97 Pounds Destroyed!

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!

Hello Mark,

My whole life changed because of the Primal Blueprint. Ever since I can remember, I struggled with weight. Unsure why at times, since both of my brothers had no problem being thin and built. My bodily make-up was apparently different.

I tried many diets over the years. Accompanied by many short stints with gyms and home workouts. I lost 10, 20, and even 30 lbs one time, and gained it all back with vengeance. When I was 24, I suffered a back injury that required surgery. From that day on, I was constantly in pain from my lower back.

As life went on, I began to believe that being a big guy was me. I grew to accept what, I felt, I could not change. I also grew to accept back pain as a way of life (sometimes crippling pain). At one point in my life I remember weighing in at 350. Below is a picture of what I had become – 339lbs.

John - Before

Something about seeing this picture, triggered the biggest battle of my life. I left work one night and joined the nearest gym I got to. Once there, I was offered a trainer as part of the membership offer. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it full bore. Two days later, I started with a trainer and battled through every workout, till I had given it everything I had. As time went on, the workouts became easier and the bodily pain subsided. Back pain also greatly reduced.

I was put on a nutritional plan by my trainer. It was very similar to the low carb lifestyle of Primal Blueprint. However, it was very confusing to me and not very clear cut. I started making salads for lunch instead of ordering in at work. Pounds started to disappear. This transitioned my thought process into, how can I make it better? I checked out books on Amazon about how to lose weight and stumbled across your book. As I read through it I realized the similarities to my current plan. Only it had one key factor that I was missing; an understanding of how everything effects my body.

Two months later was weight check-in time. I had lost 38 lbs since this all began. This just gave me more drive. I was so close to dropping below 300 for the first time in, I don’t know how long.

I went out and bought a treadmill, weight machine, free weights and a rowing machine to build a home gym. I wanted something for the nights it was too late for the gym. I went a little overboard. Who would have thought, I’d convert my home bar into a gym.

I started experimenting with many Primal recipes. Concocting my own and spending free time searching Mark’s Daily Apple for new and exciting meals. I have eaten vegetables and fish that I have never tried in my life, and love it! I am always searching for new ideas.

With all the changes taking place, I decided to step it up a notch. After 16 years, I grew my hair back and shaved my goatee. I was surprised to find a full head of hair.

I even felt so ambitious that I signed up and started a 25 person team for the ToughMudder (inspired by British military training) in July. Twelve miles and twenty-five obstacles of Guns a Blazin’ Primal exercise. Everyone on our team must make it. When I make it through that will be when I feel I have completed what I set out to do.

And now 10 months later, I am weighing in at 242 lbs. 97 lbs destroyed!

I still have a long ways to go, but I’m getting there. Training hard for July. I just wanted to say thank you, Mark.  Your book has inspired me to fight the toughest battle of my life and has changed it forever…

John - Primal

Thank you,


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96 thoughts on “97 Pounds Destroyed!”

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story. Well done, congratulations, and good luck in July!

  2. Awesome job!! I’m excited about the upcoming Tough Mudder in Topeka! It’s one of my goals to make by September! Congrats man, you are an inspiration!

  3. John – great transformation, keep it up! Your story is similar to so many others and there are actually people that still doubt this way of eating …go figure.

  4. Congratulations! Looking good. Good luck with the Tough Mudder!

  5. You have a major achievement. It is something you can be proud of. You look good and obviously feel good. Keep going forward

  6. W00t!!! Congratulations on your achievement!! Something to be HUGELY proud of!

  7. Looking awesome already, John! 97 pounds burned up on your march of health and well-being. And it is so important to know WHY to do something, isn’t it? Great point.

  8. AMAZING!! Way to go – I love your fire! I’m also training for a tough mudder in June, and I’m so scared – thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  9. “Who would have thought, I’d convert my home bar into a gym.”

    Haha, I love it! You’re doing a great job, congrats on all the improvements you’ve made and good luck in your upcoming race! Sounds like a blast.

  10. John, you’re doing amazing! Something I love about your story is you’re still on the journey. Thanks for sharing it with us so we can cheer you on!

  11. Wow! You’re looking good! Congratulations on winning one of life’s toughest challenges.

    Here’s one of my favorite recipes from Renegade Health Show dot com. You can watch it on Youtube:

    Cucumber Arame Salad
    1 c Arame or Hiziki (or any other finely chopped, dried sea vegetable)
    2 large or 4 pickling cucumbers, very thinly sliced (I use the wavy plate on the mandolin slicer – it gives room for the liquid to get to all sides)
    1 or 2 red peppers, diced or sliced
    1 small red onion, diced
    1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp EVOO
    1 tsp sea salt (I use less)
    pinch or two of pepper

    Soak arame for 15 min covered in filtered water. Drain arame, and add to cucumbers, peppers and onion. Add all other ingredients and toss. Let set for a while to mingle tastes.

