How Ken Korg Got the Ball Rolling

The Korgs are in a major rut. Their health and their happiness are suffering.

Ken Korg’s doctor has been on his back since the last physical, pushing Crestor and blood pressure meds on him. He doesn’t want to end up like his father did, wedded to the pill organizer for the last fifteen years of his life, but he also doesn’t want an early heart attack. Things feel hopeless. His wife, Kelly, is frustrated because although she had her last kid fourteen years ago, she’s never been able to ditch the baby weight (can she really call it baby weight anymore?). Things between husband and wife are friendly enough, but the fire’s gone out of the relationship, and those ED drug commercials are starting to look more and more attractive to them both.

And then there’s young Kenny.

Kenny Korg is newly fourteen and feeling every bit of it. He used to be an athletic phenom, but tag and basketball in the park have been replaced by Call of Duty and NBA 2k11 on the Xbox. Daytime excursions to the woods with friends now take place on World of Warcraft. Kenny didn’t even go out for JV tryouts this year, he’s getting pudgy, and his parents are worried (even if he doesn’t realize anything is wrong).

(That’s a pretty exhaustive list of grievances, right? Bad sex life, myriad poor health markers, enduring baby weight, premature teenage languor, video game addiction… but they’re not rare. In fact, I bet a bunch of you guys can rattle of a decently-sized list of your own or name someone who can, right this very instant. Which is why I do these 30-day Primal challenges and give away all these prizes each year. See, people like the Korgs often need tangible incentives, because we humans have the tendency to grow complacent when things are comfortable and easy, and ethereal gifts like the promise of future weight loss, muscle gain, or better sex don’t satisfy that Primal desire for instant gratification enough to make us act. We respond to real, physical, tangible prizes or even just the opportunity to win them. And hey, 30 days isn’t all that long.)

Luckily, a co-worker of Ken’s named Valentina – a gal that recently lost seventy pounds over half a year while seemingly eating heaping piles of meat, fat, and veggies at lunch – sends him a link to something called Mark’s Daily Apple. Some health blog pushing something called The Primal Blueprint. The “secret of my success,” she says. “They’re starting a 30-day Primal challenge and giving away tons of prizes, so it’s a good time to get into the lifestyle.”

Ken is puzzled. “A lifestyle? I thought you were just on a fancy version of the Atkins’ Diet.”

“There are similarities, but it’s not the same. Oh, I know! Have you heard of the Paleo diet, or the caveman diet? The Primal Blueprint is like that but better. Plus, it’s a holistic approach to all aspects of health, rather than just a diet.”

(Yes, Ken Korg and Valentina live in a universe where speech can be hyperlinked. It’s pretty sweet.)

Ken’s woo-dar perks up at “holistic,” but he figures whatever she did worked for her and keeps an open mind. “So, how should I get started with this challenge? What’s the first step?”

Valentina knows this one. “First, you’ve gotta toss all your poisonous things masquerading as food to make room for the healthy stuff. Out with the old and in with the new. If you don’t know how to do it and you need specific instructions, learn how to Primalize your pantry.”

Ken nods his assent, having assimilated the information. (In Ken Korg’s universe, conversational hyperlinks can be accessed and their contents instantly digested and incorporated.) “Okay, that’s doable. But my first concern is my weight,” he says, grabbing and jiggling his gut. “What should I do to lose this?”

Dial in your carb count, and watch out for the creep of hidden carbs. That’s the biggest first step,” Valentina says matter of factly.

“That I can do. Not sure about my wife, though.” He strokes his chin. “Valentina, you’ve met Kelly. I love her, but she loves her bread and she’s, um, strong-willed. If she’s unsupportive, how will I make it work without ruining the marriage? And what do you recommend I do about Kenny? The kid’s great but he’s on a vegetarian kick. I’m not sure I could get him to go for animal flesh, to be honest.”

“Not a problem,” says Valentina. “There are ways to cope with an unsupportive partner, and you can always make Primal versions of classically non-Primal foods. As for Kenny, making the switch to meat-eating from vegetarianism, while intimidating, is doable.”

At this point, Ken Korg is intellectually on board with the basic concepts behind the Primal Blueprint, but he also looks overwhelmed. Changing your lifestyle in a major way, however beneficial you know it to be, is scary. All the info in the world isn’t going to help if Ken is hamstrung by indecision and self-doubt. Luckily, Valentina sees the doubt on his face and hits back.

