Meet Mark

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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March 16 2010

Complete Recovery Within a Week

By Guest
127 Comments

There’s nothing like a receiving an email from a reader that chronicles their Primal journey. It makes my day. This one, from active forum member Timothy Williams, was sent in a couple months ago (and then an update last week). Timothy has seen tremendous results following the Primal Blueprint principles. Read his inspiring success story and then begin (or continue) your own. Grok on!

Hello Mark,

Thank you for your kind email. I’m a little star-struck to be addressed in person! I want you to know that I am a huge fan of your web site, and it has radically changed my life, even though I’ve only known about it for a few weeks. Allow me to explain a bit.

I stumbled across MDA a few weeks ago on the recommendation of one of my favorite writers, Karen de Coster. I was blown away by the wealth of practical conclusions on MDA, all drawn from the simple premise that our bodies are finely tuned for an environment of evolutionary adaptedness that existed before agriculture.

I studied anthropology and early humans for many years in the context of economic and social behavior. For some reason it never occurred to me to apply the same context to nutrition. Palm on forehead, I felt like Thomas Huxley after learning about Darwin’s theory — how stupid not to have thought of that! But I guess all great ideas seem obvious in hindsight.

So I was very eager to read all I could about primal fitness and implement it immediately. I read some research on grains and couldn’t believe that it never occurred to me that the human body might have trouble digesting monocot grass seeds when it was adapted to meat and dicot plant foods, and that the USDA recommendations might have more to do with politics than nutrition. Then I read the MDA success stories and was entranced by the testimonials. I couldn’t stop until I had read them all.

Grains, it turns out, have been destroying my body for years. Since my mid-twenties I suffered with horrible intestinal symptoms, diagnosed with IBS, then ulcerative colitis, and maybe celiac disease. All I knew was that when I ate some foods such as bread, my abdomen swelled up as if I had swallowed a beach ball. The only doctor-prescribed solution that did anything for me was psyllium husk. (Needless to say, I never touch that stuff now.) Last year, my wife got pregnant and I became extremely motivated to get fit. I shed the first pounds with grueling exercise, grim determination, and replacing most of my diet with kefir, but my symptoms doggedly persisted and I did not feel well. I thought I was permanently damaged.

To make a long story short, I made a complete recovery within a week of discovering MDA. A week! After seven years of illness!

Please feel free to use anything I write on the success stories page (or anywhere else). I’m also looking forward to producing some before and after pics eventually. I’ve only been doing the PB for a few weeks, but having gone from 200 pounds a year ago to 160 now on a 5’9.5″ frame, the difference is already dramatic. I had to throw out my entire wardrobe and buy all new clothes! Everybody in my life seems amazed at my physical transformation, but only a couple have inquired about the method. I send them directly to your site, which speaks for itself.

Thanks again, Mark. I look forward to reading and implementing your crucial insights for many years to come.

Update: 03/08/10

Dear Mark,

About four weeks ago, you published my story and I set myself a goal of living as primally as possible and taking progress pictures. It’s been quite a month!

The black and white photo is from my wedding in 2002. The second photo is from December 2008, when I finally decided to buy a tuxedo instead of rent one because my body composition was so inert. My waist was 38″ and my weight was somewhere above 200 (I wasn’t checking). Not surprisingly, I can’t find a swimsuit photo of myself. But I think you know what moobs and an enormous belly look like.

The third picture is from late 2009, after I had launched an all-out fitness effort for about seven months. Our son was about to be born and I was really proud of what my hard work in the gym had achieved. I plateaued at 185 and a 34″ waist, and as you can see, I was feeling pretty good about it.

Then I discovered the Primal Blueprint. I have described it as a second puberty, and better by far than winning the lottery. I hope these photos from this afternoon, demonstrating two months’ progress, will show that I am not exaggerating.

Today I weigh 153 pounds, my waist is 30″, and my body composition is still changing rapidly.

I would like to emphasize the ways I did not achieve this transformation. I did not ask my doctor if Lipitor was right for me. I did not call 1-800-GET-SLIM. I never counted a calorie or calculated my protein-to-fat ratio. I did not hire a personal trainer to goad me, nor did I join a class to keep me consistent. I didn’t buy any exercise gadgets or meal replacements. I no longer went to the gym to perform narrowly targeted exercises under fluorescent lights.

All I did was extensively study your articles, draw inspiration from the many successful and supportive MDA forum members, and buy a sledgehammer and a pair of Vibrams. Then I did what came naturally.

When I first started the Primal Blueprint, my goal was to lose body fat and gain muscle. But that has proven only the tip of the iceberg, the most visible manifestation of a full spectrum of health benefits that have left me feeling reborn.  So I would like to share my top ten most unexpected benefits of going primal:

  1. Endless energy. Sure, I expected to feel a bit more peppy.  But I did not expect to find myself, on a whim, running shirtless for miles through winter rain after a 24-hour fast on a day I’d already exercised.
  2. Ironclad immune system. I used to get sick every couple of months.  Since going Primal I haven’t had so much as a sniffle, even as the other office workers have succumbed to winter sickness left and right.
  3. No more migraines. Who knew that my crippling migraines were a function of diet?  I never figured that out.  I thought they were due to skipping meals or not getting enough sleep.
  4. Tinnitus no longer noticeable. If you’ve ever had constant ringing in your ears, you know how annoying it can be, and how much you wish there were a way to make it stop…
  5. Mad chef skills. My whole life I resented cooking.  I didn’t mind cleaning up as my contribution towards the tedium of home-cooked meals.  But now I find that with a few simple ingredients, I can easily make things at home that are far more delicious and nutritious than the finest restaurant fare.  This has been extremely empowering.
  6. Food bills slashed. You would think that buying grass-fed, organic everything would be more expensive.  But actually I eat a lot less often, deriving far more nutrition from what I do eat, and consequently I have already saved a great deal of money on pre-cooked, unbalanced meals and snacks.  I can and often do go for a whole day without hunger after one well-planned feast.
  7. Connoisseur’s palate. Just like a man who eats nothing but spicy food fails to appreciate any other taste, so I had been blinded by my carb-centered diet to the full range of flavorful fats and proteins.  I eat all sorts of stuff now that I previously considered inedible: kimchi; sauerkraut; sardines; chicken liver.  And I realize that far from depriving myself of my favorite foods, I have discovered new favorites that are much tastier than the toxins to which I had been habituated.  When I eat a piece of fruit these days, it is a treat as stupendously delicious as it is rare: just as it was for Grok.
  8. Hormonal balance. I never realized it at the time, but my body was drowning in cortisol and insulin, and that threw off my entire hormonal balance, particularly by suppressing testosterone and HGH.  My secondary sexual characteristics (facial hair, musculature) were quite weak.  Now that the proper balance has been established, I feel the unmistakable effects of testosterone coursing through my veins.  My beard is thicker and I’m having to get used to feeling particularly confident and intense all the time.  But that’s a problem I welcome solving!
  9. Near-immunity to sunburn. Throughout my life, a half-hour’s direct sun exposure left my skin looking and feeling like it had been scalded with boiling water, and it took weeks to recover.  Now, I spend hours in the sun shirtless without even a patch of tender skin afterwards.  I can only conclude my body has become orders of magnitude better at protecting and repairing tissue.  To me, this suggests many startling implications, not least among them the prevention of cancer and senescence.
  10. Food is medicine. I never suspected that the world’s greatest medicines, the cures for almost every disease, the elixirs of strength and youth, are freely available in nature’s most delicious foods.  I used to be a ward of the medical industry, plied with expensive prescriptions and intrusive diagnostics and lectured on my blood pressure by morbidly obese doctors.  Now that my health is in my own hands, I am a free man at last.  I don’t expect to take another pharmaceutical as long as I live.

I still can’t believe it’s been only two months since I started the Primal Blueprint. I look, feel, and think like a different human being. I feel connected as never before to the vast chain of human existence, all the way back to our early hominid ancestors. My life is now filled with a sense of adventure and possibility.

To all those thinking of giving the Blueprint a try for the first time, especially those who, like me, have grappled with health and weight issues all their lives: I eagerly invite you to join me.  For this is not the end, but only the barest beginning!

Timothy Williams

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127 thoughts on “Complete Recovery Within a Week”

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  1. I alluded to this in my opening remarks, but if anyone reading has a Primal Blueprint Success Story of their own and would like to share it with the world please email me. As you can see these personal tales go a long way toward inspiring and motivating others to get Primal and begin living a healthy lifestyle. Grok on!

  2. Congrats on your success and persistance. I think it’s important for men to learn how to cook. If you are with a woman who does not eat or understand primal eating, they will always go for higher carb foods and fatten you. I personally know many men who are at the mercy of their wive’s cooking. They are fed grains (pasta, bread, spaghetti), some meat (some processed) and sugar. I’m sure that by the time they are in their 40s, they have more estrogen floating around in their system that their wives.

    1. hehe, for me it was the other way around. My husband was trying to stuff carbs into me all the time telling me that I desperately needed them. Then I could not work out why my health was getting worse, fast. Now I am trying to get him to go Primal.

      1. Same here! I have been trying to get my husband on board– I KNOW it would help with his various health complaints. But he thinks life without wheat and sugar sounds like a prison sentence. I end up having to buy separate groceries to keep the peace, and I end up feeling like I’m ennabling a crack habit.

        1. Yeah, I will suggest a nice dinner of grilled chicken with a side of sauteed spinach and mushrooms and my boyfriend will say “Let’s make rice too.” He’s sort of a meat-and-potatoes guy, or just meat and carbs, and tends to ignore veggies completely.

  3. Congratulations man, that is a stunning transformation. I am quite lean but have a swollen lower abdomen and have no idea what it is. If I look at myself side-on, my front goes down straight, you can see the top 4 bits of the 6-pack, then all of a sudden it swells out like I’ve swallowed a beachball to use your words, right down to my crotch. It’s like this even when I haven’t eaten and don’t feel bloated/windy. Any ideas what this might be? Also every morning my tongue is yellow. Thanks!

    1. Bruce, in response to your question about the swollen lower abdomen it is probably candida (yeast). It sounds like you have an oral (tongue yellow) and internal (swelling) yeast infection. I know because I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there right now as I am recovering from Lyme disease and on many antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria in my body, allowing for rampant candida. If you don’t deal with the candida it can even spread to your most prized possession. It’s extremely painful. Trust me.

      The solution is to take a good quality probiotic (get acidophilus and bifidus and at least 15 billion per capsule). This company specializes only in probiotics and has very good bang for your buck.
      http://www.customprobiotics.com/
      It provides 50 billion per capsule, 90 capsules, for $55 including shipping. A much better deal than most. Olive leaf extract and oil of oregano also work to kill yeast.

      Speaking of probiotics I know that it is one of the three supplements that Mark recommends. Anyone know if he recommends any particular one? He doesn’t sell probiotics does he?

      1. Also consider trying coconut oil and/or Bragg apple cider vinegar.

        1. To clarify, the coconut oil and ACV are used to kill the candida, not to replenish good biota.

  4. An inspiration. I didn’t know Timothy’s story and he’s always been so helpful on the site…now that I know the short story, we’ll…truly a great role model!

    Love reading about other’s successes!

  5. Congrats Timothy! We’re the same size and it is cool to see so many benefit from Mark’s program.

    Your immunity to sunburn – that is a new one for me that I have yet to test out. There are still plenty of clouds and cold in South Dakota, but I’m anxious to test that one out for me.

    You look great and the benefits are there. Grok on!

    1. A word of caution. I wouldn’t assume you have built up a resistance. That resistance comes from sun exposure.

      When I was a kid around high school age I’d get sunburned pretty good early in the season (easy for me since I’m pretty fair skinned). My immunity came later as I would recover from my burns. By the time summer was in full swing, I could stay out in the boat or surf at the beach all day without protection. The downside is I never really got a dark tan either. 🙂

      1. No, I’ve heard of people becoming more resistant to sunburn simply from changes in diet. I’ve even heard of a few who improved their response to sun from not using soap anymore–I assume they’re using a body brush or something and maybe some kind of oil cleaning of the skin instead (coconut oil maybe?). They said it only makes sense since vitamin D’s made in the skin and it’s a fat-soluble vitamin and probably a hormone as well. I haven’t been brave enough to go that far, I love soap too much (yes, I’m weird–but I use good handmade soap, not Dial). But it’s an interesting idea.

    2. I too went Primal 2 months ago and just noticed this yesterday that I tanned without burning. That has NEVER happened in my entire life. Anyone have any idea why those who go Primal can develop the ability to tan without burning? Mark?

  6. Now you’ve got me wondering if my sun sensitivity will go away in time as well! I’m always careful to wear sunblock, but even then, I end up easily pink. Here’s hoping!

  7. Many years ago I set up an elimination diet to find out if my eating habits had anything to do with a long list of symptoms I was suffering pretty much constantly. It was between wheat and dairy, and wheat ended up being the culprit. I immediately stopped having migraine headaches, morning mucous congestion, lethargy, chronic coughing and a bunch of other stuff. This was long before I had heard of any Paleo-variant diet, and in fact is what caused me to look into it in the first place. Great success story Timothy, and it happens all the time. The word is spreading and it’s picking up speed.

  8. Congrats Timothy! You’ve discovered how the Primal Blueprint can free the animal within you. As for increased sun tolerance, this is something many others have remarked on as well as an unexpected benefit of going primal/paleo.

    I have EPP (Erythropoietic protoporphyria) which has made me extremely photo-sensitive my whole life. Since going primal, however, I have sent my symptoms into complete remission! I can go out in the sun at midday with my shirt off for hours and have no problem whatsoever. Robb Wolf has blogged a few times about this (including with treating other porphyria sufferers with the paleo diet) and found similar results. His argument is that photosensitivity in these diseases (and probably in general) is related to autoimmune issues due to the grains, especially gluten, and skewed omega-6/3 ratio in our SAD diet. The proper treatment is to change to a paleo diet. It has been the miracle cure for me!

    1. That’s interesting, Aaron, I was just about to posit that my (genetically-induced) intolerance to the sun may have a little bit less to do with the cloud cover in Ireland and more to do with potatoes as a dietary staple that created some epigenetic response and in essence gave rise to my present “well-done” skin situation.

      Maybe the primal life will cure us all, here’s to hoping!

  9. “Grains, it turns out, have been destroying my body for years. Since my mid-twenties I suffered with horrible intestinal symptoms, diagnosed with IBS, then ulcerative colitis, and maybe celiac disease.”

    Again, while I generally like PB…

    DUH! If you have Celic disease or something close, no kidding cutting out grains will benefit you. It doesn’t mean most people have these problems, or will have so many symptoms go away by not eating grains.

    This is like saying, I’m allergic to food X and dairy, and man, when I switched to a non- food X non-dairy diet my life got so much better.

    1. Celiac “disease” is just the end point of a full range of tolerance problems associated with gluten digestion. I had miserable symptoms (described above) for years upon years, yet had no such disease. For most people who think they do just fine on it: insidious intolerance is the worst kind, because it allows you to accumulate the effects of this virtual poison for many more years and much more prolifically. The highly intolerant are the lucky ones because at least they’re getting clue-bat beaten early on.

    2. Yes, it would have helped if one of my many doctors had mentioned gluten sensitivity or tested for it. And I did try avoiding wheat for a while, but saw no significant difference. Because it’s not just gluten, but all grains that play havoc with my digestion. None of the doctors I spoke with ever mentioned grains except as a beneficial source of fiber.

      Furthermore, I was overexercised, underexposed to the sun, sedentary in my leisure time, carb-inflamed, etc. In other words, I was a chronic violator of all ten PB guidelines.

      It was only by changing all these things at once that I got the results that I did. Believe me, if it had been as easy as tweaking my diet, I would have done this many years earlier.

      1. Yeah same with me; it wasn’t just gluten–it was sugars of all sorts and dairy. They DID test me for celiac and I don’t have it. So it didn’t solve the problem to give up gluten. In fact, I had the 11 docs of a well known university hospital’s digestive health team study my records, do countless not so fun tests and examine me. I was told to eat the carby foods that were causing me problems because my diet would be too limited otherwise! Did that, felt WORSE than ever, dropped to 105 lbs on my 5 4″ frame. Eating primal fixed it. I can see the logic of arguing that those of us who are more sensitive are going to experience greater gains, especially early on. So some will view us as aberrant freaks of nature and convince themselves this diet won’t help them as much as it helped us. People won’t know unless they go primal. What have they got to lose? I believe we are the canaries, as they say, in the coal mine. Yes we are the extreme examples, but unhealthy foods are impacting countless other people in countless ways. I used to take the attitude that I needed this diet but most people didn’t; everyone found what worked for them. But is the S.A.D. working for most people? I don’t think it is.

    3. Look into the field of paleopathology sometime. Those scientists can tell, just by looking at millenia-old human remains, whether they were farmers or foragers. The farmers were always shorter, less developed skeletally, and had more bone lesions.

      It isn’t just allergy that’s the problem.

      Another piece of the puzzle is that we’re even worse off nowadays than grain-eaters were even 100 or 150 years ago because they at least did not have access to factory yeast, and had to ferment their bread before they baked it. We don’t have to do that now. So we’re basically taking ground-up raw wheat and baking bread with it, with its phytates still pretty much intact. Osteoporosis is a serious problem for us nowadays. It doesn’t have to be. And cutting grains out entirely is better than finding better ways to prepare them, considering most foods don’t do that to us.

  10. Wow!

    Again a story you wouldn’t believe if it was published as an advertisement. The before and after pics are so different! And only a few months in between. And best of all, almost effortless.

    Mark, don’t use these stories to people who have never heard of the primal blueprint. They will not believe you and think your a fraud 🙂

  11. Everyone, thank you so much for your supportive thoughts! To outside observers, it might seem like I did this alone. And it’s true that except for my wife, I don’t know anybody in real life who follows the Primal Blueprint.

    But ever since discovering this web site, I have felt as though the MDA community, and even my ancestors, have been walking with me every step of the way. It was this motivation that kept me strong whenever I was tempted by the bad old foods, and whenever I needed to dig deep for the motivation to cross a barrier, like jumping into an ice cold shower or enduring a 36-hour fast. Now that I’ve become so much healthier than I ever thought possible, I’m determined to do my best every day to deserve it and to begin to pay it back.

    I always wanted to be healthy and fit; I just didn’t have the knowledge. It was like trying to crack open a safe — once in a while I’d get one of the numbers right, maybe two, and I could see the glimmer of the treasure inside, but I could never reach it. Discovering MDA was like being given the code. All ten tumblers clicked into place and the safe swung open effortlessly. I’ve been filling my pockets with gold ever since.

    Thank you to all the MDA community for being there with me, even if you didn’t realize it. I extend my warmest greetings to the new Groks and Grokettes who are only beginning to discover their amazing human potential.

    Old friends or new, I hope to have the honor of meeting you at PrimalCon 2010!

  12. This is unbelievable. Timothy, can you tell me what exactly you eliminated from/added to your diet? Do you ever eat in a restaurant? Do you ever drink alcohol?

    What is your basic workout routine?

    I am curious because I have been doing well with the 80/20 principle, but I have been doing it for months without any kind of success similar to yours.

    I could try a really intense approach, but it stresses me out to think about doing that, which is counter-intuitive to the happiness and health Primal promotes.

    I would love to know how you did it, in simply eight weeks. Thank you!

      1. Thank you, KS! Everyone’s a little bit different, so what worked for me might not be optimal for you, but it’s probably worth a try.

        My diet changed in many ways — if you want the details, check out my forum post on “Why I Don’t Count Calories or Macronutrients”. The bottom line is I eat loads of fatty meat, fish and eggs fried in butter and coconut oil as well as some dark green veg like spinach, kale, and broccoli. I almost never have fruit or berries or any source of sugars/starches because I want to keep my insulin level as low as possible. I take two fish oil capsules in the morning and two at night to help with the omega-3-6 balance.

        I used to go to restaurants constantly, but now I actually prefer my homemade food in most cases. I do still like the occasional bunless burger if I trust the restaurant to have decent meat.

        I learned early in life that alcohol just makes me sick, so I don’t drink it.

        My exercise routine used to be monotonous, chronic cardio. I ditched that in favor of a parkour-style urban workout where I try to use all elements of my neighborhood once or twice a day — running, walking, balancing, pull-ups on a tree, etc. As for intensity, I try to never be out of breath for too long at a time. For strength training, I simply swing a sledgehammer around, mimicking imaginary motions like rowing a boat, fighting a bear, etc. Most important, all of the above is FUN! I have a blast on my workouts and look forward to them as high points of my day.

        Also, I try to get opportunistic exercise wherever possible. I go out shirtless in the cold, do pushups in the elevator, calf-raises when standing around, etc.

        Every day, I’m on the lookout for new ways to raise my primal game. The opportunities are hidden everywhere and I’m just beginning to learn to see them.

        1. I have been slacking lately in the exercise department, but I had great success in finding the steepest incline at the park and running up it as fast as I could, as many times as I could. Also hanging from tree branches, hanging up side down on the jungle gym or holding on upside down and pointing legs straight in the air. These things are super fun. Ok getting inspired again.

  13. #5 – Mad chef skills… that’s what I have noticed the most since going primal for the past three months. It really isn’t that hard to make good… wait, scratch that… great food. Cooking for myself and the fam used to be a chore, but now I look forward to it and enjoy it.

  14. Timothy,

    Stories like this help us out knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel. Way to go on your progress!

    Mark,
    Thanks for sharing this story. Keeps me going.

    Cheers,
    dan

  15. Damn dude! you have killer arms!
    Stories like yours keep me motivated. Even though I have never been over weight, I have yet to achive a body compostion that I’m happy with.

    Great Job!!

  16. Holy Snikes!!! I have to admit that I am even more ramped up right now to be Primal. Great success story that helps other see exactly the type of transformationa you went through. Not only did you change for your physical appearence and gained endless energy but also your immune system functioning at such a high level.

    Congrats man. You’re and inspiration to us all. Once again Mark, you da man.

  17. Awesome! Your new Delta Tau Kai name is… “Benchmark.”

    This probably isn’t the right place to pick your brain for anything other than PB stuff, but I’m constantly referencing the bits I remember from “Limited Wants, Unlimited Means” while having debates with friends. Any suggested reading in that direction?

