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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 26 2011

Ken Korg Finally Gets It

By Mark Sisson
109 Comments

Things are going pretty smoothly in the House of Korg. At this point, the whole family’s got the dietary stuff locked in. They know what to eat, what not to eat, and it’s no longer a struggle. The low-carb flu has come and gone, the once-tempting foods frankly look kinda disgusting and downright unappealing. Son Kenny’s happily eating meat, Ken’s continuing to slim down, and Kelly no longer carries a feed bag to support her snacking habit.

The pantry has finally been purged. It was a big job, one Ken began immediately after that first chat with Valentina but only just finished because he had run out of garbage bags for all the old food (their pantry is a walk-in and just massive). When all was said and done, the food bank walked away with six hefty bags full of supplies and the Korgs had almost 100 square feet of empty space. Since Ken’s pantry replacements – canned seafood, coconut and olive oil, a big jerky stash, dark chocolate, loose leaf tea, coffee, and a small bag of rice for Kelly’s cardio carb-ups – only filled a couple shelves, the family has started using it for fitness equipment storage.

Speaking of fitness equipment, they’re amassing quite an arsenal between the three of ’em. Last week, Kelly happened to go for a quick lunchtime jog while wearing ballet flats. It was the first time she had run in something that wasn’t a high-tech running shoe with a big heel raise, and it was the first time she had run without her knee giving her trouble. Fascinated by the apparent connection between heel height and knee pain, Kelly decided to pick up a pair of Vibram Fivefingers to test. Fast forward a week and a half and Kelly has a half dozen pairs in every color and style stashed in the pantry; the VFFs apparently passed the test.

Ken and Kenny spend every Saturday together cooking up designs for unconventional, homemade workout equipment. So far, they have six slosh tubes of varying length, weight, and diameter; four medicine balls, made from basketballs and volleyballs; two big army duffel bags full of smaller sandbags, totaling up to 140 pounds each; rocks of various sizes, shapes, and weights; and a couple Bulgarian training bags made from tire inner tubes full of sand. It’s the classic father-and-son bonding experience with a weird Primal twist. Kenny’s your standard teenager, so he’s enjoying the time with his dad but not really appreciating the depth of the experience (you can’t really expect him to), but Ken? Man, Ken’s a sentimental mess. Every Sunday night in bed, he gets a little teary-eyed telling Kelly about his time with Kenny, the successes, the setbacks, the footrace/wrestling match they got into on the beach while gathering sand for the Bulgarian bag, the genuine enthusiasm in Kenny’s voice as he describes a new way to tweak the slosh tube design. It reminds him of when Kenny was a wide-eyed four year-old and the world and everything in it was new to him and Ken was the coolest, funniest tour guide in it.

Speaking of being in bed with Kelly, that’s another much-improved area. And not just the sex (which is fantastic), but the entire bedtime ritual is better. The dulling blue glare of the the plasma screen at the foot of the bed is gone, the TV disconnected. So when they turn in for the night, Ken and Kelly talk about their days, laugh, joke, and play around with each other rather than watch other people have fun, make witty comments, and live incredible lives onscreen. It isn’t glamorous or exciting, but it’s nice. And it’s certainly real.

This past week, Ken is realizing that the big secret of going Primal is that it’s really not about changes to diet, fitness, or what supplements one takes in order to “mitigate stress.” It’s not about hacking yourself, constantly striving to improve this or that micronutrient status or tweaking things until you finally figure out the minimally effective dose of sun/squats/sleep. Those are just tools to an end; they’re not the goal itself. The goal is getting to a state of flow, where everything just happens, where you make good food decisions without thinking or stressing, where you head outside for a hike not just for the forest bathing benefits but for the fact that walking around in the great outdoors is awesome, where it’s all internalized and regular so you can focus on the important stuff – family, friends, experiences, moments, love – without all the clutter getting in the way.

Those kind of subtle changes are the most monumental results of going Primal, even if they’d never be touted on the cover of a diet book. “Have more meaningful interpersonal relations with loved ones!” just doesn’t pop, ya know? But it’s the truth. And the Korgs are learning it.

Tell me about your path, your Primal story. What have you learned? What’s been hardest? Did the story of the Korgs ring any bells? Have you reached a state of flow?

Let me know in the comment board!

TAGS:  Grok

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109 thoughts on “Ken Korg Finally Gets It”

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  1. It’s always hard to stay on track especially when you’re being tempted with poor food choices, parties on the weekends, family get togethers.. but once you learn a couple tricks here and there to fight those off, it really has become more a lifestyle than anything else for me!

    I started primal for vanity purposes (wanting to look super cut, fit) but realized that the most important thing that comes from being primal, for me, is the energy, focus and mood I’m always in – always ready to take on whats next. Found more than just a way to look better, but I see the world in a much brighter light!

    Thanks again Mark!

    1. My “holy cow!!” is the half dozen pairs of VFF’s. I would love to have enough money to justify buying a second pair now that my first pair are showing the effects of being well loved.

      1. I also would love to won a few more pairs. The one pair I have now – the KSO’s – have 3 small hoes in the toe area. I need a new pair but do not have the money for it.

        Do the Korgs have an address so I can borrow a pair of Vibrams?!

        1. You can find em cheaper on ebay(make sure they are a vibram seller), and campmor.com Usually last years models. I got two pair for under 100 bucks:-)

        2. Dennis is right. You can find deals online. I bought my current pair at shoemart.com. They were last year models so the size/selection was limited but I bought mine for $54.
          Alas, until my current employment status changes even that is outside the budget at the moment.

        3. I purchased my sprints for $56 but I ended up selling them and sticking with only my vibrams. Now they have holes!

          I’ll have to do this. I need to ask my facebook fans what pair they where and why. I’ll do that now!

          You can answer in reply to this comment too… what pair(s) do you wear and why?

  2. I am learning how to play again…and how it’s much more rewarding to interact with family members being active outside instead of sitting around the “boob tube”. I am also learning to enjoy the journey and not worry about when I get “there”. Paradigms are changing!

    1. Are you a fan of jack johnson? He calls it the boob tube which is awesome.

      Ditching the TV is one of the most rewarding tasks I have ever accomplished. Will I go my whole life without watching TV? Hell no.

