I Feel Alive for the First Time in Years!

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!


After one full year of Primal Living, I thought now was as good a time as any to share not only my story, but my thanks as well for where I am today.

I feel alive for the first time in years!

A friend of mine had been chirping in my ear for months about Primal/Paleo as well as her obsession with CrossFit. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm was a bit much at times, but it was nonetheless curious to me. I had spent the past few years living a high stress, sedentary, and depressed lifestyle which, looking back on now, was extremely unhealthy and setting me up for an early demise. It’s odd how easy it is to blind yourself to the unhealthy actions you take upon yourself without a conscious understanding of their effects. However, after a few emotional breakdowns and panic attacks that hit me in the latter half of 2011, my awareness became attuned to the dire emotional and physical situation I had put myself in.

So, on a whim I decided to ask my friend what she was talking about. In late December 2011, on a Saturday afternoon, she sent me straight to Mark’s Daily Apple. Five hours later, I realized I hadn’t stopped obsessively devouring everything I was reading on this site. I consider myself a fairly smart person, and as I finished reading each of the Definitive Guides, it was quite literally a face-palm moment of clarity; “This makes so much sense. How did I not understand this before now?!” Needless to say, the very next day, I decided to give this new way of life a try.

I’m 33 years old, 6’1”, and started the year at 322 lbs which was very near the heaviest I’ve ever been. I stopped weighing myself during that time, but I think I peaked around 330-340 earlier the previous year. The photo was taken last December.

Andy - Before

On January 1, 2012, the only thing I changed at first was what I was eating. I eliminated all processed foods and grains and switched to healthy fats, meats, and veggies. I continued to work long days and lead a sedentary lifestyle. However, just changing the food I was eating yielded IMMEDIATE results. Within the first few days, I felt like I was no longer living in a fog – my mind was clear – and I found myself with newfound energy. I dropped four pounds the first week, four and a half the second, and another four pounds the week after that – and I didn’t feel like I was even trying! Talk about motivation! It turns out we really are what we eat! I furthered these efforts for a few more months, and saw continued and consistent weight loss, a lack of mood swings, and crazy amounts of newfound energy. In March I started jogging a bit following the Couch to 5K program, simply because I had to do something with all the energy I now found myself with.

Now a full year into my new lifestyle, I find myself 105 lbs lighter, with ALL of my previous health issues and risks eliminated completely. It’s enjoyable to see my doctor dumbfounded and in awe of my results. The second photo was taken just a few days ago, the little guy is my beautiful new nephew.

Andy - After

I’ve completed a 5K, a 10K, and have started training for a half marathon. Now that I’ve established a base, and felt the effects of healthy living, I need to focus more on a few of the finer points of Primal Living; lift more, play more, and (reluctantly) give up beer. I’m not quite where I want to be physically, but I’m well on my way to a long and healthy life as I continue to “Grok on!”

Thanks Mark, for simply making sense and dispensing it to the masses. I don’t know where I’d be today without having found this journey.


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106 thoughts on “I Feel Alive for the First Time in Years!”

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  1. “It turns out we really are what we eat!”

    This axiom should be extended to: “We are what we digest”.

    Gut integrity and individual biochemistry are big factors.

    1. I love this quote, “we are what we digest”! I first heard it from the originator, Liz Lipski, author of “Digestive Wellness”. I’m glad to hear it again…such a great reminder to eat well!

  2. Great work!! I needed to see this one today.. time to get back on track!

    1. I could not agree more! I have been working so hard in the wrong areas and your story has set me back on course. Thank you for taking the time to help others and of course a minute to pat your self on the back. You look fantastic

  3. Amazing results! I’m really pleased for you. I always love the bit where the doctor is ‘amazed’. What we have to remember that our MD or GP are not nutritionists and do not have all the answers. If they did, there would not be the obesity crisis there is in the US and the UK.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. I think nutritionists are even worse than the doctor because their line of works consists entirely of regurgitating conventional wisdom without almost any understanding of the underlying chemistry going on. Most doctors would just say “hey if it works, it works” (after checking your blood work for cholesterol numbers and after it actually worked), while the nutritionist would tell you that omitting whole grains and low-fat, processed food products is going to kill you, even after such a dramatic reversal of health.

      1. Yes, one nutritionist said that “the weight you lose from a low-carb diet is just a loss of water!” Looking at all these success stories, seeing the pictures and hearing of the results, you know she’s full of it.

        1. yeah apparently were all camels walking around with 50 plus pounds of water on our backs

    1. Me too! Absolutely Never!!! I have cut way back though but there’s nothing like a cold beer after an awesome hike or day of skiing…

      1. Agreed. Giving up cheap, light, flavorless beers for occasional microbrews is a good thing. Then I brew my own! 🙂

    2. After four years of no beer, I found a couple of gluten-free brands at my local booze shop (I asked). They’re a bit expensive, but golly-gee-whiz, they go down so easy, and I don’t get lazy like I do with wine or whiskey. Even home brewers can make gluten-free beer.