  18. Timothy,
    Grok on! I am so excited to hear about your radical transformation on the Primal Blueprint. I just started on Saturday so knowing how quickly your body reacted is inspirational to say the least.

    I was starting to get discouraged last evening after spending the day with a friend who attacked the Primal Blueprint and bascially called me an unhealthy freak.

    Your testimonial just gave me extra motivation to stick with it and let my non-believing friend watch my body dynamically change.

    Keep up the great work!
    Maria

  19. Timothy, What an inspiring story! I just finished Marks book after going off grains because of gluten intolerance, and I can see and amazing difference! I am sooo hooked. Everything you said I can relate too. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Congratulations, Timothy–what an amazing transformation! You’re living proof that we all have the power to change our bodies and our lives!

  21. Holy freaking cow!!!! Now that’s a really nice success story. I REALLY enjoyed reading this. I bet he feels so good and his confidence is definitely glowing! Congratulations!

  22. These are the kinds of stories that really make you happy. Not just for the person who experienced the success — although that certainly is part of it — but also for the fact that stories like this one can inspire others. Somewhere, there’s probably at least one person stumbling upon this website and reading this story. They’re thinking “Could I have results like that?” Then they begin to look around, and see that others have had similar “miracle” results — myself included. Hopefully they then make the commitment to changing their own life for the better. That’s what really makes me happy about stories such as this — the promise of more similar stories.

    1. Alex, thank you! It wasn’t long ago that I was the one boggling at the Success Stories. I was blown away by folks like Diana and Sterling. I never expected to get similar results. But I figured that what worked for them might work a little bit for me, so I gave it a try.

      Like Alex said, I expect there are people out there who read my story and assume it would never work for them, but are thinking of giving it a try anyway. If that’s you, you are where I was just two months ago. Enjoy!

  23. Stories like this can do two things… Inspire people like us and the odd friend/family member…And it can bring out the naysayers (who are generally jealous of your success) who can ‘find’ all kinds of research that will tell you how wrong your new program is.

    What’s most important is that you know that this worked for you, that is all the evidence you will need to fight them off!

    I like your top ten list, that is a big life change!
    Keep up the great work, you are inspiration to all the people who are wondering if they should make the same changes.

  24. Timothy,
    Awesome. Wish you and family health and happiness, living life how it was meant to be lived! There are many communities to belong to online, I’m so glad I’m in this one, everyday hearing inspirational stories such as yours. Cheers.

  25. Man way to go. Your the same size as me. You work out like I do. The sledgehammer is the best.

  26. Great story. Love the sledgehammer method. I’m begging for another ice storm out here in Oklahoma so I can have a reason to get out my ax again.

    Oh, and that picture of you with your son and the vibrams…inspiring, beautiful, and hilarious, all at the same time! That’s a man and a father!

    1. Thanks, Rick! I understand the desire to put that ax to use. I have a mattock that I am dying to try out on a rock face somewhere.

      Thanks for liking the picture! My son has been a secret weapon in my weight loss. Carrying a 15-pound baby and his kit everywhere burns some serious fat. No strollers for me! Unfortunately my wife and I are still trying to perfect Primal Law #6, “Get Adequate Sleep”.

  27. This is the third time I have topped at 200 pounds. I am only 5’2″. This time around I know just what caused the weight gain, as well as the previous two times. The first cause is not enough calorie burning exercise. (The past 3 years I have been sitting on the couch studying for colege classes)I understand that I need to find activity that makes me sweat on occasion and isn’t repetitive. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment and no membership fees. But it has to be something I enjoy and is convenient or I will not do it. The second revelation is the amount of sugar and refined grains in my diet. When I started college 3 1/2 years ago I was the thinnest I had been in years. This was due to several years on a gluten free diet. I had struggled for years with horrible intestinal symptoms. The doctors decided it was IBS and said I needed more fiber and that was that. I was unsatisfied when I continued having symptoms. I did a lot of research and discovered my symptoms matched those of celiac disease or Gluten Intolerence. I began a gluten free diet (lactose and egg free as well)and for the most part my symptoms disappeared. An added bonus was that I lost 50 pounds too. My first year at college I had access to a forest just outside my dorm room. It was awesome. I did a lot of walking and occasionally even running through that wonderful forest. I then moved off campus, to a more urban area, lots of pavement, not so many trees. I also discovered over the next two years that I was able to add back in to my diet some dairy products (softer cheeses, sour cream) and I was able to tolerate eggs again as well. When I found out I could eat eggs again, I baked up a storm in my kitchen. I used to be a wonderful baker (pre-gluten intolerence). Everything I baked came out perfect. But baking without the special properties of eggs is a disappointing proposition. Being able to eat eggs again became an orgy of sweet baked products, yum! That was the clincher in my weight gain. A reduction in exercise and an increase in refined grains and sugars brought me right back up to the 200 mark again. So here we go again. This time I am smarter about nutrition (or lack thereof in a common processed diet)and the impact sugars and refined grains have on our bodies. The more of these the less room in our diets for real nutrition. It will again be a struggle up that weight loss hill, but I know I can do it. I have done it before and with my new found knowledge I know that once I make it back to a reasonable weight I will never have to be fat again! As a side note, in my research I have been amazed at how politics and a food system designed for efficiency, shelflife and profits have conspired to create the unhealthiest and most obese Americans we have ever had. We don’t need a new “healthcare plan” we need better nutrition and less tv time. Go play outside!

  28. wow…just wow! I am trying to get on track with going Primal (and will be attending the conference to really give myself a boost), and reading your story has really, really inspired me. Thanks so much for sending it to MDA as all fo these inspiration stories do stick with me and will further inspire me to be the best I can be! I still have far to go, but I am getting more on track every day!

