It’s Not Just About the Weight Loss

Toss the scale!A whole lot of people come to the Primal Blueprint looking to lose weight. Some come with significant excess weight. Their before and after photos showcase amazing physical transformations that can have us doing a double take wondering how it’s the same person. Others, however, come to the PB with few actual pounds to lose. Their photos display less dramatic outward differences, but their stories tell otherwise.

Inherent to many of their narratives is the common refrain that people didn’t understand their interest in going on a “diet.” Why would they bother? What were they trying to prove? What exactly are they trying to accomplish anyway? As reader Stephart shared in her comment to last week’s gluten-free post, she’s been directly told, “You don’t need to diet. You’re tiny!”

Readers who begin the PB without weight loss goals tell me they’re often accused of being obsessive or vain. Family and friends worry and admonish them for imagining a problem where there is none. Others guilt them for their commitment, taking offense at their concern, which surely must be some kind of slight to those in their lives who really do have weight issues. Such are a few of the uninformed, insensitive or just inappropriate judgments they receive.

Not only do these accusations cross some serious personal boundaries, but they completely disregard the larger health picture any person may be dealing with at a given time. Sure, a person might look like a “normal” size, have a normal (or even low) BMI. They might even have genetics or youth or an expert side pose to suggest that they’re the ideal everyone else in mainstream society seems to be going for. We here know better. Weight isn’t the issue. Size isn’t even the issue. It’s health. And while thinness is correlated, it doesn’t guarantee it.

How many people fit the “skinny fat” label? Skinny fat means looking thin but having less lean tissue and more body fat – particularly around the abdomen – than is healthy. Those who are skinny fat are more likely to develop (or have) osteoporosis. Research suggests they’re also a lot more prone to developing diabetes than you’d guess. Almost 1 in 4 people of normal weight are “metabolically obese.” What’s more? They’re more likely to die, as well, than their slightly heavier counterparts, in part because they were likely less rigorously tested and followed by their doctors for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

We all know people (or perhaps are one of these people) who can eat a typical S.A.D. diet or worse and not gain anything noticeable. It can be maddening, in fact, for the folks who work harder to maintain their weight. That said, don’t think for a minute that skinny folks get off the hook. They might not suffer the same social stigma or bear the inconvenience and weight-related mobility or joint issues that their heavier friends do, but they might be lured into complacence about poor health choices without the indicator of added weight. As our Success Stories show, those who begin with less weight to lose end up gaining more in their health and vitality than they ever thought possible.

What have “skinny” Groks reportedly lost in lieu of weight? Check it out.

I’m Going Into My 40th Year Feeling Healthier Than Ever

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Night sweats
  • Bone pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Bloating
  • Dry eyes
  • Sinus headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Menstrual pain
  • Diminished energy

Primal Ripples: Deeper Than Just Food

  • Less need for pain medication

The Primal Lifestyle Has Given Me a Life Worth Living

  • Chronic heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Crippling hunger
  • Random nausea
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Debilitating joint pain
  • Body stiffness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Random chest pain
  • Memory Loss
  • Low testosterone
  • Acne
  • Low sex drive
  • Teeth grinding
  • Liver problems
  • Cracking joints
  • Body odor
  • Balance problems

I Was Unhealthy and Getting Sicker: Something Had to Change

  • Dizziness
  • High Triglycerides

We Have More Energy to Be Better Partners, Parents, and People

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Shakes

Finally, I Am Me

  • Anxiety
  • Knee pain
  • Back pain
  • Tendinitis
  • Migraines

I Am Finally on the Right Path to Optimum Health and Happiness

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic infections

I Am in Harmony with My Body and Mind for the First Time in a Long Time

  • Psoriasis

It Will Pass and I Will Be Stronger

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

How the 21-Day Challenge Helped Me

  • Sugar addiction

The Pain and Stiffness Disappeared and Has Never Returned

  • Mid-afternoon energy crashes
  • Finger pain and stiffness

I Feel Healthier, Stronger, and More Energetic

  • High blood pressure

The Primal Lifestyle Has Been a Game Changer

  • Sleep apnea
  • Gall bladder issues

And the list goes on and on…

Now, I’m not claiming the Primal Blueprint will solve all of your problems. There’s no such thing as a panacea in health and wellness. But I think it’s abundantly clear that its impact reaches much, much further than just weight loss. With all the benefits of the Primal Blueprint, it’s hard to justify withholding all the possibilities from your life. Am I wrong? If you’ve been on the fence or dabbling in the PB, the perfect opportunity is right around the corner. How about committing the upcoming 21-Day Challenge (commencing Monday, September 16th) and see what the PB can really do for you? And, yes, the skinny are encouraged to join. Your tribe awaits.

Would you describe yourself as presently – or formerly – skinny fat? What’s been your experience when you’ve told people you’re doing the PB (or any other dietary and lifestyle change)? What health issues has the PB changed for you, and what would you tell those who have fewer pounds but just as many benefits to gain by going Primal? Thanks for reading, everyone. Enjoy the end of the week.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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128 thoughts on “It’s Not Just About the Weight Loss”

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    1. Since going Primal this past November, I’ve been labeled, “Extreme”, “Party Pooper”, and “Obsessive.” What’s worse is I have 2 children in elementary school that I have raised eating Primally since birth. A vast majority of people, be it family, friends, or mere acquaintances make comments such as, “I feel badly for your boys,” “Let them be kids!” and “You are raising them to have an unhealthy relationship with food.” That last comment was made by my one and only sibling who allows her 3 children to chow whenever on junk food. I had to laugh out loud directly at her when she made that ignorant comment.
      As far as some positive changes for me following this way of eating/nourishing:
      I no longer have a tingling sensation in my fingers & toes throughout the day.
      I no longer get charlie horses in my calves.
      My toenail fungus went away after 6 months of eating Primally (I had the fungus for over 2 years!)
      My throat no longer feels scratchy and mildy sore (found out it was the dairy).
      I lose less hair in the shower now.
      I’ve gained 4 pounds of muscle (though I lift heavy on top of eating Primally).
      I’m happier and feel more empowered than ever!

