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

The J.J. Experiment

Earlier this year I received an email from a woman down in Miami. She worked for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, her trainer had turned her on to the Primal Blueprint, and she was ecstatic about her results. A month or so later I received an email from another employee at Royal Caribbean who also had great success. Then another, then another. Turns out the reason was J. J. Valdivia.

J.J. is a personal trainer who works at Royal Caribbean HQ and has been teaching folks about Primal living for over a year now. Judging by the continued emails of his clients, he seems to be pretty good at it. When I came out with the Primal Leap Kit last month, I contacted J.J. with a proposal: Pick ten people and lead them through the 30-Day Primal Leap experience. J.J. graciously agreed, and his group of ten started the Primal Leap on Tuesday, kickoff day for the 30-Day Challenge. Every Friday for the next 30 days J.J. will be sending me updates on how his group is doing. You’ll get to see the ups and downs, the successes, the obstacles, what kinds of activities are involved, and what it takes to make a complete conversion to Primal living using the Leap Kit. This experiment should work as a kind of live-blogging for what happens when people go Primal. Together. Here’s J.J.’s first update…

Hello MDA,

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of the 2010 Primal Blueprint Challenge! We had a great start and all of us are looking forward to the next few weeks. We started the challenge with a blood draw at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning. This was done at the Port of Miami Medical Clinic, across the street from our offices here at Royal Caribbean. The ten leapers were tested for cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides. We will do this again at the end of the thirty days and hopefully, see some improvements in all three categories. We met again that day during lunch for our first official “Primal Blueprint Challenge” meeting. I passed out the “Primal Leap Kits,” discussed the week’s agenda, and answered any questions they had about transitioning to a Primal lifestyle. The eleven of us left the meeting feeling very enthused and excited! As of today (Thursday), my Leapers have already created their Fit Day accounts and have calculated their daily caloric needs as well as their macronutrient percentages. We have done measurements, including body fat percentage and I have included some pictures from their pantry raids, fit day logs, and grocery shopping sprees. I was able to walk them through the 4 essential movements and we have our first “Move at a Slow Pace” workout tomorrow.

TorrenceThorSandraRaoulLourdesGeorginaElaineChuckArlenePrimal Leap Kit Intro 1Primal Leap Kit Intro 2Primal Leap Kit Intro 3Primal Leap Kit Intro 4Blood DrawAt the Clinic 1

It will be difficult to get all 10 Leapers together for every session being that a lot of them travel quite a bit for work, but that’s what being Primal is all about. You enjoy life and you take what it gives you. There are no rules or regimens, nor is it a diet, rather than a lifestyle. Eating is eighty percent of the equation and as long as they enjoy Primal foods on the road and maybe perform a couple brief, intense workout sessions using the 5 essential movements, traveling shouldn’t affect their results at the end of the thirty days. My Leapers understand this and are motivated to conquer this challenge whether at home, here in beautiful Miami, Fl., or halfway across the globe. We would like to thank Mark and Mark’s Daily Apple for this amazing opportunity and we look forward to leading the way in this year’s Primal Blueprint Challenge!

Grok On!


From Lourdes Davila’s Journal:

Not sure if Grok jumped up and down for joy, but this leaper is excited.

Two days into the PB challenge and my body seems to be responding to the low carbs and increased protein and fat.

I’m still a bit skeptical about the increased fat and when I tracked my food on line I cringed to see that fat was the largest % of my calories at 55%, followed by protein and last carbs. Conventional wisdom is hard to purge.

I’ve also been surprised at how much energy I had, despite serious jet lag from a cross Atlantic trip.

Finally, I haven’t been hungry, typically I ate 6 small meals per day (every 2-3 hours) but was always famished between meals. Now, after a protein and veggie scramble, with coffee & cream breakfast I was satisfied. Lunch was a giant salad with lots of veggies and London broil.

I purged my pantry too…check out the pics.

Kind Regards,
Lourdes Davila

From Torrence Matthews’ Pantry Raid:

Torrence Matthews' Pantry Raid Torrence Matthews' Pantry Raid Torrence Matthews' Pantry Raid

Elaine’s Food Log for September 8:

Elaine's Food Log for September 8

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. All the best to everyone giving the 30 days a good go. I’m going to start myself tomorrow and hope to have some great results to show.

