Last January I made a resolution to get in shape. At 5’11” and about 200 pounds, I was relatively healthy, but overall needed to lose some fat and tone up a bit.
I had been educating myself on nutrition and reading all the great books by Eades, Taubes, and the others who are revolutionizing (or de-evolutionizing) how we look at food when I found your website. All the information I had found previously was incredible, but the Primal Blueprint really put everything together in a way that was not only effective, but realistic and livable. I began a fully dedicated Primal Blueprint eating and workout plan and started my journey.
I started finding new food and recipes (many thanks to your site) daily. I found grass-fed beef at a local market and a vegetable co-op nearby. I learned how to cook with coconut oil and coconut milk and to limit my dairy. I supplemented my diet with daily doses of fish oil. I learned to cook most of my meals at home but also found a few restaurants that made Primal eating easy, like Outback. I still had an occasional glass of wine or cheat meal but I didn’t mind. After all, that’s all part of life the PB way.
Between January and August I had lost about 25 lbs. I felt and looked fantastic. I had built tremendous strength, endurance, and stamina in my workouts and was continually hitting new personal records. I was excelling at work and relationships, sleeping well, and loving every second of every day and I looked pretty good to boot. The Primal Blueprint was effective and amazing and I was the healthiest I had ever been.
Once September started, I began “rewarding” myself for my hard work and treating myself occasionally to things like ice cream for dessert instead of fruit, or pancakes for breakfast instead of omelettes and berries. I started eating out more than cooking in. I started ordering blooming onions, burgers, and fries a little more than steak and vegetables and my sensible glass of wine gave way to 2 or 3 beers or margaritas. Even so, my diet was still mostly good. I knew I was a little off track but I was still consistent with my workouts and I knew I just needed to clean up the diet a bit to get back on it.
At the same time, I was working out up to six days a week with a nice range of varied exercises, most of them short and intense. I would mix things up spending some days lifting heavy in the gym and others sprinting in the park. Some days I’d take a leisurely jog and find myself stopping and doing pull-ups on scaffolds and jumping up and down on park benches. I was really pushing myself and hitting new goals continually but I was slacking with my diet more and more. Pretty quickly, without the proper nutrition to support my physical activity, I started to burn out. I took a few days off from my workouts thinking I deserved a rest and would get back to the regular routine shortly.
By the middle of October, I had gained back 5-10 pounds of the 25 I had lost. I wasn’t happy about it and I knew that I needed to deal with it but I just couldn’t prioritize it. I was starting to feel pretty crappy altogether and going to the gym or cooking more were the last things I wanted to do. I didn’t realize it then, but I was getting severely depressed. I found myself spending nights in front of the TV drinking a bottle of wine rather than in the kitchen cooking for the next day. I had problems falling asleep, and when I did, my sleep was no longer restful. I had been working out in the mornings but I started having problems waking up. Most days I could barely get out of bed, let alone go to the gym and workout. Before I knew it, my weekly average of 5-6 workouts had dropped to about 2.
By the end of October I got my first sinus infection of the year. I continued getting them at a rate of 1 every 2 weeks, for a month and a half, for a total of 3. By the time December rolled around, I had gained back a solid 15 pounds and the worst finally hit me – I got the flu. I spent 5 days in bed over thanksgiving. It took 10 days to fully recover and get my energy back, and I had a cough that lingered for 2 weeks. I had basically given up on picking healthy foods and working out. I was at rock bottom and I was miserable.
Wanting desperately to get back to where I was in August, I picked up your book again and made a plan to start adding PB principles back to my life. Flipping through the pages, I started remembering that the Primal Blueprint had been about more than just being fit and looking good, it was about enjoying life – something I wasn’t doing and quite honestly, couldn’t.
Two weeks ago I found myself so depressed that I was considering seeking professional help. The depression felt like it came out of nowhere. I was scared by how quickly I’d gone from completely happy to completely miserable and I just couldn’t make sense of it. I started back on the Primal Blueprint and something amazing happened – my depression completely lifted.
