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

What a Difference a Few Months Can Make

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!

Dear Mark,

I have had fast, great success with the Primal lifestyle and I would like to add my story to your growing library in order to encourage others who have lost hope of ever getting that middle-age weight back off.

For most of my life, I kept myself in fairly good condition. I was a 1979 graduate of The Citadel, with military experience at Fort Bragg, so staying fit enough to achieve a top score of 300 on physical readiness evaluations came easily and naturally. I kept to the correct weight of 158 to 160 for a long time. But as the decades wore on, I lost sight of the importance of staying fit and it showed. As a writer, I had spent a lot of time in front of the computer, and it was getting difficult to sit down without unfastening the 38-inch belt on my jeans. On September 23, 2011, my family visited out-of-town relatives while I stayed home to work. At one point I got up to stretch and I saw my reflection in a mirror: fat, pear-shaped, and pasty-faced. I had known that my five-foot, nine-inch frame was getting too heavy, but I had no idea until I saw it that day. I weighed 207 pounds.

I had recently heard an interview about folks who followed a particular eating lifestyle. It wasn’t a diet. It was another way of thinking that supposedly worked without much hunger. Even better though, it was iconoclastic. Was it that macrobiotic thing, or the caveman paleo thing? I couldn’t quite remember so I did some research and landed on What I found impressed me in two ways. First, people were having rapid, healthy success even though they were not starving themselves. Second, the no-fat rigamarole that we’ve heard for so long appeared to be wrong in many ways.

After reading many of the success stories and viewing the before-and-after pictures, I decided that it was time to make a change. The hardest part was the first 3-5 days, as I went completely off of sugar and white flour products. The next few days after that, I began adding many of the recipes from the website. I enjoyed T-bone steaks, butter-sauteed rosemary chicken breasts and all different kinds of omelets, along with lots of creative leafy salads containing leeks and other heretofore unexplored culinary delights (not very expensive, either). Within a week I had lost almost five pounds, and I was not hungry. I think that staying busy with my writing had a lot to do with it as well, as boredom appears to lead to overeating.

Within eight weeks, I had lost twenty pounds, and my clothes started getting baggy. I had stored smaller clothes in boxes for years without much thought that I’d ever be able to wear them again. Imagine my surprise when I could get into fifty percent of them without pulling in my gut. The only problem was that they were fifteen or twenty years old, so I looked like a refugee from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I added thirty-minute walks, five days a week. Before the weight loss I had to be careful, as the brisk walks caused my knees to swell when I was so heavy. Not only was my weight dropping, but my endurance was increasing. North Georgia is quite hilly, but I wasn’t huffing and puffing any more. I felt like the old Saturday morning roadrunner cartoons where the coyote took some muscle enhancer and grew his legs into Popeye muscles. I was booking. By the third month, which was right before Christmas, I added a bit of Airborne shuffle to the walks. For the non-military, this is a cross between a fast walk and a jog: just enough to get the heart rate up a bit without the punishing effects that full daily jogging can cause the knees. By Christmas, I had lost approximately 33 pounds and was down to 174 pounds. People were asking, “what happened to you?” All I could do was smile and say thank you, although I did tell many of them about your website. I have no idea whether any of them went there or not, but I hope so.

So here I am, only 3 1/2 months after beginning a new healthy lifestyle: slimmer, more energetic, and getting into clothes that I never knew I could wear again. The first picture is from last Christmas. The second picture is this Christmas. Another added benefit is that I have a lower food bill, since I no longer eat the chips, ice creams, cookies, and so-forth. I honestly don’t even think of food that much. It has been a challenge to change the mindset, though. I still feel an old tug sometimes when I pass a fast food place, but all I have to do is remember how fine this all feels, and the quality of life that has been added. With that in mind, it’s really not so tough to stay on the no sugar and grains wagon. An old friend of mine, who is a rock-solid 67-year-old retired Navy SEAL, says, “You can either live to eat, or you can eat to live.” The latter sounds good to me. Thanks Mark Sisson for helping this to happen. God bless you as you continue to help people live happier and more productive lives.

All the best,

George Steffner

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. Hoooray! Congratulations, George.

    I’ve been trying to get my dad to go primal for a few months now. I think I’ll send him your story.

    Bruno wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Yep, thanks George, sending this to my dad too.

      mohill wrote on January 6th, 2012
      • Showing both my parents this! Great work, George!

