Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
August 09, 2013

Shift Your Body Fat to Reframe Your Life

By Guest
87 Comments

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!

Dear Mark,

First of all, a great thank you for your work and offering MDA as a constant flow of good Primal advice and inspiration!

My success with the Primal lifestyle has not been as straightforward as some of the other experiences shared here. I am a 26 year old German man, living in Scotland and I am married with two children (1 and 3 years old). I lived in Germany for the first 19 years of my life and in all that time, I think it is safe to say I had some form of processed carbohydrates for each meal. We have a very strong bread culture back home and whole wheat bread is considered the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Although I had some weight struggles as a young teen, due to too many sodas, I would have considered myself fit for the most part of my high school years. Two big influences on my understanding of fitness in my young adult life were my father and a nutrition class I took back in school. My dad is a sports teacher and thus he always encouraged me to do sports, but chronic cardio and strength training sessions lasting for well over an hour were considered a must. The nutrition class back in school was heavily based on Conventional Wisdom’s understanding of which foods are “scientifically” considered best for our bodies. As a result I ended up spending three days a week doing 3 hours of cardio interspersed with weight lifting machine workouts in the gym in my last two years in high school. However, I never saw all my efforts pay off. This was extremely frustrating to me, as I counted the calories I burned in my gym sessions (around 1,500 kcals on a good day) and I would only add an extra 1,000 kcal to my daily consumption, which in my mind left me with a significant caloric deficit. But I guess adding more hash browns and fruit juice to my evening meal might not have been a very smart move on my part!

Once I had completed high school, I left for a gap year to Scotland and subsequently started University there as well as working full-time. I had set myself the goal to get properly fit once and for all and my active work environment was definitely helpful (wood-chopping in the Scottish winter is one Primal workout!). However, Scotland provided several challenges in that regard with one being the local “cuisine”, where apart from Haggis, deep-fried pizza with fries on top as well as a deep-fried chocolate bar are considered local specialties. Another factor was that I met my wife there and a new relationship brought a lot of relaxing with comfort foods with it. Nevertheless, I kept looking for alternatives to my previous eating habits and started experimenting with a more vegetarian lifestyle. This, however, only resulted in me eating more often and being extremely sleepy after my carb-heavy meals. Once I started Uni in my second year in Scotland, I met a Norwegian guy and somewhere along the line he discovered MDA, fully absorbed the Primal lifestyle and had incredible results. Since he was constantly preaching about it, I thought I would give it a try. This was the time before The Primal Blueprint was published and I never fully read my way through it all at MDA, but took away the points of eating lots of veggies and meat. At the same time I experimented with Intermittent Fasting and had great success with that. But then, due to my busy lifestyle and daily commutes, I switched from eating veggies to fruit and low quality meats. Once that happened it was only a small step backwards to a CW lifestyle. With the stresses of an ever increasing Uni workload (I study Economics), more responsibilities at work with me and my wife taking on managerial positions, us having our first child as well as the preparations for our wedding, takeaway meals became more and more of a habit. I still visited MDA from time to time, but somehow I never properly adopted the PB lifestyle. At the time of our wedding, both me and my wife were working out in the gym around 3 times a week and tried to look our best (see pictures below), but somehow we looked even bigger than we did when we first met.

Wedding

Shortly after our wedding, my wife’s parents were in search of losing weight and they remembered me talking about the PB. So they went ahead, studied the books (from my Primal/Paleo library, which had been collecting dust for the past years), cleared out their pantry, stocked it with Primal approved foods and started exercising. Both of them had visible success within a couple of weeks and were highly enjoying their new lifestyle. This got me and my wife thinking and we made a promise to ourselves that we would do it together this time round, since we knew that being Primal definitely worked. Starting on January 1st 2013 we both shifted our exercise regimes, with me dropping my gym membership altogether, and we both ate Primal approved foods from then onwards.

Within six weeks I went from 200lbs at 6ft to 187lbs whilst dropping 4% of body fat and building muscle. I am now at 179lbs with 14% body fat, which is down from 21% measured at the start of our Primal transformation.

My wife went from 144lbs to 127lbs today whilst also losing 7% of body fat in the process.

