I Feel Better, Look Better and My Whole Family Is Healthier!

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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2First off, I want to say thanks so much for all you do! The information you provide has been invaluable to my family’s journey into the Primal lifestyle! To start from the beginning:

My wife and I met in high school and began dating our senior year. I was a runt at 5’7″ and a whopping 135 lbs. I am not sure of my wife’s weight at the time but she was probably close to 125 lbs. I’ve always been the type to eat whatever I wanted, and as a teenager that was usually McDonalds a couple times a day, maybe a pizza for a snack or whatever other types of quick easy garbage I could afford as a teenager. All through high school I dealt with a little bit of depression that progressed into anxiety after graduation. I began to have panic attacks and was placed on a Paxil for both the depression and anxiety. Ultimately I gained about 55 pounds and ballooned up to 192 pounds in about a year, as weight gain is a side effect of the medication. Although my wife did not gain as much as I did, she also had weight that continued to climb (I won’t reveal her highest weight as I enjoying being alive).

In 2009/2010-ish, I heard about your website but thought the usual “that’s crazy” or “whoever would do that is an idiot!” My boss was on The Primal Blueprint diet for health reasons, not to lose weight, and he would try to explain it but I was too stubborn to listen. He finally showed me his blood work numbers and it made sense. But of course, being in my mid-twenties I said “but I’m young, I don’t have to worry about that stuff.”


In early 2010, I met a doctor who pushes the Primal/paleo diet very heavily, prior to medications, as a basis for health. I started to dig a little more and realized there might be something to it. Of course I ignored this and tried a SAD diet, resulting in about 10 pounds of fat loss to a weight of 182 pounds. I was doing chronic cardio and my knees were killing me everyday. I certainly became a runner but hated doing it, hated what I was eating…using a weight watchers app to reward myself for running for an hour a day. I did very little strength training and still drank too much alcohol on top of it.

During a 2009 pregnancy, my wife developed hypothyroidism and gestational diabetes that carried over into non-pregnant life. She attempted managing it on her own for about a year but it was too much. In early 2013, her doctor told her she had a couple of months to get her A1C and fasting glucose under control or she was going to be put on insulin shots. Now, we had to do this during the pregnancy so we knew the drill, but who the hell wants to take a shot three times a day! Enter Mark’s Daily Apple. We went on a pretty solid (75 %-ish) Primal Blueprint diet and both had about 20 pounds of fat loss without really doing anything. By her next appointment the doctor not only took insulin off the table, but took her off her two oral diabetes medications as well! She cured her diabetes by eating a paleo diet and small amounts of exercise. I am so proud of her!!!

Working Out 2014I’ve found that 160 pounds or so is my 80/20 weight. I can maintain that without really trying as can my wife can do the same with her weight. In 2014 we started to add in HIIT training and CrossFit with even more weight loss. My lowest was about 153 pounds and about 14% body fat. I feel better, look better and (most importantly) my whole family is healthier! We don’t have to worry about diabetes anymore, we have started enjoying a slower lifestyle, we only have one TV in our house, we have no tablets like an iPad or anything like that, cable TV is gone and has been replaced with bike rides, hiking trails, and drinking wine after a long day of being Primal!

I’ve since changed my workout routine to more of an endurance type of training. Mainly doing bodyweight CrossFit style workouts with lots of running and usually a 20 pound weighted vest (I.E.: Running Angie w/vest: 100 pull ups, run 1 mile, 100 push ups, run 1 mile, 100 sit ups, run 1 mile, 100 squats, run 1 mile). It takes much longer and burns lots of glycogen but it has allowed me to take my training to the next level. I still enjoy the non-Primal things from time to time. I like fresh sourdough bread on occasion; I eat gluten-free oats a couple of times a week after an intense workout, and even the occasional beer or two (or three). But that’s what 80/20 is for, to maintain social situations without feeling guilty and to change things up as needed.

Vaca 2014My whole family has benefited from the Primal lifestyle. Last year on vacation was the first time I wasn’t embarrassed to take off my shirt and the first time my wife has worn a bikini since right after high school! We are outside from April through November (I hate the cold!), we play and wrestle with our kids, and we aren’t staring at computer screens 24/7. It has been a great experience and I will never go back to the way we were. Thanks again for everything!


