I Am Forever Changed

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!

Hello Mark,

My name is Brian McKenna and I am an inspiration! I am 30 years of age. I live five minutes from Boston, in the town of Saugus, Massachusetts. I am currently 5’9” tall and I weigh 177 pounds!

I would like to thank you for all the work you do and for writing The Primal Blueprint, it is the most important book I have ever/will ever read! I first read The Primal Blueprint in December 2010 and I have forever been changed! While reading your book I would often find myself throwing a fist into the air and swearing vengeance against convention wisdom!

During late 2009, I was 28 years old and I weighed just over 400 pounds and I had not been happy with myself in years. I had just enough energy to go to work then come home and sit on my butt and play Xbox. I was only sleeping between 3-5 hours a night. My diet mainly consisted of coffee truck cuisine, fast food, takeout food, and lots of soda. I would get a cold roughly four times a year, and then the cold would turn into a sinus infection. I also had high blood pressure, and based on how I felt when I started to get hungry I suspected I may be diabetic. I started to think about how I have lived my life so far, and how I have never been happy with my activity level and the way I looked.

So at the start of 2010 I decided to stop drinking soda, instead I drank some grape juice mixed with water. On March 4, 2010 I decided to weigh myself on the shipping scale while I was at work. I weighed just less than 400 pounds. I said some curse words then I decided to start changing what I ate. I left work early so I could purchase a blender so I could start making Alton Brown’s buff smoothies! I had my first AB smoothie on March 5, 2010 just before I left for work at 6:45 am. The AB smoothie became my breakfast every day, my lunch went from some junk off of the coffee truck to something I used to call a salad (romaine lettuce, shredded cheese, croutons, homemade dressing). If I needed a snack I would eat a handful of nuts, and my dinner was usually chicken tenderloins with another poor excuse for a salad.

By July of 2010 I weighed 350 pounds, by November I was down to 300 pounds (I finally got back down to my High School graduation weight!). I decided I was going to start working out again. The last time I worked out was back when I was 19 years old. So I started to work out in the basement with the multi station machine. Lat pull downs, rows, leg presses, etc. I worked out alternating muscle groups; I also worked out every other day of the week. But I did not have enough energy to get though my workouts so I decided that I needed some more carbohydrates. I started to incorporate some pasta into my diet. After a few weeks of consuming pasta and working out I noticed that I stopped losing weight and that lifting x number of pounds on this machine means nothing to me. So via Facebook I asked a friend from high school, who just happens to be a power lifter and own a supplement company, if he would recommend a book about body shaping and nutrition. I was told that he had read many great books, but if he only could recommend one book it was The Primal Blueprint.

I picked up The Primal Blueprint after work that day and I started reading it in the car in the parking lot of the book store. Within reading the first 100 pages of your book, I was forever changed. I finally knew why I started to get fat when I was a kid, and how I became a morbidly obese adult. I decided to start following the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws as best as I could. I made a promise to myself that I would continue to always better myself for the rest of my life! I ate eggs in the morning and some fruit instead of the AB smoothie. For lunch I had a huge salad with lots of vegetables, and topped with some chicken. For dinner I ate more protein and I tried Brussels sprouts for the first time in my life! During that first week of my transition, I noticed I had a lot more energy, so I decided to start going for a walk after work. I think the next week I decided to incorporate some PB fitness. I did my fitness assessment, and then I started on level 1 of all movements! I started to pay more attention to my energy level and my output.

I weighed myself on January 1, 2011 and I weighed 274 pounds! I started to feel this unstoppable power flowing through my body. I could tap into this power at any time and do whatever I wanted to do, then get up the next day and do it again. Go on a 3 hour hike though Breakheart Reservation, no problem! Then the next day do my PB fitness! I had my first attempt at sprints during late January 2011. After I was done with my sprint session I could not believe that I just ran. I had not even attempted to run since my teenage years and now roughly 15 years later I just ran!

I love the way I live my life now. During a typical week I am in bed by 9:30 pm. I get up at 5:30 am, and I have my primal breakfast before I leave for work at 6:30. I work as a metal fabricator and I arrive to work usually 10 minutes before my shift starts. At work I have to wear steel toe shoes. And I spend my working hours standing on my feet running various metal processing machines. I bring a cooler to work; inside the cooler is my primal salad which I made the night before. I usually top my salad with chicken, tuna, or even sardines! I also bring a piece of fruit, some unsalted cashews, macadamia nuts or almonds with me, and one dose of whey protein. When I leave work at 3:30 pm, I have the energy to do whatever I want. Going for an hour long walk in my Vibram FiveFingers. Or having a quick walk before my PB fitness session. I save my sprints for the weekend. These are all things I love to do! For dinner I usually have chicken or a steak, and some Brussels sprouts or beets. Or if I am not that hungry I will have another dose of whey protein.

Throughout my life changing experiences, I have kept others informed of what I was doing and why I was doing it. I have even inspired others to make changes. I am so proud of myself that I made those changes and kept going. I am also proud of anyone that is not happy with the way they live and have decided to change. I would not be where I am now if I did not have the life experiences I have had so far. I will never go back to drinking bottled beverages, or consuming food that is processed. I will always stay active. I can feel all this energy flowing through my body. I have to put it to use!

Enclosed are some pictures of me. The fattest picture of me was taken on April 14, 2010. I weighed roughly 385 pounds. The picture of me with the greatest book ever written, that picture was taken February 2011. The last picture was taken in July of this year around my 30th birthday, and I was weighing around 200 pounds! Please share my story with others and if you want to know more just ask!

Thank you for reading this,

Brian McKenna

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156 thoughts on “I Am Forever Changed”

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    1. Thank you for reading my story and for your comment! Corinne

  1. Absolutely incredible. A conquering hero!

    Brian, everyone who knows you must be amazed. I hope that your own journey is just the beginning and that you save many other lives by your example.

    1. Everyone I know is amazed, I am still amazed and I will always feel amazing!
      Thanks for commenting! Timothy

  2. Dayum!!! You lost some weight, man! Congrats! I love it.

    Way to go on making the change, Brian – you look so much healthier! I just love Fridays 🙂 – thanks for the inspirations!

  3. Congratulations on an amazing life transformation! It’s funny that we used to drink sugary drinks and fast food because that’s what we thought made us ‘feel good’. But there’s nothing like the feeling good of healthy eating and a healthy body. You look great!

    1. Kathy, Exactly we thought it used to make us feel good. But know we know what feeling good feels like and how to achieve it! Thank you!

    1. Primal Housewife, Thank you! and thank you primal success stories!

  4. Brian, You look fantastic! but I hear in your voice that how you feel is the real miracle here. This is what I try to impart to other people who have doubts about what I’m doing…that I just feel so damn good.

    Nice job and thanks for sharing.

    1. Melissa, It is amazing how great a person can feel when they take the time and make the effort. Congrats on your success! and thank you!

  5. Super good, very inspiring, I am forwarding this to everybody!

  6. Brian:

    Way to go! I admire you and anyone willing to try new things and create a working strategy that you internalize and adhere to long term.

    In your story, I see nothing about the things that so often hold people back from change (anger, blame, skepticism, the need to defend what you did before, or anything from the whole host of well-worn excuses we’ve all heard).

    It seems like one thing that really helps you is how you listen to yourself. Your wrote, for example:

    “I started to think about how I have lived my life so far, and how I have never been happy with my activity level and the way I looked.”

    “I started to pay more attention to my energy level and my output.”

    “I can feel all this energy flowing through my body.”

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, what can happen when we put denial aside, and pay close attention to what we know and what we feel. Those things begin to harmonize, and it leads to real transcendence, as your story clearly shows.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Susan, It is amazing! Your comment is amazing as well! I started out small with the idea that I was going to try to make changes. In a short amount of time I realized that I could do it and the attempts before were not even attempts. I kept building on the changes and before I new it I realised that this movement in my life was unstoppable! I had some negative thoughts and feelings along the way but anything negative I turned into a positive!

  7. 200 hundred pounds in two years, and you’re keeping it off. i say it’s time we ditch Jillian Michaels.

    What about the colds and high blood pressure and the sinus infections? Are those gone too?

