My Transformation Was Bigger Than Me

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!

Dear Mark,

Thank you for helping me discover my passion! My story started out simply about vanity, but has turned into so much more. In mid-February of 2012, I was 47 years old and 205 pounds (6 feet tall). I’d say I was in okay (good, but not great) shape. I used to work out doing cardio (usually Spin class) in the mornings and weight training in the evenings – usually five days a week! Yep, pretty chronic. I ate my grain-based diet with good discipline, but had a small gut that I just couldn’t seem to lose. My knees bothered me often, likely due to the excessive exercise and worsened by pro-inflammatory grain meals I swore by.

Mike DiLandro - BeforeOne day my gym’s manager, Chris Nugent, and I were talking about getting ready for beach season, and he informed me that he was going to try the paleo diet. I had never heard of paleo, so I researched it on the web that night. Intrigued, I decided to engage Chris in a bet over who could lose the most weight over the next 30 days. While we were trash talking, the gym’s director, Chris Jones heard us, and recommended we read The Primal Blueprint. I went home, bought the book on my iPad and read most of it over the next two days. I was hooked. In addition to wanting to lose weight, I also wanted to stop taking my statin medication that I had been on for six years. The Primal Blueprint opened my eyes to the many negative side effects of statins and I decided to stop taking my meds when I began going Primal (I wouldn’t say it was against doctor’s orders since he didn’t know about my experiment!) However, I knew that I had an annual physical scheduled two months in the future, so I wanted to give Primal a fair chance to improve my numbers before my next blood test.

With gym bragging rights and big bucks on the line (I think we bet a one pound bag of almonds…ah the stakes of lifestyle transformation), I was pretty psyched to do whatever it took to win this 30-day contest. However, going Primal turned out to be much easier than I expected. As soon as I ditched my large all-American high-carb breakfasts and eliminated grains from my meals, I had plenty of energy and wasn’t hungry between meals. I discovered a lot of new foods (kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, sardines, herring) and really got into the process of shopping and preparing meals. The results came quick too. I lost eight pounds in two weeks and closed out the month of March down 16 pounds, winning the bet easily. I dropped another nine pounds in April, 2012, to reach my goal weight of 180 pounds in just two months!

One interesting thing to note is that I now exercise much less stressfully than I did pre-Primal. Instead of five Spin classes per week, I walk (sometimes chasing after a golf ball in an extreme zig-zag pattern, if you know what I mean), cycle or do slow cardio on an elliptical. The pain I had developed in my knees is totally gone. I still enjoy lifting weights, but now do a maximum of three strength training sessions per week. I love all the extra time I now have after backing away from a chronic program.

Mike DiLandro - May 2012

My physical came in May, 2012. I was ready to defend my eliminating of statins with my doctor, but never got the chance. My blood work improved so much that he said I could come off my medication! As Primal folks like to track triglycerides-to-HDL ratio as the best heart disease risk marker, I was ecstatic to see my triglycerides drop by over 100 points and my HDL elevate 15 points! The success has been long lasting too. As of this writing (September 2013), I’m still at my goal weight and passed another physical this year with flying colors.

I think something amazing happens to your mentality when you reclaim your health and start to control your own destiny. While I was definitely buzzed to uncover a long-lost six-pack (almost) and be free of medication dispensed to me solely because of my adverse lifestyle practices, I started to develop a perspective that my transformation was bigger than me. I first turned my attention to my parents. They have been receptive enough to lose a combined 80 pounds over the last year or so, and both have come off statin medication. At 69, they achieved this success just by eating Primally and walking. Now at 70 years old, they are getting into strength training for the first time. It is fantastic to see them so healthy and energetic.

