3 More Primal Blueprint Success Stories

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means more Primal Blueprint Real Life Stories. 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. Thanks for reading!

Hey Mark,

After reading some of the other stories on your site, I decided to share mine with you too.  I too was your typical high school athlete, I played basketball year round and some football, got strong fast, and I could eat Arby’s 5 for 5 without thinking twice. Then came college (do you see a pattern here?). I actually stayed pretty fit throughout college somehow without much more than the occasional pickup basketball game, but over time the beer and crap food choices began to catch up with me. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back at pictures I was a poster boy for “skinny fat”. I graduated from college in 2007 and came home to an always exciting cubicle job, and that’s when all…physical…activity…stopped. I got an apartment with my girlfriend (now my wonderful wife), tried P90X for about a month and quit, obsessed over wanting to look and feel better but never did anything about it.

My wife and I got married in Key West in January 2010. Looking at the pictures as time went on I was not really satisfied with myself, but I kinda figured at 27 (about 215 pounds), maybe I’ve passed up any opportunity to really look how I want to look. Turns out I was dead wrong. One day in the spring of 2010 I was exceptionally motivated and we (Krista and I) went to a local personal training facility. We did a workout, learned alot (like my usual giant bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch was less than ideal) but were in no shape financially to pay for personal training (we just bought a house within the last year). So now what? We spent a weekend up in Northern Wisconsin with two friends; we spent our time trying handstands on the beach and having my friend Jason talk our ear off about thing thing called CrossFit (thanks, by the way Jason). He heard about it from another good friend we had in college who had been training using the functional crossfit methods for sometime. We came home and called our local box, and signed up for a 2 week trial. I literally barely made it through the warm up on day one but we loved it and have been going strong for almost a year now.  During that time I’ve learned alot about nutrition. I recently finished your Primal Blueprint book while on vacation and before that I read The Paleo Solution. In the time I’ve adopted the Primal way of eating and living, I have noticed my body composition change unbelievably fast (now I weigh about 190), I haven’t been sick and I always feel perfectly rested and alert everyday. I cook all of our meals everyday for my wife and I and we’ve even signed up for a local CSA farm share this summer. Between that and our small garden we’ll have more fresh, home-grown veggies than we’ll know what to do with! By no means are we perfect (a point in your book I thought was pretty important), we definitely treat ourselves to some sweets now and then, but overall I’ve been living the Primal life (and my wife too, indirectly) and I love everything about it.

So before I ramble on for too long here, I just wanted to say thanks for putting together such a great book and I hope you’ve enjoyed my story. I’ve attached a couple of pictures, one from January 2010 in Key West and the other from April 2011, after about 10 months of doing CrossFit and about 1 month of eating pretty strictly Primal.



My dad is a food scientist for a major processed food company and my mom is Italian. Needless to say, I grew up on carbs. I always had things like chips, cookies, microwavable meals, mac ‘n cheese, soda, and ice cream in the house as a kid. We ate plenty of starches and grains in our Standard American Diet household. I never questioned the Conventional Wisdom because my dad had a degree in nutrition and knew everything about food. We were eating “healthy” as far as I knew.

I started putting weight when I was pretty young. I was never really big, but always had a gut. I assumed I just needed to exercise more. I spend a lot of my high school and college life trying to motivate myself to run and work out more.  Nothing ever worked. I’d lose a bit here and there, but always gain it back. It didn’t help that I’d have half a bag of Doritos after a workout. I always stayed pretty chubby. It never occurred to me that it was the eating habits, not the lack of exercise that was keeping me fat.

I went to college and the belly continued to grow. I managed to lose some weight in my second year there through lots of working out and working my butt off while pledging a fraternity. But by the end of college I still ended up with my “Freshmen 15”. I started to learn a bit about eating then and totally bought into the whole grains thing. Of course this didn’t help the spare tire I was accumulating.