    1. I no longer have high blood pressure, and the last time I had a cold was October of last year!

    2. I so love your comment, Grokitmus.

      Jillian Michaels is always in my refrigerator, or all places, because she’s sold out to the brand of coconut milk I like best, so I “get” to see her picture several times a day (next to the quote that says she loves coconut milk on her cereal and baked goods (!!!).

      You can tell just by the look on her face at her that she really doesn’t care about anyone, and that she’s “milking” the moment for all its worth.

      I wish she would disappear, you know?

      Meanwhile, those like Brian, though, should totally Grok on. 🙂

  8. wow!! you reduced yourself by 50%!!!
    And kept the good half 🙂

    What a fantastic job you’ve done and how nice of you to share.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. I am so going to use that line. “I reduced my self by 50% and kept the good half.” Thank you! peggy

  9. Brian, love the dedication and spirit behind your story. What an awesome success! Thank you for sharing, and all best to you!

  10. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m brand new to this and found your words very inspiring. The photos are amazing. It could be father and son, never mind the same person.

    1. Jill, Welcome I am glad my words and pictures have that effect and thank you for reading my story! I was brand new to all this once but how things can change!

  11. Brian is my cousin and for all of you reading this, it is impossible to overstate how proud we are of him and what massive challenges he has overcome. Our family is wonderful and supportive in many ways but we also have some pretty horrifying eating habits that tend to get magnified when we are together.

    But Brian made a decision to change his life and he surrounded himself with a protective blanket of self-care; once he made the decision to change his life, he had the Primal Blueprint by his side no matter what else was going on. This decision to persevere is such a HUGE accomplishment especially in the frozen tundra that is New England in the winter. Makes it hard to do anything outside. Brrrrrrr…..

    I couldn’t be more proud of you, Brian for the strength, determination and self-care you have exhibited over the last bunch of months. You really are an inspiration, and I am hoping that the universe guides the rest of our beautiful family in the same direction that you took to get where you are today.

    With much love from Austin,

    1. “protective blanket of self-care”
      Love that statement. Love that philosophy.

      Congrats, Brian, you are very inspirational.

      Thanks for sharing.

    2. I did stumble a little but that protective planket of self-care was always there. Thank you for all the help and support. I hope they will decide to change as well.

  12. Another awesome Friday success story. Congratulations Brian. (I still can’t eat Brussell Sprouts, though).

    1. try stir fry with bacon grease and sprinkle crumbled bacon over them. Surprised myself, I actually ate them 🙂

  13. What a transformation…you don’t even look close to the person in the first photo anymore, I can’t believe this is you!

    Just awesome dude, very well done:)

  14. Fantastic effort, Brian! Once again PRIMAL living comes to the health rescue!

  15. This is absolutely AMAZING! When I scrolled down and saw the second picture I was in awe, then I saw the third picture and I litterally let out a gasp as my jaw practically hit the floor. I am truly inspired and although this is my first time visiting this site, I HAVE to buy the book..riiiiiight abooooout….. NOW!

    1. Yes, absolutely read the book, or the 21 day total body transformation. I am going to start my challenge on Monday!

  16. These are the posts I most look forward to each week, out of the 80+ blogs I subscribe to. These posts and the Latest In Paleo podcast really keep me going.

    Down 33 pounds in 7 weeks and feeling great!

    1. Eric, 33 pounds gone in 7 weeks keep it up you will continue to feel greater!

  17. You are such an inspiration! Way to go! And the best part is that you are saving the lives of others through your transformation! That’s a pretty cool win/win if you ask me.

  18. Loved the “fist pump” as well, as you realize the lie of CW. I have had several moments like that!

  19. Hi Brian,
    I can’t comprehend the enormity of what you had to overcome to achieve this, but I am awestruck nevertheless! Your motivation and discipline, sparked by the PB, are truly inspiring.
    Congratulations on reclaiming your life spirit.

  20. Wow…. I can’t stop saying wow…. Very inspiring story, Brian. I just came to the website to look for some motivation and inspiration to start back on my primal journey. I just found it. Thank you!

    1. Wendy, I am happy to hear you found your inspiration to start back on your primal journey! I had a little trouble a few months ago so I read The Primal Blueprint again and I was good to go!
      Be sure to post your PB success story! and thank you!

