August 16 2013

Primal Ripples: Deeper Than “Just Food”

By Guest
160 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!

My name is Nathan and I am born of white Australian (English/Irish) and Maori (native New Zealand) ancestry.

My story is unlike most others. I have never had any lifestyle induced diseases and have very rarely fallen sick my entire life. I am 180(ish) cms tall and my abs are more than happy to show themselves. I am a mere 71kg and I have forever been labelled “the skinny kid” despite how many chin-ups I can do. So I was the thin picture of Primal health before I began my journey in April this year. Actually I am now keeping more lean muscle mass than ever before, funny that!

I was fortunate to have a healthier than average upbringing. That is, fast food and soft drinks were a rare occurrence and my family members are non-drinkers and non-smokers. I have been almost illness free my entire life (a couple bouts of childhood asthma brought on by a cold). This would indeed irk many who had it hard; including my sister who still suffers with chronic allergies (I’m talking a gentle breeze would cause a 20-sneeze-long fit). We both had teenage acne, but who didn’t suffer a little on that front? Still pretty boring stuff.

When I discovered Karate in my late teens I transformed from a gangly teenager into a slightly less gangly young adult and my self-esteem began to build. I suffered a shoulder injury (torn rotator cuff) which still haunts me to this day and is relevant later in my story. I had a physical job, often trained 6 days a week and even did weight training on top of that. Needless to say my hunger was NEVER satisfied. My mother used to complain that I had a tapeworm because I never stopped eating (I didn’t have one, I promise!) I would eat box after box of cereal and loaf after loaf of bread. I never gained any weight at all and I was still hungry! I would have dinner and two bowls of cereal after because dinner would not suffice. Though if I ate those bowls of cereal on an empty stomach my body promptly rejected them, I figured it was the milk; I never liked milk much anyway. I am also told that us “ethnic” people don’t handle milk well (true or false?). I ate plenty of meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables and I generally followed the food pyramid (Australian standards, probably similar to America) and loaded up on the grain-based carbohydrates as much as I could. It seemed to serve me well. I figured I was happy and fit enough.

My affliction, if that’s what you would call it, was more mental. At a young age (around 8, I think) my mother was informed by my teacher that I may have depression. So I received “counselling” that I barely remember and it took me a long time to realize that I thought and felt differently than those around me. I don’t think the other kids contemplated the futility of existence.

Sure, teenage angst and a few hard-hitting family matters would have played a big part later on, but when I entered my early twenties and moved away from home things darkened more. I began drinking copiously. I retrospectively diagnose myself with alcoholism.

It began with just having fun and being young and free and ended with drinking an average of 50+ drinks a week. I was still highly functional. I ate well (if I ever ate at all), I exercised, I always made it to work, I always paid my bills, I stayed away from drugs and cigarettes but I rarely slept. I worked night shift which does strange things to a person. So I never noticed that anything was wrong while I was in the thick of it because I met all my obligations. The only thing was that I went home and relaxed with a drink or 10. This was often with friends, but often alone. It was the highlight of my existence: “two more hours and I can go home and drink and be happy again!” I developed weird sleeping disorders; doing things while asleep and seeming like I was awake. I also started forgetting things and I would forget nights and eventually weeks. Everything became less enjoyable than drinking, which was the only thing that gave me the energy and inclination to keep breathing. I ate so I wouldn’t starve, I exercised to not be weak and I slept when I absolutely had to but I received little to no satisfaction or enjoyment from any of it.

Sounds dramatic, but it’s really just honestly how it felt.

I will also add that I have an addictive personality and when I like something I tend to go way overboard. Thankfully I never had an interest in any harder substances or I would likely not be around to write this. My band of close friends and my loving partner (whom I surprisingly found while enduring this “phase”) were the ones that helped me see through this mental fog.

When I settled down with my partner in a new city, new job, new life, things were no doubt better, but the shadow still loomed.

I was no longer permanently drunk but I still felt very cold to everything. It is almost an ineffable feeling. I suppose it was just a general indifference to everything. My health was improving but my outlook was still warped. I began to revert back to the way I was before my episode which was physically well, but mentally “off”. The way I was since I was a child. I was good most days but I would sometimes have a mental spasm which would result in drinking too much and having little mental breakdowns about this or that. I was just not happy being me regardless of having every reason to be happy.