I next turned my attention to my wonderfully progressive workplace, SES, the world’s leading satellite operator. We have offices around the globe, and at the time I was working in our Princeton, NJ office. I arranged for Brad Kearns to deliver the Primal Transformation Seminar and have a special Primal luncheon served at the campus. Being the enthusiastic guy that I am, I guess my “intro” before Brad’s talk ran a bit detailed, personal, and passionate, because after Brad’s talk he told me I should speak publicly on behalf of the Primal Blueprint! I thought he was just being polite, but he asserted that I had the Primal knowledge down cold, and more importantly had the passion and life experience to really make an impact on others. Since I had only being following Mark’s Daily Apple and the Primal Blueprint for a couple of months, I didn’t feel I was ready. I did succeed in keeping some good momentum going at SES. Over two dozen colleagues have gone certifiably Primal, and I publish a popular monthly newsletter on assorted Primal topics, including recipes, workout tips, and employee success stories.

Polite encouragement or not, I kept thinking about Brad’s suggestion. Over the ensuing months, I read countless books and articles about nutrition and exercise. I even got certified to teach fitness classes. With encouragement from the folks at Primal headquarters in California, I decided to pull the trigger on my speaking career and deliver the Primal Transformation Seminar on the east coast. It’s so easy to spread the word among family and friends, but despite intense preparation, I can assure you I was pretty nervous before that first official gig of paying customers! I remember talking with Brad before the event, and agreeing that even if just a few folks came it would be a worthwhile venture and a great low pressure way to get my feet wet on the speaking circuit.

Primal Seminar

When the standing room only crowd of some 30 folks showed up that night, I overcame my nerves by realizing what an important mission that I, Mark Sisson, and all the rest of us Primal enthusiasts are obligated to pursue today. Today we are in an age of confusion, misinformation and declining health and vitality despite phenomenal technological advances in health and medicine, and abundant sources of affordable and healthy food for most citizens. The ridiculous dichotomy I face every day at work is what drives me to spread the word. Here we are, shooting satellites into space with amazing precision, while people die by the hundreds of thousands each year in America due to heavily diet-influenced, largely preventable diseases.

As I took a quiet moment to myself before taking the floor for my first seminar, I realized that there was no doubt I was going forth and telling the story with confidence that evening. As you may know, I have now delivered numerous Primal seminars on the east coast, and thankfully the feedback has been great so far.  For me, there is nothing better than when someone who has taken my seminar writes me afterward to talk about their personal success.

Mark, I am grateful to you for so many reasons. Thank you for helping me truly get healthy. Thank you on behalf of my parents, who have found a new lease on life in their eighth decade. Most importantly, thank you for believing in me and allowing me to help others on your behalf.

Live long, drop dead & Grok on!

Mike - August 2013

Mike DiLandro

September, 2013

Catch Mike DiLandro and the Primal Blueprint Transformation Seminar in Maryland on September 25th and 28th!

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77 thoughts on “My Transformation Was Bigger Than Me”

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  1. What a cool story, Mike! Not just your own success but then paying it forward and spreading the word. Great job!

    I, too, am constantly befuddled by the juxtaposition of our technology-driven world and our inability to fix some of our most basic problems. I ask myself are they a reaction to one another and most importantly, what can we do about it?

    1. Thank you Alison. Well said. I know I can’t change the world, but maybe by helping a few folks at a time, we can make a difference.

      1. What other books did you follow up with in your education? I have been reading every article I can get my hands on and a couple books, but I really want to get a strong education under myself. I’ve looked at Nutrition textbooks but they look like they peddle the CW mindset more than anything else.

        1. In the last year I’ve read:
          Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman
          Wheat Belly by William Davis
          Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
          Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
          Great Cholesterol Myth by Stephen Sinatra & Jonny Bowden
          Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

          Still so much more to read. Wish i had more time.

        2. “The Perfect Health Diet” by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet is the most comprehensive and informative I read so far.

        3. I started studying a Certificate of Nutrition online (6-month, self-paced Australian qualification) and it was riddles with CW. Most confusingly, it had only two dotpoints on why we “need” carbohydrtaes (fibre and energy) but two whole PAGES on why need fat, yet it pushes a low-fat, high-carb message!!! So frustrating.

          Personally I learnt more from “Good Calories, Bad Calories”/”Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes and the lectures by Dr Robert Lustig (on sugar/fructose) than from the course.

      2. I think you already have changed the world, even if just a corner of it. All of us primal folks can spread the good word one tiny success at a time!

