How I Lost over 100 Pounds—and Gained Strength, Stamina and Control

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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in line

I was always fat. No, seriously. My whole life, I was fat. In middle school I was around 160-180 pounds. In high school I hit 250 pounds. At my heaviest, a few years after college, I was 330 pounds. I never liked how I looked or how I felt. I didn’t like that I would get exhausted easily. I didn’t like that I would get injured easily and be sore. I didn’t like that I could be basically danced around in sporting events because I was so big and clumsy that I couldn’t move. I didn’t like the constant bloated feeling. I didn’t like being dateless.

I occasionally tried to get away from my soda and fast food diet, eating the standard American “healthy” diet of low fat, low calorie, whole grain diet with heavy exercise, and would sometimes have short term positive results, but I would be constantly hungry, unsatisfied, and get injuries which would derail my progress. A few months later, the weight and poor eating habits were back.

To be fair, the start of my turn around was because my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. She did a lot of research, read a lot of books and blogs, and we tried a variety of different foods before we found that eating essentially Primal/paleo was easiest for her stomach. We read your blog, the Primal Blueprint, (and other sources) and have been eating this way for about 3+ years now.


After that first few weeks of adjustment, it’s been amazing. I feel constantly great, and I never worry about portion control or calories. I just let my body tell me how much food I need. When coworkers bring in cakes or donuts, I can smell the sugar a room away, but don’t crave it. It usually smells like chemicals as much as sugar if that makes sense. Coworkers marvel at my change, and people whom I haven’t seen for years literally don’t recognize me.

The most difficult part of the change was the fact that cooking is an integral part of our life, and is, I guess, our biggest hobby at this point. We buy beef a quarter cow at a time (grass fed and finished of course) and pork a half-pig at a time (pastured). We cook most of our meals for the month over one incredibly long weekend, and freeze them to make weeknights easier. There are days when work stress makes the convenience of easily picked up drive-thru meals tempting, but the extra effort is worth it.

After_2_Success_Story_10.28.16The Primal lifestyle has also affected the way I work out and train. I’m a 2nd degree blackbelt in taekwondo, and am known around the dojang as the guy with crazy stamina, strength and speed. I used to be known as the big guy who could kick hard with no balance, control, or stamina. For a while, to get in shape, I was going into the dojang on my own, jumping rope and doing all sorts of crazy extra work for 2-2.5 hours at a time. While my stamina did increase, I was often too physically drained for days, and sometimes my knees barked. Now when I train, though we focus a ton on fundamentals, (footwork, balance, basics) I see the training as fun or play. Cardio, footwork, and complex kicking drills are like dancing, and I often find myself smiling after a particularly challenging drill while others are panting. Trying something new is an exploration of balance and joint strength that I enjoy! I have even better stamina, even though I’ve cut out the crazy extra workouts.

After_1_Success_Story_10.28.16I also wanted to start some strength training recently as I had never done a pull up. I could barely lift myself at all when hanging from a bar. I also struggled with pushups and core strength. After a lot of books and blogs, and influenced by the Primal lifestyle, I decided on basic bodyweight training because it emphasized natural human movements more closely connected with how the body evolved to function. My work consists of variations on pushups, pull ups, leg raises and squats, starting with simple, assisted versions, and increasing in difficulty as I build strength. The training doesn’t take long, and if my body is tired, I’ll work just once a week. If I’m feeling great, I’ll go twice. While others I know have constant injuries and inflamation problems from their weight lifting (and their grain intense diet I’m sure), I’m still injury free, and am happy to report that just this week, after about 10 months of consistent work, I completed my first three pull ups ever! I’m also moving towards one-legged squats, and am getting closer to good, perfect form pushups. As for core work, I started barely able to hold a plank for 20 seconds. As for now, well, I was playing basketball with some coworkers a couple of months ago, and a coworker injured his hand against my stomach when we both went for a rebound. I didn’t even feel it.

As for that weight, I’m now 200 pounds, which for my height, 6’3″, is great. The weight just kept sliding off with seemingly no effort. I’m in fantastic shape. I’m in my mid 30s, and I have no trouble competing against (and defeating) kids in their early 20s. I also have a sense of self control over my body that feels amazing. I’m no longer clumsy, but am graceful! I feel like I can do anything I put my mind towards, and the physical change has made me more confident, happy, and mentally resilient.

Grok on!!!


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31 thoughts on “How I Lost over 100 Pounds—and Gained Strength, Stamina and Control”

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  1. Great job, T.C. Losing over a hundred pounds is pretty impressive.

