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

Where’s Timothy Now?

Who’s Timothy, you ask? Timothy is a fellow that submitted a Primal Blueprint Real Life Story a few years back. He’s also a PrimalCon veteran (we’ve been lucky enough to have him and his family attend each PrimalCon thus far), a Shovelglove Master, and an all-around great guy. Oh, and you might recognize him from The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

As you may know from past “Where Are They Now?” articles, I like to periodically check in with friends that have shared their success stories on Mark’s Daily Apple to see how they’re doing. There was The Unconquerable Dave and his update post The Unconquerable Dave: Still Unconquerable (Grok on, brother, if you’re reading), and a host of others (1, 2, 3).

I caught up with Timothy recently and, lucky for us all, he was happy to provide an update. And what an update it is.

First, here’s a pre-Primal pic from Timothy’s original success story.

If you haven’t read Timothy’s story, do so now: Complete Recovery Within a Week. It’s worth your time.

Now, without further ado, let’s find out how the Primal lifestyle has been treating Timothy.

Enter Timothy…

Dear Mark,

It’s been three years since I first discovered Marks Daily Apple. My wife had just given birth to our first child, and at age 33 I was motivated for the first time to make a serious effort at improving my health. I knew I needed more physical and mental strength to be a good father and husband. But I was completely ignorant about exercise and nutrition.

In my luckiest break ever, I stumbled across MDA. Intellectually, I was convinced. Of course the human body does best in its native environment; how silly not to have thought of that! But what really convinced me, on an emotional level, was reading the success stories of those who transformed their own lives, complete with astounding photographic proof. Maybe, I dared to fantasize, such magic might work on a basket case like me!

Oh, man, I had no idea.

I put down the processed foods and picked up a sledgehammer. It was a fun game to think about the Primal paradigm and apply it to every aspect of my life. The first changes came almost overnight, and that taste of success made me hungry for more. I discovered that cooking real food was actually enjoyable. And later that weightlifting was my favorite hobby, even better than video games!

A few months ago, I decided to apply everything I had learned to bodybuilding, taking a Primal approach to the Leangains method. This seemed like the ultimate challenge of mind, body, and soul. After twelve careful weeks, the results astonished me! Here’s a photo from before I started lifting.

Here’s one after I had been lifting for one year.

And here are two from the end of my diet (much credit due to the coaching of Andy Morgan of

Going Primal didn’t just introduce me to my favorite hobby. It gave me more strength and vitality than I could ever have imagined and drastically enhanced my enjoyment of life. But most important of all, I got what I came for: being a capable father to my son. This worked out so well we soon had another! (Going Primal has noteworthy effects on fertility). Keeping up with two healthy boys is a serious challenge, but thanks to my degree in Primalology from MDA, I am prevailing with aplomb.

Just for fun, here are eight of my thoughts after three years. I hope they will inspire those who come after me, and amuse those who came before:

We have more potential than our tiny minds can imagine. People rarely appreciate how amazing our ancestors were. We’re all descended from an unbroken dynasty of heroic survivors stretching back millions of years in the hominid line alone. That legacy lives in our genes, stronger than ever, but waiting for the right environment to be expressed. Every living human is a unique gem that only needs primal polish to shine. That polishing can go on for a lifetime. Our dreams barely scratch the surface!

Homo Sapiens must squat. As the bipedal animal, this is our most distinctive physical adaptation. My toddler does it perfectly by instinct. But as we grow up, we become crippled by sedentarism and lose our facility in this basic motion. The more we neglect squatting, the more uncomfortable it becomes, and we avoid it even more, until we can barely stand up from a chair. But it’s worth working through that discomfort and discovering what you knew as a child, because squatting is the foundation of human strength.

Homo Sapiens must fast. As omnivorous survivors, this is our most distinctive metabolic adaptation. It’s no secret that ancient humans survived countless cycles of lean times and abundance. As J. Stanton writes, prey animals graze, but predators fast and gorge. Our bodies perform best under these conditions. This works on at least three levels: daily intermittent fasting (e.g. skipping breakfast), day-to-day calorie cycling (overfeeding after a vigorous hunt, underfeeding and resting on other days), and seasonal cycling (lots of calories during some months, not quite enough during others). What is the optimal frequency and magnitude? I’m doing my best to find out…

SLEDGEHAMMERS! Is there any greater exercise appliance? Sure, barbells are best for building strength. And kettlebells are fun and functional. But for me, nothing spells paleolithic party time like a weighted stick. You can shovel it! You can swing it! You can throw it in the air, whirl it overhead, swing one in each hand like a crazy berserker! My personal favorite is to simulate stone-age combat. I came up with a hammer combat protocol that combines Moving at a Slow Pace, Sprinting, and Lifting Heavy Things for a hugely entertaining devil of a workout, one that was extremely effective in the final weeks of my recent diet.

True ecstasy is mastering heavy lifts. Everybody talks about runner’s high. How come nobody talks about lifter’s high? These days when I deadlift for reps at my limit, or power clean and press a barbell overhead with all my strength until it finally crashes down – the euphoria is indescribable. It’s like being tasered with pure ecstasy, or being mind-melded with aliens, or dying and being resurrected on the spot. Only crazier! The effect was minor when I first started lifting and my body was just learning to exert itself. But now that I’ve practiced for a year and a half, holy smokes, it keeps getting more intense. That feeling is all the motivation I need to keep lifting.

Un-deafen your palate. “I couldn’t live without bread.” This was my most dreadful fear when I first went Primal. And to abandon not just bread, but all forms of birdseed! Even cinnamon rolls, heaven forfend! Maybe it was gliadin addiction, maybe just habit from growing up on fast food, but I was seriously concerned about a life sentence in a culinary prison devoid of all pleasure. HA! Now I realize that bread, and all the other supernormal stimuli of modern food substitutes, had deafened my palate to the subtle flavors of real food. After turning off the static, my sense of taste slowly awoke. Eggs, salmon, and bison are just as soul-satisfying for me now as bread used to be, with the added bonus that I feeling great after eating them. As for cinnamon rolls, they can’t compete with a pot of maple cinnamon coconut quinoa. I did this experiment recently and the results weren’t even close.

Willpower doesn’t exist. This was a shocker for me, because conventional wisdom is that success, especially on a diet, comes from making a decision and just plain sticking to it. But when I honestly thought about it, none of my successes came from willpower. When I actually did try to rely on “willpower” it was almost always self-sabotaging. What works instead? Habit, distraction, playfulness, desperation, vanity, OCD, cognitive dissonance, endorphin addiction, the urge to disprove doubters, the desire to set a good example – these are a few of the tools that worked for me in various contexts. But willpower, what does that even mean? It’s just an illusion. Like consciousness!

Set a good example. We’re all in this together. I honestly believe that everybody would be Primal if they only knew what it felt like. How much happier our world would be! But how are folks to know? Not everyone is lucky enough to stumble across MDA. But neither is confrontation productive. We can only set a good example. Few people notice. Fewer still inquire. But when we open even one other person’s mind, that action echoes through eternity. It is not given to all of us to have children of our own, or to create cultural monuments to live after us. But we all have a real shot at immortality through our brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews in the human race.

Every one of our ancestors, without exception, unto the humblest protozoa, prevailed where countless others failed. And so we walk the earth right now. Only for an instant, but one flash of lightning is enough to illuminate the world. Where will we strike next?

Grok on,


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. I squatted 110lbs today and deadlifted 125 — almost my body weight. There really is a lifter’s high, even when your lifts are pretty unimpressive. I’ve got to find out more about this sledgehammer stuff. The gym will be closed for over a week.

    Diane wrote on December 14th, 2012
    • This is the truth! It’s not about the numbers as much as your state of mind on the last rep. Even a beginner can touch the cosmos. But rest assured that it gets even more profound with practice!

      Just picking up a sledgehammer will probably give you some ideas. But there’s a ton more on my web site if you want em!

      Timothy wrote on December 14th, 2012
    • Diane & Timothy – Thanks to you both for your inspiration. I’m a natural at the eating but have just started lifting. So far, I’m pretty far from lifting my body weight — more like half an arm ;). But I did discover right away that it’s impossible to think about anything but the lift — must be fully present. I train with a trainer once a week and that allows me to concentrate 100% on failure. I had no idea how satisfying failure can be. Thanks again!

      p.s. This thread also made me consider inventing the “squatting desk” to compete with the “standing desks” that are showing up everywhere.

      Juli wrote on December 15th, 2012
  2. Timothy,

    Fantastic story! What an inspiration. My Primal path is in its relative infancy but our motivation is similar. That is to be a better father. I have three young kids and being there for them and being a guide to them has been a strong motivator with going Primal. The ancestral, old ways are of high interest to me now. I am hoping to regain some of that knowledge and wisdom that modern society has forgotten. Keep up the good work.


    P.S. I looked at your site a bit and the hammer routine is awesome.

    Scott wrote on December 14th, 2012
    • That is fantastic, three kids! Truly you are a credit to your ancestors. And who knows, maybe they’re looking down with approval right now and figuring out ways to help you along.

      I often feel like much of my brain was dormant until my kids came around. They made a man out of me and I’m sure yours will do the same to you, as long as you give your body and mind the right raw material.

      Congratulations, and good luck. We’re on this journey together. Hope you can find a good deal on a hammer!

      Timothy wrote on December 14th, 2012
  3. Hey Timothy,

    This is very inspiring stuff – thanks for sharing it with the world. I am turning 30 in the new year and will be starting my primal journey. The plan is to share my own personal Primal Blueprint Real Life Story a couple years from now.

    Question: Anything you wished you had tracked but hadn’t? This isn’t to say you started off on the wrong foot, but anything you tweaked partway through that made a huge difference? The answer very well could be ‘nothing’, and even that would be an interesting answer.

    What you’ve laid out above and in the comments is fantastic – thanks again for the inspirational story.


    Paul J wrote on December 14th, 2012
    • Congratulations on your commencement! If you follow the 10 primal laws, you will inevitably be sharing your own success story, and quite possibly sooner than you anticipate.

      That is a very prescient question! There are a couple things I would have changed. One would be to not do cardio. That was a total blind alley for me. Walking is great, and sprinting is awesome, but I feel like I threw away a lot of energy on steady state cardio that could have gone to transforming my body instead.

      Second, I would have started barbell lifting right from the start. Squats and deadlifts most crucially. It takes a while to learn to do them right, but there simply is no substitute for what they will do for your mental and physical health.

      One thing I’m glad I did do was change everything at once. I didn’t ease into the diet and exercise program bit by bit, I changed everything at once. This gave me almost immediate results, which was encouraging and motivated me to push for even more, in a virtuous cycle that continues today.

      All the luck to you, not that you’ll need it! You are going to love this. If you ever want to share a thought or get a word of encouragement, you can reach my through my web site.

      Timothy wrote on December 14th, 2012
  4. Congratulations on your results and a really great description of your views. I agree with just about everything you said, though I haven’t yet tried sledgehammer training…

    Michael Corayer wrote on December 14th, 2012
  5. TIMOTHY!!! “The Student becomes the Teacher” comes to mind with a way with words exposing the wisdom and photos to impress. I was so excited to see MDA capturing this fine update of your so many successes. You responded to a comment earlier making fun of your personal form when deadlifiting…..however I have watched in amazement as you deadlifted 400lbs!!! “Fargen” Incredible!

    See you ate PC2013 my Grok brethren.

    Paul Grosenstein wrote on December 15th, 2012
    • *at PC2013…..


      Paul Grosenstein wrote on December 15th, 2012
    • Paul, thanks! Knowing your own accomplishments I’m really humbled by your compliments. You have an extraordinary combination of strength and endurance and I’m stoked to see you develop it even further.

