July 25 2014

Going Primal Has Been Life Changing for Me

By Guest

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!

My weight struggles began when I was in my early 20’s. I was 183 cm tall and weighed in at about 110 kgs, and didn’t feel at all good about that. I felt worse when I overheard friends comment on the excess weight I carried. I decided to do something about it and went on a severely reduced calorie diet. Living on lettuce leaves (literally) by mid-1983; I weighed considerably less and ran a marathon to celebrate.

That year I changed careers and joined New Zealand Police as a constable. I was 78 kg when I went to the Royal New Zealand Police College. I was 27, and was second top fitness in my recruit wing of 43 people.

We have a Physical Competency Test (PCT) in New Zealand Police. This involves pushing a trailer 15 metres, carrying a wheel assembly 15 metres, a 200 metre sprint, hurdles (over and under), balancing beam, ‘window’ to climb through, a seven foot wall and an eight foot fence. I was always a top performer until about 10 years ago, but not because of maintained times, more because the required performance is age related (you get more time the older you are).

Every second year we are required to undergo a Physical Health Analysis Test (PHAT); based around body fat level and weight primarily. My records show that, like most that lose weight by reduced calories, I steadily regained weight. In April 1986 I weighed 78.4 kg with 13.4% body fat. It was all downhill from there! By August 1986 I weighed 86 kg, with 15% body fat. By May 1994 I weighed 92 kg and had 20% body fat. By 2000 I was back to where I started in terms of weight: 110 kg.

I tried to lose weight during 2012, managing to drop back to 107, then to 102.3 kg (see photo below). I didn’t feel great about being this size.

I didn’t have any real health problems as such, probably because of good genes (both parents are in their 80’s and in good health) and basically because I did keep fit. I was running two to three half marathons a year until about 2000. From 2009 on, arthritis in my right hip affected mobility.

I have been a Commissioned Officer at the rank of Inspector since 1998 and as such was not required to do the PCT. However the Commissioner of Police ruled in late 2012 that no member of Police could be deployed operationally (to events like the Christchurch earthquake) unless they held a current PCT.

Come 27 March 2013 I decided to do the PCT. I was way above time (by 22 seconds) and at one point fell. It was embarrassing to say the least, almost shameful.

This, combined with the pep talk my doctor gave me at my February 2013 checkup (“You are killing yourself”), was also life changing.

The Physical Training Instructor gave me a copy of Allan Carr’s book Lose Weight Now. It changed my whole attitude to food, but not wanting to go vegetarian I looked for an alternative. The answer was in the paleo food movement, and The Primal Blueprint especially. Why The Primal Blueprint and MDA? Because they outline a lifestyle, not a diet, and I wanted a new lifestyle that included diet. I subscribe to MDA and follow it avidly. Of I was looking for two words: ‘sensible’ and ‘works.’

On 2 April 2013 I went Primal/paleo.

I chucked my doctor’s advice to “eat less fat and more whole grain!” Now knowing that doesn’t work.

Joe Before and During Primal

The photo on the left was taken in 2012; I weighed about 107 kgs. The photo on the right was taken in February 2013. At the start of my paleo journey on 2 April 2013, aged 57 years, I weighed 102.3 kg. My waist was 107 cm, hips 105 cm and chest 117 cm.

I lost weight quickly; by June I was 92.6 kg (waist 101 cm, hips 101 cm, chest 113 cm). The lowest I went was at the end of November 2013: 89.3 kg (waist 97.5 cm, hips 99 cm, chest 108.5 cm). But I had just had a hip replacement and was basically doing no activity. By Christmas I was back exercising, just like The Primal Blueprint recommends (lots of walking, some heavy lifting, a bit of biking, and recently, I started sprinting on a cross training machine). As I exercised, I increased weight and have stabilised at about 91.3 – 92.3 kg (waist 99 cm, hips 99 cm, chest 111 cm). My eating hasn’t changed, so I put the kilo or so added down to the increased muscle mass in my right leg following the hip replacement and exercise programme: the muscles in that leg are now noticeably bigger and more defined. I am the same weight I was 20 years ago.

Joe after Primal

These photos were taken February 2014.

My blood tests tell an amazing story. I have a routine checkup every February. It’s all improved!

Blood panel

Going primal has been life changing for me. I am about 95%: I’ve had about 3 croissants, a couple of muffins and a couple of slices of genuine sourdough bread, and a couple of gluten free Easter buns over the twelve months. I’ll have the occasional ice cream, iced coffee or smoothie, or slice of gluten free cake. I have no trouble following the lifestyle; I embrace it.

One reason is this: lots of grass-fed livestock – quality food at a good price.

New Zealand Cattle

Photo taken by me, January 2014, Central North Island, New Zealand.

So what’s the Primal lifestyle done for me?

  • I eat better quality food
  • I have lost 10 kgs
  • Got a new wardrobe!
  • I am more mobile and fitter than I have been in the last 20 years
  • A heap more energy – all day! (I have a one hour commute by train into Wellington; I haven’t gone to sleep on the way home for months)
  • Enhanced credibility (as I’m no longer a fat cop!)
  • I can keep up with my 9 grandchildren
  • I feel great!

I have yet to do the PCT – I’ll hold that until one year after the hip replacement. However, having been a bushman and hunter for 30 years, on 22 April 2014 I got out into the bush for the first time in 14 months. The photo below shows me visiting a stationary boiler used for log hauling in the 1930s (Tararua Forest Park, New Zealand). About 1.5 hours from the road end, a major river to cross, generally off trail. Wearing my aqua five fingers. It’s great to be back.

Joe in the bush

Go the Primal lifestyle!!!

Joe Green
Paraparmumu, New Zealand

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48 thoughts on “Going Primal Has Been Life Changing for Me”

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  1. Great job! You definitely look a lot healthier in your after photos. Makes me want to go hiking!

  2. thanks for the inspiration that even “mature” folks can be Primal 🙂

      1. I’m 66 and started primal in April, I also would love to hear from older people about their experience. I have hep c and my gastro guy does not believe in fatigue as its symptom. If there is a way to deal with it, I’d like to to know.
        I’ve lost weight and my state of mind is better. An on going stressful situation saps my energy. But I really need to know that some time soon I will have enough energy to get through the day.

      2. Yes I love hearing stories of “mature” primal/paleo successes. We are so often told how hard it is to lose weight at our age. I spent 17 years trying to lose the weight I gained with my pregnancy at 35. I did the whole grains, greek yogurt, routine and lost and gained the same 3 lbs for 17 years. With primal I lost 10 lbs in 2 months at the age of 52, and have not only kept it off but lost 3 more over the next year!

    1. Speaking of “mature”, I have been hoping for a long time that there might be an 80+ man or woman who could submit their success story. I recall that the oldest so far was Wandrin Lloyd, whose story appeared in March of 2012. He was 71 then (appearing 50), and a most memorable and inspiring character. My parents are almost 90, so resistant to any input from an almost 60 year old punk like myself. So this is a shout out to any octogenarians (or better) out their who might be kind enough to share their story.

  3. Great story! I love that going primal can work in any decade of life!

  4. Where’s Google translator for the kg to pound conversion when you need it?!

    Great work, Joe! Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. For kilograms to pounds multiply by 2.2 (110kg x 2.2 = 245lbs)

      For pounds to kilograms divide by 2.2 (201lbs / 2.2 = 92.3kg)

      The non technical (and easier way) is to approximate by multiplying or dividing by 2.

      [This is one of the side benefits of being Canadian, as we are forced, by proximity, to be bilingual in metric and imperial :]

  5. New Zealand has got to be a Primal paradise!

    What’s that, a 390% improvement in triglycerides? Nice job! I also had across the board improvements after 7 months. The blood work really tells the tale in a format that even a doctor should be able to understand.

    I am turning 60 in Oct, been doing primal since Jan 2012. I have been increasing weight slightly also as body comp is changing towards more muscular. Unfortunately my old flat feet are getting increasingly painful for walking in shoes these days and my dog is too old now for long walks, so I started swimming miles in the lake recently. Wow! I recommend it as the best overall exercise yet and so easy on the joints. There is a program called Total Immersion that will improve swimming skills tremendously, I found it very helpful.

    1. Indeed New Zealand is a Primal paradise, from the food point of view. Pasture fed lamb and beef in abundance and quality fruit and vegetables, much of it organic or near organic. And don’t forget the seafood.

    2. “New Zealand has got to be a Primal paradise!”

      Yep! Moved over here for 2 weeks now and have dropped from 106kg to 101.6kg. Sure, I just graduated university and have gone off ‘stressed student’ diet to PB, but the abundance of fantastic, nutrient rich foods is surely helping too!

    3. i also enjoy success stories of “mature folks”

      New Zealand ==> pasture beef & lamb, beautiful & unpolluted country, friendly people


  6. I think it’s us “mature” folks who need primal the most. We are just coming into the zone where we are going to be relying on the gov’t/everyone else to keep moving our tired overweight bodies around. I told a friend once that when young people go through these conversions they look like models, when older people go through it they look healthy. Healthy is fantastic – good for you Joel!

    1. Going on my own experience I totally agree. As you get older your metabolism slows and too many older people to burn the weight gain off with exercise, but like I was, they’re shooting themselves in the foot with all the grains and sugar they’re eating.

  7. What’s this business about “mature” folks? (-;

    I’m 57 years old (looks 40) with 10.9% body fat and dropping (1.78 cm/5.9 and 62 kg/136 pound), quick as a mountain goat, free spirited and hopelessly optimistic, and primal, since 2012. I was never fat or over weight but did drop ~ 8 kg and would like to add 2 or 3 kg in muscle mass (not easy). On the the other hand, I am back at the same weight I was at, when enlisted at 18 (father weight ex paratrooper); so maybe it’s not such a bad thing. My HDL is 77 and Trig. 75 but profile can improve (LDL high due to wrong med), if I had excess to free range beef etc. Plus, I switched my Thyroid med and back to sleeping straight through the night and anxiety gone, so I’m optimistic. Funny enough, when traveling through Australia, they kept on mistaken me for a Kiwi (New Zealander). Go figure, since I look Italian.

    I love reading Fridays great success stories (who doesn’t) and would like to congratulate Joe on his transformation!!!

    “He who dare to fail succeeds”!

    1. “…feather weight” – if I can only get my spelling on order; on the other hand, English is my 3rd language.

      Certain websites provide a preview before hitting send; but hows to say that I would have caught it in time.

  8. Congratulations to you and so glad you’re happy and so much healthier! And thanks for including the health stats as well – that is really helpful for some people to see who are still skeptical in that way. Going to pass your success story on to some family members.

  9. Awesome to read about your journey! It is great to hear stories from fellow New Zealanders. I do have a chuckle as a country we take our grass feed meat for granted, we are so lucky. It is pretty ironic in a way, that over here “grain feed” or “grain finished” is marketed as something premium!

    The other comment I love is how you can very precisely account for every single piece of gluten you have eaten for the past year. Same here!

    Wonderful inspiring story.

  10. I am not familiar with this rating system. Could someone please translate Joe’s cholesterol values? Thanks!

      1. In that case, this is what it tells us:

        Total cholesterol – Past 253.5 vs 296.4
        LDL – Past 124.8 vs 175
        HDL – Past 51.48 vs 103.35
        Triglyceride – Past 167 vs 42.9 (what a difference!)

        But most importantly, his cholesterol/hdl ratios went from 4.9 to low 2.9, which is fantastic.

        Too bad they didn’t screen for LDL particles (A/B); I can’t get that test done either. But based on Joe’s profile, I would expect them to be large and buoyant (a good thing). Well done again.

  11. Good on you Joe!!! Great to see another Kiwi embracing the primal lifestyle and reaping the benefits. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  12. Hi Joe, definitely inspiring to see another Kiwi succeeding and sharing. Well done!

  13. You look awesome Joe, and sound really really happy! What a success story you are.

    And as an Aussie who has visited New Zealand more than once – let me tell you it IS paradise with or without the grass fed meat! If you get a chance to visit – just go!

  14. Nice job Joe. You look awesome. Whenever I see a fat cop I think the bad guys are going to out run him in a foot chase. Now you can catch them and let them know not to try to get away again because you’re primal, fast and strong.

  15. I remember the PCT well… fittest i have ever been… Wouldn’t mind having another go and seeing the difference in time from 26 to 48!

    I no longer live in Nz but it really has the best food in the world. The lamb in particular. .. There us no such thing as grain feed beef as grass is plentiful and cheap to grow! Animals live how they should.

    Well done Joe – fantastic stuff. .

  16. Great Job! I am 55 and have been primal for 1 1/2 years. Lost 40lbs and feel much better. Wish I would have known this 30 years ago!!!!! Have fun with the grandkids!

  17. Kia ora Joe! Well done! Great to hear a fellow kiwi’s success story, very proud.
    I’ve been on this primal buzz since March this year and haven’t felt better, 7 kgs down, more energy, better sleep, stronger etc, loving it! Keep it up mate!

  18. Great story – thanks for sharing. Sometimes it seems just younger people experience the total transformation on Paleo, so it’s nice to see someone a bit older. All the best to you!

  19. Hi All, I’m waiting for my 21 day challenge pack to arrive!!! would be great if I could talk to someone local or meet if possible. I live in Plimmerton 50 years old and want to lose 10kg and live primally. Thanks Rob.

    Being sometimes a rush in and do stuff person I have signed up for a 30day Isagenix weightloss cleanse programe that I thought I would do before going primal has anyone any experience around this and lives local.

    Cheers Rob