    I hope you enjoy this recipe. I try different vinegars and oils. Sometimes I add carrot shreds for more color.

  12. Awesome story!! I keep looking for those keystone habits and changed mindsets we’ve been talking about lately and here they are right in your story! I also love that you are still on your journey, but wow! You look ten years younger (and it’s not just the hair!)! Grok on, John!! Give us an update after the mudder!

  13. You look amazing! Very inspiring. I bet your trainer is thrilled to work with you.

  14. Great job John. One less chin to tote around. You will have no problem with your upcoming challenge. Grok on!

  15. Wow, I don’t even recognize you in the new pic! Congrats! Oh, do you like older women? 🙂

  16. You look amazing already. And more importantly, it sounds like you feel amazing as well. Good luck in July!

  17. All I can say is WOWSA!! You look amazing!

    I am in a similar situation. I am planning to do the Warrior Dash later this fall and end the year with a 1/2 marathon. I’ve never ran more than a 5K so these will be a challange. I am slowly switching over to a primal/paleo diet – which for me is neccessary since I am gluten intolorant. I am trying very hard to switch over 100% and bring my boyfriend over to the Paleo Side 🙂

  18. And that’s how a MDA Success Story ought to be written: problem described, issues faced/hindrances to success outlined, path to success touched upon, proof of ongoing success shown. Great job, John! Best of luck with future progress!

  19. Thank You Everyone!!! I always found these stories to be a great motivator. I still have roughly 30 or so, pounds to go, and I’m chugging along. Thank you for the recipes and no, not single but thank you lol

  20. Way to go, John! Looks like you use small wins along the way as your fuel to keep going. Mark posted yesterday about small wins. (It’s a big part of what I write about.)

    Looks to me like small wins are a recurring theme in what you’ve written here:

    “I had lost 38 lbs since this all began. This just gave me more drive …
    I went out and bought a treadmill, weight machine, free weights and a rowing machine …. I started experimenting with many Primal recipes. With all the changes taking place, I decided to step it up a notch …. I even felt so ambitious that I ….”

    See? Small wins fueling the process. Very cool. For you, it doesn’t seem at all like it’s about one big end-goal. It’s day-by-day love of the process and the intermittent small win that keeps you going.

    Would you say this is an accurate read on you?

    Again – great work, John. Carry on and keep us posted!


  21. John, you look great- and not only are you a good-looking man, but you sound like an impressive guy. Good luck in this race.

  22. Wow John awesome work! You look amazing. All the best in the future…keep it up! 🙂

  23. Congratulations on a great achievement. An inspiration. I am amazed almost more by the fact that you have not only changed your body – but you appear to have even changed your face – do you realize now that you were hiding a handsome man behind your excess weight, your beard and your tough man hair? Thanks for your story. I’m still working on mine.

  24. great work! you look like a young man should – happy, healthy and ready to take on the world!

  25. I hardly recognize the new you from the old pic. Thumbs up and keep it up.

  26. Way to go young dude! At 53 I am in the best shape of my life and looking forward to many years of good primal health. Now you are on that same road – feels good!

  27. Wow! You look fantastic. It takes a lot of vulnerability (read: courage and strength) to walk into a gym like that and allow another person to expose your weaknesses….and look how knowledgeable and strong you are now! Good work, my friend, good work.

  28. You look amazing! Congratulations on your transformation! And best of luck on the Tough Mudder!

  29. I love the point about the missing link: understanding how everything affects our bodies. If people would know that eating whole grain bread and pasta creates a massive insulin response in our bodies, which in turn promotes fat storage, systemic inflammation, etc etc..maybe they would have an easier time ditching the grains and eating more veggies and meat. But the only ‘understanding’ people have, is what CW tells them…and we all know how off course that can be sometimes

  30. Isn’t it great that the saying we become wiser as we get older, often comes true? You are a head-turner now. Fantastic story & keep up the work – you’re doing an awesome job!

  31. John,
    Congratulations. You look great. Overcoming the belief that “this is just the way I am” is very difficult for a lot of people. You did it! Fantastic!

  32. John, you didn’t eat that dog you’re holding in the first picture, did you? DID YOU??
    Just kidding, Congratulations on your success. One of the cool things about the Friday real life stories is how everyone starts from such different places but always wind up in a better place than they started.

  33. John, I gotta say your story was one of the better ones I’ve read in a while. I liked this line the best:

    “With all the changes taking place, I decided to step it up a notch. After 16 years, I grew my hair back and shaved my goatee. I was surprised to find a full head of hair.”