This is my testimony to the fact that the choices you make in what foods you eat, directly impact the quality of your life and your emotional health. I am astounded by the difference I felt after just days back on the Primal Blueprint and how everything from my mood to my digestion has continued to improve each day I follow it. It is clear that there is actual chemistry involved in how food and fitness impact not only your body, but your brain. I’m now sleeping perfectly, waking fully energized, and am back to the gym. It will take me a few weeks to get back to my level of health I had attained in the summer, but I’m on my way and feeling great doing it.
I already knew through my experience this past summer that the Primal Blueprint principles were good for my physical fitness and appearance but these recent shifts in mood, and their direct correlation to my diet, have really highlighted the fact that processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and all the other poisonous things that we eat, don’t just make us fat, they make us sick. It just took 3 months of depression and some healthy food to make me realize it.
Thank you so much for your help along the way. Here’s to a healthy happy New Year!
I’m excited to share my recent success with the Primal diet! I had been suffering from acne and eczema since I was an adolescent. I initially began the typical regiment of using dermatological cremes, but they caused burning sensations, redness and irritation. Once I began to learn about food and holistic approaches to health about 4 years, I knew there was a way to cure instead of suppress symptoms. I have since been searching long and hard- raw food, vegeterianism, veganism, flower essences, homeopathy- you name it I tried it. After I researched and experimented with your method, I knew I found “it”. It’s so simple and logical. Thank you for your disciplined and impassioned work. The community owes a debt to you. I will do my best to spread the word!
I almost forgot to include the most important line of my Success Story: both conditions are completely gone!
I just got my Lipid Panel results back today. The results prompted me to immediately post them in the Forum and to also put together a blog post scheduled on my site for Friday. In the meantime I wanted to give you a sneak peek because I wanted to emphasize to you how grateful I am for your work and it’s impact on me, my dreams, my goals, and my family. I get teary-eyed typing this because you are helping me and so many others improve and extend our lives. (My post will of course provide links to you and the site)
I will continue to promote PB and the site in any way I can, including the nurse who was impressed by the results. Thanks again.
Today I feel like singing and dancing! I don’t think my co-workers would appreciate it nor would my self-esteem (I’m pretty bad at doing both). My heart is skipping a few beats and I’m a happy clam! Call me a Health Geek, but I just got my Lipid Panel results back and I have rock solid proof that Primal living is working for me! No more worries for this guy – I have discovered the Fountain of Youth and it’s not as far away as you might think.
First, here are my results:
OK, so what do these numbers mean?
- Total Cholesterol measures all the cholesterol in your body. Bear in mind your body needs cholesterol for many functions and if it doesn’t get enough, it can produce its own. Although I was slightly above “Recommended” levels, the nurse explained this was because my HDL’s were so high.
- HDL Cholesterol refers to the good cholesterol which helps keep your arteries clog free (the nurse/technician was impressed with this number for me)
- TC/HDL Ratio refers to exactly that – a ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol – the lower the better
- LDL – refers to the low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol ; too much can build up plaque on our artery walls making them less flexible and narrow. No bueno. (The device used to measure LDL couldn’t pick up a significant enough number to register)
- Triglycerides – are the form fat takes as it travels to the body’s tissues via the bloodstream. A high carb diet gives a higher number. (More impressive comments from the nurse/tech)
- Blood Glucose – the amount of glucose in the blood; the more you exercise the lower this number goes (I’m struck why this came out higher than recommended considering the other numbers were so good – still researching this one…)
- BMI – Body Mass Index indicates a correlation between you weight and height. It’s not foolproof since an individual with a lot of muscle mass could actually have a high BMI, but its widely accepted in the Conventional Widsom world (doesn’t make it right, but it just is)
- Blood Pressure checked in at 119/79, so that is still doing well for me since last time it was 120/80. Six months ago it was 140/90 if that tells you anything.