      Will I sit down and watch a golf tournament, football game, basketball game, etc for hours? No. Maybe a playoff game here and there.

      If you still love the TV then sweet – keep watching! But, until you ditch the TV for 30 straight days I won’t believe you!

      1. “boob tube” is what our parents called it in 1968…guess they were ahead of their times. btw our set was black and white back then. omg I’ve become an OLD FART! …at least I’m a primal old fart.

        1. We had a black and white and I am not OLD! LOL! Also, I believe Al from Married With Children called it the boob tube too.

      2. I concur- I do not have cable I simply have netflix I go all day without having the need or want to watch tv ( there are of course days where I may have an urge but the watching doesn’t last long) overall it is better for me to ditch the tv ( especially with the xbox potentially tempting me with a video game- that is my vice)

  3. Whether I am primal or not, self-sabotage is my problem. I can eat lots and lots and lots of primal food…there is no stopping me. I have been Paleo/primal for 4 months and have seen zero change. I need focus…and a six-pack. 🙂

    1. Those beliefs are like a scared puppy hiding under the bed. They are just keeping where you are, because where you are is known and safe.

      Show them it’s all right to come out of hiding and enjoy this new place you are going to.

      If you alter your beliefs, the focus will come by itself.

    2. Try to eat more meat and eggs for satiety. Also, check your Vitamin D. I was doing what I thought was primal/paleo with no change, and two things converged to help me. First, my doctor discovered low vitamin D levels. Supplementation seemed to kick off weight loss for me. At the same time, I focused on salad dressing and quit buying it and started making my own, either oil & vinegar or with a recipe that starts from paleo mayo. I think eliminating soybean oil from my diet really helped. Six months later I have lost 24 pounds.

    3. It is really frustrating not gettng the result, but great that you seem to know the cause. Try not to beat up yourself, though I would be trying new tactics, setting a limit on food, ie if not full by x calories wait an hour before going more. Exercise does it for me, maybe do a fasting followed by a ramble through the woods, where there is no snack option. Get the habit of “eating like a predator” and having a longish break between meals. something to break routine. Sounds like it will be fun.

    4. I had the same issue, but like Mark says, don’t count calories but calories do count. If you’re eating “lots and lots of primal food”, you might be over doing it on the total calories.

      I had the same problem. I started counting my total carbs. A serving of broccoli or brussel sprouts (primal) can still add more than 11 carbs each to the daily count. Keep the total under 50 (Mark’s recommendation) and you’ll see a difference.

    5. I’m experiencing exactly the same issue… the food I eat is top quality, it’s just the quantity! I know it’s said that if you eat more fat your body will naturally reach its own satiety level… mine just seems higher than everyone elses 🙁

      just gotta watch your portion sizes I guess, well, I do anyway – have to realise that I can’t eat like a 6’3 tall rugby player (unless I want to be as wide as they are tall!!) 😉

      I’m chasing that six-pack too, I know it’s *somewhere* under all that cushioning 😉

  4. Eating and fitness are definitely in a state of flow. I remember a turning point after I quit smoking when I realized I had no desire to smoke again. My primal experience is very like that.
    Sleep has been more difficult but I’m getting there. Sun exposure is fun!! Over the summer no one commented on my weight loss but I heard “You’re so tan!” over and over again with twinges of jealousy.
    Play is my final frontier. I still feel like I need to work at play but I know that turning point will come too.

    1. Must be nice! ( tan and all) I get my daily 15 min- but I am still mighty pasty! I like your analogy to smoking- I used to smoke- not heavily- more of a “social” thing- when I gave that up it was freeing.

  5. I’ve pretty much reached a state of flow with the food but it took best part of year.

    I wanted to see if I could lose ten pounds (going from leanish to very lean) this way and while I’ve lost a few pounds – 5 maybe – the main benefit for me has been to not force myself out of bed at some ungodly hour to exercise and to cut out the screens well before bedtime.

    I do need to be constantly vigilant because while Grok had wild animals to look out for, I have well-meaning but misguided relatives tempting me with all sorts of unacceptable foods. Our life threatening foes are different these days and often don’t look very dangerous but are so, nonetheless.

  6. After a year of being increasingly more primal (i am really good on nutrition, strength, sun and sleep side now and seriously improving the HIT part that was my weakness), I feel like some parts of it has really become a flow, a natural way of life, and i start to have a hard time remembering how I could survive otherwise before, I just remember the feeling of being a crazy, overwhelmed and trapped little rat. At 30 I finally feel as thin, strong and energetic as I would like.

    I don’t see the different elements of the “challenge” as being separated, except when I try to analyze my progresses. When I tried to meditate this morning in the park, taking in the last ray of suns before winter, it was as much part of my primal experience as the relaxing empty stomach of the morning, the strength workout at noon and the delicious organic chicken salad I just had for lunch.

    So the hardest? It was an easy and fun journey for the moment. The hard time may come in a few months as I am trying to get pregnant and have a primal pregnancy. But I am sure it will be an exciting challenge and that MDA will help me again as it will spend even more time talking about pregnancy ;)…

    Thanks again Mark, you changed a lot of things for me, way beyond the way I eat!

  7. I’ve managed to attend one wedding, two birthday parties and a poker night in the last week, without cheating hardly at all.
    A handful of chips at the wedding and the poker night, due to alcohol clouding the judgement, but that’s it. I didn’t drink all that much either, and kept to red wine and whiskey, so I don’t count that as cheating 😉
    Birthday party was the hardest, with all the home baked cake, cupcakes and cookies. That mom is a master at baking.
    But with a little willpower it all went well. I ate the cream and berries from the cake and left the rest to those who like it.

    So yeah, I think I’ve got the “flow” going.

    1. What is whiskey made out of? I had the opportunity the other day, but wasn’t sure if it was made from wheat.

        1. Well, it can be made out of most grains, it is the process rather then the initial ingredients that make something whiskey

      1. It’s distilled so I don’t think there’s going to be much if any antinutrient issues left, no matter what it’s made of.

    2. My “cheat” at my soon to be brother-in-law’s bachelor party were poor hot dogs and hamburgers. Wait, I think I might have had one chip – not sure.