Then I graduated and got a nice desk job where I could sit all day long! I kept going with the whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy, and lean meats thing. I ate a lot of turkey and mustard sandwiches on wheat bread back then. Add to it plenty of oatmeal, granola bars, fruit, and “yogurt” and I thought I was eating healthy. Not to mention the hour long elliptical sessions…

Then about a year and a half ago, I was doing more research on how to lose weight. At this point I was pushing 230 at 6’. I know this is not terrible, but I started having to buy size 36 pants and was not happy about it. I used calorie trackers religiously and did plenty of cardio and weight machines. None of it was working though. I was the fattest I’d ever been.

While doing that research, I happened to find Mark’s Daily Apple on Reddit and started reading. I think I read the whole archive of the blog in the next two days. It immediately made sense to me. I realized that I hadn’t been eating real food this whole time. It was like having a blind fold pulled off. It was all finally making sense.

Within a few months of eating about 80% paleo/Primal I dropped back under 200 pounds. I felt better and looked great. To this day, I’ve kept it under 200, even getting down to 190 at one point. I still have an inch around the belly that I’d like to lose, but it’s not much. Now I’m getting more into heavy weight lifting and some intermittent fasting to get rid of that last bit. Today is actually a big day for me because I squatted 195 pounds (my current bodyweight) in the gym.

Now I’m focused on getting stronger and living a more paleo/Primal life. The Standard American Diet is truly a product of advertising with no regard to the wellbeing of the actual consumers. I find that a lot of this goes along with minimalism and rejection of what TV tells people to buy. (There is no way kids need to eat fruit loops just because there is extra fiber added) I try to keep with the paleo/Primal mindset of questioning everything that Conventional Wisdom tells us and thinking for oneself.

My next goal is to work on getting my dad to try the Primal/paleo eating plan. It’ll be a bit of work convincing a food scientist that food products are bad for you. But his gut is bigger than mine was so I hope he listens. That and figure a way to not need this desk job anymore. Grok definitely didn’t know what a cubicle is.

LeeSurviving the Cubicle


I wanted to share some interesting results with my Primal lifestyle.

About five months ago I decided to get off the couch and get in shape. I use to be in shape (Sprint Triathlons), but after the birth of our two children – I let myself go – work stress, no time to exercise, kids first, et cetera… same situation as many people. I decided I needed something to motivate me – so I signed up for something dramatic. I signed up for Navy SEALs “hell week” training for civilians.  I learned about this from an extreme vacations show on the Travel channel. The program is called Extreme SEAL Experience (www.extremesealexperience.com).  As a side note, I do not receive any compensation for posting this. I’m posting it just in case someone else is interested. Mark Sisson> Interested in taking the challenge?

After signing up, I started going to the gym, running, etc. I was feeling better, but I wasn’t losing any weight for the first two months – I figured it was because I was converting fat into muscle… and muscle weighs more, right? Then I remember seeing an old friend on FaceBook awhile back that had lost a lot of weight since the High School days. He said his “secretS was the Primal Blueprint. And that was the turning point for me. I read the book and changed my eating habits and workout routines according to the Primal Blueprint. So during the last two months prior to my civilian SEALs course I lost 17 pounds. I was pretty excited and motivated to see my love handles and double chin fade away. I was starting to feel fit enough for my civilian SEALs course.

The civilian SEALs course is as demanding as you can imagine. However, one thing I was not expecting was the huge meals they provided. I was thinking we would be eating military style MREs. But instead they were large “Southern Comfort” foods. The meals were loaded with pastas, breads, rice… a very high carb intake… which at that point I wasn’t use to eating. However, with as much energy we were expending – I needed fuel from any where I could get it. So I ate everything they provided. (Everything is delicious when you are exhausted.) After seven days of burning several thousand calories a day I was expecting that I would lose some more fat and build more muscle tone. (We did about 800 push-ups the first day?!) But when I got home and weighed myself I had actually gained four pounds. Perhaps it was muscle, but I account it to the very high carb intake. I quickly changed back to the Primal lifestyle and I lost those 4 pounds in about two weeks.

So my result was that even with a very physically demanding exercise routine combined with a very high carb intake – it did not result in weight lost or increased muscle tone for me. Afterwards, switching back to Primal eating habits with low intensity activity/sprinting resulted in weight loss.