THE THANK-YOU DEPARTMENT
Again, call me a Health Geek or what have you, but as you get to 40 and beyond, health becomes very important to you. Even more so when you have kids at a late age like I did. My goal all along with my exercise and health has been to enable me to be around for them as long as I can. My changed habits are paying off and credit deserves to be distributed to the following:
P90X/Tony Horton/BeachBody – I need to thank you for getting me back in to working out/resistance training and starting me back on the road to healthier eating. Kudos for a great program!
Mark Sisson, author of Primal Blueprint and the MarksDailyApple.com community – The incredible amount of knowledge and success I have picked up from these areas of Mark’s have been nothing short of a Godsend to me. I have closely followed the suggestions he has provided and the evidence speaks for itself.
Thanks to these great resources and a strong WHY, I aim to achieve my goal and will be around this world a little longer.
What’s stopping you from enjoying a success in health? My great news is nothing special to many others because it can easily be had with a sensible diet and workout program. Today is the day to start. Get going!
Jeff Pickett – Life Isn’t Over at 40 or Any Age
Thank you for your kind email. I’m a little star-struck to be addressed in person! I want you to know that I am a huge fan of your web site, and it has radically changed my life, even though I’ve only known about it for a few weeks. Allow me to explain a bit.
I stumbled across MDA a few weeks ago on the recommendation of one of my favorite writers, Karen de Coster. I was blown away by the wealth of practical conclusions on MDA, all drawn from the simple premise that our bodies are finely tuned for an environment of evolutionary adaptedness that existed before agriculture.
I studied anthropology and early humans for many years in the context of economic and social behavior. For some reason it never occurred to me to apply the same context to nutrition. Palm on forehead, I felt like Thomas Huxley after learning about Darwin’s theory — how stupid not to have thought of that! But I guess all great ideas seem obvious in hindsight.
So I was very eager to read all I could about primal fitness and implement it immediately. I read some research on grains and couldn’t believe that it never occurred to me that the human body might have trouble digesting monocot grass seeds when it was adapted to meat and dicot plant foods, and that the USDA recommendations might have more to do with politics than nutrition. Then I read the MDA success stories and was entranced by the testimonials. I couldn’t stop until I had read them all.
Grains, it turns out, have been destroying my body for years. Since my mid-twenties I suffered with horrible intestinal symptoms, diagnosed with IBS, then ulcerative colitis, and maybe celiac disease. All I knew was that when I ate some foods such as bread, my abdomen swelled up as if I had swallowed a beach ball. The only doctor-prescribed solution that did anything for me was psyllium husk. (Needless to say, I never touch that stuff now.) Last year, my wife got pregnant and I became extremely motivated to get fit. I shed the first pounds with grueling exercise, grim determination, and replacing most of my diet with kefir, but my symptoms doggedly persisted and I did not feel well. I thought I was permanently damaged.
To make a long story short, I made a complete recovery within a week of discovering MDA. A week! After seven years of illness!
Please feel free to use anything I write on the success stories page (or anywhere else). I’m also looking forward to producing some before and after pics eventually. I’ve only been doing the PB for a few weeks, but having gone from 200 pounds a year ago to 160 now on a 5’9.5″ frame, the difference is already dramatic. I had to throw out my entire wardrobe and buy all new clothes! Everybody in my life seems amazed at my physical transformation, but only a couple have inquired about the method. I send them directly to your site, which speaks for itself.
Thanks again, Mark. I look forward to reading and implementing your crucial insights for many years to come.
About four weeks ago, you published my story and I set myself a goal of living as primally as possible and taking progress pictures. It’s been quite a month!
The black and white photo is from my wedding in 2002. The second photo is from December 2008, when I finally decided to buy a tuxedo instead of rent one because my body composition was so inert. My waist was 38″ and my weight was somewhere above 200 (I wasn’t checking). Not surprisingly, I can’t find a swimsuit photo of myself. But I think you know what moobs and an enormous belly look like.
The third picture is from late 2009, after I had launched an all-out fitness effort for about seven months. Our son was about to be born and I was really proud of what my hard work in the gym had achieved. I plateaued at 185 and a 34″ waist, and as you can see, I was feeling pretty good about it.
