I Didn’t Realize I’d Been Getting in Shape for the Fight of My Life

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!

At age 52, I went to my doctor because I was having some pain in my back. When the nurse weighed me all she wrote was “400+.”  Even the doctor’s scale couldn’t handle my ever-growing bulk. A local feed store put me at 415 pounds.

Even at six foot six inches that was a scary number to accept. I decided to make changes in my life. First I had to deal with the pain I was experiencing. Turns out it was not my back at all but rather both hips were bone on bone and had been for years. I had trouble walking 10 steps before I had to stop.

They say that in life the master will appear when the student is ready. And that’s exactly what happened to me with Mark Sisson. While trying to figure out how to turn my girth around, I stumbled across Mark and the Primal community.

I embraced the ideas and began to modify my eating. I wish I could tell you I did the sprinting or even the walking around but I was virtually chair bound when I began my journey.  Almost immediately I saw and felt results. After a brief bout of carb withdrawal, I noticed my energy was improving.

Cropped_ICE+2In the first month my weight was down, but I didn’t know how much because my home scale still couldn’t handle me. I also noticed my energy was up and my pain had decreased. For years, I had taken what seemed like a handfuls of pain meds just to make it through the day, and I took sleep medicine at night because my hip pain kept me awake. However, as I cleaned up my diet I began to take fewer and fewer drugs.

After 16 months, I had lost 125 pounds and felt years younger. I still needed to replace both hips, but I had managed to build a deck in my back yard. I also hauled in 25 yards of dirt to complete a patio. I mixed all the cement myself by hand; my energy was insanely high.

Eventually, I began to exercise at the gym. I used a high-intensity approach once a week and had a work around for leg press because of my hips. My body composition changed quickly but my weight stayed the same at about 280 pounds. That’s a 135-pound loss, but it was more than that. I began to look differently.

At 55, I began a push-up routine and quickly progressed from a 20-year drought of zero to being able to do 30. I was using intermittent fasting as a tool to stay clean and instill personal discipline in my life. I took to it like a duck to water. Most days I’d fast 16-18 hours and never lose energy or be hungry.

Eventually, I got to 265 pounds. It had been several years and 150 pounds since I stood on that grain scale.

It’s difficult to express how radical the change was in my life. I had my first hip replaced, and after I recovered I was back in the gym. But around Thanksgiving 2015 I began to feel a little less well. I was getting tired quickly. By February, I needed to take two and three breaks just to climb a single flight of stairs.

Cropped_Nose TubeMy doctor sent me for a colonoscopy. I went in feeling a bit run down and came out with a stage four cancer diagnosis. Five months earlier I had been feeling better than at any point for 25 years. Now I had a less than 10 percent chance of living 5 years.

I had colon cancer. It had spread to 6 lymph nodes, and I had four tumors on my liver. I didn’t realize I had been getting in shape for the fight of my life. After several rounds of chemo, I had surgery to remove all the infected areas. Half of my liver was taken, 18 inches of large intestine and the affected nodes were removed. Two of the four liver tumors had disappeared from the chemotherapy, so that half of my liver was excluded from surgery.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had not been living primal. Everyone who met me said I didn’t even look sick. Even during the post-surgical chemo therapy no one commented that I looked anything but a little weak.

I read on MDA that some people used fasting to minimize the impact of side effects during chemo. While this is only personal experience, I did notice a big difference between receiving chemo in a fasting state and not. I found I could easily fast 18 to 20 hours into chemo and another 12 to 16 out, and I felt better.

Cropped_HatExcept for the complications from using platinum-based drugs in my treatment, I had minimal side effects. Those drugs attack your nervous system and cause severe fatigue and neuropathy—both of which I suffered from terribly.

After the surgery and chemical treatment, I had no evidence of disease. Within ninety days I was back working out again and feeling great. Sixty days after that the two missing spots returned in my liver. We treated this one with surgery but no chemotherapy. I recovered and healed really well and returned to work less than three weeks after surgery.

Today I’m 57 years old. I still need a hip replaced, but I’m eating clean, fasting, and have no evidence of cancer in my system. All of the originally diagnosed tumors were gone, and unless it spread to places unknown, I’m clear.

I know there is evidence that fasting helps cancer risk. I also believe it may have prevented mine from spreading even further before discovery. I fell off the wagon with my diet during chemo and gained some weight back. Today I weigh 290 and have about 60 to lose. But I’m not worried. I know the primal lifestyle will help transform me into the best version of myself.

Primal living helped me not only lose 150 pounds, overcome a total hip replacement, and fight off stage four cancer, but it also made me appreciate my life in ways I never did before. I have the energy I need to accomplish my goals and spend quality time with my family. A Primal lifestyle changed me in profound and unexpected ways.

Cropped_SkinnyWhile in the hospital recovering from the second surgery, my publisher sent me an advanced copy of a book I had written. You see, while engaging in intermittent fasting I didn’t eat lunch, and I had a lot of energy that needed releasing. I teach 8th grade science, so I wrote a book about using primal ideas in the classroom. Now The Primal Teacher is out there in the world, helping teachers have better classrooms.

When I started down this primal journey I could never imagine all the places it would take me. Today I live each day as fully I as can. I strive to be in the moment.

