Build Strength, Increase Stamina, Overcome Injury: Done, Done and Done!

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!

My friend John was able to postpone/eliminate an imminent heart valve replacement by changing his lifestyle and “going Primal”. He is the one who turned me on to the Mark’s Daily Apple web site. I studied, and studied and studied. It all made so much sense that I was instantly committed.

So as I began to explain to friends and family my journey into the world of the Primal lifestyle I was confronted with a recurring question: “are you trying to lose weight?” This question was asked with the implied, “you are already thin, what are you trying to accomplish!?” At that time (two years ago at the age of 53) I was carrying 147 lbs on a 5’ 6” frame. Yes, compared to most of the people around me (and the entire United States) I was indeed “thin”, with a distance runner’s body. “Nooooo, I am not trying to lose weight people!”

Looking back, there were several unrelated building blocks which prompted my lifestyle change. John’s averted heart valve replacement, mom’s time in hospice care (and all that I was exposed to through that experience), my back issue, my knee issue (both related to all the distance running) and my growing realization that doctors don’t seem to have nearly the answers that we expect them to have. There is so much sickness all around us; type 2 diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, osteoporosis, obesity, etc. Not to pick on children, but it is hard to not notice all the really heavy kids (childhood obesity went from 5.5% in 1980 to a current 17%, or so). When I was a kid, in the 60s and 70s, most everyone in my neighborhood was fairly skinny. “What the heck is going on?”, I asked. In a word – carbohydrates – is what is going on. There is a lot more to why our society is sick, but that’s the biggy.

If 2012 was the year I dipped my toes in the Primal water, 2013 was the year that I made my way out to the deep end of the Primal pool. I attended PrimalCon in Oxnard, then signed up for the Malibu Transformation Retreat in October. The grand finale was the Personal Coaching in December with Vanessa Lambert. Each one of these activities was an opportunity to learn more, connect more, and get healthier.

I have lost weight – 13 lbs of fat. I am now 132 lbs with 6% body fat. Losing weight was never the goal. Building strength and stamina and getting back into post-injury running was the goal – done, done and done!

Of equal, or greater importance, is the effect that I have had on the people around me. In a very organic way, people around me have seen the changes in me and slowly but surely some have transitioned from naysayers to skeptics to inquisitive to seeking advice – what a blast! I am very proud of the co-workers and friends who are making coffee with MCT oil and butter in the mornings, skipping the tortillas and packaged food, and loading up on a variety of meats and veggies. They are seeing the results and the fire is burning brighter all the time. The success is infectious!


Back on the home front, on Christmas eve my 19 year old son was complaining, again, of his recurring stomach issues. He had already been to two or three doctors, who after reviewing the results of various tests, produced nothing to help him. He was discouraged enough to take me up on my offer to support him in going Primal for the month of January. So far he has only had one bad morning. This after having a burger with a bun the night before. The month is not over just yet, but it looks like we may have solved his problem – gluten sensitivity. It has been challenging keeping a 19 year old Primal. Out of this challenge we have broadened our menu choices (thank you weekly Meal Plan!), fine tuned our Sunday afternoon mega-cooking session, and accelerated our learning and experience. Now all we have to do is to get our 18 year old on the program!


Looking back to two years ago, there is so much that has changed as a result of making the transition to the new lifestyle. Back then I was suffering from injuries – now I am pain free and running again. My wife is on board and has lost the weight that she wanted to lose. I am sharing what I have learned by leading a number of good people to achieve their physical goals. Life is good.

My wife and I are booked for the March Tulum event. Hope to see you there!



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96 thoughts on “Build Strength, Increase Stamina, Overcome Injury: Done, Done and Done!”

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  1. Kevin, this is such a great story! And oh my goodness, so happy for your teenager and your wife.

    (Mark, I love these stories of people that our culture already considers “healthy” going primal and finding true health.)

    Thanks for sharing, Kevin!

    1. +1. Yes, these are the stories that really resonate with me too! Skinny fat is a huge problem and it’s great to see stories about it.