  29. Testimonials like this are really helpful. Just about on the point of giving in and going back to standard new zealand diet, because the increase in grocery bill for our family is not sustainable. I need to look harder at how to make this all work on a budget.

    1. At least you lamb there is grass fed. In America it’s grain fed.

      What’s helping me is buying cheaper cuts.

      Can you grow some food?

      1. We are lucky in New Zealand as almost all red meat is grass fed. We are cowpooling and growing a few vegetables, but need to do a lot more.

  30. It’s in tellings like this and others on the site that I find reinvigorated faith in the paleo lifestyle! Thanks for sharing, Timothy!

  31. Timothy, I loved your post the other day about not counting calories. This one is even better.

    As someone mentioned, if you saw these claims in an advertisement you’d never believe them. The fact that you can achieve them with a few simple dietary changes boggles the mind.

    Your story is an inspiration and jibes very well with the changes I have seen and felt over the 6 weeks I’ve been eating primal.

    Thank you for sharing.

  32. For the probiotics, I say rather than go for a pill to take, start finding sources for your own lacto-fermented foods – food as medicine, remember?

    Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Yogurt has all five major probiotics in it, and makes for a great dessert with some fresh fruit.

    You can also make your own Sauerkraut or eat some Kim Chee – all traditional fermented foods rich in probiotics.

    As for alcohol and sunburn – I’ve noticed I’m far more tolerant to sun exposure now, and I’ve also found that unless I go on a completely ridiculous bender, I don’t get hangovers anymore.

    At a social event, I can drink 6 beers, 4 drams of whiskey and wake up the next morning raring to go without even a trace of any ill after-effects.

    Prior to going Primal with my diet, this was definitely not the case.

  33. That is really great! I have been primal since Dec 1 and it has had dramatic improvements for me too. I was really good Come Jan 1, and have lost 35 lbs, feel sooooooo much better, and do not crave sugar like I used to (I used to have no choice but to eat doughnuts – seriously – I would find myself at the checkout line at the grocery store every night). I credit all of this to Primal Blueprint living.

  34. Has anyone noticed any difference in their bowel habits on a primal diet? Instead of diarrhea every day, I now only take a dump every 3 days or so (at least its more solid). I eat lots of vegetables (=fibre) so I don’t understand why it takes so long between dumps. Any ideas?

  35. Also its a MASSIVE dump when it comes so I don’t think its lack of fibre. Seems my colon is a bit slow for some reason. How can I speed it up so I can go every day (but not diarrhea)?

    1. Hey Bruce. Did you read my reply about the candida? Candida can also cause constipation. It sounds more and more like you have too much candida in your body. Once again, a good probiotic to restore good bacteria and a few products to directly kill candida, like olive leaf extract, oil of oregano, garlic capsules, and the others that people have suggested will probably do wonders for you.

      When did you begin eating primally? Primal eating actually decreases candida in the long run because there are almost no high-glycemic foods and no gluten, but I find that when beginning the clean diet one often struggles with rampant candida. I’m not sure exactly why this is. It’s possible that the candida has simply found a good homeostasis with your body and when it starts to die from lack of sugar it causes trouble.

      Once again, the triple symptoms of a yellow tongue, swelling of lower abdomen, and constipation all point to candida.

      1. Thank you Ian. I’ve only been primal for a week and a half (though had a massive slip up last night – about 20 caramel crunch bars, a big bag of doritos and a load of lemon&vanilla cakes my friend baked!).

        I’m back on the wagon today, I have banished all wheat and carbs from my diet like St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. How long should I expect the candida (and symptoms) to disappear through diet alone (I don’t know where to get all those extracts and oils etc)? Days, weeks, months??

        Thanks again!

  36. Wow, I just started on the PB lifestyle this week and this is a great motivation to me. Congrats!

  37. FREAKING AWESOME! If most people would only listen to what we (MDAers) have to say, they would solve so many of their own health problems. Congrats Timothy on a wonderful new life and incredible transformation.

    1. Sterling, thanks a ton! Yours was the first success story I read on MDA and my original inspiration. I want you to know that I listened very carefully to what you had to say, and now my health problems are only fading memories.

      My greatest wish is to inspire others the way you inspired me. Who will be next…?

  38. Interesting about the sunburns…

    Living in Hawaii and being quite light skinned, I’ve had quite a few bad burns. BAD.

    Was out surfing from 12-4:30, sunscreen used, of course (Typically, I go out after 4pm without sunscreen). Granted, I’ve been going more often as of late so my skin is lightly tanner…but…yeah, no burns. Face had a *hint* of red. It actually surprised me that night/next morning…

    Could going primal help protect against skin damage via the sun???

  39. Timothy- food IS medicine! That’s the most succinct sentence I’ve heard yet about why the PB works. I’ve internalized this message so well that my friends make fun of me: if anyone complains about an ailment, I suggest that it must be something they ate or didn’t eat. They love me!

  40. “might have trouble digesting monocot grass seeds when it was adapted to meat and dicot plant food”

    “monocots” as a group actually includes many food plants besides grasses – like bananas, plantains, coconuts, sugar cane (not paleo i guess but no gluten there either), pineapples, taro, anything related to onions (garlic, chives, etc), ginger, turmeric……….

  41. Wow, Timothy. You are a huge inspiration. Your transformation is amazing physically, but it is fantastic how the changes have permeated so many aspects of your life. People can be naysayers however the photographs speak for themselves, but more importantly, your health has improved so much. Thanks for sharing, you inspire me to keep going after sucummbing back to the dark side for a while…thank you.