“Ken, if you’re worried about making this lifestyle change a long-lasting, lifelong one, don’t heap pressure on your shoulders by thinking of it like that. Instead, just take baby steps (10 of ’em, to be exact) toward your goal and take them slowly. Make your shift to Primal living a gradual transition and it will be more permanent, and easier. Remember, it’s a journey, not a race. And by all means, don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. The 80/20 rule says that as long as you’re doing most things right, you’ve got room to mess up without ruining the whole operation.”

Valentina handles Ken’s remaining concerns with similar efficiency. He’s still a little leery of dropping grains cold-turkey so she tells him exactly why and how to quit the pernicious little cereal babies. Ken isn’t sure what to shop for; Valentina slides him a Primal shopping list. Ken wonders what a day of Primal meals looks like; Valentina provides a sample menu and numerous recipes. All in all, Ken’s feeling pretty good about his prospects at going Primal.

As his doubts melt away, Ken’s physical appearance morphs to reveal a shining ball of shifting light and gas. Initially, the gas gives off odors of sunblock, crusty bread, and sweaty feet confined to shoes, but these give way to scents of grass-fed pot roasts braising in red wine, fish oil burps, and farmers’ markets. The Korg-ball’s appearance changes further. Its outline blurs, the delineated sphere becoming an amorphous swirling thing, like a planet’s creation reversing itself. But this confusion is short-lived, for a human form emerges from the madness. He looks a bit like Ken Korg, only taller, prouder, leaner, and clutching a spear and woven basket that contains a book. The wide world remains the same, but Korg, the man who would assay it, has changed. He steps forward into the rest of his life, armed with the knowledge necessary to start over.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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65 thoughts on “How Ken Korg Got the Ball Rolling”

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    1. I read this in Pops’ voice (for those of you familiar with Regular Show)

  1. I’ve been reading MDA for the last year (but I think this is my first comment) and I have moved towards a primal diet more and more. But when I talk to people about it I usually highlight only three things:

    1. Cook your own food.
    2. Skip grains
    3. Skip sugar

    If most people would follow that advice it would be a good step forward. If they are still interested you can take them deeper into the whole primal living thingy 🙂

    1. I totally agree. No sugar, no grains, and since there is no guarantee restaurants are not using it without telling you, one must cook one’s own food.

    2. Yep, I’ve been using this same short explanation for a year now. It usually works pretty good.

    3. I like those three bullets too.
      I also like “eat food. Mostly plants.” Omnivore’s dillemma

    4. 100% agree. I’m 98%, but I’m even thinking if most JUST CUT out the wheat would be 1/2 way there. That freaking grain is everywhere. Like the 3 steps though simple as hell, and effective.

    5. People still look at me like i have two heads when i say i don’t eat any grains. Like it’s totally incomprehensible to them. Yet, i’ve lost 55 pounds this way.

  2. This is great. I just handed out the Primal 30 Day Challenge Cheat Sheet to all of my outdoor fitness class clients and some of these issues came up since many of the people are parents. Diet is such a touchy subject with all the CW and fads out there. One woman remarked, “I’ll try it for 10 days and see how I feel”. I said, “Ill take it!”. Anything is better than nothing with some folks.

    1. I hope you at least warned her about low-carb flu first…

      Those 10 days might be hell, and if she doesn’t stick with it a little longer, she might give up before she really starts feeling good.

  3. Omg, I used to be Kenny Korg!
    Sure glad I don’t play video games anymore…those guild raids in WoW took up a LOT of time sitting for hours at a time multiple times a week.
    My butt started to look like the chair…

  4. Gaaahh! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! Is Ken able to save his son from being a vegetarian?? Does his wife get motivated by Ken’s new ripped bod and finally ditch her love affair with bread?? Does Ken and Valentina give into a steamy office romance????
    Don’t leave us hanging!!

    1. >insert classic soap cliff-hanger organ music here<
      "Learn the answers to these & many other questions on the next episode of 'All My Bacon'"

      1. “All My Bacon”…got a love it. Ashley & Peggy you are so creative.
        I’m so glad my husband Jeff is supportive and at times he has better staying power then I do when it comes to making food choices & exercising.
        I have Mark’s Daily Apple on my face book page & have asked others to take the challenge with me. I have given my daughter & son-in-law a copy of Gary Taulbes’s book and Art DeVanny’s new book….But you know they haven’t5 taken a bit yet.