  2. It is so disheartening to see overweight and obese children. I’m glad you mentioned it. Now we have a study that says that 1/3 of kids who are overweight in kindergarten will be obese by 3rd grade.

    Think of that poor sweet girl that had fatal complications from the tonsil surgery. Why did she need tonsil surgery? She had obstructive sleep apnea caused by her obesity.

    Just look up Peter Wenzel’s Hungry Planet to see pictures of what most Americans eat. It will make you shudder.

      1. Well, if we squint it looks like an 8……. Always nice to hear from our village MD.

    1. Sleep apnea is not caused by obesity any more than diabetes is caused by obesity. There are correlated in about 60% of cases, but no causal link has been found. That’s not to say that obesity doesn’t make apnea worse though.

      1. Correct. My mother has had life-threatening sleep apnea for over 25 years and in that time has never been over 115 lbs at 5’6″ tall, and has usually been between 95 and 105 lbs. People wouldn’t believe that she had sleep apnea because ‘she wasn’t fat’. Obesity is not a ’cause’, although, agreed, it may make it worse.

    2. Oh my. I did not know that. I had I guess some suspicions that there were complications caused by other physical conditions.

    3. That is probably an increasing reason for tonsil surgery now a days. I know though, that my brother had a tonsil removal surgery when he was little, and he was underweight.

      1. I’m 67. I had my tonsils jerked out when I was 5 because it was the thing to do in those days, they had never been a problem. I was a skinny little kid. Immediately after the tonsillectomy I started gaining weight, and within a year I was a big fat kid and have been battling fat ever since.

    4. Because when the child is obese at an early age what do we do? We give them a low fat diet with lots of grains and make it worse.

  3. This story Kevin and the results are wonderful–shows the smart, common sense approach to primal eating and living.

    Way to go– and thanks for inspiring me to continue on my journey with MDA.

  4. People only think they’re healthy until they see what living Primal can do. The sick get healthy, the average get good and the great get a dash of superhero.

    1. I like this. You normally are a bit crass, but I like this. Thanks

  5. So happy to see this! I have dealt with so much criticism (some downright rude and hateful) about my decision to go on a “diet.” As if I don’t know that at 5`9″ & 117lbs I have no weight to lose. I’m glad someone else had been through this and come out stronger for it. Just what I needed to read today!

    1. I am glad my experience was what you needed today. Glad to help!

    2. Oh yes I know what you mean. I am 5’4″ and don’t know how much I weigh because I don’t own a scale, but I know I’ve gotten less soft and more muscular in the last year since starting living Primal, even though I was thin all my life to begin with (skinny fat after puberty, but I could fit into a size 2 and that’s what matters, right?) I feel so much better, sleep better, my psycho b**ch days are gone – but no one (read, my family and friends) wants to hear it because I was not fat to begin with, so what could I possibly know about needing to get healthy – I don’t need a “diet.” I have come to realize that thin does not always equal “healthy.” Thank you Kevin for showing again that Primal is for everyone.

  6. Well done Kevin, on your results and getting your wife and son on board. I have a problem convincing my husband to go Primal (he eats what I make but still eats cakes, pastries etc given the chance!) – because he’s slim he doesn’t have any ‘health problems’. We can always improve on perfection!

  7. Thanks for your story. I was just talking to some friends last night about food, one of which is very obese, has skin problems, can’t sleep through the night, her feet hurt ALL the time – but she announced to all of us that she is NOT ready to get rid of the white flour and sugar, how about getting rid of all the health issues you JUST went to the doctor to fix? Oh well, I’ve led that horse to the water, the rest is up to her.

    1. I understand completely. I have truly enjoyed the infectious nature of success with the lifestyle. Some people just don’t believe in themselves – the result of repeated failures with silly diets. There is nothing special about me and that is the point. It is a decision to “Fly right” rather than some skill or ability.

  8. Congratulations on a job so well done, Kevin. I’m a little bit jealous that I won’t be able to head to the Tulum PrimalCon this time, but hope you’ll have a great time while there.
    All the best, and keep up the good work.

