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April 10 2015

No Freshman 15 for This Guy!

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32 Comments

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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2I remember my senior year of high school before deciding to go Primal. I went to a small high school just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was a two time state qualifier in track in field for the 4×200 meter relay. I ran sprints in track in the spring, and ran cross country in fall to stay in shape and work on running form. As you can guess with all this constant working out (especially in cross where I was running an average of 3-5 miles per practice, averaging close to 30 miles per week), I was a carb hound! On average, I was probably consuming about 500 grams of carbs and consuming close to 4000 calories daily, consisting of 95% junk foods like pastas, cookies, ice cream, sandwiches, and all the other artificial foods you can think of.

neil1Prior to going Primal, I had an extensive history of muscle injuries and joint issues. I tore or strained every leg muscle you can think of, from tearing my hip flexor, to having strained my quad so severely my knee would swell to the point where I could barely straighten my leg. My joints were constantly stressed and ached occasionally. I will never forget when I had my physical before cross country season my senior year, and my doctor told me I had knee joints equivalent to that of a 40 year old marathoner. You can imagine I was pretty disturbed as an 18 year old being told this. Outside of muscles and joints, I was also a victim of some pretty nasty acne, particularly around my chin and mouth area. It was not fun walking around high school and just thinking what people thought of you when they noticed all the red, white tipped bumps on your face! Emotionally I was also very distraught. I used to have mood swings regularly, and such a short temper, I used to go off on people even when they were trying to help me. I was pretty messed up to say the least. It was not until after cross country season of my senior year in high school my brother Tony (on the right, in the photo) introduced me to MDA, and Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

My brother Tony had started living Primal about a year before me, and had lost a significant amount of weight (close to 50 lbs), and reversed his pre-diabetic symptoms. I remember my cross country coach saying how much you need carbs, and when Tony first started his diet, I criticized him at first saying he was nuts! Well I was the nuts one later when I found out after reading The Primal Blueprint, MDA articles, and Dr. Davis’s work about all the information nutritionists, doctors, and health professionals fail to mention when they meet with you, and how entirely backwards they have their recommendations. Needless to say my eyes were opened, and I was ready to make a change for the better.

It was a difficult transition for me to go Primal in some sense. My parent’s pantry and fridge was, and still consists of mostly wheat and sugar based foods as they refuse to change over. I’m still working on changing that. So, as you can imagine, I was like what am I supposed to eat?! Well at the time, I was working as a produce clerk at the local grocery store. I was around fruits and vegetables all day, so I decided to start seeing what tasted good to me. Prior to this, I had never tried spinach, romaine lettuces, kale, and all these delicious nutrient rich substances that were always around me. I started making myself salads at work, eating berries, apples, oranges, and bananas when I had the daily sugar cravings, instead of a bag of gummi bears.

The first time I tried a salad at work, I’m not going to lie, I wanted to put some ranch on the lettuce and some ketchup on the chicken to sweeten it up, but I stuck it out. It felt like I was quitting smoking, as I had crazy cravings for the remainder of the week for sugar.

Eventually though, about five days after starting this new eating style, I found myself getting up one morning with a big surprise. My knees would normally ache when I would get out of bed in the morning, and this was no longer the case. I thought to myself, no way. No knee pain! This was the first change I noticed, and I still remember that moment every time I wake up now. As my new eating style continued, my acne began to go away quickly, my teeth started becoming whiter and cleaner, and my mood swings had majorly improved to the point where I no longer have them. I fortunately have never had a weight problem. I have been 150 pounds since I was 16. Soon after though, I began to notice more toning of my muscles, now that my body could properly metabolize protein more efficiently. I started being able to work out, and run freely without worrying about my leg muscles tearing apart on me, and I got back to enjoying fast paced sports once again. Things were definitely changing for the better, and I was daily (sometimes hourly) going on MDA to keep learning about all the health questions popping into my head.