    2. That’s how I’m hoping to get my wife onboard. (not with the steamy office romance) I’m hoping she admits that Primal isn’t crazy as I transform to lean.

  5. Lovely story. I wish I lived in a world where speech is hyperlinked!

    I do like video games though. I compromise by sitting on a stability ball and making sure I get up every 20 minutes.

    1. I do the same thing too for video games ( except no ball) I usually get up do a bit of stretching or even turn the video game off to do some of my belly dancing moves ( it is fun and works those abs)

    2. I do SecondLife. Sometimes combat but mostly playing. Yeah, that’s a major part of how I play. Not very Groky I guess, but it is real play with dear friends.

    3. I sit on my exercycle whilst I grind in WoW. Not raids so much as they take too much attention to keep pedaling. LOL

  6. you do a great job of getting the information out there, rallying the troops, and presumably getting real life change kick started. I’ve been living large (primal), instead of being large since april 1, lost 20 lbs of fat, and feel great. Now Im trying to get the loved ones on board, this post is one of the most forwardable ones I’ve read. We’ll see if the fam will take on the challenge.
    Thank you.

  7. My son wanted to go vegetarian. I had him eat vegetarian all week long, then on Friday night we grilled up the tastiest ribeye steaks you ever saw. By then, a bean burrito wasn’t cutting it for him, and he begged to eat meat again. Too bad not all parents have it that easy.

  8. I am glad that my husband and I both took the plunge to do primal together! Made it easier for me that is for sure!

    1. The spousal unit and I did too! The mutual support and reinforcement helps a bunch.

      OTOH — We have our very own Kenny Korg: a 14 y.o. with an addiction to vidgames and YouTube. Since we cleaned out the cupboards, he can only get the sweets and carbs he craves either at school or with his own money…he’s dropped about 15 lbs 😉

      1. …I should add that he’s also 6’1″ and was lookin’ pretty pudgy a couple of months ago so that folks don’t think he’s wasting away to nothing loosing that much!!

  9. This was a great story! I understand about living in a divided house. For my husband, taste rules supreme, even if it’s not the healthiest food. My son is a picky eater who specializes in grainy carbs, and my daughter is really turning into a carb-hound! I can’t wait to hear more about Ken Korg!

  10. I’ve been Primal for the last year, and I did indeed send an email this week called, “My Secret to Losing” (since we also have a “biggest loser” contest going on at work). I outlined the 30 day challenge and attached the challenge pdf. Quite a few “Korgs” have said they are going to give it a try. I sincerely hope they do.

  11. I printed the challenge pdf too. I have it on my desk at work.

    Everyone at work knows the rule of checking ingredients when they shop.

    The best part is when people with cookies in their hand hunted and gathered from the office cookie tin look at my plate with full fat cream, cheese, butter, veg and paleo bread and say wow you really want to kill yourself eating all that fat…

  12. lol fish oil burps. I’ve had a lot of those.
    Unfortunately I can’t follow all of the stipulations of the 30 Day Challenge. I live in a tarp in a forest, kind of like Grok, and though I just got some money from welfare I’ve mostly been eating what I can get for free lately so that includes some non-primal fare and I have a huge stash of beans as well as some pea soup from the food bank that I’ll be living off. I picked out the most primal stuff they had and after that whatever else seemed the most nutritious with the most fat and/or protein. I have a carton of eggs from the food bank back at camp that have been sitting out there for about a day now. I hope they’re still fresh enough to eat. I plan to mix them raw with condensed cream of mushroom soup, canned escargot and possibly salmon, and probably some cumin and ground ginger.
    I drank about 2.5L of chocolate soy milk today with a couple chunks of pure unsweetened chocolate and 200g of organic cheese because the last couple weeks have been filled with undesired/unplanned intermittent fasting / extended malnourishment and I assumed enriched, mostly organic soy milk was a good way to get a boost of vitamins and minerals and a bit of protein, the chocolate was good for antioxidants, and the cheese was filling and provided lots of fat, protein, and calcium.
    I basically got diarrhea.. a couple times.. excess soy milk has this effect on me.. but I assume that means my bowels underwent a thorough cleaning and I am feeling a bit better than before consuming it.
    My prescribed codeine and the tyrosine pills (figured if I’m taking something that releases extra dopamine I should load up on the precursor for it), ginseng extract, and little handful of bee pollen I had earlier might have something to do with that but I think I’ve replenished my body fairly effeciently and recovered well from my concussion last week.

