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. Phenomenal story!! What a wonderful change for your family!

    (And having lived in a particular north central Florida college town – with great healthcare – you are absolutely right – it is a fantastic place to support this lifestyle change. I miss it!)

    Wren wrote on July 5th, 2013
  2. As Cailey’s mom I can attest to this loving relationship with shared values and vision. As an Italian mom, it is so difficult to respect the ban on pasta and bread, but I respect their decision. They truly live this life of love and happiness. I am so lucky to be a part of their happiness.

    Rosemary Daniels wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Rosemary, what’s appears difficult to one, appears effortless to another. Your holiday meals are both delicious and quite primal friendly! You are the salt of the Earth and a gift from the Mediterranean 😉

      I am so fortunate to have a mother-in-law like you who inspires me, humbles me, and approves of me just as I am. Nothing in my life, nor in Cailey’s life, would be possible if not for the love and friendship given by our great mothers! I love you!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  3. Beautiful story – happy and healthy kids, loving parents, caring and respectful grandparents, exercise/play set, high quality food and a beautiful quote from Thich Nhat Hanh. To me the title of your story says it all, “…The Energy to Be Better Parents, Partners and People.” With my excess energy, I take time to look inside my heart of hearts hoping to find the whole cosmos.

    I’m not an anthropologist, but it seems to me that most, if not all, primitive people had some kind of spiritual life – shamans, magic mushrooms, sacrifies, etc. I’m wondering if it was because they ate healthy foods and had good habits that gave them that extra energy to relax and be quiet and look inside. Just wondering….

    Nate wrote on July 5th, 2013
    • Thanks Nate! I love your perspective and sense of wonder. I believe there is something to your question/comment.

      Have you seen the documentary, cave of forgotten dreams? It sure seemed like the cave dwellers likely had a deep spiritual connection to their food chain and the web of life around them.

      Maybe sometimes it’s as much what we don’t eat? Some of my best hours are during my intermittent fast days.

      To paying attention to the silence and wisdom waiting within!…

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 7th, 2013
  4. Speaking as a loving brother to Cailey, her family is as Happy and Healthy as she has described. I am lucky to be a loving Uncle to two beautiful girls, as they learn good eating habits that they will carry throughout their lives. They truly live what they preach, and with ever increasing gentleness preach what they live.

    Cory wrote on July 6th, 2013
    • Cory, our girls are lucky to have you as their Uncle!…and I am lucky to call you my brother! Looking forward to the next family gathering!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  5. Nice story that shows the PB effect over time. Your family couldn’t receive a nicer Mother’s Day/Father’s Day card.

    Tom wrote on July 6th, 2013
  6. Ditto to all of the above – those smiles tell the whole story. What a beautifully written piece too. Aloha !

    Renata wrote on July 6th, 2013
  7. great story. Your family is beautiful and i loved hearing your outlook on the lifestyle

    Melissa wrote on July 6th, 2013
  8. Reventon, Tina, Earl, and everyone who commented on this thread, thanks for making this gift from Cailey to my mom and me so special!

    No words can adequately capture my gratitude for your kind thoughts. All I can say is Grok On as we all work toward igniting that “Primal Glow” within everyone we touch!

    Hal Knowles wrote on July 6th, 2013
  9. Good story, I enjoyed reading it! It is fun to see people enjoying healthy food and healthy living. And how nice to see parents giving their children a good start! Some parents will give their kids just anything to eat, and watch them put on weight…. Children don’t know any better, they will eat what they are served. Your children are lucky to have primal parents.

    Living primal in nutrition and exercise myself, I hope your story will help inspire others to take the step!

    Erik W wrote on July 7th, 2013
  10. Great story and congratulations to you and your family. Grok on!

    James wrote on July 7th, 2013
  11. Beautiful story and beautiful family! I admire your approach to sharing the lifestyle through example. It’s hard to be so passionate about it and not try to convert everyone…NOW!

    I’m a 60-something like your MIL, and moved to ancestral/primal/whole food-only nutrition about 4 years ago. Over maybe 3 months, changing nothing but the quality of my food, lost 20 lbs. that I didn’t even realize I had accumulated. My body settled into it’s natural balance, and my weight (high school weight) hasn’t varied more than a pound or two over those 4 years.

    I look at my 4 year-old granddaughter and know that my food choices have been, and will continue to be, a positive influence on her health and well-being.

    I live on the west coast of Florida, and make a regular run up to that part of the state to visit farmers and ranchers that raise organic vegetables and grass-fed meats. I’ll keep supporting them and hope others will too!

    Mike wrote on July 7th, 2013
    • Grok on Mike, that’s an awesome story! Congratulations on going primal and sticking with it for these last four years. And as someone who spends his life’s work on sustainability issues, I want to personally thank you for directly supporting Florida’s farmers and ranchers.

      Florida has so much potential to be a primal/ancestral health hotspot. We have fantstic weather year round, we have amazing coastal resources, we grow some wonderful vegetables and fruits and nuts, we don’t have a suitable climate for most of the cereal grains, and we are a huge cattle ranching state while some of our best private lands are those managed as naturalistic grazing habitats. Unfortunately almost all of the cattle get sent to CAFOs out of state.

      For anyone who lives in Florida and thinks to themselves, I should eat as local and seasonal as possible, they almost have to become a primal adherent by default. What should that tell us about what “the system” is forcing compared to what “the ecosystem” gives through grace.