    I love how going Primal encourages us to just… question ourselves. Question our motives. It encourages open mindedness, and the trying of new things. I just loved reading that you tried new veggies and loved them, and that you converted your bar into a gym. It just goes to show, (for me), that we all just need to realize that we have the power within us – we just have to be willing to explore. Congrats for doing exactly that – exploring yourself and finding how awesome things are!

    I’m looking forward to seeing your next story, in another year or so. I’d also like to see a picture of you next to your brothers, looking more ripped than they do. It’ll happen 😉

  34. Looking great, John, congratulations! Best of luck in your upcoming event! Truly inspirational!

  35. Before the physical changes though, I think you won the toughest battle by searching for answers. You took the initiative to approach life in a different way, and that’s your ulimate success!

    Keep searching and trying new things. 🙂

  36. You look great, John- What a hot grok!! Keep up the good work!

  37. You look great, John! Congratulations, and thanks for sharing!

  38. Congratulations and best of luck to you. Hooray for your new discovery of life and energy! 🙂

  39. Nice work, John. Have a blast in the TM. Do a lot of high rep body weight work and some HIIT. You’ll be set!!

  40. I really can’t see that it’s the same person in the pictures! Very good work, keep it up, John. Stories like yours inspire others to do better.

  41. Great job! Thanks for sharing your story and good luck with your future success!

  42. John,
    You look flaming FANTASTIC! Good job!

    Thank you for sharing your story and success with us. It shows that there is hope for any of us who wish to change our life if we commit to it.

    Much success with your Tough Mudder. I know you have what it takes to do it.

  43. John, Nice one mate. Great motivating story and I am sure others, like me, will appreciate the journey you’re on.

  44. GROK ON! Seems as if you are in it for the long haul…Try adding coconut oil by the tablespoon to your daily regimen as well as upping your vitamin C consumption. Both these things will help provide the stamina you will need for your MudOff.

  45. Congrats!!! That is just so awesome! I had a similar journey, though not nearly as dramatic. Best of luck.

  46. Hey John congrats!! Please post and update to let us share in your victory with toughmudder!! You are so inspirational to us all, I know you will knock off those last 30 lbs in no time! All the best to you and yours.

  47. Awsome John!!! And i want to thank you for the inspiration. Into PB for 1 month and lost 10 lbs……..I have another 45 to go ……..not stopping now!!!….Special thanks MDA Thank You Mark!!!

  48. Great work John – you are looking awesome…..love the puppy too…is it a cocker spaniel? Adorable!

  49. Thank you Everyone! Your comments are very inspiring also! I will send in an update after tough mudder in July. The puppy is a Boggle (boxer / beagle). Thank you.

  50. You must be a tall dude…for 242 pounds you look very trim and fit. Your story is inspiring. I wish there was some way that you could let us know if you still have back issues. Could you describe all the changes you noticed in your back during your exercising and weight loss (briefly…LOL!) Do you still have back pain, etc, or is the back no longer an issue? Thanks for the great motivational story! All the best to you!

  51. I still have minor back pain from time to time. However 95 percent of the time, I am pain free!

  52. Tough mudder is coming to my area in June this year so I will be doing it for sure. It look like a lot of hard work but also quite fun. Let me know how you got on. Well done by the way.

  53. John,

    Thanks for your inspirational story. It just gave me more energy to continue this program. I just started 18 days ago at 250lbs, I have already lost 10lbs and I feel really great. For the first time in my life I read straight 30mins on a treadmill with no break and still head energy to do weight and lift.

    If I had just done away with Potbelly sandwich (which I really love) from the very first day, I would have being talking about 12lbs destroyed already.

    Again, thanks

  54. WHOA!! Hottie! Nice transformation!! Could you talk to my husband please?? lol

  55. Way to go man!
    Congrats on the life changes, and all the best in the upcoming “mudder.”
    We’ll be rooting for you!!!!

  56. Great Job John. It looks like those military style workouts have turned you into a secret agent. Because you have completely changed your appearance to the point of being unrecognizable as the person in the before picture. Kudos for that, and thanks for sharing your inspiring story. I too suffered a major back injury in my mid 20s. But thanks to primal all traces of it have disappeared forever. It’s one of the many benefits you have clearly found too. Good on you. Keep up the good work and Grok On!

  57. Great story and transformation, John! You should be so proud of yourself. Your before & after pictures don’t look like the same guy. I’ll be your brothers are so jealous of you!

    I love your attitude too – 97 Pounds DESTROYED! Nice to see someone change his health and life through nutrition and exercise instead of resorting to medication(s).

    That TM sounds like a worthy goal. I’d love to see a picture of you and your team after you’ve conquered that challenge!

    Grok On! 🙂

    1. that should be *I’ll bet your brothers… 🙂