      1. Maybe you should have said “I am letting my kids be kids – healthy kids that won’t grow into unhealthy adults!”

        Congrats on getting such great benefits from PB too!

      2. I’m so glad to hear someone else noticed they lost less hair! I noticed after 30 days of eating this way. After “falling off the wagon” for a month hair is falling out again!! Back on the wagon now. And waiting for the brain fog to lift.

      3. I’ve also heard the same kind of comments from people, especially about my children (6 & 4). Upon hearing that I don’t let them have sugar in any form except for a bit of fruit I was told that I’m mean and that when they’re older they’ll ‘go nuts’ and try all the sugary stuff that they were never allowed to have.

        My answer to that was this: by your logic then, should I light up a few cigarettes for them? Maybe pop open a couple of cans of beer to go with their dinner? So that they don’t go nuts for that stuff when they’re older, of course.

        One day at work I was eating bacon, eggs, and veggies that I’d sautéed I’m bacon grease for lunch when someone told me that I was so lucky that I was thin enough to be able to eat what I do.

        I told the overweight woman who said this to me that she had it wrong. I said “I don’t eat like this because I’m thin. I’m thin BECAUSE I eat like this.”

        Unfortunately I don’t think she believed me. Too bad because besides losing that extra 20 pounds since going Primal over a year ago, I’ve also seen many of the benefits that have already been listed and so have my kids.

        I will never leave this tribe!

    2. Hi Debbie,

      Can you deliberate on that?
      I feel overall better on primal lifestyle,yet sometimes my moods just go down andI need to fix that with carbs.
      So I’m trying to find mental balance aswell.


  1. My elbows are smooth, and I don’t get yellow funky earwax any more. That’s in addition to getting blood pressure and weight under control.

      1. Funky Earwax and the Smooth Elbows sounds like a great band name…

        1. yo im FUnky earWax and my elbows are smooooth
          you gonna get down to my primal grooove
          its not just about the weight see im feelin great
          dont listen to the haters and eat your sweet potatoes

    1. I never really thought about the elbow thing. But it’s true.
      Never had the earwax deal.

    2. I still get quite a lot of earwax. But I live in what’s technically a desert and wear a headset all the time…

    3. I just did an elbow check and they’re so smooth! Whoda thunk. They used to be all scaly and cracked.

    4. Just checked my elbows and waddayaknow, nice and smooth! 😀

  2. love this! I think the quicker people learn that “diets” dont lead anywhere good- and that you have to change your lifestyle and eat/ exercise smartly, not just with the sole focus to be skinny- the better. i used to be skinny fat. no more 🙂

    1. People want a quick fix – especially Americans. The struggle in the health field is taking this concept to cross cultural lines. Traditional Asians or Hispanics don’t respond too well when you tell them to cut out their main staple of carbohydrates out of their diet.

    2. Me too Charlotte. Skinny Fat, looked good in clothes, but not really any muscles underneath…all my heavy friends always called me lucky, while I had migraines, 8 colds a year, sinus infections, sore joints, dry eyes, etc. All completely gone now. When I would complain about my health, the friends would just laugh and thought I was healthy as a horse. Skinny means NOTHING!

    1. Of I’ve all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. 😉

  3. I think PB fixes everyone on the inside first, weight loss (for those that need it) comes second.

    1. I believe this is an important point. Healthy food consumption along with some exercise should start with results coming from the inside out. Energy levels go up and the body becomes healthier before you see dramatic physical changes.

  4. I am a male with decent muscle mass and about 20% body fat…so while clothed most people don’t think there’s much to lose.

    It’s a tough situation here in the midwest where I live as some degree of being overweight is the norm. Thus to be careful about what I eat causes a reaction…and to say I do it just for health reasons also seems to imply unhealthiness for the other person…which can also offend people.

    1. Midwesterners tend to worry about offending others. A good line my friend uses is, “I feel best when I eat this way.” Bingo! Conversation is over. The comment is self-directed and there is no looming “maybe you should eat this way too” feeling.

      1. +1
        Perfect response, in my book. Who can argue with how something makes you feel? No one, that’s who.

      2. I like this response. I am formerly skinny-fat, and a guy friend was waxing poetic about how awesome it is to be like us and eat whatever we wanted. He was eating cake, I think, and I just smiled and nodded: bacon!

        Yep, I’m lucky that I get to eat whatever I want…

  5. My allergies have not gone away, but they have been greatly reduced since I have started the primal diet.

    1. Hey Brian. Have you tried raw local honey? I just recently found some at my local farmer’s market and plan to go back soon to buy a ton of it!

      Try putting a tablespoon in green tea once a day. Hope it helps!

  6. “Your tribe awaits.” Is that going to be the slogan?! I’d totally buy a shirt that says that.

  7. I am 46 years old. A few months ago, I completed a 2 year weight loss journey, losing 60 pounds and getting my BMI into the healthy range at 23%. I went from a size 16 to a size 6. But I still needed to do more. I was skinny fat! I had to decide, do I really want to keep losing, and be a size 2, or do I want to lose fat? I was on my way to being a skinny-fat size 2!