Enjoy the moment,


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60 thoughts on “3 More Primal Blueprint Success Stories”

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  1. Justin! No way! My sister is getting married in key west next February! It’s a destination wedding. Do you and your wife live down there now? Do you have any must have restaurants to eat at? Places to visit? Things to do? If you live there now then we must meet up. I plan on being there for about a week or so!

    1. I just finished reading all 3 stories. Pretty damn inspiring. These things never get old. I am now accepting success stories on my blog .anyone care to email me there’s? Just click on the contact page at the top of my blog!

    2. Hey! Yes it was a destination wedding, but no we live all the way up in Wisconsin. How can I get in touch with you to give you some pointers on The Keys?

    3. hey! i’m justin’s wife. unfortunately, we do not live there, but sometimes we wish we do! The restaurant in the beachside Marriott called the town and tavern was excellent! that is where we had out wedding dinner. Where is your sister getting married? You definitely have to go to Duvall street its a different world down there and so much fun! Does your sister already have a photographer? If not, I recommend Sean Michael Scott and his website is seanmichaelphoto.com

      1. Thank you for the recommendations! I posted my email in the comment reply to your husband but the comment is awaiting moderation.

        It is: Todd @ Primal Toad . com (with out the spaces).

        She just texted me back an said they are getting married at the beachside Marriott! That is way to amazing.

        Small world, yea?! I am guessing the Dinner will be there too. I am seriously going crazy right now.

        And, you guys live in Wisconsin?!?! I am here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My mother grew up in Eau Claire and went to school in Madison! My mothers best friend lives near Milwaukee. And, I was there last weekend for a wedding!!

        Where do you guys live in Wisconsin? I’ll have to come visit you this year for sure. I go to Chicago all the time. Are you close to Chicago?!

        Sorry Mark… its just crazy how small of a world we live in.

  2. There’s also SealFit, for those of you interested in really pushing your body and mind in the pursuit of fitness… kinda contrary to the concept Mark’s laid out, but definitely something to consider if you want to truly become an elite athlete in both body and mind.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I’m working on my own success story currently. Can’t wait to share it! =]

  4. Congrats, Justin, Lee, Craig! Very inspiring stories from all.

    Lee, your story sounds particularly familiar to me; I too was raised on crap, tried to be healthy with CW only to watch my waistline expand a little in college and then a lot after I got the desk job. Working from a chair originally seemed like the cat’s pajamas but now feels more like a case of fleas.

    I love your blog, Surviving the Cubicle! You’ve got some awesome and original ideas on there. Definitely recommended reading for all cube-caged primalists.

    1. Thanks! Sitting all day is not fun. It definitely makes you feel like a rat in a cage.

      Keep reading, I’m just getting started, but have tons of stuff lined up. It’s been a long time coming so I should have plenty of material.

  5. Great stories! Yes these cubicle are killing us! Lee, I’ll be checking out your blog. I work for a large soda manufacturer right now and I couldn’t be less interested in this job. I was never a big soda drinker, and now I’m a health nut and I feel that most people that work here don’t understand me. I think our products are evil and wasteful, but I can’t tell anyone that.

    Happy long Memorial Day weekend to everyone.

  6. Every success story motivates me to keep working on my own. Keep em’ coming!Grok on…

    1. Yes he does!! There are usually hardboiled eggs and fruit and salads in the chow hall, but a lot of the stuff in the hot lines is NASTY… I bet the results would be amazing if the military got onboard with PB!!

  7. Maybe I just haven’t drunk the cool aid, but am I the only one who finds these pretty unimpressive:

    #1 — 10 months of crossfit + 1 month of primal… Which do you think would be more likely to give you a body like that? 10 months of crossfit or 1 month of primal?

    #2 — that’s a pretty good weight loss but that’s what happens when you sit on your butt all day long at work and eat a bunch of sugar and then discover oh yeah maybe I should be working out and eating better.

    #3 — I don’t even see a success story here. He gained 4 pounds in a week at the seal camp. A little was probably muscle but the rest was just water as he was storing way more glycogen than he was used to. Cut out the carbs and yeah the water and glycogen goes away…

    1. I think you’re missing the point that these are “Success Stories” NOT “stories that prove that PB is awesome and is the only reason for anyones success ever”

      Or something like that.


