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

The Long and Winding Road to Primal

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!

real life stories stories 1 2

You heard my wife’s story recently and since I have seen other husband/wife stories on Mark’s Daily Apple, I thought I would write mine. While my story is similar to previous male stories in that I have lost weight and improved my health dramatically since going Primal, my story might be different because I would not be successful without my wife and family’s support. The stories of couples or families who disagree on Primal vs. CW break my heart because I know my success is 100% attached to my wife’s. She is a stay-at-home-mom and the CEO of our house. She manages the budget, plans the meals, buys the food, and cooks. Without her buy-in and support, I would be fighting a losing battle to try and eat differently. So to all of you out there who believe in Primal and feel the same way, maybe my story will help you get your spouse or significant other on board.

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While my wife didn’t start struggling with weight until college, I have struggled with weight my whole life. I was always a bigger kid. I did every sport I could growing up, and excelled at most of them, so I wasn’t a “loose” fat kid…I was a strong fat kid. When I was in 8th grade, I was 6’0”, 205 lbs, and 13 years old. By the time high school ended I was 6’2 and 275 lbs. Being big and strong for sports was always my excuse for being heavy. I was a linemen in football, a center on the basketball team, and a shot-put/discus thrower on the track team. I was that guy who couldn’t lose weight to save his life, but could get stronger in the weight room faster and easier than anyone else. I went on to be a shot-put/discus/hammer thrower in college as well, and that is when my sports/weight delusion really got bad.

I topped out at 305 lbs when I was only 19 years old. Granted, I still had a good 40 yard dash time (~4.7 – 4.8 seconds) and could dunk a basketball, but I was still 305 lbs!!! My older sister worked at the Weight Watchers where she lived and always encouraged me to join. I had watched her lose weight doing it and that was inspiring for me, but I was still doing sports and needed to be big and strong (strong-like-bull). By my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to start a rotational engineering co-op with a local company (I was a mechanical engineering major). It was now decision time. Do I stop doing sports to pursue something that could really benefit my career or continue with sports since this is my last opportunity? The decision was actually pretty easy for me. I am somewhat of a logic-driven guy (typical engineer), so I decided that my sports career was about to be officially over. I knew when that decision was made, my big-strong-sports-guy excuse for being heavy was over as well. It no longer mattered how fast I could run, how much I could bench, or any other weight room statistic. It only mattered that I was healthy and fit enough to engage in the things I love. I wanted to be the dad or grandpa that could play hard with his family later in life. So the summer that my co-op started, I started Weight Watchers.

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Weight Watchers was a good experience for me. Their ideology followed CW (I didn’t know any better) but I was able to lose a lot of weight. With Weight Watchers, I was able to get as low as about 215 lbs, but I had to eat 100% perfect and I was hungry ALL of the time! If I deviated from the system at all, 3-5 lbs would go on before I knew it. I got into running and would run 2-3 miles a day 4-5 days a week. I would follow the running up with a solid 45-60 minute workout in the weight room. Over my time at Weight Watchers, I was unable to maintain the perfect diet (or what I thought was a perfect diet…I know better now) and I slowly gained weight and ended up maintaining between 225-230 lbs.

Since my wife told her story, we can fast forward a few years. Let’s jump to a point where I am a few years out of college, married, have a son, and just finished moving from Michigan to Minnesota for a new job. I joined a local gym near our house and worked out in the morning before work. I was running on the treadmill (thinking about how much I hate running on the treadmill, except I have no other choice since this is Minnesota and it’s -20 outside) when I see an infomercial for P90X. I am a former athlete, so I think…game on, I can do this! I bought P90X soon thereafter and did two rounds back to back. I also really got into the forums and Facebook groups, etc. I didn’t lose much weight (I also didn’t follow the eating plan that well) but I got a whole lot stronger, and that was motivating. I saw Tony Horton post one day on Facebook that he read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and recommended others to read it. I remembered seeing Mark at the end of one of the P90X DVDs talking about the P90X recovery drink. My wife and I are big readers, so during our next Barnes & Noble visit, I browsed through it and quickly realize it’s unlike anything I have ever read regarding health and fitness. I can’t describe it, but it just clicked for me. It just made total and complete sense. I decide I HAVE to own this book. This was after my wife had figured out, on her own, how to control her gestational diabetes during the pregnancy of our second son. So I read The Primal Blueprint, and suddenly, what she was doing to control her gestational diabetes made total sense.

We always had this vision of eating real, clean, locally grown food. We had a vision of a beautiful vegetable garden to provide fresh vegetables, my fall deer hunting to provide meat, and buying from local farms to supplement chicken, beef, and other food items. The Primal Blueprint approach and its laws were exactly as I envisioned us eating long term, so I was sold. I spent some time trying to convince my wife, after the birth of our second son, to go Primal. She was still doing Weight Watchers on her own and didn’t want to give up on the CW. She finally decided to read The Primal Blueprint. For her, it was taking what Mark was writing about and correlating it back to her own hands-on experience during the pregnancy to really believe in the system. I will never forget the day when we decided to go Primal – we went through every cupboard, got out the big black trash bags, and threw away everything that was not Primal (which was a LOT). We packed up the kids and went to the grocery store to buy all new food. Of course, it was our first time shopping Primal so the bill almost made us faint, but my wife (being the super stay-at-home-mom that she is) quickly learned how to be Primal on a budget. We both lost weight immediately and effortlessly. This was in the fall of 2010. I was back down to around 215 lbs, felt great, and maintained that weight with ease.

