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

We Have More Energy to Be Better Partners, Parents, and People

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!

It has been an ongoing struggle to “find the time” to write this letter. As Mother’s Day has recently passed and Father’s Day is approaching, I think the time is NOW!

My name is Cailey and I am soon-to-be 31 years old. I am a wife, a mother of two daughters, and a speech-language pathologist at an acute care hospital. Our journey began 5 years ago when my fabulous, 60-something, mother-in-law introduced me and my husband to the book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” by Gary Taubes. Our initial reaction was wariness and disbelief. My husband and I have always been relatively healthy children and young adults; however, by the time we married in 2007 conventional wisdom had led to a 30 lb and 5 lb, respectively, weight gain from when we met in 2002. My husband’s weight gain was gradual, evenly distributed, and no one really noticed. In private I would lovingly joke “baby got back.”

Hal and Cailey Pre-primal - 03/07 Cailey and Husband Hal Pre-Primal - 06/06 Hal Pre-Primal - 03/07

After many heated family discussions about health, we are all passionate and opinionated people, my husband’s interest was piqued. My mother-in-law (pictured below) generously bought almost every single person in our family, The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson and my husband was hooked. As my husband devoured all material related to the primal/paleo lifestyle, I decided to go along for the ride.

Cailey's Mother-in-Law, Leanne - 10/12, Post Primal

At this time I was in my first trimester with my first daughter. The first thing we did was cut out breakfast cereal and replace it with eggs. My self diagnosed hypoglycemia vanished along with my need to snack every 3-4 hours to prevent nausea, the shakes, and general moodiness. We were about 50% in line with primal/paleo eating. Consequently, I gained 50 lbs and it took 18 months to lose the weight (in part due to well meaning friends sending casserole after casserole). By the time my daughter was ready to eat solids we were so entrenched in this lifestyle we never hesitated in choosing to avoid all baby cereals and grains.

Cailey Pre-Primal - 4 Months After 1st Baby, 10/09

Fast forward a couple of years and I was pregnant with my second daughter, my husband had lost the 30 lbs and eradicated years of heartburn, and my mother-in-law had slowly infiltrated the minds of friends and family. At 75% in line with paleo/primal lifestyle I gained 23 lbs, 9 lbs to lose when I left the hospital, and lost it in 3 months.

Hal Post-Primal After Finishing Xterra Sprint Triathlon - 07/11 Hal Post-Primal Active Daddy, 07/11

Presently, our family is 90/10, our eldest daughter is 4 years old, and her staple foods consist of: turkey/cheese roll-ups, kimchi, fermented pickles, nuts, plain yogurt, berries, and local meat and veggies. She has a deeper understanding and appreciation for food that will make her “strong” vs food that will make her “sick” than most adults I interact with daily at work in healthcare.

Caily and Daughter - Post-Primal Cailey Post-Primal 4 Months After 2nd Baby, 10/12

We are very fortunate to live in a progressive college town in north central Florida with access to local grass fed and finished meats, local cheese, and local and organic veggies/fruit from our CSA (community supported agriculture). The primal/paleo lifestyle works in perfect harmony with the local food movement. This lifestyle IS living in accordance with the land and part of how we will move forward as a society and thrive. Paleo/primal living is mindfulness in action and a reminder of the interconnectedness of everything. In Be Free Where You Are, written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk says, “one string bean contains the whole cosmos in it: the sunshine, rain, the whole Earth, time, space and consciousness. You also contain the whole cosmos.”

Colarulli-Knowles Family Post-Primal, 04/11 Cailey and Hal Post-Primal, 07/11

As we received the countless benefits of this lifestyle we shared it with everyone we possibly could and pissed off a few people along the way. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to listen and one must meet others where they are at. So, instead of shouting from the rooftops, we now politely use our indoor voices, and show rather than tell. As the musical group The Avett Brothers so eloquently put it, “decide what to be and go be it.” When people see how happy, strong, and healthy you are they will ask, “What do you do?”

We have incorporated the primal/paleo lifestyle into our daily routine. In doing so, we have more energy and time to be better partners, parents, and people.