One of my friends was trying a “30 day detox” program and the diet was mostly paleo/primal. I didn’t do the detox myself but I tried some of the food and the notion of “eating yourself well” piqued my curiosity. So I wandered into a bookstore in search of cookbooks and happened across The Primal Blueprint. I devoured it in the next couple days and I went straight Grok for two weeks. Not one single dalliance. And with that I was awoken. It utterly obliterated all my preconceived notions of health, fitness, nutrition, life and happiness.

My mind fired in phenomenal ways, my energy exploded and I was resurrected as an entirely new being. My aforementioned shoulder injury that was giving me trouble felt amazing. The tightness and creakiness lessened. It still persists today but is 90% better than before and I hope to fully overcome it (it happened over 5 years ago). I had to have two wisdom teeth removed in June and I made an awesome recovery. I was back eating solids two days after with minimal pain killers the entire time. I was told many horror stories prior to the extraction but the whole ordeal hardly even affected me.

My energy levels are consistently high despite working long hours and I sleep better than ever.

I look forward to eating and even cooking like I never have before.

My outlook and demeanor have taken this unbelievable positive turn that words cannot do justice.

Though the remarkable ripple effect it has had on those around me has been what has surprised and delighted me the most. Me being me, I crammed The PB down everyone’s throats. Because I was all of a sudden so upbeat and energetic I was very eager to tell anyone who would listen and some who wouldn’t. But looking the way I always have people can be skeptical and I am met with the usual “You’re too skinny to go on a diet!” Sigh…

So armed with my newfound mental clarity and a sweet batch of Primal knowledge I set my sights on my estranged parents. We live in separate states and we only spoke for minutes on the phone a month (if that) and our laboured conversations often ended in angered hang-ups. I gave them my copy of the Blueprint and showed them the ways of Grok. That was now over a month ago and they have completely given up the daily bread. They are in their mid-50s and have had bread their entire lives. My father says that he has more energy than he has had his whole life and can do 100 push-ups while my usually inactive mother goes on bike rides and says that her stomach no longer feels bloated.

Saturday is now the day that they call me and give me the latest updates on their Primal journeys. There are even brief messages throughout the week letting me know about any small victories they just had. These are the same people that I wouldn’t talk to for weeks at a time. For me and mine the PB has gone much deeper than “just food”, it has enriched my life more than I could ever have imagined anything could and I am continuing to rebuild myself and my relationships with those around me.

My partner and I cook our own meals and I amazingly convinced her to ease off the rice a bit, which is a big ask for an Asian woman! We try to stick to the “wholefood” idea and eat organic as much as possible. It is definitely worth the price when you consider the better taste, the additional nutrition and the important ethical practices. I still eat some legumes, mostly green beans and the like as I suffer no ill effects and I eat as many green things I can get my hands on. We also cook with soy sauce because many of our meals are Asian stir fries cooked with coconut oil. Our diets easily abide by the 80/20 rule but mine is usually higher and sometimes perfect for a few days straight. Though we love to eat out now and then, I usually make the Primal-est choice I can. There is also the occasional social drink, but it is for happy reasons and usually after a couple I feel like enough is enough and I naturally limit myself with no struggle. The control I have over it now is effortless.

"Us prior to going Primal, I promise I look the same." - NathanI have managed to coax a few push-ups out of my better half which was no mean feat. We walk a couple kilometres daily out of necessity. I do bodyweight exercise either at home or the park if I feel so inclined. I do a sprint workout maybe once or twice a month and go to the gym once a week or two. My weight workouts adhere to the basic Primal compound movements; none of this bicep curl stuff. Because of these types of movements my shoulder keeps getting better. It makes me really doubt the physiotherapy I received for it when it happened. They told me I’ll likely need surgery and suffer from it for the rest of my life. They gave me static stretches and isolated muscle exercises which I feel made it worse so I stopped doing it. It now makes so much more sense to use my shoulder in a natural movement then to twist and turn it in strange ways. I think instinctively our bodies know how to recover.