        Brandon wrote on January 8th, 2012
  2. Very nice! Its great to see the variety of people this lifestyle works with. I hope to see my mom’s story here someday. At this point she has lost 30 pounds (which is awesome!) but has a way to go yet. Thanks for the encouraging story.

    EZ wrote on January 6th, 2012
  3. You look AWESOME!!!! Great job!!

    Kristie wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Yes you do – congratulations George!!!

      Abel James wrote on January 6th, 2012
  4. Congratulations George! Keep up the good work, we’re rooting you on. Iconoclasm can be a very powerful thing.

    Jay wrote on January 6th, 2012
  5. Thanks for sending this in. It shows that even in a small amount of time a huge difference can be made. Congratulations! :-)

    Happycyclegirl wrote on January 6th, 2012
  6. So glad to see your story. You look great. I’m also “middle aged” and it’s been harder for me to lose weight. Now I’m inspired again.

    marika wrote on January 6th, 2012
  7. Wow, well done George! Only 3 1/2 months? That’s awesome! And inspiring. Keep up the good work!

    SmokeFan14 wrote on January 6th, 2012
  8. The “after” pictures always have the biggest smiles 😀

    peggy wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • They do, don’t they? I love to see them, always inspirational. Congratulations George!

      B. Knight wrote on January 6th, 2012
  9. This is very inspirational — thank you for sharing it! As an older newcomer, I am especially interested in hearing from folks who are my age (50) and up, making this change now in their lives, and also I would love to hear stories of folks who have been on a primal-based diet for a couple years now — how is it working out for you, once you are past the quick initial and dramatic body changes? is it indeed a healthy lifestyle? Do you have healthy bloodwork (or whatever) from your doctor to prove it? This is a sincere question. I want to do this, and I am hoping to hear that longterm, it is indeed safe, effective, healthy, etc. Thanks. And thank you again, George, for sharing your story! Wow!

    Dariadoll wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • I’m 51 (52 in April). I’ve been primal for several years now. Lost 30 lbs initially (first 4 months). Cured a growing blood sugar problem (last HA1c was 5.0). Cholesterol ratios are perfect. I do Crossfit 3X a week and routinely outdo those 25 years my junior. I’ve never been fitter in my life.
      It is indeed safe, healthy and effective.

      Dave, RN wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Dariadoll: I’m 67 years old and have been off sugar and grains for almost 2 years now. Never felt better and I look pretty good for an old lady – not to mention I feel great. There’s still wrinkles and some gray hairs but I actually have a waistline, a flat belly and lots of energy. Plus my mood is all the better for it.

      The doctor said I was in damn good shape for a 67 year old! I’m so glad I found marksdailyapple – I only wish I knew of it years ago. Good luck!

      PrimalGrandma wrote on January 6th, 2012
      • Primal Grandma – you’re just what I needed. I’m 63 and have just begun to avoid grains and sugars. Thanks for sharing.

        Susan wrote on January 8th, 2012
      • I am 52. I have been paleo for 18 months now.
        If I had only known it 30 years ago!!!!
        That is my great regret Mark!! Why didn’t you tell us some decades ago!!!!

        Jose wrote on January 9th, 2012
    • Go for it Dariadoll!
      I’m 50 and have been primal since last August, have lost 22 pounds, really slow going for me though, but it’s more than weight, it’s better sleep, better moods, no GERD, fewer allergies, brighter outlook, I idont feel chained to food anymore, off insulin resistance medication. Even though weightloss has slowed to a crawl, I have resolved to get stronger this year, and get off the hypertension meds. It’s not all about weight, I will never go back to my old ways,

      Heather wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • My husband and I have been primal now for two years (we both lost 35 pounds!-each). And yes, its healthier. Blood work proves it, but we FEEL better. After a few minor cheats over the holidays, it feels great to jump right back on track wholeheartedlty- my body is grateful!

      Melissa wrote on January 12th, 2012
      • BTW – I’m 49 and my hubbie is 51. It works!!!!

        Melissa wrote on January 12th, 2012
  10. Wow! The difference in your skin is fantastic. And your sweetheart looks great in the after picture, too! Eating better is great for the whole family.

    albertasara wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • The skin. I should have added that sunlight is actually good for us, just as the right kinds of fat is. In fact, skin cancer is actually DEcreased when folks get vitamin D from moderate amounts of sunlight. No burning, but healthy exposure. Gives you that slight tan glow.