  2. Congratulations on your accomplishments! Your smile in the last photo says it all.

  3. Thanks for your story. What especially speaks to me is your embracing on slow and steady gains. I’m dealing with complex hip soft tissue injuries that built up over years of pushing cardio despite regular injuries, and once the injuries are resolved (I’m determined they will be resolved), I now understand it will be crucial to listen to my body and build strength SLOWLY. Interestingly my first insight in that regard was a result of a week-long meditation retreat, from which arose the visceral understanding that the body operates at a far slower pace than the thoughts that drive our actions.

  4. Awesome!

    You and your wife are on the right path together. It’s so great to have a partner that you can work with to stay motivated and inspired.

    Good luck!


  5. I can literally feel your healthiness jumping out through your story, and its contagious!!!

    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Yeah, I feel that, too. These stories are so inspiring. I got up in a blue mood, but I feel better already! Something about that smiling face and strength he exudes……

  6. Reading your success story just brightened my day. Thank you, T.C. for being an inspiration!

  7. I’m needing a shot in the arm today and appreciate your story so much. Great job! It’s interesting how the paleo/Primal lifestyle helped both you and your wife. I hear that so often in regards to autoimmune diseases. I’ve gently suggested to everyone I know with autoimmune challenges to give paleo/Primal a try. Well, you look awesome – healthy, vibrant, and strong. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Great story T.C.!! Love your idea of cooking all weekend. It is so much easier to eat the way you should when you have healthy food ready to go. And it’s awesome how you and your wife are both benefitting from this lifestyle! Love the Friday success stories!

  9. Nice! I like the effects on your stamina, energy, etc. Impressive! (and it must be so much fun having people not recognize you!)

  10. Wow, great story TC, and very inspirational! I was also impressed before you lost all that weight you were dateless yet apparently got married, that was a pretty slick trick LOL. 😉

  11. Wow, what a transformation TC! So pleased for you that you were able to achieve this at a young age and that you have the support of your wife. Now if I could only my other half to accept this lifestyle! 😉

    1. Amanda its called PRSS: PALEO, RESISTANT, SPOUSE SYNDROME. Many of us suffer.

      1. How sad, I have a mild case of PRSS also, add me to the list 🙁

  12. Love your story. I too have a goal to one day do a pull up. At age 50 it will be a huge accomplishment. Wish I would have found this lifestyle at your age. It is a blessing that will keep on giving your entire life.

  13. You look amazing and I love you and your wife’s commitment to batch cooking quality food !

  14. Great story of an amazing transformation and the photos tell the whole story!

  15. CongratulationsTC! What you have achieved is nothing short of amazing. Great stuff.

  16. Thanks for all of the kind words all! To respond to a few comments, Amata, yes, slow and steady has been an important part of getting healthy. Too many people want a quick fix. The body takes time. I keep a notebook logging my strength training so I can see the improvement in the numbers of reps. Makes it easier to remember that I am making progress because I can see the number of reps go up.

    To those talking about batch cooking, I will tell you, its awful on the weekend of. We have a 6 hour prep day after work on Friday, and 8-12 hours of nonstop cooking the next day, but then your main courses are all done for a month. The rest of the month is amazing. Just defrost, dump and bake/saute/microwave.

    1. Would you mind sharing a bit more what foods you prepare, especially what you’ve learned abt what freezes well and what doesn’t?

      1. Sure. We actually pay about $15 a month to use, which has hundreds of recipes, and allows you to choose dietary restrictions (including gluten free, vegan, paleo, etc etc). You choose meals and portions, and they populate a grocery list (organized by area of store), a prep list, prep instructions and freezing instructions. (and labels for the freezer bags which include cooking instructions) Some meals are super complex, and some are as simple as seasoning some meat and freezing it.

        We do still pick up veggies to roast for a side most nights, (we also get a CSA share from a nearby farm) but a quick chop and roast/saute is so much faster than coming up with a plan. Some meals include a side, some don’t. It takes some time getting used to the meals, but in the year or so that we’ve done this, I’d say I could name 3 meals I didn’t like, and maybe a handful more that were okay. Most of them were pretty good, and some were awesome and we make them each month.

        I’d look around and see if you like it.

  17. What a wonderful transformation. I am moving to New Zealand to live with my son, my daughter-in-law and grandson. I am retiring early because my health is so bad. I sit a lot at work (I also walk, but not as much as sitting) and my diet is not good. I am depressed and am constantly in pain or at the doctor’s office. I was given a $3.10 an hour raise, and was asked if that would keep me here in the US, but I said, no. I said, my health is more important and I am moving to learn to eat better and get my core back in shape.

    Thank you for your story and for your great ideas for eating better.

  18. Wow, Love your story. You’ve prompted me to redouble my efforts towards health.
    Incredibly inspiring!

  19. T.C.
    THIS is awesome: “I feel like I can do anything I put my mind towards, and the physical change has made me more confident, happy, and mentally resilient.”

  20. Your story reminded me that its been 35 years since I did a full weight pull-up. I’m going to make that a goal.