Discipline Equals Freedom!

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 and Primal community. My name is Hilmir Petersen. I’m 35-years-old and from Iceland.

I got to know the Primal lifestyle community 18 months ago when I was listening to a Joe Rogan podcast and heard a interview with Mark Sisson, and you can easily say that I was really taken by that talk. All my life I´ve been a carbs spokesman and campaigner. But not any more!

I was born “in” a bakery—family business and grew up literally eating sugar out of the container in many kinds of forms, but I always loved being healthy and strong, so I starting eating more “healthy” = wholegrain (“healthy carb” and less sugar).

I was a basketball player, and I always knew there was something missing in my diet plan when it came to getting my full potential/power for mind and body in games. Every time I tried to follow the right (stupid) pre-game carb-load program (which I read was important to keep energetic through a game), I was slow, weak and tired—especially in the big games!

On the other hand, often when I came to practice after a long day, an early morning 4 a.m. and was active most of the day and had nothing to eat, I was like a rocket/beast but still stuck in the dark…! I kept counting on the wrong plan for me before games because I trusted that it would sustain the energy I needed to perform my best. Omg, how I wish I could go back. 🙂

Two years ago I started the primal diet….eating and following a more primal living in a way. I now do the Primal Endurance diet, time-restricted diet/fasting, getting a variety of environmental stressors like cold-exposures, extra hot saunas and plenty of sun….(with some caution), focusing more on sleep in the rhythm of my circadian clock—and last but not least I´ve been focusing on improving my “primal” mobility. I believe the theories on connection between some stiff muscles and a stress response in your nervous system or mind and vice versa…which is more obvious I think.

These pictures show great results for my first 21 days of doing the Primal Blueprint. It looks like this would need extreme measures to achieve but the truth is, it was the opposite. Actually, the first 4 days of that 21-day transition I was still on crutches after an ankle surgery and I didn’t move fast, but I did some dips and other manageable low-intensity workouts.

Untitled collage

After that for most of the days I took some walks and running with low intensity or in the fat-burning state = heart-rate of (180-age = x). Plus, I did some light weight strength training.  As you can see, the importance in the 21-day transition is low intensity, so you don’t have to refuel your glycogen storage and force your body straight back into carb-burning state.

Now I’m changing my life. To get out of the family company to pursue a healthier career, I started on the Primal Health Coach Program, but the bakery is still taking is toll (time). I haven’t gotten out until now when I just moved to another country, and I’m going to finish the program 🙂

Now I’m running more, lifting less and fasting regularly and counting on FAT as my main energy Fuel…. I’ve never been in such a good mental or physical state before.

And I just took a big challenge and signed up for the Ultimate Spartan Race in Iceland. I know I can be in the top. I’m athletic, 1.92m in height, strong and only 84 kg with a a tough mental state. Now I need to educate myself more with this Endurance Mastery Course so I know how to train in the smartest way so I can WIN this thing.

I’m trying out new,  different things with my diet. One month ago I took a 96 hours fast, except I drank about 2-400 ml of homemade bone-broth every day with either coconut oil and sometimes little piece of 85% organic chocolate. At the end of the fast I went for a mountain run/climb in 8 C°, only in shorts that took 5 hours and 30 min to cover 23 kilometers or 14 miles, and I had so much energy and focus in the end that I was sprinting and jumped into a river for a swim.

This Spartan race is a 24-hour race and I’m planning to tackle it with a slow pace (fat burning state) on at least a 24-hour empty/bone-broth stomach. And the plan is that I won’t have to stop for a carb-refuel—only for a cup of hot bone broth with some fat/oil. I will be a very light, clean and strong Fat Burning Beast. 🙂 To increase my chances to win this race I’ve decided to take time out from work—when I “fled” the country (bakery). And for that not to increase my debt I´m hoping to find some sponsorship from sportswear company and supplements store.

Here is a list of things I´m doing to increase my changes.

I’m doing time restricted diet (only eating in a 9 hour window per 24 hours), starting no later then 9 a.m. This is what I have taken from Rhonda Patrick. Rhonda Patrick has a Ph.D. in biomedical science. You’ve probably heard of or from her. This has been shown with studies to help with endurance! I’m a big FAN!

Another tip from Rhonda: Taking a hot sauna for at least 20-30 minutes 3-5 times a week can help endurance and also spikes up some proteins called heat Protein. I´m not ready to get into the academics 🙂

Eating Primal and using fat in as much capacity possible for energy

Practicing the Wim Hoff method: the cold exposure in mornings and after cardio training to help with rest and recovery. Plus, I´m doing the Wim Hof breathing technique to increase oxidant capacity in cells. Up to 3:30 minutes holding my breath with empty lungs.

