I Am Now the “Healthy Guy”

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!

Dear Mark,

I was never concerned with my health, my weight or my looks. I joined the Marine Corps in 1998 weighing 190 pounds and left boot camp at 165 pounds. I quickly gained back about 15 pounds and sat at 185 throughout most of my Marine Corps career. During this time, I exercised a lot but didn’t really restrict my diet very much. I had a high body fat percentage even though I was making weight requirements. When I injured my knee and could no longer keep the Marine Corps PT pace I began to gain weight. I left the Marine Corps in January of 2002 weighing 200 pounds. I quickly began eating junk that I had not allowed myself while in the service. By the time my wife and I moved back home to Mississippi in 2003, I was weighing around 250 pounds. I got a job working in corrections when we moved back. The hours, stress, and lack of time to exercise caused my weight to bloom to an all-time high of 315 pounds. I wore a size 48 pants and a size 3XL shirt. I spent 8 years in corrections. Six of those years were in a supervisory role. My blood pressure was regularly at 190 over 95.

Gabe - 2010

Gabe - 2011

In 2012, I decided to leave corrections because it was killing me. I didn’t have time to spend with my family or my church. I was unhealthy, stressed, and grossly overweight.

Leaving corrections gave me the opportunity to enjoy social media, which was a security risk before. When I got onto Facebook, I found and friended a former Marine Corps buddy of mine, Seth Williams. Seth told me that he’d had a life changing experience with this new lifestyle he had discovered called the “caveman” diet. He gave me this website, marksdailyapple.com.

At first I was very skeptical. I have seen so many “lose weight” schemes that I had become jaded. I was wondering where the hook was, or the catch, or the money making trap. But I had come to a point in my life where I wanted to change. I wanted to hit the “reset” button. So I went to MDA. And it seemed very very simple. It fit totally with the lifestyle I wanted to have. I always enjoyed meat and veggies and never really loved bread and pasta. I didn’t want to believe how easy it sounded.

I started at the end of June 2012, with the diet change. I stopped eating bread, fried stuff, sugar, and legumes. I stopped going to the gas station for chicken and chips. I stopped eating fast food completely. Because I was trying to lose weight, I began watching the amount of carbs I took in. I fasted through breakfast and lunch a couple of days a week. The only thing I refused to give up was Coke Zero.

After a week, I began to have to cinch up my belt. At the end of a month, I couldn’t keep my pants up and had to punch holes to make my belt fit. At that point, I began to exercise as well. When I started, I could only do one single push-up. The rest was done on my knees. I began to work out doing pushups and sit-ups every other day.

In September 2012, I had to buy a new wardrobe because my clothes were all too big. I was wearing a 36 pants size at that point and a size large shirt. By Christmas 2012 I had dropped below 200 pounds. My stomach had gotten so used to small portions of meat and veggies, that when I eat more than I normally do, I feel sick. I can’t handle large portions. Even the thought of eating bread is revolting to me now. Now I weigh between 185 and 190 pounds. I am in a size 34 pants and a medium size shirt.

Gabe - 2013

I have introduced more carbs into my diet since I have begun to level out my weight. I cheat on the diet every now and then, with some sweets (about once a week), but still stay away from grains. I have not been working out as much as I want to. I still have some fat that I want to lose and the Primal lifestyle is the way to do it.

I ran 4 miles last weekend up hills near our home while my 8 year old rode her bicycle. That was something I could never even have imagined doing a year ago. My blood pressure was 126 over 76 when I checked it last. I can do 40 pushups and over 100 crunches. I feel better about myself, the way I look, the way I feel, and the way I live. To top it all off, I was able to fit into my Marine Corps Dress Blues last week. I am now the “healthy guy”. Everyone has been asking me how I did it. I always give them the MDA website. MDA changed my life. Thank you, Seth, and thank you, Mark!

Gabe - 2013


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95 thoughts on “I Am Now the “Healthy Guy””

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  1. WOW!! What a transformation! I really look forward to these stories every Friday, and this is why…
    Your story is very inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Gabe i totally know the feeling when i first started career in Corrections i was 190 I was on the Prison’s version of SWAT ran 2 miles a day with a couple of 7 mile days. Then I to promoted and gained almost 80 pounds. I was recently turned on to the primal bluebrint by a partner of mine and I have lost 27 pounds since April 1st. Congrats on your weight loss!!

  2. Way to go, Gabe. I’m guessing the reduction in stress after leaving corrections was a big factor in your getting healthy. What a great first step. And I can relate to punching holes in your belt. It’s a great feeling.