  21. What a great and inspiring story. Congratulations on your transformation.

  22. ok, Brian, all I have to say is ‘WOW’!! What an inspiring story! Thanks so much for sharing.

  23. AND this is why I love, love, love Fridays! Congrats Brian – your transformation is amazing, the high BP is gone and your family has embraced you! Thank you for sharing and contributing to the motivation!

  24. I have been reading this blog for about a month (and still heaps more to read) but haven’t commented yet, but Brian, your story brought tears to my eyes. What an incredible inspiration you are!

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey.

  25. Brian – good job!
    I especially like to hear that you are using super healthy but low mercury sardines. We have been discussing different sardine recipes on our site, but I’ll admit I haven’t sorted them into paleo and non-paleo buckets yet. Eating them straight must be maximally paleo 🙂

  26. Brian – All the progress is just 1 1/2 years – that’s awesome.

  27. good stuff mate..

    i applaud the guts and determination…

    I just dont get the symbolism of the hand gesture ( right hand) in the photo…..

    have you embraced satanism also?

    1. Given the context of the story Brian’s hand gesture is more likley sign language for “I love” The Primal BluePrint.

      1. thats fair…..i would think two thumbs up would convey it better though..

        im definetly giving him two thumbs….well done champion.

        no offence intended mate.

  28. Well done Brian! You certainly lost a lot! I think a lot of people who get to ur weight feel they’ve gone way too far to do anything about it, like they’re a lost cause….but u really did turn it around – and some! Well done!

    H x

  29. Great job Brian the story is inspiring.
    We are neighbors have you found any ultimate frisbee leaques by you?
    I live in Marlborough mass!

    1. Hey neighbor, ultimate frisbee sounds like fun I will look for some games after this winter!

  30. What an amazing transformation! Congratulations on your success! Thank you for sharing your story with us! Grok on man!

  31. You look amazing Brian, what a transformation. Congratulations.

  32. Congratulations, Brian! I am very happy for you! Keep up the great routine!

  33. Brian, Thanks for sharing your story…the turning points in your life were very well expressed. What levels have you achieved in the 5 basic exercises? I made it to level 4 after a year then took up barbell lifting (“Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe) for a few months….really kicked in the afterburners!

    1. I am currently on level 5 squats, level 2 overhead presses, level 2 plank, and level 2 in both pushups and pullups!

  34. Great Job Brian, what an inspiration you are to your tribe. Hope you continue to inspire others on your journey. Have you gotten to check out the history of Obesity in Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories? It shows some of the American Indian tribes and the way they ate before the Standard American Diet (SAD) took hold. If you get a chance check it out. Yawah.

  35. Wow, such a great job! 200 pounds is no simple task. Your family & friends must be so proud as well as all the primal/paleo community. Hats off to you my friend!

  36. You’re so inspiring! My husband currently weighs 365 lbs. I wish I could get him to read this so he understands that he doesn’t need to get a bariatric surgery to lose weight. He’s resigned to the idea that that’s the only way he could lose weight. I’ve tried to get him to read the Primal Blueprint book but he refused.

  37. Amazing journey. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s very inspirational. You should be very proud of the work that you have started. Keep it up !!!

  38. Brian,
    You have transgormed your life and willbe motivsting many others to transform theirs. Congratulations!

  39. SO impressive! I too thought the middle picture was the “after”–I was already gasping with awe. My jaw really hit the ground when I saw the last picture: “Unbelievable!”. Your story is really inspiring. Chapeaux!

  40. Brian McKenna..you are a true inspiration to all, like Susan said..theres no blame, no excuses, you just did what you had to do & you did it very well. If everyone thought like you, this world would be a much healthier place my friend !!

  41. What an awesome story…well done Brian. Stay fit and stay well always!

  42. Refuse to fall into the growing victim culture. I like it. Keep it up and go out and lift some heavy things.

    Oh and buy your friend a beer. What a recommendation.

  43. Fantastic and amazing!! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and many congratulations to you.

  44. Brian,

    Great job! I loved reading your story! I too have found a new way of life pretty much ditching processed pre-packaged garbage. I love the energy I have and I just want to keep going. Thanks for adding additional inspiration!