Then I discovered the Primal Blueprint. I have described it as a second puberty, and better by far than winning the lottery. I hope these photos from this afternoon, demonstrating two months’ progress, will show that I am not exaggerating.
Today I weigh 153 pounds, my waist is 30″, and my body composition is still changing rapidly.
I would like to emphasize the ways I did not achieve this transformation. I did not ask my doctor if Lipitor was right for me. I did not call 1-800-GET-SLIM. I never counted a calorie or calculated my protein-to-fat ratio. I did not hire a personal trainer to goad me, nor did I join a class to keep me consistent. I didn’t buy any exercise gadgets or meal replacements. I no longer went to the gym to perform narrowly targeted exercises under fluorescent lights.
All I did was extensively study your articles, draw inspiration from the many successful and supportive MDA forum members, and buy a sledgehammer and a pair of Vibrams. Then I did what came naturally.
When I first started the Primal Blueprint, my goal was to lose body fat and gain muscle. But that has proven only the tip of the iceberg, the most visible manifestation of a full spectrum of health benefits that have left me feeling reborn. So I would like to share my top ten most unexpected benefits of going primal:
- Endless energy. Sure, I expected to feel a bit more peppy. But I did not expect to find myself, on a whim, running shirtless for miles through winter rain after a 24-hour fast on a day I’d already exercised.
- Ironclad immune system. I used to get sick every couple of months. Since going Primal I haven’t had so much as a sniffle, even as the other office workers have succumbed to winter sickness left and right.
- No more migraines. Who knew that my crippling migraines were a function of diet? I never figured that out. I thought they were due to skipping meals or not getting enough sleep.
- Tinnitus no longer noticeable. If you’ve ever had constant ringing in your ears, you know how annoying it can be, and how much you wish there were a way to make it stop…
- Mad chef skills. My whole life I resented cooking. I didn’t mind cleaning up as my contribution towards the tedium of home-cooked meals. But now I find that with a few simple ingredients, I can easily make things at home that are far more delicious and nutritious than the finest restaurant fare. This has been extremely empowering.
- Food bills slashed. You would think that buying grass-fed, organic everything would be more expensive. But actually I eat a lot less often, deriving far more nutrition from what I do eat, and consequently I have already saved a great deal of money on pre-cooked, unbalanced meals and snacks. I can and often do go for a whole day without hunger after one well-planned feast.
- Connoisseur’s palate. Just like a man who eats nothing but spicy food fails to appreciate any other taste, so I had been blinded by my carb-centered diet to the full range of flavorful fats and proteins. I eat all sorts of stuff now that I previously considered inedible: kimchi; sauerkraut; sardines; chicken liver. And I realize that far from depriving myself of my favorite foods, I have discovered new favorites that are much tastier than the toxins to which I had been habituated. When I eat a piece of fruit these days, it is a treat as stupendously delicious as it is rare: just as it was for Grok.
- Hormonal balance. I never realized it at the time, but my body was drowning in cortisol and insulin, and that threw off my entire hormonal balance, particularly by suppressing testosterone and HGH. My secondary sexual characteristics (facial hair, musculature) were quite weak. Now that the proper balance has been established, I feel the unmistakable effects of testosterone coursing through my veins. My beard is thicker and I’m having to get used to feeling particularly confident and intense all the time. But that’s a problem I welcome solving!
- Near-immunity to sunburn. Throughout my life, a half-hour’s direct sun exposure left my skin looking and feeling like it had been scalded with boiling water, and it took weeks to recover. Now, I spend hours in the sun shirtless without even a patch of tender skin afterwards. I can only conclude my body has become orders of magnitude better at protecting and repairing tissue. To me, this suggests many startling implications, not least among them the prevention of cancer and senescence.
- Food is medicine. I never suspected that the world’s greatest medicines, the cures for almost every disease, the elixirs of strength and youth, are freely available in nature’s most delicious foods. I used to be a ward of the medical industry, plied with expensive prescriptions and intrusive diagnostics and lectured on my blood pressure by morbidly obese doctors. Now that my health is in my own hands, I am a free man at last. I don’t expect to take another pharmaceutical as long as I live.