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  11. Dariadoll, I neglected to mention that I had lots of indegestion, reflux, gas, and fast heartbeat even when lying down. I no longer have any of them. I’m not saying that I’ve reversed aging, though, since I still have grey hair creeping around the sides of my head, but I feel much better. My most recent check up was two years ago and the doctor wrote “Obese” in the notes section of my chart. I plan on having a check up this month and I will post the results.

    George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  12. George, I come here so often looking for inspiration after letting myself down and this story fired me up. Yesterday I threw all my non primal stuff out and hubby even agreed to go primal with me. I went and bought some lean meat, no nitrate bacon, berries and all the veggies and root veggies I could afford. I know when I stick with it I feel amazing. Thanks for re inspiring me!

    Sally Degen wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • You can do it, Sally!

      Seeing others’ success is such great motivation. Just keep with it…there’s no better encouragement than seeing your own progress and looking and FEELING well.

      Amy B. wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Sally:
      Don’t forget to eat enough fat so you aren’t hungry. I eat fatty meat (steak, shortribs, chicken thighs, pork chops) and make sure to use enough olive oil on my salads and add some avocado. Egg yolks are great too, and cook those root veggies in butter or some of the fat from that bacon.

      Nancy wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • You can do it Sally. You will do it.

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  13. Wow! That is incredible!! Congrats and I hope to share your story with some loved-ones. :)

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on January 6th, 2012
  14. Like so many of these success stories, you look amazingly younger in your “after” picture. There is a vibrancy there that you can see. Congratulations on your success! Best of luck on your continued journey.

    JennF wrote on January 6th, 2012
  15. So great to see success stories about those of us in our 50’s. The distance from beginning to successful end is often even greater for us.

    I’m really interested in the “airborne shuffle” idea. I’m going to google it. Can you recommend any resources for technique?

    marthat wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Essentially half-way between marching and jogging, where the feet are pulled just off the ground. This is to provide a middle ground between marching and jogging. This is often employed by an individual wearing or carrying heavy equipment since it provides a faster pace without jarring the knees and ankles like in a regular running form. Its name is derived from US Army paratrooper as they rapidly shuffle to exit the door of the aircraft.

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  16. Great going George…your story is inspirational

    Hariharan Ragunathan wrote on January 6th, 2012
  17. What a great transformation in such a short amount of time! Be proud of yourself, George! It takes courage (and being fed up with the status quo) to switch to primal eating and start questioning everything we’ve been led to believe about “healthy diets.”

    It always amazes me how quickly the body changes when we feed it the things it wants and needs and stop feeding it things that make it sick, overweight, and inflamed. It’s truly beautiful how well our bodies respond to good things!

    It breaks my heart to think of all the people I know who are on low-fat, low-calorie diets, feeling miserable and hungry all the time, and forcing themselves to go longer and longer during cardio…and they’re the same size and shape (and with all the same health problems) as they’ve been through all the *years* they’ve been trying…

    If it wasn’t so firmly grounded in science and plain, good old-fashioned common sense, I’d say Paleo was magic. KUTGW, George!

    Amy B. wrote on January 6th, 2012
  18. Great story George! Just another example I will send off to my older relatives to get them on the wagon.

    One question for you is did your wife adopt the lifestyle as well? Whether she did or didn’t, what were her thoughts through all of this?

    Mike wrote on January 6th, 2012
  19. This 24 year old woman says… you look gooooooood! You look very healthy. Great job!

    Luisa wrote on January 6th, 2012
  20. George,
    Congratulations from a fellow Georgian! I admire your discipline and positive outlook. You look very healthy and handsome! I’m sure your wife is very proud of you.

    Sabrina wrote on January 6th, 2012
  21. This is an awesome story and very inspiring. Good luck in the future and I wish you continued success!

    Ed wrote on January 6th, 2012
  22. Way to go, George! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

    Anne wrote on January 6th, 2012
  23. Someone above me here already mentioned, but you do look younger and much healthier. Congratulations on your success. You’re right about that feeling when you pass fast food places, or pass on other junk food. You really do feel much better with a primal lifestyle.

    Brett wrote on January 6th, 2012
  24. Great job + congrats!!! Keep at it, it gets even better!!

    K wrote on January 6th, 2012
  25. Wow, what a good looking couple :)

    And what a transformation on your part, you look like a younger brother to the above photo, very nice.

    Arty wrote on January 6th, 2012
  26. You look fantastic! And in such a short time period.
    Thanks for your story.