  9. You’re good for another 50 years at least! Thanks for putting another brick in the Wall of Primal Success!

  10. Wow, I’m amazed you dropped so low in weight and bodyfat! I’m 5′ 4″, 14.5% bodyfat and only 24.
    Way to go!

  11. Totally agree it is sooo fun to see everyone around you notice and join in on the journey as well. Now to get myself a slack line.

  12. Nice work there! After 18 months of non calorie counting primal I have not been able to get below 16% BF, 165lbs at 5’9″ and lean all over except for the belly region. At 59 I can state that there is no cure for aging, it is definitely a process of inevitable loss in all physical respects. But Primal has been a huge benefit, I no longer have any kind of arthritic pains, my energy and digestion is much improved and I no longer have to stop and rest on the ski slopes. I also get to eat a lot more quality food.

    I have tried mixing both MCT and butter in my morning coffees but they just float to the surface, not a very satisfying drink. Instead I mix in a heaping teaspoonful of ON 100% Natural whey double chocolate flavor followed by a healthy shot of shaken till foamy organic milk and then reheat in microwave, somewhere between a mocha and a latte good!

    1. A blender for the fat plus coffee makes it just become part of the coffee drink and no longer floats on top…… That whole drinking pools of warmish hot oil is hard to do, ew.

    2. My doppleganger. I’m the same weight, height, age, and also have some excess weight around the middle that needs to go. I’ve been Primal since August and feel pretty good for an old guy, but the weight is slowly going away. Maybe two pounds a month. I’m just waiting for spring and I can get the bicycle out again. I have confidence the weight will go away faster with more riding.

    3. Thanks! It is all about getting to that “genetic expression” point. Perhaps 16% is where you belong and if you have seen huge improvements and you are feeling good then who cares about the percentage. My hunch, based upon my own experience, is that there is probably a little fine tuning that you could do. Regarding the coffee, I use one of those little bullet blenders and it works great.

    4. I’ve been just lurking for a couple of weeks now, but I’m becoming very interested. What exactly is MCT and why put it and/or butter in coffee?

      1. MCT oil is “medium chain triglyceride” oil. That, and butter (preferably pastured, like Kerrygold), are two healthy fats that are easily added to coffee. If you type “MCT oil” or “bulletproof coffee” into Mark’s search engine, I am sure he has written articles on them. This is an awesome, extensive website. You will learn a lot if you take the time. Good luck!

      2. Oh Vicki, you are in for a TREAT! Google bullet proof coffee (either here at Mark’s place or out on the web)! I will say , since I switched to using MCT oil as my daily moisturizer, my skin is fantastic — and I even brush it into my (58-yr-old dry, almost straw-like hair) after I wash it… Making a big difference!!

        MCT = medium chain triglyceride — the ‘good stuff’ concentrated out of coconut oil. (In summer, I mix a bit of coconut oil with the MCT oil for my skin, in the winter, it’s hard… the coconut, not the mixing! Add a drop of food grade ‘essence’ (I love lemon or tangerine!) and it’s wonderful!)

    5. I add an egg yolk to emulsify it. I put a yolk and MCT in my cup, then add a little coffee (to raise the temp a bit and keep it from cooking), mix it with a little pencil frother/mixer, then pour in the rest of the coffee, and mix again. It stays together and gives you a nice creamy cup.

    6. Pre-heating the butter in the microwave and then using the espresso maker steam jet on it makes an excellent frothy cup. Yum. I think I’ll go turn on my little machine. As an added benefit, it also sounds like the Nasgul are invading my kitchen.

  13. Wow, nice work, John! Always love to hear when people are inspiring to their families, as well 🙂

  14. I really like your story because it highlights that “Normal” is often bad, or at least not optimal, even for the healthy or the active. Primal is not a diet, it is a paradigm shift for many aspects of life.