    2. I kind agree… not that even a tiny success isn’t a success….. but is this all the success this site is hearing about?? I would LOVE to be able to repost this to all my friends every Friday to inspire the hopeless and discouraged… but I don’t feel these success stories are compelling enough to mention to aforementioned crowd… BUT CONGRATS ANYWAY, of course!!!

    3. I guess we could all use a little help being cool, so maybe drink that. Kool-aid’s not primal though.

    4. Evan,

      Sorry you found all of our stories so unimpressive. Why even bother coming on here if you’re not supportive?

      It’s funny you bring up that point about my 10 months of crossfit and 1 month of eating primal. I’m a firm believer that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. I saw my body comp change significantly quicker once I ditched the grains and sugars all together. I shared my story for those who would see it as a source of inspiration.

      1. Hey Justin,

        I think you’re taking it the wrong way. I do think what you’re done is awesome and I’m not trying to be unsupportive!

        I own a couple of Mark’s books and agree with a lot of what he says but with how much self promotes the awesomeness of primal I would expect the success stories to be more impressive and clearly attributable to primal.

        Put it this way: if a person had done Crossfit for 10 months and then took a new drug made by one of the drug companies for 1 month, would anyone here believe their success was due to the new drug?!

        Btw, I own and run a personal training business and I regularly put people on paleo diets and tell them to check out Mark’s site–but in my experience I’ve not found it to be nearly as successful as it all sounded in theory. (FWIW, the best results I’ve seen in terms of results and compliance is a modified paleo a la Tim Ferriss)

        Again, please don’t take it as an attack on your or primal. As a member of the primal community my only interest is healthy discussion…


        PS I grew up in Key West. Hope you had fun down there 🙂

        1. It’s easy to “go primal” and eat all primal foods but go overboard on fruit and nuts…it doesn’t take too many handfuls of that to get one’s carbs back up to 100-150 grams or more daily. For most people, that level of carbs won’t let them see the leaning out benefits of the diet. (Probably you’ve read “Why We Get Fat” by Taubes, which explains the why of this so well.) That’s probably what’s happening with your clients. That and cheating on the diet excessively. It’s insidious. I’ve seen that happen with family members. They say, “I’m eating primal,” and they wonder why they aren’t getting lean and ripped like me. It’s because they replaced their crappy carbs with higher quality carbs but they are still eating high carb. AND they don’t go at the workouts, really. They slack…garbage yardage on the silly elliptical instead of pullups, hard sprints or attacking the trail on a mtn bike or climbing… they don’t do the fun stuff like that. They don’t love physical exertion so they slack. They can’t really break away from their carbs–it’s hard for them. It’s mostly about diet but for many people, they gotta count the carbs and stick to it in order for it to work. The workouts do play into it of course. And sleep, too. People who can afford a trainer might tend to also be people who work a lot, are Type A and don’t sleep enough. That impacts muscle building and fat storage, as Mark has written. Lastly, people who haven’t quite embraced this diet (even if they say they have) still shy away from fat in subtle ways. They won’t eat coconut oil off the spoon. Or peel the entire skin of the chicken their spouse just roasted and eat it in a few bites as an appetizer. Dump half a pint of heavy cream into their green tea. Or buy entire NY strips from the butcher, grass fed. Habits like that do up the calories from (quality) fats and keep the carbs low. And that’s what makes it work. That the testimonials aren’t “too good to be true” but, instead, real is–I think–good. I view them as case studies. Some aren’t all that impressive, I agree. Some people may be eager to share their stories before they have really arrived. Additionally, not all the benefits of this diet can be captured in dramatic before and after pics for everyone. Some of us have overcome major health problems by taking matters into our own hands and eating this diet with fidelity…even if we didn’t lose much weight and even if you can’t see the difference in before and after pics. For all of us, it’s a work in progress, so I like seeing the success stories, even if they aren’t always dramatic or totally convincing. anyhow there’s some discussion fwiw, 🙂

        2. Evan-

          I am assuming that Mark follows the plan he puts forth. He has photos and many stories that prove it works from himself and many subscibers to his plan. I have not seen pictures of you or read any plan you have put forth for analysis. Until then, follow your mothers advice and keep your mouth shut if you don’t have anything positive to contribute.