    3. I’ve given up beer for three months, it was easier than I thought it would be, especially I’m a Wisconsin guy. BUT, I am looking forward to March 2nd, that’s the day that I penciled on the calendar to have a beer.

      Kudos to you Andy…feels great, doesn’t it?!

      1. You made a date with your beer? How cute is that! I like it.

    4. Great progress in a year Andy, very impressive !
      When it comes to beer I like to invoke the 80/20 rule-I try to save most of my 20% for beer 😛

    5. i allow myself 1 or 2 beers a month & all is good. that is my real treat 🙂

  4. You look so much younger in the after photo!!! It never ceases to amaze me! Great story!

  5. Way to go, Andy. I too am struggling with giving up the fermented wheat, especially because I have been an amateur home-brewer and have all the equipment. I have used other smartphone apps, like Lift, to track habits and make those changes like abstaining from beer or getting my workout in. Keep up the awesome work.

      1. He’s talking about beer, not eating actual fermented grsains

        1. It was confusing because he said “fermented wheat.” The vast majority of beer is made by fermenting barley.

          Either way, the toughest part about paleo/primal for me is definitely cutting back on alcoholic beverages, whatever the source.

          I rationalize that at least the rest of my life is pretty healthy, so a few drinks a week aren’t going to derail me. I’m just at more of a maintenance level right now. But Andy’s story is definitely inspirational!

        2. But Ron is bang on – make your own Kombucha, kefir or water kefir – and experiment with flavours ( i have added hops to kombucha and it starts to taste like you-know-what).

          We enjoy carbonated, fermented and slightly bitter drinks – there are many ways to do that with kombucha and water kefir.

          If those don’t do it for you then its time to face up to the fact that what you are really after is the alcohol….

          and if that is the case, then red wine is the best way to go..

    1. Are there smartphone apps that help one starting out on the Primal Blueprint?


      1. There’s a feature on my iPhone that I use when I’m trying to get more Primal. It’s called the off button. I may need to utilize that one a little more.

  6. Such a simple and beautiful story! It is amazing how clean food just change everything!

  7. Wow – looking good! Well done on your amazing results. And the baby is really cute too!

  8. Dude! That is so awesome. Congratulations, and keep it up! It’s stories like yours that will inspire others and change lives for years and years. As Dave Ramsey would say, you changed your family tree. Kudos!

  9. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story!

    When I visited my doc after losing 40 lbs and achieving stunning lab results, he simply said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. You should probably be sitting on this side of the desk instead of me.”

    You are what you eat – and I’m not a lentil or a bean.

    1. and how often can drs tell their patients to ‘keep doing what youre doing’ when the patient follows the CW their dr tells them?
      The medical field needs to get with it!

  10. Photos tell everything. In the first one, a tired guy in 3XL outfit. The second, same guy, like 5 yrs younger, and NO chin!

    Switch beer with ice cold lime soda once a week, and start lifting really heavy once a week. Then you decide to keep up or not.

    Congrats encore!

  11. Fantastic job my man. You are now primed for your prime years. What a great future in store for you now!

    I am working on the beer reduction as well, it’s keeping the last 5-10 lbs on my waist. After watching Skyfall last night I googled Daniel Craig exercise routine. He does a Paleo diet plus Olympic lifting. Alcohol is allowed only on Fri and Sat nights. This my goal for this year, to muscle up to that killer 007 style.

  12. Sure you have shrunk quite a bit and maybe lost some of your ‘presence’. But the present you get in return is greater mobility, a body that seems right and a mental clarity that is like an awakening.
    It make me wonder what other blackspots we are blind to that are like a lightswitch being flicked like Paleo is for a great many people.

    1. I’ve noticed this loss of ‘presence’ when you lose size. You do regain the presence but it takes several years. Don’t know if it’s due to people getting used to you, or you getting used to the new you.

      1. I lost 30 lbs. a few years ago (actually, on essentially a paleo diet, without knowing what it was at the time–just focusing on meat, veggies, and real butter) and I never could get used to the loss of presence combined with people openly staring at me (as an introvert, it’s unsettling). I’m a 5’9″ 27 year old woman who takes public transportation in a sort-of sketchy area, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel safer and less at risk now having gained 15 lbs. back. I know I need to commit to get healthier again, but I can’t reconcile getting smaller/more attractive with my need for safety/unattractiveness/enough presence to suggest others should back off. Has anyone else ever dealt with this?