I finally feel comfortable in my shoes (which are Vibrams, of course!) and I can feel the effect I have had on those around me. Change begets change and ours began with a little Primal living. The world needs more people like Mark and the community that he has helped build. The crux of my letter being that even the smallest change, shift in consciousness or awareness of our actions can have the most profound effect on ourselves, others and the world at large.

Mark wrote a book and changed my life and that of those around me. I believe this knowledge has the power to change the world.

Nathan

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160 thoughts on “Primal Ripples: Deeper Than “Just Food””

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    1. Agree! And good to hear from an Aussie perspective. Binge drinking is such a problem in our culture. I know, I was there too… for years too. Love how you’ve shared the love with your pares too!

      1. We Aussies are a peculiar bunch like that…
        But I’m happy (sort of) to know that I was not the only one.
        Time for a change hey?
        Thank you

    2. Thank you so much, I’m glad you think so.
      That why I I summoned the courage to put it out there.
      ..maybe Mark helped too!

      1. Nathan,

        Great post, I really appreciate your open sharing of your story. I am so glad you were able to overcome the negative feelings and help others along the way!

  1. So happy for you to feel so alive now 🙂 And that you’ve reconnected with your family – that is so important!
    Please encourage your parents to tell their story. I’m in the 50+ club and would love to hear their adventure. I think I’ll soon be ready to tell mine.

    1. Thank you so much.
      I will try but they don’t even know I published this! …yet.

      And I implore you, share your story too. The rest of us would love to hear it.

  2. Thanks for sharing and to include your self diagnosed alcoholism. I don’t see a lot about this issue on MDA, but as a self diagnosed, family & friends diagnosed, medically diagnosed, recovering alcoholic I respect the changes you made and encourage anyone in similar situation to deal with the addiction before, during or after your primal journey. It’s not likely an alcoholic can keep carbs below 100 not to mention the toxic effect on your liver.

    1. Thank you, Birkle.
      And thanks for putting your hand up too.
      You know for me, it had to begin in my mind. It seems that once that is clear the rest starts to align.
      Best of luck to you, my friend.

  3. Nathan,

    The part of your story about your parents really hits home. My parents, too, have been bread eaters all their lives. I just got my mom started on the 21-Day Challenge and she already feels the constant bloating she’s felt all her life go away! I strive to inform and educate anyone who will listen, and I think it is really cool how you have not only forever changed your way of living, but those around you as well.

    Keep it up dude!

    1. Thank you!
      And good on you too. After feeling the change in yourself, it’s real cool to watch it happen to others.
      Love it.

  4. I have read these success stories every week and have for about 2 years. This one struck a chord with me though… Exceptional story Nathan! It mirrors my own paleo journey. Everything was right in the world, I was healthy, ate ‘right’ and worked out but inside, something was missing and pulling me down. I had NO reason not to be extraordinarily/boarderline-insanely happy all the time, but I turned to booze as well (for almost my entire 20’s). I lost memories, and missed out on a lot of life. The paleo/primal community sent me on a complete 180 almost 3 years ago… one that inspires me to be the best I can be (cheesy I know, but true). Thank you for the story!

    1. Thank you for your kind words!
      It’s strange to think that so many of us are alike huh?

  5. Thank you for sharing your amazing story! I truly believe that diet is a HUGE part of mental health. I’m so happy that you and yours have found yourselves and your happiness through primal living. Congratulations!

    1. And sleep? and play!?
      If/when I reproduce, I think I will definitely encourage my children to play more.
      It’s so obvious when you look at it properly though, isn’t it?
      Big face palm moment when that lightbulb flicks on.

  6. Nathan, I love that going primal changed your mental outlook instead of your physical one, (at least primarily.) In my opinion, that’s a wonderful side-effect that often times gets overlooked. Going primal opens the mind to exploring the “why” of many of our choices, which forces introspection and reflection. It was so fun to read about your journey – way to go, and congratulations for making such big strides. Inspiring!!!

    1. I agree man.
      I was hesitant to submit my story because it was different to everyone elses.
      Here’s me sitting here thinking “I feel great!” but looking the exact same.
      Now I tend to believe it all begins in the mind (some may say “duh”) and that our physical selves are manifestations of that.
      Thanks for the kind words, Nick.