      Not a sip of alcohol. I love wine but none was available. And, the occasional cocktail is nice such as the Mai Tai I had on the plane going to Hawaii – it was FREE! NO way I would decline!

      1. oh one can get a mai tai anywhere, but no doubt they are best enjoyed while enroute to the islands or on a beach! for me, it’s just the patio of a little Mexican restaurant in little ol Medford, Oregon…dinners out are a BIG deal for me lately because I’ve finally gotten a handle on my IBS and it’s really the first time in about 8 years that I’ve been able to eat out and order something special that I really enjoy without getting sick.I mean, there’s always steaks but I grill those myself (grassfed usually) so much that a restaurant steak isn’t even a treat. Mine are better…esp cooked over my seasoned madrone wood. My salads are better, too. my gut is so settled now on my fodmap (modified primal) diet that I can withstand a mai tai here and there, even though it likely contains a good dose of fructose. i am going to make homemade tamales with grassfed beef for thanksgiving…cuz it’s gonna be a splurge, as t day is supposed to be! but corn is not good and not an everyday thing. mai tais too.

  8. I ran through a playground set at our local community center, chasing my three-year-old son through tunnels, down slides, and up ladders and ramps multiple times. It was so fun, and it never would have happened before PB. I didn’t care if I looked silly, and it was great exercise, but most of all it was playing with my son. I wouldn’t have had the energy before.

  9. To me it is thinking “Primal.” When I start to hurry or no reason, or if I get really hungry, or even if I am bored. I try to think of these as little challenges to leap over, and not get so stressed or unthinking about it. Then I make the little decisions and the big decisions in a way that I actually agree with. It makes me a lot happier

  10. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten so much closer to reaching a state of flow. I don’t know if I’m 100% yet but overall I feel so much happier, connected to my friends and to nature. My life has drastically improved. Wish I could explain it better, especially to my non-primal friends.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Mark! I love this little narrative with the Korgs and it motivates me to keep going.

    I’ve been Primal for two weeks, and I’ve lost about 6 pounds. I’m just finishing up P90X, but I’m transitioning to Primal fitness.

    I eat all sorts of food that I love: steaks, salmon, broccoli, and I cook it myself (coconut oil is amazing)!

    I’m past the low-carb flu, and I feel great. I’m still working on stabilizing my sleep schedule. Mark, I like to stay out late, go on dates, see midnight-showings of movies, can this be part of the 80%-20% idea? Can I do these things sometimes or should I be more vigilant with my sleep?

    Anyway, great post. I hope you have some more Korg stories coming up!

  12. I’m such a freak. For me, going primal has meant an increase in energy such that I feel capable of homeschooling my 2 children. Going from part-time mom to full-time homeschooling mom is exhausting, but finally do-able. (It’s something I’ve wanted since before I had children.)

    1. How exciting…I wish you well in your homeschooling journey.
      I’m sure you have a guiding philosophy/method, but keep this in mind if you feel you need to “tweak.”:

      My sister homeschools her near-genius son using the Well-Trained Mind method… and he is thriving.

      My friend very relaxedly (new word!) homeschooled all four of hers until 7th grade, then they went to public schools…one was valedictorian, all four are honors students…and all she really did was let them loose to read and read (and hubby made sure they did math)They had no trouble at all transitioning to a classroom environment.

      Anyway, I also know people all shades of method in between… and it’s almost all good. Best wishes!

  13. I’m just happy that I no longer have problems with idiopathic postprandial syndrome.

  14. This morning I took my 4-year-old son with me to our neighborhood park to do one of Primal Toad’s workouts. We did the workout together (he did his 4-year-old baby Grok version), then we played hide and seek afterwards. It emulated everything you spoke of, Mark, in today’s post. Normally I would rush off to the gym and dump him off in childcare, much to his dismay! Not today. He said, “Mommy, this was one of the best mornings ever!”

  15. Flowing like the breeze down by the stream bed with the water…watching the leaves float past…Ahhh this is the life>>>

  16. I have been Primal for 7 weeks now and just finally feel like I’m hitting my stride. I have dropped 19 lbs on the scale…..and I don’t know how many inches in my waist but it’s time for a new belt and many new pairs of jeans.

    It’s fun trying out new recipes and kind of eyeballing my meals now that I know what I’m eating and what to expect for macros. I still track everything I eat, but I certainly have a better understanding and confidence about planning and cooking my meals. I’m not freaked out by eating fruit or other higher carb foods anymore…..or being on a ridiculously restricted calorie diet. My strength training is coming along nicely……I look better……and I have finally picked up a nice mountain bike to use as my mode of transportation for “moving frequently at a slow pace” as well as my “HIIT.”

    I have felt so energetic and excited about turning 30 in a few months. Which is the main reason for finally doing something about my health again. (I used to work out 4 days a week and eat pretty healthy until I graduated school and started driving a desk for a living) I am so glad I stumbled across this site after a friend of mine tried to convince me to try out a paleo/primal eating plan years ago. I don’t jump into anything without doing research and this site is an amazing resource for those already primal as well as those curious about it.

    I have really enjoyed following the Korg story because so many of these things sound so familiar. I have got a few people close to me to also become interested in ditching the grains and processed foods.

    I am in love with life again and so excited about the future. I just wished more of the people I spoke to about it (when I turn down the bad foods) would understand.

  17. My down fall is milk.
    How do people get over milk cravings?
    It’s RAW milk, it’s nutritious but it is the only reason why I’m not 10 lbs leaner around my midsection. Milk also makes me sedative, so my energy goes down and I just want to take a nap.
    I’m not lactose intolerant, I have no other milk allergies other than when drinking too much, the fermentation it undergoes in my body causes bloat.

    I wish there was MA (Milk Anonymous) meetings :=P

    1. “They” say it takes 21 days to make a routine a habit…

      ……just tough it out for a few weeks. I was eating DELICIOUS Greek yogurt for a few weeks but didn’t drop any weight those two weeks. I cut it out again and BAM i started losing again.

      I guess you have to weigh your priorities. lol (no pun intended)

    2. Arty, believe me I feel your pain! I was addicted to milk until about 2 years ago. I love the stuff and drank gallons of it. I swore I’d never give up milk. The only reason I didn’t drink more was because I was still tracking calories back then and would go over my daily calorie allotment.

