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

We Are Talking About a Drastic Increase in Quality of Life!

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!

Thanks to MDA, my husband Jesse and I are reformed from our carboholic ways. To give you an idea of the magnitude of our addiction to carbs, this is what would happen during our normal weekly grocery shopping trip: We would hit the bakery section first. They had those huge fluffy loaves of French bread. Warm. We would get two. We would tear off chunks of the bread and eat a whole loaf as we walked through the grocery store. The other one, we would turn into garlic bread to go with our spaghetti for dinner that night. And that was after having a whole grain English muffin or oatmeal for breakfast (because at least the whole grains and oats were good for you, right??)

Other than our diet, we were pretty healthy. I lifted weights 7 days a week; for Jesse, 2-4 days a week of weight lifting and cardio. Living in Hawaii, Play was super easy – we would climb a mountain or go spearfishing on the weekends. (Side note: catching your own dinner is extremely satisfying!) We got plenty of sleep. But I was still never able to get below a size 9, no matter how much I worked out. Jesse had a 38 inch waist. It never dawned on us that maybe we should change what we were eating!

Jesse came across your website in July 2011, and suggested that we give the diet a try. I told him he was crazy – grains were half of my diet and there was no way I could give them up! He was smart enough to show me a picture of Carrie Sisson, and I realized that she looked way better than me. Working out 7 days a week I wasn’t even coming close to looking as good as her, so I was willing to give it a try. Jesse quit grains and sugar cold turkey, I limited myself to one processed food item a day for the next 3 weeks. He got the low carb flu, I did not.

We were amazed at the results! We were sleeping better at night and had much more energy during the day. My face cleared up. My one irritable day a month disappeared, and took my cramps with it. My rosacea vanished. Doctors had put me on six different prescriptions for it, and nothing had ever helped. With rosacea, you can’t even take a hot shower or get too hot when you are working out without your face turning bright red and staying that way for an hour. I’m happy to say I can now take a hot shower and workout as intense as I would like without any adverse effects to my face. These aren’t just minor improvements, we are talking about a drastic increase in quality of life!

Three weeks after we started the diet, Jesse’s term was up with the Navy and we moved to South Carolina. Starting with an empty pantry, it was easy to Primalize it. By October, we looked great! Jesse had dropped four inches to a 34-inch waist, and I was down from a size 9 to a size 5. We have worked very hard to make sure that we are eating quality foods and sticking with the Primal guidelines. We had no problem buying healthy foods, our only weakness was eating with others. It took many months, but we can now finally turn people down when we are at their homes and they push a platter of brownies towards us.

In the past few months, our weight started to creep back up. It wasn’t until I read your posts about the 21-Day Challenge that I realized why – we were doing great with the diet, but we were neglecting many of the other aspects of being Primal! We didn’t find it as easy to Play here – it is flat and the water is cloudy, so our favorite activities are out and we hadn’t really tried to find anything to replace those activities. Working out had definitely slid to the back burner without us realizing it.

It would be super easy to make excuses. I get up at 4:30 am and don’t return home until 6 pm (and not until after 10 pm on Mondays and Thursdays). It doesn’t leave much time for working out and getting enough sleep. But, instead of making excuses I decided to figure out how I could incorporate working out into my day. Now I do squats and calf raises as I brush my teeth in the morning and evening. I get into what Tony Horton calls horse stance (legs out to the sides, knees bent, thighs almost parallel to the ground), up on my toes, while I do my face and hair. I do a set of pushups off the side of the bathtub before I get in the shower. Our home is long and has a straight shot from the office, through the living room and dining room, into the kitchen. Now I run as fast as I can when passing through these areas. These mini sprints get my heart rate up. When taking a break at work, I walk around the outside of the building and jog up the stairs. I put my dumbbells on the living room floor to remind myself to stop and lift them throughout the time I am at home. I’ve started taking quick naps some days after work and longer naps on the weekends.

For Play, we go stand up paddle skateboarding. (Kind of like SUP, just on land. It’s a great upper body workout!) Jesse uses Ultimate Frisbee as well for his Play. He has made a renewed commitment to working out 3 days a week when he gets home from work, and I have committed to at least one real work out session on the weekend. Jesse even created some pieces of equipment for us to work out with at home: a balance board to make squats and dumbbell work harder. A 5 gallon jug filled with water, with a straight bar through the handle, to use for curls and rows. A PVC pipe filled with sand, with old rotors on the end, to use as a barbell. Three different size tires to lift and throw. A sturdy wood box for jump training. An incline made out of wood (functions like an incline bench, just with your behind on the ground). And 30-40 pound rocks to do curls with and to throw.