        3. Van,

          Actually my mother taught me to speak my mind even if it’s not popular but thanks anyway.

          With all due respect I can tell from the level of reasoning in your response that you are not particularly intelligent. So I’m not going to waste my breath trying to discuss/argue with you. Good luck and I hope it everything works out for you!


          PS Is what this blog has become? When someone expresses even a moderately skeptical viewpoint they get attacked by all the true believers? Sad…

  8. Mark, hey I’m a 30yr old police officer, and have been primal for about three weeks. I’m 5’6, and have went from 172 back down to 156 in that short period. Here’s my question..I had to chase a guy down today and I ran out of fuel quick. I dont mean winded, but my legs actually started failing (within I’d guess about 15 sec or so). Why was this? Was I lacking the glycogen to keep them going? I know I’m not in as good of shape as I used to be, but I’m known for being able to catch the bad guy. (We caught him eventually:) How to you keep your muscles fueled, and stay primal? I have to be able to perform in bursts, and have the energy to finish the fight. Thanks!

  9. Love the Friday success stories Mark.

    My only quibble is when I finally reach the “money shot” (after pic) I immediately want to go back and compare it to the before pic. Kind of annoying having to scroll up through the intervening text, especially without a mouse.

    While I think it is good to have the before pic at the start to help “set the scene” it might be good to show it again immediately before the after pic to make it easier to compare. Or even add a composite “before and after” pic at the very end with cropped sections of each displayed side by side.

    Anyway, just a suggestion.

    By the way I found a great 80s-tastic Primal workout tune. Check out those lyrics, its like it was written about someone stopping the chronic cardio and re-discovering their Primal wildman self. Great stuff!

    1. Pete–as opposed to your life that evidently revolves around flaming others online? Irony is such a fickle lover, isn’t it Pete?

  10. Lee–

    I had to laugh at the part in your success story in which you talked about “eating healthy” according to conventional wisdom: “I kept going with the whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy, and lean meats thing. I ate a lot of turkey and mustard sandwiches on wheat bread back then. Add to it plenty of oatmeal, granola bars, fruit, and “yogurt” and I thought I was eating healthy.”

    I used to eat like that too. And it was just aweful. Flavorless, unsatisfying crap. Yet I have coworkers feeding themselves this sub-standard fare who then tell me the food I eat looks “so good” and even admit that there “might be something to that caveman diet thing you do” but then tell me “I just couldn’t give up the breads and pasta” before going back to their clearly unsatisfying, anemic lunches. I don’t really get it but I guess breaking free of ingrained knowledge (pun intended) to change your lifestyle is pretty challenging.

    Congrats to you and everyone else who has made such a fantastic change for the better with PB!

  11. GREAT stories!!

    This was the best part…. “The Standard American Diet is truly a product of advertising with no regard to the wellbeing of the actual consumers.”

  12. Great job all 3 of you! My own journey is stalled right now due to stress and low will power…but I’m getting back on track slowly.

    What I really wanted to do was agree with the comment made about consumerism and advertising. I’m finding, the more I meet people and read blogs etc, that the very same people who are able to see the facts clearly and ditch CW with regards to their diet are the very same people who are able to see through the [email protected] that advertisers spew and ditch consumerism as well.

    Living simply encompasses all aspects of your life if you let it, and trust me it’s worth letting it! Spending more time doing what you love, with the people you love is always worth it.

    Grok on!

  13. I don’t want to join the Debbie Downer party, because any step in the right direction is awesome. Still, what I’d like to see more of on this site are stories from people who didn’t have existing conditions (ie insulin resistance, poor eating habits, the like.)

    It’s clear that this way of eating helps people to lose, but I want to see are people who maybe switched from veganism or vegetarianism — and not the potato chip kind!–, were in good shape to begin with who got better results eating like this.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I have kept a very close eye on everything I ate since I was 15 years old. I ate whole grains, low fat…all the stuff you were supposed to. I worked out regularly but, despite that, my weight creeped up a bit as I hit my early thirties.