    So I decided to stop focusing on my weight or my size (although I still eat mostly primal and watch the scale for creep), but instead focusing on “moving more” and “lifting heavy things”.

    I have gone from 31% to 25% body fat in just 2 months, although I am the same weight and the same size. But the “muffin top” is gone, my stamina has improved greatly, and I feel much younger and stronger. 46 is starting to look real good on me!

  8. Following a primal template really allowed me to get to low bodyfat albeit not that low. I have to eat a high carb approach to fuel training and get to the levels I need. The biggest difference for me was clear skin. I sweat like an animal and have always struggled with acne on my body and it was virtually non existent after going primal.

  9. An excellent and overdue post. I think it should really be “fat loss” rather than weight loss since the improved quality/quantity of protein combined with becoming more of a fat burner rather than a carb burner has left my weight fairly consistent but replaced body fat with muscle. I think the mantra should be: throw out your scale and look in a mirror. If you can see fat you are fat, so lift heavy and strive to continually improve your diet, and your weight and body will be whatever nature intended. Also, being overly carbed can have negative hormonal consequences as sock-doc has done a good job of describing, and I think this is an underappreciated aspect of age- related hormonal decline, especially for us lifter types who have a tendency to be over-carbed without looking obviously fat.

  10. I was considered” in shape ” by family and friends, even when I hit 208# at 5’9″. I woke up with a headache every morning, blew my sinuses out like a trumpet, craved sugar every night, and drank a 16 oz. energy drink everyday just to get through it, then wondered why I could”nt sleep before 12:30-1:00.Bloating after every meal with epic flatulence also.After going primal on April 30th this year ALL THAT HAS GONE AWAY! Occasional backslides come with painful recurrences, my body reminding me what it really needs. I trained chronic cardio and overtrained with weights and havent seen more than a “two pack” since my twenties.All the benefits above are enough to make my case for going Primal, but the icing on the cake is my 33# weightloss , emerging six pack, and my family jumping on board for the primal lifestyle too. Thanks Mark for what you do

  11. Bingo, this is what I’ve gone through! I wasn’t overweight, but I decided to give it a go and came out of it feeling better than ever. People would make comments like, “you’re thin, why bother?” It wasn’t about “thin” it was about not feeling bloated and tired all the time.

  12. The primal blueprint cured my ongoing sinusitis (2+ years of congestion) and my constantly inflamed adenoids. I have minor osteoarthritis in my hands an no longer suffer the pain caused by it. More importantly though, is the normalization of my mom’s high blood pressure. She has spent the last 10 years on increasing doses of all manner of medication with no changes, along with multiple hospitalizations due to very small heart attacks. About 5 months ago she went primal, and 3 months in had her first normal blood pressure reading in 10 years. THANK YOU MARK! There is no doubt in my mind that the primal blueprint saved my mothers life. Now myself, my wife and 4 children and my mother are all primal and loving it. Grok on everybody!

  13. this is me. I was 170 at 6’2″ when I started and am now 175.

    I’m leaner, stronger and more mobile than I was before, which is all great.

    But more to the point — I spend less time working out, more time with my family, more time playing and I finally feel like a member of the planet’s dominant species.

  14. So many things have improved for me (allergies, joint pain, digestion issues, sugar cravings, low energy … all pretty much gone) and while I didn’t really need to lose weight, I also weight and am much trimmer overall.

    I do, however, take exception to one thing in this post: “They’re more likely to die, as well, than their slightly heavier counterparts …” We’re ALL likely to die. In fact, we’re all guaranteed to die. I’d just like to have a long, healthy life and not a slow, painful deterioration to an early grave, which is something I think the PB lifestyle goes a long way towards facilitating.

  15. I’d say I fall into the skinny fat camp. Most of my adult life (I’m 48), I’ve been between 160-165 lbs at 6’2” (BMI~21). After going primal, I dropped to as low as 148 lbs. Then after adding in weekly push-ups, pull-ups, and squats, I’ve settled in at about 155 lbs.

    Health improvements include:
    • Feet/legs don’t feel heavy/stiff in morning
    • Chronic itchy skin (mainly torso) is gone, probably caused by gluten & casein
    • No longer need prescription meds for ED
    • Occasional 3-day bouts of heartburn are gone
    • Hand-joint soreness/tendonitis has cleared
    • Recurrent, moderate low back pain is gone
    • My ~2 colds/yr are gone (usually a week long cycle of: sore-throat, sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, cough). I’ve had 2 or 3 days in 3 years with a bit of sneezing, then I’m fine the next day.
    • I am now 6’3”+ having gained an inch using Gokhale techniques

    I’m thankful that those close to me support my lifestyle but also frustrated that I’ve been largely unsuccessful at convincing others to follow. They worry I’m too thin and that my LDL has risen.