    1. Ahhh, the beauty of punching holes in belts instead of the walls out of frustration…great job Gabe!

  3. Wow I was literally shaking my head thinking “unbelievable” at the 3rd picture. Well done! Great story!

  4. Wow, sent to my hubby for inspiration, hopefully. Love him, but worry about his weight. Fingers crossed!

    1. At first I thought that said “Oat Keepers” and chuckled. Then I read about “Oath Keepers” – no chuckles. Scary stuff.

  5. Congrats Gabe! Your transformation is awe-inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Great job Gabe! Good for you. That’s an impressive transformation in a short period of time.

  7. Congratulations Gabe!!! Well done and I too love the pic of you in your big trousers!!! I just love Fridays!

  8. That is awesome!! And I for one would love to see a pic wearing the Dress Blues 🙂

  9. Way to go Gabe! I live in MS too and changing attitudes is tough down here. Keep up the good work!

  10. You look great Gabe! I loved your story, from one push up to 40! Very inspirational 🙂

  11. Very inspiring transformation! My son also works in corrections and his size is similar to what yours was. It is a stressful job.

  12. Dude! Looking good!
    Boy, it is like you turned the clock back a decade on those before/afters.

  13. Thank you for your story Gabe. I’m betting that your daughter thinks you are the absolute greatest person on this earth. A huge high five, well done.

  14. Congrats on your transformation! Very inspiring… Thank you for your service!

  15. Congratulations on such an epic transformation.

    My favorite thought about your situation is that you are now in the position to pass on what you have learned. Most people will never listen to someone preach unsolicited about making these sorts of dietary and lifestyle changes. But when they see your success, they will naturally be inspired to try for themselves.

  16. When you can fit two of you in your old pants, you know you’ve made a significant change!!! The best thing is that you’ve made yourself the best dad you can be. Great job!

  17. Outstanding!

    Over 100 lbs off in about 6 months? I’d say this lifestyle suits you! You look super fit now. The Marine Corps could take a lesson from you in this respect.

  18. Now that’s a 1 year transformation at it’s finest. Grok on Gabe.

  19. Way to go from a Mississippi girl now living across the state line in Alabama! I love reading these posts! You look great and I am so glad you feel great!!!

  20. Sounds similar to my life in many ways. Lifted heavy and constantly in high school and was very strong, but had packed on a layer of fat from a diet of Mountain Dew, Taco Bell and Snickers bars (how I was ever able to life the insane amounts I did is a mystery now, if only I had known about good nutrition back then!). I joined the Army and left 4 days after graduating high school. Boot camp made me drop about 30lbs of fat and I was ripped as well as strong, but quickly gained back about 15lbs and stayed around 180-185 through my time in the Army.

    After the Army I went to college and worked full time, and quit working out cold turkey. I gained 100lbs in a year and was in size 48 pants and 3XL shirts too!

    I used Atkins to lose the weight quickly and maintained it for about 2 years until I got into a highly stressful and toxic environment with a career change to IT. I started making poor food choices again and ballooned back up to around 276.

    On a bet to lose weight with a friend, I lost another 60lbs about 2 years ago with the help of MDA and other Paleo/Primal sources. I’ve had a bit of backslide lately, and may be battling some minor blood sugar and hormonal issues, but I’m determined to get back on track again. I’d love to get back to my Army weight, and as an ultimate goal eventually my boot camp weight. It’ll be a long journey, but one I’m hoping to post one day.

  21. Yikes.We all must come to THE DECISION. That is to say, get educated and take the plunge. You are a shining example. As an aside, for thirty years, I’d envy those people in the grocery store who had real food in their carts. Now I only shop the perimeter and that person is me.

  22. What a great success story! Kudos to you for recognizing that your job was contributing to your ill health and doing something about it! That takes courage. Your changes are amazing and you must be thrilled to be able to be such a great role model for your family. Congratulations!

  23. Wow!! You are a inspiration Gabe!! I know Gabe from when we used to work corrections together. To see him now and how much he has changed is very encouraging. I proud of you Gabe and keep up the good work bro! Semper Fi!

  24. Great Job! What a wonderful gift you’ve given your daughter…a fit healthy dad.

  25. Gabe, you look terrific. Once again, it’s all about making the right food choices. Exercise helps with overall health, but when it comes to losing weight, it’s mostly about the food we eat.

  26. Awesome! Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your inspirational story! And yes, thank you Mark! Best blog on the web!!!!

  27. Gabe, you look fantastic and fit! What an inspiration you are. Who’d have thought a good-looking skinny guy was hiding in those “before” pictures. 🙂 I agree with another commenter, I’d have enjoyed seeing a picture of you in your dress blues. Thank you for serving, and thank you for sharing your story.

  28. Outstanding job! Congratulations.

    On a personal side note my body type and results are a mirror image of you.
    This really does work!!!!

  29. Get it Gabe! Amazing transformation and an inspiring story! Keep up the good work.

  30. You look fantastic! Congratulations! (And thank you for your service!)

  31. That is amazing!

    Thanks for sharing – lets me know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  32. Amazing transformation! Congratulations!! Definitely an inspiration.