  • Backyard gym/play set (pull ups, push ups, squats, shoulder presses, and planks) we all play together
  • Family walks
  • Own 1 car, if possible (forces both of us to commute to work by bike or bus)
  • Join a CSA or go to your local farmer’s market (you will see and try things you never knew existed!)
  • Limit eating out (saves money, time, and poor eating choices, ie. bad oils)
  • Do not buy packaged food (if it can live indefinitely in a box, it is not fit for human consumption)
  • Intermittently fast instead of eating crappy conference, cafeteria, and fast food
  • Make time for cooking, everyone has the time, it’s what you choose to make time for that matters
  • Involve the family in food prep (my 4 yr old uses a real knife to cut soft veggies/fruit)

It is impossible to emphasize how much simpler yet more meaningful the paleo/primal lifestyle is for my family. I have attached some pictures of us. Sorry, no dramatic before and after shots, I love them as much as you do. Just grateful people smiling back at you!

Hal, Cailey and Daughters

Finally, I have to come come clean and be honest about the timing of this letter. Of course, it is a big whole-hearted thank you to Mark. You have changed the course of my family and friends lives. This is also a late Mother’s Day present to my evolving, full of life and love, mother-in-law, a true inspiration for me. Lastly, a love letter to my husband for Father’s Day – someone who is always ahead of the curve, inspires me to do better, and makes our world a kinder, gentler place.



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. What a great story and what beautiful photos! You look like you have a great family :-)

    ps – I wish my mother-in-law was Primal!

    Primal-V wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Ha! Me too! Mine just sends use chocolate chip muffins!

      Jordan wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Me TOO! Mine just bakes sugary cakes and pies for my baby daughter.

      Anna wrote on July 5th, 2013
  2. Wow, that is awesome! :)

    Aria wrote on July 5th, 2013
  3. Yay for great mothers-in-law! (I plan on being an awesome one in a few years :-))

    And kudos to you for listening, too. You all look wonderful, and I love how you have incorporated all the principles into your lifestyle, not just your diet. The benefits of primal are exponential and go way beyond weight-loss when we do that.

    And I bet your MIL thinks you’re awesome too!

    Alison Golden wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Alison, the importance and influence of a good MIL cannot be overstated. I know your comment was directed toward Cailey and my mom, but I am also fortunate to have an amazing MIL in Cailey’s mom! It would be crazy not to accept their unconditional love and acknowledge their free lessons on life. As the band, The Head And The Heart sing, “My momma once told me, you’re already home, do you feel loved?”

      And yes, for us, primal is not a diet…it cuts to the core of our body, mind, and soul!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  4. Aaaaaand this is heartwarming and awesome.

    Anders wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • +1

      Madama Butterfry wrote on July 7th, 2013
  5. You are a beautiful family!

    It is actually quite a blessing that you didn’t have to first become very unhealthy before finding out about the Primal lifestyle. Give your mother-in-law a huge hug for loving her family enough to buy Mark’s books for all of them. And you deserve cudos for being smart enough to act on it.

    Go forth and inspire the world, “using your indoor voice”. I love it!

    NMCynthia wrote on July 5th, 2013
  6. Great story, well done to all of you (MIL included) for making Primal look great – it still really is the best way to convince people or at the least get them thinking! You look like you have a beautiful family and a very primal attitude to life.

    Grokesque wrote on July 5th, 2013
  7. Nice!

    rlarson wrote on July 5th, 2013
  8. wow, what a great transformation! there IS a noticeable difference in the before/after shots. you all look really healthy after, and like a happy, energetic family! i also became more primal with each of my 3 pregnancies, and our 3rd child has eaten grass fed liver, and barely any grains or seeds of any kind!

    Jenny wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Thanks Jenny, that’s awesome about your pregnancies and the wee liver eater! Cailey and the girls aren’t much into the organ meats yet, but I like my liver with sautéed onions, blueberries, and a splash of sherry…yum!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  9. Fabulous….Mother-in-law, please explain??? Only kidding of course, those typically don’t go toether. :-)

    Excellent story. Whole family, whole health! Awesome!

    Bryan wrote on July 5th, 2013
  10. I love the dramatic “before and after” shots too, but it’s SO much better for you that you didn’t have to go down that rabbit hole first.

    What a wonderful gift your mother-in-law gave you in pointing you along the path. I love it when people LISTEN and then TAKE ACTION. Yay you!

    Catherine W wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • +1. And your mother-in-law looks fantastically healthy and happy. If this is what the future family looks like, vote me in.