  42. Thanks Timothy for sharing. I am just starting PB as well. I am also on my own not knowing anyone else who does it but found Mark by accident on the internet. Or was it destiny 🙂
    I have been on PB for about a month now. I think my problems will take a little while longer but I can see some improvements already. Unfortunately, my adrenals are damaged from years of sustained high stress situations (along with all the other problems you mentioned, including the bloating stomach from taking any form of carbs). I will not give up hope though. Your story certainly helps to keep going 🙂

  43. Timothy, what an amazing and inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing with such detail and such heart. I couldn’t be more thrilled for you!

  44. Amazing! You are the man! I am so inspired by you and at the same time disappointed in myself, because though inspired, I just cannot stay on track. Every week if not every day some weeks, I lose my way. And it all seems SO EASY to me, but I just cannot seem to stick to it! I thank you for posting another great story of proof evident of what I can look forward to if I ever did actually get my crap together.

    If I could ask you one question, in your reply of how you did it above, you wrote that you ate “loads of fatty meats” and also stated that Sterling’s story was an inspiration for you-so I went back and reread Sterling’s story and noticed that he stated that he eats “lean meats”….why did you decide to eat fattier cuts and if you had any advice to offer on the subject for a 5’2” hourglass figure that weighs 185 (most people guess me at 150-I guess because my waist is so small in proportion to my chest and hips, but I am extremely overweight (obviously)). Sorry to conclude my congratulations to you with a question…I feel desperate at times as to why I just cannot stick to this way of life that makes me feel 100% better when I am at my best with it!!!

    Again, many thanks and Grok on!

    1. Pauleygirl, to loose body fat you would have to keep the carbs low. That means the bulk of the calories need to come from fat and protein. Now, if you eat too much lean protein, that can cause an insulin spike as well. So, you need a good bit of fat in your diet. It also helps with hormone production, skin health, joint health etc. If you follow the primal eating pattern, so some strength training and interval cardio, there is no way you can go wrong. If you can spare some extra $$, you can get a full panel blood test done that will show you how you hormone profile looks like. You could be doing things right, but if you have say, low DHEA and high cortisol levels, that’s very catabolic. Hope this did not confuse you! Good luck.

    2. Pauleygirl: Kishore and Sterling make important points in their replies. I eat fatty meats to compensate for the fact that I don’t get hardly any carbs, so I need the fat as fuel. Also I like the abundant nutrients and vitamins in animal fat. I don’t seem to gain fat when I eat just fat and no carbs, no matter how much fat I eat, although some say it’s different for them. Depends on your personal body chemistry and hormonal state, I suppose. Also, lately I’ve wondered if the best primal nutrition might not vary a bit by gender, considering typical human roles 50,000 years ago — most males might do better with a very meat-centered diet; most females might do better with a wider variety of foods.

      The biggest gains for me came from eliminating grains and sugar and reducing carbs to what’s in dark green veg. But like I said earlier, diet is only part of the story. What made it work for me is going full-bore on all 10 primal laws at once.

      In the past, I’d made little tweaks to my diet and exercise here and there, but I never stuck with it because the results were so insignificant. When I took on the whole PB at once, the changes were so obvious after a week that I was never really tempted to fall off the wagon.

      It’s a bit of a discovery process to find out what works for you, but when you’re eating right and exercising right you’ll feel it in your energy levels and mood when you wake up in the morning. Then it will be easy to stick to the program, because you’ll enjoy what you’re eating and doing with your body. Good luck finding out what works best for you and sticking with it! It’s more than worth the initial discomfort.

    3. Pauleygirl – Get rid of all the non-primal food in your house, and stop eating out for a month (if you can). If you have to eat out, try to go to completely different restaurants. You may just need some time to break your old habits and form some new ones.

      I’ve read that it takes about 3 weeks to establish a new habit. If you can get yourself out of your old groove and into a new one, it will be much easier.

      Good luck, I hope this helps!

  45. pauleygirl: My story stated lean meats because that’s mostly what I ate during that time. However, since then I eat lots of fatty meats but probably eat chicken more than anything. Lean meats were not the magic though; moving more and eating less were (as far as fat loss). Ridding all the crap food and grains was the magic for my health and allowed the eternal wave goodbye to pharmacological intervention.

  46. Timothy,
    Your comment #9, near immunity to sunburn, is quite intriguing to me as a biochemist. The reddening and pain associated with sunburn can be associated with the inflammatory response, more so than the DNA damage response that people generally associate with exposure to UV light. In fact some of the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair and immune response are shared. Some people report “sun allergies” in which even after brief exposure to sun, much less than would be required to cause a traditional sunburn (and associated damage to the DNA), reddening, itching and pain are reported. Conventional treatment with antihistamines can mitigate this effect. I suspect that this is linked to either a low-level immune response to grains in the diet or to an imbalance in the internal fauna of the digestive system. Adopting the PB in your case has eliminated this response allowing your immune system to target pathogens as you note in observation #2. Academic research in this field is just in it’s infancy but your story is the type of observation that spurs research towards a better understanding of the complex system that is the human body.

    1. Thanks for the science, Matt! I wondered what in the heck was going on with that. I always sunburned very badly since I was a little kid, so this change really shocked me.

      I think you are right about the chronic immune response and imbalanced intestinal microbiota contributing to the “sun allergy” effect. I had both those problems in abundance.

      For me, the sunburn thing is a dramatic representation of what’s going on in the rest of my body that I can’t see. It feels like I am growing an entirely new body, slow in some areas, faster in others.

      Going on the PB has illustrated for me how little we understand about how the body really works, and how our biology is so complex that we have to be conservative about what we think we know. I’m happy to do my part as an ongoing guinea pig.