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39 thoughts on “I Feel Better, Look Better and My Whole Family Is Healthier!”

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  1. Amazing story! You and your family look very happy and healthy. I am curious about the doctor you met that endorses Primal/Paleo. That is a rare find! I hope you referred others to him… Congrats on your success.

    1. That was my thought too. How nice it would be if all doctors would recommend Primal/Paleo first and prescribe drugs only as a last resort.

  2. Great story! Thanks for sharing. It’s still hard to believe that people are so afraid to give primal a try. Glad you did and glad to hear there are doctors who start with nutrition, then move onto other options. Are you still taking depression meds?

    1. No. I’ve been off all medications for years! I don’t even like taking NSAIDs or Tylenol unless it is absolutely needed.

  3. Congratulations to you, wife, and kids.

    And tremendous kudos to that Dr. How amazing she/he wants to heal her/his patients not give medicines.

    I was going to say worth a million conventional doctors. But really priceless. All those million conventional doctors are doing is hurting their patients a million times over in different places but the same ways.

  4. Congratulations on your family-wide success! I am wondering, though, if your wife is on any kind of medication for hypothyroidism. I am struggling with a borderline case of this (“borderline” meaning that my bloodwork is within “normal” range, but I still suffer from a lot of the symptoms), and I am debating going on any medication for it, especially the synthetic hormone my doctor wants to start me on. I’m just adamantly against things like that. It would really help me to know that just living a primal/paleo lifestyle would do the trick!

    1. Kelli,
      Don’t go on the medication, please! If your blood work is normal, your thyroid is functioning. Manage the symptoms you’re experiencing a more natural way. The primal/paleo lifestyle which will incorporate sleep, exposure to nature, stress reduction, moving the way your body was designed to do and nutritious, real food is the way to go. Also introduce fermented foods.

      I have had a non functioning thyroid for 20 years and have only recently been able to reduce the dose. Healing is happening slowly. Good luck to you!

      1. Thank you for your concern! My blood work is “within normal range”, not “normal”. LOL. But I’m trying everything I can (including doing a Whole30, to remove what may be potentially triggering my thyroid to malfunction) before I go on any type of medication. I am determined to try my best to fix the issue with nutrition! If that doesn’t fix the issue, then I will consider meds.

    2. Hi, Kelli and Rosanna – I found that I also still had serious hypothyroid (and adrenal and etc) symptoms even with primal/paleo – and have since had dramatic success with a practitioner using the Nutritional Balancing approach of Dr. Lawrence Wilson. Healing still takes time, but I am seeing dramatic positive changes all the time.

      1. Thank you! I will definitely read up on this method, as I have never heard of it before!

  5. Kelli, I have been GF for almost 12 years, and primal for 6 or 7 years. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 10 years ago, very symptomatic and blood work was well off. Many things in my life have improved…no more digestive, musculoskeletal, weight, or neurological issues…but my hypothyroid status has not. I still have high thyroid antibody levels, so my primal lifestyle has not helped that. Give it a serious try if your condition allows the leeway for the time it takes to see improvements, but don’t count on it totally.

    I take Armour thyroid…a desiccated porcine thyroid preparation that is balanced for the various forms of thyroid hormone. I do really well on it. If you don’t want to take the synthetic version, ask your Dr. about it.

    1. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

      Unfortunately, I did ask her about it and she adamantly refused to put me on it. I thought she was holistically-minded, until yesterday (which was when she prescribed the synthetic meds). I am seriously considering taking a supplement called Priority One Thyroid 65, which I have read is similar to a natural thyroid medication, although it’s made with bovine thyroid, instead of porcine. In the absence of that, I am just going to keep trying to find a doctor who will prescribe a natural thyroid medication.

      Have you ever heard of Priority One Thyroid 65?

      1. Armour Thyroid has a good track record and works well for many people. I would question the motives of an MD that insists on a more expensive synthetic. Try to find a DO (osteopathic). They are usually more amenable to prescribing Armour. Alternatively, you could check with a naturopathic doctor regarding other options. You might just need minute doses of iodine in your system.

      2. I forgot to mention I was on synthetic for about 18 years and developed such a bad case of itchy skin that I would give myself welts.