      Nocona wrote on July 6th, 2013
  11. Cailey,
    We have so much in common! I am a mother of two myself, and found MDA about 6 months ago when my youngest was 6 months old, he is now one and I have a 4yo daughter. I cut out rice cereal (much to the disapproval of my MIL) and I am currently having trouble getting my boy to eat anything unless puréed. My MIL thinks it is all bc I stopped the cereal ( seriously I read the ingredients!! And also had the pediatrician tell me it is only filler, so why on earth are we targeted with this crap to feed our babies???) anyhow, I guess I am asking if you have any tips on switching him to real food, or if this was even an issue for you?? Mom to mom your story is SO inspiring….and I know just what u mean about wanting to shout out on a mountain top, but I usually get a glazed over blank stare when I tell people we don’t eat bread. Lol

    Pdawg wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Pdawg, try the book Baby Led Weaning. If your child is used to purees, then give them portions of what you’re eating first (real, solid foods!) and let them work on that for a long time before you give a puree. I think many parents lean on purees into toddlerhood because they don’t have the faith and patience to let their kid push around a plate of real food for an hour before they finally take a nibble. Kids can be slow, messy eaters, but if they are hungry, they will eat. Good luck!

      Allison wrote on July 5th, 2013
      • Thank you Allison…..I will try anything!!

        Pdawg wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • My Mom would cook up the giblets from the whole,fresh chickens she bought and then grind the, in the blender. That was our baby food. She also fed us soft boiled eggs. Good luck!

      Ara wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Thanks Ara, I have tried the eggs and it was a no go. He will eat a few things, so I am just going to keep trying.

        Pdawg wrote on July 7th, 2013
    • I read a book called “French Kids eat anything” and whilst it’s not a diet book exactly it did give me insight to how other nations feed their babies. I loved it and wished I knew some things about this when I had small children. My youngest is 16.
      It’s available on amazon very cheap and worth the money in my opinion…. the French feed their babies VERY differently to how I learnt (Im an Aussie). No cereals, no snacking, no rewarding with food. I cannot say enough about how it opened my eyes to how we set out kids up for food problems such as emotional eating…
      Good luck xo

      Jane Britton wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Thanks for the book recommendation Jane! I’m going to see if our library carries it. On a parenting book related noted, Cailey and I are fans of the Conscious Discipline approach by Dr. Becky Bailey. It’s been helpful for us though like all things some of the suggested interactions are tough to turn into regular habits.

        Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Jane,
        I agree. My 4 year old is an awesome eater. Not so much veggies, but loves fruit and any kind of meat. I started her out on SAD, but I am determined to feed my son as primal as possible from the start. I swear in America it is just unheard of if you don’t shove goldfish or any other kind of cracker down their throats at all hours of the day. My daughter still tries her best to graze, but I know when she has eaten a scrambled egg, and half a almond flour waffle for breakfast she can wait until lunch. Lol

        Pdawg wrote on July 7th, 2013
    • I agree with Alison, if they are hungry enough they will eat as well as allowing them the time to play and eventually get the hang of what is expected. My daughter is one next week and the transition foods we started with were scrambled eggs, avocados, banana, blueberries, salmon, and grass fed ground beef (minced in food processor and mixed with water). Hope this helps.

      Cailey wrote on July 6th, 2013
  12. Thanks for sharing. Wonderful story.

    Bjjcaveman wrote on July 5th, 2013
  13. What a great and inspiring story Cailey! You all look wonderful, full of life and happiness.

    Griffin wrote on July 5th, 2013
  14. LOVE IT! I am showing this to my hubby…My family and i are experiencing this also! Awesome story!

    Alexandra wrote on July 5th, 2013
  15. Being primal also enabled their baby to fly.

    hedgie wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Hahaha!

      KariVery wrote on July 5th, 2013
      • Kid’s got enough air to do flips and spins! Just saying.

        Jeremy wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Hedgie thanks for the awesome comic relief! One of my favorite comments of the thread 😀

      I beliebe you may have coined the new primal parent slogan!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  16. What a wonderful Mother’s Day present to your fabulous mother-in-law. It’s amazing to me, reading these testimonials, how often one loving (and in-the-know) friend or family member sets transformation in motion with a gentle nudge or recommendation.

    Your family is beautiful. :)

    Anne wrote on July 5th, 2013
  17. That beard! Hubba hubba. I love that picture of your daughter being thrown so high. You all look so happy and healthy.

    Diane wrote on July 5th, 2013
  18. No words can describe the joy I feel in my life and love shared with you my sweet Cailey! I truly am the luckiest man in the world…even if it would appear from MDA that our dear Mark Sisson takes that title 😉

    Thanks to all of you primalistas for the kind words of support, especially to all of those amazing success stories that have come before and served as seeds to inspire ours!

    As Cailey already so eloquently expressed, thanks to my amazing momma for everything she is and does in selflessly benefiting the lives of all those around her…you are the house of light that keeps our ship safe in the night!