  15. I love the weekly posts. I’m not fully primal yet but I’m on my way, reducing my carbs, cutting out sweets, eating mostly meat and veggies. It’s been rough but my clothes have been getting bigger and I’ve been feeling better. One day you’ll see my story on here! 🙂

    1. Obydyah, your clothes are not getting bigger. You are getting smaller!!! Good on you!

    1. You have played an important part in the Journey Vanessa. Thank you!

  16. Great story, Kevin!

    You’re right about the overweight kids. Even through most of the 80s one didn’t see many obese people, especially not children and teenagers. These days even slimmer kids often have the ubiquitous “muffin top”. What is that all about? High fructose corn syrup? GMOs?

    1. Muffin tops? It’s about fashion, i.e. low-rise jeans. I remember that jeans used to button above the belly-button, aka the dreaded “mom-jeans”.

      (This is one of the wonderful fashion tips I learned from my daughter. She helps keeps my clothes up-to-date, thankfully.)

      1. Low rise jeans may show the muffin top more, especially when worn with a short top, but it’s fat stored on the upper hips which creates this look – some young girls have muffin tops in bikinis!

        1. Yes, the tight low-rise jeans just exacerbate the muffin top. Way back when if a kid was fat, he/she was fat all over, not just around the middle. It’s definitely a newer phenomenon.

          Mark — any ideas about the origin of the muffin top fat storage system?

  17. Great story . I love to read not only the big successes but the average person who feels and looks better after going primal. The fact that you are older is also a bonus ( I am even older ).

    Well done not only to you but also to your family members- am sure the 18 year old will follow suit sooner rather than later.

    1. Thank you. I am really curious to see how my son conducts business in February, when the 30 day challenge is over. He seems to enjoy being well and that says more than I ever can.

  18. Very interesting and useful tips I think.I read step by step this informations and help me so much.Thank you for this great informations

  19. What is that cool balancing thing you’re using, Kevin? I really wanted the kind of balancing strap that connects to trees, only I have no trees! This looks like a stand alone product. Where can I get one?

    1. It is a “Slack Line”. This is the perfect solution when there are no trees conveniently located. I purchased it from a company called “Gibbon”. For a beginner this is a better option that the 30 footer because it does not swing as much.

  20. Kevin, where does running into your fitness pyramid? Or do you you do it for mental health and enjoyment of running and not health?

    1. Yea, the running is essentially in conflict with the pyramid. I LOVE the trails and can’t imagine giving those runs up. That being said, I have cut them way back and get out only once a week for nothing more than a 7 miler. Some folks have chocolate or alcohol, I have trail runs.

      1. I started trail running since I went Primal. I lost a lot of weight so trail running became a part of my workouts last year. I don’t think it conflicts with this lifestyle as I’m slow and the farthest I’ve run so far is 10 miles. I’m planning on running my first trail half in April.

        1. Sounds good Steve. The trail runners are a great bunch. You will have a blast!

      2. Yes, I guess they aren’t physically detrimental if you stay below 80% PRE. And chocolate/alcohol is a daily requirement of mine for health. My taste buds are amazed as well!

  21. Awesome work especially inspiring those around you and very impressed you could influence your 19 year old son. At 54 I have been primal for 2 years now having lost 14.5 kg and fitter and more alert than I can remember for many years.

    As a psychiatrist I have been trying to inspire many of my patients to make the same lifestyle and nutritional changes with some success to assist in the management of their often long term symptoms.

    Looking forward to Tulum as well

    1. Congrats to you. Yes, helping people is really fun. See you in Tulum!

    2. Koree have you had any successes with helping your patients make lifestyle changes? As a family medicine doc I get so super frustrated knowing that all of these bipolar diagnoses could see great differences if the diet were to change. The good fight continues.

      1. Hi Shelly, a large portion of my practice is with bipolar disorder. I agree lifestyle can make a major impact on the control of their symptoms with sleep being critical. General routine and structure help, and I have been trying to get many of them to reduce their carbohydrate load in their diet and get out walking for 20 mins a day and then try to introduce some easy push-ups and squats. Unfortunately the most common medications used in this disorder valproate and quetiapine tend to disrupt satiety and increase carb craving. As you say it is a work in progress. cheers.

