How an Accelerated Health Transformation Made Me Feel 20 Years Younger!

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-1-2It’s been exactly three years since I contributed my success story and I’m pleased to report that my health transformation has continued—I feel even better than I did three years ago.  The Paleo lifestyle continues to be the foundation for my transformation, but I’ve added in a couple of other health practices that have accelerated my transformation.

I am now 56 years old and started my transformation over four years ago.  During the transformation, I have lost 70 pounds, feel 20 years younger and look 10 years younger. More impressively, I have adopted Paleo as a “lifestyle” (not  a diet) and this has allowed me to continue the transformation for over four years without a backslide. This is the beauty of approaching this as a lifestyle change. The great feeling of being fit, looking good and enjoying life more provides the motivation to never go back to where I was. At this point, after four years, the weak moments are rare and I’m more often looking for additional ways to continue this life changing transformation. I have developed a few excellent new habits that I would like to share with your readers.

About a year ago, I purchased an infrared sauna to use in my home, mainly for detox purposes, but I’ve found it helpful in several other areas. I use the sauna for 30-40 mins a day and have sweat pouring out after ten minutes. I typically drink 60 ounces of water during the sauna, so my weight stays the same during the 40 minutes. But I’m sweating a ton of toxins out. I also use a salt lamp, turn the lights down, and play relaxing music. It’s a great opportunity to meditate and stay present. Excellent mind/body exercise. The sauna has many other benefits, whether burning calories, improving circulation, and improving your skin.

About six months ago, I incorporated Intermittent Fasting (IF) in my daily routine. My main motivation for IF, again, was detox and immune system strengthening.  After doing some research on the various fasting approaches, I have settled on doing a daily fast beginning at 7 PM to 8 PM and ending the fast around 1 PM the next day. During the fasting period, I just drink water (lots of it) and organic black coffee in the morning. I was a huge breakfast guy and never thought I would be able to give it up. After about a week, I can honestly say that I felt very little hunger. I’m even able to do pretty intense workouts in the mornings and feel just as strong. I really encourage other readers to look into IF as there are so many benefits not even related to weight control. Some of them include: lowering your insulin and increasing growth hormones, driving cell repair each day, reducing high blood sugar (which is key to minimizing disease risk), and reducing overall inflammation.

before and after-2

Another key change that I’ve made is related to my diet. The Paleo diet has worked really for me, but I’ve now increased focus on my carb intake. The main reason I focus on carb reduction is for weight control, decreasing inflammation, and improving cardiovascular health and HDL/LDL levels. I found the Ketogenic diet carb limits (under 25 grams) to be a bit extreme, but I think getting down to 100 grams is doable if you limit fruits and starchy veggies. Reducing high blood sugar levels is one of the keys to good health, and after you stop eating sugary foods, the next thing to go after is reducing carbs (since excess carbs are converted to blood sugar). Again, this has created a great change in my overall well-being.

The last component of my accelerated transformation has been related to exercise. I am almost fully converted from a hardcore cardio (mostly long distance running) addict to having a greater focus on High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I have joined a club near my house that holds group classes focusing on HIIT/core and try to attend four times a week. They are absolute killer workouts and I feel completely drained after. I have not completely given up on cardio/running and mix it in with a goal of two hours of exercise a day.

Dave Dantus afterPictures don’t lie. I continue to feel better each day and, honestly, don’t feel the effects of aging that I would have expected. Incorporating the changes I described above has resulted in an accelerated transformation. It also has given me the incentive to look for additional practices that I can incorporate to further accelerate my transformation. One of the areas that I know needs work is my overall flexibility. I have tried yoga but have not been able to establish a good cadence with it. I plan on checking back in with you in a few years to report on my transformation and share additional insights with your readers.

Keep up the great work, Mark!



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52 thoughts on “How an Accelerated Health Transformation Made Me Feel 20 Years Younger!”

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  1. Hello Dave – I want to say congratulations on all that you have accomplished. I am encouraged by your story to keep going. I started my primal blueprint adventure last year June 2015. Ripped my right shoulder rotator cuff, had surgery then 6 months later had the shoulder manipulation (they had to crack the shoulder) to get more mobility. To say the least it has been a tough road to recovery with pain, physical therapy 3 times a week.

    But on the bright side I am back in the pool swimming and taking small steps towards full recovery and back on the 80/20 schedule and working my way up to 90/10.