      Since switching to PB, I never have to watch my weight. I immediately lost ten lbs that had crept on in my early thirties and a lot of lingering joint pain I’d grown to accept disappeared. My stomach looks less bloated and far more toned than it did before…and it’s effortless to me. Many people I know have asked how I can follow such a ‘strict’ diet…but to me, it feels far less strict than the lifetime of fat and calorie counting I had done before. I weigh the same now as I did at fifteen and I feel indulged and satisfied.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Lisa-

      I have always been thin and worked out. I ran marathons as a skinny fat vegetarian. Then switched to being a figure competitor and had to follow a low fat, “balanced” diet filled with bland chicken, brown rice, oatmeal and veggies. Got my body to the leanest I have ever been in 12 weeks. Post show was insane and caused sugar binging problems. I did that roller coaster and two competitions in year. Post second show in August I discovered Marks Daily Apple. From August 2010 – January 1st I ate primal except for one cheat meal a week which I obsessed about, ate it and then felt like crap after. Then it would take two days to stop craving crap.

      1. Oops-Wasnt done… On January 2nd I went 100% Primal with no cheating and within a few weeks 100% Paleo. I am going on 5 months and I will NEVER go back to my old way of eating low fat, grains, etc. After doing figure competitions you quickly gain weight and cannot control it. So hard mentally to deal with. After 5 months eating like this and working out more crossfit style I am leaner and a size smaller than I was. Everyone tells you when you do figure competitions that it is a waste because you cannot maintain that body. I agree you cannot maintain stage body, but I am pretty close and it is NOT hard to eat or workout like this.

    3. Lisa, visit your local Crossfit. I am sure you will find the proof you are looking for. Look for the people that have been long time members. The ones that have done a few Paleo Challenges.
      You can really see the changes in speed, power and leanness in the athletes that are dedicated

  14. Hi, could someone take a look at my comment from yesterday, and offer any advice? It would be greatly apprieciated…thanks!

    1. Difficult to say, just from the info you provided. Are you lifting heavy things several times a week? Sprinting (other than at work to catch “bad guys?”) Are you moving at a slow pace for several hours a week? Most importantly, are you getting enough quality sleep and are you getting enough rest in-between workouts? Overtraining is an easy problem for those who dive in to something like this head first and get a little too ambitious.

      You’ve only been at this for three weeks. It typically takes people a little time to get used to Primal. For me, I was famished for the first month–I couldn’t stuff my face with enough food often enough to stay full. The idea of intermittent fasting seemed like a pipe-dream to me. Now I fast for 18 hours at least 3X/wk without thinking about it. I assume it just took my body and appetite a while to adjust to using fat as it’s primary fuel source. If you’re consuming a very low carb, Ketogenic diet, it may indeed be that your body is taking a little while to get used to it.

      I’m no expert on the subject–just thought I’d add my two cents worth.

    2. Aaron-
      Losing 16 lb in 3 weeks? That’s pretty fast. My guess is you’re not eating enough. It’s a hard adjustment, but I think (esp in your job) you need to eat more. When I’m 100% primal, I feel like I’m stuffing my face (compared to a calorie restricted diet), but I’ll tend to lose about 2 lb a week, consistently.

      1. Agreed–particulary fat. A common thread I see among people who have just started Primal is that they are still fat phobic (hard not to be in our culture–it takes a little practice to make that mental leap.) They think they are eating enough fat but really aren’t. That could definitely lead to quick exhaustion when exerting yourself. You need that fat for lasting energy as well as preserving muscle mass.

        I don’t keep strict count, but I would guess that I consume about 150-200 grams of fat a day (out of about 2200-2400 calories a day.)

        You should not feel hungry on PB (except a little before meals.) If you do, like Robyn said, you’re probably not eating enough.

  15. Congratulations to all of you, inspiring stories.

    Justin: May I ask, how many times of a week do you do crossfit workouts?

    1. Ivan, we’ve always done 3 times per week. Generally every other day.

  16. Another great set of stories!! To those who don’t find these inspiring as I read through the comments, you don’t understand the points of this. Each person is different, each person finds their motivation different.

    These 3 people have adopted the Primal lifestyle and that in and of itself is A SUCCESS STORY!!

    Congrats to all of you, I love reading each and every Success story on this journey!!


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