215

We changed our behavior very quickly, and were able to support each other day in and day out, but we had some concerns about changing our then carb-heavy sons over to a Primal Blueprint diet. What kind of resistance would they put up? Or more importantly, how long would the resistance last? We ended up starting with a core set of fruits and veggies that they already liked, and slowly expanded the selection. They have always been meat eaters, so we just had to slowly take out the processed junk and carbs. My oldest son, who was about 3 1/2 at the time, went through a remarkable behavior change as a result. He all of a sudden started sleeping better and was able to maintain much better focus throughout the day. After some time, the boys really transitioned well into being Primal. Now, my oldest thinks chocolate milk is gross!

I really found my groove when Mark published the Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook. I always enjoyed the functional fitness exercises like pull-ups, pushups, etc. From my sports days, I also enjoyed really pushing myself with heavy, hard workouts. The PBF book provided the best, most efficient way to achieve both. I go to the local community center to workout everyday at 5:15 am, with a schedule of lifting heavy things some days, walking some days, and sprinting other days. I love all the looks that everyone slaving away doing chronic cardio gives me as I am in and out of the gym in about 25 minutes. It’s even better since all 20 cardio machines are busy at 5:15 and I am the only one over by the weights. I chuckle about it every day.

As my wife mentioned in her story, we are now pregnant with baby #3! Like our first two pregnancies, I tend to gain a little weight (sympathy weight?) during the pregnancy, but getting it off is no longer a worry. I look forward to growing our family and experiencing life in a Primal way.

Mark Sisson, the Primal Blueprint, and Mark’s Daily Apple have changed our lives indefinitely. You have connected us with others who have helped motivate us, and hopefully you connect us with others whom we can help to motivate. You have helped us to get more out of life and we will always be in your debt.

To those of you who have spouses or significant others who aren’t on board yet, I hope my wife’s story and my story can be that extra nudge towards a Primal lifestyle for you.

Mike

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. That’s my sweetie pie!!! Hope you all love my husbands story too!!!! Grok darling!! SHMILY!!

    Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Is that a Western Michigan sign in the background of his 2nd picture?! I live in the Zoo! This is really awesome! Congrats Man!

      Nate wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • It is!! It is the sign for Ernest Burnham dormitory, which is where I lived my first two years at Western. I will be back in Kzoo next week, actually. Maybe I should take another picture in front of the sign…

        Mike wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • I am confused about eating fruit. I have been eating primal for about 2-3 weeks…still a newbie! I also do Crossfit 3-4 times weekly. I have lost some weight, but not as much as I’ve heard from others. Is it the fruit? I usually only eat about a cup of fruit per day.

      Leighand2 wrote on August 14th, 2011
      • Its tough, you have to figure out the right balance of carbs that works for you body, some can eat more some less. Try limiting the fruit and go for more veggies instead, it should help! Also make sure you are getting enough fat and protein, without that you won’t lose they weight you want.

        Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
  2. “I topped out at 305 lbs when I was only 19 years old. Granted, I still had a good 40 yard dash time (~4.7 – 4.8 seconds) and could dunk a basketball. but I was still 305 lbs!!!”

    Wow! That is unbelievably athletic for that size.

    Darin wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Look at the dude’s pictures. He’s a wall of muscle now, so I’m not surprised that even when he was really overweight he was still “strong-like-bull” as he puts it. :)

      Uncephalized wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • dude you gotta be 7 feet tall

      Dasbutch wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Thanks! I did every sport I could growing up [soccer, wrestling, bowling, basketball, baseball, football, and track]. I was fortunate to have a family that supported everything I wanted to try.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • “I topped out at 305 lbs when I was only 19 years old. Granted, I still had a good 40 yard dash time (~4.7 – 4.8 seconds) and could dunk a basketball”

      That would be amazing since I’ve known many guys who play basketball all the time that are 6’4″ and taller. If they weighed over 250lbs could not overcome gravity to elevate that high. Also, professional football players that weight that much are not putting up those 40yd dash times. HIghly unlikely, unless ofcourse you are a professional athelete?

      van wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Getting a good vertical isn’t hard when you do explosive exercises like Clean’s & Snatch’s all year long, year after year. As to my 40 time, the fastest I ran it was a hand-timed 4.67 at about 270 lbs. I had a auto-time’d one around 4.75 at the University of Michigan football camp. Most D1 coaches told me I was too short [I am about 6'1" and some change flat foot]. The other thing that took away from that sports drive to go D1 was I had excellent grades. I could go to any college I wanted on academics alone. In the end, I turned down scholarships at schools that didn’t [or had bad] engineering programs, which was my major.

        Mike wrote on August 13th, 2011
  3. I especially enjoy hearing about the changes for your son. My children are on the journey with me as well, and it is awesome to be reminded of the huge impact it is having/will have on them!

    Congrats!