We are definitely excited that you have once again helped to spark a commitment in us to be healthier, and to realize what we were lacking. While we know we won’t be ripped in just 21 days, we can’t wait to see the long term results! In less than 2 weeks I’m already down 3 pounds of fat and Jesse’s clothes are fitting him much better now. Thank you for everything that you do to inspire all of us!

Jesse and Vicki

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. Oh man I love your workouts! There’s something about skipping the gym and doing it yourself that’s so supremely satisfying. You both look great – way to go!

    Nick wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • Agree completely! Never had and never will have a gym membership. $100 worth of workout equipment at home and the great outdoors are all I need to keep fit.

      Sonagi wrote on October 13th, 2012
  2. Delightful! It is so true about the rosacea. That was my second sign that my own life was changing for the better. Way to go, you two!

    Joy Beer wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • +1 on the Rosacea! My skin quality is soooo much better on primal!!!

      Rhonda the Red wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • Second on the rosacea! I am still transitioning to primal, and its so amazing to me how brightly my face flushes when I have something with wheat now! (haven’t gotten to the non-breaded pizza crust yet…)

      My success story: as of this morning, I am 4 inches smaller around my torso (bust/waist/hips) than I was in October of last year. All from gradually dropping total carbs to an average of 100g per day!

      defrog wrote on October 12th, 2012
      • Oh Rosacea – I never thought for a minute primal could cure Rosacea. I am a primal dilletante – I do it 60-80% of the time but now I might just try for that extra mile. My rosacea makes winters in the office heating so embarrassing.

        Jay wrote on October 15th, 2012
  3. I love all the homemade equipment! And stand up paddleboarding on land?! That’s genius! Every time I see the picture on MDA of Mark on the water I think man I wish I lived by the ocean so I could do that. Kudos to you two for the ingenuity…and of course the lifestyle change. I would imagine ‘improved quality of life’ is one of the greatest compliments Mark can receive.

    Danny wrote on October 12th, 2012
  4. I couldn’t agree more about building exercise into your day. Squats, side bends, push-ups against the wall, lifting heavy things – while you’re brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, carrying heavy laundry. It all adds up.

    Alison Golden wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • Oops, hit reply too soon. I meant to say congratulations! You both look awesome and your creativity to just get it done speaks volumes.

      Alison Golden wrote on October 12th, 2012
  5. Lack of play is my weak link too. I keep telling myself I have to have more fun, less “work” in the workout. You inspired me to do what I’ve wanted to do for so long: pull out the Roller Blades. This weekend it’s on! Thanks!

    Paula wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • I have a hard time with this one, too. I don’t “play” enough. Thankfully my workouts feel a lot like play now since I usually have a buddy, but still. I could incorporate more “real” play into my week.

      Deanna wrote on October 13th, 2012
  6. Awesome! I too love the homemade equipment, and the idea that of always being able to get some kind of workout in! Keep it up, congrats. You got me amped for my workout, off to the park!

    luke depron wrote on October 12th, 2012
  7. You guys are lucky to have each other!

    Tim wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • +1

      Onge wrote on October 12th, 2012
  8. Wow! Stand up paddleboarding! That looks like so much fun! I am super scared to try to skateboard, but I might have to give this a try! Way to go, guys!!!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • The first time I stood on a longboard I could barely keep my balance. After one practice session using a friend’s board during high school lunch I decided to buy one. Eventually I’d go as fast as I could down some hills.
      Since then my balance has improved. If my muscles aren’t too worn out I can easily walk across logs and branches.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 12th, 2012
  9. When I was living in Hawaii, I would stand up paddleboard with my vibrams on too! Man, I miss being able to do that…

    Next Friday, I get to play the funnest game on earth–KAYAK POLO!!! So pumped!


    Charlayna wrote on October 12th, 2012
  10. Wow, you guys! That’s awesome! One thing I don’t get – and maybe it’s because I grew up a So. Dak. flatlander – but why, oh, why, would anyone leave Hawaii? Don’t get me wrong, the Carolinas are beautiful, but I mean, SPEARFISHING? Come ON!
    Anyway, I’m off to the breakroom for a max set of pushups with my feet on a chair. Hopefullly, the water cooler will need a fresh jug today, so I can do lunges and KB swings down the hallway.
    Thanks for your post, you two, and happy Friday!