  16. Dang! After reading the comment about elbows, I felt mine (Hadn’t thought about it since starting primal.) and they weren’t rough anymore either! Even though I’m on my elbows more now (planks) then I used to be. (situps)

  17. Loved this. I’m 5’2″ and 140lbs was my highest weight – I gained almost 20lbs in the year after I turned 38. I starved myself down to 130 and ended up with a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. 6 months on the SAD – slightly calorie restricted, low fat, very low added sugar, lots of whole-grain. Lots of exercise. I was becoming diabetic as I DROPPED 10LBS. Those whole grains and fruit were giving me hellacious hypos – they were destroying my pancreas. I used to get them when I didn’t eat all day but they were now happening 90 minutes after eating – I was eating all day and constantly hungry. And I was only eating about 160-180g of carbs per day. According to I am 3% below the average risk in my population. BUT – I have more high risk than low risk markers. I have a father on dialysis and an older brother who is diabetic. I have a serious dysfunctional insulin response. Primal Blueprint was my fountain of youth. My list of things that went away: eczema; bloated belly; IBS and all associated problems that come with it; hiatal hernia; indigestion; PLMS, scaly dry skin; hair loss (receding hairline and thinning crown also), constant headaces, sinus infections and sinus congestion; ear infections and issues with fluid in the cancals; Fibromyalgia; Reactive Hypoglycemia; slight depression (melancholy); daytime drowsiness; bad sleep; breaking, weakening, decaying teeth and gum problems; HSV-1 (I had a recent breakout thanks to some beef gelatin but this time I researched and found out why L-Lysine has always been my savior – also found a conncection between HSV-1 and ApoE4 of which I have one copy), sunburns. No more carpal tunnel flares either. I’m sure there’s more. The extra weight loss was just a very, very small bonus. I really think that the biggest bonus of all was KNOWLEDGE. I got outside of that damn box and I’m never going back in it. I think I actually saw a comment – maybe on here? But it was about not thinking outside the box but thinking ABOUT THE BOX! Well, shoot did I ramble!!

    1. And one other slightly odd thing. My hair has gotten curlier! (And I’m 3% below the average risk for DIABETES in my population – European – see for definition of European population)

  18. Great post! I came to the primal way of life for health reasons since I had already lost more weight (not fat) than I wanted to following conventional wisdom. My gut issues have cleared up and issues that I didn’t know were issues (had them all my life) have cleared up. I’m still working on other issues that have surfaced, but I am sure I am on the right track. Although I initially dropped 6 lbs. on PB, I am now 4 lbs. heavier than when I started, but 2 sizes smaller. As I approach my 55th birthday, I am much healthier, stronger, leaner, happier, more mentally alert and no longer concerned about the “normal” chronic conditions associated with aging. Even so, I still get concerned comments from well meaning relatives/friends/acquaintances about my weight (well within the healthy BMI range, for whatever that’s worth), how much I eat (a lot), and what I eat (how can you stay away from breads, pastas, etc. and, of course, the eggs/beef/fat are going to kill you!). PB is about the health — the weight is a side effect.

  19. I have been lifelong skinny fat, always very active in sports like skiing and windsurfing but shunned exercise for it’s own sake other than walking to and from work etc. I am 5’9″ and my weight has been stable around 172 for the last 30 years. Looked fine as long as I sucked in the belly! One year ago at age 57 finally quit smoking (40 yrs seemed like pushing my luck a bit) and the weight hitting around 178 after an ocean cruise (never again!) I went full primal. I ride a bike vigorously and do bodyweight workouts, walk dogs, swum a half mile just yesterday, etc . My weight is down to 163-165 and I have quite a bit more firm muscle mass, 16% bodyfat. My face, shoulders, arms, legs have all leaned out considerably and lost the puffy look. But still have a bloated looking fat roll around the midsection and underdeveloped chest. I had great results in the first 6 weeks and have plateaued since then, it’s infuriating. But the first time I went skiing on Mt Shasta last winter I was elated at the stamina and power I had recovered, it was pure joy to attack the slopes top to bottom without stopping due to leg breakdown. So at 59 now I am actually in great shape but still look skinny fat with a pot belly with the clothes off. I never quit drinking beer so just recently I have switched to 2 glasses of wine to wring off that belly fat. I am determined to get down to the abs I have never seen in my lifetime. I am contemplating trying some testosterone to help lose that last stubborn flab and gain bulk in the chest, that belly is some lifelong stubborn mess.

    1. Forgot to mention that all my cholesterol and blood numbers showed huge improvements after 7 months primal. 20-50% across the board, very impressive, it blew my mind!

      1. Great job Bayrider. No matter how much we abuse our bodies, it’s amazing how they can regenerate and become very healthy again.

  20. I think it was in Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich,” that I first learned that family members and friends don’t want you to succeed. It makes them look bad.

    As to the skinny fat issue: I saw before and after MRI scans of a thin fiftyish woman. The before showed the thigh bone, a little muscle and a lot of fat. The doctors put her on an exercise program and after six months took another MRI scan. Now it was the bone, a lot of muscle and a little fat. Like it should be and like following the Primal Blueprint will do for people.

  21. I started eating PB due to high blood sugar. Got my blood sugar under control, lowered my blood pressure, I lost weight/fat, I felt better, I am no longer hungry every hour or 2, etc., etc. Plus, I love being able to eat lots of grass fed beef, lots of healthy fats & lots of healthy veggies.

  22. I was and always will be “skinny”. At 53, over two years into Primal, I am still skinny. Through menopause I gained weight in womanly places, yes. But with my long lean limbs, I am still a stick compared to most people today.

    What I lost going Primal? —

    Daily sinus congestion.
    Bloating after every meal.
    Being so hungry I would have killed you.
    Being so hungry my brain would not function.
    Sugar and carb addiction.
    Inflammatory ailments – bunions, hip bursitis, gum disease.

    I’m sure I’ve left out a couple of things. My husband benefitted greatly as well – getting rid of huge digestive issues that would surely have ended up very badly, and severe dandruff and gum disease. (He’s also skinny.)

    So those of you sitting on the fence because you think you don’t need to lose weight – ditching the Standard American Diet and going Primal will change your whole body makeup and bring you much better overall health. What have you got to lose to give it a try?