    2. Sad to say this but it comes down to folks being educated about what they eat and what happens inside their bodies. Educate the masses and one day CW will finally be a myth.

  2. Nice progress Mike! It’s amazing how easy things get the you eat real food.

    And it’s cool to see someone hiking in normal shoes. Keep the goofy toe shoes at home! 🙂

  3. “I first turned my attention to my parents.”

    Were they naturally receptive? I would love to do this, but one of my parents (the one who cooks) isn’t very receptive.

    1. My mom was initially very receptive as her doctor said she was pre-diabetic. Her trigs went from 222 to 145 in 5 weeks, so she bought in quickly. As she is the cook, my dad sort of had to buy in. His weights went from 222 to 176 pounds, so he is definitely digging Primal now.

      1. That is phenomenal, that you were able to make such a positive difference in the lives and health of your parents. Outstanding!

  4. This is a great story Mike, I especially like the part about becoming a Primal Speaker! It would be great if more companies could sponsor a seminar and Primal lunch. And you look good in that last picture … where is that river?

    1. Thanks. It’s the Potomac River. Great Falls park in Virginia.

  5. AWESOME story Mike! In my opinion, the best part is that you’re off all medication now. and the most inspiring- you decided to become certified to teach fitness classes! lately ive been thinking about doing that myself..

    1. Getting off the medications had to be a very rewarding part for you. It is amazing the changes that can be made with healthy eating some exercise.

  6. Mike, awesome transformation and story! I’m totally going to start using “certifiably Primal” from now on. Good stuff.

    1. I would definitely buy a t shirt that said “certifiably primal”

      I love the phrase.

  7. Look at those biceps! I’ve never had much luck making mine bigger…more chinups in my future!

    Great job and congrats on pursuing your dreams! Maybe I should take a look at getting that personal training certification again…

    1. Thanks for the comment on the “guns”. Biceps training was always my favorite workout pre Primal. I now just do full body workouts & think I’m getting a better overall balance. Best of luck getting re-certfied!

      1. Agreed. Compound exercises are by far my favorite type of exercises…pushups, pullups, squat…love’em!

        I’ve never been a certified trainer but I have seriously pondered becoming one…put that idea on the backburner for about a year. Might start putting some money aside to start studying for the tests though.

  8. Great story Mike and congratulations! I hope I can follow a similar path one day. So far I have persuaded my wife, dad, and step mom (although I catch her cheating every now and then) to try the 21-day challenge. I am very close to get my sister on board, and I’m also encouraging my Mom to read a bit into the Paleo/Primal movement ( she’s the least health conscious of the bunch, therefore the one I am more interested in helping ). My wife has seen great results. She found out she was lactose intolerant and is feeling much better now that she eliminated those products. She is also getting stronger and you can see the outline of her six-pack. Now I can’t get her to stop flexing in front of the mirror! My dad just started, and I know he’s still skeptical about a few things, but I can already tell he’s in a better mood. Last night, he told me he got one of his co-workers to try the 21-day challenge. Hopefully, we can keep spreading the word to more people and get a “pay it forward” kind of thing going. As for myself, I’ve come down from almost 280 lbs to 210lbs (I am 6’4″ and 26 years old). It took me a really long time (3 years) following CW’s health approaches. I went primal at the beginning of august (2013) and since I’ve lost 15 lbs and 5%bodyfat. Once I reach my goal (single-digit body fat % and a good weight-to-strength ratio) I’ll feel like I can physically show people proof that this way of life “works”. In the mean time, I’ll keep referring them to The Primal Blueprint and MDA.

    Grok on!

    1. Keep paying it forward. Your story is awesome. Glad to see your family is on board. Not a bad thing to be married to someone with a six pack either.

