Inspired by Robin Williams: A Different Kind of Success Story

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!

This is not your typical Friday transformation story. There are no photographs, even though there has been substantial weight loss, increased energy, improved cognition and happiness in my Primal Blueprint journey. This is a different kind of story. The death of Robin Williams is what prompted me to write this.

The part of my story that is relevant to this community starts twenty years ago in San Francisco during the month of August. Having financial difficulties that were putting a strain on my marriage, I started to deliver food at night for various restaurants throughout the city. I was in my thirties, a vegetarian for approximately three years, and not sure of what I wanted to be when I grew up. My wife and I worked from home and cooked all the time to feed the beast, so to speak. The food was great but we always wanted more a short time later. We ate lots of whole grains, veggies, beans and tofu. It was all organic, so of course it was healthy. I used to get up and run three miles a day and was pretty thin. This all may have appeared well and good—but I was losing my mind.

One evening I had to pick up and deliver some Indian food to a beautiful home. And to my surprise, none other than Robin Williams answered the door. That’s huge, right? How often does anyone get to go inside the home of a movie star and get to talk to them? Into the kitchen I went, making small talk along the way while his wife talked with friends. I unpacked the food, got paid and left with a sweet tip and a memory that should have been joyous. But instead, in the moments that followed the delivery, I went looking for a pay phone (if you’re too young to know what a pay phone is, go ask an old geezer), called my wife, and cried while telling her that I just came from Robin Williams’ house feeling like the biggest loser that ever lived. You see, he was famous and he had stuff—lots and lots of stuff. Can you imagine comparing yourself with a movie star and using his status as a means to determine your own self-worth? This is a tall mountain to climb for most folks, and also completely ridiculous. But I was not in my right mind.

My wife at the time eventually left our marriage and my life, but not after enduring months where I had become a sobbing mess filled with constant thoughts of suicide. I was in a black hole from where there was no escape. I was picking fights with my wife daily. Life had become unbearable. I was unbearable. I didn’t understand any of it. Prior to this time, I had always been, if not completely joyful most of the time, at least sane. I had been living with the love of my life, eating the healthiest foods around and getting plenty of exercise and rest. All the books we read confirmed we were doing it right. It was only after my wife left that I went to a counselor to talk it out, crying non-stop for the first three sessions. Fun stuff. But something else happened during this time. I had started to mainline McDonalds and Burger King hamburgers. To help cope with my sorrow and depression, I skipped over drugs and alcohol and went right for food. At the time I just chalked it up to wanting comfort foods. My vegetarian days had ended and I was clueless as to why that was so (although I’m sure many of Mark’s Daily Apple readers are connecting the dots right now, which I could have never done back then.) After some time my depression lifted, which I naturally associated with the therapy sessions. I was still sad that my marriage had ended, scared and not sure of the future, but I wanted to have a future. That was different.

But as the years passed by I gained a considerable amount of weight—enough that folks were calling me “Big Guy.” I would think, “When did I become big guy?” But there I was—at 5’6” and 220 lbs. I was indeed a big guy. I wanted to take some weight off but I was also of a mindset that life was short and there was a place for doughnuts, candy, cookies, chips and soda. The reality was, however, that I had just given up. I tried every way to lose weight, even trying vegetarianism once again. But it was short-lived. I was still clueless of the effects that not eating meat had on me in the past. All I knew was that I was skinny back then. I still wasn’t connecting the dots. But to borrow a line from one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, “The universe opens up to show us what is possible.” And it seemed that for no other reason, the dots slowly started to connect for me after a chance encounter with my ex-wife.

By some fluke we started to talk (really talk) by email at first, and then by phone. This was after seventeen years of being apart. We were then separated by 2,500 miles. She too had gained a significant amount of weight and had tried everything to fix it. She was reading about paleo and describing it to me, to which my initial reaction was, “that sounds great if you’re looking to have a heart attack.” But as I read more, I finally ordered The Primal Blueprint after checking out Mark’s Daily Apple. Everything seemed to make so much sense, but, then again, so did the books I read on eating a vegetarian lifestyle twenty years prior. I remember having the thought that I was going to trust “one more idiot” (sorry Mark) in my life and start eating primal. But as anyone who has taken this journey can attest to, it can completely change your life. Weight loss was just icing on the cake. My energy skyrocketed, my whole outlook on life took a decidedly positive turn, and I even believe I became a smarter person as a result. Try explaining that to your friends. I usually start by saying, “I know this may sound crazy but…”

So now we come to the part of the story that inspired me to write about my story of transformation: the day I read about Robin Williams’ death. I was extremely saddened by the news and couldn’t help but think back to my encounter with him all those years ago and the state of mind I found myself in then. A piece of his story that stuck out in particular for me was that Robin had become a vegetarian in 2009 after having heart surgery. I’m not saying that had anything to do with his death, but it made me reflect on my own journey and wonder.

I’m convinced that all those years ago I was literally starving—my brain most of all. Back then no one ever asked me what I was eating. It was not even on the radar. I don’t believe it’s much different today. We usually don’t appreciate how the foods we eat affect every aspect of our lives (nor the foods we skip). But I do now. The folks reading this story who have taken this journey know very well, too.

So I’d like to thank Mark and Mark’s Daily Apple. Thank you. Without developing a messiah complex, I hope in your quiet moments you reflect on how much good you have done by telling your own story and by sharing all the information you do on a daily basis.

I am happy. I feel grateful for my life and the friends and family that are a part of it. I get to come home after a day’s work now and see my (former) ex-wife’s smiling face. Yup, you heard right. After seventeen years and 2,500 miles of distance between us, we figured we owed it to Mark’s Daily Apple to give it another try. But seriously though, while we were both trying to discover a path back to our own health, we discovered a path back to each other. At times it feels surreal and at others it feels like it was yesterday—a better yesterday. We’re both a bit older, a little worn around the edges, and together we’re filling in the footprints that had been missing in each of our lives. It’s indescribable to have your best friend sitting across from you while having dinner and trying to imagine a different life.

Thanks to the people who are members of this community—this community that helped change my life. Sometimes the universe really does open up to show us what is possible.

Rest in peace Robin Williams. You gave us so much.


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