    1. Since going paleo 1 year ago, I have experienced many benefits:
      – I lost 7kg, still need to loose another 3 (need more exercise!)
      – my mind works better, it’s more focus and i’m with better mood
      – I’m not constantly hungry, or thinking about food all the time
      – I’m able to skip a meal (this would have been a disaster 1 year ago)
      – i have more energy and no sugar cravings
      – my period got shorter and on time
      – I’m more compassionate and more spiritual (i still don’t believe in any religion, but can understand more why people do)
      – I’m better tanned, I used to get red when exposed to sunshine
      – I was able to jog for 12 km with no previous training (before I would do max 6 km)
      – I spend less money

      Unfortunately, sometimes I take the wrong path, and the experience is not pleasant, but it actually helps me to put me back on track.

  23. Migraines gone, blood sugar shakes gone, IBS greatly reduced — but also great is a sense of ownership over my health. If I get stressed and the IBS creeps back, I can recognize it and takes steps to fix it.

    1. Being Migraine free is truly a gift from the Gods isn’t it? Man, that is by far and away the number one benefit of going Primal. Type II Diabetes was definitely my number one health issue, but migraines meant ZERO quality of life! I had chronic migraines for 43 years and for all of those years I was nothing but a prisoner!

      I liken it to be stuffed inside a hamster ball and being rolled down a forever hill!

      I was dead inside and just waiting to die!

      IT made such a huge difference that I know consider the day i went Primal as my new Birthday! I’ll be two years old on the 25th!

  24. I always appreciate articles and blog entries that remind us not to focus too much on weight. That being said, I am personally finding it tough not to do so. I’ve been Primal for a little over a year. I shed about 55 pounds and at least 10 percentage points of body fat (even by relatively inaccurate Tanita, the body fat % has gone down; I’ve also dropped clothing sizes and seen more muscle definition). All great stuff, and I’m extremely thankful to Mark as well as some other figures in the community. But now I’m very, very, very frustrated that I can’t seem to lose overall weight any more. I can and have put on muscle, no problem, e.g., new bench max of 295, other weight maxes also increased (I’m 47.5 years old, 250 lbs, 5’10”, BTW). But I can’t seem to reduce any more fat or overall weight. I check my calories – don’t seem too high or too low. I eat a pretty low carb Primal 90% of the time. I am, however, extremely stressed out almost always. And I’ve read/heard that can make a big impact. So while I *know* rationally I shouldn’t worry about the scale, I’m still letting it get to me despite my good progress. Maybe it’s because I hear about people losing even more weight, e.g., 70-90+ pounds in a year or less doing what I was doing. So I have to wonder what I’m doing wrong. In any case, thanks to Mark for this great site and his awesome book.

    1. Stress could be what is stalling your weight loss. Figure out a way to deal with whatever is stressing you better and stop stressing about weight loss.

    2. Throw out the scale. The only scale in my house is for weighing food – and only because I need to know how long to roast those huge chunks of meat for!

      1. Also, don’t forget it took you a lot longer than a year to put all that weight on. Cut yourself some slack, give your brain a break, and focus instead on all the other cool changes going Primal is causing in you – like, apparently, smooth elbows! lol.

    3. I find stress is what puts weight back on and keep it on.

      About the time I started going primal, I was coming off a two year period of constant high stress from working on a complicated project with people who were not team players. I was not eating right, not exercising, leaving me hovering around 200 lbs at 5- 10 1/2″ . Had a list of health problems, low energy, acne, bad sleep, snoring, etc.

      Now I try to minimize the stress, by balancing work more with family and activities, do circuit training 3 times a week (from a P90 routine), and stay around 170 lbs with the health problems largely gone. If I get stressed, I find I put the weight back on and it stays, but when I get out of the period of stress, I find I can burn off fat quickly.

      WRT body image I’m thinner than I was, loose in 31 inch pants vs tight in 36 inch pants, and can just see the hint of ribcage and abs. If I want to get ripped I know I will need to be tighter on the primal diet (about 75% right now) and do more dedicated and focused training. At this point though, I rather use my time to do other things rather than just hitting the gym.

      Hope this helps.

  25. My trainer got me hooked on Paleo this past year. Thank you, UGH! One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is that I don’t experience those low blood sugar moments when I almost feel like I’m starving. His mantra “fat and fruit” has proven useful at snack time. Replacing my morning bowl of cereal with bacon and eggs really super charges my day, and I look forward to “playing” in the kitchen. I love eating real food! And since I installed wood floors, I spend more time going barefoot in the house; my balance (compromised by neuropathy) has improved.

  26. Have you ever found yourself around an annoying loud noise that went on and on until you no longer paid conscious attention to it? But then the noise suddenly stopped, and you felt tremendous relief with the comparative silence? Going from S.A.D. to primal was like that for me.

  27. Things I did that I couldn’t before going primal:
    – climbed certain trees / walked on fallen trees, branches, leaning trees
    – walked distances and rough surfaces barefoot or in shoddy footwear
    -swam/immersed in cold water
    -stayed awake traveling for two days on a bicycle (with plenty of rest)
    -gone two days without eating
    -lived in an unheated trailer for a winter

  28. I’m a 31 year old Mom of 2 kids (son: 2.5 & daughter: 12 months). I’m 5’9″ and currently 137 pounds. On July 10, 2013, I weighed 150. That was the day my family went Primal and we aren’t looking back. My husband has lost 15 pounds and my Goldfish & pancake loving son now begs me for kale chips. I thought we were healthy and by SAD standards we were. Losing weight has been a nice bonus but I didn’t really think I needed to. We went Primal bc I wanted to set a healthy example for my kids, especially my daughter, who will grow up with even more body image scrutiny than I did. It’s nice to think of the things I’ve lost but I enjoy thinking about what I’ve gained even more.