Tobi and Harriet Emonts-Holley

For the past few months the shifts in our weight have been more gradual, but we find that we both have reached our ideal body composition, given that we are both working, looking after two toddlers at home and I am also studying full-time for a PhD at the same time. My wife is slimmer and fitter now than she was before she had kids. She often skips meals without even noticing it and her skin is glowing all the time now. For my part,  I have never been this fit in my life with my energy levels constantly being high. When I am asked what type of workout I do, I feel embarrassed to say that I do not follow any particular program. I do pull-ups, dips and push-ups on a daily basis, but never a completely fixed number or set of exercises. I do what I feel like, for example, when the weather in Scotland is not too wet and windy (remember this is a country where you can literally experience all three seasons: Fall, Winter and Spring in one day), I will strap on my 26lbs weight vest, one kid in a rucksack on the back and one in a sling in the front and go hiking in the hills for 30mins.

Tobi and KidsHaving said that, the flexibility that the Primal lifestyle allows us is the biggest benefit in my eyes. If we spent a few days without breaking a sweat then that’s ok. Equally, just having been on holiday in wonderful California, I am able to hike with the kids in the morning, rest at lunchtime in the sun and then go out kayaking with my boy. The Primal lifestyle is extremely individualistic and everybody can really just do what their bodies tell them and still get into fantastic shape. I feel I have much more energy for a wider variety of activities than especially in comparison to my gym-marathon times.

Another important revelation of our Primal journey has been that we need to pass on these eating and movement habits to our children, albeit them still being very young. It has been very interesting to see that both of them enjoy their Primal lunches of avocado, meat, cucumber and carrot sticks much more than the previously served good old wholegrain sandwich. Also, they both love beef jerky and we have now our own food dehydrator so we can make our own organic jerky. With our kids we have experienced much more stable energy levels with hardly any mood swings as well as our son showing a huge reduction in the eczema that he has been suffering from for nearly two years.

Finally, I wanted to share a thought with you that has accompanied me over the past half year. My life always seems to be very busy with a lot of demands. Especially with us having two young children, it got to a point where I was not too sure that I could manage it all. The transformation that both my wife and I have experienced, however, gave me a daily proof that anything is possible if we put our minds to it and the extra energy from our Primal lifestyle has led to a huge productivity boost. Having gone Primal has not simply shifted body fat for us, it has changed our enjoyment of life and we are hopeful that our story might help someone, who is not too sure about it all to simply give it a go and experience another Primal transformation along the way!

Thank you,

Tobi and Harriet Emonts-Holley

TAGS:  guest post

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

87 Comments on "Shift Your Body Fat to Reframe Your Life"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
PrimalParkGirl
3 years 1 month ago

Ah, this is a lovely success story! Glückwünsche to all the Emonts-Holley family.

harry p.
3 years 1 month ago

congrats!
great story and gorgeous kids; hats with animal ears on little kids always make me smile.

trackback

[…] It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily …read more […]

Charlotte
3 years 1 month ago

What a fantastic story, and what a gorgeous family!! that photo of you with the two kids strapped to you made me smile. And I’m glad to hear your son’s eczema is going away! Well done!

leida
leida
3 years 1 month ago

Sounds like you have found a great way of living!

I just wanted to ask if it was going back to CW or eating fruit that was a problem from the body comp wise? Did you have detrimental effects from just eating fruit in addition to/instead of vegetables, or they did not show up when you went back to CW, i.e. eating fruit was Okay?

[quote]But then, due to my busy lifestyle and daily commutes, I switched from eating veggies to fruit and low quality meats. Once that happened it was only a small step backwards to a CW lifestyle.[/quote]

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Hi,
the problem was that I just considered fruit to be ok and did not fully understand the impact too much fructose would have on my body. So I ate fruit without limits and that got my body back to a carb-burning mode and thus the slip back to CW eating style.
I have no problem eating fruit now, but obviously I moderate it now with two pieces per day on average.

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 1 month ago

Good explanation. I’m not big on veggies, and consider fruit to be an improvement over all the grains I was eating. Maybe I should pay closer attention to how much I’m getting.

Whitefox999
Whitefox999
3 years 1 month ago

I have gone through several phases of carb-fear and carb-loving, but in the end if you’re talking about specific real-food sources of carbs, fruit is not the enemy.

I would be astonished if you could overeat fructose from fruit unless you’re a fruitarian and eating little else – whether you’re talking about body composition or general health.

Ex: http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/08/6x-bananas-day-meta-analysis-lower.html
“low-dose fructose (?10g/meal) may benefit glycaemic control”

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 1 month ago

I love the photo of you with your kids! You guys look great and so happy! I am delighted for you and your family.

Paula
3 years 1 month ago

Exemplary story! Be proud, you’re doing it all, with no excuses – just being the best you can be for yourselves and to serve as the ultimate role models for your kids to follow.

Nick
Nick
3 years 1 month ago

I love the picture of you and your kids – you all look so happy! Congratulations and way to go 🙂

Stacey
3 years 1 month ago

This is so inspiring!

William
3 years 1 month ago

Stress free fun! That’s what it’s all about! Awesome that you guys chose to do whatever it took to get in shape and maintain that for your family! Life can get crazy so making exercise a priority is key no matter how or where you do it! Congrats on the success guys!

gibson
gibson
3 years 1 month ago

What a wonderful story. Thank you!

JennF
JennF
3 years 1 month ago

Sounds like you and your family have found the “sweet spot”. Congratulations!!

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Great way of putting it. Yes, it does feel like we have found the “sweet spot”. Once you know what to eat, how to listen to your body properly and not shy away from moving around it is just fun rather than a tedious program one has to follow

Grokesque
Grokesque
3 years 1 month ago

Well done to you and your lovely family – happy and healthy, who could ask for more?!

Myra
Myra
3 years 1 month ago

Love seeing you use your kids as part of your primal fitness! It’s just another example of how we can make primal living fit into whatever phase of life we are in. Congrats!

DP
3 years 1 month ago

WOW!! You both look great! Congratulations on your success and your lovely family

trackback

[…] Daily Apple / Posted on: August 09, 2013Mark’s Daily Apple – It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a […]

Julie
Julie
3 years 1 month ago

Wholesome! Please submit photos when you take your family to the Alps!

Erin
Erin
3 years 1 month ago

did you really eat haggis?

Erin
Erin
3 years 1 month ago

did you really eat haggis? also, congratulations! I love reading these success stories and especially nice to hear from those in different countries.

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Of course! Although Haggis is not really Primal given all the grains in it, it is absolutely delicious!!

Alexandra
3 years 1 month ago

You guys look so Happy and Healthy ! Gorgeous! Beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

Linda A. Lavid
3 years 1 month ago

In hardly anytime at all. Change, if you choose, is right around the corner. Wonderful story!!

Joe
Joe
3 years 1 month ago

Congrats on the success! Beautiful kids too!

trackback

[…] 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 […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

James
3 years 1 month ago

Nice work, Toby and Harriet. A very inspirational story for those who think they are too busy to stick with the PB. Grok on!

Peggy
Peggy
3 years 1 month ago

best.weightvest.ever!

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

I just don’t know what to do if we had a third child…

Scott UK
Scott UK
3 years 1 month ago

Haggis rocks!

Alison Golden
3 years 1 month ago

No, it doesn’t. 🙂

Froggy
Froggy
3 years 1 month ago

Eine wunderbare Erfolgsgeschichte! Sie und Ihre Kinder sind sehr niedlich! Glueckwuenche!

Alison Golden
3 years 1 month ago

Congratulations to all of you. It is wonderful you have found, as someone said earlier, your “sweet spot”, especially in Scotland where it is all too easy to curl up and eat comfort food. Deep-fried Mars Bars are too frightening to behold but you have gone way beyond the norm and hopefully are encouraging others around you with your example. Great job! And your wife looks a beautiful “wee lassie.” 🙂

Julie
Julie
3 years 1 month ago

Congratulations! Reading your success is motivating me to get back on track food-wise, and put the fun back into my fitness routine. Thanks for sharing.

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Thanks, this is what we hoped our story might achieve. Inspiring even a single person to get back on track makes all the more worthwhile!

Moshen
Moshen
3 years 1 month ago

You tried to go vegetarian in Scotland, up near the Arctic Circle?! That must have been a miserable experience.

Gratuliere on the Primal success you’re having!

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Well, luckily it is not too close to the Arctic Circle although it might feel like it at times. But you are right, especially when it is cold outside and the wind sucks the heat right out of your body, you need some good fat energy rather than any other energy source!

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 1 month ago

You lazy bum, get back to the gym–2 hours of treadmill!

Kidding of course–great story very well told. You two are fortunate, and perhaps even more so are your kids–way to go!

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

I am sorry, I will set up a new gym membership straight away!