    Let’s make it a lifelong thing, to stay as fit and healthy as possible.

    All the best

    John wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • AH! Please don’t show me pictures of the OLD WAY! Are you trying to make me relapse?

      jonny b wrote on September 12th, 2010
  2. I too, have had a similar experience. I have been pretty close to Primal (~99%) for the past eight weeks and have lost 28 lbs (first time under 200 lbs in almost 18 years!). People at work have asked me how I did it. I told them all about MDA, the 30-day challenge and the Primal Blueprint. I have loaned out my personal copy of the book and am really not sure who has it know! I guess time to buy a new one!

    Sharing your personal experience with others is a great way to lead people to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

    Grok On!

    Primal_Joe wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • You are so right Joe! I started a page on facebook when I started my fitness quest earlier this year and now have 400 fans watching the scale drop and the inches melt. I even started a membership community where I guide women on making the transition with family/kids.

      Malika Duke wrote on September 13th, 2010
  3. What a great idea to have our own experimental group to follow. I wish you all the best of luck.

    Now, I think the next thing we need to do is put together a primal cruise, hmmmm??

    Jenn wrote on September 10th, 2010
  4. Are these co-workers you’re training, or people taking cruises? I’ve never been on a cruise, but I understand that food and alcohol are readily available pretty much around the clock. People I know have gone on cruises for two weeks and come back 20 pounds heavier!

    Go, J.J., go!

    dragonmamma wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • And that’s exactly why I won’t take a cruise!

      Katie wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • I’m actually a personal friend of J.J.’s.

        They are employees of Royal Caribbean, he works at their corporate gym. I’ve been on a few cruises and the cruises offer some healthier choices but sometimes when it’s free and it’s all out there, people tend to overindulge. You got to have some self discipline.

        He’s actually had some great success stories from the people he’s trained that have followed the Primal Lifestyle. He actually introduced it to me many months ago and I thank him for it. I thought I was a pretty fit guy before but with the Primal Lifestyle change; I lost 15 pounds, have a lot more energy, and don’t spend so much time at the gym anymore. I workout from home now a lot more and look and feel better than before!

        David wrote on September 10th, 2010
        • Congratulations David! That’s awesome! I had a woman tell me she was happy with her weight before cutting the grains and she lost 7 pounds in 2 weeks as well as the other side effects like more energy, no mid-day crashes, fewer cravings, etc.

          Malika Duke wrote on September 13th, 2010
      • I took a cruise and didn’t gain any weight. With that much food, you can pick and chose what to eat and make healty choices. Also when you see alcoholic bev prices, I doubt you will be inspired to drink them around the clock.

        Vic wrote on September 10th, 2010
  5. It will be exciting to see the changes that can be achieved in 30 days! And congrats to Primal_Joe…that is really impressive! I just finished cutting the grass and was going to hop in the shower but I think I will do the 5 essential movements first…this will be my first attempt. I hope I can do them!

    Patty wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • Thanks patty. Remember it’s not about if you can do the 5 essentials that matter. What matters is that you are trying to them that matters! :)

      Primal_Joe wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • Thanks Joe!

        Patty wrote on September 11th, 2010
  6. This is awesome! Good luck to all the humans involved in it. Keep up the good work J.J.

    Josh the Monkey wrote on September 10th, 2010
  7. Awesome!!

    gilliebean wrote on September 10th, 2010
  8. Um… Awesome idea! Put the pb on the spot with some regular old people. If it doesn’t work it will be obvious, and if it does what a cool way to see the effects of the pb. I’m excited.

    Barefoot Paul wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • I probably qualify as a regular old person (65). I’ve been following the PB since 8/24 100% and 80% since 7/24. I’ve lost 10.84 pounds of fat and 9 weight pounds. Clothes that I haven’t been able to wear since late winter, I’m not able to wear with ease. Today I have on my hiking shirt that I wore a month ago. I’m noticeably smaller (i.e., the bust area doesn’t bulge). My SUGAR cravings are nil.

      hiker wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • OK – should have proofread – I’m now able to wear with ease.

