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Here Was a Habit I Could Get Behind

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story [1] 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 [2]. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I started living the Primal lifestyle “officially” on January 15, 2010. It was my first day of eating Paleo, and started training as well, working out a minimum of four days a week. Up to this point, I had been careless with how I ate (plus, I’m a pastry chef, and I took advantage of that). I wasn’t getting any exercise save for the occasional run; I had completed a couple of half-marathons but the last one had been in September.

My aunt had passed away earlier in January after a long battle with cancer, and I made the promise to myself that I would better my health and increase my longevity. Almost as if by chance, I read the New York Times article spotlighting the Paleo Diet, and started doing the research.

So on January 15th, I started out at 213 pounds, with a blood pressure reading of 140/78.

At first, it was very difficult. Like quitting any bad habit, the first few days are the biggest trial. Your body and mind want to hold on to those habits. But I worked, and really tried to quit the old habits “cold turkey.” In the first couple of weeks, I dropped around seven or eight pounds. That first drop was the motivation to keep going and not give up. By February 15th, one month later, I was down to 197 pounds — a loss of 16 pounds.

Well, here was a habit I could get behind! I wasn’t running more (given that the weather was awful up here in Western NY) but I was attending training classes regularly and continued eating Primal. My wife (who has not jumped on this bandwagon just yet) was still uncertain that I was going to stick to my guns, given that it was so different from what anybody we knew was doing. The guys at work thought I was a little loony — granted, while they were eating the provided “family meal” at work which I knew was unhealthy, I was eating delicious foods, and lots of them! And I wasn’t running to the bathroom shortly thereafter due to stomach problems from what they were eating!

March 15th, two months in: I’m down to 187 pounds, for a cumulative drop of 26 pounds.

Clothes are now getting baggier, and the XL t-shirts I love to wear are beginning to hang on me. I started out wearing a size Large chef coat at work — at this point, I had to go down to a Medium. My energy levels are ridiculously high, and many days I’d have training from noon til 1pm, to then go into work at 3 and be there until midnight. Whereas my coworkers would start dragging around 9 or 10pm, I still had lots of energy from the exercise and good food I was eating!

At this point in the process, I’m also experimenting with more foods. Food that I didn’t find appetizing before was tasting much better to me now. I was still having a drink on occasion, but beer wasn’t tasting good to me anymore, so my alcohol consumption was basically a glass of wine a week. I was quickly becoming the designated driver if we all went out after work — which I was cool with. Sobriety, as I was starting to say, was quite refreshing.

April 15th, three months in: I’m down to 175 pounds, for a cumulative drop of 38 pounds.

It’s around this point that people are really noticing the physical change in me. I’m down to a small chef’s jacket now; I had to reinvest in some new clothing after donating three large garbage bags of my old clothing to charity. My wife has gone from skeptical to highly impressed and even more supportive. My other family members are of the belief that I’m “too skinny” (mind you, I’m 5’9?). The compliments are coming in fast and furious, and it’s humbling. This is the sort of reaction that only motivates me further. My personal goal is that once I hit 40 pounds, I will cheat on my diet and reward myself with a “garbage plate” (a local delicacy up here in Rochester).

I hit 40 pounds and decided, “Well, if I can do 40, I can do 50. Let’s save the reward for 50.”

I no longer drink at this point. Whatever changes have occurred in my body, I just don’t feel the desire for it, nor do I really love the taste. I’ll have a sip of wine or whatever’s around, but just to sample it.

One of the high points of the year so far came in late April, when I had my checkup with my doctor. Not only was the physician’s attendant floored by my weight loss, my doctor didn’t recognize me when he came in! He called up my records on his computer and had to reconfirm my birthdate. “The records here say you’re obese.” “Well, I was!”

As of May 15th, I am down to 162 pounds, a loss of 51 pounds cumulative. I have dropped from a 36 to a 32 waist; I work out daily (even if it’s just some light stretching, or a run, or pushups). My blood pressure is down to 124/60. I eat well with the occasional taste of something naughty (I am still a pastry chef, remember)! I even went so far as to contact my old high school and got my health records from when I was 16 — my weight was 169. I’m turning 36 this year, so to take 20 years to go from healthy to not to healthy again… I love it.

Your book was a huge, HUGE motivator in the process. I’ve found myself not only reading up on Primal and Paleo, but exploring and researching more into where our food comes from. I’m very fascinated now with how food is marketed towards the consumer who doesn’t have the knowledge of good nutrition.

I keep telling people that ANYONE can do this. ANYONE. Is it for the athlete alone? No. The rich person? No. The tree-hugging hippie or eco-maniac? No. You have to want to do it, and want to live it — and the results can be astounding. Results will come, but only with hard work and tenacity. And once the results show, you’ll just want more.

Thank you, Mark, for your work and your book. Mark’s Daily Apple is definitely a fantastic resource that I will continue to frequent.

Ryan