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I always think of how I am setting them up for their adult lives and it makes me so happy. All of this will just be normal to them!!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • I recently heard a quote from a Robb Wolf podcast stating “you are what you eat, but you’re also what your mom ate and your grandma ate”. I see a HUGE difference in my two boys with my wife being Primal during the pregnancy of the second. I truly believe my second son is just programmed differently [better] than my oldest relative to how his body uses energy. It has been rewarding to see the changes in my oldest son.

        Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  4. I’ve also been big, but sport-centric all my life. The problem I’m still having is turning knowledge, which after 1-2 yrs of doing this, into results. I’m having trouble letting go of certain carbs like beer or occasional breads. I think I kill my progress with freedays..

    I’m going to try another honest effort to stick with meats, eggs and veggies.

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll have my own story to submit some day.

    Primal Pig wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • @Primal Pig: I totally know what you mean…in spite of the immense level of knowledge I’ve picked up from MDA and other sites and books, I still sometimes have trouble actually implementing it with the degree of dicipline necessary to look/perform like Mark himself! I’m doing better and better every day as I learn my own weaknesses and strengths and have been shooting for that sweet spot of 80/20 primal compliance. Some days, I also fall into the trap of deciding it will be a “cheat day”, which for me is dangerous because it can turn into a “cheat weekend”, haha. I guess we just have to take it day by day, enjoy the journey, and not beat ourselves up if we falter occasionally.

      Chase wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Thanks Chase! For the most part, I cook my own food, make my own lard, brew my own bone broth and stew my own goat, but my gf’s not really on board with primal (not that my physique’s yet given her reason to be impressed), so occasionally when she gets ice cream, I have ice cream.

        I’m going to try not to stress out, but really work to keep these well within the 20%.

        Primal Pig wrote on August 12th, 2011
        • I just wanted to share my own fast, home-made ice cream recipe (no ice-cream maker required). I blend together a combination of frozen organic strawberries and raspberries in my small food processor with a few tablespoons of water. Once pureed, I add some stevia to taste. Then at the very end I pour in some grass-fed organic cream (or coconut milk), and pulse it quickly. It is so fast and easy. My 3 and 5 year olds love it, and I never feel like I’m missing out on ice cream.

          samui_sakana wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • I would love to look like Mark at my age now, let alone his age! However, I also realize that I could eat the perfect diet and I might not ever be that lean. Even though we all process food the same way, our bodies efficiencies at those processes vary from person to person. It’s the same reason why some people have to be less than 30-40g of carbs a day to lose weight and others can lose weight steadily at 100g per day. Do the best you can, but don’t forget to enjoy life

        Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
        • @ Mike: Well said! Your comment reminds me of an important section at the end of Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body that says something similar…something along the lines of: there’s no point in living forever if you have to live a life of utter torment or depravity to achieve that longevity (he amusingly refers to an odd study that claims that every time a male “spreads his seed”, if you know what I mean, he shortens his life by a small amount, haha).

          @ Primal Pig: Keep working at it and fighting the good fight…soon enough the results will speak for themselves your gf will have to give it a shot. The more I drone on and on about things I’ve learned on here, my fiancé slowly seems to be getting convinced that Primal is the way to go (although just like with you and your gf, she sometimes convinces me to indulge in some ice cream or something). We even had a talk about this post at dinner tonight and she said she wanted her kids to be raised primal! Score!!! (I know “Peggy The Primal Parent” would have loved that discussion, lol). Also, don’t worry about things like whether or not your physique gives her a reason to be impressed…there’s nothing greater than knowing that a six pack or the body of a Calvin Klein underwear model does’t necessarily equal peak fitness. Just look at some of these pics for proof…

          http://www.stumptuous.com/why-dont-you-look-like-a-fitness-model

          They’re many different athletes who specialize in all different kinds of sports (most of them the top competitors in their sport), yet few of them fit the mold of what the media tells us we should look like physically. This was a game changer for my thought process and I still look at it from time to time as a reminder :)

          Chase wrote on August 12th, 2011
  5. I love how you gave your wife so much credit for your success. Good spouses (and bad sometimes) make good people so much better. We should all be thankful for the positive affects that others have on us.

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • We know that we either succeed or fail based on the other person….its true on my side, without him I would not have success either!! We totally enable each other…good or bad! Thankfully its all in the good now!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 12th, 2011
  6. It is incredible what people can do for each other in a relationship!

    I know I give my wife all the credit as well for all that she has done in my life already. Very fun story!

    And I agree with Darin, incredible athletic ability to be doing those things at 305 pounds! Cant imagine what you are doing now!!

    Dennis wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • While it was great being athletic and competitive at such a big size, it was also my crutch for not changing. Sure..I could have ran faster if I lost weight, but I could already run faster than all of our other lineman, so where’s the motivation?

      Like everything in life, there are good and bad consequences to all of our decisions.

      My goal now is to be a fit father who can engage his kids in fun activities and athletics for many years. Someday I want to be a grandpa who can throw the ball with my grandkids…

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  7. Wonderfully inspiring story! Congratulations! I wish more people blinded by CW would see stories like yours. My husband and I send people here regularly when they challenge us with CW in the hopes that it will help people see the light.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Jessica wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Your welcome! Same as you, I will get into a discussion with someone about health who is all for CW, I will make a statement like “saturated fat isn’t bad for you?” watch them make a strange face, and then send them to MDA…lol.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  8. Wow Mike, what a great story! Having a supportive spouse is such a tremendous advantage. You guys are excellent role models, especially for your kids.