    1. No worries about the eggs. Most places in the world never refrigerate them! The grocery stores just put them on shelves and thats where they go in the kitchen too. On the counter! Cold eggs is a new thing!

      1. If you DON’T WASH the eggs after laid then you can keep them at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.

        It’s when they get washed and then left sitting out is when they turn foul.

        My local farmer told me that 🙂

    2. You have a computer in the woods? Or just making use of that wonderful thing called the library?

  13. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said this already but I thought of it last night and just have to say.. Rock out with your Grok out!

  14. Going Primal in Cheshire, UK. Loving the site and the tweets! Such a boost through my Carb-Flu! Achhooo! 🙂

  15. I’ve been so excited with the transition and the results thus far, I’m going to be placing all of my patients on the “30 Day Challenge.” What else can I say, I’m pumped 🙂

  16. This story sounded a little like mine except i just had a baby 9 months ago and we are still pretty happy in the bedroom! But i have a video gaming husband and although he works very hard at his job he likes to wind down with Call of Duty or Halo to mention a few. I wish he could hop on board with me in the primal lifestyle. For the most part though he has not complained about my new primal pantry or the recipes i have been cooking either!! My kids are 4, 2 and 9mo. They love the new healthy “happy” food as they call it!! Inspiring story for sure!!

  17. While my spouse is not 100% on board with the Primal way, he’s not too bad. Being a typical guy, he will eat whatever I make and put in front of him. Thank goodness I love to cook and am good at it! However, left to his own devices, his choices aren’t so great. Turning him completely primal is taking a little bit at a time- it’s hard for him to give up the taste (as well, I’m with you Sarah M!) of food he likes, even if he knows it’s not healthy him. I think turning a spouse is a little easier if you are the major grocery buyer and cook in the house.

  18. Take advantage of the gamer kids. Make an ANTI-CORN alliance in COD! Promote meat in WOW, Can you really become a level 85 Vegetarian in WoW?

    I liked the part where he stroked his chin. Maybe Chins would have been better. Ha, I can see it now.

    1. I’m afraid Ken and Kelly’s daughter is on the path to an eating disorder. Last week she decided she needed to look skinnier and more like a model. So she tried to be very virtuous, eating only salads with no dressing for a few days. Then one afternoon she decided to eat one 100-calorie pack of lowfat oreo crisps. Soon she found herself rapidly eating the whole package of 100-calorie packs. She was still hungry, so she ate 3 containers of nonfat yogurt and 2 bagels. She feels physically horrible, hates her body, and can’t stop thinking about food. (Of course this is familiar to me. I would love to see a post about primal living vs. eating disorders. I have never been so sane about food in my life as I have been in the past year of primal living. I never appreciated how what I was eating ITSELF made me crazy about what I was eating.)

      1. Ha ha, I just scanned all the comments wondering if anyone else caught that the Korg daughter disappeared. Seeing as she was 6, the eating disorder thing is even worse…

  19. My wife and I started the challenge and so far so good. I’ve been 80% priaml for 6 months now and the wife is happy with new menu. Luckily, I have an ADHD son who is a carnivoir so video games for him are on Xbox Kinect. My 6 year old needs some work but he is starting to realize he doesn’t feel good when he sneeks junk from the neighbors (his aunt).

  20. This may be a bit off,but for my two cents,I think watching the movie”Food,Inc.” should change the way everyone wants to eat…I dont think I could eat or drink anything made with soybeans or corn ever again! There goes 90% of the “food” supply…my biggest leap will be to buy grassfed animals. I understand cheap food when you dont have alot to spend – but its getting harder to justify supporting CAFO’s….
    and I did enough damage by being mostly vegtetarian for years.

  21. that was awesome..yes, please more of the story!! I am anxiously awaiting the next chapter of when he comes home and talks to Kelly about it!

  22. OH my gosh I love this post sooo much! Links to articles long ago that I can never seem to find! (: