The “Aha” Moment: When Clarity Happens and Real Change Begins

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!

My wife Amy and I have been married for 14 years, we have 2 wonderful boys, I have a great job, and a nice home in a quaint city, and over the years we have been slowly falling apart.

I’m the kind of guy that carries his weight well, that’s what I’ve been told. I was active all my young life, track, football, martial arts, I could eat anything and burn it off and I always preached the best way to stay fit was exercise; the rest will take care of itself.

Amy was an average weight tomboy kid, an overweight teen and then leaned out again her senior year of high school. She played ice hockey and roller hockey in a men’s league and started to rebuild overweight self-esteem issues. Her weight loss was short lived though once she moved away from home. As a young adult in a new town alone, she returned to boredom eating. Stopping at the grocery on Friday nights after work and picking up a frozen pizza, doughnuts, and ice cream to get through a lonely weekend.

When we met in 1997. I was skinny, I was stressed and unhappy and she changed all that. Being young at heart and mind, our 16 year age difference didn’t concern me. We set up house and that’s when life started to get good. I’m a chef by profession and I’ve been told I show my love through food, by the time our first son arrived; we looked like a whole lotta love. All through her pregnancy I cooked every comfort food in my repertoire, she extreme couponed stacks of Hamburger Helper and junk foods, and I would do my magic with fresh veggies and tomato sauces, pasta 5 times a week was not unheard of and bread was usually on the menu in some form every day. My “sympathy pregnancy weight” ballooned to 225  lbs and Amy hit 250+, but we were happy, remember? We avoided mirrors and settled in with comfy pants with New Year’s resolutions in the back of our minds, until we had a picture snapped of us with our new born son at a Christmas party. It was not us, it was two people in fat suits. Our son was diagnosed with autism at 15 months old which was just another stressor added as we tried to figure out how to cope.

We spent the next 10 ten years yo-yo’ing up and down the scale. When we would try diets, I was insistent that too much sugar was our issue and Amy felt that it was too many carbs – neither us of agreeing with the other at the same time. So we would start off on our separate diets at the same time and inevitably end up sabotaging each other within a week or two – over and over. A second pregnancy and another son diagnosed on the autistic spectrum plus moving our household 5 times for various reasons over the years all factored in as well. I finally moved out of the kitchen and into a management “suit and tie position” where I suddenly found myself in front of a computer and now even the exercise of running around a kitchen had stopped and my weight tipped the 200 mark… again.

The insurance plan I was enrolled in required a physical and I secretly looked forward to it because I had started to feel something was wrong, I felt like I was closer to 70 years old rather than 50. I had problems getting out of bed, hangovers were worse, and I really felt like death warmed over most of the time. My fears were confirmed and my doctor read me the riot act about making changes in my life, so Amy and I made a plan, yeah the New Year’s resolution diet…two weeks later…5 lbs gained..back to drawing board.

February 2011 we came across your site touting a new way of thinking about how our body works and the word “diet”, and it struck a beautiful chord with us. Up until now I had always thought weight loss was all about exercise, and our new way of thinking became about what we put into our body, and sugar AND bad carbs was at the crux of it all. We tossed everything in the house that said sugar, corn syrup, or had any grain in it, and if wasn’t fresh it hit the trash.

Co-workers were less than supportive at first, lots of funny looks, scratching heads, rolling eyes, the laughter and “yeah right, caveman” comments flew everywhere. They offered up cake and candy like body snatcher pods to tempt me back into the fold on a daily basis. The headaches were non-stop; I carried 3 types of aspirin to experiment with for the dull thump of sugar withdrawal.

Life at home was much different and that made all the difference. With all the crap out of the pantry (except the kids SAD food) we had the beginnings of a culinary playground and Amy had recipes and fresh foods waiting for me when I walked in the door. All at once another positive, my creative side renewed itself, it was almost like a market basket competition from culinary school every day, and I had to find new and creative ways to make good food without sugar, bread or opening a box. We purchased several books with great recipes and experimented with eliminating or substituting SAD ingredients with Primal whole foods; it was easy and tasted great. We also started photographing and posting pictures online and the kudos from the paleo community were always welcome.

The weeks ticked by quickly and the first 30 days ended, and instead of feeling like Lent was over it felt more like jumping off the high dive, the headaches were long gone, food tasted better, my mood had improved, and I was pissing off the candy crowd. The fat suit was still wrapped around me but I felt lighter, quicker, and faster. I wasn’t having the 2:00 PM snooze desires anymore. I was actually thinking about how I could be spending my empty minutes…exercising? We added sack time and with only a few exceptions religiously cut off electronics and TV at curfew for a nine hour sleep date every night.

I think it was right about the 6-month mark was the beginning of my “aha” moment. We were eating fresh/ organic foods, grass-fed meats when we could, I was exercising at least 3 times a week, our SCOBY was getting thick and the kombucha recipe was perfect. The pictures of us were showing different people, but we were changing, too. A renewed interest in how we cared for each other and our kids was beginning to find its way into our home, and problems at work didn’t piss me off, I just solved them. I smiled more, a helluva lot more. Everything we had read was coming true and weight/diet wasn’t important anymore. We still wanted to look good naked, but everything else we were doing became the focus and weight became the by-product. We had been sitting on our asses getting heavier and letting life slip away from us, no longer wanting to fight back, and that was taking its toll on every aspect of our lives.

I can say for a fact that this past year and a half has been one of the most exciting years of my life, doors have been opened in more ways than I can say here, and I only see it getting better for the rest of our lives. I wanted to be fit and happy at 50, instead I was sick and depressed. At 53 now, I consider myself to be healthier than most 25 year olds I know and I’m still getting stronger every day. Amy looks radiant, I can’t keep my eyes off her and she grows younger and more beautiful every time I look at her. As a couple we have turned our lives around completely, and we live fearlessly now knowing we can face any challenges thrown our way (look out Mudders and CrossFitters). I can’t think of any more perfect way to spend the rest of our lives together, eating well, playing and exercising, and loving each other and our kids.

Thanks Mark for all your help and wise words, and thanks to this wonderful community we’ve become part of, I know we’ll spend our lives “Paleoing it forward” until everyone gets it like we did.

Ed Smith

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  1. OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. ME TOO!! This is proof that you can actually grow YOUNGER as you age! Very impressive and so inspiring!!

    1. What Notch said!!!!! Phenomenal You Two!!!!

      Darling kids, too.

  2. You guys look amazing! Good work! I was curious if your kids have made the transition to Primal yet as well?

    1. I was wondering the same, especially since paleo/primal diets have been shown in some cases to have positive effects on autism symptoms (and certainly no negative ones that I know of) – you’d think they would be ALL OVER switching their kids’ diets as well.

      1. Yeah paleo also helped with my ADD; I think what helps a lot with any and all mental issues are from the carb-control that does 2 things:
        1) no more reactive hypoglycaemia & compensation adrenaline spikes that mess with your thinking processes;
        2) insulin spikes also temporarily boost glutamate which over-excites your brain (until your brain turns some of it into GABA which calms you again)
        incidentally, MSG is literally sodium + glutamate.

        Also it’s possible that things like food colourings may play a role so paleo can fix that too (I did an experiment and found red colouring actually does worsen my ADD symptoms, as studies suggest)

    2. thank you! See my longer reply below – we are working towards transitioning the kids everyday. We have no doubt how being 100% primal would benefit them in every way


      1. Your transformations don’t even register in my head because its so freakin dramatic. In your after pics if I didnt know yer ages I would have guessed 29, I kid you not

  3. Fantastic story guys. You must be delighted to have discovered that life truly begins when you choose to make simple yet positive changes. Kepp it up!

  4. Great story! It’s amazing when couples share each others health goals and learn to live like cavemen (or women)!

  5. Very inspirational, and what a transformation. You both looked old and tired in the Feb 2011 pics and now – wow! watch out!

    One question: you mentioned your kids are on the autistic spectrum, yet you kept SAD foods around for them. Have you considered transitioning them as well? If you’ve started down that path, do you seem improvement at all in their symptoms?

    1. My kids have made big strides along with us – but they are not there yet. They were both born extremely picky eaters and would eat only a few foods from the start. Back in 2002 we tried a gluten free/casein free diet for my 1st son to help with bowel issues and it did not and we gave up because it was “just too hard”. Had we only switched the whole family over then,…. this would have been a very different story,…. Or had we being following a primal diet from the start I very well might not have had two autistic sons to begin with.

      We are always moving them towards our way of eating – but as we went cold turkey 100% primal – that method wont work for them so it has been a gradual process of removing and not replacing SAD food as much as possible.

      Yes we actually hate to look at the before Feb 2011 photos – we weren’t sticking it out for the camera and its shocking to see just how miserable we looked.

      thanks for your nice comments!

      1. This is a wonderful story. I am an ABA therapist in a school for autism and I believe proper diet can do wonders for any kid, let alone one on the autism spectrum. Eating can be so tough for these little guys–you two are phenomenal for doing what you do! Keep trying, delve into eating therapies for your little guys if you can….thanks for putting this story out there!

        1. +1 to this. I have also worked with kids using ABA therapy and food can be a real challenge. Props to you guys for all the strides you’ve made for yourselves and the ongoing work to transition the boys. I’m sending loads of encouragement your way!! BTW, you both look awesome!!! So much younger and fresher!

        2. Thank you for understanding that it is not just a simple as yanking bad foods from them.

          We are being positive role models, leading by example, and explaining why we are making the food choices that we are.

          One battle we have been fighting is that my 11 yr old was being kind of brain washed by the school system and arguing with us about the govt food pyramid and what his teachers told him was the proper things to eat (whole grains etc). As you know with most autistic people everything is black or white there is no gray….If a teacher teaches you something,..then it must be true, that has been an issue.

          Fortunately this year we started home schooling him and it has been one of the best decision we’ve ever made 🙂

        3. I think it is great that you are recommending a paleo/primal/GAPS diet to help with certain symptoms of autism as one individual to another. But, attaching the ABA name to these recommendations is going down a slippery slope. I don’t want to be a downer but ABA prides itself on empirical evidence that shows behavior change in replicated single subject designs. ABA is a fantastic tool, but there are no empirical studies in the behavior analytic literature at this point that support using these diet’s as preferred methods for behavior change.

      2. Congrats! You guys look fantastic and I’m so happy for your family!

        Have you heard of the GAPS diet? The book is Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and is a specially designed diet for children with autism. The food fits right in with the primal guidelines, with extra emphasis on bone broth soups and fermented foods, and has tips for picky eaters. Best of luck!

        1. I was going to mention GAPS!! There are so many parents out there right now healing their children with this diet!! It’s by no means easy but since you guys are Paleo it would mean very few changes and the results I read about are simply miraculous. You guys look awesome!!!

      3. This is my first time responding after lurking for a while, but I just wanted to say to you Amy that you and your family are fantastic (amazing transformations) and also say in regards to your “Or had we being following a primal diet from the start I very well might not have had two autistic sons to begin with.” comment: I can only hope you are SUPER nice to yourself. Speaking as a mother myself I know it is very easy for me to take on things that are not really mine to take. I send hugs and much support!

        1. thank you Julia for your kind words.

          I think primal has both opened my eyes and helped me get past mistakes I’ve made.

          Yes, I do believe that diet and environmental toxins along with genetic factors are going to one day be proven to be the cause of autism.

          Yes hindsight is 20/20 and I would make some MAJOR changes pre-pregnancy if I had the chance to do it over again.

          But I have been given two beautiful boys that have taught me all about patience and tolerance for those with special needs and I wouldn’t change them for the world despite any of the difficulties over the years.

          Saw a great documentary not so long ago called “Loving Lamp Posts” which was about embracing and accepting autism and autistic people for who they rather than constantly fighting it – It really made a big impact on me and helped me get over a lot of the guilt I had been carrying around for years feeling like I wasn’t doing enough to help them.

      4. What a wonderful and inspiring story! It’s impressive to me that despite all of the stress you were experiencing with your sons’ overwhelming conditions, you found the time and energy to improve your health. My 4 year old daughter is on the Autism Spectrum and I also firmly believe that had I eaten Paleo/Primal earlier in my life, she would not be struggling. Best of luck transitioning your kids and thanks for sharing your story 🙂

      5. I too was wondering about the diet of your 2 young boys because I too have 2 kids with autism. My son is extremely picky, food averse and has only had 3 foods he will tollerate since he began solids – he is now 6. I wasn’t able to do GF/CF until his communication improved to the point when I could actually slightly negotiate with him. At that point, about 1.5 years ago, I began making GF/CF substitutions for his 3 bad foods. So instead of mac and cheese I make rice mac w/brewers yeast cheez. I make his own bread out of tapioca starch and I have a couple other substitutions. Its far from a Paleo diet, but at least it gets the gluten out, which it turns out he was highly allergic to milk, gluten and wheat on his allergy panels. He has improved about 50%, but I also have him on the NIDS/golberg protocol. Paleo could be in his future someday when his food preferences start easing.

        My daughter is entirely recovered from autism. Recovery is possible and it can happen. Diet is very important but as we both know, it can be next to impossible with these self restriced eaters. Many people don’t understand that these kids have the tenacity to go for days without eating if they don’t get their preferred foods. My son went for 4 days before I gave in because he became a skeleton. Anyhow, you guys look fabulous and you will get your kids onto the diet when it becomes possible.

        1. I just wanted to add my experience with autism and paleo. My son, 9 years old with Down Syndrome and autism, was a horrendously picky eater. He would only eat cereal, bread, pasta, rice and bananas. I once left him with my mother in law for a long weekend and he eat nothing but cereal for three days. A little over a year ago we discovered the Gaps diet, and determined to do anything to help him, we got started. We went slowly and discovered that he actually loved scrambled eggs, then hamburger patties, then roasted chicken, even meatballs in bone broth and now he loves homemade kefir with a little honey mixed in! He has made many improvements and it is slow going but just as you two have found a whole new outlook on life, we have found the same with our little boy. It can be overwhelming at first but as you already have experience with Paleo, the transition will be much easier. Good luck to both of you and your beautiful boys!

        2. Another thing I wanted to add about autism and recovery, just to illustrate how far we are from mainstream with this diet stuff. My husband and I recently visited a special education school that specializes in autism disorders. Interesting, we thought, let’s check it out. We really liked the director, a young, dynamic woman who seemed really on the ball. When I mentioned diet and autism and how someone I knew had recovered their child with the Gaps diet, she replied: Oh, well, then they weren’t really autistic!

  6. I love how in the “before” pics he’s in casts (tennis shoes) but in the “after” pics he’s in VFF. Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration!

      1. I wish Minimal shoes fit on me…the top part isn’t high enough on any of them.

        I hope my feet shrink enough as my weight goes down or they introduce more models.

        1. Not even the new LS series? I had the same issue (plus wide feet), and the laces fixed that. I got the komodosport, and it seems to be working well, although I wouldn’t advise things like tennis on concrete because I put a small hole in them doing that haha.

        2. I’ve found vivo barefoot are pretty amazing as far as ‘barefoot’ shoes are concerned. Not with toes- they look more ‘normal’- but I bought another two pairs this morning after my pair first two weeks ago.
          Awes. Love them.

    1. Im becoming a VFF user. When I go to the grocery store I wear em, I wear em walking now and I even wear em to work (I work in a call center 🙁

  7. I love this story. My husband and I (and our son) have been living a Primal life for the last 3 months and the change is so amazing. I can’t imagine what we will look like in a year’s time. We weren’t over weight to begin with, but we have both leaned out significantly and have bodies that rival what we looked like in our 20’s. It’s awesome.

    1. It was my husband’s idea to go Primal. On March 16 he came home, handed me TPB and said, “I’m doing this.” He didn’t want to force it on me, but as I looked at the book, it was one of those moments where I knew this was something big (divine inspiration?) and said, “OK.” THAT was A Life Changing Moment.

      We never looked back and never felt or looked better in our lives. I was always a gym rat, so I lost 9 lbs in 6 weeks, and have been holding steady ever since (while still looking and feeling better every day). He has lost 26 and is still going (and also looking and feeling better every day).

      It really IS awesome.

  8. Wow, in the before photo you look like you could be the father of the person in the after photo! Remarkable changes for both of you!!! You and your wife look so healthy and trim. What you gave up was a small price to pay for all you gained in health and fitness. Good job!

    1. Thanks! It’s truley about breaking that cycle that is SAD food and I feel for people who don’t have that support system we have. Both Amy and I are working out in classes or at home where we have built a good home gym

      1. What do you do to get your abs that strong? I do Starting Strength, but there aren’t really ab exercises in that program.

        1. Day one of the whole 30 I could squeeze 1 pull-up and maybe a dozen push-ups. Mark has a PDF on progressive exercises and I started using that to move forward. I start each morning with “the sun salute” yoga and I have increased my push-ups to 70 a day. I know this is shoulders and pecs but great for core as well. I found a water line in our basement at work that I pass several times a day, each time I pass under I do 10 pull-ups or 10 toe-ups. I love doing V-sits with a 10lb. medicine ball and the killer is dragon flags, 3 sets of 8, that’ll get you there. When I do pull-ups I do them legs extended straight out too. Thanks

  9. What a transformation! You both look amazing and SO healthy compared to the first set of pictures. Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. Ah, man! You look fantastic in the July 2012 beach picture. Way to go Ed!

    1. Yeah, hasn’t been a bad story yet. Not sure it’s possible in fact.

  11. Wow! If my husband made that transformation, I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off of him. (And if I was eating primal, I would have the energy to follow up.) Looks like I need to finish convincing him this is the right thing to do and get us started on this lifestyle pronto!

    1. Thanks! Yes our sex life wasn’t bad before, but it was sporadic. We are like a couple of teenagers now, a definite added extra!

      1. *makes mental note* Will be talking to my husband tonight about going primal…

  12. I’m not a cry baby but I had to hold it back as I read your story. A living testament and puts a whole new spin on being reborn. Thank you for inspiring us. I’m 62 and have only been on primal for a couple of months but noticed a difference within two weeks. I’m actually sprinting now and using mucsles I haven’t used in 35 years. Can’t imagine what it’s going to look like in a year.
    The best to you and your family.

    1. Thank you and I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures next year… Paleo until we drop dead is our motto now.

  13. Wowee! You look fantastic both of you and in such a short period of time. And with the stresses that you deal with, I salute you. Your story is going to get me off my backside this morning, that’s for sure. Congratulations!

  14. I am here with tears in my eyes. I love how things just became easier because you felt better. I love that you smile more. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    1. This resonated with me too. I read it with a smile and a laugh. It is good to be a joyful animal again.

  15. It’s so wonderful to see the transformation in your relationship as well as the physical transormation! Going from sabotaging each other’s diets to being on the same page and becoming a united front against CRAP… so inspiring 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  16. You two are a beautiful couple. Congratulations on finding each other and turning your lives around 🙂

  17. Your story just made me feel so good. Congratulations on your success and new found life!

  18. Doing the math, when you met she was 22 and you were 38? Yeah, I bet that age difference didn’t bother you, you old rascal. Well done. Awesome story!

    1. Um,, yeah did I leave that out? “Always set your sights high”, my dad told me,,,

      1. HA, this reminds me of the story my dad told me about my folks’ wedding day. He is 8 years older than my mom, and she was 19 that day.

        My dad’s brother asked him, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”


        “Alright then.”

        It all turned out well, and I’m glad to see you two are so happy!

  19. I keep sending these Friday posts to the hubs – maybe this one will send him over to the Primal side of things. Nice to see a couple take this on together. It’s so much easier when both people are on the same page. Congrats and grok on!

  20. What an uplifting success story. It’s great when it’s a whole family changing for the better. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Wow!!!! This is a fantastic inspirational story. I am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks wishing I could stick to this way of life. I try constantly and end up falling off the wagon so to speak. My goal is to be one of these stories some day soon as I am 48 years old and very over weight, and feel like crap most of the time. My lifestyle is similar to your before you switched, feel like life is just passing me by, and my husband too. You have really gave me hope today and I am going to get back on the horse and keep riding till I stop falling off.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Please do keep fighting!

      I am a very non-public person,…my whole reason for allowing those terrible “before” pictures of myself to be posted is to convince other people that they too can break the cycle.

      There are probably less than 3-5 pictures I have allowed to be taken of myself in the last 10 yrs because I just couldn’t bear to see them. My husband would say “what if, heaven forbid something happened to you,..I have absolutely no pictures to show the kids what their mother looked like” and I was fine with that. I was so miserable, sick and tired of being sick and tired. vacations were miserable,…all that walking and heaven forbid it be a hot place cause I was sure as heck not putting on a swim suit. I had terrible heel spurs leftover from pregnancy and literally couldn’t walk until I put on shoes every morning. I was getting sick every damn time I turned around with colds and virus’s. Bathroom issues, yeast issues, hair loss,…the list goes on and on,….

      We could only break the cycle by going cold turkey and doing it 30 days. 30 days is a drop in the bucket of a lifetime – you CAN eat clean for 30 days then it gets SO much easier! Dig deep and find that willpower to make the change and stick with it. You will be amazed at the things you can do!

    2. Now THAT is inspiring! “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Keep fighting!

      I have to force myself to not constantly talk about how being Primal has changed my life for the better. You CAN stick to this! One day it will click and it won’t be hard to do. I tell people it’s like quitting smoking, you have to want it, then it won’t be hard. If my husband brought home The Primal Blueprint before we were both READY, we would have failed – of that I have no doubt.

      I saw a cheesy poster once: Success is when you get up one more time than you have failed.

  22. Amy, Ed – Congratulations! Amy, you are simply stunning. I can’t take my eyes off you either! Ed you lucky man and you are both glowing. Keep up the amazing work and keep “paleoing it foward.” I love that. 🙂

  23. Mr. Smith, just curious – have you carried this over into your work as a chef?

    1. Great question, yes very much so. I design the menus at my workplace and people are going Paleo and don’t even know it! I am fortunate in that I can use fresh (but not organic) foods so I can stray away from packaged foods, and I have to use CAFO meats but that’s a necessary evil I’m working on. I use coconut milk on some dishes and even Stevia to sweeten occasion. The biggie here is I can make changes at a base level to move my industry towards healthier choices in the future.

  24. KUDOS to you you and your wife for achieving and surpassing you goals! Thank you for sharing your story to help inpire others to follow this path and for motivating those of us that have found it to stay on it.

    Cheers to Ed and Amy!

  25. Wow, what a fantastic story! People don’t even listen to me when I talk about the improvements in my life other than the weight loss (80 pounds this year) but you’re living it 10x more than I am! It’s so great to hear how the health, happiness, love and enjoyment all came rushing back into your lives.

  26. I hope I look that good at 43! But 53?! Amazing! Congrats to you both,

  27. Alright, I’m getting tears in big ass salad. Cheers to you and your family! Thanks so much for sharing!

  28. LOVED this success story! Also, love your writing style! I knew right from the beginning that I was going to love this one: “I have a great job, and a nice home in a quaint city, and over the years we have been slowly falling apart.” Perfect! Also loved the “we looked like a whole lotta love” line. You both look so radiant in the July pictures. Great job and thank you for sharing!

  29. WOW, ridiculous results! You guys look fantastic! So happy to see the sugar and bad carbs gone from your life. Nice job.

  30. Ya’ll have made my day. Can’t wait to see a follow up someday on the boys achievements. And for those that don’t full understand Ed+Amy’s hesitance to fully immerse the boys into the paleo/primal diet, you’ve got to understand that many children with Autism are both picky and slow to accept changes in routine. Just like kids without Autism.

    1. I can totally relate…I have been paleo for about 4 months, and would LOVE to get my 13 year old son with high functioning autism eating this way. You guys have NO idea how picky these guys are and the sensory issues around food they have. My son hates meat, eggs and veggies and almost all fruits. Period. Meal times have been the biggest stress for us always. I am talking about it with him more and more, and I hope to get him on board, but don’t be quick to think we aren’t trying hard enough. It is not that easy. We did gluten free casein free at age 2 for Nick for 8 long months, and although it showed good results, he ended up only eating french fries. Sigh. That ended that. We will keep trying for sure.

      That being said – well done! Loved the story. I am 10 years OLDER (yes I am the girl lol) than my amazing boyfriend, and the age difference is nothing to us. We are perfect together, and now we both embrace paleo together.

      1. Grok’s girl–there is hope. My 15 year old son is a high functioning autistic who, because of sensory issues would not eat meat (other than fast food burgers) and many other foods. His diet consisted of fast food, grilled cheese, and mac and cheese (although he has always liked veggies). Needless to say, he got fat! Well, the kids at school started making fun of his boy boobs in the locker room and he decided to join me and my primal lifestyle. Today, roughly 10 months later) he eats steak, chicken, and fish and hardly ever eats sugar, bread, pasta or any processed food for that matter–completely his choice. Over the past 8 months he has become a different kid. He hugs me and tells me he loves me. He asks about my day! He invites friends over and goes to birthday parties without us begging him to. I could go on and on. He swims an hour and a half five days a week at the YMCA on the swim team and loves it and has transformed into an athlete as well.

        As I dry the tears running down my face I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to lead by example (which you are doing), be patient–good things will come!

        1. That sounds amazing… my god your son eats/exercises better than I do. Tack on another accomplishment for your son: inspiration for slovenly people such as myself. Excuse me, I have to go get rid of my post-workout ice cream treat (as if such a thing should ever exist.. sigh haha).

        2. Fantastic. Perhaps one day he will post his own Primal success story!

        3. Dan – thank you so much for the encouragement. So happy with the results for your son!! You sound like a wonderful dad. It is so good to hear that perhaps Nick may WANT this one day. He is the opposite of your son – skinny as can be (I am sure massive malapsorption issues). But he is starting to listen…a little…I would love to see the day my son would eat steak that is for sure. I will keep trying, and showing him by example.

  31. “… I’ve been told I show my love through food,… we looked like a whole lotta love.” Great! Thanks for your inspiring story!

  32. What a satisfying story! It just warms my heart. Good luck with the boys. I know they’ll come around in time. Thanks for sharing with us.

  33. Schools should not be teaching our kids how to eat. I have had questions from my daughter (10)about the pyramid they shove at them in school. I told her to question and research everything. Easier said then done, since teachers are a high authority.
    Good luck with your children and congratulations on your success. Your story is very inspirational.

    1. I am a teacher and so many things students are forced to learn drive me BONKERS. I tell my students as often as I can: “You are here to learn how to THINK. Ask that magic question, ‘Why?’ as often as you can. Question everything.”

      Teaching the food pyramid… ugh.

    2. My son asks me all the time why they lie to them at school. He then will cross out the “grains” in the health pyramid they send home in little pamphlets.

      1. Ha! They lie because they did not do their due diligence and research what they teach. Ugh… society.

        1. They lie because they don’t know any better. They themselves have been taught the pyramid.

          The pyramid is based on some research a long long time ago that was misinterpreted and afterwards covered up. The pyramid recommendation was based on that research. it should have been the other way around.

          Check for a presentation about it mentioning all the research & facts. Eye-opening.

          Just now realised how old this blogpost is :$

    3. Oh don’t get me started! Have you seen what they serve in the cafeteria???? Schools/teachers in general need a HUGE teaching on health and nutrition. I work at a school and shadow a child with autism. It drives me CRAZY to sit in that cafeteria daily and see what these children consume. It’s child abuse.

      1. I don’t even GO to the cafeteria or the teacher’s lounge because I’d start screaming. I try to spread the joy of living Primal to my coworkers, but they want none of it, especially when I say no to cookies and brownies. I almost wish I was overweight before I went Primal, that way people could *see* the changes it made in my life.

  34. Oh my goodness! I just got so choked up reading this story, that I literally have chills. I am so happy for you! Now, I am even more determined to not turn back from this journey. Seeing your story today – day 3 of going primal for me – is just miraculous.

    You guys look A-MAZING! It’s an outstanding triumph of personal determination.

    AWESOME! Thank you.

  35. Awesome results!

    And the best part is that these results are very typical of those that just have the courage to stick with the Primal / Paleo diet.

  36. Alright dammit, that’s it. I bought the blueprint when it first came out, I’ve been lurking on this site and procrastinating ever since. I’m Ed’s age and I look much like his “before” picture. Starting right now, I’m going all in. Hope to have my pics up on this site in a year.

  37. wow! the 2 of you look so fantastic! great job! i always find it interesting how people really can turn back the clock in terms of the way they look at a certain age with pretty simple modifications to their lifestyle.

  38. Wow! What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. I just started about 4 weeks ago myself and my husband has joined me, even staying primal on his last business trip. Way to go guys! Hopefully we’ll have a success story to share soon.

  39. As others have already said: A truly remarkable transformation – inspirational!

    This is how we can change the whole SAD/CW paradigm the world over – one real-life success story after another!

  40. I am so happy for ya’ll. I believe that PB is a miracle in its simplicity. Eat, move, be happy; what could be easier? I admit to jealousy that it happened so quickly for you but I know my lifestyle has a lot to do with my slow progress. You are both beautiful and I wish you continued health and happiness.

    1. I am now going to Mark’s “Get Real” post for a nice kick in the pants…

  41. Fantastic journey and the best is yet to come. You both are inspiring and so cute !!!!

  42. What a Friday transformational story. You guys blew me away. I cannot believe how different people look when they are at healthy weights and vibrant and full of life. It’s sad how obesity and SAD foods make you look twice your age and probably feel at least that. Congrats to you both; keep it up!

  43. Fantastic! I never would have believed you were in your 50’s, the change is so dramatic. Congratulations to a new healthy, happy life!

    1. I truly believe we’re only as old as we feel, and we can reverse the effects of aging at least to a point. Jack leLanne was a perfect example, he was so Paleo and we didn’t even realize it. I have found so much success in Paleo but I have a whole lot of tomorrows ahead of me and I’m going to make the best of every one of em! 🙂

  44. LOVE this story! It’s so inspiring!!! You both look amazing….and I don’t just mean the weight loss. You look healthy – glowing and happy. So happy you took your health into consideration vs. weight loss. And it will definitely help your children. I shadow a child w/autism at work (school) and know that things are black and white in most of their eyes. Your example will eventually speak louder than teachers (or anyone else for that matter) words. It will take time….as with any child….but you’re doing the right thing by phasing things into their diets rather than cold turkey. Children with autism need that “adjustment” period and I applaud you for recognizing that! 🙂

  45. Dear Amy and Ed,

    Please do not look back and think about the ‘should haves and could haves’ you did as you knew best at a certain time. And when you knew better, you did. The last thing you need is other people telling you what to do. i admire you for doing all that you did! Best of luck with your new direction and all the wonderful things that will come out off your decisions and actions. I am sure the path you both embarked on is the best for you and your family.Kind regards, another lurker, Annemiek.

  46. Well if any middle aged fellow needed any more inspiration than Mr. Sisson this story should do it.

    Both of you look terrific and are inspiring! Well done!

  47. Congratulations – isn’t it wonderful? I also went on the diet (Atkins at the start – learned about Paleo along the way) at about the same time that you did & lost 80 lbs. As an adult I was always overweight – but not anymore. Isn’t it lifechanging?

    I never could understand why I was overweight – afterall I was following the USDA guidelines…..but they fail to tell you that some people cannot maintain a normal weight with any excess carbs. If I exceed a diet defined as “low-carb”, I gain weight immediately.

    Now that I’ve been “skinny” for six months & I changed jobs along the way – there are people in my life that think I’ve always been skinny and do not understand that I weighed 212 lbs 18 months ago. When I was losing weight, I received lots of attention. Now, I’m just a normal person. I’m getting used to being “normal” – but its still thrilling to walk into stores & having the size 4s fit. (I was wearing a 20 when I started.)

    Have fun! I’m very happy for you.

  48. Awesome story. I, too, have a child with Autism. The stress can be debilitating, and the excuses to not take care of yourself can be many. I’m so glad you have found a healthy lifestyle for your family. Enjoy!

  49. I’m a newbie at all this paleo lifestyle and I love the Friday post. Ed and Amy, what an amazing transformation! Inspiring and motivating!! Almost 3 mths in and my husband has joined in! Makes it a whole lot easier. Thank you for sharing.

  50. Wish my hubbie would stick to being a caveman even when he is on the road.
    The changes in my daughter have been so good. There has been a lot less fighting except when she has been with Grandma, who thinks we are crazy.
    Hope the best for the WHOLE family.
    Blessings Debi

  51. Wow – you guys totally rock! What I love about your story more that anything is the fact that you did it as a team and it reconnected you. I started my Paleo pursuit solo but a few months in my husband saw the difference and has now become a devout follower. We are having the same renewal in our relationship as you and it’s lovely! Well done and good luck moving forward.

  52. One thing that is never talked about after switching to the paleo diet is how a person’s sex life improves about a 1000 percent. If our friends only knew. Thanks for sharing that critical piece of information. Respect to both of you.

  53. Incredible. Ed, what’s your routine for those abs? Amazing, an inspiration for the rest of us for sure.

    1. Thanks Joe and Carl (below), Day one of the whole 30 I could squeeze 1 pull-up and maybe a dozen push-ups. Mark has a PDF on progressive exercises and I started using that to move forward. I start each morning with “the sun salute” yoga and I have increased my push-ups to 70 a day. I know this is shoulders and pecs but great for core as well. I found a water line in our basement at work that I pass several times a day, each time I pass under I do 10 pull-ups or 10 toe-ups. I love doing V-sits with a 10lb. medicine ball and the killer is dragon flags, 3 sets of 8, that’ll get you there. When I do pull-ups I do them legs extended straight out too. Thanks

  54. When I read your story I got tears in my eyes… it means a lot to me that people take control over their lives. Then when I read you’ve started home-educating your boys, a whole new set of emotions came up!! Wow, I love it!!!
    We are a home-ed family with three kids (7, 9 & 14) who have not ever spent one day in school and I acknowledge that our shift to primal with our whole family has been easy because there wasn’t any pressure from peers at school. No lunch boxes to be made. This doesn’t mean they don’t LOVE a piece of bread when they stay with friends. But that’s totally okay with us. 95% of the time they eat primal and are living to their full potential! Hurray!!
    And I guess that’s what you want for your boys; living to THEIR full potential, whatever that means. But they don’t need to be compared to anyone else.
    lots of love, Irma, New Zealand

    PS I’ve just finished reading ‘The Unschooling Unmanual’ and got inspired once again. Do you know it?

    1. Yes, I finally decided to follow my mommy gut and pulled my son out of school last Christmas break. The calls from school about his behavior were becoming more numerous and peers picking on him was starting to increase. He’s reached that middle school age where peers are hard on typical kids let alone an autistic boy that enjoys talking about the behind the scenes production value of Sesame Street.

      The drugs that he was on to help him focus and curb his impulsiveness were also making him pick at his body and have out of control pica issues. Asking him to attend, follow rules, be on his best behavior and to block out sensory distractions for 8 hrs a day just became too much.

      Now he can sit and focus and finish his school day in about 3 hrs at home and he absolutely loves it. No extra busy work, no noisy sensory overload assembly’s, no miserable recess time.
      When I was trying to make the decision, of course, everyone mentions the social interaction you get at school. The Dr said to me “Well if the social interaction he’s getting at school isn’t positive social interaction then there’s no point of that being a reason to stay”

      Now he goes on field trips with students from his online school, has swimming and horseback riding lessons and positive social interactions in the community. We’ve removed one of the drugs he was on and are weaning him off the other.

      I will look into the book you’ve mentioned – one can never have enough inspiration 😉

      thank you!

    2. Funny how primal and homeschooling seem to go hand in hand. I think it has to do with starting to think outside of the box that conventional wisdom has shoved down our throats all these years…

  55. Another inspirational gem. However could you elaborate a tad more about the exercise regime you follow. Those 6 packs looser!