  9. Mike – Do you have a newsletter you can share with us? (Don’t worry Mark, I’m not deserting.)

    1. OK. here is my last newsletter on intermittent fasting (minus the monthly recipe) which was an attachment.

      Hello from Mclean,
      The kids are back to school & summer is unofficially over. Some of us won’t be wearing a bathing suit any time soon and sweater season on the east coast will quickly be upon us. I won’t start the countdown to Memorial Day 2014 just yet, as long as you promise not to let the colder months be a reason to cheat a little more. I’m happy to report that after reaching my goal weight a year and a half ago, I’m still at that same weight. There have been some fluctuations, and in fact towards the end of July, I was about 6 pounds over my goal weight. I decided to try intermittent fasting for the month of August, to see if I could lean out a bit. I did, as those 6 pounds disappeared in four weeks. I was also curious to learn more about the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

      There are a few different options, when it comes to intermittent fasting, but two of them seem to be the most popular. One approach is to only eat within an eight hour window each day. The other popular choice is to do a full 24 hour fast one day per week. I chose to try the 8 hour eating window. I read a study where lab rats were divided into two groups: one group could eat whenever it wanted to & the other group was subjected to an eight hour eating window daily. Both groups were fed the same amount of calories per day. At the end of the study, the rats that were allowed to eat all day were fatter than the ones limited to the eight hour window. Since they ate the same amount of calories each day, it goes to show the phrase “calories in, calories out” is just another piece of flawed conventional wisdom.

      So why fast intermittently? In addition to weight management, some of the health benefits increased longevity, improved blood lipids, added growth hormone production, decreased cancer cell proliferation and improved neurological health. See the following link from Dr. Joseph Mercola ( ) for an article and short video on intermittent fasting. One point I’d like to stress is that your body should be fully fat adapted to the Paleo/Primal diet before you experiment with intermittent fasting. If you are still a sugar/carb burner, intermittent fasting will be extremely difficult due to hunger pangs that come with your body expecting you to be eating carbs every three hours. Additionally, if you are a sugar burner, your body will cannibalize your muscle tissue, if you go long periods without food. However, if you are fat adapted, your body will look to burn your fat stores for energy during fasting periods.

      So how exactly does my intermittent fasting day go? I start my day with a glass of lemon water. I use 6 ounces of water, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave, and squeeze the juice from a half of lemon in. There are also numerous reasons to starting your day with lemon water. In addition to hydrating after a good night’s sleep, other benefits include better digestion, immune system boost, clearer skin & proper pH balance. You may not have heard much on pH balance, but if you consume too many acidic foods, inflammation will increase in your body. Ironically lemons, even though they contain citric acid, are considered one of the most alkaline (opposite of acidic) foods you can eat. For more on which foods are alkaline or acidic read here ( ). Just disregard the advice at the bottom of the article, on how much carbs you should eat. The author is most definitely a sugar burner. Also see the link here for more complete details on the benefits of drinking lemon water ( ). One tip is that you should brush your teeth before drinking lemon water or wait a while to brush afterwards. Citric acid can erode tooth enamel and brushing right after drinking lemon water is not good for your teeth.

      Next step is to have my daily cup of coffee. I stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil or if I’m at home, blend a cup of bulletproof coffee (unsalted butter in addition to the coconut oil). Here is the link for making bulletproof coffee ( ). The fat from the coconut oil & butter help me satiate me. This allows me to make it to late morning or lunch time, before I break my overnight fast with food. Dr. Mercola really emphasizes the importance of eating healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, avocados and olive oil when intermittently fasting.

      I try to make it to lunch, or at least 11am to start the 8 hour eating window. Depends on my day’s schedule mostly or if I’m getting hungry. Opening the window at 11am means that I’ll stop eating for the day at 7pm. This seems to work best for me, as it also allows for a few hours after dinner to digest before going to sleep. Note that I try not to drink anything between the end of the eating window & bedtime. In general, I am only having two full meals a day, but my meals tend to be a bit larger. I’d say I’m taking in about the same amount of calories as I used to eat pre-fasting. Within the 8 hour eating window, I’ll snack (usually nuts) and/or add a protein shake. Adding a protein shake depends on how much protein I’m eating at the two meals or if I’m doing strength training that day.

      If any of you have tried intermittent fasting, I’d love to hear what you think.