    Having once been heavy seems to be a real advantage in getting strong. And since you were already very strong — holy cow! I bet you’re an animal at the squat rack.

    I know what you mean about everybody in the gym using cardio machines and disdaining weights. It’s a shame, especially on beautiful sunny days with a cool breeze blowing, to see so many well-intentioned folks slaving away indoors like hamsters on wheels, and making about as much progress. But we’ve all been there. What can you do but set your own example that there is a better way. And your example shines like the sun!

    Timothy wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • As I live this lifestyle and continually get myself in better shape, I am secretly hoping that someone at my gym, who I don’t know, will notice and ask me about it. I see the same people doing the same thing every single day. I know I get strange looks when I walk in and 10 minutes later I am done and stretching after doing my sprint workout.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • However, the downside to all of that heavy lifting is my feet, ankles, and knees creek like crazy when I first get out of bed in the morning. I’ve never had any pain or anything, but sometimes I snap-crackle-pop walking down the hallway!

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Make sure you eat connective tissue. Otherwise you will have to supplement glucosamine, etc.

        correcty fairy wrote on August 13th, 2011
  9. Awesome story. I love it. When human beings have a strong influence on their family in a positive way magic happens.

    I’m getting their with my family. I should point them to this success story!

    Primal Toad wrote on August 12th, 2011
  10. This is so inspiring! I am showing both of ya’lls stories to my hubby, so maybe he will get on board too! So happy for the two of you!

    Primalista wrote on August 12th, 2011
  11. Wow, your story is so wonderful. It’s great to see families and married folks supporting each other and keeping each other accountable. I agree, your kiddos have no idea how much y’all are helping them in later life! Hopefully one day they’ll be able to turn around and thank you for it.

    Perhaps we should start giving out a Cutest Primal Couple award…hehe.

    PrimalKite wrote on August 12th, 2011
  12. I was expecting a more amazing transformation in the after pic. But I guess it is early yet. Way to go Mike! You are doing great.

    Lee wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • That’s not a fair statement to make my friend. Remember our bodies are all different, our desired outcomes are different too!! Health and happiness is the most important factor! I would say that almost a 100 lbs loss its pretty damn amazing!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Inspiring! Good job to you both!

        joanie wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Let’s see yours and hear your story, Lee.

      Peter wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • “I was expecting a more amazing transformation in the after pic” Picture #2 vs Picture #3 = absolutely amazing transformation!
      Thanks for sharing your story, Mike. My husband has a similar sports background – going to make sure and share your story with him:)

      Patty wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • When we got married, I went back to my dorm [which is where pic #2 was taken] and took a picture on the other side of the sign. I then spliced them together. That pic was part of the slideshow we had going at one point in the reception. It definitely got a good reaction. It’s kind of funny, most of my friends and coworkers now never knew I was heavy and probably wouldn’t recognize me in those older pics. They assume I have been fit my whole life and can get away with eating anything!! HA

        Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • In my opinion, that’s a very dramatic transformation. Keep up the awesome work, Mike! You and your wife are great role models for your children.

      Sabrina wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • >I was expecting a more amazing
      >transformation in the after pic.

      *lol* What a dumbass.

      As Patty (and all the others) already said: A absolutely stunning transformation! Congratulations!!

      Grok on!
      Chantal

      Chantal wrote on August 12th, 2011
  13. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy each Friday simply because I get to read the amazing transformations of so many by going Primal. Congrats to all who have been so kind to post their success stories!

    Ryan wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • It is one of the things that motivated me to get healthy. I also kept my biggest pair of pants, which were size 44 [I am now a 34], as a reminder of where I used to for those days when I might get down on myself for a bad day.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  14. I think it’s so inspiration to see a whole family eating Primal. I love that the two of you are so united in your approach with food.

    Cassandra wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I never would have thought how important someone’s view on health and wellness could impact a marriage. It has definitely strengthened our relationship and become one of those pillars for us.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  15. That’s crazy you could dunk at 6 foot 2 when you weighed that much!

    The Primal Warrior wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I couldn’t do anything fancy….just run up and dunk [usually] When I first started Track & Field, the strength coach told me that I would be able to dunk at one point, simply from all of the explosive lifting we did. Most of the throwers could get up pretty well. Our summer lifting programs would just jam-packed with lower body explosive lifting and sprints.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  16. My husband’s doctor acknowledges my part in his recovery from ulcerative colitis:
    Husband: I should tell you I am on a low carb diet
    Doctor: Why are you on a low carb diet?
    Husband: Because my wife is.
    Doctor: That’s all right then.
    !!

    Jean wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • That’s hilarious Jean.

      Mike…Great story that I am sure lots of guys can relate to. You look like some of those professional football players in your before picture. I always wonder about their health and if they like being so heavy.

      It is so nice that your family is doing so well. Lucky kids to have you both for parents.

      Sharon wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • From a sports perspective, being big had its advantages. From a social perspective, especially being a high school boy, it definitely had its downsides.

        Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  17. Question for Mike:

    Did you ever go to the docs, and have them ask your wait and give you a double take?

