What is in a story about personal health and wellness? We all have them; every one of us. Yours might be about your relationship with food, or about your body image, or about weight loss, or about overcoming illness or injury. If you’ve read my book  you’re familiar with mine. I was a cardio junkie  who swallowed the Conventional Wisdom -bait, hook, line and sinker for many years, paid the price, and then rebuilt my life using the powerful principles described in The Primal Blueprint . Whatever the theme, though, one thing can be certain. Health is a journey . It has its ups and downs, struggles and achievements, moments of dramatic change, plateaus  and periods of homeostasis. Health is not static. And this is a good thing! It means that at any time we have the opportunity to reverse course and begin sending our genes the right signals for positive expression .
Last week we all had the pleasure of reading how the Primal lives of Griff, Michelle, Melissa and Sterling have been progressing . This week you’ll hear back from Apurva, Diana, Lisa and Christian. Find out what they’ve learned, experienced and come up against since last we heard from them, and then maybe take a moment to reflect on what your narrative is and what it could become. What is your story up to this point, April 16, 2010? Now get creative. Imagine what your story will be 1, 10, or 20 years from now. Are you healthy, energetic, happy and productive, or are you out of shape, tired and struggling through life? Tell yourself the story of your future self, and then take the steps  to make it a reality. Read on for a little real life inspiration…
Hello Mark, thanks for your interest in my progress. I think the last time I sent you details about how my lifestyle changes were going was in March 2008, which makes it 2 years now.
Two years ago, I was on my way to getting primal and had enjoyed dramatic initial results. Since then, the progress has continued, albeit gradually, and involving a lot more effort. At that time, I had dropped a lot of fat and was bordering on looking skinny-fat. My diet was mostly primal, but carbs were not totally eliminated, and I was liable to the occasional binge. I also consumed a lot of fruit (a cup of papaya for breakfast, bananas, apples, etc.) My workouts were based on de Vany’s superset training involving quite a lot of isolation movement. My goals then were to get rid of the stubborn fat and to build muscle.
In the past two years, the changes in my diet and exercise have been quite big. Nowadays, I eat almost 100% primally: only meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, all by-and-large locally and organically grown. My fruit intake is severely curtailed, though in the spring and summer I help myself to the berries that become available on the local farmers’ market. My nut consumption has dropped significantly from the initially copious amounts that I consumed when I first made the shift away from carbs. I do indulge in red wine and dark chocolate.
As far as exercise goes, I have been doing CrossFit regularly for nearly 20 months now. I work off the main site WODs, scaled according to the recommendations at crossfitbrandx.com . I also regularly do yoga, play tennis, bike around town, and sprint every week or so (except when all the fields are drenched). I usually do 3-4 CrossFit workouts in the week, yoga 2-3 times a week. So it is a pretty active lifestyle.
I think the biggest change from two years ago is in my relationship to food and in my physical capacity.
As far as food goes, I feel I have made it to a place where my natural response to food is exactly where I want it to be. If I am not hungry, I can easily not eat, or eat a little if the social situation demands it. If something carby (like bread on a restaurant table) is placed in front of me, it is easy to resist, or have the temptation be automatically wiped out with one bite. Hunger is very bearable, and I know how to eat so that I never feel full, and almost always leave a meal with a satisfied feeling. I think this highly tuned natural response is the best thing that has happened in the last year.
In terms of physical capacity, I think a workout last week showed just how far I have come: when I started CrossFit, I could not do a single pull up and barely 7-8 dips at a stretch. Last week, I did a workout that included 120 pull ups, 120 dips, and weighted squats. My time was not great, but the fact that I could do that much work in a single session was striking to me. My times on the benchmark CF workouts continue to fall, my score on the CrossFit Total has increased by more than 150 since I started. And I have not gotten so much as a sore throat or a sniffling nose for years (touch wood)!
So I am in quite a good place as far as health and fitness goes. It took a lot of effort and a lot of tinkering to create this lifestyle. I have hit many plateaus, and have realized that not all the recommendations on the site worked: intermittent fasting did not really make a difference (I tried it for 15 months); the general idea that you can eat as much fat and protein as you want as long as you cut the carbs did not apply to me (I have realized that was consuming way to many calories for my system and as a result the stubborn fat was going nowhere); etc.
In the past two years, I feel that I have learnt many valuable lessons on fitness and health:
I have learnt that one has to find one’s own niche within the “Ten laws of the Primal Blueprint,” and that there is no silver bullet to finding the path of sustainable and continued progress. What worked yesterday will probably not work tomorrow, and what works for somebody else will probably not work for you. It is all about sharpening awareness of what is happening in your system and then experimenting with your lifestyle to find a way forward. Finally, it is important to have tangible, coherent, metrics (the Crossfit Workouts are great in that respect, and so is your waist size) so that you can gauge progress. But defining goals and identifying those metrics is again a very personal thing.
But I think my biggest gain in the last two years has been in fully accepting that building and maintaining fitness and health is a process and not a destination. One has to be willing to adapt to ones circumstances as they change. I have found that the “Ten Laws of the Primal Blueprint” provide wonderful guidance on how to adapt in the most healthful and effortless way. In addition, the experimental and empirical flavor of your work truly encourage the near constant tinkering that is necessary if one is to make long-lasting improvements to one’s life. It is in these capacities that the Primal Blueprint has proven invaluable to me in my fitness journey.
Read Apurva’s original Success Story here .
