sounds as though you have done well. Great job!

    Kevin A Goldman wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  18. Kick arss Mike- great job bro.

    By chance your still not a prospect in the Rox organization are you? If so they could use all the primal help they can get!

    EL wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • El, haha. Nope, I just work in baseball. You’re right though the Rox need some help!

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  19. Since so many people have mentioned it, here is the link to a meatza recipe at

    Sounds good! :)

    Kevin A Goldman wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  20. If you really want pizza, try this almond flour recipe. Not like wheat, but WAY better than nothing.

    eatsleepswim wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  21. A while back, I found this recipe from a guy named Ben Kreps, who I think posted it here (and may be a member.) It’s the best Primal pizza recipe I’ve found, and I’ve tried a lot of them.

    Lee wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  22. I never tried putting olive oil or coconut oil in my protein shakes. What benefit does this provide? I can see coconut oil adding a bit of sweetness 😉

    Mr. P wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Well, I actually use coconut milk in my morning shakes so I assume it has nice fats with that too.

      Mr. P wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • Mr. P-coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides, which are rare in the SAD, and increase energy, plus they’re saturated, which means they won’t oxidize in your body like unsaturated fatty acids will. Plus, if I do a protein shake for breakfast with berries, coconut milk, raw chocolate powder and whey protein concentrate, I’m hungry again in a few hours, while if I add the coconut oil (fat) I do much, much better. Even with regularmeals, if I don’t add healthy fat in I get hungry too soon. If I eat high protein, low fat, I just don’t feel good. I’m trying to learn how to listen to my body.
        So try for yourself-eat a shake without any fat in it, then try the same recipe with some fat and compare how you feel. I love MDA for not teaching the one size fits all diet plan and encouraging us to take responsibility for ourselves and our health.
        And Mike-excellent job! Keep on keeping on !

        BJML wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  23. The world is fat and lazy. Do the opposite of what the world does, and you’ll be GREAT.

    JPizzay wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • I agree 100%. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with George using that concept successfully.
      Hi I’m George. I am unemployed and I live with my parents.

      Andrew wrote on August 4th, 2012
  24. Good to read your story Mike. I’ve worked in minor league baseball for 4 years now and going primal can be difficult with the hours and the free ballpark food all summer. I started eating primal about a year and a half ago and have lost about 25 lbs through just eating better. I need to start hitting the gym better so I can get cut up like you though. I will use your story as a mitivator. Thanks for sharing.

    bakeness wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Awesome to see a fellow Milb worker here. Yeah, just by changing eating habits really helped me as well. It helps that we get meals provided to us by our catering company. We typically at least have some sort of meat and vegetable available. What team do you work for, and is there an opportunity for you to workou at their facilities? A huge benefit to me is that we have a three year old stadium with a great weight room!

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
      • I work for the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA Mariners). We don’t really get to use the weight room at the stadium but we have a deal with the YMCA and all get free memberships there, just have to make sure I get myself to go consistently.

        bakeness wrote on August 4th, 2012
  25. Mike, has your back problem improved. I recommended a young friend to go Primal to help her back. So interested if yours did. Very nice pics:)

    Heather wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Heather, I used to have back spasms once every six months, no fail. The last I had was in May, which was a year and a half since the last. I really have to work on stretching, which I don’t do enough of. The squats seem to help as I strengthen lower body. I’m also trying to get a strong core, but its tough work! Long story short, yes my back has improved, but I’m afraid it may be something I struggle with my whole life.

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  26. You look amazing! Wow – great job in sticking to your guns (w/work, at restaurants, etc.!).

    Lucy wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  27. Great job Mike! Have you tried grilling vegetables? So good plus easy to do when you’re already grilling meat.. same with roasting.. try it!

    mars wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  28. Awesome story and so glad u shared it. I started reading and implementing the 21 day challenge about 10 days ago. So far so good. I do like my booze so for me a few glasses of red wine are a tough substitute for gin on the rocks but it’s all for the greater good.

    I hope to post a success story one day as well.

    Jason wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • I look forward to reading your story Jason!

      Mike wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  29. Since becoming part of MDA my neighbor and I have coined a new phrase. We no longer refer to people as “fat”, we say, “look at the carbs on that!”

    Fred wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  30. Regarding not eating pizza anymore, when my friends offer me pizza, I eat the toppings and leave the crust.

    The toppings are pretty much primal.

    Roger in Korea wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  31. Congrats on your success!

    sapphiric wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  32. Recently, when sharing my diet changes to another over-50 female about not eating grains like bread, tortillas, pasta, etc., she said, “But what else is there?”. Wow….

    Katydid wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  33. Too much older than you to say anything more than you look awesome. :)

    I’ve had a “meatsa” at Unos before; years ago. It was insanely good! Meat crust. Who knew? Worth a try.

    More teens and 20 somethings should be as motivated as you to be healthy and fit. Congratulations.

    Pam wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  34. You look terrific, well done!

    And here is my version of the pizza:
    -stir fry some bacon with peppers, onions garlic and a little stir fry sauce Kikkoman. Set aside.
    -make an omelette with 10 eggs, add some seasoning. Before it is done (still liquid in the center) take out of the stove.
    -top it with the stir fry items
    -add lots of whole chesse mozarella, decorate with some yellow cheese stripes
    -leave it to rest for one or two hours

    The end result looks like a kickass pizza and it tastes better, cut it in pieces and you can use it for a quick breakfast.

    Try it you will thank me later :-)

    WildGrok wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  35. Nice job Mike,

    Wondering what ur work-out routine looks like I follow the Leangains as well doing 3 strength training workouts a week:
    1. Squats, Bench, Dips
    2. Dead-lift, Pull-ups, Rows
    3. Squats, Press, Chins
    also mix in some yoga and if not too hungover on Sunday some 200 meter sprints.

    Andy wrote on August 3rd, 2012
    • Andy, I really mix things up quite a bit. But Saturday is my big upper body day. Bench press, incline bench press, shoulder presses, barbell pulls for deltoids, dips, triceps, and pullups. Sunday mornings I swim then dead lift and work abs. Throughout the week I’ll squat a few times, work core again, and do back and biceps day.

      Mike wrote on August 4th, 2012
  36. Good work, Mike! I do very well with IF myself. I usually eat between 12pm-9pm. I need to get the window down smaller but it’s sure better than many small meals like CW often suggests! I am 5′ 6″ and started at about 200lbs and I’m down around 140lbs now. (and I feel great!)

    Here’s a pizza solution that I don’t recommend all the time (lots of dairy) but it has no wheat and is a delicious treat for a special occasion:

    The “crust” is made from cheese and eggs.

    I hope this helps with your pizza desires!

    Alicia wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  37. I’m really really new to Paleo, and at times it’s super tough for me to cut out my SAD lifestyle… but reading this article really gives me the motivation I need to keep at it. You’re such an inspiration. Keep it up, hotty.


    Rosie wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  38. what’s wrong with potato?

    pam wrote on August 3rd, 2012
  39. You ‘toot’ away my friend. That’s a crazy transformation!
    Well done & congrats

    Sian wrote on August 4th, 2012

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