My Confidence Is Returning, and I’m Re-engaging in Life

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Hi, my name is Mike. I haven’t always been overweight or obese. In fact, when I was a child and teen I was skinny. To the point of being teased frequently because of how skinny I was. No matter what I ate or how much of it I ate, I couldn’t gain weight. Fast forward to January 2017 and I was at my largest: 350 pounds, barely able to fit into 4xl shirts and was about to have to purchase 48 waist pants because the 46 I was in I couldn’t button. I had to put them close, fasten my belt, and hope the pants didn’t slip through and unzip.

I didn’t get here overnight, although after finding and devouring Mark’s Daily Apple I realized that my overnight practices were definitely part of it. High stress lifestyle as a paramedic for 18 years, working nights, fast food almost every meal, then stress eating through Physician Assistant school. I was definitely the “Do as I say not as I do” healthcare provider. And done with it.

In February of 2017 I checked my Hemoglobin A1C and it was 6.4, just 0.1 short of official diabetes. I started to do some of what Mark said to do on MDA but wasn’t fully into it. I’ve always been the “why it works that way” person and, being the geek that I am, kept reading. Mark’s Daily Apple, Chris Kresser, and others increased my nutritional knowledge far beyond my education as a PA (a subject for a completely different article).

In May 2017 I had lost 10 pounds but my A1c was still 6.2 and my Triglycerides were 264. It was time to actually do something about my health instead of just talk about it and tell my patients what to do. Actually, several of my patients as well as my parents, who really listened to what I told them, read MDA and instituted the Primal Lifestyle and had lost lots of weight and were doing great, which inspired me to take my own advice.

Like many people who are obese and have tried to lose weight, I’ve done well for a little bit, screwed up, and beat myself up about it. “I don’t know why I even try” and, “Well I blew it again” were frequent thoughts. When patients would ask how much I’ve lost since I started trying I would say, “Thousands” because I had been trying and failing since my mid 20s. I’ve been telling patients recently that the flip in mentality came with the 80/20 concept that we read about on MDA. It’s true. Once I fully grasped that concept and instituted it in my life, things began to turn around.

In December 2017 I tested again. My A1c was 5.4, Triglycerides 146, and I was down 15 more pounds. 2018 has been even better. I’m only down another 10 pounds (40 total as of this morning) but that’s despite several trips for work and some vacations, and my body composition is definitely changing. In May my A1c was 5.0. I’m officially no longer pre-diabetic. I am down 6 belt loops (I keep making new loops and the tip of my belt is literally on my left hip). I actually fit into and button a pair of 40 waist jeans. 3xl shirts fit me somewhat loose. All of this without any workout program. My BMI has gone from 47.5 to 42.0, so still morbidly obese but getting close to, “just obese.” I increased my activity by moving more and working on projects around my property such as building a raised garden (pulling weeds, raking rocks, etc), but didn’t do any actual workout program until the first week of May when I started a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program three days a week.

I still have a long way to go to get to my goal of 205. The 21-Day Reset that we are currently doing has helped me get back on track paying attention to what I am doing. I’m sleeping better. Energy is better. Clothes fit better. The area I work (mountains in Arizona) has a large population that lives where it’s warm in the winter and comes up to the mountains for the summer. My summer patients who haven’t seen me since the fall are making comments about how I look. My confidence is returning and I’m re-engaging in life.

I will be 50 next year and I’m confident that I will be healthier at 50 than I was at 25. I also would like to do the Primal Health Coach Institute as well as the Functional Medicine Program at the Kresser Institute (student loans currently keep those from being financially feasible), and I have started to figure out how to institute a primal based health program at my current practice. Grok on!

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57 thoughts on “My Confidence Is Returning, and I’m Re-engaging in Life”

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  1. Congratulations! You’re killing it : ) I’m in the health field as well. My blood test convinced me to stop eating all the junk food around the unit. Seriously health care workers eat the worst diet. One of the fellows heard me talking about the keto diet and quickly pronounced it as a fad and urged us not to do it. I didn’t engage, but did ask him how much nutrition education he got in med school. I can only describe the response as gibberish. Bless his heart.

    1. I’m always astonished at the number of health care providers who smoke. They often line up outside the hospital boundaries to light up. Just shows what high stress does to people.

    2. Thank you Carol! One of the doctors I work with is completely against it but the main doctor I work with seems to be open. His thing is as long as there is evidence to support it. Well thanks to Mark and others, I have lots of evidence (besides my own one person clinical trial).

  2. It’s actually nice to have this “interim” report Mike. It’s so human to start and stop, go back and start over. It may not feel like much but that’s the way a lot of us do things. Well done on the improvements and belt movements!

