The Primal Blueprint message has been received and taken to heart by regular readers of Mark’s Daily Apple. I receive emails nearly every day with inspiring, life-changing success stories. People that reversed diabetes; lost 50+ pounds and took back control of their lives; refined their diet and exercise program to attain goals they thought were impossible. Here is just a small sample of the amazing accounts of transformation I have received over the last year.
If you have your own personal success story you would like to share please drop me a line via our contact form. You can also share your story (and upload before and after pics) in the Primal Blueprint Success Stories forum.
I went primal back in mid November after seeing the results in Son of Grok. I’ve been overweight my whole life and when I recently realized I was just over 300 I knew it was time to change and this time actually stick to it. There are very few foods I miss or crave and the transition was fairly easy for me. I lost nearly 40 pounds in the first 2 months with little to no effort. I have pretty much maintained the same weight for the past month. I could definitely be working harder on the physical activity (although I do notice my arms are getting bigger and stronger), but I’ve always been kinda lazy when it comes to exercise.
Although I mainly got into it for the weight loss, I’ve been feeling physically better for the most part and it’s become a philosophy I’ve grown to believe in. This is also the first winter I haven’t gotten sick, not even with the slightest cold.
I look forward to where this takes me and seeing my health improve. My goal when starting was to lose 100 pounds in one year and I’m about 40% of the way there.
Roger De Rok
We have been following the Primal Blueprint for about 5 months. I stumbled onto your site about a week after joining a CrossFit affiliate, your Primal plan immediately made sense. I remember the anxiety that I felt when we started, mostly related to the intensity of the workouts, but also from the potential expense of really trying to make the right decisions about our lifestyles after a lifetime of mis-information. Your advice is spot on, you can’t make every change at once. We cut out the HFCS, soda, grains, sugar, processed crap first, then worked on the details and studied more about Nutrition (which we embarrassingly knew nothing about), lowered our alcohol consumption, etc… Now I am experimenting with fasting and we just went in fourths on our first cow from a local farmer. I am also sticking with the intense workouts 5 days a week, give or take. I have dropped 40 lbs of fat and added 10 lbs of lean body mass, dropping from about 30 to about 16% BF. Amazing results and I don’t miss any of the shit that my friends and family still try to feed me. I am completely on-game mentally, never sick, and feel better than I have since -probably ever. I travel about half the week for business, so I know that you can’t always get food with a traceable origin, so you just make the best ‘meat and veggie’ selection possible and move on. I started bringing some of SoG’s Primal Energy Bars with me for emergency food situations and if I can’t get something decent…I just don’t eat – a perfect modern equivalent of a bad hunting day for Grok.
Keep up the great work,
Sean – Blacksburg, VA
Its Tony from Tennessee I am 28 years old in the past 2 years I have lost a total of 240 pounds all on my own but I used the tools that u and Doug Kaufman have been talking about as far as diet exercise and supplementation but the thing is since losing this weight I have just a little loose skin and of course stretch marks when any of that repair or draw back up I would like to hear your expertise on this. Have a wonderful day. I am a big fan of yours and Doug Kaufman and would love to meet you guys someday.
I was always a little on the heavy side, ever since I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out in kindergarten. I would say 3rd grade was the last time I really felt “normal.” After that it was all down hill. I can remember my childhood being filled with snacks, cakes, and overall poor food habits. As I got into my teens and after graduating, that’s when I started really suffering the emotional consequences. By the time I was 18 I weighed 200 lbs, and being a teenager, that made life pretty much hell. My life was generally unhappy and not going the direction I’d always dreamed, unable to afford college and working at minimum wage jobs. Food was my comfort. It was so comforting I ended up at 250 lbs… at least that’s where I think I ended up. I stopped weighing myself after that.
