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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26 thoughts on “Finding My New Normal”

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  1. Love your new normal!
    My kids feel very different for the lifestyle we lead, especially the way we eat.
    That’s why I love MDA. It’s nice to know there are more of us out there!
    Congrats on your success!

  2. Congrats! the best part of the story to me is that you wife, the dietitian, supported your primal choice! Making inroads into mainstream CW health!!

    1. Thank you Barb. My wife has been very VERY supportive. She always keeps me in mind when shopping for groceries or when we discuss going out to eat. She especially loves when I eat an abundance of fresh leafy greens. Makes her proud 🙂

  3. Yeah! WTG Ryan. So glad you found your new normal which was the human normal for 99.9% of the time there have been humans. Amazing what keeping an open mind and listening to our bodies can lead us to.

    Is your wife bringing Grok to her clients and colleagues? I’ve taken the certification and it is very well done and solidly packed. Mark et al are still trying to get it recognized as it should be for education credit. But even without that I hope she is finding ways to incorporate the power of eating and exercising like Grok in her professional life.

    1. Thanks for your nice note. It’s great to have a supportive community when others look at you sideways for your “diet.”

      As far as my wife goes, she does what she can to help educate her patients to make healthy decisions whenever possible but many struggle to even read food labels let alone switch their entire dietary paradigm. She will always encourage her patients to choose fresh/ whole produce and meat whenever possible. It is a state funded hospital with many patients that don’t know where the next meal is going to come from so it becomes challenging in that capacity.

  4. Really happy for you Ryan! Well done!

    I still have some weekends, or even the odd week were I’ll eat very far from primal, but like you I’m aware that these are the exceptions now, not my regular diet. Keep it up!

  5. “The minute I stopped training for a marathon or counting my calories, the weight came back, and came back fast.”

    Yep. Been there, done that! So glad to not be there anymore. I do have to watch what I eat, but it’s really not the same as counting calories.

  6. My favorite day of the week–Friday and real life stories. Way to go, Ryan!

    1. Interesting that deciding to not eat junk and wanting to be healthy is thought to be a religion.

      Following the masses and excepting any factory made junk as food without question (which results in becoming unhealthy) is not religion.

  7. I used that same phrase the other day regarding some drama in my life. It wasn’t wrong or bad, just normal and it was time to change the norms. Great story and thanks for the inspiration.

  8. You had to be open to the idea that the calories you were ingesting were destructive, for you to be able to go forward. That’s a big shift for anyone. Good job.

  9. Its all about the mindset. Let go of the “normal that was not working and create and instill what does work to ctreate a new normal. Isn’t nice not to “white knuckle it” any more!

  10. Thanks Ryan for your honest. I’ve been doing Primal/Paleo for a while, what has really got me on track was doing PrimalCon Mohonk this year. Also at that time like your self, it was my wife encouragement that helped so much. She decided to do CrossFit and wanted me to join but at 53 I thought no way! Well like you said at 1st it was hard but 2 1/2 months into it I love it. Hearing you say there are good days and bad days is comforting because right now it’s one of those not so great weeks for me, but I stay Primal. Again thanks for the honesty!

  11. Well done Ryan!. You say your wife supports you and that’s fantastic. Kudos to her. Has she gone primal too?