        The 9 weight pounds – started at 160 and now weigh 151. But overall fat percentage has decreased steadily.

        hiker wrote on September 10th, 2010
  9. Congrats JJ and Good luck to all of you. Just do what JJ and the PB says and can’t loose……..except weight!

    Tony Pearsall wrote on September 10th, 2010
  10. The idea of a “live blog” tracking the results is great. It is interesting to see what the results will be like in real time. Can’t wait to see how it goes.


    David Grim wrote on September 10th, 2010
  11. I think this is such a fantastic idea! I wish them all the best of luck and look forward to hearing about their progress. This little “experiment” will be a great motivation to others!

    MamaSofi wrote on September 10th, 2010
  12. Very cool. Best of luck to all who are participating!

    Russell wrote on September 10th, 2010
  13. This is great and really appeals to my scientific brain, a group we can track!

    And having bloods checked is a brilliant. As far as I know this isn’t something done routinely in the UK in the way you guys over the pond seem to do. One of the things my mother goes on about is what my cholesterol levels must be like with all ‘that’ fat I eat. I wish I’d had some bloods done before I started! Really looking forward to reading about those stats.

    I’ve bought extra PBs so I can have them out on loan but still have a copy for me, it’s the only way to go! Just re-read it in the last week or so – it gets better with age, like a really good Red :-)

    Kelda wrote on September 10th, 2010
  14. What a fun idea!

    Best of luck to all the Leapers.

    Page wrote on September 10th, 2010
  15. Thanks Mark for bringing us this story. I love to hear updates on people’s challenges and successes.

    I’ve had several people lately come up to me and compliment me on how great I look, asking me what I’ve been doing to look this way. But when I tell them the overall gist of the plan, every one of them says that they could never do it, they could never give up sugar and grains. How do you get people past their mindset of going against conventional wisdom?

    cathyx wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • That’s easy. They don’t really “give it up”. The 80% rule applies to your diet, and if you really, really want a bowl of pasta 20% of the time, have it. Over time, though, it starts to make you feel absolutely awful. Then maybe the 20% becomes 10%… then 5%… maybe even 0%!

      Macha wrote on September 10th, 2010
      • @Macha is so right! I actually quit cold turkey but I’m hard core like that when it comes down to my health. It not worth it to have any of the stuff with the nasty and/or annoying side effects you get once you have grains after purging your system. Even a single slice of bread can have you feeling bad all day. 0-5% is the real sweet spot for the truly successful.

        Malika Duke wrote on September 13th, 2010
  16. “The ten leapers were tested for cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides. We will do this again at the end of the thirty days and hopefully, see some improvements in all three categories.”

    was cholesterol HDL and LDL or just total cholesterol? if the latter, what constitutes an improvement? a decrease (as CW would say)? an increase (think i’ve read a few places that total cholesterol is inversely correlated with all-cause mortality)?

    Dave wrote on September 10th, 2010
  17. Hi, I would like to see most of the leaper’s trigs and glucose go down as that most of their results came back high. As far as cholesterol goes, I am really not concerned with the overall number. I would like an improvement in ratio and an increase in HDL’s. If we see improvements in any or all of these categories, I will consider the 30 days a success.


    J.J. Valdivia wrote on September 10th, 2010
  18. I’m looking forward to tracking their progress and seeing how they feel physically and emotionally. I know I feel so great on PB, and I want everyone else to experience this sense of well-being too!

    superdeluxe wrote on September 10th, 2010
  19. Hi there Mark.
    long time lurker…first time commenter:)

    Just wanted to say…what a nice and informative blogger you are.
    With all the overwhelming information out there about healthy diets and weight loss….it gets confusing at best.

    I have stumbled onto a few blogs where you have commented in their comment section and every one of your comments have always been open, honest and kind.
    You don’t find that often from people that are as passionate as yourself about health and fitness. Most people seem to think their way is the only way!