    Melissa wrote on January 6th, 2012
  27. Thanks George. Another inspirational story. I’m in my first two weeks of going primal and your story is just the thing to keep me focussed.

    Mick wrote on January 6th, 2012
  28. I just have to say, first picture – Ron Swanson from the NBC show Parks and Recreation. “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have. You probably heard ‘I want some bacon and eggs’. That is in correct. I want *all* the bacon and eggs that you have.”

    Brian B. wrote on January 6th, 2012
  29. I am a “93 Citadel grad and PALEO! I am still losing and feeling awesome!

    “You’re Citadel men, you have no pension for failure, you wear the ring, you never let a friend down, you will be good fathers, husbands, and leaders in the armed forces and industry, those around you will forever be attracted to the shining light in your lives, and you will guide others in your path of success, you are strong in heart, body, and mind. You have deep interests in protecting such things as honor, fidelity, and all matters unmaterial in nature. Your virtues will matter not only in wealth, but in the richness of family, you are the last of the knights” – – Pres. Ronald Reagan (Citadel Graduation Speech May 1993)

    Jim wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • It’s great isn’t it, Jim? Feels just like it did when we used to company run after Friday parades. Go Dogs and Grok on!

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  30. Great story, George! I always laugh when I see these stories; I know the ‘after’ picture is going to look like the son/daughter of ‘before’. Or like a family photo from 20 years before the first one. I assume your significant other was on board? She looks younger, too. Well done!

    fitmom wrote on January 6th, 2012
  31. Great story, George. I love seeing stories from others who also allowed that middle-aged weight gain. I think the weight gain is inevitable for most of us, if we eat the typical American diet. I’m glad we found another route. And, I live in Clemson, SC. This area of the country is beautiful!

    June J. Pilcher wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • True June. Let’s hope that more will avoid the typical American diet, one at a time. I’m really grateful to Mark Sisson.

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  32. Congrats on the weight loss! Continue to inspire so others have the courage to live Primal as well!

    Primal Toad wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • “Congrats on the weight loss! Continue to inspire so others have the courage to live Primal as well!”
      (c) Primal Toad

      Cant say it any better. You give hope to newbie Primals like me. Keep it up George.

      bigchick wrote on January 6th, 2012
  33. George – outstanding story! Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to the Friday stories every week, they mean so much to me. Your short but successful journey with primal living is such an inspiration. I will be sharing it with those I know to help spread the word. Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year and beyond! Cheers. :-)

    Jessica wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Thanks Jessica!

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  34. Thanks for sharing George! I’ve been having troubles getting motivated to stay on Paleo, but when you mentioned experiencing the old tug when you walked past fast food places and deciding not to go in because of the good way you felt already, I realized that most of what’s holding me back is the “feel good” reward of eating shitty but tasty food. The thing is, whenever I eat grains or chips or something, I always get heartburn, and that’s not a very nice feeling. Also: I’m 23. Heartburn at this age, to this severity, is BAD. Congratulations on your transformation. Keep eating primaly and exercising slowly and you’ll look like Grok in no time!

    Daniel wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • Daniel, You not only can do it, but you are going to do it. You are.

      George wrote on January 6th, 2012
  35. Great work George! And thanks Mark for finally showcasing someone on the other side of 50! Now if you’d only post a success story for a 50-y-o *woman*.

    moreporkplease wrote on January 6th, 2012
    • I’ve never written up my success story, but I’m female and started low-carb at age 45, and went primal around age 52. I didn’t have much weight to lose, but did drop 20 lbs. and I no longer have headaches (they were from sugar), aching joints (that was from grains) or sinus infections/bronchitis (that was from dairy products). My Mom (age 77) has also picked up this way of eating and she’s also doing great!

      Nancy wrote on January 6th, 2012
  36. Thanks for the inspiration and story, George. I’m 71 years young and on my way to Paleo/Primal health too!

    Hope to have a similar story to tell in the near future.

    Jay wrote on January 6th, 2012
  37. Great to see a Citadel grad representing the college so well; in your after picture, you most certainly look the part! My dad and brother are both graduates, also.
    Congratulations on the life change.

    Kate wrote on January 6th, 2012
  38. Nice work George… may send this one to my Dad too. :)

    Stephanie wrote on January 6th, 2012
  39. Wonderful story, George, and such a happy “after” picture! As an older primal person myself, I am always delighted to read about the successes of the 50+ crowd. Your commitment and results are inspiring!

    Marianne wrote on January 6th, 2012

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