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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 27 2015

21 Days Turned Into One Year and a 70 Pound Weight Loss

By Guest
40 Comments

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-1-2My primal journey started one year ago and it has been an amazing transformation. I decide to write my story because others need to see what a primal lifestyle can do for them. I realized that the success stories on Mark’s Daily Apple have helped encourage and motivate me throughout my journey, so here is my opportunity to give back.

Just like so many others, my diet consisted of carbs (and more carbs), as early as I can remember. Growing up in a Caribbean household, we had lots of rice, flour, and bread in the house at all times. I was a big kid from the beginning, with a passion for playing sports. The neighborhood kids had a weekly tradition of football and basketball games that we enjoyed for hours at a time. Despite the high activity level, I had grown to 240 pounds by the time I was 14 and began to feel the real pressure of being an overweight kid. I lacked a lot of self-confidence and tried to stay away from the spotlight as much as I could.

My confidence during my high school years changed somewhat when I began playing football and started lifting weights on a regular basis. By the time I was a senior, I grew to 6’3” and 265 pounds of some muscle, but mostly fat. I was a good athlete, so I continued my football playing days for four more years in college and managed to maintain my weight and physical activity. But throughout those years I was always concerned about my weight and self-image.

beforeFast forward to about two years after graduating college and my weight began to really spiral up. I no longer had structured physical activity through football and reality of working a 9 to 5 took its toll. So as a former athlete, my first line of defense was to lift and run my weight off, and it would work temporarily, but then the weight would come back on.

Throughout the next ten years, I tried and failed every possible weight loss gimmick or diet you could think of—from magic pills and super juice, to even the dreaded calorie restriction/counting systems. To my credit, I never stop believing I could change and that there was a real solution out there. So eventually I stumbled on to The Primal Blueprint after a coworker (quick plug for Mr. Beers!) recommended I read the book Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and suggested I go to Mark’s Daily Apple to get real solutions for my weight problems.

So the first thing I did was start The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge, in hopes of creating a healthy habit I could sustain. I emptied out the pantry and purged all other non-primal foods from the kitchen. Next, I printed the shopping list and attempted to purchase as close to the recommended foods as I could from my local grocery stores.

The first week was hard for me because I had relied so much on quick-carb foods like oatmeal, sandwiches, and sugary snacks to satisfy my on-the-go eating habits. My wife also struggled with what to make on a daily basis, since all she knew was the carb-loaded meals that included pasta, rice, and starchy tubers. We both suffered from sugar withdrawals during that first week, as well as headaches and feeling sluggish. The next couple of weeks got better as we began to utilize the recipe section of Mark’s Daily Apple and figured out which food combinations worked best for our tastes buds. We began using cauliflower and squash, and mixing up the meats we eat with various vegetables. We found a new love for leafy greens and different fish types. It was almost like discovering newly found foods types that we had never heard of.

During the first 21 days I lost 15 pounds and was hooked on the process. Every month for the next 11 months, I averaged four to eight pounds lost per month. The second phase of my primal journey was to changing my cardio base exercising, and two hour long weightlifting sessions, to slow pace walking and short heavy lifting sessions. I worked out all at home with a few weights and resistance bands. I also did sprints once every seven to ten days. One additional aspect that I adopted was intermittent fasting, which really made a difference in maintaining my weight and energy level.

before and after primal

One year later my life and my perspective have completely changed for the better. I started the primal lifestyle on 11/1/2014 and in one year lost 70 pounds. When I began I was 288 pounds and now I am 218 pounds of primal happiness. It started for me with small steps that Mark laid out in The Primal Blueprint and then I personalized it based on the knowledge I gained.

afterThe biggest step was getting my wife (AKA the Love of my Life) on board so we could do this together. **Word of Advice — Your significant other can really help or hurt your journey.** And as a result she has lost 30 pounds in the past year as well. We are now enjoying real food and trying new recipes together, which has strengthened our bond. We are also working-out and taking long walks together. Sometimes we reflect on how easily it seems now to maintain this new lifestyle. The best part of this is that you don’t have to be perfect every time. I have strayed some weeks where I was maybe 50% primal, but then I would jump right back into it. My wife has been about 80% primal the entire time and has maintained her weight. The empowerment of knowing what to eat and do to keep the weight off has been liberating. Losing this much weight has been physically altering but the new found self-image and belief in myself has been the real reward.

Thank you Mark for what you’ve done for me and so many other people around the world.

Gary

A brand new 21-Day Transformation Challenge begins Monday, November 30th. Click here to join!

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40 thoughts on “21 Days Turned Into One Year and a 70 Pound Weight Loss”

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  1. Wonderful story! Congrats and enjoy all the new foods and recipes 😀

  2. Amazing journey! How inspirational you and your spouse can do it together.

  3. I always love these success stories! What makes yours extra special is that you did it with the support of your wife and you both benefitted from that. It’s amazing how many great tasting foods are out there when you are willing to try new things. Very inspirational!

  4. Such a beautiful story, Gary. Love how you made a commitment to the self-exploration process (even before that led you down a primal path).

    Love too how your story includes the Love of your Life. Companionship, partnership and support can make such a powerful difference when making such changes. Bravo!

  5. Very inspiring.
    “It was almost like discovering newly found foods types that we had never heard of.”
    That is exactly what I thought when I jumped on board…fish? What’s fish? lol

    Grats on your awesome success and discovering MDA !
    Wish you both the best of luck.

