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!
My food consumption was pretty typical for an American of my generation (I was born in 1951). I ate what I thought was a reasonably good diet according to conventional wisdom, however my weight gradually increased over the years after age 30. As I got older, I developed high blood pressure (BP) and my blood biochemistry became problematic. I worked a high stress job for many years as a Navy lawyer and, after I retired from the Navy, as a corporate regulatory lawyer.
I had a real health scare early in 2005 brought on by work-related stress and an underlying condition in my brain. I spent five miserable days in the ICU. Statistically, I could have died but I had no lasting impacts other than a lifetime prescription to take BP medicines. When my internal medicine specialist told me to find a general practitioner to take over my care in 2006, he said I needed to “eat better and get more exercise.” Needless to say, that didn’t help much.
I got a fair amount of exercise, although sometimes that took a back seat to my demanding work schedule. I ate food based on what I had absorbed from the culture that was, unfortunately, a jumble of conflicting information (not all of it sound). And I really liked salty snacks. I had always been athletic so my weight was not a major problem, although it continued to go up slowly after I retired from the Navy at age 41. My heaviest point was around 200 pounds, as shown in the 2008 picture below taken during a cruise to the Mediterranean. I am just under 6 feet tall, so I was a bit overweight by conventional standards.
Early in 2013 I started to look into the connection between diet, exercise and wellness because my standard cardio workouts on the elliptical had only lowered my weight from 200 to 193 and my blood biochemistry was not what I wanted. I was taking 4 BP meds per day and wanted to find a better way. I read everything I could lay my hands on and became convinced that Paleo was a good way to go. It just made sense to pattern my food intake in a way driven by my genes and not by marketing. I decided to make significant changes to my nutrition starting August 1st, 2013. I went with a Paleo approach initially but was concerned about the rigidity of Paleo and whether I could stick with it. I was highly motivated to make changes but wondered how long I could stay away from certain off-limits foods. Also, I did not like the concept of “cheats”—it just rubbed me the wrong way. Another concern was that Paleo would be too boring. I found some good Paleo cookbooks that addressed this concern. The cookbooks gave me and my family lots of good ideas for tasty meals.
I found The Primal Blueprint two weeks into my Paleo experiment and read it cover to cover very quickly. I liked Mark’s 80/20 rule and the idea that Primal is not about perfection but about enjoying life, being flexible and getting healthier. Being a probable Type A personality, I had already subjected my body to a lot of stress over the years and did not want to repeat that mistake. Based on Mark’s book and the information on MDA I modified my nutrition to the more flexible Primal way. It was and is a better fit for me.
I started losing weight very quickly in the first few weeks. That tapered off after about two months but continued on a nice glide path over the next four months. At six months my weight stabilized at 168 pounds—the same as when I graduated from college 41 years ago!
I feel I have probably added 5-8 pounds of muscle doing Primal “lift heavy things” workouts, so that is a total of 30+ pounds of useless fat gone. I like being able to see the blood vessels on my arms again. I have added my own flourishes to Mark’s approach and really enjoy working out now (cardio was becoming a drag). I throw in some sprint work on the elliptical from time to time but not the old boring cardio stuff that drained my energy. When I started my strength workouts I had trouble doing one pull-up. Now I can do 10. I can also do 50 push-ups. Not too shabby for a person who qualifies for Social Security.
One of my prime goals was to shed the slab of fat around my belly button. Right away my waist began to noticeably shrink. I liked that and was very motivated to stay the course. I even amused my wife with periodic gut checks. My waist went from 39 or so down to 32 over 9 months. A totally unexpected positive thing happened: my hair got darker! There was one “downside”—I had to get my pants taken in because they no longer fit.
My problematic blood profile improved dramatically in just 6 weeks to the amazement of my healthcare professional. She wanted to know how I did it and I told her about MDA and Mark’s book. I only take two BP meds per day now and hope to wean off them someday. My current triglyceride to HDL ratio is 0.93 points down from its dangerous level just two years ago.
I think the Primal way is the best and I will stay with it for the rest of my life. Some of my family members and friends have also gotten good results from eating real, whole food and skipping the processed stuff.
I want to go to PrimalCon someday and compare six-packs with Mark! Just kidding (about comparing)!