I had just ended a very serious relationship and I got fed up with my life. I decided it was time for some change. I moved into a new apartment where for the first time in my life I could cook for myself and eat what I wanted- which meant finally eating healthy food. I remembered back to when my sister went into the Air Force and had to lose a lot of weight just to get in. Her recruiter told her no “white” foods. No bread, no pasta, no potatoes. I started following that rule, and was thrilled to see the weight start to slowly come off. My mom bought me a treadmill for my birthday. At 250 pounds I was no runner, but I could at least walk. Gradually as the pounds came off my speed went up, until I was at the point of slamming out 6 miles on the treadmill every morning, faithfully. I was meticulous when it came to my meals. Every hour and a half to 3 hours there would be a “mini-meal” or a snack, you know- so my metabolism stays high. (At least that’s what I thought.) Every day was planned out, what I would eat, when, and how many calories. It was all right there in my journal- what I ate, how many calories, along with a log of my weight, my workout, and how many calories I burned from running. It seemed like the more weight I lost, the more obsessive I got about food, exercise, calories, cardio… the whole shebang.
I remember when I got down to my goal weight of 150 lbs. On one hand I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t even remember the last time I weighed 150 lbs! On the other hand, I still had a lot more fat than I imagined I would at that weight. I was a little shocked. I was a runner and runners are supposed to get skinny! What happened!? So naturally I cut calories a little more, and increased my miles. At my max I was eating 1800 calories a day and running almost 50 miles a week. I knew deep down that this was not a pace I could sustain for long, and what’s worse, at 140 lbs the weight completely stopped coming off. I was so frustrated and depressed.
During my “Cardio Queen” phase I’d joined a forum for runners, and a fellow runner directed me to MarksDailyApple.com. I’m an admitted Foodie and was looking for recipes, and boy did I find some great recipes! I couldn’t believe all the great foods, no grain required. What really impressed me was Mark, and his wife. I remember seeing a photo and thinking “Wow… I want to look like that.” I did some reading through the archives and decided to take the leap. It was incredibly hard wrapping my brain around the idea of eating more fat, and running less.
So I got my diet straightened out and restructured, and it really was surprisingly easy once I got over my fat phobia. It was a little sad giving up my Kashi TLC bars and my yogurt. Of course I don’t miss the gurgly gut the yogurt used to give me. Eating Primal has opened doors to new foods I never knew about. Coconut milk is one of my new favorite ingredients, and I love cooking with beef tallow that I render myself. It has also spurred me to think more in depth about the meat I eat, and where it comes from. I’m proud to say I’ve gone from buying the cheapest CAFO “club packs” for $1 per pound to shopping for a chest freezer to hold my grass fed/finished beef, and the wild boar I will soon be ordering- uncured bacon and all. I’ve also broadened my food horizons to foods I thought I hated, like radishes and liver. Yes, I actually like liver.
That’s not the end of my Primal evolution. I’ve learned great lessons about not only eating Primal, but living Primal. I sleep better, and I play more. I also exercise differently. No more pounding miles on the treadmill at 5:00 am, annoying my downstairs neighbor. I’m sure she’s as grateful for my lifestyle transformation as I am. I do still get up at 5:00 am, but now it’s of my own accord, without the alarm clock, to go to the gym to play leisurely on the elliptical, do tabata sprints on the stationery bike, or lift lots and lots of heavy things. Admittedly, random outdoor exercise is better, but I do like the structure the gym provides me, and I certainly don’t turn down an opportunity to use my lifting and sprinting skills in the outdoors. One of my favorite games, part exercise, part play, is “chase the rabbit.” If there are no rabbits in sight, it becomes “chase the parents’ Jack Russell terrier.” He loves it too.
I noticed some other side effects of my new lifestyle. I wasn’t hungry every hour like I used to be. I don’t have to plan out an entire day’s worth of food, nor do I need to keep an emergency Soy Joy bar in my car in case I’m lost out in the concrete jungle without a snack. I only eat 2 or 3 times a day (rather than 5 or 6) and yet I had energy- and lots of it! My boss recently commented to me how I was “too chatty and upbeat” too early in the morning. We were pulling overtime at 6:30 in the morning, and I was wide awake and ready to go, while my co-workers were dragging themselves around by their coffee cups and breakfast bars. When I get home from work, I’m proud to say I don’t pass out on the couch after dinner anymore. The energy levels I have now are amazing, albeit sometimes frustrating when my non-Primal friends and family aren’t raring to go, go, go with me.