  29. A daily Alka Seltzer — gone.

    Bleeding gums when I brush my teeth — gone.

    Toe jam fungus — gone.

    The previous phenomenology of hunger (ie panic ) — gone (replaced by a gradual slowing down feeling, plus mouth-watering once I’ve decided to eat).

    About 20lbs and 3 inches from my waist — gone.

    Fear of fat (and odd bits of animals) — gone.

    (And, my food diary and cholesterol numbers almost gave my doctor a heart attack, until he saw that the high Total was made up of very high HDL.)

  30. I just started going Primal this week. I haven’t had bread in about a year and the only grains I ever ate were oats (and that wasn’t a daily occurrence, more once a week maybe). I have all the symptoms of PCOS except the overweight part. While researching PCOS, I discovered high insulin and possible diabetes (which is the one health issue I fear the most). I am still learning the ins and outs of primal living, but have read different girls accounts of healing their PCOS. I used to be skinny fat but workout regularly doing different forms of exercise. Now I’m skinny fit, but am looking to healing internally. I’m keeping a food diary for now to keep track of my macros until I get the hang of portions etc.

  31. I am like Chris above. I lost significant weight but have not been able to achieve the kind of cross-fit or bikini model physique you see in the typical success picture. But I continue with the program because of the health benefits. I feel like a completely different person. I’m stronger than I used to be, my weight is more stable even if it’s not actually “skinny”, my hunger is more stable, my mood is much improved. I don’t go crazy periodically like I used to, flying off the handle, yelling at people, feeling depressed and worthless. I’m even-keeled. I feel confident, calm and quiet inside. I won’t go back to what I was before.

    1. I think it’s definitely worth pointing out, and for everyone to accept, that those models/cross-fitters are a specific physiological ‘type’. A mate of mine I did the Whole30 with last year was complaining because he’d been paleo/primal for nearly 2 years, and while I was getting what all the boys termed “lady abs”, he was still stocky. I told him, it’s just how you are. You’ll probably never get the six pack look without a level of effort that simply isn’t worth it.

      Pinning your hopes and feelings of self-worth on looking like someone else is a fool’s errand. Some people will get that look, and some simply can’t – the same way that I will never be tall, I will never have slim thighs (though I love my big thighs 😉 and my rib cage will always be a certain circumference. It sounds so obvious, but I’m built this way – and you are too.

      All the ladies out there need to remember, as well, that there’s a minimum amount of body fat you need to be healthy and function as a woman – and it’s more than 15%!!

  32. I guess I am one of those “skinny fat” folks. I have been blessed (and cursed) with being small and skinny my whole life. As a teenage boy, I hated being so skinny and tried to gain weight (I would have taken fat or muscle at the time). I ate 3,000 calories a day for awhile (double-cheeseburgers and fries with milk shakes, etc.) I couldn’t gain weight. I was 5 feet 8 inches tall and 120 pounds dripping wet. Stayed that way throughout my twenties and thirties. Now I am 45 and up to a whopping 140 pounds. I still look thin, but I have a little belly fat. Very little muscle tone. I am not doing this to lose weight; in fact, I would not mind gaining a few pounds. I am doing it because for four and a half decades I have been eating anything and everything and I feel like crap because of it. Pop Tart and Coke for breakfast; chips and salsa and enchiladas with beans and rice for lunch; ice cream, chips, donuts, cookies for snacks. Burger and fries for dinner. Blech. I have finally had my fill of all that stuff. Been doing the Primal Blueprint for a week, including a long weekend eating out every meal in San Francisco, and have never felt better. Haven’t had any of the processed, packaged crap in seven days. Been shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and only getting Primal Blueprint foods. Lots of veggies, eggs, meats, fruit, seeds, and nuts. Loving it. And now I feel like exercising because (a) I have the energy for it! and (b) it’s not something I “ought” to do–I want to do it. I have never been on a “diet” before. This is not a diet for me; it’s a lifestyle change. My wife and I are both committed to it. If our bodies end up looking better, great. But for us it is about a lot more than that. We just want to feel fantastic and actually BE healthy, not just look healthy.

  33. Ever since the first time I measured my BMI, it’s been slightly below “perfect.” I’m lean, had a six pack as long as I can remember, and nothing I eat changes my weight.
    But, I’ve had Ulcerative Colitis for about a decade now. For anyone who’s not familiar with it, I would gladly trade for obesity. I eat stuff and people say “how can you not get fat?” to which I reply “I just get really sick. It’s heaps worse.”
    The Primal Blueprint has changed my life. Years ago, I discovered the SCD and GAPS diets, but I didn’t have the motivation to combat my cravings for carbs. The caveman aspect of the PB, with lifestyle factors and lifting heavy things, has gotten me much more involved. I’m not better yet, and I’m only sticking to the diet around 70% of the time, but I feel soooooo much better.
    I get married in 3 weeks (Oct 5th), so maybe I’ll hit up the 21 day challenge to make sure I start my married life with good health. 🙂
    Oh, and my bride used to have PCOS. Used to.
    Thanks heaps Mark.

    1. “I’m not better yet and I’m only sticking to the diet 70% of the time”. Hmmm … maybe you should focus on that phrase and make a logical connection. Just sayin’ 🙂

      Glad you are feeling better, and congrats on your upcoming marriage!

  34. I started PB a size 10& 3 yrs later I’m still a 10. After all the awesome things that have happened as a result of 100% primal I still wish being slender was a part of my story. Now THAT is vain.

    1. Look into IF (such as Leangains), that may be the missing element for you. Mark has some nice articles on the subject.