  33. great job, I just started and hope to be where you are at in a year

  34. Way to go! Roll Tide! Keep it up!
    Seth Williams was also integral in my husband’s and my decision to change our way of eating! On NYE, he explained a primal lifestyle and told us to check out MDA.
    Thanks for sharing.

  35. What a encouraging story! You look great! Good for you to have the courage to leave your toxic job and feed your body & soul the correct way. I spent 20-years as a 911 dispatcher and regret not escaping sooner. I have a long way to go but know I’ll obtain my goal also.
    I hope you’re an Oath Keeper…

  36. This was beautiful! I don’t comment often- but this was so awesome! You look fantastic- I feel the same way- bread and pasta just turn me off! ( I have celiac disease so it really does kill me!) I hope you and your family are so happy!

  37. Amazing.. you have just inspired me to finally get started. Thank you!

  38. Gabe, you rock. So fun reading your story. I’m also always so pleased when I hear of a success story in a “traditional food” area like the deep south. I am sure it’s much harder being Primal in Mississippi than it is in San Francisco – so extra big props for pushing through. My guess is that you get more stares than I do when ordering a lettuce wrap!!! But, your actions will have a huge impact on the community you interact with – former Marines, your fellow church-goers, your family, and the rest of your town/city members who are lucky enough to come across your story.

    I almost feel envious of your position of influence. You are in a spot where simply “being” the change is enough to inspire everyone else! So, so cool – and big ‘ole kudos for making it happen. Very inspirational. I am envisioning dozens more local friends and family members making the switch over the next few years, thanks to your excellent example 🙂

    Grok on, my friend!!

  39. wow flying along at 35,000 feet and when I saw that 3rd photo of you I blurted out OMG .. Proud of you buddy.

    Got your life back !

  40. Wow!! From a native Mississippian I must say awesome job!! It isn’t easy being primal/paleo and live in the south (I now live in TN) but keep up the good work!!! I get so tired of Sippi and Tennessee coming in as the fattest unhealthiest states!!!

  41. Wow!! Your transformation is amazing. I love the Friday stories because everyone starts from such different places, but the primal/paleo eating and lifestyle works for all. To me that says something profound about how humans are meant to eat and live. Shuts down all the back and forth discussion as far as I’m concerned. By the way, what are Oath Keepers?

  42. Holy Muffins!

    Great work dude, thanks for sharing too, your achievement becomes a gift that keeps on giving when shared for all to see. Thanks buddy, it’s great being reminded every now and then that there are others out there making effective changes for the better. Especially on this scale, I wish you good health and vitality.

  43. Congratulations, amazing pics, I am sending this link to everybody!

  44. I find it hard to eat well living in the South, such a different mind set towards food here. Thank you for your encouraging story and reminding us all that it can be done! Roll tide!!

  45. Very inspirational! I am very happy for you and your family, but especially for your daughter who has an amazing role model. Also, with better health you will enjoy life so much more. Thank you for sharing your story.

  46. Very nice transformation , slim , sleek physicque . Fantastic work. Have you been able to give up coke zero yet? 🙂

    1. I am still holding on to Coke 0. I have, however, cut down significantly on the intake. Ive gone from 4-5 a day to about 1-2 a day. I am subing coffee a lot.

  47. Fantastic job! If you have not had a blood panel done recently I believe you will be very pleased. I was never obese and my previous numbers were considered normal but now I am apparently super low risk!

    The other day I got my blood work back from the lab, compared to the previous year my total cholesterol went from 194 to 161. triglycerides from 121 to 65! HDL (good cholesterol) from 51 to 59. LDL (bad) from 119 to 95. VLDL from 24 to 13. And Chol / HDL ration from 3.8 to 2.8.

    Every category showed marked improvement ranging from 15-20% up to 47%! That’s after only 9 months of primal diet.

  48. After you leave the service it can be hard to keep that routine or even something similar so congrats on getting your life back on track. The transformation you have made is absolutely astonishing.

  49. I’ve always been an instigator…. Just so happens that this time it was for positive effect! I’m proud of you, brother! Talking with another cat I turned on to MDA the other day…. We both thought we had accomplished some things until you dropped those before and after pics… Incredible!

  50. Hey Gabe! Thanks for sharing your story. I like it becase you look to be about the same body type I am which gives me encouragement that I can actually succeed at this. I also like the time-frame you did everything. It seems very realistic and do-able. I struggle with high blood pressure (among other things) and want so much to get off the meds. Keep at it, sir. You’re awesome.

  51. Gabe,
    Your life post USMC sounds alot like mine. I served at Pendleton from 1998 to 2002. During my time on active duty I constantly struggled with my weight, even with running almost every day. I am currently wieghing in at 243lbs and I hope I can the same type of success as you have.