I was always around a 3.7 gpa in school, so I was above average, but by no means a genius. Once going Primal, I started noticing changes in how much clearer I was able to think. I used to daily come to class with a foggy conscious, and could barely stay awake during instruction. This was no longer the case as I was much more alert, able to focus much longer, and engage in subject material.

neil2A year later now, I am graduated from high school and a freshman in college at a small engineering school in Milwaukee, WI. There are so many opportunities to gorge in endless pizza slices, greasy hamburgers, and all that other college food most of you are aware of. I avoid these foods like a hazard, and everyone looks at me all the time because of all the vegetables I snag from the salad bar. I typically don’t eat a breakfast as I honestly do not have hunger in the morning. Most of the time, I just grab a bottle of water on my way to class until lunch. My lunch often consists of a full plate of greens with usually a couple pieces of baked chicken, pork, beef and other entrée’s. Dinner is usually the same kind of food as lunch. I keep fruit in my dorm room, along with some nuts, almond butter, and some cheese to snack on in case I get sugar cravings. I never imagined myself eating the way I do as I never tried any type of eating beside the carbohydrate binges suggested by the National Institute of Health’s food pyramid. You know, the one with the suggested 11-12 servings of grains per day. Never going back to CW. Going Primal is, and from here on out will be the way I live my life.

I hope from reading my experience parents, especially parents with kids in college, encourage Primal style living at home with your kids. My grades, my physical/mental state, and my life has never been better and more enjoyable. I am in great shape consistently working out two to three times a week for about an hour each time. No freshman 15 to worry about, very thankful for that. Family life is much more enjoyable now I am not the kid who would come home in a different mood each day. This lifestyle did not just change the way I eat, it changed my life!

A special thanks once again to my brother Tony, and his friend Dave who got Tony started going Primal. Without them, I would not be where I currently sit.

Grok on, everyone!

Neil

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32 thoughts on “No Freshman 15 for This Guy!”

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  1. Ugh I wish I had realized the benefits of clean eating as early as you did! You’ve saved yourself decades of health problems!

  2. I love this story! Thanks, Neil. I’m going to show it to my tween in a moment (after she finishes her cheerios). She’s at that place where anything mom says bounces off her, but a word from someone relatively closer in age makes a big impression.

  3. What a mature and wise 18 year old! I wish I had that kind of discipline and foresight (and subsequent insight) when I was Neil’s age. Perhaps I wouldn’t be working so hard to correct my years of neglect to my health! Way to go, Neil! Best of luck in college!

  4. I wish I had found out about Paleo when you did! I was always looking for a way to get leaner, but I just didn’t have the tools yet. Although I’m not sure I would’ve been able to avoid all the late night pizza in college either way haha.

    Great job! Keep up the good work 😀

  5. I love this story because you listened to your brother (while skeptical) and still followed through even though your parents were not interested and not particularly helpful. Revel in being way ahead of the curve in life!

  6. Congratulations Neil. your story is very inspirational. I too wish I knew more about the roll of food with respect to general well being when I was your age.

  7. This is wonderful! It’s great that you have found the path to healthy so early in your life.
    I didn’t find primal (or it didn’t find me) until I was in my 30’s. Now my husband is better than 50% primal. (Still working on him, but grateful for progress. He was better at it, but relapsed recently.) And I keep my children as primal as possible. I hope they internalize what I’ve been trying to teach them at a young age like you.
    What an inspiration!
    Wishing you much continued success, both in school & life.

    1. My spouse lost about 35 pounds on roughly 50% Paleo, combined with smaller portions. He’s still working on it and is reluctant to totally cut out grain products (he loves them), but we both consider his efforts fairly successful so far. He was diagnosed as pre-diabetic 6 months ago. The doctor gave him a list of foods to eat that I wouldn’t feed to a stray cat. I steered him toward Primal/Paleo instead, and he has seen for himself that it can work wonders.

  8. I love this! As a fellow college student I totally agree that eating real food is SO key to academic performance!

  9. Love it. I experienced everything you did as a 48 year old. And got rid of my “conventional wisdom middle age 100+”.

  10. Way to go, Neil! You are a HUGE step ahead of most of us were at your age. I did some serious damage to pizza shops in my college town, lol.

  11. This is a great story. Thanks. Wish everyone your age would read it.

  12. Good job, Neil. That old food pyramid is one of the worst thing ever foisted on the public. If I ate 11-12 servings of grain every day I’d weight 500 pounds by now! Far too many people still think that pyramid is the gospel truth and can’t understand why they just keep getting fatter and sicker. It really amazes me that so many doctors and nutritionists still recommend it when the results are so poor.

  13. Being fit will make it easier to travel great distances to locate grokettes, lord knows they are few and far in between in engineering classes.

    1. Fortunately, Milwaukee has two pretty large universities in town too. Hop on a bike and there you are.

  14. Man, being able to eat anything you want because of sports resonates with me big time… well not ANYTHING you want, but staying relatively fit because of running.