I still can’t believe it’s been only two months since I started the Primal Blueprint. I look, feel, and think like a different human being. I feel connected as never before to the vast chain of human existence, all the way back to our early hominid ancestors. My life is now filled with a sense of adventure and possibility.
To all those thinking of giving the Blueprint a try for the first time, especially those who, like me, have grappled with health and weight issues all their lives: I eagerly invite you to join me. For this is not the end, but only the barest beginning!
I realize that you probably get plenty of emails. And so I have no desire to add to that bulk. However, I’m compelled to write simply to say thank you. And I will try and be brief. In short, I’ve appeared for years now to be of peak health. That is, good muscle done, low bf%, etc. Despite that, I hardly felt healthy. As it turns out, I wasn’t. Not only were my energy levels permanently low, I was constantly starving myself in order to stay lean. I think you know what my diet was like. Then, abruptly, my hormones began behaving wildly. Then my gallbladder puffed up, and required immediate surgery, lest it rupture. But how? I lived a healthy life? Post-surgery, my digestive problems continued. I took the advice of my doctors, and ate more grains and fiber. I felt worse. A lot worse. Finally, I decided, after being linked to your site, to drop grains altogether. Honestly, I didn’t think it would work. But in a matter of several days, my energy sky rocketed, ! my digestive issues cleared up, and I performed better in the gym. Perhaps the best thing of all, however, is that I don’t ever really feel hungry, even though I eat much less (calorically and volumetrically) than I used to. And I’m free from obsessive calorie counting to boot. Again, I apologize if this email seems little more than spam, but I felt it needed to be sent. Thanks again.
I am sure you have become quite used to thank you letters from followers of your Primal Blueprint plan by now, however I would like to sincerely thank you for everything that you have done for readers such as myself.
I am a 20 year old college student who has endlessly searched for effective diets, diet pills, fads, tips, etc. It was no surprise that after investing my time and money, none of those ‘fad’ methods worked. It was truly only after I came across your website, I began to read post after post on your various tips, recipes, and realistic advice.
I’m writing to you today because for the first time in 3 years I am successfully able to put on my size 0 jeans and not have to play a tug-of-war with them to sit comfortably over my waist. As a naturally petite girl, weight makes quite the difference in appearance and overall physical endurance for me. This is a very big deal for me because I have been struggling to find a balance with my weight for 3 years since my body retaliated against me for extreme starvation and I could not stop the process of gaining all the weight I had lost from returning with a stubborn vengeance.
Today as I begin to buckle down on my Junior year at college, the social pressures have in fact doubled to give in and join the chemically induced party in the dining halls on campus. But with your straight forward and very simple yet effective on-the-go recipes has made the battle against ignorance and skepticism a walk in the park for me. (Thank you for your delicious Primal energy bar recipe!)
But in truth, I find it extremely interesting just how the Primal process works because, our society has done a great job into molding our population into a pre-packaged national mess. Less is so much more with the Primal lifestyle and I look forward to learning more and more, as I do each day from you and your wonderful website.
Your kind assistance is greatly appreciated.
just a quick fyi and lots and lots of gratitude
got my bloodwork done after 6 weeks on primal blueprint diet
total chol 183
compared to my last bloodwork my total chol went up but the hdl went up and ldls dropped. After watching FatHead and reading your book I realized that my cholesterol was actually getting close to too low – (i have a family history of heart disease, so the Dr’s were always thrilled it was low but my HDL/LDL wasn’t as good as it is now.) I can tell a significant different in my mental health -less foggy, better memory, more even keeled (as i am in perimenopause, that’s a huge benefit)
The tech reviewing my numbers was blown away – said ” I can tell you’re not eating much fat or sugar.”
I am actually at the point where i need to eat more food as I don’t want to lose anymore weight!!