    Thank you again for your story. It has encouraged me to work harder to get to my goal.


    1. Thanks Lisa. You sound very determined. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    2. Thank you Lisa. You sound very determined. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  2. Great job Dave. Your story is sort of similar to mine. After 5 years, living the Primal life habit is so normal now. Basically I don’t even think about it much. I would mention that HIIT 4 times a week seems a bit excessive. That may send your cortisol up a bit. But your results don’t lie.

  3. Hi Dave congratulations!
    Agree with Noconago, just maybe you are doing too much. The day has only 24 hours!

    Now you rekindled my interest in the sauna, starting to check options (I was thinking on adapting a closet)

    But to the point: lookup here in MDA mobility routines, they don’t take long and they work wonders


    And befriend the Romanian Deadlift and the Rumble Roller!

    1. Thanks. Its amazing how much time there is in a day if you get rid of useless stuff. The other thing that helped free up a lot of time is only doing two meals a day as part of the intermittent fasting. Thanks for the tip on the mobility routines. Already doing lots of dead lifts in the core stuff Im doing. thanks again.

  4. Great job Dave, I also enjoy IF and I am currently following a 4-5 hour feasting window. I think they call a warrior diet.

    For alternatives to yoga, Check out gymnastic bodies fundamentals training and foundation training. Good luck and keep up the great work.

  5. Great work, Dave. You’re looking good. I agree you look much younger than your 56 years. Continued success with your healthy lifestyle.

  6. Wow, Dave, congrats…you look great and it sounds like you feel even better! It’s cool to see how you have continued to implement new things. I’ve always been interested in the infra red saunas, and I’m glad to hear you are having such great results. I know what you mean about not feeling the affects of aging. I feel the same way and love it!!! Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks. My eyes, also, were opened up when I started reading about the benefits of the Infrared Sauna. With infrared saunas, you sweat out 6X more toxins than you do through normal sweat. The one thing you need to be careful is the EMF produced by the sauna. We bought a very low EMF Sauna and are really pleased with the results.

  7. Congratulations and thanks for sharing! Your post makes it clear that there are always new ways to commit to our health and further our primal journey. Good luck!

    1. Thanks. Yes…its definitely a journey. That was one of my key messages and know that my protocol will continue to change as I learn more. Lots of fun!

  8. Congratulations Dave. I want to say as soon as I read your post one of my first thoughts was that this guy drinks black coffee on an empty stomach like I do! I do it even though I have heard that it’s bad. It doesn’t make me feel bad. I would love for Mark Sission to address this on a post one day (if he hasn’t already?) since I would really value his view on it.

    1. Thanks Ben. I spent a lot of time researching coffee and there is a lot of opinions on both sides. I think that one thing is clear that, if you can afford it, you should buy organic coffee as the coffee bean is one of the toxic food items if you buy conventional. On the flip side, it is an outstanding antioxidant, It helps me greatly in the mornings until I break my fast around 1 PM. I have not heard much about issues with black coffee. It hasn’t bothered me much. Take care.

  9. So great to hear about further steps on a Success Story journey. I think all the good practices bring such rewards over time, in addition to the ones that come early on. I use a sauna too (near infrared) and love it for detox and discouraging infection and increasing my range of temperature tolerance. Well done!

    1. Thanks Sarah. Yes..really happy with sauna and amazed when I read about all of the value it offers.

  10. Wonderful update, Dave! Love hearing how your primal journey has continued to evolve. So fantastic to keep exploring new tweaks around eating, movement and lifestyle.

    Like you, my optimal way of eating and moving at present includes staying under 100 grams of carbs a day, eating within an afternoon-to-evening window, and forgoing chronic cardio for other types of movement (yoga, CrossFit, interval training, glacier-fed lake swimming).

    Also…I used to get a heavy sweat twice a day at hot yoga but currently don’t have that option. Mind sharing some details about your infrared sauna? Cheers!

    1. Thanks Dana. I am not sure if its appropriate to provide manufacturers names on this site but happy to follow up for more. The key benefit of Infrared Saunas is that the sweat’s toxin concentration is approx 6X than normal sweat which makes it an excellent detox protocol. The other consideration is to ensure that the sauna has low EMF. Many Infrared Saunas have EMF levels that can be damaging. I am a big believer in the value of minimizing stress and find my daily sauna a great place for relaxation…great before bed. Overall, we are really happy with it and use it almost every day. Good luck!

      1. Thank you for your update! The pics look great!

        I’ve never even heard of an infrared sauna. I vote can you just please tell us which one you have, so we don’t have to duplicate your research? Thank you!

    2. Thanks Tina. I just replied above with my thoughts on saunas. With respect to IF, I never thought I could limit to 6-7 hr window as well. Esp, since I was a huge breakfast guy. Its amazing how quickly your body adapts (within 2 weeks). I can honestly say that I feel very little hunger. In addition, its amazing how enjoyable the first meal is when you havent eaten! The other change I made is to increase the intake of healthy fats (ex. avocados, nuts, oily fish, etc). This makes the meals more sustaining. Carbs tend to be very moreish requiring you to eat more often. Limiting carbs also helps you decease blood glucose level.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Dave! No way do you look close to your age! Congratulations on continuing to pursue good health in more ways than before. I am interested in infrared saunas and so it was interesting to see your comments. As for IFing your way, sigh, I don’t know if I could manage that. I know there are benefits but it sounds like it would be difficult to restrict eating to a 6-7 hour window. I will have to look into it and see if I can talk myself into trying it.

    1. 6 to 7 hours looks more difficult than what it is:

      Wake up, have your coffee (no breakfast), at 12 noon have your nice Primal lunch and at 7pm your nice and sumptuous dinner!

      Or same thing using 1pm and 8pm (that’s what I do)


      1. Totally agree. The thought is much more intimidating than actually doing it. Eating primal (high fat/low carb) is key too!

      2. My husband eats this primal way : coffee all day long. 9 am breakfast 4 pm dinner. easy for him. no cheats, no snacks, never.

    2. Every body is different. There’s a lot of literature out there that also says that fasting does not work as well for many women–Mark has even referenced that. For myself, I am also finding that when I did too much calorie restriction/fasting, it messed with my thyroid and other hormones. It took eating more, eating more regularly, and more carbs to get back my cycle. Also, where some people get to where fasting is comfortable, that never happened for me. I was HUNGRY!

      1. Great point Jenny. Fasting is definitely not a protocol for everyone. I know there are certain medical conditions where fasting should not be done. The good news is that there are so many other protocols available to improve your immune system function and overall health. Thanks for bringing this point up!

  12. Dave,

    I’d also be very interested in which IR sauna you chose, since I would rather not go through the mental exhaustion of sifting through too many, what with baby #3 on the way here shortly. You can contact me through — an email is listed on the “Contact Us” page. I feel like this community almost always appreciates tips like that, especially when you are not selling it yourself, but just sharing info.

  13. Congrats Dave, you don’t look a day over 57! 😉

    Just messin’ with ya, impressive transformation and kidding aside you do look young, healthy and you seem to be enjoying life to its fullest.

    1. Thanks hombre. You hit it on the head. My transformation goals was only about enjoying life to the fullest and not trying to look like a body builder. The changes I discussed are helping me get there.

  14. Hi Dave–I’m impressed with your success. Re: Sweating out toxins; I love the feeling of a good sweat either from hot yoga or a sauna; but i haven’t found any science that backs up the claim that you can “sweat” out toxins. From what I have found: when you sweat, you might rid yourself of water retention due to carbohydrates, alcohol or salt but not toxins–toxins leave the body via feces and/or urine. Do you happen to have a link to any research (not marketing) that confirms otherwise? Impressive that you are where you are at 56 YO–again, congrats

    1. Thanks for the kind words. By nature, I am a scientific person and like to see credible studies. I was not able to find a NIH type study regarding this issue but did attach a couple of links (below) that make the claims that sweat from Far Infrared Suanas contain anywhere between 6 – 15 times more toxins that regular sweat. There are many other health benefits as well (other than detox) and is a very old practice.

  15. Your smile is infectious!! Congrats on your continued success and transformation. So much more challenging as we age but you seem to have figured it out. Not easy and not the norm with the aging population.

    1. Thank you Pam. Not sure if I completely figured this out and, often, learn from others like you on sites like this. I think a key is to keep an open mind and explore other options. I think most people do the reverse as they get older and get set in their ways and don’t open their minds to new/better ideas. Good luck with your journey!

  16. Dave, it made my day to read your post. LOVE hearing stories like this! I turn 56 in two months and I’m happy to say I’m experiencing similar benefits to what you describe. I never really fell off the health and fitness bandwagon, but since adopting many of the same primal principles in the last couple years I’m continually amazed how even BETTER I feel — my mood in particular has ramped up.