    Erok wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • When the military is no longer paying the bill for housing and such, one doesn’t stay in Hawaii :)
      (just to give you an idea of the cost of living out there, our rent was over $2,000 a month for a 3 bedroom, milk was $10 a gallon, and civilian wages definitely don’t compensate for the prices!)
      But yes, the spearfishing and mountain climbing were awesome while we were there!!

      Vicki N. wrote on October 12th, 2012
      • Sounds like San Francisco!!! Our rent is that high for our 1 bedroom apartment… le sigh.

        Nick wrote on October 12th, 2012
        • +1 from another bay area resident…

          way to go vicki & jesse! you guys rock!

          mars wrote on October 12th, 2012
        • Yep. Over $900 a month to rent a master bedroom in Santa Barbara. Brutal. I finally left.

          Hilary wrote on October 12th, 2012
  11. What an awesome story! I love your gym! I want one just like it!!

    Jenn wrote on October 12th, 2012
  12. Awesome story! Love all your homemade stuff and that you found all sorts of little ways to add strength training to everyday things like squats while doing your hair. Who would have imagined! LOL Thanks so much for sharing your story!

    Jessica wrote on October 12th, 2012
  13. +1 for all the homemade workouts.. and a huge congrats on the drastic change. What a difference it made in both body and your faces!
    Simply awesome and inspiring!

    Jeff wrote on October 12th, 2012
  14. :) I was reading this between sets of squats & pushups in the storeroom… who needs a fancy gym or paying those membership dues?!

    Peggy wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • That’s awesome! Jesse has gotten to the point where he’ll drop and do a set of push ups in other people’s homes just to make sure he’s getting his exercise in!

      Vicki N. wrote on October 12th, 2012
      • LOL, most people probably think that’s Navy thinking, rather than Grok’s!

        Until you’ve indoctrinated them, that is. 😉

        NotApplicable wrote on October 12th, 2012
  15. That is a great story, I am glad to hear they were able to lose so much weight and get healthy. Personally I dropped 36 pounds and most of my back pain went away. I used to take a ton of advil and a heating pad to deal with back pain and now I do nothing and it is pretty much gone.

    Wayne wrote on October 12th, 2012
  16. That is a great story! And I like all the pictures:)

    Mark… I’ve been very interested in the whole gut bacteria thing since I struggled with IBS previously. Hope you can write more about that….

    I also saw this article this week which I really liked on the subject, how to get paleo gut flora in the western world:

    Alex Fields wrote on October 12th, 2012
  17. AWESOME!!
    Grok On!

    Pamela wrote on October 12th, 2012
  18. Jesse and Vicki:

    Well done! These words jumped out at me:

    “Instead of making excuses I decided to figure out how I could incorporate working out into my day.”

    That’s a beautiful replacement for “I don’t have time to work out.”

    Designating time(s) during the day to cram in exercise is am excellent way to make sure it gets done.

    Seems like what you do is routine driven, which is great. I think routine is key. With so many things, following one makes the difference between getting things done and not getting them done.

    Thanks for sharing.


    Susan Alexander wrote on October 12th, 2012
  19. I love reading these success stories! Congrats to you two both!

    Ed wrote on October 12th, 2012
  20. You guys look amazing! I love to see people making fitness work for them with what they can find.

    Tasha wrote on October 12th, 2012
  21. This is great! I am getting closer and closer to ditching my gym membership (and keeping my money). Your home-made gear is impressive and inspiring.

    Grok on!

    Nikki wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • Thanks! I am also a huge fan of saving $50+ a month from not getting gym memberships! We also made a slosh tube this past weekend, it has definitely added a new dynamic to our workout!

      Vicki N. wrote on October 12th, 2012
  22. I love this site. I come here for daily enlightenment. But, let’s just be straight about one thing, those silly toe shoes are 100% gimmick.

    crowley wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • Speaking like someone whose never tried barefoots. Look at vivo’s then. They are RAD.

      Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • I love hiking and scrambling in my toe shoes! They’re excellent for gripping surfaces you wouldn’t be able to normally in regular kicks. Just yesterday my husband and I were climbing poles on a playground swing set with ours.

