Finding My New Normal

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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2I want to share my MDA success story. I consider it a success because it has been a long-term solution and not a “quick fix.” I can’t thank you enough for the website contributions and the insights on primal living. I finally feel like the young healthy person my age should reflect. Below is my story that I am so thankful to share.

For most of my life, I have sought to find a sense of normalcy. Normal to me as a young adult was playing sports and eating as much of whatever I wanted. Any junk food you could think of, I was eating it—all the while not gaining a single pound and feeling great. I even had coaches asking me to eat double the amount of food I would normally eat to put some weight on me for sports like football and baseball.

Ryan before PrimalThis is not that uncommon for young people and I by no means feel unique in this regard. Even less surprisingly, I went off to college and carried much of this “normal” lifestyle with me. You can probably guess what happened next. My “new normal” became a lifestyle of eating even worse, drinking more, and sleeping less. The stress of school combined with work compounded this lifestyle. BOOM—I was roughly 65 pounds overweight five years after I graduated high school. This is the result of my “new normal” lifestyle at its peak.

I saw this picture a few weeks after it was taken and decided I needed a different normal. This picture was not reflective of who I felt I was on the inside. I didn’t know much at the time about eating as a means to improve my health, but I did know how to exercise through my time playing sports when I was younger. The simplest equation I knew was calories in vs. calories out. I created a calorie counting account online and tracked my food intake and exercise regimen religiously every day. I starved myself and ran my brains out with the goal of losing two pounds per week. This would be the way I would find my new normal.

Marathon RyanGuess what? It worked! I felt like hell and hated every calorie I logged or every mile I ran. But it was working. I was losing weight! This is what normal must feel like, right? You have to sacrifice everything to be fit and healthy. I even ran two marathons while following this regimen. My new normal was finally working—until it wasn’t. The minute I stopped training for a marathon or counting my calories, the weight came back, and came back fast. My new normal was letting me down and I became frustrated. I was sick of running multiple hours a day and my calorie counting diet always left me tired and hungry. I could feel myself letting go and slipping back into my more destructive “new normal” of years passed.

(This was taken after my first half marathon. I had finally woken up and ditched the horrible beard by then.)

What was most embarrassing at the time was the fact that I had been dating, got engaged, and ultimately married a dietitian. How could an overweight and very unhealthy guy marry a dietitian? My wife always gave me all the tools I needed and all the support I could ever ask for to be successful. Regardless, I was still failing her and myself. This is when I met a Grok (through my wife) that helped me find a new normal that finally changed my life for good.

My wife’s college roommate is also a dietitian. Her husband, who is built like a Sherman tank, is an avid CrossFitter. He and I bonded quickly and became fast friends. So much so, that he felt comfortable enough to begin poking fun at me for running marathons while still maintaining a certain “heftiness.” Slowly and subtly he encouraged me to do CrossFit and I kept blowing him off, not wanting to join his cult. Then I watched him perform in a local CrossFit competition that blew my “new normal” at the time into the stratosphere. Here’s the most amazing part of it all: when I asked him how I could get on his level, he attributed his physique not to CrossFit, but to living like Grok. I picked his brain for weeks after the competition to understand what, by then, was normal to him. He referred me to Mark’s Daily Apple and my new normal evolved one last time.

Ryan After PrimalThe change was amazing and followed a similar path of the many other stories I so diligently read on this site every week. I told my wife I wanted to start a primal lifestyle. She was totally on board, as she had been in the past, and helped me everyday to be mindful. I ditched sugars and grains. I focused on eating fresh whole foods. I stopped drinking diet soda, which I normally craved daily. I got enough sleep at night. I stopped running until I was blue in the face and focused on HIIT training a few days a week instead.

For the first week, I felt like death and wasn’t sure I could carry on. I was reassured this was to be expected and powered through. I completed The 21 Day Challenge and decided that I would double it for good measure. To this day, I still feel well rested every morning and have loads of energy throughout the day. I still have my bad days, weekends, and even weeks. But I am now confident in what is actually normal in my life. I am so thankful for all of the helpful information I refer to this site for daily. I even challenged my dad to take the 21 Day challenge himself. Hopefully he can find a new normal too. This is my normal. Period.


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