    1. Thank you Vanessa. As I it different milestones I’ll send Mark updates. I’m thankful for “reset” books that can help get back on track.

    2. I always tell smokers trying to quit: “you wanna know the biggest and best of the ‘success metrics’ that (studies) show you’re likely to succeed at quitting?! It’s having TRIED TO QUIT BEFORE!”

      This is the … “you’d didn’t fail; this is the practice run; this is the ‘building up’ before you run the marathon (life-long success of not smoking again); so OF COURSE practice is a good thing!” pep-talk.

      I find it gives them a whole different perspective on relapses! It’s not they’re some sort of horrible useless slug (as they are telling themselves in their heart of hearts); it’s they’ve finished a *practice session* and soon will do another — or will actually run that marathon!

  3. You look great! Compliments Mike!
    I’m a lawyer and ate terribly (no time and too much stress); Paleo diet changed my life.

  4. Keep up the good work, Mike. Best wishes for your future endeavors. You’ll be another living example of healthy living.

  5. Mike, thanks for sharing your status report with us! So often we see only “before” and “after” weight loss/life change stories. It’s inspiring to me that you chose to check in with us en route. Keep going!

    1. Thank you Kim. It’s out in the public for all to see so it kind of forces me to stay on it now. haha

  6. Wow, this is awesome and love the idea of starting a Primal program where you practice. Your success will be so inspirational for your students. Yes, the 80/20 rule is awesome…this is a lifestyle, not a diet. Thanks for sharing your story! And yes to feeling better at 50 than at 25…I know I certainly do! (Actually 51)

    1. Thank you Elizabeth! I’ve been trying to help my patients understand it’s not just until we get their numbers good or reach a weight goal, but to keep going with it. You have an aptly named blog! 🙂

    2. I always laugh when I see or read “80/20” — cause I remember Mark’s (was it wistful or hopeless?) pointing out that he has NEVER said ‘do 80/20’ — he has always said ‘SHOOT for 100 and you’ll hit 80!’

      But I tell people both: because the 80/20 lets them sneak into it — and knowing that it’s NOT 80/20, but actually go for 100 seems to help keep them AT 80 (or above)…

      “Swim to that ‘island’ (the ’80’) in the middle of the sea (between you and health), and after you’ve built up those metaphorical muscles, you can swim the rest of the way across (’95-100′)! But you CAN make it to the island now, and you don’t have to make the whole journey in one swim! So, swim baby SWIM!”

  7. Way to go, Mike! Love hearing the stories of other health practitioners who are “walking the talk” and providing a powerful model for their patients.

    Personally, I can’t imagine going to a health practitioner who DIDN’T do that, when it comes to eating and overall wellness.

    Here’s to your 50th year and beyond!

    1. Thanks Dr. Lyons. I got tired of not being the example I’m supposed to be. I’m sure as well as I was, you were frustrated with how little we learned about nutrition in school. I tell my patients all the time the most important pieces to our health are our diet and sleep. And the most neglected. Our current medicine model doesn’t help that much and it’s made it difficult, because many patients just want a pill to make them feel better, not work hard to actually fix the issue. Thanks again!

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey to date, and congratulations on your A1c and belt tip on the left hip victories!

    1. Thank you Kris! The plan is to retired the belt when it reaches around to the back. 🙂

  9. Mike, awesome work. Congratulations and keep us updated. The in-process success stories offer unique inspiration for those who are beginning (or contemplating) a lifestyle change. Grok on. – M

  10. Wonderf story Mike, thank you very much for sharing it. Keep on going, we’re all rooting for you!

  11. Thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed reading your progress story and look forward to seeing your update when you realize your goal.

  12. Great job Mike! You are well on your way and will be an inspiration for those around you. I can attest that 50 is the new 30 with this Primal Lifestyle. It only gets better. Good luck with your journey!

    1. Thanks Spider! I agree about 50 being the new 30. And not just cause I’m about to turn 50 haha

  13. “Seriously health care workers eat the worst diet.”
    I had to read twice to make sure of what I was reading. Unbelievable!

    1. High stress, long hours, no time to truly eat. Shift work can be difficult and when you’ve gone 9 hours without eating the willpower can be low. It’s unfortunate.

  14. Great Job!!! This new lifestyle change has made me feel amazing. The weight loss is a bonus to the great health benefits. Loved reading your story and hope you have much continued success!

    1. Thank you Susie. Congratulations on how it’s helped you as well!

  15. This is wonderful, Mike, so glad you’ve shared your story, thank you. I love the part about increasing movement by working on your garden. There are so many ways to move more that have always been there — but we need ‘primal glasses’ to see them. Hope you get to become a Primal Health Coach.