Of course, what would a success story be without results? I’m very proud to say that I’ve lost another 15 lbs after 3 months of going Primal, and am continuing to improve my body composition. That’s a grand total of 125 lbs of weight loss in 2 ½ years. I am exactly half the weight I used to be. How freaky is that!? I’m building muscle tone in my arms and don’t look quite so “skinny fat” anymore. I still can’t do a regular pushup, but I can do several “girl” pushups- a huge improvement over my previous state. I have to say, I look amazing! I can’t wait to finally wear a bikini.
The biggest change in my life, beyond what I eat, how I exercise or how I sleep, is the simple freedom that the Primal Blueprint has afforded me. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. If I’m running late for work, it won’t kill me to skip breakfast. Some mornings I don’t feel like lifting weights, or doing sprints, so I don’t feel guilty for just taking a walk, or doing no workout at all. I don’t have to measure every serving of food and count every calorie, and make sure I burn off a certain number of calories on the treadmill in order to lose weight. I can eat meat, and fat, and eggs in butter without the fear of getting fat again. I can be free… free to eat, to run, to breathe, to live Primally.
My weight struggle began when I turned 21. I got really stressed out at my job, and in turn I became depressed and very anxious to the point that my Doctor put me off work. That was the beginning of my search to feel well again…so here’s my story.
In 2002 I was prescribed Antidepressants, which at the time I definitely needed because I was not in a good place. However, this increased my appetite like crazy and I really started gaining weight. I ballooned up to 87kg and I’m 5’6”, so my ideal weight is something like 60kg. I searched online for an answer and I came across Atkins, so I started it straight away. I was really successful with it and I lost a lot of weight. I got right down to 54kg so I was thin…great, ah not really. I didn’t emphasise health enough. Veggies weren’t a large part of my diet, but diet coke and artificially sweetened chocolate was. I kept the weight off for a wee while but I was still having anxiety and depression. So in my search to find a cure I did more research online and came to the conclusion that low carb was exacerbating the problem….
In 2005 I started eating whole grains after what I had read, and I was convinced that they were the key to healing my body… boy was I wrong. I was so stubborn that I had found the answer that I just kept eating and eating, hoping that one day my anxiety would vanish. I still can’t believe how much faith I had in eating this way.
2008 This is the year where I reached my lowest point and my highest weight. I was now considered morbidly obese and I was extremely unhappy. I was eating every 2-3 hours and even before bed just to keep my blood sugar “stable”. I would eat whole grains, protein and “good fats” thinking I was eating well, but I was constantly hungry and just getting bigger and bigger I was so stubborn and convinced that this was the right way to eat. My anxiety levels were not good, and deep down I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea just how misinformed and misled I had been.
I knew that I was large but you see what you want to see in the mirror, and although I knew I was fat, I was definitely in a state of denial for months. I remember buying a size 20 pair of jeans and thinking “oh they must be a big sizing” until I hopped on the scales and saw 107kg!! And even then I thought the scales were giving me the wrong reading. Then my husband suggested he take a photo of me. I was so shocked that I was actually that size and I remember just sobbing, and being so angry with myself.
In Oct of 2008 I started my online search again Knowing that Atkins had worked in the past was my main motivator, but I was a bit apprehensive. Now there had been a lot more research done, so I managed to find some great websites and blogs that were very informative, which helped me make my decision. With the combined ideas of Atkins, Protein Power and Paleo, I cut out all my whole grains and started eating plenty of veggies, protein and fat, and quickly started dropping weight. No diet coke this time, just water, soda water and herbal teas. I started feeling energised and so great. I still had a little anxiety, but nowhere near as bad.
Once I’d lost about 10kgs I came across Marks Daily Apple and was glued to the site for days!! This is what I had been looking for. It helped me to change my mindset, and to realise it is all about lifestyle, not just about dieting. Since then I have lost another 25kgs and now I weigh 72kgs, and fitting a size 12! I joined the gym to start weight training about 2 months ago and I’m hooked! I’m really looking forward to changing my body composition. My anxiety is far more manageable now and I finally feel like I’ve got it sorted. I now know what works and what doesn’t for my body.
The primal way feels so natural, coming from a person who had to eat every 2-3 hours otherwise I would be lightheaded and sometimes even dizzy. Now I can do the odd 24hr Intermittent Fast with no problems, and if a meal is late it’s no biggie. I finally feel freed from my obsession with food, and the handcuffs of my eating timetable. That is one of the best things about going primal.
When people ask me “what’s my secret?” I don’t talk about it like it’s a diet. This is just the way we were meant to eat. Hopefully I can help others to realise it’s all about mindset, feeding yourself with the best fuel, and using that knowledge to maximise exercise and movement. I’m definitely a bit of a preacher when it comes to Primal living, and talk about Mark Sisson like he’s my best buddy. I started a blog so I wouldn’t drive my friends and family crazy talking about it.
So, it can be a tough pill to swallow when you realise there is no magic pill, and you have to make some major changes if you want real results. Now, when I’m in a situation surrounded by unhealthy foods I have to make conscious choices. Most of the time it’s easy because eating primal foods are so satisfying and makes me feel so good that I never feel deprived. And holding onto my old pair of size 20 jeans is a great reminder and motivator of just how far I’ve come!
Michelle – New Zealand
[From the Rivendell Reader (PDF)]
The RR with the article by Mark Sisson really set me off, and I changed my eating and exercise on since Feb 9, 2008. In the first three months I dropped 65 pounds, from 225 to 160 (Iʼm 5-11), and went from 34 percent body fat to 9 percent. I logged everything I ate for months, every day. Iʼm not eating that much less, Iʼve just been exercising differently (the way Sisson says to), and Iʼve dropped the carbohydrates. Let me tell you about my food now, OK? For my TV snack last night, I had 1/4 cup blueberries (frozen, unsweetened) with .5 oz walnuts, all mixed up in 2 oz of Voskos Greek style (high protein, low carb) yogurt. Waaaay tastier than my old habit of 2 bags of M&Ms, 6 to 10 Oreos, dunked in a tall glass of milk. I use www.fitday.com to track my food and progress. Also, I carry my little notebook to write down foods eaten during the day, to transfer into Fit Day. I use the journal to note how I feel, exercise, etc. I’ve also incorporated Intermittent Fasting (see theIFlife.com) and resistance training (3-4 days a week on either, no super regimented system on either at this point). My biking, running, walking have all stayed at the same levels as before. It is just easier to do all activities now! My cycling is better than ever, even with the low-carb eating. I donʼt do long slogs anymore, because I know theyʼre not good for me. The food I eat is natural, but not always organic. My protein comes from mostly from meat; my carbs, from veggies, limited fruits, and dairy; my fat, from meats, nuts, avocados, and olive oil. I have a bike shop, so Iʼm out there in the public a lot, so a lot of people ask me how I did it, and I tell them. One shop kid (now off to college in Minneapolis) dropped his 6 donut breakfasts and got on board. He’s went from 245 to 175—seventy pounds— in four months, all while eating at the college cafeteria buffet.
Tim Rangitsch – Rapid City
I had been suffering pressure in my head for many months and It was becoming a big problem. Sometimes it got intense and there were associated panic attacks. The doctors were telling me it was an anxiety disorder causing the stress headaches. I looked up blogs for people with similar symptoms.. All saying the same thing, theres nothing they can do its anxiety, councelling is the only way to deal with this. Part of me wasn’t so sure, I mean Ive had stress in my life but not that much.
