200 Pounds Down and Grateful to Be Alive

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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2Ever since the age of 8 I can remember being different. The only sports I was ever picked for were wrestling and tug of war. The President’s Physical Fitness Test (particularly the 600 yard dash) nearly killed me every year, and my failure provided endless hours of laughs for the other kids. The only saving grace was that I developed a bit faster and even though most of the kids acted like big shots, many of them were aware that it wasn’t too smart to push the big kid too far… unless you wanted to be seen running away, which was more than their fragile egos could take. I did develop an easy going “jolly” personality, which helped me save what little face was left, and diffuse most situations. At least social media hadn’t been invented yet!

This social stunting continued all through high school and various employments, until I was about 30 years old. Naturally, I tried the conventional wisdom route many times but due to the unrelenting cravings, the most success I ever had lasted about six months. I ended up being treated for congestive heart failure and the doctors propped me up with meds and told me to lose weight or lose my life. Then they sent me home with the same damn low-fat diet I knew I could not stick to, even in the face of death. I went home depressed and expecting to die.

The most important moment of my life happened shortly afterward. I went out one night with a friend, and we met up with one of his friends that happened to have a master’s degree in health promotion and knew the cutting edge research in the health and fitness field. He took a look at me and heard my story, then immediately told me I was insulin resistant and needed to go on a low-carb diet. This was all new and naturally unbelievable, because I knew and believed the conventional wisdom even though it obviously wasn’t working for me. After he left, I told my friend it sounded like bunk and I didn’t plan to follow the low-carb advice. My friend just looked me in the eye and said, “What do you have to lose? If things continue as they are you’re going to die! Do you have a better idea?” I was above 400 lbs at 5’6″ after all and not in good shape in any respect.

I told my friend that his logic was sound, and I could certainly deprive myself of some junk food and at least give it a real try. I did and I was amazed. I read Atkin’s and pretty much all of the low-carb books, and the weight started to virtually fall off. My cravings disappeared and eating became a choice rather than an addiction. I went off all my meds, began exercising, and felt better than ever. I am still angry with the medical establishment for knowing less than a friend of a friend in a bar! They sent me home with a death sentence when I didn’t even really need medication. I could have had a much better life and saved myself some real damage with that simple knowledge. Better late than never I suppose. My friend actually told me I was the only person he ever saw return from the dead. One day he summed up my situation when he said, “You must feel like Superman now. You were so gravity challenged most of your life.” It was a bit like walking on the moon. My weight was so much less than I was use to carrying around. No more congestive heart failure symptoms for me!

I kept the weight off for many years but I slowly loosened the reigns and regained half of it. This time I knew what to do and began taking care of the problem. Then I received my second revelation… Thanks to Mark Sisson of Marksdailyapple.com who showed me that the only thing better than a low-carb diet is a low-carb Primal Blueprint diet, consisting of low-carb whole foods that humans are genetically adapted to eat. There are many other lifestyle factors that the Primal world focuses on to complete the health and fitness picture too and I took advantage of those. I eventually dropped to a low of 176 lbs, accounting for a loss of over 200 lbs.

james rInitially a user from the low-carb forums told me about MDA. I checked it out immediately. Unfortunately I thought it was the hokiest thing going and thought Mark was just trying to sell goods. I continued to read MDA and The Primal Blueprint; the logic and truth spoke to me like some sort of gospel and I realized this was the key to the last lock. I have been a follower for years now and it’s continued to keep me on track.

That’s where I am today; most of the way back to a decent weight, much better health, and grateful to be alive… but still supremely pissed at the “experts” that I paid good money to that led me (and damn near everyone else) astray and still continue to do so! After discovering MDA I realized that going Primal was the icing on the cake I had been missing by simply doing low-carb.

I want to thank Mark, the worker bees, and Robb Wolf too, for all they have done and continue to do.

Jim Rendek (Groktimus Primal)

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61 thoughts on “200 Pounds Down and Grateful to Be Alive”

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  1. Congratulations to you and welcome back from the “near” dead! I think you’ve learned that the experts don’t always know what’s best for you. Only you really know the answer to that. They push a way of eating that is completely driven by industry and the cereal grain industry in general. ConAgra and Kellogg’s simply have too much to lose. Again, congrats!

  2. Good story Jim….isn’t that the way though….It just takes a chance encounter and one good friend to plant the seed of knowledge….and the results are amazing.

  3. And there’s a face to your name now!! We read your comments and now see you too. Thanks for sharing your journey with us here.