    And thanks to the countless primal/paleo/ancestral health bloggers (many of which Mark links to from MDA) for the free resources and the spirit of community you bring to changing the world through your own life stories and your open book, online journals, one blog post at a time.

    I look forward to reading and replying to the comments throughout the day and tonight.

    Namaste and Grok on!

    Hal Knowles wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • I love your families story! I have to admit I am jealous that you live in a part of Florida where grass-fed meats are easily available! Keep rocking a great life! :)

      Sharon T wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Hey Sharon, sometimes grass fed/finished beef is easier to get than we might first assume.

        Most Publix super markets carry the ground beef from White Oak Pastures in South Georgia. They are a 5th generation ranch with a strong ethical standard for managing the land and caring for their animals. We recently had a larger order shipped directly to our home from their ranch. They raise cattle, pigs, lambs, chickens, and turkeys all using a rotational pastured polyculture approach.

        There are also lots of small ranchers selling their meats as “animal feed” at farmers markets around the state. Thanks for the kind words…and together let’s build the Florida market for humanely raised local meats!

        Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
        • Great you mentioned White Oak Pastures, I order from them. It’s simply cheaper to order a bunch at once than what Publix or Whole Foods charge. We live in Naples, FL. Honestly we haven’t been able to source anything local, with the exception of organic produce. I will keep purchasing from White Oak even though I would prefer to find sources locally. I’m hopeful that one day something will pop up closer to Naples. I know one guy who brings in grass-fed beef to our local farmers markets but he is much more expensive than Publix, Whole Foods or White Oak. I think for the most part Florida is progressing nicely when it comes to organic produce and humanely raised meats. Thanks for responding!

          Sharon T wrote on July 6th, 2013
    • Great post Cailey! Thanks to you and Hal for sharing Mark’s message with me and Melissa! I remember how skeptical we were at first, but know that you’ve changed our lives for the better too!

      Love you both,


      Mike Milleson wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Mike, we love you and Melissa like our own family! Thanks for all you bring to our lives. I am glad that you both find the primal lifestyle as fulfilling as we do! Looking forward to our next feast…preferably after some off road pedal time in the saddle 😉

        Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  19. Wow, what an awesome story. Very inspiring! You are right living your story is way more affective than preaching!

    Mike Troy wrote on July 5th, 2013
  20. “She has a deeper understanding and appreciation for food that will make her “strong” vs food that will make her “sick””

    I LOVE that. Food that will make you strong vs food that will make you sick.
    I´m going to shamelessly steal that and use whenever I can!

    Elena wrote on July 5th, 2013
  21. Beautiful story. And truly inspiring.


    Morex wrote on July 5th, 2013
  22. Such a good decision to “now politely use our indoor voices, and show rather than tell.” I would love to swoop down and implement better food choices for the whole community but that is a power trip and not really helpful. Anyway, I am still working on the transition myself so can’t actually show yet.

    Vanessa wrote on July 5th, 2013
  23. Wow what a great Letter, who needs transformation pictures when you have a story like that! Very inspiring!

    robb75 wrote on July 5th, 2013
  24. Cailey’s mother-in-law is the beautiful, loving, intelligent woman that she described. In fact, she is the great lady who fulfilled my dream of three years by marrying me three months ago!

    Denny wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Congratulations, Denny! Since you are commenting here I imagine your health has also benefited from your wife’s wisdom. Lucky you!

      Pat wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Denny, we are honored to have you in our family!…of course it doesn’t hurt that you came bearing dinner plate gifts from rod and rifle 😉

      When’s the first run of wild turkey smoked in that new green egg?

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
      • Very soon! Maybe tuesday.

        Denny wrote on July 7th, 2013
  25. What a lovely treat it was to read about your family’s journey. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I agree wholeheartedly about cooking for yourself–that’s one of the things I’m working on. Eating out/picking up prepared food is a hard habit to break (at least for me) but I’m making progress, and your story was great positive reinforcement!

    Janey wrote on July 5th, 2013
  26. Great story on how a family can do primal!

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on July 5th, 2013
  27. Go Gators! I also live in the same progressive town and I LOVE the food options we have. Maybe we should start a primal meet-up!

    Ruth wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Also a fellow resident, Go Gators!

      Casey wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Ruth and Casey, Go Gators indeed!

      A primal meet up could be in order. Several of our primal leaning friends are at the forefront of the local, sustainable food movement here in North Central Florida. Look into Slow Food Gainesville, Citizens Co-Op, and Forage Farm to get the dialogue started.