    I would love to give the primal diet a whirl….but don’t eat meat….
    I too stuggle with weight gain, fatigue, bloating….on and on and can see just how helpful it has been for some people to eat as natural and clean as your plan describes!
    Maybe I can find a way to adopt some of the principals of primal eating into a vegtarian way of life…
    i’ll keep reading!

    Long winded….but really just wanted to say thanks for always being so open, honest and positive!!!
    Thanks for such an open and informative website:)

    simpledaisy wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • You could start small and just try cutting out wheat first. That’s the nastiest thing for me and my health improved vastly and I lost 30lbs just doing that.

      Katherine wrote on September 11th, 2010
  20. Just today, I was wondering what would be a good counter to all the junk-science nutritional studies in the news. This–with food logs and several before and after measurements–is better than some of the studies in peer-reviewed journals.

    Lori wrote on September 10th, 2010
    • So let’s see … what would be the 2010 equivalent of a China Study … the FitDay Database! If you could get the Owners and everyones agreement to study the data – anonymized, of course – we could get massive results.

      Btw, i think that the paleo community is exeptionally active and consistent in openness about their progress (or lack thereof) with very low dropout rates. If we combined this with the power of todays social media, at best a critical mass of anecdotal evidence could be collected.

      Just a thought though :)

      Jan wrote on September 11th, 2010
      • I like the way you think Jan! I’m doing my part with a fan page on fb and a private transition community where I help moms transition with kids… very low drop out rates.

        Malika Duke wrote on September 13th, 2010
  21. This is exciting. Live experiments like this are great to see the true powers of primal living. There’s no where to hide and nothing to leave out. I hope all these leapers experience great success so that we can all use them as testimonials when preaching the power of primal living.

    Matt Joseph wrote on September 11th, 2010
  22. Exciting!

    Kath (Eating for Living) wrote on September 11th, 2010
  23. WOW this was SO inspriational , thanks for sharing , one of the best blogs to me :)) Gret job JJ you look amazing an best of luck with the 30 day group challenge BRING IT..

    Joy wrote on September 11th, 2010
  24. Great stuff!

    Organic Gabe wrote on September 11th, 2010
  25. Congratulations and best wishes to the people who have decided to make a change and to Mark and jj for helping them.

    debbie_downer wrote on September 11th, 2010
  26. Ohhh this is so exciting! I’m sending luck to everyone involved – the stuff inside the pantries were a great reminder to where we all start out. That’s awesome that Mark is helping them do this – what a fantastic experiment!

    Sarah Yoshi wrote on September 11th, 2010
  27. What a great idea Mark! and well done JJ. I look forward to seeing what awesome results you will have.

    I also do a pantry raid with my clients and i never cease to be amased by the amount of junk people feed themselves and their kids.

    good luck to everybody else who is doing this challenge!

    My clients are and so is my mother who has become a fanatic Grokette :)

    Carla wrote on September 13th, 2010
  28. It’s great to see that people are making commitments to healthy living, but I think it’s more interesting to see people who’ve been struggling with a conventional healthy diet.
    I would argue that any ‘diet plan’, be it strict low carb, low fat, calorie restrictive, even vegetarian would probably help people with a ‘Coke, crisps and biscuit’, especially with a personal trainer!
    But, anyway, good luck to everyone…

    ZhuWaWa wrote on September 13th, 2010
  29. Great stuff. It is so enlightening to see people make the primal leap and have success with it. We need more personal trainers like JJ around the world!

    Primal Toad wrote on September 13th, 2010
  30. This is awesome, congrats to JJ and crew for taking charge of their health. I’ve found that word of mouth is a powerful thing when it comes to spreading the PB, especially when you have someone with experience to help guide the way.

    Theprimalbrett wrote on September 14th, 2010
  31. J. J. You are a modern day Grok! Very exciting with this “Live Experiment”!

    Bill wrote on September 16th, 2010
  32. J.J is an inspiration. He is Grok……love following u on Marks daily apple… Awesome. Have invented some great recipes….. That has been alot of fun. They have a Spanish twist without the Grease(yuk). Thanks for the encouragement J-Man…

    Nellie wrote on September 17th, 2010

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