    1. Me too!
      Though it’s Saturday morning in Australia. (We live in the future!)

  7. Holy smokes, you came out the other side and survived! What a lucky stroke that your friend was doing that particular detox program.

  8. Powerful stuff, blew me away. Great story and really well communicated. There are aspects to a healthy lifestyle that go beyond just weight, which is the focus of 99% of people out there.

    1. Cheers, George.
      I’m grateful to know I had an effect.
      And you are exactly right.

  9. Wow, this is such an amazing story! By now, most of us here are convinced of the physical transformations the Primal lifestyle can have on us, but to read about such a remarkable turn-around in other aspects of life is truly eye-opening and inspiring! This story definitely made my day and I am so happy to hear about your turn-around and how happy you are now! The new-found relationship with your parents and their willingness/eagerness to adapt the Primal lifestyle is another thing that brings me joy to read about!! Thanks for sharing, and best of luck to you and your partner – you guys look great and very happy!

  10. Nathan, thanks for sharing. Much of your story mirrored my own, except for the drinking. It helps a lot to see how others are fixing their lives.

    1. Thank you.
      Reading other peoples stories helps me to push it to the next level. And some transformations are jaw-droppingly awesome! I love it.

  11. Nathan – Your story is very inspirational! I suffer from depression as well. I was diagnosed in my twenties, though I can see the patterns in my earlier memories as well.

    I haven’t had the success in treating my depression that you have had, but your story gives me hope.

    Thank you for your story (and Mark for his work, of course)! It sounds like it’s time for me to crack out Primal Connections!

    1. Griffin, the most important thing for me (and others like us) was recognising that everyone (seemingly) has a “dark side” so to speak. This means you are not alone. For me it was a whole lot of misplaced emotion. But gaining control of your mind can be an amazingly hard task.

      There was one incident that occurred that I actually forgot to mention. I have since moved on so I don’t dwell on it much and I didn’t seem relevant but I will share with you.
      I had a friend who was struggling with himself (poor decisions, depression etc etc) and he could not get through it.
      Sadly he committed suicide in my house and a friend and I found his body.
      What that did to me and those around him will leave a permanent scar. But I took the “good” from the situation, and that is that no matter what happens, you can always make it through.
      And it can be as simple as asking someone for help. I offered my help to my friend and it came to that. He left behind friends, a wife and a newborn son.

      Sometimes a little perspective can have a massive effect. If he had have opened up to me and I could have told him how beautiful his son was, he may have never done it. He was intent on focusing on his mistakes and shortcomings and not his baby boy.

      When I have a darker turn, I look at my beautiful partner, I think of my amazing friends, and I think of my loving family.
      And I do something therapeutic to my soul.
      Run through the park and do a crazy workout. Pick up my guitar and play. Sit down and write. These things I love to do and I come back to Earth when I do them.

      There is always hope, I promise you.
      You will find what is.

  12. Mental kudos Nathan…If Mark ever makes these stories into a book or includes these in a publication– more than the web pages — it will triple the primal reach due to the real life progress many have made.

    There’s nothing like being inspired by those who have struggled through the many problems and circumstances and overcome them!

    Grok on!!!!

    1. Thanks Pastor Dave!
      It would make a great book I think.
      The power of words…

  13. Wow Nathan. Your story makes me want to do a start over with primal. Thanks, I needed that push.

    Have strayed too far and found myself with the same issues I had when I began 3 years ago.

  14. It’s generous and brave of you to admit your own past failings in order to inspire others. I’m especially inspired by your willingness to admit former problems with alcohol and depression, since so often people sweep those under the rug and pretend everything is fine-fine-fine. Bravo!

    Do you still allow yourself dairy? What does a typical day’s menu look like for you?

    1. Thank you, Catherine.
      I almost talked myself out of it, but I’m glad I didn’t now. Saying it all so openly was a big part of overcoming it, or managing it. So often when we’re upset we don’t admit it. And apparently that can be pretty harmful!