  56. Another inspirational gem. However could you elaborate a tad more about the exercise regime you follow. Those 6 packs super!

  57. Ed & Amy: Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and also for your follow-ups in the comments section. I always appreciate when Friday folks take the time to do that.

    1. We poured over this submission until we felt like we had said it all and pushed send, and then all the things we wished would could have said came to us,,, I did say there were so many little benefits to going Paleo that have changed our lives and that is so true.

  58. This is a great story. I haven’t read all the comments but noticed a lot of comments about your children. I read your comment about not feeling guilt. I think you are right on here. It’s not your fault. Society is to blame though and I think that is something we can all agree with. We are what my holistic dentist recently described as “early adopters”. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith in the face of CW. I am so thankful my own issues led us, my wife and our very young children down this path. My wife and I are quietly convinced things would have been very different for one of our children. Try saying something like that on Facebook:) Congrats man!

  59. Hi Amy,

    Just wanted to chime in here to say that I also have an autistic son and, like you, I feel that my diet when I was pregnant is at least partly responsible. I was so sick (peripheral neuropathy and many other issues) when he was three that I finally changed my diet and the transformation was amazing. It’s only then that I really realized the importance of diet.

    Then I finally put him on a completely Paleo diet, and he responded extremely well. This led me to find a DAN! nutritionist, who helped me do some testing to confirm that my son was extremely gluten intolerant. As you mentioned, keeping a kid on a restrictive diet is extremely difficult (especially with older kids). Having the lab test confirmation does make it easier, though.

    If your kids are still having gut problems, there are lots of potential issues (other than gluten) that could be addressed. I encourage you to look into it if you are interested. Feel free to contact me if you like for information sharing/moral support (Facebook: Mary Antico in Montreal).

  60. Great story! I feel your pain with transitioning kids. I have two with sensory processing disorder. My 7 yr old has a severe food aversion/eating disorder with oral motor delays. He will only eat around 5 foods at any given time period and they all are SAD, carb loaded processed foods. It is hard on the rest of us to see these tempting foods in our house. Everyone told us to just give him only primal foods.Well, he starved himself to malnourishment. It’s just not that black and white. Until yesterday. His allergy test results came back. He is allergic to wheat, gluten, eggs (ughh), soy, rye, peanuts, and much to my dismay coconut. The doctor looked at him and told him he could not eat those foods anymore. That meant more to him then anything I ever said. He is a rule follower. So far we have found 4 foods he can eat: organic cheese puffs, yogurt (yes, with sugar), GoGo and Enviro cereal. Not primal but much closer. He shocked me today by saying he would eat bananas. He eats zero produce and only bacon so this is a start. One thing I did that seems to help is make menu cards. I cut pictures of primal foods and if he picks one to eat, he gets a check mark. 10 marks = toy (never food reward). That also worked with my daughter. They love their menus. They also get a check mark for eating any food they see us eat. It keeps us in line knowing we have “watchers”. Much like you, I wish I had known this stuff earlier. My 2 yr old is thriving Primal but all I can do is move forward with my knowledge and try to help my other two. I highly recommend the book Mark talked about a few weeks back regarding autism. It has been so helpful! Good luck and congrats on your change.

  61. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing. You two look so healthy and happy! Isn’t it wonderful to have a road map of how to get to that healthy place?

  62. Dude,
    VFF and abs! I love it. I just turned 52 myself and have had similar result after just a couple months of being Primal. I always thought I could exercise my way out of a not so good diet if I just worked out more… The belly fat fell off and I found my abs after a few weeks of being Primal… My Friday success story is in the works.
    Congratulations to you and your wife.

  63. As a fiftysomething, just starting out in primal eating, this was helpful and inspiring. Thanks for your story.

  64. Wow! I’m 45 and have been low carbing and living primal for 4 months now and it’s great. Climbed Mt. Sinai in Egypt last week in my Vibrams! But I need to get some structured exercise in my life and you guys have inspired me to get the Primal Fitness thing going! Thanks for sharing your story and best wishes to you both.

  65. Fan-freaking-tastic, a great story well told. I love how this has been the key to getting a whole new grip on life, with home schooling, stress reduction, etc. Big changes! I’m 48 and started in February 2012 as well (Valentine’s present to myself) and have gone from a flabby 190 to a fit 175…it almost seems too easy! My wife is in pretty good shape, but is only on the outskirts of Primal, still enjoying the occasional croissant, toast, oatmeal, ice cream. What I wonder more than anything else is the mood effect you mentioned–I too find stresses much easier to bear, and a corresponding increased focus. I wish that for her, so it may be time to see if she’ll take it to the next level. THANKS FOR SHARING!

    1. Just realized you started in 2011, not 2012…gonna give myself and my wife some time to get in the groove (and read more accurately!) then…

      1. You hit it on the head,, too easy,, I get on my soapbox and shout and all I hear is “it’s too hard”. You have to go into it as a life change, not a quick fix for swimsuit season. Realize that big Agra, and big Pharma want us sick and dependent and say ‘that’s not for me’, I want safe, chemical and additive free food for me and my family so we can live our lives to the fullest

  66. Awesome. Just so awesome. Friday is my favorite day to visit this site!

  67. You both look radiant, healthy, and happy! Not only are your physical results stunning, but your clarity and focus on the important things in life – with appearance as a byproduct – is inspiring. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your success story!

  68. Great job! And now, you’ve changed your family tree. The little ones will truly benefit from a healthy mom and dad, not to mention learning how to really live.

  69. Ed and Amy

    Maybe off topic, but please check out the GAPS diet and the Cutler Chelation protocol for your kids sake.

    Good Luck

  70. Fantastic! I have to say that I am struggling and not seeing much difference but this story is inspirational and I am going to continue with it.

    1. Thank you Sheena, people have commented on how quickly we lost weight but it felt like forever to us, don’t lose sight of the big picture, Paleo is life changing but you have to change your life, this isn’t a quick fix, it’s a forever deal you make with your body and soul till you drop dead, kinda like owning a dog only lots longer :-). Change will come soon enough, hang in there

  71. Great job, both of you!! Will be checking out your blog for sure…very interested in what recipes you’ve come up with as a chef gone primal!