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  28. Beautiful family! I’ve been trying to introduce my boyfriend in my primal lifestyle because i know that if i want a family with him we need to be in the same channel to succed with our future kids and as a couple, thank you your story is really inspiring :)

    adriana wrote on July 5th, 2013
  29. A terrific story. Wonderful that you are passing on this great way of life to your little ones. Makes me wish I could have known the primal way of life when my children were young. It is harder at this point for them to see the light, but at some point in their lives I am confident that they will. Great job!!!!!

    Dan Holloway wrote on July 5th, 2013
  30. This is so lovely- you are a gorgeous family! Your little girls are beautiful :) you all look so happy and healthy! What a great start to life you are giving your girls!I just found out I’m pregnant, my husband and I are so happy, I hope our baby is as healthy as your lovely girls :)

    Sophia wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Congrats to you and your husband on the pregnancy Sophia! Good luck to y’all in this new and exciting stage of your life adventure. I’m not sure how far into the pregnancy you are, but Cailey and I took the Bradley Method natural childbirthing classes with our first daughter and found it to be quite complementary to the primal lifestyle.

      Despite Cailey’s love letter to me, I should be praising her selfless bravery in starting our girls off as primal as it gets with two unmedicated, all natural, vaginal childbirths! Us groks are weenies compared to the strength and power of you grokettes!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  31. If all young couples could have this kind of a holistic approach to life what a great world we’d have.

    George wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Thanks for the kind words George! Times they are a changing…at least from where I perceive. Holism is the new black and what the hell good am I when I forget that “I am.”

      The way I see it, Mark and his genius Primal Blueprint and Primal Connection are the gateway drugs to the self realization that “we are what we eat”…literally! And I don’t mean just from a nutritional sense.

      Whatever we eat, it is a piece of our Self. So the question that keeps arising to me is…did this piece of me live a beautiful life before it became today’s meal? If it lived as a slave in a warehouse, drugged up and standing in its own feces, or pulverized and packaged in a box, etc., then I dishonor mySelf by eating it.

      The primal lifestyle is a virtuous circle that I believe will help to restore our health and more importantly the health of the systems within which we are embedded. One day when I become a meal for the soil, I hope it rejoices in the pleasure that I lived a good life to nourish its existence!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  32. Holy crap. You guys hardly looked unhealthy or out of condition in the “before” photos, but in the “after” the transformation is just profound, particularly in the smiles. You’re both literally glowing with vitality (and I presume a big dash of joy as well). Outstanding result, it’s very heartening to see your entire family thriving 😀

    I can also sympathise with the need to use the “indoor voice” when discussing the benefits of paleo. When someone isn’t really listening to your “better” argument, the urge to simply give them a louder one can be hard to ignore.

    Reventon wrote on July 5th, 2013
  33. That did my heart good, and you guys look amazingly, vibrantly healthy. When I first looked at the Before pics, I thought, they look pretty good considering SAD diets, etc. But then the Afters came up and, wow, what a glow you all have! How lucky your children will get to grow up Primal and have what I hope will be abundant health.

    Tina wrote on July 5th, 2013
  34. Wow! It is so good to see young people healthy, happy and rearing their children in the same way. Well done.

    Susan wrote on July 5th, 2013
  35. Amazing…you can see the health, happiness and transformation of your spirit in your eyes…I like to think of paleo as not a lifestyle…but just a way of life…the journey that brings you to your true divine self. Thanks for sharing your journey and I wish you much love and happiness as you go forth.

    tazie wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Tazie, so true and if you only knew the depths of the transformation of spirit within as we’ve walked this primal life. If we could only see through each others eyes?!

      Thanks for giving us a brief glimpse into the beauty seen through yours! Wishing much love and happiness to you and yours as well.


      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  36. Wow….I love the Friday posts/testimonials and this has to be the best yet! I too love the before and after pics but this is to the point through and through…Love

    Earl wrote on July 5th, 2013
  37. you guys look terrific !!!

    Invisible Hand wrote on July 5th, 2013
  38. Very inspiring, thanks!

    Waterlily wrote on July 5th, 2013
  39. What a great story, thanks for sharing. We are in a similar position with regards to family and friends – it’s nice to know there are others like us out there. We have also found the softly, softly approach works best. All the best to you and your family!

    Des wrote on July 5th, 2013
  40. Awesome story. Good for you. Wow.

    BW wrote on July 5th, 2013

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