        Switched to Armour a couple of years ago. Once again, don’t take the meds. And I wouldn’t even take the Armour until you have given primal/paleo a good several month shot. And you don’t need a doctor for that!

        1. That’s the thing. I’ve been about 80/20 primal/paleo for a good two years now. We eat organic, non-gmo, whole foods the vast majority of the time, including raw unpastuerized milk. The only time I’ve noticed a difference in my weight and general well being was when I was almost 100% primal/paleo and I did that for about two months. That’s basically what sent me on the journey to finding out if it is my thyroid that was causing the problem. I just had to know if primal/paleo had done the trick for you, without drug intervention. I believe wholeheartedly that my thyroid is the key to it all. I will keep searching until I find a medical doctor or naturopath who’s willing to listen to me and not try to prescribe a synthetic medication. I told her from the beginning that I wasn’t interested in being prescribed synthetic medications. I don’t know how that equated to her prescribing me exactly what I didn’t want. I won’t take it, that’s for sure.

      3. Check out Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Katy TX. They treat hypothyroid patients from all over the world with porcine compounded thyroid. They have helped me.

      4. Hi again – I will add that I was able to go off the thyroid meds (it was Armour) rapidly once I started Nutritional Balancing – and my previous (conventional) docs had told me I would be on it forever!

        1. Dr. David Brownstein says poor functioning thyroids are due to an iodine deficiency. He says that 80% of Americans are deficient due to our diet and our exposure to chlorine, bromine, and fluoride, all of which block iodine receptors. He recommends Iodoral, an iodine supplement. It’s all outlined in his book “IODINE: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without it” It is making a huge difference for my daughter.

      5. I takeThyroGold, which is dried bovine thyroid. You can buy it direct. Also, don’t eat any wheat for a few weeks to see if that is a factor.

      6. Kelli (and anyone), I found the (only? best?) way to deal with hypo is to educate yourself! You almost always can’t expect your docs to know anything but the standard (Pharma/synthetic… pretty much wrong/insufficient!) stuff. Even the good docs who DO know more than the ‘directed’ info have to be very careful — the local medical boards keep an eye out for ‘defectors! {frown}

        Do I sound paranoid? Maybe a little, maybe I have reason! I found one of the listed (see below) “good thyroid docs” — who was amazing for me, but, then, he ‘colored inside the lines’ (“Here, take some ‘Synthcrap'”!) with another hypo I sent to him! But then, I walked into his office well-self-educated and handed him a list of the drugs and the dosing schedule I wanted to try (not “help me please, I know nothing” but “this is the dosing schedule I want to start this drug on, do you see anything here you can’t support?”) So, Armour, back then — till they changed the MFG process and it went less than very effective — then the Canadian version: “Erfa Thyroid”; and physiological doses of hydrocortisone, and so on. Because I ‘drive the bus’ of my health, he would look bemused, check my tests, and write the scrips I asked for, almost every time! Amazing! (Now, I still take a bit T3-only (“Cynomel”) that I order from Mexico: it’s German-made. I have always done my own blood testing through Life Extension Foundation – WAY cheaper! And I’m uninsured… well, I have the VA, but can’t get in. I do NOT recommend going it alone – but if you have to, there are ways and info!)

        Please spend some time reading around on the “Stop the Thyroid Madness” website — Janie Bowthorpe has 20+ years of (bad and good) experience; plus, back when she had a forum (which saved MY life!), thousands of folks (including docs and nurses) describing and discussing what did and didn’t work, what affected or didn’t their symptoms, and so on… Her book is a good ‘gathering up’ of both the Pharma and ‘real world’ experiences and tests and studies and the like. (And she has a ongoing/growing list of docs who get it!)

        WHAT a difference! I used to wake up feeling horrifically ‘hung over’: “no noise please, no bright lights,” (couldn’t go out in the sun without really dark sunglasses!), staggering to the kitchen to suck coffee (which whacks your poor tired adrenals to make them work), the soles of my feet hurt every morning (who knew plantar faciitis is often an adrenal symptom!?), neck aches, and (weirdly) the outer third of my eyebrows were missing: a STANDARD thyroid symptom!! (Who knew?!), and no weight loss no matter what I did! I struggled with all SORTS of “well, I’m old and stiff now, and a bit depressed about it” problems that actually turn out to be hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue!! (And are now a million times better!)