  47. The sunburn factor was one of the most surprising benefits for me as well. I’m very light-skinned with auburn hair, and even 15 minutes in the sun could leave me with a burn…and eventually, I started getting rashes from sunlight. Once I discovered I was gluten intolerant and began this WOE (very low carb, in my case, andd a lot of sat fat) I got a tan for the first time in my adult life. I can hang out in the sun for hours on end now, and I’m fine. I bring a shawl with me, or some natural mineral sunscreen if I am going to be out all day, so I can cover up when I start to redden a bit.

    My overall skin tone actually improved, and I no longer look ‘so white I’m blue’. I still can’t compete tan-wise with my part-native bf though, durn it.

    Also…in addition to all of the other benefits you mentioned Timothy, my carpal tunnel completely vanished (and I am a writer, who spends all day typing and mousing); and, my low-level depression/anxiety went away all on it’s own. I not only felt like I grew a whole new body, but a whole new brain! Simply amazing.

    1. Now that you mention it, Tracy, I used to get the tingles in my fingers from carpal tunnel restriction. I still type a lot, but that tingling has gone away completely.

      Also, today it occurred to me that I used to get acne around my upper lip, and that has completely gone away since going primal.

      The unexpected benefits really are amazing!

  48. Great story — thank you for sharing this one. It’s an incredible feeling when you think your body is broken and then your health returns. I struggled with asthma for several years and thought my lungs were damaged — all symptoms went away after going paleo (within a matter of days!)

    1. JD…. I experienced the same thing with my asthma. Got off the grains and pasta and within 48 to 72 hours no more symptoms. I haven’t need any medication in over 6 weeks.

  49. I am really amazed by all the talk of sunburn prevention through the PB. This is an important one for me, as I am a fair skinned woman who has drowned in SPF 30plus for years. I remember getting one really bad sunburn as a teenager (probably had something to do with baby oil!), but as a child I grew up near a beach and never recall getting overly burned. Now I burn all the time if I don’t bathe in SPF 30 plus! I live for playing in the sun, and have been avoiding it for years in my overweight and doughy state, but maybe it’s time I get out and play in the sunshine again while eating Primal and following the PB.

    Like Pauleygirl, I am trying to stay on track and really embrace the program, but have veered off a few times and am now trying to remotivate myself and get on track. My biggest commitment was to sign up for the Primal Con to truly be surrounded by people like all of you…but also to finally do something for myself for a change!

  50. Wow, congrats on your success. I can see you’re really happy with your life now.

    I have one question (bear with me cause I’m new) and it is posed at everyone who can help…

    Is being THAT skinny really healthy? I can see that the “Irish potato chub” isn’t a good thing, but I was taught women should have curves(not folds) and I’m kinda concerned that following the PB I’d wind up hard & bony.

    To put it bluntly, I don’t want to loose my sex-appeal with my gut.

    Please show me where I’m missing info that will clear this up in my head.

    Thanks.

    1. Willow – Each person’s results will be different. In general, it’s a lot harder for women to put on muscle bulk than men. We also generally tend to keep a higher % of body fat than men, which is why we’re curvy.

      Also keep in mind that your body will probably change fairly gradually. If you find yourself starting to get too bony or thin, you can always back off.

      Good luck, I hope this helps reassure you a little bit. 🙂

    2. Haha! My wife was a bit scared I’d become thin as a rail. But the sad fact is that even though I started with a substantial frame, the lean mass underneath it all was pretty weak. Melting off the fat simply revealed my true scrawniness. But the muscle is building up faster now, and from the last couple of weeks, I seem to have bounced off my low point of 152 pounds and begun gaining good weight (which is a very new experience for me).

      The truth is if you treat your body just like a superstar hunter (or a superstar gatherer) with the right kind of diet and exercise, your body will find a way to rise to the occasion. Don’t worry that you’ll end up looking like me — primal females tend to look like ballerinas or gymnasts. Fit, but feminine. Good luck!

      1. I could deal with the gymnast look. 😉

        Thanks Timothy & Dianne C.

  51. Congratulations! It’s amazing how much chronic (and mysterious) illness disappears when you switch to Primal. 🙂

    Celiac and all these digestive illnesses are diseases created by agriculture, plain and simple.

    Keep up the good work!

  52. Gosh! What a great writer! Such an easy read. Not to mention extremely inspiring!!! Thank you!!

  53. Congratulations on getting rid of your tinnitus. This is the first link I have seen between tinnitus and Primal. Have you contacted the ATA? They say that there is no cure.

  54. Congrats on your success! Changes can happen very quickly. My mother is 74 and arthritic. She has only spent 2 days with me, eating my food, and she was able to make a fist for the first time in probably a decade. It’s not rocket science, people. It’s pretty basic.

  55. Awesome story!!! I am starting to see similar results after just a couple of weeks, although not as dramatic (I had already started cutting down on carbs after starting P90x) but after applying what I’ve learned from MDA I feel like I’ve finally found what I’ve always been looking for! I weigh as much as I did when I ran track in high school! (I’m 30 now). I’m forwarding this post to my brother as he has been complaining about the effects of decreased testosterone (facial and chest hair greatly depleted, no sex drive, no energy). His doctor can’t find anything (surprise). I’m really hoping the Primal Blueprint will help him, too. Great post!!!

  56. Timothy–Just now reading this article (and I’m new to the PB in the last month). You are a great inspiration!

    QUESTION RE: TINNITUS–How long after you started eating a Primal diet did you notice improvement in the tinnitus? Mine has become quite substantial over the last year (and is, perhaps, stable right now, but not yet improved)?

  57. Thanks for sharing your story, Timothy. I’m just now reading it after Mark posted your update on 12/23/2013. Your story/message is still loud and clear for relatively newcomers like me (since Oct. 2013) and I love your list of improvements.

    I never connected going Primal with diminished Tinnitus, but that is true for me as well, thankfully!

    Much continued success with PB and enjoy Primal Con.

    Grok On! 🙂