  22. Very interesting to hear about your son fixing his stomach problems with a primal diet! I have an almost-18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. They both know plenty about primal/paleo (I’ve been eating this way for a little over a year) but they both think it’s “stupid”. Neither is overweight but my son has stomach issues as well, and my daughter has acne that I think could be greatly helped by dietary changes. It’s so hard to get them to try anything new like that, though! So of all the accomplishments you listed above, which are awesome, my hat is really off to you for that one!

    1. Thank you Kathy. We were in Hawaii on Christmas eve at dinner and he was disgusted that he blew a day in paradise with stomach issues. He was fed up and it was the right timing to pitch the 30 day challenge. I am now more convinced than ever that we are all on the right path! Good luck with your kids.

  23. I am a witness of Kevins primal success and I’m definitely a follower. I have seen results lost 20+ lbs with Kevins guidance. I am proud to say that I am one of Kevins disciples!!! Thank you Kevin for your guidance.

    1. You are most welcome. You took to this like a duck to water. Now we need to work on a few more guys at the office….

    1. Thank you. I still can’t quite believe that what was kicking his butt since High School was gluten. He has been back to the same burger place several times now and has ordered the burgers “protein style” and reports no issues. I am so happy for him.

  24. Hey Kevin, my fellow Retreat Paddleboarder! So happy to see such a great story from you and hear you and your family are doing so well Primal! Amazing the wonderful changes you are living and so great to hear how well your wife and son are coming along too! I have been working on my family since the Retreat and its slow going but its getting there. So happy for you and that Slack Line looks great! Say hi to Tina and hope you have a great time in Mexico! Great story!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. Very glad to hear that you are still at it and chipping away at your family. Water on a rock – you will wear them down eventually!

  25. Thank you for a great success story, Kevin! It truly is amazing the number of ailments we tolerate as we age, both large and small, as if it’s just a part of the process. Then we get introduced to eating the way we were meant to, and the ailments melt away along with (bonus!) the body fat. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you Sialia. Yes, in our society, “not terribly sick” seems to the the new “doing pretty well”. The bar is set pretty low. Good luck to you on your journey!

  26. I’m 54 and my hubs is 56, and we’re three-year primalists. Couldn’t be happier and feel like we are in the best shape of our lives. Hard to believe we are middle-aged.

    Those of you sitting on the fence, please give this a shot. Like Mark wrote this week – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Way to go Kevin! You are setting a great example for your kids.

    1. Thank you. It is great to be this age and be able to do anything that we ever did in the past! I am going for the longest “healthspan” possible and I believe that being primal is the way to do it! Good luck to you and your husband.

  27. I love Fridays! I get to read such inspiring stories. Thank you, Mark, for our Friday motivation!

    Kevin – I know you are married, so please don’t think I’m hitting on you. But you are very easy on the eyes, I must admit. You do not look 55!

  28. What a great success story! My mom has an autoimmune disease and I keep trying to get her to go primal. But there’s no real support from her doctor. So frustrating! Kudos to you for getting your son on board. You continued success!

  29. Looking good Kevin! Happy to hear your pain is gone and you’ve gained the strength and health you were looking for. I hope your son finds the answers he’s looking for!

  30. Wait – your friend avoided/delayed a heart valve surgery? I thought that was only treatable with surgery, not lifestyle. That’s amazing!

    Also great that you figured out your sons problem when the doctors couldn’t. It can be really hard to not eat what your friends eat at that age so good for him.

    1. Regarding the valve replacement – he was set to go to the Mayo Clinic and halted it at the last minute. He changed every aspect of his life as a last ditch effort – diet, exercise, etc. about 5 years ago. So far he has dodged that bullet. I am not medically trained, so I can’t say what worked or didn’t work but at the least a 5 year postponement is amazing! So, the Docs were going to replace one of his valves, they wanted to give me a spinal fusion, and they did not know what to do with my son. We have to look out for ourselves and I truly believe that the Primal Lifestyle is the right way to go. Good luck to you in your journey.

    1. I am a different “mary”, just reading this and thinking that goodness on the inside “foods, etc. + Lifestyle” radiates out of the person… which is so obvious… but it shines in you !!!