        1. I felt the same thing over the years, and always wondered if my inability to lose weight had to do with fearing to look like a “pushover” if I were skinny, or perhaps fear of attracting other kinds of unwanted attention. I was an introvert too. I can only tell you that getting older helps a lot, as does learning some form of self defense (I recommend “Girl Power”, even though it’s geared to high school girls, as a starting point.) The main thing it will do is give you the confidence that you do have options if you are attacked, and confidence is everything — most perpetrators are looking for easy victims. Practice also “owning the room” when you walk into it, and “owning the street” when you walk down it. This last advice I got from a student in a women’s studies class I took many years ago; she regularly bicycled through sketchy areas of town and never had a problem. Finally, think about how much those extra pounds will hamper you if you truly get into a bad situation and need to get away fast, or fight. Fitness is your best defense. I am still haunted by the videos of the Japan tsunami showing people slowly toiling up the mountain to safety while the waves roared in. Many of them didn’t make it.

  13. I hope your doctor was encouraged to learn more. Just think, he could actually help somebody instead of just document (and prescribe) their decline!

    Congratulations, it’s a fantastic change you’ve brought about.

  14. Looking like you dropped a couple years. Great work!

  15. Good Job Man! I’m just 7 weeks into my journey, and your path seems a lot like mine. I’m having great results too (which would likely be greater if I too gave up beer – but this lifestyle has to be sustainable, and complete deprivation would likely result in worse adherance, in my case).

    Keep up the great work, and Go Bills! (I’ve tailgated in that same lot)

  16. Looks like you could leap and bound like a deer just by looking at your last photo. Clean, light, fluid, happy and rarin’ to go. Great job!

  17. It’s so great to see success stories like this! If only everybody would tune-in to the PB lifestyle, we could all be so much healthier, happier, and bring about a much better world. Congratulations!

  18. Friday is my favorite day at MDA – thank you for sharing your story!

  19. i would love to send this story to every obese person i know and say ‘yes, it really is this easy..now do it!’ (in a nice way) 🙂

  20. Congratulations on finding the new you – not only by weight loss but clearing your mind and having the energy to really LIVE your life now!

  21. Good for you for taking charge, learning, and making changes! I was a near-normal weight before Primal, and after I went Primal, I also experienced the fog lifting and having more energy. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing.

  22. Great Job Andy! An inspirational piece to end another Fantastic week at MDA. Have a awesome weekend everyone! And for the rest of us… Enjoy a weekend of night shifts! LOL

  23. Great story, Love a good MAN weight loss story! Never mind the awesome health!!! I noticed your jacket size displayed in your first photo. Love that! I say to all my little followers (I have a page on FB) make sure your before pic shows you in all your glory! You will be wanting to wear your sizes on the outside even more now! Love it xo

  24. Thanks for giving me a boost with this amazing transformation story. I have been feeling the fog from being “bad” and need to remember how important it is to eat right. Congratulations!

  25. Always a treat to see someone’s new take on life and the amazing results. Congratulations to you!

  26. Yet another inspiring story. Congratulations for taking control of your own wellbeing and sticking to it. And thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  27. Wow you look so much younger in the second photo. I like how you integrated the Primal lifestyle one step at a time. Changing your diet and starting to exercise can be very overwhelming for a sedentary person. So good for you that you did what worked best for you.

  28. I love Fridays to read these great stories! Awesome job man and well deserved transformation. Also, really well written. Stories like yours keep me going.

  29. This. “Thanks Mark, for simply making sense and dispensing it to the masses.”

    If the only thing we take away is the basic understanding of food and diet from Mark, then what a success story is still is! Thanks, Mark!

  30. Great story and congratulations!!! You must be so very proud of yourself!!!! W00t!!!

  31. Andy, it’s wonderful to hear how much better you look and feel! Your transformation is stunning. By the way, that nephew of yours is adorable!

  32. First – GO BILLS!

    Nicely done! Running is good, but strength activities are where it is at for longevity.

  33. Congratulations Andy! I’m just about to start my own journey and your story inspired me! I have an autoimmune condition and have struggled for years. I’m looking forward to “the transformation”.

  34. Mark…..thank you SO much for sharing Andy’s story. He is a good friend of mine, and the reason that I went Paleo 6 months ago. I didn’t go Paleo in order to lose weight (I was 152lbs. at 5’11” when I changed my lifestyle), but I had health issues that I needed to find a way to deal with. In the past 6 months, my asthma, allergies, and exczema have all been eliminated. My stomach issues with dairy and gluten are gone, although I do still have occasional problems with my IBS.

    Thank you for all that you do and share on your site. And congratulations again Andy. I am truly blessed to know you!!! Can’t wait to see you in Boston for St. Patty’s Day so I can truly see the fruits of your labor.

  35. Hey! Great job! Is that a Bruce Smith jersey? I’m a Buffalo gale and LOVE the super bowl Bills!