  35. I’ve gained a better relationship with food and have been able to combat the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease by keeping my blood sugar stable and inflammation down. My skin is clear and I had a wonderfully healthy pregnancy. I have been breastfeeding exclusively for 4 months and feeling great (and eating a ton)

    Truly amazing how great I feel! (And recovering from pregnancy has been much easier than expected! )

  36. It is just shy of 2 years since I went primal. Oh how things have changed. In the past two weeks I have gotten comments from my massage therapist,”you are in really good shape. Compared to a lot of younger people you are doing so much better then them. And I mean it, your muscles are smooth, no knots, very good shape”. I was at the gym today doing a session of boot camp and the comment from one in our group was “man you are in such good shape”. Earlier this summer I’m walking down the street in shorts, but shirtless, wearing my vibrams and I get photographed by a woman in a passing car. I feel great and must be looking better too haha. I love it! I had my 53rd birthday in August but feel half that age. Weight wise I’m down about 25lbs but have also gained over 10lbs of muscle. Body composition doesn’t lie. My eyes are bright and clear, skin is smooth, hair is shiny. Nice muscle definition. No joint pain, no back pain, toe fungus is gone, gums don’t bleed. I’m alert, energized, totally freaking happy. I absolutely love food. I have become a wicked cook. Sex is awesome. When I reflect I just can’t believe the transformation. And so achievable. This is life and I’m glad to be enjoying it.

    1. “When I reflect I just can’t believe the transformation. And so achievable.”

      You’ve captured the essence of my experience with PB. I’m 57, female, 5’2″. I’ve never been obese or excessively overweight but after menopause, I started packing on the pounds-about 35–and couldn’t take them off. I accepted and made jokes about my pudgy self; I thought that’s just the way it’s going to be so there’s no use getting upset about it.

      The problem was I felt horrible. So I took the PB plunge in late February of this year after a miserable winter of aching joints and one illness after another, figuring, what did I have to lose?

      Surprisingly, I lost a LOT: chronic hunger and cravings!! (I would eat all the time and never be satisfied); chronic heartburn with pain so excruciating, I’d been to the ER 3 times thinking I was having a heart attack; back fat (ewwww!); muffin top; saddle bags; bloated, lookin’ like I was 7 months pregnant belly; puffy, pasty, dry skin, most of my joint pain; chronic fatigue; 27 pounds; 3 dress sizes (approaching a 4th) and the list goes on. It simply blows my mind!

      I now have nice muscle definition and cuts (!!!), an almost flat belly and a mirror-friendly body. 🙂 My original goal was to lose another 10 pounds but I’d be thrilled if I stayed right where I am, which is totally achievable; I love primal food and don’t have a problem sticking to it. I have far more energy and endurance. I can hardly believe how much better I feel! Yeah, about half my age is accurate.

      My work is outdoors and fairly physically demanding (likely why my transformation happened so quickly). In the summer, I usually wear shorts and a tank top. I’m not one for seeking external approval but I sure have gotten a lot of it and I’d be a liar if I said it isn’t enjoyable. Rarely a day goes by that someone, friend and stranger alike, doesn’t say something to me about what great shape I’m in. I’ve been whistled at, “hit on” a number of times and even told, “nice abs” (I had to go home and look in the mirror; I hadn’t even noticed hahahaha, probably too busy admiring my “new” legs). This just makes me laugh and laugh. Seriously? I’m 57! This is not supposed to be happening! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d look or feel this good at this age.

      I’m also loving watching the transformation in some friends and family whom I’ve talked into trying the PB lifestyle. It’s amazing!

      I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark and the community here-I read all this for about a year before I took the plunge. My life and health has been transformed. Thank you all!

  37. Yes!!! I constantly get people telling me that I don’t need to “be on a diet.” I explain that it isn’t a diet for weight loss, but for health. This is also confusing since they say “well you look healthy to me.” To which I explain that it is more of a long-term health that I seek plus how can someone tell if I am healthy by looking at me. One thing you forgot to mention in thyroid imbalance by the way, a very common autoimmune condition that can often be resolved with a gluten-free and paleo lifestyle.

  38. So many reasons I’m primal still after a year and a half, and none of them to do with the scales or the size of my waist:
    – More hair (on my head)
    – The longest, strongest fingernails I’ve ever had (seriously, they’re like acrylics)
    – Fewer headaches, haven’t had sinusitis in ages
    – Better sleep
    – More energy and drive to do things I used to put off, like the dishes or cleaning the car

    My eczema’s still in full swing, but I have at least determined once and for all that none of my triggers are food – they’re all environmental – which takes me a step closer to managing it better.

  39. Mark, loving the site as usual. Got some really great feedback from others which is nice but it did take me so long to read through them all. Very popular man lol x

  40. I’ve had a lot of health improvements:

    – zero heartburn (I’d go through Tums like candy before)
    – no more stomach pain, constipation, bloating, and crazy flatulence (I’d miss 3 or 4 days of work a year after being on the toilet in agony for hours in the middle of the night).
    – much better sleep (my head hits the pillow, and I’m out)
    – greatly reduced snoring (and likely sleep apnea)
    – almost no issues with carpal tunnel syndrome — I used to need to wear a wrist brace when I slept or else I’d be doomed to utter misery all night long, waking up every hour or so with a painful burning numb hand. Sometimes I wear it out of habit, but often I’ll go for days without it with no problems.
    – fewer colds of much shorter intensity and duration (I’d typically get 2 severe colds that led to bronchitis and antibiotics 2x a year for at least a week each, but I haven’t missed work for a cold in over a year)
    – no more reactive hypoglycemia and ravenous hunger — this is HUGE
    – tons more energy
    – greatly reduced allergies
    – I’d had some issue with my throat for several years that felt like I needed to constantly clear it. That’s gone.
    – my asthma is extremely well-controlled – I haven’t taken my rescue inhaler in well over a year
    – my sexual drive is WAY higher
    – my skin looks much healthier, and I don’t have dandruff any more (and I have smooth elbows now too)
    – I have more patience and much less of a temper. I’m much more even-keeled now and am generally in a much better mood

    Oh, and I lost 83 pounds and gained muscle as a nice “bonus.”