  6. Realmente joven lo felicito, usted es un gran ejemplo de que comiendo primitivamente nos mantenemos esbeltos y con salud. Felicidades también a su esposa por ser un gran apoyo y porque juntos alcanzaron una meta, maravilloso, ella lo ama.

  7. Fantastic Gary! I really related to your story. Gary Taubes and Mark Sisson were the first two books I read to get me on the path also. You look great and very, very happy. Congrats to you and your wife.

  8. Wow Gary, you look great! I suppose you get a lot compliments on your new you. I am curious for your wife… I can imagine she looks swell too 🙂
    Thanx for sharing!

  9. WOW!!!

    To The Love Of Your Life:

    Hey girl, get in one of those photos! Maybe you’ll post your story here next? Hope so.

  10. You look fantastic!
    Talk about looking healthier and younger!
    Your before and after photos look like a man and his son 🙂

  11. Great story and transformation, Gary. I especially like the fact that you never stopped looking for a solution to your weight problem.

  12. Great mod Gary!
    “but the new found self-image and belief in myself has been the real reward”
    +1

  13. ‘now I am 218 pounds of primal happiness’

    Love that!!!! Congratulations to you Gary, and the love of your life – certainly makes things a whole lot easier if you can make these big changes together.

    But to others out there that don’t have the support of a partner, it can still be done….don’t give up! 🙂

  14. Congratulations on your success!

    I’ve also found being on the same page as my husband has really helped. We jokingly call him a “Taubesian,” because he leans towards Taubes low carb approach. I came into they primal lifestyle through Mark’s Daily Apple. You can imagine the conversations we have in our home.

    Mostly, it all ends up being the same diet. I eat a bit more fruit than he does.

    We wish you both continued success!

  15. I’m in need of some directions: I’ve been following the Keto life style since July 2015. Also going Primal as much as possible. I’ve lost 50lbs and my body fat % is down to 25% from a 34% start. My question is, I want to start doing some weight lifting to tone and build longterm muscle. Is it too soon? I’ve read MDA about over doing it. I don’ want to slow my fat lose but at what point should I start adding muscle mass? I am 5’11” now at 205 with a LBM of 160lbs. My goal is to get under 15% body fat. Should I hold off until my weight is closer to my goal of 180 range?

    Feel free to respond via email.
    Thanks

    1. I’ll pass along my experience. tl;dr: Start lifting heavy things now. More detail: I find that when I lift, I eat better and when I eat better, I want to lift. So I lose fat *and* gain muscle. I use the programs described in New Rules of Lifting Supercharged by Schuler & Cosgrove (and recommend Strong by the same for you women out there) but, whatever you do, the idea is to get strong by lifting heavy things. (I lost 30 lbs of fat by *both* eating right and lifting so you don’t have to wait any longer!) I’m 53 years old and didn’t start lifting until I was 45. I’ve never felt better than I do at this age so I’ll keep eating clean and lifting (and hiking and sprinting…and smiling!). Good luck in your continued journey!

  16. Your significant other can really help or hurt your journey.

    Very true. I kept telling my girlfriend about the paleo diet and about working out with weights – not being pushy, but sending links in email, writing down the basics, stretching it out over many weeks. Most importantly showing the results of my own diet and training and explaining why. It took a while but she finally tried the paleo diet, and some months after that went to a gym class where they use dumbbells in a group. (Women….) Finally there were results. She would not have undone the consequences of eating so many carbs without me, and she is very grateful. And if I would stray from the diet, getting encouragement from her always helped. You don’t want to let your partner down when you’re in it together. By contrast, negative comments about your paleo diet or your exercise quickly weigh you down.

  17. So happy for you and your wife, congratulations. You look so fit and healthy!

  18. Wow, such a huge transformation between your beach picture and the one with you holding a glass of wine. Simply amazing! Here’s a toast to good health!!

  19. Awesome story. I always feel bad for former athletes who balloon in size after their sporting career is over. Unfortunately, many aspects of sports culture and poor guidance from coaches makes it hard to sustain a healthy lifestyle after your playing days are over. More emphasis should be placed on long term goals that also create short term benefits which improve performance on the field. I’m glad to see you didn’t throw in the towel and kept striving for self-improvement which led you to this success.

  20. What can I say but repeat the WOW of everybody , you are an example!

  21. “To my credit, I never stop believing I could change and that there was a real solution out there.”

    Gary, this is what keeps me going as well, and as you also said, “the new found self-image and belief in myself has been the real reward.” It’s wonderful to see your ‘after’ pictures. There ARE real solutions out there, and we should never stop looking for them and believing in them. Congratulations. Jen

  22. Lovely story! You’re right, seeing other people’s stories is inspiring (mine was featured a few months back!), they keep me on track. You’re looking great – keep it up!

  23. Awesome job bud. You are a mirror of my personal situation. I started the primal approach on february 2nd of last year. I am really looking forward to my 1 year anniversary. My wife has started the journey as well and she is at 23 lbs. I was inspired by the sharing of success stories just like you. It helps so much to see the average joes having success. I was 337 when i started and at 271 this morning..66 total down and looking at about 1 lb per month. I have also started adhering to a 1 time a week high impact low time frame dead lift routine and walking. Congrats on your successes and you look great. I hope to reach your level of success. Can you believe that we went this long eating wrong?

  24. Damn. Chubby dude with man boobs into some major eye candy. Nice.