        Did it take a long time? OMG yes! Two, nearly, three YEARS on the physiological doses of hydrocortisone (a steroid, yes?) (that is, not treatment doses — WAY WAY smaller/lower — so, no moon-face or massive weight gain and AMAZING positive benefits); I’d try to wean off, and symptoms would come roaring back… finally, I cut down and was fine — and have remained fine for 5+ years (even through the stress of my husband’s unexpected death! Adrenals and stress — like white on rice, eh?) (Oh, well, maybe not rice, exactly… {wink})

        But, you cannot rely on your doc to get it… they don’t have time or freedom to specialize in thyroid and adrenal… (And, of yeah, the endocrinologists — are usually the WORST educated!) {shrug} Get educated, as you have on diet and lifestyle, and keep going!

        1. Hi everyone,
          Thyroid issue are so individual, it’s difficult to sift through all the information to find a way forward. For me, a crash and burn event after catching the flu, finally led to a diagnosis of Hashimotos. It’s been a 25 year journey.
          Paleo/primal is the way to go, but I would also recommend Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach as a starting point, to heal the gut, then gradually add back food to find triggers which make symptoms worse. Sleep, activity, and connection is so important as well, and good practioners as well (good luck with that, here in Australia they are very thin on the ground). Autoimmune is absolutely rife now, always suspect it. I take slow release t3 now, and follow the AIP diet gradually adding foods back. It’s the way forward for me and I can finally see progress. Very little pain, less fatigue, more stamina, more hair(!), and my weight back to pre children levels. Good luck, take control of your health, don’t farm it out to others, as that model is broken.

  6. Yay! For you, for your family, for that doctor who would rather treat the person than the “problem.”
    And not just healthy, your family looks so happy!

  7. I remember how odd this primal eating strategy seemed to me. I read this while eating a breakfast consisting of turkey, bacon, broccoli, sweet potatoe , eggs and coffee with coconut milk. My workout today will involve heavy lifts, vested farmer carries and weighted pull-ups …..and I wonder how did I ever live without this. Great story

  8. I know what you are saying about starring at the computer screens 24/7. I do that a lot of the time when the weather is bad, and there’s nothing to do outside, it’s almost like an automatic bad habit. I think as things warm up for the summer, we are starting to do more hiking. We get back in shape again. It would be nicer though if we could stay in better shape year round.

  9. Great post thank you for sharing. I have a friend a the gym that is trying to lose weight using chronic cardio and a restricted SAD diet, like half a bagel instead of a whole bagel. I told her about the primal lifestyle and she was receptive. I sent her the link to Mark’s Why Grains are Unhealthy and she actually read it. Today I’m giving her my copy of the PB 21 Day Transformation. I will encourage her to read your post as well. Your story will the icing on the cake she will stop eating.

  10. Running Angie w/vest: 100 pull ups, run 1 mile, 100 push ups, run 1 mile, 100 sit ups, run 1 mile, 100 squats, run 1 mile

    Wow!!! That’s a work out…

    1. I don’t know whether or not the food itself had any affect. I do know the biggest change was slowing things down. Not worrying about things outside of my control. I figured out a way to tell the voice inside my head to shut up.

  11. Kudos to you and your family, and thanks to a doctor who really cares.
    My doctor recommends reading Wheat Belly and Grain Brain to all his overweight and diabetic patients. He told me that a Paleo/Primal lifestyle has changed the way he practices medicine and the way his family eats.

    Too bad more don’t get the message that prescribing pills is not the way to treat patients.

  12. Wow, from a Pillsbury Doughboy family to a little tribe of Hunter/Gatherers. Amazing and our future is looking brighter! Great job.

  13. Nice “skinny” picture at the end. Your torso and your wife’s arms look great. Lots of work and thoughtfulness went into that, you should feel good about it.

  14. Awesome story and photos.
    About 95% of the town I live in looks like your before photo.
    The other 5% of thin people are always Californians that moved here trying to escape the high cost of living and overcrowding in their own state.

    Glad you found MDA !

  15. I’m almost happier for your kids than the parents, as they will be growing up eating well, unlike most kids in the US, no matter their income level. What a wonderful story!