      What did it for me was realizing how much sugar is in milk. – 12-13 grams per 8 oz. cup regardless of whether it’s full fat, 1% or non-fat! Check the sugar content of the milk you buy. (I was drinking the pasteurized store-bought stuff in the plastic jugs.) Between being pasteurized and all the sugar in it I knew I needed to give it up so it became a health thing more than anything else. It was probably the hardest thing to give up — even much more so than grains, breads, pasta, pizza, etc., the stuff that most people going primal find hard to leave behind.

      What I did was decide what about it I really liked and when I enjoyed drinking it the most: lunch and night time right before bed (and anywhere in between but those were the 2 most favorite times). So I started cutting it out other times during the day while continuing the night ritual and then slowly cut back before bed as well. It took a while and not having it in the house really helped, but eventually I was able to limit it to every other night, then every 3rd night and so on. Then I started subbing icy cold water for the milk. Now, I don’t even miss it at all, but I will admit it was the hardest thing I had to do.

      After completely going milk free, my cholesterol dropped from 263 to 162 in about 3 months! That should be enough motivation for anyone especially those of us who were staring taking statins in the face before going Primal.

      Treat it like a psychological addiction and also as a health threat. And of course it really helps to not have it in the house which is hard to do if other family members drink it. Good luck – and YES you can do this!

    3. If you are not lactose or casein intolerant and are able to get raw grass-fed milk from an awesome source then why stop? I wish I was in your situation – keep drinking.

    4. Try coconut milk. It’s so good, after a few glasses you won’t want cows milk!

      1. Do you drink coconut milk straight up? I LOVE coconut – it’s one of my 2 favorite plant foods but I am not a big fan of drinking coconut milk by itself. It’s great for smoothies though!

        1. Try unsweetened almond milk (although you can get vanilla or chcoolate). It’s fantastic and I have a glass of it whenever I’ve feeling urges.. DAIRY urges!

  18. I love my after-dark ritual now. When it starts to get dark, I turn off my computer (don’t have a tv) and light my little tea light candles. I have them placed strategically in front of windows, on window sills, so that the glass reflects back the light. Sometimes I turn on the lava lamp that somebody recently gave me. I lie on the sofa and talk to my boyfriend, who lives in another city. (I’m going to visit soon.) Sometimes I do some yoga in the dark. I am SO relaxed by the time I go to bed! And I have more energy during the day.

  19. Been primal for awhiile now but can’t really tell how it makes me feel because I’m in braces + expander and I can’t enjoy a dang thing.
    The foods are limited, I can’t really enjoy any of it because I can’t chew properly, I can’t take in the flavors.
    Everyday headaches are starting to make me insane and the primal diet isn’t helping any of it.
    Most of my digestive problems have vanished, except I am still not regular and I’m just really sleepy lately.
    Also, going primal my boobs have grown and seem to continue to grow..which is not a good thing. I don’t need to go from D to E…

    Not sure what’s up, maybe something is missing.

    1. Have to say, it sounds like you may have ‘gained’ something. Any chance you are pregnant?

  20. It’s been rough….or I made it rough on myself some. Didn’t make good food choices or ate too much. Yesterday was a new day! Saturday I bought my girls their first pair of barefoot shoes. I went with Merrell’s so I didn’t have to fork over so much for the toe socks in the winter. They love them!

  21. I need to let go of dairy. I am totally on a plateau and need to just let it go.

    My issue is I discovered Greek yogurt and marscapone cheese — oh my!

  22. Sleep is my biggest failing. I have a lot on my plate, right now, and sleep always seems to take a back burner. I am hopeful that my choices and actions now will mean that I can get better and more meaningful sleep in the future – kind of like putting in your time when learning something new.

  23. This was such a great story. I’m only about 4 months in and have a ways to go. The food’s becoming automatic, we’re developing good play habits, but need to thumb my nose more at the electronics!
    “You have much to learn, Grasshopper.”

  24. One of the most important things to me has been not only strengthening my muscles, but strengthening my self-esteem, which has been quite fragile my whole life. I think it comes from connecting with myself a little better, and just not about feeling in control of my weight and eating; even when I eat a carb-treat or dont make improvements on the scale, I feel like I *know* what my body needs to feel alright, I *can* do what I need to do to feel alright, and I dont need to listen to the noise from society and CW telling me what is or is not alright about myself.

    Im working on a state of flow. I mean, a good chunk of me still appreciates how good SAD food can taste, but on my drive home from work I find myself fantasizing about gently-crisped fat on the edge of a good cut of steak, rather than pasta. Although, I am also reading a book about incorporating meditation mini-practices and philosophy into daily life, and from what ive read so far, the primal lifestyle synergizes with it in a lot of beautiful ways.

    Also I have not been putting enough effort into getting myself to do sprint workouts (my house doesnt have a lot of free indoor space and when I get home from work, fog is BLASTING across San Francisco so all I want to do is go inside and read about meat recipes and cook)

    1. Any chance you could share the name of that book? I’d like to meditate for better stress management, but the thought of setting aside long chunks of time for it just stresses me out more!

  25. I loved reading the progression of the Korg’s. I’m still on a primal journey, but I’m having trouble letting go and giving in fully. I defeinetely follow the 80/20 rule, maybe even 70/30. But even so… life hasn’t been this great in such a long time. I’ve gained myself back, my happiness, the flow you speak of that I used to have, the ease of life, content with the little moments in life. Everything seems to make sense living this way.

  26. It’s been 8 months and the family is falling into a state of flow. Temptation comes in all directions schools, family to just everyday traveling and eating on the road.
    Me and hubby lost about 15-20lbs, we personally hit a plateau there but still feel great, all those lipid and such tests come back with outstanding numbers reducing the needs for meds.
    One of my kids I know has yet kicked her dr pepper habit, but other wise keeps to paleo, she is 17 and she buys it herself. The other two I know take those treats when offered, but it’s never kept in the house. The girl has had issues with mood swings etc all hormonal related etc, while still has some issues there requiring meds to help, the mood swings etc are a lot less frequent. The boy is probably the biggest success of all. He trimmed off all sorts of baby fat, found he had abs! We knew he had made changes as needed new clothes. But wow the friends were shocked at his changes over the summer. The boy dresses in baggy shirts etc, but at the swimming pool he convinced a few families to try the diet changes.
    Kids were treated by a family member to a Alfredo chicken pasta meal etc, apparently my kids couldn’t eat hardly any, picked out the chicken and called it quits. They used to wolf those meals down and wonder about dessert. Not anymore and nice to see them eat the primal approved stuff first even when I’m not there to give that guilty look at them lol.
    Now I must go make some primal chili! Teenagers still eat a lot!