I’m still working hard to get rid of those last few inches around the middle. It’s coming down to loose skin at this point, and I’ve started taking donations to save up for surgery to fix some of the aesthetic issues that come from big weight loss. My weight has increased by about 5 pounds since I’m currently working on building some very nice muscle, especially in my arms. My legs are much stronger than they used to be, even when I was running. I can do REAL push-ups now! I’ve also started living in Vibrams, my hair is thicker and healthier after discontinuing shampoo, and my skin looks better than it ever has. I’m hoping by next summer, between intense workouts and maybe a little nip/tuck to be in a bikini for the first time in my life. This summer I plan on taking a 20-mile trek from my apartment to my parents’ house… just to see what it’s like to travel the old fashioned way.
Grok On, and thanks for all the help.
When last we met, you were getting a slightly different perspective from me than most. I wasn’t the poster child for a ripped, sleek body and I certainly didn’t have the “luxury”, if you will, of changing all aspects of my life to Primal. Being a full-time mother, caregiver (to an elderly parent with dementia) wife and business owner has essentially trapped me in a life that is seemingly incompatible with the Primal Lifestyle. But I’ve decided to not worry about that and be what I call “Primal inspired” instead (or sometimes, when I’m having a rough day “Primal enough”).
I was trying to decide what I could share with you in terms of further success as my weight hadn’t changed much. But what I’ve come up is that I think I’ve succeeded with health and well-being during some of the most challenging times of my life and I suspect my diet has also been positively directly linked to my continued fertility too. Sure, it’s anecdotal, but I think there is something to it.
Specifically, I realized that this fall…when we had our WORST wedding season yet (again, our business is wedding photography)…that I managed to survive it WITHOUT GAINING WEIGHT. Wow. Do you realize what this meant for me? I mean, for at least the last 4 years if not more, I have gained weight every fall wedding season. Even when I lost weight earlier in the year, each and every time October rolled around, I’d finally give in to the stress (and lack of time to exercise) and my weight would jump back up…which set me up nicely for the holidays (**sarcasm alert**) and it’s been a rough haul ever since. It was the classic yo-yo pattern I’m sure so many of you know. But this year…eating according to the Primal Blueprint…it was FINALLY different. The photo I’m sharing is from October! I felt like I finally broke the cycle. And honestly, until the week after Christmas, I did fairly well. I did indulge a bit too much in sugary treats, but the first of year was back on track again.
So why have I no longer dropped weight since then? Well, because I have some amazing news. I’m pregnant! I am expecting our second child at the end of September.
It was quite a surprise for us and I was stunned by the news, but I feel utterly and exceptionally blessed. Though I can’t prove it, I’ve often wondered about my low carb lifestyle and my fertility. I’m not saying there was ever anything wrong that I knew about, but I’m amazed that here I am — “later in life” (I’m turning 40 in a little over a month) — and I’ve had no problems becoming pregnant. And I’m feeling good with no complications thus far (keeping fingers crossed). It seems all I’ve heard from SO many women is that they’ve had issues regarding that. As a matter of fact, I only have one friend who hasn’t had some kind of fertility issue. And the more you hear those things, the more you wonder if it’s your fate too.
Add to that some more information I read recently when I was at the OB office: There was an article on increasing your fertility that involved things like reducing sugar intake (and grains too – refined carbs in general work against fertility), going organic, avoiding chemicals such as BPA, and a bunch of other things that really made me stop and take note. These are all the things I’ve done that can be attributed to my LC lifestyle! And things have only gotten better over the years as I took on advice from the Eadeses (Protein Power) and then further tweaked my lifestyle according to Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think eating and living as I have have poised me for the best chances and I’m encouraged to think what a good lifestyle this has been in SO many more ways than just looking good naked, ya know? It’s the kind of things I need to keep reminding myself about to encourage continued adherence.
Just in case you’re curious, just like last time (eating LC also) I’ve had no morning sickness and relatively mild symptoms overall. My bloodwork just came back wonderful and I’m not the least bit worried about gestational diabetes (didn’t have it last time, don’t expect to have it this time). I am exercising a bit lighter than before and listening to my body. And I’m resting even more when I can. Every PB law really fits perfectly into a good pregnancy lifestyle, including play time with my son, and I’m doing just that. (I just need the NY winter to give way to spring!) I’m also doing my best to forgive myself my carb transgressions when they happen. And they do happen. But it’s ok because I know exactly where to go once I get off track. So where am I now? In a Primal Pregnancy and feeling great. Tired, sure. But great.
Read Lisa’s original Success Story here .
My life since going primal about a year ago has been nothing but positive. I am currently happy with the way I look/feel and have only focused on maintenance for quite sometime now. Maintenance has been quite easy for me. Even when I go crazy at times with the 80/20 rule, my body seems to be able to recover from a time to time carb binge fest without much struggle. I thought I’d see some major set backs after a week long business trip to S. Korea, where I consumed way too much alcohol and grain infested foods that I love so much and grew up on… but to the contrary, it didn’t do much damage at all. Now if were to permanently relocate there, I might be in big trouble…
Lately, I’ve been experimenting more with intermittent fasting and have added it more frequently to my schedule due to the convenience factor, but I’ll eat if I feel hungry or social situations dictate I should. I work out a bit less than I’ve ever done. Probably about 1-3 times heavy lifting (10-30 mins) and an occasional sprint or jogging session with walking added in through out the week. My fat percentage is still under 10% and weight has not fluctuated. The primal lifestyle really seems to be effortless.
My biggest challenge lately has been to shut my mouth to those who are not seeking advice. While I’ve gotten better, I can’t help but want to help people when I see them struggling with conventional wisdom of losing weight. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not for everyone… well at least not yet…=)
P.S. I haven’t taken a photo of myself without a shirt on in a while… it’s been cold on the east coast. I’ll try to send you an updated photo, but I pretty much look the same as I did last year…
Read Christian’s original Success Story here .