  45. Nice Job, Brian! You’re a prime example of someone who put their mind to making a positive change, and ‘stayed the course’. Congrats, man, and like Timothy noted, my hope is that you save a bunch of lives along your life’s path.

  46. Well done Brian, I love your energy and enthusiasm which just shouts out a me from the page – what an inspiring story!! Huge congratulations and keep up the wonderful spirit you have!

  47. Brian — what an inspiring story. My first thought: you lost the equivalent of another person in order to find the real person that was inside of you. Your commitment and character really shine through. Many congratulations!

  48. Wow, Brian! That is awesome, and congrats on your decision to live a great healthy life! You look amazing!

  49. Thanks for sharing your story Brian. I am 16 days into being Primal and I love hearing about these incredible sucesses!!!!

    1. Erik, be sure to tell us all about your incredible success with living primal!

  50. Congratulations on the amazing changes you’ve made! You really are an inspiration.

  51. hell yeah Brian, amazing life story, keep it up you inspired me!

  52. I love these success stories and how the photos show folks becoming more and more beautiful, with a sparkle in their eyes! You look great, B!! Such an inspiration.

  53. Wow, you are remarkable. This is my first time on this site and your story is my first. You had me in tears, such a joy in reading this!

  54. This almost made me cry! I’m in the same position you were in. I’m just discovering the Primal Blueprint and I have a long ways to go but I’m just starting small… Just going for a walk everyday is a huge improvement! It’s amazing how much sense living primally makes – it’s the first thing that resonates with me.

    You’re a great inspiration Brian, and you’ve certainly motivated me!

    1. Kaz, starting small is the only way to start! I remember the first time I went to the track for a walk I think I weighed 380 pounds. I walked two laps about half a mile, and I was in so much pain. I felt defeated but I told myself I was going to come back after I lost some more poundage! Keep at it and be sure to share your success story asap!

  55. WOW! Congratulations Brian! That is truly inspiring. I just recently came across PB and can’t wait to have a story to share after reading yours! Keep up the good work and sharing your progress, it reaches more people than you can even imagine.

    1. Brian,

      Wow! Congrats on taking control of your health. Do you have any recent blood work numbers that you would be willing to share and possible compare to older numbers prior to going Primal?

      Nice work,


  56. Brian,

    Thank you for writing your story. I like your honesty and straight-forward approach, which shows that if people have the right ideas, then they can reach their goals by making relatively simple changes in their lives.

    All the best,

    Peyton Stafford

  57. Hi Brian. I am 51 years old and I sit here on New Year’s Eve just finishing hamburgers and hot dogs from the grill and feeling like that if I don’t make a change in my life, I will die in the next few years. I am going to make a change starting today and I won’t stop until I lose at least 100 pounds. No excuses. I will talk to you again one month from today (12-31-11).

  58. Brian — What a great inspiration you are! I’m 54, right about 400lbs myself. I have been kidding myself by going to they gym 5X a week, and still eating carbs — breads, sweets, etc. like crazy. I feel like crud, and have made the decision to take responsibility for things and make a change. Today is my first day being Primal. I will keep reading your story, and hope to follow in your footsteps.

    Thank you Brian!

  59. Mr. Brian, my dad is 48 and weighs close to 300 pounds and works almost all day (from 6am-6pm basically) an when he gets home he is too tired to workout with me or go for a walk or bike or run, is there hope to get him in shape? I’m really worried about his health

  60. Brian, what an awesome motivating story. I grew up not far from you playing sports against Saugus HS. Over my life I went from a lean muscular 185 to now, weighing 250. I story has me jacked as I just starred the Paleo diet, after a couple of days I feel a awesome. Your story has given me a goal to shoot for. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work

  61. This is what I needed to find.This helped me tremendoously . Such an inspiration, and I can’t wait to show my family that living primal changes your life. Sick of people bashing primal living when there are so many stories out there to prove its worth, like this one. Thank you !!

  62. You now look like the son of the 400 lb guy that you were! You must feel so accomplished. How wonderful!

  63. Amazing, congratulation and very good job Brian. I hope you good life. Many many thanks to Mark Sisson for his work.