    I was just talking to a friend who, as he’s turning 55, is worried about health because none of the men in his family made it that far. He just had his annual visit to his doctor and get this, the doctor said he was NOT going to check his cholesterol because it wasn’t that big of a deal anymore. He wanted to focus on overall health and doing so found the thing he needed to watch was he was “pre-diabetic” and that would be their focus. Hey, a doctor that has learned about the “whole person” and not a “let’s throw a pill at all this stuff you have” guy. Hope? (Yes, I did give him a tiny snippet about what causes inflammation and how a person gets rid of it, reminding him that for thousands of years people ate lard, tallow and butter with their meat and vegetables and did NOT drop dead of diabetes or heart disease, like people do today). He’ll do some research on it I’m sure.

    Thanks again for your story and photos, it’s hope for all who want it.

  4. What a wonderful story. Congratulations on your successful journey. Keep up the good work!

  5. I wish I could do what you’ve done. I’ve been trying to lose weight for many years. I’ve even tried the low-carb diet and I always seem to fall off. I recognize that that is what some people would call a “moral” failing, But – – Who am I kidding? Ultimately it’s about controlling emotional eating, which I’m obviously failing to do. I really wish there were an emotional component to Mark’s Daily Apple. Some sort of prescription that could allow me to somehow mentally stick with it, which I’m obviously failing to do. I really wish there were an emotional component to Mark’s daily Apple. Maybe just saying it out loud will do the trick.

    1. I think the emotional part is the hardest part…And it can’t come from a website. It has to come from the person. I know a lot of people that complain it’s too expensive or the meals are too complicated, but deep down, they have an emotional connection to food that they don’t want to deal with. (I do too, it’s definitely real!) Do you have a local support group or friends that you can talk to, cook with, share that desperate piece of dark chocolate with when you simply can’t say no? That’s a big part of it for me, finding people that are like minded and really understand, and that aren’t pushing you to go out and ‘eat like them, life is short, moderation, YOLO’ and the many other phrases that don’t apply to every person. Some of us have bigger emotional food demons than others! Don’t give up hope!

      1. What comes first – the dietary deficiencies, or the emotional instability? There’s some great evidence out there that in many cases the deficiencies came first. A lot of people write comments here about how their emotional issues – depression and anxiety, mainly, but also other issues – disappeared once their diet got cleaned up. Here’s a great blog post by Lori Miller about her experience with her emotional health improving with her low-carb diet. https://relievemypain.blogspot.com/2011/02/lousy-mood-it-could-be-food.html

        I know it feels emotional when you have a horrible craving, and there may be an emotional component (independent of your health issues) – OR your body could be using your emotions to tell you that something is still wrong. Unstable emotions can be a SYMPTOM of poor health, not a cause of it.

        I highly recommend you read “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross. She recommends a Paleo style diet and has some excellent information on what deficiencies are behind certain emotional issues, and how to address them with diet and supplements.

    2. try this site!


      these guys put out a lot of good stuff, one day I would like to take their certification program, that paired with Marks’ would make someone unstoppable in the food counseling world.

      Best of Luck!

      1. Same here! I love the work that Marc David has done. His podcast has been amazing and one of my new favorites.

    3. Cherenkov, I am a compulsive eater and found great benefit by going to Overeaters Anonymous back in the seventies. What I learned cannot be “unlearned”. I think there’s an online version now but nothing is as personal as sitting around a table in discussion. The surprise is that not everone is physically overweight. I learned so much about WHY I ate and lost 98 pounds.

    4. Have you tried working with a coach or counselor who specializes in disordered eating? Emotional triggers can be rewired
      But it takes time and commitment. I find getting enough sunlight is critical for me to make good choices— if I let myself spiral down into extreme anxiety I stop eating ( the opposite of what a lot of folks do, but very damaging to health). I also try to meditate for at least 20 minutes everyday. I often couple that with my sun exposure. Experiment to find what works for you and stick with it. You are worth it.

    5. I had the same problem. I was eating primally, but still too much, too often, eating for all sorts of emotional reasons. Overeaters Anonymous has helped me with the emotional component, and helped me. It’s a 12-step program and support group, and I regularly go to meetings and make phone calls to other members. oa.org lists meetings and has podcasts and other resources.

    6. For me, understanding my emotional eating took a lot of self reflection and soul searching. I found journaling to be extremely helpful and used as a tool of self discovery (yes, it sounds very granola/hippie/crunchie, but if it works, it works). Once I understood what made me happy (truly, truly happy), I could focus on that and then food became only that — food. It was no longer my source of comfort and no longer my source of celebration. This all happened while I became primal, and the best part was that as I felt better physically because I was eating whole, nutrient dense foods, I was also able to dive deeper into my emotional eating habits and nearly sever that terrible cycle and relationship.

      I think the Primal Blueprint does cover this, in some ways, especially with the focus on managing stress. Emotional eating is a HUGE stress inducer, from the experiences that trigger it to the guilt and resentment for oneself after it takes place. Don’t you dare give up on yourself. You owe it to yourself to make yourself priority #1.

      1. The original Atkins ’72 book, before they started to cave in to conventional wisdom, makes a good case that mood disorders are a result of functional hypoglycemia, and that experimenting with (just for a short period) cutting carbs to biologically zero for induction (not 20g, and certainly not 20g “net carbs”) then adding back 5 – 8g a week helps with this.

        You need to get the right edition, the old one from 1972 and not the “New Diet Revolution” – the cover shows him sitting behind a desk with red-brown curtains. The core guidelines are also widely available online if you search for “atkins 72” but the original book goes into more details regarding mental health benefits.

    7. Hi

      Low carb was never enough for me but what seems to be working is a daily 18hr fast. I struggle with the emotional side too but the fasting seems to have straightened me out. It’s hard at first and i needed to ease in slowly but now it’s quite empowering to be able to stick the proverbial middle finger up at unnecessary eating. Just a thought and good luck.

    8. Check out the Jassa Method. Jason and Sarah are amazing and address more of the picture in their new book/site. I believe they had Mark Sisson on their show a few times as well.


    9. Add lots of fermented foods to your diet such as kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut. A healthy gut helps so many emotional issues. Good luck!

    10. Everyone is different and you may have an emotional component but please make sure you do a few weeks of solid of Primal Low Carb with 0 cheating even if it feels like it’s killing you. Addiction is hard to break and a single bad bite can and will hurt you. I had my addiction accidentally re-ignited by a bartender who mistakenly served me a regular coke. I drink water now!

    11. Cherenkov, I can really recommend EFT tapping for the emotional part. It’s a great tool to get to the root of overeating. It’s definitely not a “moral” failing. Our subconscious mind and limiting beliefs are so much stronger than willpower.

    12. Just don’t give up, doesn’t matter how many times you fall , it matters that you continue to get up and start day 1 as many times as you need to. You can do this as so can I !!

    13. I have found help for the emotional component from Recovery International, It is cognitive behavior modification training. It is learning some “tools” which are short phrases you tell yourself in place of the destructive self talk we are in habit of telling ourselves.I went to meetings for a while. Over a years time it was like night and day for me. If you want to know more either look it up online or feel free to ask me if you are interested in finding out more about it. Good luck in your weight loss.

  6. Hello Jim from your European (Slovakian) namesake! Any idea where your family came from originally? Jan Rendek

    1. My father’s side was Polish and my mother’s side was German. I was told that the original name was Rendekski and is Czechoslovakian but I never checked very deep.

  7. “… going Primal was the icing on the cake …”

    Haha, good one! But really, great story, good work, and congratulations on getting your health back.

  8. Groktimus on! So glad you are in the land of the living Jim. Great story.

  9. Congrats Jim, How wonderful you must feel, I hope you let go of any of the past anger and enjoy your new body and self esteem. Great job!!

    1. The anger thing is hard because I’m still encountering so much “conventional malpractice” even today. I just know better now but 90% of the medical professionals don’t and there is no excuse anymore.

  10. Jim, I’m excited you finally put a face to the name after all this time! I agree CW advice is frustratingly common from the medical community. My primary would just lean back in his chair, buttons popping, and tell me when I found a way to lose weight successfully he’d like to know. So glad you found what works for you. I let life get in the way and had to buckle down and lose a chunk of it again. It’s not as easy the second time around. Treasure it. 🙂

  11. The Friday stories continue to impress me. Yours is remarkable and I’m so happy for you.

  12. That was so wonderfully well-written and inspiring! I love when familiar names show up to tell us their story. Congratulations on all your hard work, all the best to you! 🙂

  13. Hi All,

    Emotional part to losing weight and getting over other addictive problems ??!!

    I eventually stumbled into AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). My wife says I do not belong in AA. Not really an alcoholic, etc.

    IT REALLY WORKS !!!!! Solved my childhood related problems. I had to get down to causes and conditions. Do the steps, etc.

    Check it out :). Worked for me yesterday. It has worked for me so far today :).


  14. Yay Groktimus Primal – love your comments and now your story! Well done!

  15. Dude…just…wow.
    Thanks for sharing, G P, glad to know your story. Keep it up!

  16. What an inspiring story. You have encouraged and motivated innumerable people today. Maybe even saved someone else’s life.

  17. Congratulations, Jim! I, too, have felt anger at the medical community for leading me into worse health. I lost my 45 pounds & ditched diabetes in spite of them, thanks to the PB.
    I’ve been battling my emotional eating by doing my little part to give back: I am mentoring a young woman with 100 pounds to lose and multiple health & emotional issues (including an autistic child). We talk online every day, teaching her the Primal way. So far she’s lost 30 pounds. It’s very gratifying and keeps me on my toes to be worthy!

  18. I’m glad you finally found the “way” Jim! At 55, I’ve been doing this for 5 or so years – gosh time flies. I have never been heavy – but I was starting to get inflammatory issues like hip bursitis and bunions, and had had sinus issues my whole life. Those all disappeared when I went Primal/Paleo/this thing!

    Food is powerfully addictive – we are genetically programmed that way. People shouldn’t beat themselves up too much over that. I still get strong sugar/dairy/carb cravings. I have to stay “mindful” about it – reminding myself all the time about the huge benefits I have gained from staying away from the bad stuff.

    And at middle age, I feel I can’t afford to fall back, ever. Friends who are still eating conventionally are looking and feeling like hell – with all kinds of ailments and on all the usual meds. This is the age where the pigeons come home to roost. I’m not going there!

    I have anger and mistrust towards the medical establishment too – from various experiences. I use them sparingly and for specific things that I’ve already researched. I question everything they tell me, and mainly try to stay away. I dread myself or my husband falling ill and having to navigate that messed-up, backward system.

  19. Great story. I love to put a face to your name. It is pathetic that you learned more at a bar rather than by doctors. My last dr apt after losing 20 lbs my doctor told me to keep doing what I was doing because it was obviously working. So I am following her advise and happily incorporating more and more primal into my life. Wish the weight would fall off but losing slowly beats gaining any day.

  20. Nice work Jim! Another wonderful story of someone who took control of his own health & got off the medication merry-go-round. Keep spreading the word – now you can be the “friend of a friend” in the bar with the great information to share!

  21. Amazing transformation, congrats and welcome back from the dead.

  22. Wow Groktimus! What a change! And don’t be too pissed off at the “experts,” I honestly think they just don’t don’t know.

  23. Good to put a face and story to a name! Thank you so much for sharing this. Amazing.

  24. I missed a chance to read the Friday story yesterday and am so happy to wake up to such good news. You look great and sounds like you are feeling great, too.

    You bring up an interesting point when it comes to referring people to MDA. If we refer someone and it happens to be a day about reading about Primal Mayo or Primal Flora, I think we’re less likely to get buy-in. Those days are important for *us* because they involve fine-tuning our diets or getting options, but to a newcomer it makes the website look just like a platform for selling products.

    So I wait until a FRIDAY! Or I send links to one of Mark’s blogs that happens to be relevant to that person.

  25. Wow Groktimus, nice to meet you!
    Now I know why your posts are so good: you really have walked the path

  26. Did you suffer heart damage leading to chf? I did. I’m looking for info on how to heal. Apparently copper, magnesium and CoQ10 are among the things that can heal heart damage. But I haven’t found much about that in MDA.

    1. My doctor told me I’d suffer later in life but I’m now 48 (was about 32) and my cardiac workup was normal. I still suspect I didn’t get away clean though. Sorry about your damage.

      1. Thanks! Glad to hear that your workup was normal.

        Apparently there is evidence that L-carnitine helps prevent tachycardia so I started taking some. I also take lots of CoQ10 and magnesium (rotating citrate, glycinate and malate). Taking some zinc since Lisinopril apparently depletes it. Getting copper from avocados for now.

        Docs want to do ablation – burn sections of my heart that are causing problems. Only 60% success rate so I said no.

  27. Jim, this story is inspirational, and truly humbling. The best revenge is living well, and you’re doing it! Congrats on your new lease on life.

  28. I’m starting the Paleo tomorrow. Actually, I’m doing it for 30 days and then I’m going to evaluate. When I was 22 I was in amazing shape, wearing a size 32 x 32 pant. Now im tipping he scale at 250, an unimaginable number, for me. I’m also in a size 42 pant which is embarrassing for me. I never thought weight would creep up on me like this but it did. Lots of beer drinking, fast food, but I still exercise, that’s the crazy part. Anyway, I’m off to the races tomorrow – wish me luck.

  29. You look great now! Maybe it’s time to look at some sports or activities you never would have done before?

    Keep it up 🙂

  30. I’m happy for you, I’m having the same problems as Cherenkov. I do good then emotions take me to the bad eating and drinking. Now I have an injury preventing me from exercising and gosh it’s hard. But like the book says, I’m not going to give up !! All those stories really help and will continue to help me and I know I will be successful. Thank all of you for your stories