  27. I fell way off the wagon this summer and am having a little trouble climbing back on. It wasn’t just the parties and vacation. I had my economical 11 year car totaled by someone running a very late red light. I wasn’t hurt except for some muscle spasms. But all the crap I had to go through kinda sent me in a tailspin.

  28. For me, the hard part is keeping up with regular exercise. I’ve got a tendency to injure myself when I do weight training or any other exercise, and that leads to quitting for a while until things heal up, and then it’s really hard to get back in. The dietary part of this lifestyle is a cinch – I don’t miss bread or grains, there are plenty of Paleo options when I eat at restaurants, and I’m a good cook – but the exercise is definitely an issue. At present, I’m nursing a hand injury; nothing serious, but I’m staying away from kettlebells for a while just to be sure. (I’m a pianist – hand injuries are a big deal) Sigh.

    1. Try more of a Body By Science approach — few basic compound movements done in a slow controlled fashion, and no ballistic explosive movements.

  29. my kids are snacking on nuts and meat and cheese. they eat when they are hungry and I stopped demanding they finish their food at dinner, which means nice meals. i have already won! I am trying to contain my excitement about it so as not to arouse suspicions of the changes they have made with a little help from mom.

  30. “Fast forward a week and a half and Kelly has a half dozen pairs in every color and style stashed in the pantry; the VFFs apparently passed the test.”

    WOW The Korgs must be loaded!!! I wish I could buy 6 pairs of VFF I love them!!!

  31. I don’t think I’ve quite reached the “state of flow,” but I’m moving in the right direction. 😉 Eating out & parties are still a bit of a challenge. On a positive note – I no longer have any cravings for baked goods (wheat products). I didn’t think that was possible! Also, I’ve been tracking diet since taking the Primal Challenge – I’ve been eating more calories than before (200 – 300 more per day). I’ve also been listening to my body & taking breaks from working out, spending about 2 days a week in the gym instead of 4. I’ve actually lost a pound or two doing this! I cannot believe I haven’t gained wait with the extra calories (mmm… coconut oil) & reduced gym time.

  32. 25+ years ago, I was falsely diagnosed with hypoglycimia. Doc said ,no sugar, bread, starches, only veggies eggs, meat. etc. Sound familiar?. I lost 20 lbs. in a couple of months., felt great. Kept it up till about 8 years ago. Now I sit here, bloated, feeling like crap. It’s gotta stop. Enough fantisizing about how I want to look and feel, and time to man up. The exercising is there, I just need to stop eating wrong. More motivating articles like this will help.

  33. I like the bit about how the end goal isn’t to be 100% perfect, but rather to be able to enjoy life to the fullest.

    That’s what I think a lot of people miss when they get into eating for health – it’s all about quality of life.

  34. Brief story of my a-ha primal moment – I just got back from a trip, on which I had ironically enough had dinner with Mark, only to realize that my credit card was broken, my bank wouldn’t talk to me without my account number, my statements were in my parents house, and my parents were in Peru. I had no money and didn’t really feel like borrowing any, so I waited for my parents to get back – went 5 days where I ate nothing but one small leafy salad and a few beers. During those 5 days I went to the gym, worked as usual, stayed up all night playing starcraft with my buddies, and was perfectly fine. Back in the day before primal, id skip a meal and practically be comatose, but now, I eat when I feel like it and can make time for a pleasant relaxed meal, no more ravenous hunger pains.

  35. I went to the dentist today and found that my blood pressure was down and I’ve lost 5 pounds since I started this challenge. These kind of concrete changes help me stay on track as much as feeling more energetic. I’m still working on the getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

  36. I love these types of posts, they make me realise that anything is possible!
    I’ve been trying to go Primal for over a year now, and while I had no issues ditching the grains, sugar was a really tough one – I couldn’t deal with a single day without it! I moved to New Zealand recently, and aimed to go the first 30 days without sugar except fruit. I did well, only 2 ‘cheat’ days, and I think the healthy habits are in place. Now I need to work on cutting down the fruit and upping the exercise and I’m good to go! 🙂

  37. Love this story, reminds me of the book when I first read it. All I can say is the primal diet has definitely improved how I feel everyday, amazing.

  38. “It’s not about hacking yourself, constantly striving to improve this or that micronutrient status or tweaking things until you finally figure out the minimally effective dose of sun/squats/sleep. Those are just tools to an end; they’re not the goal itself. The goal is getting to a state where…you can focus on the important stuff – family, friends, experiences, moments, love – without all the clutter getting in the way.”

    Thanks so much for reminding us, Mark.

  39. Getting there, but still stressing over things. Like the fact that for the past week+ there has been no sunshine and too icky out to walk. I feel guilty for not getting the daily moving or sun.

    Food is coming along better. We’re trying a lot of new things, especially in the veggie department. Some things are working, some not so much.

    Teenage daughter is adapting well I think, to the point where she will hopefully continue past the 30 days.

    On a very plus side, I’m not getting hungry as much and eating less when I do get hungry. It wasn’t unusual for me to have 150+ grams of protein/day just doing normal “low carb”, now I’m down to around 100/day which isn’t too far above my minimum needs. And if I have a day where I don’t eat as much I don’t force myself to eat more just to hit some protein number because I know I’ve got it covered on another day.

  40. What have I learned? For me, it started with Vibrams. I stopped running last year due to severe knee and hip/sciatica pain. My doc suggested orthotics and a knee brace, but I’d read about Vibrams here at MDA.

    Then while on vacay with the family in Hawaii, I spent a lot of time “running” in my flip flops, chasing my kid as we raced the train at the hotel (it was a big hotel). And half way through the week I realized that I had no pain. I tested running on the beach barefoot then bought the shoes.