My experience should convince anyone that you are not too old, you are not too sick, and you are not too hurt to get started. Once you begin living primal, amazing things can happen. Thank you, Mark. You are a real life saver.

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38 thoughts on “I Didn’t Realize I’d Been Getting in Shape for the Fight of My Life”

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  1. Just an amazing story. After all these years of reading Friday successes, I’m still surprised. We’re in good hands with teachers like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow! What a story. Congratulations and good health to the primal teacher!

  3. I am speechless. What an inspiring story. Congratulations! Keep up the great work.

  4. This is an AMAZING story! I am just so happy for you and absolutely blown away by your story. Every week these stories confirm my belief that this lifestyle can dramatically benefit absolutely anyone, but yours take the cake. Stage 4 cancer, a full hip replacement and a weight loss equal to a human- what an incredible journey you have had. And you wrote a book (!), which I am about to go and order. I teach history, but I volunteered to teach health next year because the students were previously receiving their health education from a computerized program. 🙁 I will be reading your book this summer to plan for the fall!

    I also loved what you said about the teacher arriving when you are ready- the absolute truth! Thank you for sharing your impressive story. I loved it.

  5. Congratulations! You look ALIVE in a way you did not in the ‘before’ photo. Life is a journey and comes with plenty of cliffs to fall off of. You fell off a cliff, but soared like an eagle! Really impressive and inspiring! 6 packs and perfect body fat may be goals for some, but I think you have found the real prize.

  6. Really awesome and inspiring post! Congrats on your hard work and success! Wishing you the best as you continue!

  7. wow, WOW! I love your story of life change and radical self care, as well as the message that is is NEVER too late to take better care of ourselves and reap benefits! Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story. You have truly overcome and I now you have an incrdible appreciation for life. It shows on your face. Best of luck in the future and years to come of good health.

  9. This is truly INCREDIBLE! I love the sense of serendipity in finding Mark Sisson, the hard work and consistency it took to self discover the primal way of life, and how you have used this experience to impact others in the world. Thank you for sharing your inspiration!

  10. What a powerful and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing with us and for taking it to the classroom! Love that you wrote a book too. Keep up the good work and best of health to you.

  11. Wow, thanks for sharing your amazing story! It truly is inspiring to read about the healthy changes you’ve made and the resulting success you’ve had.

    I’m happy that you’ve experienced the benefits of intermittent fasting. It’s such a healthy practice. I only wish I’d known about it years ago.

    Wishing you the best in your continued health!

  12. Amazing story! Nice work and this story is a good example of a primal lifestyle working alongside modern medical treatments! Keep up the awesome progress!

  13. Congratulations! This is an amazing story. Thanks life I never had a diagnosed cancer nor chemo but I clearly know the science behind it and your report is another mind blowing example of how resilient the human body is when you provide it with the proper food and habits. Wishing you the best in your endeavors and am clearly curious about how your story progresses, please keep us posted. It’s nice to see and hear about every success story on the site and I am impressed by every single of them, but the odds you have been fighting and the results personally impress me a whole lot, most people do not come out intact of modern cancer treatment, to say the least.

  14. Kudos to the primal teacher! I can only think you wouldn’t be with us but for finding and applying primal living. Here’s to the next 50 years!

  15. Wow, what an amazing story. Your initial success was so inspiring. To see how your Primal lifestyle helped you through chemo and surgery is over the top! You look like a completely different person. Love hearing how you used your increased energy to write a book that will help so many people. I think that is the best part of all of this…that ripple effect that happens when people start feeling amazing and begin to share their gifts with the world. That is what this is ultimately all about…not just taking care of ourselves and feeling great, but making the world a better place. Thanks for making my day!

  16. This is a very amazing story love your determination not only did you kick fat’s ass but even took out cancer. Love these story’s hope you keep doing well 😀

  17. I just keep on coming to this story:
    “My experience should convince anyone that you are not too old, you are not too sick, and you are not too hurt to get started. Once you begin living primal, amazing things can happen. “

  18. Wow! Congratulations, you are an inspiration for all Primal followers and cancer survivors!

  19. Primal Teacher, thanks for sharing this amazing story and journey you have been on. Very inspiring how you stuck with your new Primal way of life even after your diagnosis. Your positive attitude shows through your words and I have no doubt you will continue to move forward and attain your life goals. Congratulations on your new book, what a great accomplishment. I wish you continued health, Live Awesome!!

  20. Wow! What an amazing story you have. So very inspiring! Great Job.

  21. Incredible story sir. Hats off to you and your perseverance as life’s trials came.

  22. That is amazing! I am so glad you shared this and you are teaching others. Happy we didn’t lose you! There’s a reason for that obviously!

  23. Ok I just read this and you are so inspiring. And yes, I agree that the IF might be a real life saver! I wrote a post on it a while back that I was at a lecture given by a cancer doctor and he believes it’s key to preventing the formation of, and killing off, cancer cells.

  24. This is an incredible story, and thank you so much for sharing it. I’ll be checking out your book as well!

  25. This was a marvellous post, thank you so much. I have also just purchased your book to give to my sister who is in her first year of teaching – secondary/high school – and is struggling to find any joy in it.

  26. wow well done, you’ve really done an amazing job, It feels so right to be just in the moment

    1. Thanks for the add. I should have thought of that before now. Great job!