      So dairy…
      Currently I am undergoing an intestinal cleanse thingy… which is no dairy or high-sucrose fruits. At this stage it seems that I have sucrose-malabsorption issues. Eating fruit can be bad!? Or more specifically, me eating a tonne of fruit at once. Funny story, I tried kiwi fruit which was on my “ok” list of fruits and had a bad allergic reaction where my lips, mouth, throat and stomach got really swollen almost instantly. Lucky it was a teaspoon and not a whole one or I woulda been in trouble!

      Anyhow, before that the only dairy I ate semi-consistenly was aged vintage cheddar. Man I love cheese… No milk because I just don’t like it. I have soy lattes now and then (I’m a barista, take it easy! I’m aware of the soy problems etc but….. it’s cold and I want one!!) And I would have the cheese in an omelette. Needless to say, my omelettes are now boring.

      My menu is rather limited because I’m a poor excuse for a cook, but:
      Breakfast (either one of the following):
      – 3 or 4 (organic) egg omelette (optional cheese/capsicum/garlic/pepper/baby spinach/carrot/onion/whatever-is-in-the-fridge)
      – bacon (2 to 5 rashers) and 2 or 3 eggs (optional same as above)
      – 4 boiled eggs (must have rock salt and cracked pepper, even cheese, I stole this from MDA!)
      – tea (or coffee..) with salt, sugar, coconut oil and an egg! (also stolen from MDA, sounds dodgy, but it’s my new obsession)

      Lunch:
      – typically left overs from dinner the night before. My partner (or I) cook a little extra to take to work for lunch. I strongly recommend this. Healthier, cheaper and easier. Only downside is having the same meal twice in quick succession. Doesn’t faze me though.

      Dinner:
      – Asian/Western style stir frys (my partner and I merge our tastes into a sort of fusion thing) which are typically either beef/chicken/pork with a load of vegies like carrot/broccoli/beans/snow peas/pumpkin/sweet potato/capsicum/bok choy/pak choy/kang kung/or any Asian/Western vegetable
      – roast chicken with steamed or roasted vegies (sometimes I keep the bones to make a broth. So with one chicken we get dinner, lunch and another meal. So that’s six individual meals. Bonus!)
      – or my favourite, steak and vegies/salad. Then the extra steaks I chop up, and have over salad or with the vegies for lunch the next day.)

      Snacks:
      – dark chocolate, the darker the better…
      – nuts (macadamia/cashew/almond/hazelnut/brazil/pecan/walnut/everything except peanuts)

      Drinks:
      – water when thirsty (duh)
      – black tea (sometimes peppermint/lemongrass etc)
      – occasional coffee (I limit this and keep it sporadic to eliminate dependance)

      A good idea is to roast your favourite mix in coconut oil, honey and shreddded coconut (a sprinkle of coffee even). Though my stupid sucrose issue has me off honey…… For the time being anyhow.

      All of the food is organic where possible and cooked in coconut oil. The whole chicken is always organic, because it amounts to many meals I want it to be of the best quality.
      And my partner cooks with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and a bunch of things I can’t pronounce. So while some aren’t primal they are minimised. Additionally we use lots of fresh chilli, garlic and ginger (amongst other herbs/spices).

      My philosophy is that if I make all my daily eating habits healthy, I can have the occasional “bad” thing. But when we go out for dinner I generally opt for the Primal-est choice possible (i.e. skip the rice/chips(“fries”)/bread etc) and load up on vegies. The good ol 80/20 rule.

      Whew… Hope that helped!

  15. Nathan, I love your story, especially for repairing relations with your parents. Keep on your course and flourish!

  16. Ah, another success story to forward to my oldest daughter as I slowly entice her away from her heavily carb based diet. At least she’s no longer mostly vegetarian. Though her diet is still very heavy on pasta and potatoes, in the form of potato chips and french-fries…. She has depression, anxiety, and insomnia issues, and is still rather unconvinced that her diet may play a large role in those problems.

  17. Nice you were able to bridge the parent gap. I can’t get them to make the lifestyle plunge, even though they know the approach makes sense.

    1. Lead through example, Kevin. That’s how I think.
      My parents could hear the enthusiasm in my voice, which wasn’t there before.
      …or give them the Primal Blueprint.

  18. Awesome story Nathan!! Just an idea, I use coconut aminos as my soy sauce substitute and it’s yummy!! Congrats on your amazing transformation!