    I’ve only been trying to embrace the rest of “primal” exercise and the diet since just before the challenge started.

    It’s hard for me to totally give up bread/grains (though I’ve cut WAY back, to generally 1 serving per day, maybe 2-3 if I’m PMSing), but eating meat and fat has been a huge eye opener (after being 95% vegetarian and low fat for a couple of decades). I can eat breakfast and not be hungry for hours…no more need to carefully plan for and pack two snacks to eat and exact 3 hour intervals. (Because if I don’t, I get cranky and drop things…in the semiconductor industry, that’s not good!)

    Today I went through my email and “disconnected” by unsubscribing from all those ad emails and things that I never read, that are just dragging me down. I came home and PLAYED with my kid for an hour or so before starting dinner (usually it’s rush rush rush to cook dinner, and I don’t get to have any fun). I cooked extra dinner last night and swapped it with my neighbor, so we each have one extra night’s food taken care of.

    I look forward to even more “Primal” living as time goes on. It’s baby steps.

  41. Still no weight loss here. I may have Even gained a little judging from how my clothes fit. I am still sticking to my guns and avoiding the scqles until the end of the challenge. On the up side, I have been keeping up with exercise (2 bodyweights, 2 short walk/runs, 1 sprint, and 3-5 hours walking per week). One unexpected benefit is an increase in standing. I find myself walking and standing more and sitting less. I feel like the barefoot running (in “aqua socks”) and walking (in Sanuk’s) is changing my desire to sit into a desire to be in motion.

  42. The surprising thing for me was that besides mastering leanness and energy, I have tapped into the great potential of a bit of fat and laziness.

    I found out that if I tried to lean out at an inappropriate time, my body would protest, and I feel as if “something” in there is sending signals of panic. Also, my intuition tells me fat is not just inactive flab sitting there- it’s a resource the body somehow accounts for.

    Now, I have taught my body to feel as if my lower-fat state is now the new normal, but I know it will be a bit of an uphill walk to break through to a lower fat level and keep it effortlessly. But I know it can be done, and more importantly: I can avoid getting to a greater body fat content with much more ease.

    Now for laziness and low energy: since my activities are much more focused and deliberate, as in learning a new Bach piano piece, I know zoning out after a good practice is one of the ways for the practice to solidify.

    Primal means living more fully: neither mediocre work, nor jumpy and guilty laziness.

  43. The issue hardest for me is exercise/ activity- my body is rather content doing what it usually does on a normal basis. I have to work extra hard to get myself up from tedious photo repairs, art projects, and writing. I do really well with the diet for the most part I do have my occasional slip ups but they are usually minor. When this happens I just tell myself I can do better I don’t shoot myself down- that only makes it worse. I just start anew and leave behind the past- it can drag you down when embarking on a healthy lifestyle. I also put into action a challenge to overcome ( I may add 10 mins to my routine, etc) it usually gets me pumped/ excited and I don’t fall off the “bandwagon”

  44. Apparently I am part of the “make haste slowly” crew. Managed to improve my food intake to a predominantly meat-and-veggies model with a few fruits thrown in. Gave up grains completely– until a few weeks ago, a single MEAL without carbs would have sent me under the desk with a splitting headache and all the signs of a hangover without actually getting to drink first. Now, it’s no problem. Swapped out Power Bars for Larabars, bacon and eggs for Starbucks pumpkin loaf (seriously… every morning I was eating that stuff), and cut my alcohol consumption at least in half. Now I just have to get moving with the exercise…

  45. Sorry– I swapped out the pumpkin loaf and swapped IN the bacon and eggs.

  46. It all sounds real nice. But I never see how this could apply to the average person. Seems like all this stuff is catered to people with $$$ and that don’t live in urban areas that might work one or two jobs. Expensive foods organic foofy foods, weird equipment, lots of free time, and hawking $100 dollar shoes that you can’t wear anywhere else without looking like a fool(Sorry not running barefoot in certain cities, it would be absolutely disgusting and dangerous.)

    1. A quick response to Kia. I am a PhD student in a major city. I work 60-80 hours a week in lab plus additional hours studying and taking classes. I live alone and survive on one poor-student budget. And I have gone primal.

      If you are willing to buy pure, unprocessed ingredients and cook your own meals, eating healthy, real food is in fact CHEAPER than buying all your food premade, in boxes, full of crap. I spend one evening early in the week cooking and have lunch and dinner ready for me all week long.

      In addition, not spending money on television, movies or an expensive data-phone plan saves you ALOT of money. Not only have I gone primal on a very low budget, but I still save money every month.

      What I am saying is that frugal primal living is very possible. Like everything in life, it is about choices.

      Always keep an open mind, and good luck! 🙂

      1. When I was in college I lived off Ramen because you could buy 10 for a $1. How could real food be cheaper than that?

        I guess your right but from the impression I get for this site is that you must buy Vibrams, you must eat grass fed organic meats, you must run around barefoot in the woods(what if you have no woods?), it’s a death to eat a pea, a peanut or a carrot or rice or oatmeal, pastas (things that spread food), beans(other things that spread food and provide protein), milk, etc or your not really doing it. And now your depriving yourself of going to the movies, watching TV, enjoying a meal out, or a telephone that lives in the 21 century. Is it spiritual movement? Why are there such extremes? So many other cultures seem to not adhere to any of this and are healthier than we in the US are.

        1. I also lived off ramen in college.

          You can go primal on a budget. Grass fed is great, but if you can’t find it, you can’t find it. You can probably order it on-line, but it’s not going to be cheap.

          Yes, other cultures aren’t so extreme and are in better health than we are. The French, the people of Crete, and the Okinawans come to immediate mind for me. The French like their butter and fat and the people from Crete have a diet that’s pretty high in fat also. But what they also have is balance…something that it’s hard to get sometimes. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

          Hey, my spouse and I both work full time. We have a kid. A lot of my weekly outdoor workouts are riding my bike 10 miles to work 2 days per week (on city streets). The other days? I’m squeezing in a workout at the gym or in my living room at 0-dark-thirty. (aka 5:30 am). The free fitness PDF from this site shows you how to get a good workout with no equipment. I’ve worked on cutting back on the internet and TV so I can enjoy my family more.