    I was particularly interested in the whole infrared sauna thing. For those looking to sweat intensely (which I do in hot yoga classes 2-3 times per week), I recommend adding some Himalayan pink salt to your water afterward. I found myself cramping in the middle of the night and not until I realized I might have been draining my salt reserves did I figure that out.

    I don’t know if replacing salt actually DOES prevent cramping, but it seemed to work for me.

    Regardless, thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks Billy. Sounds like we are following the same path. Nice to hear from you and compare notes. The mineral depletion issue when losing lots of water hasn’t been an issue for me yet but know its something to keep my eye considering how much water I do through in the sauna. As a result, I don’t have any insights on mineral replacement but appreciate your tip. Would love to hear if you have any other tips that have made a difference to your health.

  17. Another inspirational story, Dave! And I agree about not looking your age. (My father had those genes, at 80 he had 30 something’s, saying, “Wow! He is so good looking.)

    Anyway, despise that guy upstream being snarky, I really, really get wiggy when someone uses the terms toxins and detox. While we all have toxins in us like lead, mercury, and heck, probably plutonium, they are usually not enough to throw a spanner into the works of our body. “Detoxing” strikes me as a concept that comes out of the science challenged folks over in vegetarian and vegan lands. Drink that magic tea and you will eliminate heavy metals, BPA’s, whatever. Not gonna happen.

    Likewise, I have never seen any science that indicates sweating removes those mythological toxins. It would require that the, say, lead compound to lose it’s affinity to the cells it’s in, become water soluable, and then move to the sweat glands. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I have serious doubts of such alchemistry happening.

    Similarly, not you Dave, but another responder said something about low EMF IR sauna. If perchance, dear other poster read this, you really, really need to step back from anything sciencentific that you know nothing about, so no one will get hurt. Sixty cycle AC is not, cannot, be EMF (Electormagnetic Field.) No different than an electric range, heater, or incandescent bulb. Low EMF in 60 cycle AC resistance appliances rates right their with “Gluten Free” on bottled water.

    1. Hi OTB,
      Thank you. I tried to reply to a few similar comments to yours above but referenced websites that I think is a no-no. I understand why Mark would want to put controls in place to keep the integrity of the content up. First, by nature, I am a scientific person and value credible studies to draw conclusions on health issues. At the same time, I understand, that NIH (or similar orgs) who do studies typically service the massive Medical/Pharma industry. Economics101. In fact, I think that the Medical/Pharma industry puts some effort into convincing people that medical interventions (ex. prescription drugs) are the answers to most health issues. So, in many cases, there are not a lot of NIH studies on many of the natural approaches, like FIR Saunas. The reality is there isnt a big economy for yoga CDs or running shoes as compared to prescription drugs. However, there are many integrative doctors who incorporate both medical and natural interventions that consistently incorporate natural approaches with drugs to address health issues.

      So…back to the FIR Saunas. My understanding, and, as you indicate, I am NOT an expert, is that the concept is that the sweat produced by FIR Saunas contain anywhere between 6 to 15 times the toxins as compared to normal perspiration. Normal sweat contains about 99% water and about 1% toxins. FIR use a method or radiating your body from inside out at relatively low temps (130 deg F). While there is not a NIH study, there is a ton of info sources such as Wikipedia and from multiple leading integrative doctors (ex. Dr Mercado) that have had success with this approach. In addition, there are many other benefits of FIR Saunas that made it compelling for me. My suggestion to you (or anyone else) is to take advantage of the wealth of info on the internet and do your own research to see if it makes sense for you. The EMF is a big issue with the way FIR Saunas radiate and are worthy of some research too. As you indicate, I am NOT a medical expert and will not render a specific recommendation.

      I can tell the same thing about trying to validate the benefits of fasting, eating organic, and stress reduction (ex. yoga, meditation). None of these protocols are huge economies and have challenges paying the millions required to do expensive multiyear tests and trials. I dont expect that, in our lifetimes, that we will see the Medical community (and testing orgs like NIH) validating the natural protocols I believe that add value.

      Not sure if you asked me to get on my soap box but thought some of it was relevant to addressing your issue. Thanks.

  18. I remember reading your first success story and you look even better now! Great example of how those of us in our 5th decade can keep improving with age. You look much better than a bodybuilder too…