Yes, we feel most passionate about our children’s health now. But it seems that we needed to experience the immense benefits first ourselves before we could truly see the amazing power of the Primal lifestyle. We will never go back to the CW lifestyle and I hope my kids will stay right on course for their lives too.

Hilary
3 years 1 month ago

I love reading these transformation stories!

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 1 month ago

You both make it look so easy when we know that a busy life + two children + new country + school = lots of extra focus and energy. Best of luck to the four of you!

Tom T.
3 years 1 month ago

Great story. Most people who diet don’t realize why it doesn’t work. Lifestyle changes that you can sustain are the way to go and you two prove that. Well done.

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Hi everybody,

thank you so so much for all those wonderful, warm and supportive comments! We are thrilled that our story has been shared here on MDA, and one of the most amazing parts of it has been this, your feedback. We love being part of the Primal community! Thank you all!

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 1 month ago

great transformation! you both looked great on your wedding day, and now, you’re even healthier! i love how this is a whole-family thing for you, and that you have more energy for LIFE now.

Lisa T
Lisa T
3 years 1 month ago

So how did the in-laws do? Are they still Primal?

You all look incredibly happy and healthy. That’s the biggest reward, I think: happiness and health.

Tobias
3 years 1 month ago

Well, they seem to have experienced a similar fall back to CW as I had. So I am hoping that this story now inspires them in turn again, that way we keep up the good life altogether!

HillyM
HillyM
3 years 1 month ago
Love your story, congratulations and thanks for telling us about your success. You guys all look so happy and fit. Perhaps by the time you have another child (?) your eldest will be trotting along side of you, bursting with his own energy for walking, and you will still carry the other two. Isn’t it amazing how these stories make the world feel so small – I sit in Melbourne Australia, reading about a German guy, living in Scotland, who follows the principles of a guy in the USA. Gotta love the internet. And yes, how did the in-laws go… Read more »
Lauren
Lauren
3 years 1 month ago
Doesnt it? I am an Aussie, living in Edinburgh Scotland, who has been thinking and researching a Primal way of living for the past 18 months and who has been struggling to fully commit to the lifestyle for the past month. I am so sick of feeling bloated and tired from all these grains (not to mention the digestive issues I have experienced for the past 10 years (and I’m only 24) which have really gotten me down). Tobi, you and your wife’s story has inspired me to put down the deep fried mars bars and haggis and to make… Read more »
Tobias
3 years 1 month ago
Hi Lauren, thanks for your comment! I feel there is a case to be made for a “Northern Primal Community”, as I think that it is certainly harder to find the ‘sweet spot’ up here. Having been to California just a few weeks ago, we found staying active outdoors and not requiring comfy foods against the cold are much easier. My experience is that you need to build up some mental toughness to really be able to turn down the bread at the beginning of a meal out or try to navigate your way through dinners at work/conferences. Also, being… Read more »
Karo, Scotland
Karo, Scotland
3 years 1 month ago

Congratulations, what a beautiful family you have, looks like we will be starting as a family over the weekend, have dabbled myself, and you have proved that you can do it in Scotland with our weather, thank you for the inspirational story Tobi, all the very best for your future in Bonnie Scotland.

FrancescaCBY
FrancescaCBY
3 years 1 month ago

What does Grokette Harriet do for fitness? She lost close to 20 lbs and looks amazing! Does her workout “routine” differ from yours (e.g., does she sprint, lift weights, etc.)? Does she eat the same things as you do? 🙂

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago
Hi, her workout routine is quite different from mine. I walk a lot, do bodyweight exercises and kettlebells sporadically. She does a lot of Pilates, Yoga and Zumba. We found that having fun with your workout is the top priority! She felt that she wanted to lose weight rather than lose muscle, but I think the fear of bulking up has gone away now and she has started incorporating bodyweight exercises into her workout routines as well. We do eat the same thing most of the time, but I do eat more. That results in me having either bigger portions… Read more »
George
George
3 years 1 month ago

Congratulations on the great transformation Tobi and Harriet! A healthy lifestyle is definitely a journey, at first a lot of ups and downs with your experiments, then once you get into a groove things level out a bit more and you tweak here and there. In a nutshell … eliminating grains, compressing your eating schedule, some exercise and recreation, and living life with joy really seem to be the biggies in terms of a big impact on your health.