          As far as eating out goes, I’d rather eat in, but I find it’s easier to find Primal food out than low fat food. So that’s a plus. While I’m not on a tight budget, I am very interested in feeding my family frugally.

          Grass fed and organic is great, but if you can’t afford it to feed your family, you can’t afford it. I personally have been doing the primal diet about 80/20 so far, mostly because it’s too damn hard to give up my slice of toast in the morning.

    2. Sure, primal eating can set you back if you’re not being smart about it. But no one is saying you have to buy organic grass-fed if you can’t afford it. Buy regular old fatty cuts of meat at the regular grocery. Eat more eggs if meat is too expensive.

      When/if you’re in a better position financially, you can get a better nutrient profile from your food by going the grass-fed route. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well and improve your health on your own budget.

      My husband and I eat on about $60 USD/per week, and we eat grass-fed/pasture raised for that price (however, we IF regularly). If I looked for sales at the regular grocery, I could probably do it for about $40 USD. Shop the permiter, watch for sales, and don’t be afraid to use your freezer for meats on special. 🙂

      Honestly the most important part about eating primally is to actually do the best you can with the resources you have. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Eat real food, pass on the grains, change your oil to butter or olive or coconut (as you can afford), move your body, and take a fish oil supplement. It doesn’t have to be expensive unless you want it to be that way.

      1. How are you getting grass fed/pasture raised to meats to last a week between two people for cheap that all your groceries are only 60 per week? How much do you IF? Do you get it from a farm? Even at my grocery store there is a HUGE difference between organic foods and regular foods. (Come to think of it I don’t think they have have grass fed anything).

    3. Body weight exercises are free. You can build your own kettle bell for about $10. Aqua socks start at $10. My husband and I eat on $70 a week but I could trim that by $20 pretty easily if I had to. So there goes the expensive argument. Now there are lots of nifty toys (sandbags, expensive shoes, etc) and fancy foods that add up quickly, but they certainly aren’t *required.*

      I’d say 90% of the people here are working at least one job (or a scholastic equivalent). No doubt many are working two. The exercises don’t require much time investment. Maybe a total of 4 hours over the week. Planning the week’s menu takes me 5 minutes and cooking averages to about 15 minutes of active preperation and 5 minutes of cleaning. So 2.5 hours cooking over the course of the week. (And I could pare that down if I cooked big roasts or whole chickens that would feed us for a few days). That much time is easily spent in front of the TV. And if kids are the issue then get them in the kitchen too. Exercise by chasing them around the playground instead of hitting a dumb old gym. Race with them around the block. See how fast you can vault up the stairs with your groceries instead of taking the elevator.

      What you really mean is that you aren’t willing to change and challenge yourself to see how you can make this work for you. And that is absolutely okay. It’s fine. If the tradeoffs aren’t worth it to you then don’t do it. But don’t hide behind “it’s too expensive and time-consuming.” Because a lot of us know better.

        1. I didn’t mean for it to be an attack on your character, and I truly do apologize that it seemed that way. For whatever reason you don’t find it worthwhile to tackle the financial and time burdens to make the transition. That is fine. That is okay. It is not a moral failing. If you don’t want to do it then don’t do it. If this is not a priority in your life then you are still a fabulously wonderful, ethical, hardworking person. (no snark here)

          But you cannot say “Primal impossible without a lot of time and money.” Many, many, many of us here have figured out how to work around our own financial and time-crunch obstacles. Primal is a priority for us. (And this does not make us more thrifty, moral, ethical, better looking, or more hardworking then you.)

          Yes, perfect adherence can be pricey and some of the upfront costs are particularly daunting (HOW much for a pound of almond meal?). I don’t buy line caught tuna or grass-finished beef or pastured pork myself. (No freezer for buying in bulk and yes, that stuff is $$$ if you’re buying 1 meal at a time). I don’t really care about organic produce if it’s going to depth-charge my grocery bill. This is part of the 80/20 trade off.

          This is one of the most helpful online communities I’ve found. If you go looking for help in meeting your challenges, you will find it. However, if you throw up your hands and go “You all obviously aren’t in touch with the average folk because this isn’t possible on a budget,” there’s not much else to do but point it out as a untruth. If you continue to fall back on this position and use it as a reason to not even try, then you are using it as an excuse to hide from yourself that something else in your life is a priority.

          And once again, I say without snark or meanness, having another priority is fine. Maybe you really, truly, value passing down your mother’s pasta making secrets to your kid. Maybe you spend evey waking moment trying to fold proteins for disease research. Maybe you’re practicing to take on the Koreans in Starcraft. Maybe you just love the Simpsons so much you really, truly do want to spend you one free hour a day watching the show. I don’t judge because it says nothing about you moral fiber, you just have different priorities. But don’t lie to yourself and say “I would do it, but I’m a normal person with real life challenges. I have neither the time nor the money to do this.”

        2. “if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it.” true that. more quality food for the rest of us. just eat the cheap filler if you think we’re freaks.

  47. I am currently still having a lot of trouble getting into the Primal groove. The constant pressures of college (stress, lack of sleep), lack of time to make decent food, pressure to drink, etc. all lead to bad decisions and poor choices. I am still trying to stick out this 30 day challenge, but so far I have been relatively unsuccessful.

    But today is a new day! So it’s time to start with a good attitude and a positive outlook.

  48. Any prizes for guessing that Korg is an anagram of Grok?

    My little story-
    When I first got on to the elliptical a couple of years ago, I was wondering how CW (counting calories on the intake side, and at the same time doing cardio for an hour or more every day) could be sustainable. I would end up eating more just to keep up energy levels. It just didn’t add up logically, so I went on the net to find out if there was a solution that used a different approach and thinking. I eventually found MDA. I had a few “eureka” moments going though the post on the definitive guide to primal eating plan, and it made perfect sense especially this sentence –
    “Suffice to say, people who weigh a ton and exercise a ton, but eat a ton, still tend to weigh a ton.”

    I went primal in Jan of 2010 ( made a new year’s resolution). At 5’11”, I was 185 lbs and dropped to 164 lbs in about 4 months. I have maintained that weight, give or take a couple of pounds. Interestingly but not surprisingly, I lost three inches off my waist. I am now fitting into clothes from a decade ago.