    I played soccer and had the same issue. Constantly running and burning calories so I never had to worry what I was eating. Now I see that folly! Glad you found it before packing on too many pounds.

  15. Neil, your story is so similar to mine, except I didn’t get Primal until my 50’s. What a great start to a healthy future. Thank goodness I always loved sports and that’s what helped me stay kinda healthy until discoving MDA. Now, get those parents on board. Grok on!

  16. Please note, there are a few grammar errors. Now, with the new Primal Mindset, please pay attention in English class. No more excuses! I’m so happy you turned your life around and are feeling healthy.

  17. Adorable; it’s wonderful when young people see the light and embrace good eating and life style habits.

  18. A very nice story, well told, Neil. Like others, I wish had discover the primal lifestyle at such a crucial young age. I’m sure your improved focus and energy will serve you well in college – best wishes.

  19. “The dance seems strange to those who cannot hear the music.” People will give you crap all time about the way you eat. If you start to feel any peer/societal pressure about food just remember that you know something they don’t (i.e. you can hear the music). It’s funny to me how put off people get sometimes when I don’t want to bagels in the morning at work! So weird . . .

    (in the interest of citing sources, what I quoted is actually my paraphrase of something I heard from church last week by a guy named Wilford Anderson, just so folks don’t think I made it up).

  20. Well done!
    My youngest is in 2nd year uni (Australia ), and has a little studio apartment on campus. So far he has only eaten two meals at the dining hall, cooking for himself. I have managed to get him about 50% there, but will send this to him as he is starting soccer training with a local team, and injury is a real possibility.

  21. Well done Neil. Your story is so good to hear from an 18 year old guy and life can only keep getting better for you.
    I started my paleo journey reading Dr. Davis Wheat Belly book. It was an absolute eye opener. Who would have thought all that yummy food, wheat and grains, we have been encouraged to eat would have such devastating effects on our health. Everything Dr. Davis said in his book is true and further reading of sites such as this with more information about our health and well being only reinforce the message more.
    All the best in everything you do.

  22. I thought I was lucky finding primal around age 25… at 18, that’s a big gift. Sounds like you’re really using it and that is fantastic! Keep preaching and being the change. Way to go!

  23. Yay! Good for you, Neil.I was not strong enough in my own convictions to go up against CW and my family at your age. Congrats for listening to your own body, and keep up the great work!

  24. Great job and story! Your comments reminded me of Denise Minger’s book “Death by Food Pyramid” from our very own Primal Blueprint Publishing. It’s a shocking read. I’m surprised your parents haven’t been converted after seeing what great results you and your brother have gotten going primal.

  25. Wow!!! Thanks for sharing your story. I have a 12 year old who gets tiny bumps on his face, he knows it’s from too much sugar type items in his diet. I will see if he will read this. He wants to be paleo/primal but getting up and making his lunch and breakfast is hit and miss since sleep/bed seems so much better, then school breakfast and lunch is SAD and full of processed foods. I would make him breakfast and lunch but he doesn’t eat it, if mom made it – it must be “good for me food” and thus unacceptable, regardless of the fact that it’s food he has chosen himself at the store….. whatever, you make your own now is our policy.

    He will like the clear skin, better use of his brain and other muscles in your story. He’ll come around eventually, it’s hard to be self motivated at 12 without a material reward like a cell phone or whatever it the current must have for a middle schooler is. He is starting to see the benefits of self motivation but 12 is 12 after all and we have to go with what he’s got. LOL.

    Thanks again to you and Mark for posting your experience!

  26. Woohoo! Great to see another Milwaukean find the Primal life! I’m the only one who eats this way at my workplace and it took quite awhile for coworkers to stop badgering me about it. But I stuck it through and 3 years later, this is just who I am now! Sendik’s own brand has a nice selection of nitrate-free summer sausage, bacon, ring kielbasa, ham. And Aldi’s even carries nitrate-free lunchmeat and grass-fed beef now.

    1. Wow I am really impressed you still manage to stay primal even being in college! I found MDA when I was 17, much like you, and since then I joined the Navy. I am now 21 but the constant pressure to eat junk food with my friends and my house full of 5 people is really taking a toll on me. This story is a good wake up call for me! I do my best but sometimes I just can’t say no to the bar and the late night pizza. Thank you for the extra inspiration and the kick in the butt.