    The other day, the nurse asked height and weight, and I replied, “6’3″, and 300. She did not take my word for that and went to grab a scale…300. I can definitely relate to the “heavy active guy thing” I have always been big and always strong, but also very overweight. I was getting very frustrated– I am a PE teacher, and I was doing my exercises with every class 9 times per day, and still going up in weight (while following the food pyramid and recommendations of course. What the nurse didn’t know was that 4.5 weeks ago, that number was 320 or so, before I started eating Primal. Man…it feels good to do nothing but eat good food and lose weight!

    Another question… did you have any major roadblocks on your way to that P90X look in the last pic?

    Jeff wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I always had physicals done through the schools, so no one ever commented on my weight really. Like I mentioned in my story, I was a good athlete, so I think people just brushed it off. Most of my friends would under-guess my weight by 20-30 lbs. It wasn’t uncommon for people to guess my weight to be 240-250 in high school when I was 275-280.

      When I started P90X I was around 235. I really got into the strength workouts and saw strength results quickly. I also really enjoyed Yoga, but it was tough at first and slowly got better. I didn’t follow the diet, so I didn’t get ‘ripped’ like I wanted to. This was all before going Primal, so in hindsight, the diet is the key to P90X. If you want to do long workouts that are hard, you can go get any bodybuilding book that strives for maximum repetitions. Ironically, I have Arnold’s encyclopedia to bodybuilding and it’s a great reference book for muscle groups, lifts, workouts, nutrition, etc.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  18. A great story. Thank you for sharing Mike! You and your wife Joanne are certainly an inspiration, and I wish you and your family the best!

    tootsie wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Thanks!

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  19. Great job! Excellent transformation! I am in the process of going through a sizeable weightloss. Started out at 270 and am now in the upper 230’s. Hopefully by the next 3-4 months I will be back around 195 where I was lean and had my 6 pack. Of course this time I will be far healthier than I was when I was 25-27 since I am 41 now.

    Mike – can you give some specfics on your lift heavy things days? Also what was your sprinting workout like?

    Thanks for sharing! Continued success to you and your family! Congratulations on #3!

    Todd A. wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I follow Mark’s Primal Fitness routine, so pushups, pullups, squats, shoulder press, abs [I am at various levels for each exercise]. About every 3-4 weeks, I do everything with free weights for one or two worksouts. So I rep 225 in the bench, rep 225 for squats, rep 135 for shoulder press, still do pullups/chinups, and then abs. I do that routine twice [just like the normal Primal Fitness routine].

      I work out at my local community center, which has an indoor track [9 laps per mile] that is more rectangular than oval. My sprints are more oriented around the track, but here is what I do in general.

      I break my sprint workout into short sprints and long sprints, and do either 4 or 5 of each. The long sprints are a slower build to top speed and then holding that for maybe 10 seconds. The short sprints are a 40-yard dash mentality. I try to just accelerate as fast as I can to top speed, and then hold for just a few long strides before slowing down. I repeat the following routine two times.

      -Long Sprint
      -10-15 second break
      -Long Sprint
      -10-15 second break
      -Short Sprint
      -10-15 second break
      -Short Sprint

      The other key is that every 8 weeks or so, I take a week off of everything except maybe a nighttime walk with the family. I do this because I know that 80% of my health is from diet and I can too easily fall in the trap of over-exercising. The week off is a reminder to focus on my diet and enjoy the workouts.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  20. I am SO lucky that my boyfriend went Primal soon after I did. He saw my results and switched about 6 weeks after me. Now he’s more strict about most things (except beer) than I am, and his excitement really helps me stay on track. If he hadn’t come on board, it would have been near impossible to keep going.
    Great post, Mike!

    Emily C wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Thanks! Glad to hear you’re tackling your health as a couple!

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  21. Awesome!! How great for you and your family – I love this testimony! I have a 13 year old son that I would like to transition over and see what benefits we reap. Would be great to have my kids on board with me to experience the success and joys as a family like you. (My daughter, 16, thinks I am nuts.) Best wishes!

    Tamara wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Vice versa for me: my parents think I’m nuts. I feel like a scavenger digging through the heaps of crap they buy looking for primal foods. Apparently primal eating, vitamins, and fish oil are much too expensive (which is what they yell and rant at me about almost daily), when alcohol and junk food isn’t, and a pound of liver, which is more than half of enough to feed me for a day, costs maybe $4. If welfare gave enough to actually eat, I’d be long gone. Maybe they shouldn’t have gone out of their way to get me a criminal record and get me fired from three different jobs out of spite and then kick me out and I wouldn’t have gone broke on the street and could buy my own food and pay them rent. My mom says that eating mainly protein and fat is destroying my liver. I’m sure the dimenhydrate she dopes herself up with to fall asleep after a couple glasses of whine is doing wonders for her.
      …Had to get that out…
      Anyways, congratulations Mike! You’re a tank and your progress is inspiring.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 12th, 2011
  22. Congrats! I am also one half of a primal married couple! It’s amazing how much my husband and I have achieved with each other’s support. My biggest hurdle right now transitioning my three year old twin boys. We’re fine at home, but elsewhere I feel like I’m losing the battle. Any advice would be appreciated!

