From Athlete to Overweight to Primal

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!

On the day I graduated high school I made sure to weigh myself.

Weight: 175 lbs.

I figured the day was one of those landmark days in life. For some reason I figured I’d always look back on this day as the day I was in the best shape of my life. It would be the peak of my life from a physical and mental standpoint. I was young, athletic, and ready to take on the world.

Growing Up

Up to that point, my life was full of sports. Athletics was a year round activity for me throughout my childhood and teen years. As a young kid I played organized baseball and soccer. When I wasn’t doing those I was playing football and basketball with the neighborhood kids. During the winter I kept plenty busy shoveling the snow in our driveway. The combination of the harsh Wisconsin winters and a dad that loved having a new helper kept my young body in shape as I spent hours moving heavy snow after every storm.

When I got to high school I participated in three sports: football, basketball, and golf. I had to give up football after taking a helmet to the back. I probably could have kept playing, but the doctor suggested it wasn’t worth it. Basketball became the sport that kept me in shape most of the time. Golf was great for enjoying the spring and summer days and getting in some great walking exercise as well.

As you might imagine, I had the typical diet of a kid in the early 21st century. Throughout my childhood and teen years I would have cereal every morning. When I hit high school I also had yogurt each morning. That was my healthy food to offset the healthy bowl of grain cereal.

Lunches consisted of some breaded meat with fries and maybe a small scoop of veggies. Dinner consisted of pastas and frozen dinners.

My parents were great, though. They did fix us delicious roasts, venison, fish, and usually included vegetables as well. But life gets busy and the frozen foods take over. It was just easier for a young kid.

I realize now that most of my life was fueled with carbs. Those little cups of yogurt, I later found out, had 30+ carbs each and were filled with sugar.

I figure I was able to stave off most of the effects by constantly being in motion as an athlete. I wasn’t overweight or so I thought.

I graduated high school. Weight 175 lbs.

Off To College

College started off with much of the same eating habits as high school. It wasn’t unusual to eat some form of fast food two, three, or even four times each week.

With the mixture of class, parties, and hanging out with friends it was just easier to hit the fast food joint for a burger and fries or half of a pizza with buddies.

As a wise person might expect, my weight ballooned to about 200 lbs. by my sophomore year. I was also on a kick that saw me drinking about a six pack of soda every day. I knew this was not good, but sometimes you just let yourself fall into these routines.

By my junior and senior year I was out of the dorms and into a house with a couple buddies. My meals consisted of Tuna Helper, pastas, fast food, and occasionally venison (thanks to a couple successful Wisconsin whitetail seasons).

My saving grace, I think, was two jobs I had during my last two years in school. The first was driving a fork lift on the second shift at a local home supply chain. I’d have my usual cereal breakfast each morning at about 9am. From there I’d have a Tuna Helper lunch and I’d pack a sandwich for dinner during my shift.

The second job came as a delivery guy for a furniture store. This is where I regained some of my strength. Lifting heavy reclining couches down into people’s basement will make you feel muscles you never thought you had.

On a side note, I remember one person asking my co-worker if it was right to tip a furniture delivery guy. My co-worker rested the heavy couch on his knee for a second, looked at the guy, and said, “You typically tip the pizza guy, right?”

He nodded agreeably.

“Well, he carries in your pizza. We’re carrying in your sofa.”

I left college weighing about 185 lbs. I never worked out in college. I never did much for activity. And yet I was only ten pounds over my high school weight. I figured that wasn’t too bad.

Time to Join The Real World

After four years I graduated college and went off to join the real world. I found a job in marketing and management. It was off to adulthood complete with offices and email.

The company I went to work for was great. They paid pretty well. The people were wonderful. The company offered great benefits and even paid for half the gym membership.

I signed up right away and started attending spinning classes and a strength training class. I really enjoyed these activities. It was a great way to break up the day by hitting the gym during lunch. I went with co-workers and we all enjoyed keeping ourselves in a little better shape than what we’d be without the gym.

My diet continued of pastas and processed foods. I still enjoyed red meat, fats, and fish. Those have always been staples of my diet, but so were the carb-filled foods. I’d never shy away from a big plate of fries and a burger from the local restaurants.

After four years in the real world and after a particularly hearty holiday season my weight had once again tipped over a barrier to 190 lbs.

This was this January 2011 and I was determined to get back down to my high school weight. I set a goal of eating fewer calories each day and working out just as I had been. Something wasn’t making sense to me.

After three months of the year I was down to about 185 lbs. I was working out four times a week on average. I was eating fewer calories, but I still had the makings of a Wisconsin beer belly and an inner-tube around my waste.

I didn’t understand.

Primal Revelation

Enter Mark’s Daily Apple.

In March of 2011 I stumbled on this site via a link from somewhere. I can’t remember exactly how I came across the site, but it changed my life.

I dove headfirst into the articles. I read everything about how the body handles carbs and sugar. It was all making sense. I realized I was living the typical American diet. Those yogurts I’d been eating every day for a decade were causing me to be fat.

My life was flipped upside down.

Immediately I stopped eating carbs. No more pizza on Sundays. No more pastas – oh, how I missed pasta and so did my girlfriend.

When I went out to dinner or lunch with colleagues I’d order a salad. No more Friday burgers. When I’d go to lunch I no longer ordered pasta off the menu. This was difficult. Some of the restaurants around here have 90% of the entree menu filled with pasta or rice dishes. Not anymore. It was meat or fish and a side of veggies.

And you know…it was great. I’d always loved these Primal foods. They are just more part of my life now. I don’t drink soda or juice anymore. I have eggs for breakfast. I’ll have a handful of nuts during the day with a salad once in a while. We’ll have a meat and side of veggies each night.

I do conform to the 80-20 rule. My vices are cheese. Us Wisconsinites can’t help having our cheese. And I’m also partial to the occasional sugary treat for dessert.

After about 9 months of being Primal I’m down to about 165 lbs, but even more than the weight is my physique. I’ve lost about an inch or two off my waist. I’ve worn 32 inch waist jeans since I was about 12 and now those nearly fall off my body. I’m down to a 31 or even 30 inch waist with all pants.

My shirt size is down to a small or sometimes a medium.

I still work out about three times each week. I try to work in some interval training on the bike. I still go to the strength training class. My biceps are bigger than they have been, but they’re a lean muscle. My legs are more muscular than they ever have been. My chest is a bit more defined.

Since I was sixteen I’ve been on high blood pressure medicine. I’d have annual physicals with my family doctor. He and the nurse nearly flipped when I registered something like 200 over 100 at my check-up sophomore year.

At one point I was taking the same medication as my dad only my dosage was four times what his was.

Now my blood pressure is low. I’m hoping to slowly work my way off the medication. I’ve already started and my blood pressure has remained as low as ever – 110s over 70s.

My other tests have been good.

Triglycerides are good. My good cholesterol is very good. My bad cholesterol is higher than what doctors would like. It’s probably a result of all those eggs, but overall the numbers are great.

I still have things to improve on. I’m working on cutting back on the salt, sugar, and dairy. This will be my first holiday season being Primal. I’m sure there will be a few strange looks when I pass on the cookies and pies.

In fact, I’ve had people question my Primal ways. Even though I’ve lost 25 lbs in the last year people will still tell me they don’t believe in not eating carbs.

What can you do?

I don’t tell anyone they have to be Primal. I just go about my business. It’s my life.

About two or three years ago I had an annual physical with a new doctor. I weighed 185 lbs. He told me I should weigh somewhere around 145 lbs.

40 lbs. overweight?!

I laughed as I walked out of the room.

How could a former athlete that worked out 3 times each week be 40 lbs overweight?

Today, I look back on that day and realize the doctor was on to something. Maybe I even realized it at the time. I was overweight. I just didn’t know what to do.

Now I’m in the best shape of my life. I fluctuate around 165 lbs. I’m lighter than the day I graduated high school and I feel great.

I’m 27 years old and about 10 years out of high school.

Weight: 165 lbs.

Dayne Shuda is a professional blogger, hunter, and golfer. For more information or to connect with Dayne visit his website at

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