I stumbled across the Primal Blueprint three days ago and read with interest. I have tried many different fad diets and with not a lot of success for reasons I now understand. This is not an exaggeration, I had only tried the diet for less than 24 hours.. By the time I was making dinner I was feeling a lot better.. The stress headaches were a barely audible hum in the background.. After a nice healthy dinner with no grains or starches, good protein and a nice helping of mono fat as the main part, the pressure in my head was gone..and funnier still, I just wasn’t hungry for ages.. It was weird It didn’t look like a big dinner compared to what Im used to, Im so used to eating a lot more calories and then becoming hungry a couple of hours later.. But the hunger never arrived. I was doing little happy dances in my house with excitement.. And then It hit me how obvious it all seems.. All these years with my diets of high carb followed by the inevitable crash had been causing major hormonal insults to all the glands in my body and had caused chaos and inflammation. I am excited and grateful for this and though I get funny looks from folk when I claim im giving up bread and pasta etc, I don’t really care as I have always enjoyed fruit and veg with a meal.. Only problem is previously It never filled me up enough.. but adding the fat is the key.. The fat seems to burn longer and more efficiently, my insulin must be stabalising and I feel nice and fresh throughout the day and I don’t count calories..
So a big thank you for all your ideas and work.. You may just have given my life back to me
Martin F – Glasgow, Scotland
Just wanted to drop you a line here…by trade i’m a pilot that flies private jet charter. The FAA requires an annual medical checkup, and I just wanted to share the initial results with you.
After going primal last October, and living with the occasional family event deviation, my blood pressure is 110/78, my urine sample revealed NO TRACE of sugar or lipids, and my weight is down to 172 from 188 at this time one year ago. I’m 34 and my power to weight ratio is better than it’s ever been in my life. 5 months ago my midsections widest point was 38″, now I’ve got it to 35 and the progress just keeps happening.
I just wanted to say thanks man, and I’m looking forward to your book. Keep it up!
5’8”, 225 lbs, 42” waist, multiple asthma medications, depression medicine, blood pressure medicine, topical testosterone. That’s where I was 4 ½ years ago – a freaking wreck and a dream patient for big pharma.
June 2006: Through hormone therapy and a low-carb DIET only, I trimmed down from 225 lbs to 170 lbs. Great? Not so great. Like so many people, I was able to lose weight and that in itself is a good thing, but I did not do it the right way. How do I know? Because when I stopped the meds and went back to a ‘normal diet’, I quickly climbed the scales back to 210 lbs. I had not changed a damn thing!
June 2007: I was watching TV in the wee hours of the morning. I came across an infomercial for P90X (very Grok-like). What I saw was an incredibly tough workout with real people who had great results. It looked so difficult that I figured it had to be legitimate. So in June 2007, I began P90X. This was my first introduction to Mark Sisson as he talked about sports nutrition at the end of one of the workouts. Mark would later become a larger part of my success as I started to eat and move more like Grok (unknowingly at the time). We’ll get to Mark and Grok a little later. As I moved forward with my new workouts, little did I know a Pandora’s Box of health, extreme fitness, and a completely new way of life would engulf me and my entire family. Between June 2007 and November 2007 I would complete 2 rounds of P90X. End of story? Happy ending? Not quite. Hang with me…I’m getting somewhere.
November 2007: 2 rounds of P90X complete. I was moving more like Grok and eating more like Grok…but not completely. I had trimmed down to 178 lbs and felt worlds better than I had in a long time. But after a nagging shoulder injury, multiple business trips, the flu, and pneumonia, 3 months had quickly passed since I had exercised, at all. And when you struggle with guilt from making bad decisions…again, not only do you not take care of yourself with exercise, but proper nutrition suffers greatly. And they did for me. This is the story for so many people.
Although not the drastic weight gain of times past, I crept back up to the 190 lb range much to my dismay and frustration. That feeling of stepping out of the shower and in front of the mirror after having been in great shape just 3 months earlier…what a feeling a failure. Why did I let myself down? Why did I not start back earlier? Why did I not at least maintain proper nutrition? One sentence sums up the answer to these questions: Do it for the right reasons. I was not doing it for the right reasons. I set myself up for failure before I even started. I wanted to look good and have other people tell me I looked good. After realizing that fact, I was ready to start doing it for the right reasons.