    Despite all of these improvements, my friends and family still think I’m being unhealthy by eating too much saturated fat. Sigh. I’ve given up trying to explain.

  41. Improvements in allergies/nasal congestion, sleep quality, energy levels, eczema, muscle mass, sports performance, self confidence, mental performance, joint pain. And I too have smooth elbows now…weird!

  42. One of my favorite ‘side effects’ of going Primal as been my reaction to bug bites. All my life if I’d get a mosquito bite [or any bug bite, really], it would swell up to a huge, itchy welt and wouldn’t go away for weeks, sometimes longer. It became a huge deterrent for going outside in the summer time for me. Occasionally I’d have to go to the doctor to address bites that wouldn’t heal on their own and I’d be given steroid creams.

    Since going Primal, I’m happy to say I don’t always notice when I get a mosquito bite anymore, sometimes until a day or two later when it’s almost gone. I no longer have the crazy inflammation and intense itchiness. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a LOT more time outdoors this summer. That alone has been a big bonus for me, among so many…

  43. I think everyone that knew me was feeling pretty smug that I had gotten skinny-fat. Now that it’s gone they would probably like to accuse me of being anorexic. again. but they can’t, because anorexic folk don’t have muscles like mine!

  44. I was definitely skinny fat for a lot of my life! Eating mostly paleo/primal has helped me stabilize my blood sugar, feel hungry less often, stop having shakey hands, sleep better, and (most surprising to me) the excruciating pain that I always felt when descending on an airplane completely disappeared!

    I get a lot of “you don’t need to be on a diet,” but what is more amusing to me is the judgements people make about what I eat. “Oh, I could never eat so much heavy meat all the time,” “oh, so you’re just eating whatever you want because you work out so much?” “bacon and eggs for breakfast again? yikes!”

  45. I appreciate this post. I did not see the pounds “just dropping off” when I began this “diet” and I don’t feel that losing pounds is any part of why I’m doing this… I feel less bloated, I feel less tied down to normal mealtimes and less desire to “snack”. I have noticed that my chest and back acne has cleared up completely, and it wasn’t bad before, but it was annoying and slightly embarrassing. I have noticed that I’m happier. I’m not sad or snippy for no reason. I’ve only been following the Primal Blueprint for about 2 months, but these are good changes to me, and I just FEEL better. I think that’s what makes it all worth it.

  46. As a former skinny-fat, I totally appreciate this post! Even on forums here, I’ve heard the “people can’t relate to you because you don’t have weight to lose.” As if PB was just about weight loss and LGN!

    When I started Paleo, I lost seven pounds in a week, and I didn’t even know I had seven pounds to lose. I’m 5’9″, and I went from a “whopping” 120 pounds to a frightening 113 pounds. That didn’t last long at all, and now at 130 pounds, I think in a lot of ways I look better.

    My husband celebrated the day I said that we were stocking eggs and bacon for breakfast in the morning, and I’ve discovered that I like cooking enough to explore real techniques that actually take time.

    All is not perfect, though, given that I still break out and haven’t seem to have found a solid food connection. One day my hormones will balance out, and I’m sure then life will be even more awesome, but at this point I have to attribute the hormonal imbalances to unresolved stress and anxiety.

    So geeez-oh-man, there is nothing like hearing “you don’t need to be on a diet” to really make my day…

  47. This is exactly what I need right now! Super excited for this challenge!

  48. It’s sad to see how self-destructive and or accommodated people discourage those who are brave enough to try to change their patterns. It’s beyond jealousy or envy IMO.

  49. Many good features to this article Mark. Too often do people make judgments based on what they see externally only, when we all know there is so much more to a person’s physical, mental and emotional health than that. I don’t have any dramatic transformation stories however I know that I was leaning towards the skinny-fat side of things. Since going Primal though, I have better muscle definition than I’ve ever had and my abs are showing a 4 pack with a 6 pack not far away!

    It was after reading The Primal Blueprint that I made the decision to not only change my life but dedicate a great part of it to helping others achieve their goals of health and wellness. The Primal community is truly inspiring and only seems to be growing thanks to Mark and many others including everyone who reads this blog.

  50. I haven’t had any primal challenge whatsoever, but reading those testimonials are truly overwhelming. Interesting! there’s more to life than just weight loss and that is to feel good about yourself and living the healthy way.

  51. I didn’t have too much weight to lose, but I just couldn’t burn off the stubborn layer of fat. Even with the amount of physical activity I was doing, I still felt lethargic and foggy at times. Since I’ve started going primal for about a month now, I’ve notice less hair fallout (great if you’re a guy worried about hair loss), better skin and more energy. I always had skin conditions like eczema and rash-like symptoms but that has cleared up for the most part. The only part that is bad now is people don’t like eating out with me and me constantly explaining, “no, it’s not atkins”.

  52. “Much of the so called health foods today are filled with food chemicals, processed foods cause inflammatory obesity, many of us have been set up to become overweight which makes the food manufacturers rich, they profit from obesity.”