    1. Thank you Caroline. Even if I don’t end up going through the course and becoming an official Primal Health Coach, my job allows me to be a coach for my patients nonetheless, coming alongside them and encouraging them to be healthier and sharing the knowledge I’ve obtained (only now they can see me as an example), so technically I’m already a health coach. 🙂

  16. Mike, your honesty makes this so real and relatable. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on what is a huge, ongoing success. You are very inspiring and I can’t wait to read your follow up when you hit your 205! Though it’s clearly about so much more than that number.

    1. Thank you Lori. You’re right, it’s about so much more than the number. It’s possible I’ll never reach that number because I may be too big muscularly to get there. 🙂

  17. I love reading your story! I think healthcare workers are probably not more unhealthy than the general population, it is just we expect more from them. And like you I realize we need to forgive ourselves when we mess up! My husband recently turned 50 and thanks to our primal lifestyle he is in the best shape of his life. And I am not far behind in age/shape either. 🙂

    You look great and keep up the good fight!!!

    1. Thanks Rita! Congrats to you and your husband on your health and fitness as well.

  18. Mike, awesome job!! I know it’s been a rough road. I’ve watched the ups and downs, but believe in you! You have the fortitude!! As I’m sure you’ve advised your patients, it’s totally normal to have setbacks. It’s what you do with them that makes all the difference. You’ve obviously grown and learned from what worked, or didn’t, for you! Maybe jumping into that HIIT workout too early, and instead doing more work in your garden! You are your best teacher…keep listening to and trusting yourself!

    1. Thanks Natasha! Thanks for your support even before my successes. 🙂

  19. Thanks for sharing your success story. It’s always nice to hear something good. Stories like yours give confidence to the people who are still thinking that they can do or not.

  20. Looking good, Mike! Isn’t it true that, when it comes to life-long change, the change itself has to happen little by little, gradually over time, one step at a time. My issue isn’t weight, but inflammation. I started this way of life in September 2014. Last February my autoimmune markers were negative for the first time, and in the last couple of months I’ve started to have pain-free days for the first time since 2013. It’s so amazing to see these long-term results, and well worth the patience and perserverance it takes to get there. Compliments to you! Stay inspired, your patients will love you for it!

    1. Thanks Angie! That’s great about the inflammation markers. I’ve been trying to get my patients to make the changes for the inflammation issues as well as weight loss, but it’s so hard because they change for a couple weeks and don’t notice a difference and stop. I’ll be sure to tell them about you and how long it has been for you and the success you’ve had. Congratulations!

  21. Congratulations Mike!
    After spits and starts of my own, for over seven years following Marks site, I finally forgave myself for the ‘spits’ and have been able to stick with the 80% or better plan now for 18 months. I have lost 45 lbs and hope to lose another 30. My work was also stressful and sticking to the plan was not easy, I have retired now and find it easier to ‘self-care, My hat is off to you for your resolve in sticking with this life changing approach to food,
    Keep us posted on your continued success,

    1. Thanks Nance! Congratulations on your success as well. I will for sure send Mark further updates as I reach milestones.

  22. I find it challenging when health care professionals (or others in the help-others fields) fail to take care of themselves first. It’s like the repeated rule that we all know from airplane trips: “Put on your own oxygen mask first!” It’s definitely a challenge, but it seems even more of a challenge to help others navigate their own problems when we’re not doing our job to keep ourselves afloat (teachers are guilty of this too)! I greatly admire doctors (and others) who are willing to Try.Something.Different. To acknowledge and accept that maybe what we were taught the first time around (or perhaps our entire lives!) isn’t quite right. I want to be an outdoor educator and have a forest kindergarten, but there’s that nagging thought that goes along the lines of, “But what if…what if all my kids fall out of the trees and get hurt? What if the parents sue me because of it? What if our society becomes illiterate because we stop trying to make 5-year-olds sit for 6 hours a day?” I am trying to change up my thinking to “What if it does increase a child’s core stability and they have better body awareness for their entire life? What if it decreases stress among the children, and likewise among their parents…” The “What ifs” can also be positive. What if just trying makes us happier. Why not? I really appreciate that primal living is not just a diet. We need sleep. We need to move. We need to play, laugh and have fun. You being in the health care profession and me in the teaching profession—we can reach a lot of people, just by trying new things and being open minded about the results. A willingness to try and not just stand around prescribing statins or making fancier consequence charts for wiggly kids will take us far. Good luck!

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I agree it can be limiting when we don’t “think outside the box”. So often we’re told to do that but then parameters like getting sued, as you mentioned, makes us rethink things and fall in line so to speak. Interestingly enough, in both of our professions going back to the way things used to be done is probably the best thing. I agree, kids aren’t made to sit in a classroom all day long just like our bodies aren’t made to live on sugar for fuel. Good luck in your journey as well!