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!
Primal eating gave me my life back. Allowed me to stay in shape, enjoy eating, and not suffer. Living the Primal life is now my passion, it’s become that topic I always bring up to friends and strangers that causes my wife to roll her eyes and shh me – well, Primal and Star Wars…
I was born with a leaky valve in my heart (split aortic) and an enlarged aorta. When I was a kid I was told I could never play contact sports, weight lift or really do anything a healthy North American (Canadian) boy wants to do! It was devastating to watch other boys play…
I don’t know about you, but I hate being told I “can’t” do something. So, at the age of 22, after I quit smoking and drinking, I started weight training and quickly realized I had the right genetics to grow some decent sized muscle. I started on a path of competing as an amateur bodybuilder. I stayed natural (no illegal substances just over the counter supplements), so as to not worsen my heart condition any further. I had a pretty good go at competing. My stage weight was around 170 lbs at about 4 to 5% body fat. I had become really good at catering my diet on and off season to get the most out of what I was eating, mostly on a modified standard American diet. I always placed top three in my class and I am proud of my accomplishments.
In September 2013, I was at the tail end of prep for a show in October when I met with my cardiologist for a check-up that I will never forget. He told me that my aorta’s size was bigger and I was at a greater risk of an aortic dissection. Meaning if it got any worse, I’d be risking a tear –death or emergency surgery. Needless to say I was devastated. Bodybuilding was my passion, but I had to stop training. I was a new Dad and the thought of not seeing my daughter grow up was even more frightening than stopping a lifestyle that I adored so much.
From September 2013 to January 2014 I was a mess. I had no direction, no clue on how to change my lifestyle so I could remain healthy. All I knew was the old method of six to seven small meals, lots of protein, grains and training. In January, I met with a surgeon who later advised me that I could get back to the gym, but change my approach. He even said that I could run a marathon tomorrow if I wanted to! (I was never much of a runner and I’m still not) What a relief!
With light weights and high reps (to avoid the drastic changes in blood pressure and the Valsalva maneuver) I was back! Relief doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings that went through me. This gave me a new lease on life! Now all I had to do was figure out how to eat again. By this time I had put on a bit more weight than I was used to having. I was sitting around 190, and I didn’t look athletic at all anymore. My wife had been following MDA since around the same time, but I stubbornly refused to read much on it. So naturally, she would periodically send me some interesting MDA articles. Then she told me about The Primal Blueprint book. So I started listening to the podcast and reading the book, along with the 21 Day Challenge. I started to move towards the Primal/paleo lifestyle, but not as intently as I am now. Making subtle changes, and seeing improvements in overall health, energy and little bit of weight loss. Finally I had some direction.
I got sick less often. A flu bug would hit the house and I was miraculously spared! I was sleeping a lot better. It changed the way I approached eating and playing. I cut down my gym time to three days a week (much to my wife and daughter’s relief). Giving my body sufficient rest and improving the work-life-gym balance. On training days I am in and out in no more than an hour a day, and that includes 10 minutes of interval cardio with a minimum of 3×1 minute sprints thrown in. I no longer feel guilty if I miss a day at the gym. I know that I can make it the next day if I am not feeling up to it.
Since January of this year, I have taken it a lot more seriously. For a couple reasons to be honest. First, is to see how lean and how far I can go with this, and secondly, I have a friendly wager with my best friend. He is getting married down south in April and I’m his best man. So we decided to see who would have the best beach body with our different workout and eating strategies. The race is on. In January, I was 180-185 lbs and a solid layer of body fat. I went completely grain free, and incorporated the intermittent fasting approach. I usually don’t eat after 8 pm and won’t eat again till 10 or 11 the next morning. I have my coffee with full fat cream, no sugar or sweeteners and I do use BCAAs (branched chain amino acids).
I make sure that I maintain as much muscle as possible during this whole transformation. I eat about 3 to 4 times a day. Typically, I eat cashews as my 1st solid food, (coffee doesn’t count) then later on I have a solid 8-10 ounces of protein and a good portion of veggies slathered in butter, if I need one, I will have a whey isolate shake, then a complete meal later on in the evening. I cut booze all together. I do love scotch, but have abstained for now.
I love to eat, and am always taking old family recipes and converting them into a Primal state. They most often turn out amazing. I am becoming quite the Primal kitchen guru at home. My three year old daughter seems to love the food – She thinks my cauliflower mash is mashed potatoes – I am ok with that! My wife is down close to 20 lbs as well, however not as strict as me. I am now roughly 160 lbs and I am a very comfortable 6% body fat. I don’t deprive myself of things, as I love food too much, but everything in moderation. Even now, I eat cheese a couple times a week, 85% dark chocolate I have almost everyday (2 squares only) and I am happy. I have never felt this good, this healthy in a long time, and I owe it in great abundance to The Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily apple. I listen to the podcasts religiously. Sometimes more than once just so I better understand, and am able to incorporate more into the routine. I love the structure.
I don’t want people think this is hard, because it really isn’t. The toughest part of The Primal Blueprint is taking the first step towards a better you. Ignore what other people say, and do something for yourself. I want people to know that anyone can take charge of their life and make smarter, healthier choices. The food tastes amazing, and it really doesn’t feel like a diet. This is a strategy to make you feel good inside and out. I hope my story reaches someone, somewhere, somehow and inspires you to make a change. Change is good. Doesn’t have to be dramatic. The smallest of changes allows you to reap the biggest rewards. I am thankful every single day that I found The Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple. It has been an incredibly useful tool. I have coined the phrase primalite as part of a blog that I am ashamed to say I am not as faithful on. It was more for me than anyone else anyways. So with all that being said. Peace, Love and Primal primalites and thanks for reading my story.