    Noelle wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • It was hard to give up the goldfish crackers and pb & j’s!! But I try very hard to keep the kids meals fun and easy. They love bacon and eggs, so breakfast is pretty easy, fingers foods rule, like breakfast egg muffins. Lunches are always fruit veggies and meat, nuts (again with the finger food) and dinners are meats and veggies.

      The hard part for us too, is when we are out, like say at the grandparents house with the Oreo Brownies. We try to just teach them too about the 80/20 rule, that its ok to have something like that once and a while. Usually I just tell the 4 yr old’s preschool teacher that he is gluten free, that keeps outside snacks the best they can be. He is learning though, he even told his teacher once that he would like a glass of water, instead of the chocolate milk cause he thought it was gross!!

      I think with little kids it just takes time, and consistency! That way they grow up to make good choices when they are away from us. But that its ok to eat something that isn’t Primal once and a while.

      I think its all about teaching a healthy perspective on food and leading by example!! :)

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Joanne, not meaning to judge, just wondering because I’m fascinated…but why preschool? Nothing is more CW than preschool. Your home seems very happy, loving, and complete…it doesn’t need “goldfish crackers” education when it’s already getting “meat and veggies” education.
        You don’t actually have to answer this since this is not a site about homeschooling…you just caught me by surprise.

        Milemom wrote on August 12th, 2011
        • What’s more primal than being socialized by your peers? Hunter-gatherer children run in lightly-supervised age-mate packs.

          correcty fairy wrote on August 13th, 2011
        • Well i once played with the idea of homeschooling ( was and elementary teacher before my 1st son was born)…but for me….I need my kids to be out there in the world around the other kids who’s families flow CW….that way they learn how to function the way they need to in the world that they live in! If I home-schooled, yes I could control what they learn and how the eat, but then they wouldn’t learn to make the right decisions around people who don’t live the same way they do. I feel like that would set them up for failure later in life. Just my opinion though, I know lots of home-schooled kids who are great!

          Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • If I had kids I’d probably Google up some pictures of morbidly obese people or really sick people and some videos of little kids with diabetes getting needles, and maybe some x-ray diagrams of hip fractures, and tell them things like that are an inevitability if they divert from being primal too often.

        Animanarchy wrote on August 12th, 2011
        • I have plenty of old fat pictures to show them!!

          Most people say they want to get back to their high school weight. Not me, I was heavy in high school. I want to get back to my middle school weight!! That is when you know you were a heavy kid…lol

          Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Hi Noelle:

      As a fellow mom of twin boys :-) who are now eleven and having been at this diet game with my kids for over 6 years now (transitioning Primal over the last year) I have learned that two things stand in the way of our kids ingesting only the things that we approve of: other people and social pressures.

      I’ve chosen to take a long term perspective.

      I started back when they were five because of behavioral and weight issues with one of my sons and was a food nazi for a year, taking our own cake to birthday parties, never leaving the house without homecooked snacks and doing everything I could to avoid the three day hell that would occur if a blue frosted cookie passed our son’s lips.

      Over time, I’ve loosened up. I realized what I was doing was unsustainable for all of us. And as my son’s behavior has moderated, my goal became to ensure nothing that doesn’t fit into our food plan comes into our house but also to know that I can’t control everything.

      I talk to my kids about what we do and why. They still get asked why they don’t get Lunchables at school, I have gently dropped the family that insisted on taking him to Burger King for a ‘treat’ – even after I asked them not to, and I’m sure some people haven’t had him over for a playdate because of his mother’s weird food preferences.

      But our kids fight our food values battles on the front line. Other people may have a different experience but as the kids get older, I personally don’t think it’s fair to isolate them when they want to join in with everyone else decorating holiday cookies or eating tacos at the end of year school party.

      Over time, I’ve found this moderate approach has meant the kids come to understand this food thing at home isn’t a personal vendetta against them and sometimes even agree with mom!

      They are compliant at home (even buying 85% chocolate – for $8, yikes!) they have no choice if they don’t want to starve, but eat whatever they are offered when they are at other peoples houses, on vacation or days out.

      I fully expect to lose all control over their diets over the coming years but by keeping a ‘clean’ house, I hope that at some point they will remember that mom was, in fact, right and return to the diet they were brought up with.

      I’m sorry for the very long comment! Enjoy those boys!

      Alison Golden wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I think the best thing is to lead by example. I read a statistic that 70-80% of what our kids learn at young ages are by watching what we do, and the other 20% is what we say. I learned how to be a father and a husband because I have very good memories of my father doing those types of things. He never sat me down and told me what to do, and he didn’t have to. I watched him do it. The same method applies to health. My boys now want to do things like bear crawl and crab walk across the living room floor for exercise. They also like sitting next to me and copying my stretches. I don’t ask them to do it, I just do it and they follow pretty quickly.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  23. @Mike- Great story, very inspiring. Amazing what a couple can do together. I long for my wife to give a real go.

    @PrimalPig and Chase- Ease back guys. You are turning Primal into a regimented, strict/restrictive diet. That’s extremely CW.

    I went through a period recently too, where I tried to strictly manage my Primal diet. What would happen is I would lash out and gorge on ice cream or what have you.