    1. Thanks, Kerri.
      …what are these coconut aminos you speak of??
      I am up for trying it.

      1. I find coconut aminos too sweet, but if mixed with fish sauce it’s a lot more like soy sauce. Real soy has two bad things–soy and wheat, neither treats me well.

  19. “And with that I was awoken. It utterly obliterated all my preconceived notions of health, fitness, nutrition, life and happiness.”

    Great stuff mate. Inspiring tale that slapped a big grin on my face. Good for you.

  20. I think this is my favourite story so far..coming from a completely different mental health perspective…good job Nathan

    1. I agree, this has been my favorite success story so far as well. It’s one thing to read about someone who was eating SAD, overweight and suffering from the usual maladies that go along with that who starts eating primal and makes amazing physical changes and improves their health. It’s so nice to get another perspective. I can also relate to the depression and alcoholism. Great story telling, this was a wonderful read!

      1. Thank you, Beth.
        I’m stoked to hear you enjoyed reading it.
        I was worried it was edging towards literary-diarrhea.
        Believe me when I say this was as short as I could make it!

    2. I think this is my favourite comment so far…. haha!
      Thank you, Rhona.

  21. I really identified with so much of this story, especially feeling different from a young and using alcohol as an escape. As well as being in recovery from alcoholism I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and changing my diet has been intrinsic to my coping and overcoming many of my symptoms. Primal is my way of making amends to my body for the years of abuse I put it through!

    Thank you for sharing your open and inspiring story, Nathan

  22. Thank you for sharing this, Nathan. I struggle with alcohol myself, and haven’t quite gone the whole way into Paleo/Primal. Reading this is motivating me to really stay focused on that way of eating, if a reduced desire for alcohol can be a result.

    I’m not saying one can necessarily always cure oneself of alcoholism from diet, to anyone who is suddenly going to jump on me for that assumed viewpoint. But I’m looking forward to seeing how my food choices could benefit my reliance upon alcohol.

    1. Good for you Julie. Not all reliance on alcohol is the same as it is for another person, good point. I think that making your life more primal in your food/drink choices will help you gain strength to move forward with finding out what it is that is fueling your reliance on alcohol. Any time we exercise our self control it gets stronger, just like a muscle. Getting rid of what is causing our bodies distress (like inflamation and digestion problems) can help strengthen our resolve to move on to the other things in our life that need addressing. (we feel like crawling out from under that basket that seems soooo safe) (insert smile here)
      Another benefit to cleaner eating is that for most of us it makes that one or two drinks hit us way harder so it’s easier to just say “No, I’ve had enough” sooner than we ever did before.

    2. For me it was more an appreciation of what’s good. Which lead to feeling better overall.
      Then you turn around and look and say “wow, I don’t need THAT to be happy.”
      Know what I’m saying?

      But good for you, you will get there.
      The first step is the hardest, and you have already begun!

  23. So inspiring! My parents have taken the plunge too. My Father is 75, had a triple bypass a few years ago, and now has the blood work of a healthy middle aged man. His cardiologist is confused and keeps lecturing him to be careful with “those fats”. I think teaching our parents is a great gift.

      1. Mark needs to write a post that is parent friendly and lay down the fats once and for all… Haha

  24. Thanks for sharing your very personal inner journey with us. I am sure there are many people out there who do not manifest visible symptoms who will be inspired and hopeful after reading this. So happy for you and your family!

  25. Alcohol precludes attaining deep REM sleep. I have cut from two to one martini and night and now get a good night’s sleep. The change was immediate.

    Great for you!

  26. Nathan, I just want to thank you for being so frank and open in sharing your very personal success story. Already from the comments you can see that you have reached others who have similar issues to deal with, and encouraged them to perservere with the Primal choice in their lives.

    And of course, congratulations on making such an amazing positive change in your life and the lives of those around you.

    Awesome……………from another Aussie who loves Saturday mornings.

    1. Thank you, mate.
      I can’t tell you how good it feels to hear all this feedback.
      Saturday mornings are always inspirational eh? haha!

  27. Nathan you rock!!!!! I’m another Aussie you have inspired with your frank and honest account.

    Your life has changed in so many positive ways and mental and social health are such a huge part of ensuring a happy and whole person. Thanks so much for highlighting this as we often forget these important factors and focus on the physical.