    Although diet-wise I am quite primal ( 80-20), the more difficult part has been getting a primal work out that I can sustain and get into a “flow”(especially weights). I am not inactive, but need to really work on building muscle mass.

    My relative success has rubbed-off at the work place, and got a few more people thinking and being primal.

    Thanks Mark!

  49. My wife and I have been trying to be Primal for over a year now with some success. I have lost 25 pounds thru diet changes (down to 208) and feel really good about that. My wife has lost some weight but has had more of a struggle with sweets than I have. But (and there is always a “but”) I have not been able to go total primal. I still have way to much stress in my life I still can’t find the energy to exercise on a regular basis and I have yet to get to the state of Flow. If anything (and maybe this is why we haven’t got it yet) the added effort and time added to everyday to be sure we are eating right and trying to add exercise to our daily life seems to generate it’s own form of stress. The constant “is this Grok’s way” question gets old sometimes. I do like the idea of the primal way just seem to be having trouble getting all the way over the hump. Any ideas oon how to add exercise without it seeming like it?

    1. I can side with this post, as well as Theresa above. My wife and I are transitioning as well, and like yours, she has a bigger sweet tooth than I do. I think with her it is mostly a stream of bad habits growing up. Her mother’s idea of losing weight and dieting is just eating less and sitting less. We all have our difficulties hanging on I think. For us, it’s teh breakfast cereal, we do eat mostly things l iek Honey Bunches of Oats, or Honey Nut Cheerios, but they’re all horrible on a large scale. For me that is the most challenging, that and not havign either potatoes or rice with every single meal I eat. I wanted to comment on your last question. I have gotten to the point, not sure if it totally counts, but I’ve almost made grocery shopping a primal workout. We go to whatever store, and we get hand carryable baskets instead of wheeled carts, we spend at least an hour in the store. It’s near-contiuous moving at a slow pace, coupled with lifting and carrying a decent amount of weight. Mark’s ideas about Primal Play might be good for you to look at as well, when you go for a walk, don’t be afraid to act like a kid, jump and skip over those logs on the trail, randomly stop and hang from a tree, I like to find a tallish curb and as I’m walkign do somethign equivalent to a sideways “step-up” to the curb and back to the ground. I still haven’t gotten through the hard parts myself really, it still seems forced to behave primally, but from one somewhat struggling fellow to another, you’re definitely far from alone, and as long as we keep trying it eventually will flow like it should, at least that’s my opinion.

  50. You guys are good. Such timing!! All Ken and family’s experiences ringing true and right on schedule in the 30 days by the looks of things! So, funny. I was just thinking and writing about much of the same stuff as Ken and co…..

    Cleared my cupboards.

    Sprinted uphill, in the sun, because I could, and not because it was ‘my day for sprints’.

    Dumped the bags of Garden Peas in the freezer to make way for rabbit and salmon… Given away the remain tins of chickpeas and bags of quinoa and not even thought about not thinking about milk, well, for days…

    Am so excited that after a years of reading about it and kind of sort of eating primal I’m getting there and it’s coming to be the natural way of things. Of course it is! It is the natural way of things!

  51. Mark:

    I love that you’ve written about Csikszentmihalyi. I’ve read quite a lot of him, and written about him too (to the point where I can type out his name without checking the spelling!).

    As for the PB, these words in your post say it best: “The goal is getting to a state of flow, where everything just happens, where you make good food decisions without thinking or stressing …”

    As you point out in your post about flow (linked to here), we have to train ourselves to get into flow states, because they don’t often come by themselves.

    For me, I know how I find flow in the context the PB) – from structure I decide on. A great example of self-decided structure is your post entitled “A Primal Woman Looks At 50+.” Now there’s a lady with a solid, articulable plan! From reading the post, it does seem like Paula found flow in her own plan. For me, it’s being a lot like that that helps me stay in flow.

    When it comes to thinking about flow and how to get into it, I think it’s important to ask ourselves what takes us OUT OF flow. For me, it’s making unplanned exceptions for indulgences, and allowing in what amount to triggers for me.

    Much is written on this site about the inclusion of wine and chocolate. I’m sure those are good inclusions for many, but not me. Wine was killing my sleep and mental clarity – even a glass or two. So I stopped completely, deciding that it just isn’t worth it – to me. I also found that, for me, It doesn’t lend itself to on-rare-occasion use).

    As for chocolate, having a square or two, as some can, just isn’t something that works for me. I haven’t decided to give it up forever, but I know it’s dangerous territory.)

    My point is that it takes some serious self-observation to figure out what brings about flow, and what impedes it. Knowing what works for others is hugely useful, and, as you point out, self-experimentation is a great process.

    Know ourselves and what works for us is essential. I feel like I do, when it comes to the PB, and it feels really great.

    Susan

  52. If I were to adopt this method of eating, what do I do about fats? I have no gallbladder and sphincter of oddi disorder which is unpredictable and not easily managed or controlled. So high fat meals can either cause me not to eat later because I feel yucky, high fat meals can send me straight to the bathroom not but 2 seconds after I eat, and if that duct muscle shuts closed while the above are happening I’m rolling around on the floor crying for Jesus to come take me.

  53. I changed my diet to more primal not for weight loss, but for health. I have fibrocystic breast issues and get huge painful lumps that sometimes don’t go away after the monthly. Since losing the gluten/refined carbs and no coffee/alcohol(I loves me beer and wine), I am better. No more joint pain or sore boobs! I just ordered the Paleo Comfort Food cookbook and plan on slowly switching over my hubby and daughter. With recipes of such delicious food, they will not even know! We are already whole food eaters and raise our own meat, what could be easier? Thanks to everyone for such great support and insight!

  54. I can’t say I will have succeeded with the 30-day challenge, as I’ve given in to pizza, oatmeal and a few other things. But, I will say this – after a big pizza lunch today with co-workers, I totally feel like crap – bloated, sleepy and headachy. This is what will eventually turn me Primal, when I start to fully realize that foods I thought I loved actually make me feel terrible. I love reading everyone’s comments and especially the Friday success stories. So glad I found this site!