    I took a big step backwards, initially physically speaking. I gained back some body fat, but more importantly I lost muscle mass. Then I took a step back metaphorically speaking to look at the big picture. I realized that my stringent, discipline style was super UN-GROK like and was only hurting me.

    I relaxed my attitude and begin trying to better listen to my body. Eating when I was hungry, eating until I was full and eating what was nutritionally valuable.

    All things improved, my body comp, but more importantly my psyche.

    Hope it helps.

    Greg wrote on August 12th, 2011
  24. This post was great. I really liked how he hopes it can help non-primal partners take the plunge. I have been primal about six months and I want to get my husband on board without seeming pushy. For now I will lead by example and see how things evolve. Who knows, we might end up being a “Primal Blueprint Real Life Couple Story.” Keep the awesome success stories coming.

    samui_sakana wrote on August 12th, 2011
  25. I totally feel you on the necessity to have people around you supporting you. You see, I am in a hard situation here because I am the youngest of my family (19 yrs old) and I desperately want to get my family on board with primal. I really just want to live a healthier life and have done a lot of research on diets/health and am totally convinced that primal is the REAL deal. My mom is a diabetic (although she wants to be healthier yet she WILL NOT give bread up no matter what which is frustrating), my dad is a complete sugar addict (yet looks incredibly young at his age, surprisingly), my older brother just graduated college and doesn’t really care what he eats because he is in amazing shape no matter what. I have always wanted to put on some more muscle and get healthier to clear my skin up yet I feel out numbered in my house. I wish everyone got on board, we cleared the cupboards and that way I could really start my primal journey but it is hard with all the temptations and non primal foods that are everywhere in my house. I am getting my brother to read the primal blueprint, but it is a slow process because I don’t want to feel like everyone has to conform to what I say about healthy foods, yet I KNOW primal would work for our family if we all just give it a shot. These success stories always make me laugh because they are about getting their kids to eat primally when in my house it is the exact opposite the kid (me) is trying to get my parents to eat better haha. Sorry this was long, I am just in a frustrating place in my primal journey I guess.

    Tyler wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • I understand where you are coming from. When I was a teenager, I too tried to change my eating habits. I was really hard tho, because I wasn’t in charge of the grocery shopping. Even tho we love the people in our life and want to help them, we can’t make decisions for them. It’s hard. I am going though the same thing with my husband. Just lead by example and hopefully the changes in you will get your family’s attention. Take care.

      samui_sakana wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • the craziest thing is- when you are grown and have children who are adults…and Grandma (my mother) visits, and helps with the cooking. even though she keeps pretty low carb(Atkins-style) she still put some sugar into the ratatouille!(I saw her do it)
        so growing up and getting your own place doesnt solve everything, even with a seemingly understanding parent! I want to say LOL to myself, since my Mom has been putting sugar in things all my life – my brother once mentioned she put sugar in chicken soup. If I dont laugh at the craziness, I will just get sad. Just do your best, and dont stress out – stress is worse than the teaspoon of sugar, I’d say….

        Hopeless Dreamer wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • That is definitely a different situation! My only advice would be lead by example. Show your family how to improve their health. My broader family as LOTS of weight and health issues. For all of the crazy comments I get from them about giving up bread, I can stare them in the face and ask tough questions about their health that they may not want to answer, all because I took my health into my own hands.

      Best of luck to you…and don’t ever give up!

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  26. Oh look! A true Viking!
    Looking hot :-)

    Primal Palate wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Ironically, living in Minnesota, I am not a Vikings fan [even though I look like Red Beards descendant]. Having been born and raised in metro Detroit, I am a die-hard Detroit sports fan.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
  27. Husband and wife stories are SO inspirational! Helps so much to work as a team. Thanks for sharing!

    Melissa Fritcher wrote on August 12th, 2011
  28. Great work. I wanna see your son’s primal blueprint life story. (include before and after photos)

    Dasbutch wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • He is only 4, so he hasn’t exactly had a major body transformation. His biggest transformation is in behavior. His ability to focus and pay attention is better. He also sleeps a lot better.

      It makes me wonder if a bad diet leads to some misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD/etc in kids.

      Mike wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • It most definitely does. Studies in the UK and Europe show definite links. The idea has been around for decades but it is sadly ignored or buried.

        Alison Golden wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • We have also seen behavioral improvements in our older son since going Primal. We were actually at a birthday party today where he ate a bunch of candy, and this evening (dinner and bedtime) was a nightmare as a result. Ugh. Personally, I think that bad diets and lack of good/enough sleep lead to a lot of misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD. It’s amazing how much of an impact diet can make on all facets of a person.

        Also, thanks for sharing your couple story. My DH and I have done this journey together as well, and I don’t think either of us would have stuck with it without the other. I look forward to reading these stories every week, so thanks for sharing!

        Sarah wrote on August 12th, 2011
        • What is even more amazing are the differences between our two boys. My wife at a normal diet [high in sugar] during the first pregnancy. With the second, however, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so she ‘learned’ primal eating through blood glucose testing after every meal. She controlled the GD with a real food, low carb diet. My second son has always been leaner and more energetic. He is 18 months old and can eat as much as my 4 year old. I truly believe that my wife’s diet ‘wired’ my second son to process food more efficiently and have more efficient fat cells [as Gary Taubes would say]. As I heard on a recent Robb Wolf podcast, you are what your mother and grandmother ate.