      Madam von Sassypants wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • As someone who works a 14 hour day on my feet in regular shoes, spending the next day walking around in those ‘gimmicky’ toe shoes is pure foot heaven. I can feel my feet returning to their natural shape. That is a gimmick I am willing to pay for :)

      Yvette wrote on October 17th, 2012
  23. Congrats on your success and lifestyle changes! You both look great. I love your homemade workout equipment 😀

    Kitty =^..^= wrote on October 12th, 2012
  24. I love your idea of sneaking primal movement into your daily routine. The exercise is usually what I skip, but, what I need the most. Keep doing what you do!

    Paula Burrus Hinton wrote on October 12th, 2012
  25. Great job and a great idea on the paddle boarding! I had not seen that before, just goggle it and I am looking into a Kahuna Big Stick right now!

    I started longboarding two years ago at age 56, I have been using my 95lb Black Lab as my tow vehicle and we hit some high speeds out on the road. I use a full set of Pro Tech protective pads and the few times I have hit the pavement they were 100% effective. The stick will definitely make it more of a workout but my dog is gonna be pissed!

    Thanks for the great idea.

    Dave wrote on October 12th, 2012
    • You’re welcome! Although we made the paddles from materials we got from Lowe’s for less than $15 each: 1 broom handle, some PVC for the handle, and rubber from an old tire for the end of the stick. Plus some colored tape so we could tell ours apart :)

      Vicki N. wrote on October 13th, 2012
  26. Thank you for sharing and helping me to realize about working those little bits of exercise in to my day. I keep thinking it has to be a planned workout to count, but it doesn’t. Squats, here I come…

    Melissa wrote on October 12th, 2012
  27. This was a great before-and-after! You two didn’t look particularly unhealthy before, but now you’re both absolutely glowing! I love the homemade workout equipment, and I love the play suggestions — I have just been thinking about how I need to get more play in my life, but I’m not always sure how since I don’t have the stereotypical “go play with your dog or the kids” going on.

    Deanna wrote on October 13th, 2012
  28. Vicki,
    I love when I read about someone’s skin clearing up! Do you eat dairy? My roseacea is very stubborn and has not gone away.
    Great job with sticking to the primal plan – even through a move. That had to be challenging.

    Karen wrote on October 13th, 2012
    • I do eat dairy–I am able to get raw milk from the farmer’s market every other week, so I use that in my coffee. I also get a grass fed, no horomone cheese from Trader Joe’s for the surprisingly low price of $5.50/lb. I just put a bit on my salad for the sake of adding a little fat to the meal to keep me full longer (I used to eat cheddar as a snack, I’m proud to say I cut that habit!)
      It took about 6 months for the rosacea to completely clear up, but I’m sure it’s different for each person. Best of luck with your skin!!

      Vicki N. wrote on October 13th, 2012
  29. Let me first say congrats on finding Primal and Mark Sisson! Life is so much better now, isn’t it?!
    You both have inspired me to make a balance board to help my core.
    I mean, anyone can just stand there and lift…but balancing and lifting…Primal goodness!
    You both look wonderful and happy, thanks for sharing with us!

    Sarah Martini wrote on October 13th, 2012
  30. you two look great! thanks for sharing how you were able to incorporate short workouts into your daily routine -very inspiring!

    aliseya wrote on October 13th, 2012
  31. awesome!!!! Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring!

    andi c wrote on October 14th, 2012
  32. What an awesome story! I love how you both made a commitment to creating change, not making excuses “why not”. I too was a huge carb-a-holic (whole wheat pasta, granola, and oatmeal being my big downfalls — I thought they were OK because they were healthy) and NEVER thought I would be able to give those up. After reading Mark Sisson’s book and seeing the facts, I gave it all up and haven’t looked back or regretted my decision at all. Congratulations to you both!

    NJ Paleo wrote on October 15th, 2012
  33. Thank you for sharing your success. Gonna dust off that old balance board and mine and follow your example!

    Beryl wrote on October 15th, 2012
  34. Hey I love all the stuff you’ve built! Inspirational for sure!

    Patrick wrote on October 17th, 2012
  35. What part of South Carolina are you in? My husband was in the Navy for 6 years, and we moved to SC in 2004, after he got out. We’re outside of Columbia, in Irmo. We’ve done paleo on and off & we’re about to do it FOR REAL! Would *love* to connect with some like-minded friends who are also in SC!

    Carol M. wrote on December 8th, 2012
    • We are in Charleston! Feel free to find me on facebook–Vicki Nault.

      Vicki N. wrote on December 10th, 2012

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