Running, swimming, sprinting, bicycling, conditional training in moderated volume and movement improvement workouts from “Primal Iceland,´´ which helps with the whole musculoskeletal wellness. They are inspired for example by Tomas Myers.

Created a Spartan winner Pyramid! Four stages of how to achieve the Spartan Goal. Starting with the fundamentals: balance, meditation, goals, good sleep, gratitude, focus, self-esteem, sober, diary, and more. Stage 2# recovery, wellness, prevention, maintenance, ice-baths, sauna, workout diary, functional movements and more, Stage 3# discipline, achievement, effort, challenge, conditioning, obstacle training, and more. Stage 4: WINNER super beast, elite Spartan proud, famous.

TodayAnd plenty of other small things 🙂

You can find me on Instagram as the Primal_viking. Even though my audience isn’t big yet… (I´m working on it)

All that said …

People ask me, how can you do this? Eat no carbs-sugar-bread etc. My answer is: How could I not—when the results and benefits are more energy, better skin, shorter depression episodes, and less work for more physical fitness and improvement?

And, yes, of course there are times I’m not on top of my game and I fall in high carb trash food for a day maybe. Those days will have less value the longer you stay on your path and build a healthy foundation to fall back on.

To quote a huge role model, the beast Jocko Willink “DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM.” Discipline in your diet gives you freedom to live optimally and to eat freely every now and then. Enjoy!

Best regards,
Hilmir Petersen Hjálmarsson

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41 thoughts on “Discipline Equals Freedom!”

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  1. Hilmir, your routine is truly admirable, and you definitely look like a modern-day Viking. BTW, I’ve been to Iceland and found the country to be fascinating.

    1. Thanks Shary.. yes…. Iceland is very Beautiful and different.

  2. Wow!!! Fantastic job, dude. Mark should use your photo at the bottom of the article as the model for Grok.

    1. haha… thanks so much for that inspiring comment Ed 🙂 Keep on Grok-ing !

  3. Congratulations and checked out your Instagram photos. You mentioned managing depression several times, probably a big problem in Iceland with the reduced light (and bad diets). Here in the Northeast US we have a similar climate and lots of depression around here in the winter. Thanks for sharing your story and photos…very inspiring!

    1. thank you so much Donna… Comments like this is what gives me extra motivation in my journey! Yes the winter can be challenging and the diet isn´t great there( most people on SAD but others very informed and healthy). If have found that my depression doesn´t ask for seasons or external things. It´s deep in my consciousness (self worth) and some hormone imbalance it seems > which I feel I have more control over with the Primal diet.

  4. You are not 19,2 meters that would mean you are 20 meters tall, which I am sure you are not!! You are 1 m 92 cm (1,92 or 192cm) Other than that great story.

    1. Shhh. He is an Icelandic Fat Burning Giant and could make necro-pants out of us all…

    2. Hi Jo.. I cant see better than it says ,,I’m athletic, 1.92m” But maybe they already changed it after your comment. Thanks for pointing this out.

  5. Wow! You are a primal beast! I love how you are taking the primal lifestyle to a whole ‘nother level. Your enthusiasm and energy are contagious. Congratulations on your sweet Spartan plan- I think it is going to have amazing results for you.

    On a side note, I loved visiting your stunning country. My husband and I enjoyed the abundance of saunas/hot pots/cold pots in each little town. We were inspired enough to build our own sauna here in Alaska.

    Good luck with your race!

    1. Primal Beast… I´ll take that 🙂 Thank you Katie for the inspiring comment ! Sounds like you made some good choices in Iceland. congrats on your sauna.. and in Alaska sweet! Love to go there some time.

      Luck will hopefully play it´s part …

  6. Totally awesome story! You definitely look like the Primal Viking. I assume there are ample cold exposure opportunities in Iceland. 🙂

    1. thank you and yes there are plenty, but just move to Sweden so not enjoying that part every day ! But I cant wait to go back in December and jump in to the next cold ice-water 🙂

  7. You didn’t mention it, but your highest level of ancestral nutrition is probably a lot of fish! Coconuts and olives, maybe not so much?

    1. That´s a solid point dude! It is important for sure…I do Lýsi every morning (oil from cod) and eat regular cod liver. Try do eat fish for dinner every week but I´m kind of lazy when it comes to eating fish !

  8. Sorry, but I sincerely doubt this is achievable but the “everyday Grok” in the 21st century. Clearly, the primal eating plan gelled exceptionally well with your genetics, but I doubt you were out of shape even while on carbs (in fact, your pictures show that you clearly weren’t). Furthermore, 96 hour fasting and training of the described kind works well if one has a substantial cash flow handy without needing to sustain a regular 8-7 job. Not to say that I do not completely admire your achievements, but it is the same kind of admiration I would hold for an Olympic athlete or fashion model, both of whom make “looking fine” and “eating well” their occupation.

    1. Hi… Thanks for you comment Cassidy. Always good to have some criticism ! But I want to tell you that I worked in a bakery for 7-8 hours on my feet every day of this 96 hour fast 🙂 But 96 hour fasting isn´t something I do every now and then… This was a experiment that went surprisingly well and energy level was amazing (thanks to bone-broth)
      I´ve almost always been in shape,,True” but it´s different now, less work and more over all health 🙂


  9. Great work Hilmir, and I love your plan for becoming a Spartan winning beast – 4 “simple” steps. Good luck to you.

    And I love the wide spread of this community. My son told me about Joe Rogan, so I’ve been listening to him too. I loved Rhonda Patrick, Wim Hof and Mark Sisson podcasts – so much good stuff to learn. I’m in Australia, you’re in Iceland, Mark in the USA – it’s a worldwide thing!

    1. Thank you Hilly.. I´m often called Hilli by my friends 😉 Haha they all connect us to a community of optimal livingbeings ! Australia… thats far ! I will come there within next 3 years for sure … My girlfriend loved it .

  10. Very interesting story! I think you’d look much better with short hair. Long hair and men don’t go well together, unless you’re a wrestler.

    1. @Nikhil K. Wrong! Hilmir looks fantastic, head to toe, no doubt. LOVE the hair!

  11. I’ll be the first to say it though I’m sure I’m not the first to think it, pics look the same. Glad he feels better after 21 days though, primal does make sense.

    1. Thanks for the comment but let my by the first to say… what ! It´s not a picture of Woody Harrelson transforming into Arnold Schwarzenegger 😉 and its just 21 day. I got much more toned and fit which I think the picture shows clearly. My girlfriend loved it … that´s what all the really matters haha…

  12. So when is this is Spartan Race?!?!?! Please keep us posted after race day! Best of luck with it!

    1. 24 hours 37 miles and 380 Burpees got me in 18th place out of 90 elite competitors in my first ever obstacle race.It was the #Spartan ultra world championship in #iceland . I did it on 84 hour #fasting (only #bonebroth +coconut oil). I love to experiment in contrast to conventional #energy approaches and ignite my/our inner human #survival performance capability. Enter the HGH (human growth hormone) studies imply recovery from hard workouts improves. The increased adrenalin during fasting allows you to perform at more intense #workout, easier and recovery faster. Only 5 day fast can have about 300% increase in #hgh . It is crucial in the maintenance of lean mass, both muscle and bone. Fasting does not ‘burn’ muscle it burns fat !
      Thanks to Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) I was feeling #great the first 2 rounds/11 miles (90 hours) and then I had my first carbs (dried banana & seasalt sweet coconut chips) and some #gatorade . If it haven’t been for a week old groin injury that cramped late in the 3 third round I would have performed better. I was slaying the upper body obstacles (except the ,,twister” ) until the end but it was the hill and the “easy” climb obstacles that scared me with pain not fatigue! – Empower the evolutionary beast inside you with absent of comfort and food! The #motivation will present itself !
      Thank you spartan for bringing world top obstacle race home to the far north were #winter isn’t coming “its always there” 😉 and to all the people that showed me what you mean when you talk about spartan family, felt great support and respect from you’ll. #spartanrace #spartaniceland #fatburningbeast #viking #mentalhealth #hveragerði #reebok #yokohama
      PS “undisputed” Icelandic Spartan champion 🙂

  13. Get After it Hilmir !
    You Make Jocko and the Rest of us Proud!

  14. Magnificent. I see the difference. Reduction in visceral fat, less muscular inflammation. Warrior on!

  15. You look great! I’m happy to hear your depression is getting better. I suffer from depression as well, but have been mostly been able to control it with exercise. The political climate here in the states has me even more depressed and considering medication. I have started this diet last week, and hope to see more results soon.
    I love to weight lift, and am cutting back to two days a week, but I still don’t seem to have the right energy for lifting, cardio I have no problem with. How often are you lifting and what types of things and how much of them do you eat before and after your weight lifting session? Thank you!