      I hope the primal lifestyle and the nascent ancestral health movement in general can become the catalyst for a new paradigm in Florida! If anyone out there has ideas for how I, or any other folks with the passion or the connections, can help to facilitate this change please reply to this thread to light the fire!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 7th, 2013
  12. Rigid fixie? I’ll never understand it. 😉

    glorth2 wrote on July 8th, 2013
    • glorth2, you gotta try it!

      It’s actually a single speed (i.e., it has a freewheel) so I’m not quite to the true fixie club (yet). I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. The trail system from the location of that Xterra sprint triathlon in the photos is not so great for a fully rigid rig (the saw palmetto roots destroyed my hands that day as your arms and hands become your front shock). While there were a handful of single speeders, I was certainly the only fool riding fully rigid.

      But for most of Florida, my Misfit diSSent is the bomb! She is feather light, accelerates with no delay, climbs like a mountain goat, never breaks down, and always sings in tune with the trail and the rider. Sure, my riding style has changed as I have to get out of the saddle more for climbs and to simply alter my center of gravity or cadence, etc. But for everything you give up in gears and shock absorption, you gain tenfold in riding experience and the sheer bliss of its simplicity.

      I will finish by stating that the layback titanium seatpost is a necessity as it almost serves as a rear shock! Unless I move to a truly mountainous state, it’s hard to imagine ever going back to a geared/shocked rig.

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 8th, 2013
    • glorth2,

      p.s. Ditch the Camelbak drip as well! I see everyone on the trails all dressed and tech’d to the hilt and I think what the hell is the point?

      Toss a couple of water bottles in cages, and free your body and mind from the burden of all that crap. I rarely drink during my rides anyway (even during my annual 50 miler in the Tour de Felasco).

      I believe Mark has even posted some thoughts and scientific article links on the benefits of modest water intake (vs. the common water/sports drink overkill) during endurance events.

      Grok (and ride) on!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 8th, 2013
      • Thanks for the response. I fully confess to being a gear whore. I just got myself a Rocky Mountain Element 950RSL (FS, carbon, etc) and worked with the shop to customize it. The thing is a dream. I can just stare at it for hours. I also rock the jersey and spandex and have a hydration pack. I find that convenient not only for the water but, I take my 15 and 12 year old boys riding and they share in the water sometimes and I bring spare parts and tools along. If the weather’s not insanely hot (like it was yesterday) I don’t bring a bottle with electrolyte stuff but that’s about it. I understand Mark’s theory and am fine with it but I’d rather be safe than sorry. On road rides I usually stick to one water bottle unless it’s brutal out or a longer ride. Good luck with everything man!

        glorth2 wrote on July 8th, 2013
        • Thanks and likewise glorth2! Your custom rig sounds sweet, and don’t be fooled by my rigid SS, I lust over the gear like everyone else 😉

          Though my wife enjoys a good rail trail ride, I’m hoping I can convince my little girls to join me on the cross country trails when they get older. Kudos to you as the awesome dad who takes his boys along for the ride…that is fantastic!

          Hal Knowles wrote on July 8th, 2013
  13. How truly inspiring! You don’t know how lucky you are to have a partner, not only on the same page with you, but actively leading your family in this lifestyle.

    Magpie wrote on July 8th, 2013
  14. This brought a tear to my eye, the two of you are absolutely beautiful. I am so lucky to call you my friends. I am intrigued by your passion and commitment and am exploring a transition of sorts for our family, and Chris is on board! I love you and miss you. XO

    Deeds wrote on July 8th, 2013
    • Awww, Deeds we love you and Mull-diggity too!

      Wish you were here so we could celebrate your transition over a meal. Keep us posted on your new lifehacking adventure and send along your personal wisdom from lessons learned. Word to the AF!

      Hal Knowles wrote on July 8th, 2013
  15. What an awesome mother in law:)

    Mitch wrote on July 8th, 2013
  16. This just might be the best story I have seen on here. My heart is smiling. What a beautiful story of healthy life and honest love.

    Brooke wrote on July 8th, 2013
  17. Former FL gal, forever primal gal. Thanks for sharing your awesome story and inspiring me and countless others.

    kate wrote on July 8th, 2013
  18. “My mother-in-law (pictured below) ” : oh yeah.
    “My self diagnosed hypoglycemia vanished along with my need to snack every 3-4 hours to prevent nausea, the shakes, and general moodiness. ” = Our house is a happier place with bacon&eggs too!
    Good going … but what’s a “speech-language pathologist”?

    Ulfric douglas wrote on July 10th, 2013
  19. Love this letter, rather affirmation of living well!

    Adrienne Carroll wrote on July 10th, 2013
  20. Wow beautiful story, very inspiring!

    wildgrok wrote on July 10th, 2013
  21. Wow! I am so inspired by your images alone! What a fantastic story. I am also a mother of 2 (4 and 2.5 year old boys) and narrowing in on age 37. My husband and I have really tried to change our lifestyle in a very similar way. We’ve tried educating ourselves, buying different food, etc. What really holds us back is our 4 year old. He WILL NOT EAT much beyond bread, cheese, granola and cheerios. Do I make him starve? So we’re at a cross roads. When I have been able to cut those awful sugars out of our diet, I feel so much better. Wish me continuous strength!

    Marnie wrote on July 10th, 2013

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