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Thanks George.
As you and others have said, joy/happiness is definitely the key! When you love what you eat and how you move, living a fit and healthy life is simply a bi-product!

Karo, Scotland
Karo, Scotland
3 years 1 month ago

Tobi, I have a question about dairy, is it a yes or a no for you guys, if its a yes, how much?

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago

Hi,
dairy is a yes for us. I personally love cheese, but I have found that it needs to be consumed in real moderation. Haloumi on a BBQ is fantastic, but definitely not a daily basis. With the kids it is different, as they love their milk, and we get it from a family farm, so quality is very good. Unfortunately, it is really hard to get any raw dairy products here, which makes me want to put a cow and a goat in my backgarden!

Annakay
Annakay
3 years 1 month ago

Unfortunately it is illegal to sell raw milk in Scotland. I wish the law could be changed as I love cheese, yogurt and double cream but they don’t love me and I might be able to tolerate the raw milk products. Many congratulations on your achievements.

Karo, Scotland
Karo, Scotland
3 years 1 month ago

Thanks Tobi, really useful to get tips from you, thank you, will source some good quality milk locally, great post, beautiful family.

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 1 month ago
Amazing story! Loved reading it and I hope this will be my family this time next year. I’ve had similar experience of cronic cardio and just generally trying to starve myself because I nothing will shift the weight. A ‘good’ day (in my warped cardio munching dieting days) would be a bowl of cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast, a slice of toast with low fat margarine & and apple for lunch, a low fat yogurt for a snack and a small bowl of pasta with chicken and a low fat sauce, and salad with low fat dressing for dinner!!!!… Read more »
Tobi
3 years 1 month ago
Thank you Jenny, this is one awesome comment! I really hope that you and your family will find a way in your lives to adopt the Primal lifestyle as it is so rewarding and positively life transforming. We find that if our kids have had a couple of days of not being fully Primal, all their old symptons (especially skin related) come back. But then again it is reassuring to know that once you get back on that horse, it will be all good again. We have also notices behavioural differences in our kids. Their mood is so much more… Read more »
geckotreefrog
geckotreefrog
3 years 1 month ago
I really enjoyed your story too. I understand the concerns with having a child with ADHD. I have a 20 year old son w/ ADHD (Inattentive) and Asperger’s syndrome. Primal Does help, & it’s great that your daughter is experiencing the improvements firsthand. it is much easier & effective for kids to be raised primal than to try & change an established lifestyle/ foods that aren’t good for them. I wish I had known about Primal living much sooner, because my son is resistant to change, loves sugar, and dislikes physical activity. So, I do my best to teach him,… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
3 years 1 month ago
I, too, was really inspired to read your story and it was rather timely too. I have been completely Primal since the end of May this year and have lost 20lbs so far which is very pleasing but the biggest revealation of all is the stabilising of my mood. Just recently I had got into the habit of eating one large fruit meal a day. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was leading me towards more carbs – mostly potatoes. Anyway, I fell off the Primal wagon big time yesterday and carbed out. I felt a little… Read more »
Nathan
Nathan
3 years 1 month ago

Using the kids for a workout, I love it.
Congratulations!

Sally
Sally
3 years 1 month ago

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and making such thoughtful comments and answers to reader questions! Your family is just beautiful. I’m hoping it will inspire me to turn back from my own fall back to the dreaded CW. Congratulations on all that you have achieved!

Tobi
3 years 1 month ago
Thank you so much!! As I said before, your comments are just amazing and inspiring, so thank you thank you! Using kids as a workout tool or planning your workout around your kids is really essential I found. I obviously cannot do kettlebell swings with the kids around, but I can use my rings for some pull exercises, whilst my kids climb on top of me for some extra weight. I feel all of you will do just fine, you have realised that you fell off the wagon somehow and you also know that you would feel better being Primal.… Read more »
Emma
3 years 1 month ago

I do love the Friday success stories, but this one in particular struck a chord as I live in Scotland too. Congratulations both; you look incredible.

I agree with you and others who have commented here that our location does make Primal life a little more challenging – I’m just contemplating a walk, but the rain is really heavy today – and it can be hard to get your Vitamin D from the sun as it doesn’t make too many appearances. But we are lucky enough to have access to incredible meat and fish, so pluses and minuses.

Jessica
Jessica
3 years 1 month ago

How tall is your wife??

wpDiscuz