      Fitness tip of the month: Creative total body workouts

      There are lots of excuses of why we don’t get our resistance training workouts in. We’re too busy to get to the gym is probably the most popular, so this workout idea will help solve the problem. Just be creative and make up your own workout. Here is the approach: pick five exercises & try to do each exercise for 40-50 seconds, then rest 20-10 seconds, to make an even minute. Move right on to the next exercise when your timed rest is up. After five minutes, repeat the five exercises right away. Then rest for two minutes & do another set of 10 exercise minutes (your five exercises done twice again, for a total of four sets). Total workout time of 22 minutes. You can do this at home or when you are travelling as well. You don’t even need any weights. Try to pick exercises (one each) in the following categories:

      Cardio: jumping jacks, step ups
      Lower body: squats, lunges
      Upper body: push-ups, burpees
      Core: mountain climbers, planks
      Balance: single leg balance, dumbbell one arm shoulder press on one foot

      You can vary your workouts in virtually an unlimited amount of combinations to keep them interesting. Have fun with them.

      1. Nice work Mike! I discovered IF first and then found MDA. My full story is on my site. It is a work in progress as is my iPhone app for IF. Best to visit my radar page and feel free to share if you like what you see.

        1. pretty cool site. I like your evolution from 5 guys to Mark.

  10. Tried to convert my wife..and she divorced me!!!

    Just kidding– she is warming to primal but is way too much into grains!

    BTW– GREAT JOB– can’t wait to reach my goals!

    1. I’m always in awe of the stories where relatives will seriously consider an newish idea. Thankfully, my husband, the most important one, listens, asks thoughtful questions, and is willing to give new sensible ideas the old college try.

      Beyond him, though, I’d have to figure out how to make it their idea! The last person they’d listen to is me.

      1. For some reason I feel like it’s always easier for the wife to get the husband to listen. I have the same issue with my wife actually. What I found that helps is to take charge in the kitchen. Two things happen:

        1. She appreciates me cooking for her
        2. I control what goes into the food
        3. She’s amazed that no grain meals can taste amazing

  11. Hi Mike, this is inspiring, not only your own transformation but the fact that you are taking it to other people also. Grok on.

  12. Wonder if I could do something like this for kids. I love working with children, they are so open to new things. Would that not set them up for a wonderful life.
    Just thinking out load.

  13. Fantastic job Mike. I woulda made that bet with a bag of Macadamia nuts on the line…Grok on!

  14. WOW!! Another great tranformation story!

    I wish I could get people at my gym (trainers & management) to look into this diet. So far, they are hard core “calories in/calories out” kind of people. Even at our Biggest Loser challenge, they announced that “it doesn’t matter what you eat, just the calorie count.” And, the district manager shared that organic “might be good” but that he’d ‘never eat it” himself.

    Meanwhile, the other gym members ask me for food advice. I send all of them here. Especially to the testamonials.

    GREAT JOB! And, way to spread the word!

    1. Ask your gym management if they’d like to host a Primal seminar. Maybe we can help you out.

  15. Fantastic story, not only transforming himself but reaching out to others. Mike seems to be a gifted communicator also, very enjoyable read.

  16. Fantastic – we need more people like you to spread the word. I am terrible at speaking about anything or explaining things to people. I get tongue-tied and forget all my info. So I just hand out books and web links. To date I’ve given away over a dozen Primal Quick and Easy Meals – that’s the book everyone wants to keep after seeing it.

  17. What an amazing transformation of lifestyle. You look healthy and strong too. Way to go!

  18. Great story Mike. If you present your seminars the way you write, I am not surprised you would get people’s attention. You have a fabulously entertaining and engaging style in the way you tell your story.

    I haven’t seen any Primal Seminars in Australia – any idea if there are people presenting them here?

    We do have a few sports people now “coming out” and saying they follow the paleo lifestyle, so it is becoming more well known. Good on you for spreading the word.

    1. Sorry, but I don’t know of anyone speaking yet in Austrailia. Mark is going global with the first PrimalCon outside the US in Tulum, Mexico. Hopefully the Primal mesaage will get to Europe, Asia & “down under” soon.