          Mike wrote on August 13th, 2011
  29. Congratulations, Mike!

    I, too, like to see how couples can help one another this way. I am lucky because like Joanne, I am the one in charge of the food and it is not a democracy I’m running here.

    Alison Golden wrote on August 12th, 2011
  30. I have been Paleo/ Primal for about 3 yrs..best thing I ever did.
    I have an overweight, carb addict 320 lb hubby, a 7 yr old child with ADHD and a 9 year old child getting very chubby. The youngest runs on sugar, and is a lean beanpole, but will occasionally “crash” hard, with whining, “head hurts” issues…She is generally happy-go-lucky..My oldest has an appetite like a trucker…for pizza, mashed potatoes, fried chicken.,but a calm disposition..and both are boycotting green vegetables right now.

    I refuse to have the “dinner table” wars that I remember from childhood.

    I have led by example, I do not eat junk or grains, I love my veggies (my youngest will occasionally sample from my plate.)

    We do rely on grandparents for child care at this point, and OY, what they get fed would make your head spin!
    Hubby has recently ditched sugar, bread and pasta, so I do believe when he sees and feels results, we can move forward together as a “family unit”, but I sometimes feel like I missed an important easy spot with the kids. They ate whatever I gave them until they were 3 or 4 yrs old, I guess..
    Now all bets are off! *sigh*
    Thank for the inspiration!

    juliemama wrote on August 12th, 2011
  31. I really benefited from reading this story. You had a few great one-liners throughout that really stuck with me. Congrats on doing well with the kids – your oldest hating chocolate milk? GO Dad! This story also keeps me hopeful that I may find a future husband someday who has the same food philosophy as I do… Your story has how me that it’s hard, but possible. Thanks for sharing!

    Meagan wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • Thanks! The credit for my oldest not being interested in chocolate is 90% my wife’s. She is the one at home all day with the boys, or with them in the grocery store.

      Mike wrote on August 13th, 2011
  32. Mike:

    You totally Grok!

    I especially like the way you transitioned your children. I’d love to see Mark do a post on that very topic, with insight from you and other readers who have done it.

    Awesome stuff. Way to go!!!

    Susan

    Susan Alexander wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • One of the blogs I follow, in addition to MDA, is the Fat-Head Movie blog by Tom Naughton. I don’t know if Tom considers himself Primal, but he eats the right way and supports the lifestyle and science. He and his wife have indicated they want to write a book about teaching your kids to eat real food, since he has two younger kids.

      I am surprised the Primal/Paleo movement hasn’t done this type of thing yet. It’s the tobacco-company-like marketing strategy…get them hooked when they are young and you have a customer for life. If we could teach our kids healthy eating, we could turn around our countries health issues in a generation.

      Mike wrote on August 13th, 2011
  33. Loved both your stories these last two weeks!

    My husband and I are both primal now as well, and our kids too. It wasn’t all that hard to just make the house a primal house. We’ve noticed a lot of good behavioral changes in our girls as well. They are 3 and 5. They do gymnastics and since going primal they’ve developed some cool looking muscle tone!

    Hilary wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • Gymnastics is great. I was in it for a couple years when I was younger, had lots of fun, and I really wish my parents had kept me in it, instead of my mom trying to make me be like her by forcing me to take excruciating piano lessons instead (and I can’t play the piano worth shit now anyway). I think if your girls enjoy gymnastics then it would be extremely beneficial to keep them in it. They’ll be grateful and probably very skilled and confident. Primal ninjas.
      I also wish my parents had put me in some form of martial arts. I definitely asked enough times. I wonder how much healthier, skilled, flexible, and acrobatic I’d be…
      I can do some stuff I couldn’t do back then but I still feel like an amateur. Years later I struggle with handstands and cartwheels, which I used to be decent at, and when I see someone doing crazy stuff on the rings or bars, doing martial arts, or performing flips and advanced parkour etc. I feel quite envious.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 13th, 2011
  34. A real love story. Thanks for sharing this–it is encouraging.

    Julie wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • I am glad Mark published it!

      Mike wrote on August 16th, 2011
  35. Excellent story. Congrats to your whole family. I look forward to these stories each week; they keep me motivated. NG

    Neandergirl wrote on August 13th, 2011
    • Same here. I love reading about what other have overcome. It is very motivating.

      Mike wrote on August 16th, 2011
  36. Dude I **TOTALLY** wish I had a man to bring home deer for me ;D Grats to you and your healthy family!

    cTo wrote on August 14th, 2011
    • It is definitely a big plus to have venison. Although there isn’t any reason you couldn’t go do it on your own…

      Mike wrote on August 16th, 2011
  37. Go Broncos!!! Another alum here too! Awesome story! So glad you and your wife have had amazing success!

    Kristin wrote on August 15th, 2011
    • It’s awesome when I read that other Bronco’s are Primal as well! Go Western! [I am in Kzoo as I am writing this too!]

      Mike wrote on August 16th, 2011
    • GO WMU!!!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
  38. Amazing story and photos!!!

    Junie B wrote on August 15th, 2011
    • Thanks so much!

      Mike wrote on August 16th, 2011

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