March 2008: my life changed for good. This time I would do it for all the right reasons: physical health, mental health, gene reprogramming, & family. And this is where my story takes a dramatic, compelling, and incredible turn. My eating habits were better and I understood why I was eating the way I was; not only for results (although great results were what I wanted) but rather to feel better and feed my body the proper foods with purpose. And although I struggled with lowering my body fat to my satisfaction, a much bigger change was morphing inside my body. Underneath the skin and muscles that everyone else was seeing, my blood vessels, lungs, heart, chemical makeup, hormonal makeup, genes, brain cells and tissues were changing in dramatic and unprecedented ways. Within the next 3 months, not only did my weight get down to 170 lbs, and my waist shrink to 31.5”, but my life had changed forever. Remember the litany list of medications I mentioned before? Depression medication: Gone. Blood pressure medication: Gone. Testosterone: Gone. And for the first time in 30 years…let me say that again…for the FIRST time in 30 YEARS. Asthma medications: Gone. Done. Finished. Wow! What a concept. Proper nutrition and exercise – the best medicine available to mankind. Big Pharma and FDA beware! We are coming after your business.
How did this happen? I started to live more like Grok. I cut way back on whole grains and legumes. I was eating lots more plants and animals, whole lean proteins, fruit, and tons of veggies. I lifted heavy things often. I got 8+ hours of sleep every day and napped when I could; even if only 30 or 40 minutes.
During this time period, I discovered numerous resources online that helped me tremendously. Tom Venuto was one, especially in understanding macronutrients and calories. Mark Sisson and MarksDailyApple.com was another. Through visiting MDA and pestering Mark with neurotic emails on how to get leaner he encouraged me to do several things: eliminate grains, sprint, continue to do the things that had proven successful, and try intermittent fasting. Since that time, I have leaned down to 11% body fat, 157 lbs, and a 30” waist. Self-admittedly, I often do too much – a neurotic decision fueled by my obsession to get to single digit body fat (aka, Mark Sisson ripped), but MDA and Mark have taught me the right ways to get there. Sprinting has become a permanent part of my routine (at least 1 day/week but usually twice/week). And no sprinting routine would be complete without my Vibram Five Fingers (as close to barefoot as you’ll get with a ‘shoe’); yet another introduction that Mark is responsible for. If you don’t have any, go get them now. Your knees will feel better and you’ll feel more like Grok as he sprinted either from being killed or to kill (except he was barefoot). Intermittent Fasting (IF) is my newest ‘endeavor’ and I feel a sense of accomplishment and clarity. As I continue to eat and move more like Grok, I’ll be glad to update my accomplishments.
Lastly, as I sat at a recent sales meeting (I work for a Biotech company that sells hormone replacement therapy for diabetes – yeah I know I’m in a unique field considering my belief system regarding obesity, diabetes, and overall health and fitness), I wanted to take the stage and scream at the top of my lungs. I wanted to scream! I wanted to scream that pharmacologic intervention and the billions spent on their marketing would be completely and utterly unnecessary if companies (pharma, agra, government) and doctors would spend a fraction of their time, money, and energy preaching the truth about exercise and proper nutrition. Although, at times, I don’t think that they even know (educated ignorance I guess). Sure, they offer diet and exercise as first-line treatment for a lot of medical problems. But only to fill a ‘check-the-box’ requirement for insurance companies before they move on to drug therapy. If people truly knew the healing power of proper exercise and proper nutrition, there would be nothing to stop them. But alas, the almighty dollar and the greed that fuels companies and politicians will always trump common sense and hard work. The masses have been fed a load of crap and Big Pharma, the federal government, the FDA, and Big Agra are keeping the masses fat and (un)happy. I want to be a messenger for Grok! Will you join me?
Update Photos: 07/31/09