I was in what looks like pretty good physical shape to begin with – not over weight, exercising (lots of low cardio hiking and walking), ok stats but I feel so much better and its so fab to not have low grade hunger or be starving as the next meal comes around. I tell all my girlfriends that part and they invariably say “really, I am always hungry” as they reach for a 100 calorie snack pack of something or drink their diet coke.
Untethered Soul by Michael Singer really impacted me mentally, spiritually and I am finding that PB is also proving to be a huge complimentary aide to my quest for being in the now, self-realization, flow. PB really is a holistic lifestyle approach to complete health.
I carry a little gratitude stone in my pocket each day as a talisman to help me be mindful of all the things I am thankful for….you come to mind quite a bit.
Hi Mark – I’ve been a convert to your lifestyle for a few months now and the change is amazing! A 43-year old lifelong lover of bread, cookies, cakes, pizza, I have finally rehabilitated myself. A bout of mid-life depression, loss of ambition and other situations led me to the path of PB nutrition. You know the effects – well I feel ’em. Thanks! While I was a carboholic, I got regular moderate excercise and kept in shape – one of my main excercise regime involves the sport of Judo. Since turning primal, I’ve come to realize how perfect a primal sport it is. It’s all grappling, balance, explosive efforts using every muscle group in the body in a way that is not repetitive. It uses a natural weight and resistance system – the weight of your opponent and the resistance generated by the power of their muscles. Best of all, as it was developed as a competitive sport in the late 1800’s, it boasts a high degree of safety by design for your opponents. Guys and gals that aren’t steroid-esque hotheads can easily practice the sport into their sixties and seventies. It all dawned on me one night last week as I was pinned by a man who has more than 45 pounds on me – as I struggled to escape, with full force I felt my abs crunching, my shoulders pushing, my brain working strategy… I knew right there – this was Grok, fighting for his life, or the girl, or the carcass – do or die effort, but couched in the relief that I knew I would be able to walk away from the mat, win or lose, and come back to play after I caught my breathe. Check it out sometime – I thought you’d dig it because in Judo, we don’t “fight” each other, we “play” each other. Thanks for being such a resource and inspiration!
I came across Mark’s Daily Apple in the spring of ’09. I won “The Primal Blueprint” in an August giveaway, but already started making some changes based on information found on the site. Your physique at the age of 56 grabbed my attention, and the fact that you were a former endurance athlete did too, because when I started I was in middle of training for Ironman Wisconsin.
A little reluctant to make any drastic changes right before the biggest race of my life I decided to develop a hybrid plan that allowed me to experiment with eating primal, without completely giving up the high-intake of carbohydrates through sugary sports drinks and refined grains that I thought I needed as an endurance athlete, which I now realize was a concept drilled into my head through marketing and misinformation. Coupled with intense training I started getting lean, and liked the results, so I took on a fuller commitment, and ended up getting my weight down to 179 pounds for the pre-race check-in, and without sacrificing fitness. This from about 185 just a few weeks prior, which I should point out was in itself a gradual progression from a time when I weighed 240 pounds.
I attribute going primal to getting lean, quickly, before the race. Furthermore, I strengthened my core with more organic, primal movements. I was mistaken about the work I needed to do to improve core strength. Shifting to real-situation movements made a difference. I truly believe these things helped me get through the Ironman run. Of course my commitment to sport-specific training was the major contributing factor, but going primal helped.
Today I’m still trying to go primal. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m proud to tell people about it, and believe me, they ask. Especially if they haven’t seen me for a while. I’m leaner, more cut, lighter on my feet, and continue to participate in the endurance sports that I love. I’m happy, healthy, my energy levels are more consistent throughout the day, and at 32, continue to improve in all 3 triathlon disciplines; swimming, biking, and running. I eat a dozen to two dozen eggs a week, tons of meat, loads of guilt-free vegetables, enjoy them all, and I never have to worry about constant hunger I thought was normal for an athlete in training. I worry less about counting calories and more about getting them from better sources, and most of all, don’t have the same desire that I used to have to indulge in a candy bar, or cookie, knowing how it’s really going to make me feel down the road, now that I know how eating the right way makes me feel and look good.
Jason – Clydesdale Running