    1. Thanks Kevin, and I’ll learn from you how to set up a snazzy lookin blog…

  72. Incredible! You guys went from marshmallows to hard mesquite! How are your kids doing on this way of life? Has it had an effect on their autism? There are many blogs out there touting the benefits to children on the spectrum.

    1. thank you! See my longer reply to same question in previous comments – we are working towards transitioning the kids everyday. We have no doubt how the primal or GAPS diet would benefit them in every way 🙂

  73. Wonderful story! I have only been following a primal diet for a couple of weeks (at least, I’ve been committed to it that long) but I’ve been learning lots for months (including lots of WAPF stuff). I’ve already convinced my kids in the evils of vegetable oils, but not necessarily grains!

    My oldest son is on the autism spectrum (very high functioning academically, challenged socially) and I’m trying to get him to read some primal stuff so he really understands WHY grains and carbs are so bad for him (he’s also extremely overweight for his height, unlike his siblings, so we’re really working on changing his diet. He eats very little junk food, but will consume too many carbs given half a chance, and he’s obviously extremely sensitive as he puts on weight extremely easy). He’s going to be 14 in a few days, so is well and truly ready to understand the stuff IF he reads it. Being the way he is, once he reads it in black and white, he’ll be more likely to “believe” it intrinsically, rather than that food pyramid stuff he’s being pushed. (Actually the other day, in a class he’s attending for overweight kids, he DID ask WHY the grain portion on a pie chart was so big and said it should be eliminated, even though I’d actually just told him to IGNORE the diet stuff and NOT SAY ANYTHING because like it or not, the dietitian was NOT going to be receptive to what he said). So he’s learning, but he still doesn’t “get” why some people can eat a “regular” diet and not be overweight, and he can’t.

    Sadly, there is another kid on the course who doctors have recommended should have gastric band surgery (he’s 12 and not even THAT overweight!!) because he has fatty liver disease. His mother was taught not to feed him any fats, so he’s been eating virtually fat free for an ENTIRE year and the problem hasn’t resolved (I’m not surprised, unfortunately) and basically they’re almost accusing her of letting him cheat because he hasn’t lost the weight and his liver is still fatty… and they think surgery is the answer. Very sad. Sorry this is getting WAY off topic :).

    Anyway, I think once kids have the RIGHT education, if they’ve got that sort of autistic mindset, they’ll get fixated on that instead of the rubbish they’re taught :). My kids now know that teachers aren’t always right, which is helpful! It is really hard with kids, fighting against the mainstream though. I think we just need to take things one day at a time and try to convert the kids over. I am doing my best to find foods (and make them) that emulate the food they love, but is grain and sugar free. My youngest son had a recipe for chocolate ripple cake he’d made at school (basically chocolate cookies smothered in layers of whipped cream and covered in jelly lollies), so I made a version that had NO grains and NO sugars! Still not awesomely healthy, probably, but it tasted great and my oldest son loved it! I’m trying to show the kids that they CAN have yummy food without the stuff they’re used to. I just need to find a suitable bread substitute!!

  74. Great testimonial!!
    I am 54 and have just begun my primal journey. Starting at 246 lbs. May 15, 2012 I’m now at
    219 Lbs. On July 30th 2012. Weight loss is now steady at 1-2 lbs a week. My goal is 170-175 lbs. I’ll check in then.
    Thanks Mark!

  75. That’s wonderful! What a difference food makes in out lives. I’m only 3 weeks into Primal, and I’m enjoying it. It’s easy, it makes sense, it’s do-able. And it’s wonderful to read the stories week after week that it works for ‘real people’. Congratulations you two!!

  76. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Congratulations on your outstanding, AMAZING transformation! You both look incredible and it sounds like you found the balance and peace you were searching for. Best wishes for many more happy, healthy years together. 🙂

  77. The transformation in your shape is obvious but the change in your faces is nothing less than a miracle!

  78. Truly inspiring. I am 50 mostly Paleo and CrossFit since January. I have lost 35lbs but want to get abs like yours. Gonna tighten up the diet and try to get where you are… Now if I could only get my Wife to join me ….

  79. OMG!!! You guys rock! And the best part, you get to change both of your lifes together and be there for each other every step of the way.
    How frigging romantic is that?
    Big kudos to both of you and thank you for sharing.

  80. Great story
    Can I ask what exercise you do to enhance your results.

    1. Jules,

      Basically from Feb 2011 til Feb 2012 I didn’t workout. I didn’t feel good enough yet. I focused on eating clean. I could definitely tell that my energy level was increasing and I didn’t want to lay down for a nap at 2pm everyday, but I still couldn’t get in the groove of regular exercise. Hubby was very encouraging and really wanted me to start doing something,…but it had to be my choice where and when I jumped back into the stream.
      Our local rec center put out a spring program guide and I picked out a boot camp/core style class 2x a week. It was a perfect fit with a great group of ladies in a very supportive and non- judgmental environment. The class and nice weather has really snowballed my desire to increase my activity. Now I try to walk briskly 3-4 times a week a couple miles with the dog and I do some core and weight lifting at home. After having two 9 pound babies and years of yo-yoing up and down the scale things are not tightening up as fast as I would like,…but little by little they are coming along and I will continue on my fitness journey with great enthusiasm 🙂

  81. Hi Ed & Amy ~ It’s well over a year since your story was posted but I just read it and feel like saying, Just. Wow! Quite an inspirational journey to say the least. Those before & after shots are remarkable.

    I immediately identified with the “hamburger-helper” routine, It was quite a staple in my diet during my early years. I also had encounters with the “body-snatcher pods” invading my life. Isn’t that always the way it goes – just when you try avoiding anything it’s all over the place, front & center – especially cookies, chocolate candy and ice cream.

    I’ve only been Primal for a few months and am gradually losing weight. While I’m enjoying the multiple benefits of this lifestyle I’m still hoping for more leaning out than I’m currently experiencing. Your pictures give me hope.

    Kudos to both of you for all you’re doing for your kids too. I admire you greatly.
    Grok On! 🙂