  19. Check out those guns!
    Brilliant story, Mike.
    Fantastic to see so much passion, it is contagious.

    Best of luck, mate.

  20. Hi Mike,

    What an amazing transformation. And so quick. You lost all that weight in 2 months.
    We are not getting the same results at all. I have been on PB for 3 months now and have not lost a single pound. My husband has also been doing it with no weight loss. What are we doing wrong? It’s frustrating. Can you help? I would appreciate any advice. We are located in New Jersey, not far from you.
    Thanks, Yasmin

    1. I would love to try and help you. If you reply with your email address, we can take things from there. If you don’t want the public to see your address, you can friend me on Facebook Michael DiLandro) & we can trade email addresses via private messages there.

      1. Thanks so much! I will reach out to you via Facebook…

  21. Nice job, Mike. I have also been transformed by PB and would love to share my story with others on the East Coast. Grok on!

  22. Don’t use a microwave oven for anything, not even water for the lemon water,it affects the molecular structure of the water in deleterious ways. In food it’s worse, changes amino acids from L form to D form, which are toxic!

    1. Do you have some citations about his we can read? I’m highly skeptical that heating water in a microwave is going to change the molecular structure. In what way?

      1. As far as the water goes, see the What The Bleep film. Also there are reports of studies where plants were watered with microwaved water and failed to thrive compared to plants watered with non mc water. I am pretty sure they weren’t cheating by using the HOT mc water, but I wasn’t there.

  23. Such a great success story! I especially love that you are spreading the word!

  24. Nice work Mike. Great story. Dod you tell your Dr how you improved your lipid panel so much? Did he care?

    1. I did tell him, but we agree to disagree. He is old school thinking when it comes to cholesterol though. I told him to read “The Great Cholesterol Myth” but doubt he’ll follow through. I basically use him for blood work.

  25. This is amazing story of transformation of lifestyle. You look healthy and strong too. Way to go!

  26. Really interesting read and you’re looking good and strong.

    I love how you and others are spreading the word. I’ve been trying to do that with my family too. Husband (who is nearly 300 pounds) has sort of taken it on but does have the occasional potato and slice of bread when he is eating out, but we’re getting there I’m quite happy adopting this lifestyle (down from 203 pounds to 184 pounds since July 🙂 )

    My one wish would be to get my 30 year old son to take on this way too, but he’s mega stressed out with his job…3rd baby on the way…etc., etc. I’ll keep at it though.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  27. I am so impressed with the success stories here, all of them. I am newly into the low carb diet for seizures and am stressing over keto breath. Has anyone had it and if so where you able to stop it? I have read that chlorophyll will take care of it. I would appreciate any information.

    1. Chlorophyll will help. Also, when you brush your teeth rinse first with some peroxide for a minute or two, then brush EVERYTHING in your mouth, tongue, teeth, roof of your mouth, under your tongue. Eventually it’ll just get better when the toxic waste you are getting rid of works itself out.

  28. I really want this to be me. I’ve had so many fits and starts with the Primal/Paleo lifestyle and have, for one reason or another, dropped off the bandwagon. I’m fully off the wagon right now but reading stories like this inspire me. I’m in the MD/DC/VA area and am SO sad to see that I missed your speaking engagements. Coming back anytime soon?

    1. Take our hand, we are all holding it out to you, get back on this waggon and stay in the middle so you don’t fall off again. Remember it feels so good to feel so good!!! You are worth that effort, just eat real food. Every good choice makes it easier to make another, come on girl!!!

  29. This is a question for Mike.. Assuming that you see this

    I have a chance to attend one of your seminars. Having been primal for the past 4 years (minus 1-1/2 year of back surgery loathing {however remaining grain free}). I am back on track, and re losing my weight. Please tell me how I will benefit from your seminar being as I think I have a pretty good grip on it after these several years. It really sounds like its for beginners, and to push the 21 day start. The only thing that I cant do is the 80/20 thing. I refuse to eat any grains ever. Please advise if my $85 & night without my family will be worth while.

  30. Great motivation mate…… Really like how your spreading the word.. Have you got any seminar in Boston??