      On the deads, I’m very happy with the results after all this time. I have good reasons for lifting the way I do and all the curlbro mockery in the world can’t change that. In fact, I kind of enjoy it…

      Timothy wrote on December 15th, 2012
  6. Wow Timothy! Congrats on your transformation. You look fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was in need of new motivation this morning and this did it for me! Grok on my friend!

    Lani wrote on December 15th, 2012
    • Excellent! Any fuel is good for the furnace. If I helped you build a bit more momentum, I couldn’t ask for more!

      Timothy wrote on December 15th, 2012
  7. I was rolling my eyes a bit when I first saw him mention a website. …But he’s a great writer! Solid, inspirational stuff that he’s thought out deeply.

    “One Year Primal: What’s Easy, What’s Hard”,
    “Lessons from One Year of Heavy Lifting”, and
    “How I Got Ripped” are excellent, and I haven’t even gone thru the others yet.

    Great work, Timothy.

    Moshen wrote on December 15th, 2012
    • Thank you, Moshen! I’m glad you liked it. I don’t get any money from my web site (quite the opposite in fact) and I do it solely as a labor of love for those who are interested.

      Comments like yours are the best compensation I could hope for. :)

      Timothy wrote on December 15th, 2012
  8. Is the cinnamon coconut quinoa recipe available?

    AlyieCat wrote on December 15th, 2012
    • You bet! It’s at, in the diet section of the article “How I Got Ripped (and you can too).”

      Timothy wrote on December 15th, 2012
  9. I bow before you, fellow grok! :) Congrats with your continuous success with the lifestyle change. :)

    Sungrazer wrote on December 16th, 2012
  10. Wonderfully written, insightful, deeply human and very inspiring, Timothy. Bravo.

    Thank you for putting yourself out there as an example for others.

    Andrew wrote on December 16th, 2012
  11. Love your insight that willpower doesn’t exist! I’d have to agree and it infuriates me when i read that obese people simply “lack willpower” there are so many things going on beyond that!
    I have also found a love for weightlifting! Hate running, but the joy i get when i manage to lift that extra “x” kilos is intense!
    Nice one! :)

    Rio wrote on December 16th, 2012
  12. Auschwitz mode enabled

    Andy wrote on December 28th, 2012
  13. Ten ounce sirloin, (smeared with butter during cooking), a two egg-cheese omelette, a straining spoon full of green French beans and raw onion rings!

    And to think, in the old dieting days I would have had to eat just the beans and maybe a little piece of steamed fish.

    Jack Benbow wrote on January 26th, 2013
  14. Almost forgot. My only real exercise is walking and gardening (Without a Rotavator) Lost 56lbs in three months.
    I made myself a spear too, and chuck it at a big oak tree in my garden, just to keep limber. I’m getting quite good at it. The tree doesn’t think much of it mind!

    Jack Benbow wrote on January 26th, 2013
  15. You don’t need willpower. You need ‘won’t-power’! Won’t eat that bread! :)

    Jack Benbow wrote on January 26th, 2013
  16. Timothy, you are such a blessing and an inspiration….and a fellow anthropology graduate! It was wonderful seeing you again at PrimalCon ’13. Thank you for the reminder about squatting. I forget to do it since I haven’t learned how to do it correctly until later in life. The good news? I am planning to convert my workspace into a stand-up desk, without costing my job anything. That will encourage me to do more air squats while at work. I’ll post pics on FB once it’s completed.

    Take care and Be Well Always,

    Russell wrote on May 7th, 2013
    • Russell, great to see you again always! Big congrats on getting a stand-up workstation, that sounds like a dream come true. Way better than bouncing your legs all day as if having to pee! Looking forward to the pics.

      Squats are so important. Nothing like a set of air squats to get you going at work, too. Loaded squats take a long time to learn, but they’ll feed into your deadlift which is the best part of all!

      Best wishes my good man.

      Timothy wrote on May 9th, 2013
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