  31. Your smile in the last pictures… That’s a goal: Smiling healthy…Good job!

    1. Thanks. Remember, having fun and playing is part of the lifestyle!

  32. Thanks for sharing your story Kevin!

    You mention that you had some knee issues associated with your running. I’m curious as to what kind of injury and how the Primal lifestyle helped alleviate it? I suffer from chondromalacia patella and have not run in 2 years. I’m interested in anti-inflammatory properties of various foods and lifestyle choices.


    1. Hello Joe. I have a bakers cyst behind my right knee. It showed up half way through a 15 mile trail run. I should have walked home,but I kept running. Not smart. I took a year off running (after being told I would never run again), got primal, and focused on foods that are anti inflammatory. These foods include dark leafy vegetables and loads of fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. I like sardines and salmon and have them on a kale/ walnut salad often. Basically, just follow the guidelines in this web site and you will be well on your way. Even if the running remains an issue for you, at the least you will be healthier. Good luck!

  33. I have to admit though, its not until I totally gave up chronic cardio runs that my health really improved (and eating primally of course).

    Long distance running unfortnatley just goes against all the primal training – I focus mainly on low level walks, functional body weight training, and sprints, and my health is better for it (ie, I developed a heart arrythmia when distance running, after 2 years of ceasing diatnce running and following the primal exercise methods, it has gone)

  34. Sounds like you made the right choice Storm. I have tapered way back and have found a sweet spot where I can run and stay injury free. Yes, I am cheating a little and it probably is not ideal. The flip side is that I am so darn happy on the trails and I know there is something to that too. I wish you continued health and success on your journey. Kevin

  35. Mark, you may want to write a mainstream article at Counterpunch, or perhaps Huffington, as well as a reply in your blog after you read this unfortunate article:

    The Health Care Doctors Forgot
    Why Ordinary Food Will be the Future of Medicine


    When I examine the various proposals made in recent years to reform this system, I see all as having one remarkably consistent omission. It is our neglect of the remarkable ability of nutrition to promote health and decrease illness. I particularly refer to the emerging evidence on the exceptional health benefits provided by a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet—or should I say, re-emerging evidence. Re-emergence because the idea of the healing power of food has been around at least since the time of ancient Greece. Hippocrates said it best when he exclaimed, “Let food be thy medicine.”

    I am referring here not only to the well-known ability of nutrition to prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes but to the ability of the WFPB diet to actually treat and thus reverse diseases that are already diagnosed or forecast by out-of-range risk factors.

    A WFPB diet (5) is defined as one rich in antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. It also avoids animal-based foods, refined carbohydrates, and added fat typically used to make processed, convenience foods. The remarkable health benefits of the WFPB diet is attributed to its being naturally low in fat (10-12% of diet calories), low in protein (10-12% of calories), high in complex carbohydrates (75-80% of calories) and abundant in natural vitamins and minerals.

    The science behind a WFPB diet is compelling. A WFPB lifestyle is effective in the short and long terms against a broad spectrum of diseases and ailments (16,17). Population-level studies show lower chronic disease rates the closer diets approximate the nutritional composition of a WFPB dietary lifestyle (7,18). That is, these population studies show the effects on a long term basis and that this dietary lifestyle serves the body’s innate biological tendency to repair itself and so constantly create health. But a WFPB diet can also act to reverse disease progression in a manner that is surprisingly fast (a few days to a few weeks). Such a diet can therefore function as a medical treatment.

    The remarkable treatment effects are best documented in a clinical trial for patients with advanced heart disease (19-21). In one published study (19), seriously ill heart patients (i.e., 49 cardiac events during eight years prior to dietary intervention) cured themselves of coronary heart disease by adopting the WFPB dietary lifestyle. Now, 26 years later, five have passed but none from coronary disease (22). Additionally, the occurrence of cancer in these individuals is only about 10% of that expected (23). These results are unprecedented in a clinical trial.

  36. Does anyone know what that balance device he is using in the photos is?