    I needed this jolt back into PB living…..so thank you!

    I love Friday stories – or Saturday if you’re in Oz 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Lea.
      Hopefully this Primal consciousness will begin gaining more traction in Oz.

  28. Nathan – Thank you for sharing your story. I started feeling the effects of depression at about the same age. I started going primal at 34 (one year ago), and my depression has improved tremendously. Sometimes I feel like it can’t last, but I’m keeping the faith that the primal lifestyle will continue to work. Peace and happiness to you and your family!

    1. Thank you.
      To be honest, it doesn’t “last”, I don’t think anyone is happy every single second of the day.
      But as a whole, there are less bad moments and more good. Or rather more appreciation of the good and a downplaying of the bad.
      You are also more equipped to bounce back stronger.
      …like an 80/20 rule with your mental state. Right??

  29. Thanks Nathan,
    I used to think my 3am mood crash..”the dark time of the soul” was just normal for me. It went away completely after the diet change. bleak time gone!

    1. Yeah… I’m asleep at that time nowadays!
      Strange though. I was often awake at that time too….

  30. Congratulations, great story especially the aspect of overcoming the drinking. People who’ve never gone through it (or lived with those who have) don’t understand what a struggle it can be. Those who drink LIKE to drink, it brings pleasure. So losing it is a big deal and most struggle to replace whatever it is the alcohol brings them. So good for you.

  31. It’s so great to hear someone talking about their emotional and psychological struggles. My first exposure to primal and MDA came from an article that Mark wrote about having fun with your workout, and acting like the animals that we are. It was just what I wanted to hear at the time. This was over three years ago, when I was 17, and at the time I was dealing with a pretty severe self-destructive addiction. Of course it didn’t go away over night when I went fully primal, but the constant urge is now a thing of the past. I attribute that partly to the good food, vitamin D, and exercise that I’m getting now, but I think the act of taking charge of my life and my health made an even bigger difference. Part of the reason some of us have problems is that we feel we cannot control our lives. Lots of self-destructive people try to control their bodies to prove that they have some power. Going primal satisfied me, probably the way it satisfied you. You no longer need a drink to have fun and feel good. I still often get existential pain, but it helps to know that if nothing else, I’ve taken charge of my life, for the better. I’m doing all I can.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree, Natalia.
      …”existential pain”… That’s a concept to contemplate…. haha!
      Thank you.

  32. P.S. to an earlier congratulatory post Nathan. You might want to do some research on l-theanine, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Magnolia officinalis (I’ll put in a plug for Mark even though I know that’s not his style, his Primal Calm formulation looks good). I take a product with those ingredients and it really helps with my panic attacks (anxiety attacks, panic attacks and depression are all “kissing cousins” in terms of being in part neurotransmitter imbalances). Of course, all the things you are doing plus cognitive behavior therapy and having a good, holistic doctor is important. Best wishes.

  33. Amazing stuff mate I could relate to it ALL felt like you were writing about me & im also another Aussie from Australia haha Ive also been trying to get my bloated mum & diabetic dad on to this way but just cant get them to believe in it always come down to the bread that bloody bread!!! Grrr

      1. Haha!
        We are everywhere!!
        Yes, that bloody bread….
        Keep at em man!

  34. Nice story. A lot of Aussies on this blog … Hear hear to all the PBers in Sydney!!

    Primal/paleo really does clear the body as well as the mind. It’s a wonder how we even get through life on the old SAD diet.

    If you can get your Asian girlfriend to do exercise, you will have achieved the greatest Primal Blueprint victory of all.

    I went through the same with my girl – Thai/Singaporean. Sugar addict, vegetable oil and cheap cooking sauces, skinny fat, no exercise whatsoever. Things have shifted so much that all of these things have now changed. Fresh food, good meat, clean fats, exercise and sunshine (despite the dream of wanting to be perfectly white). It’s a new life for her …

    1. Cheers man.
      I’m down in Melbourne! (Though the Central Coast is home.)

      And it’s a constant struggle!!
      You cracked me up.
      They are worth it though right??

  35. I changed my diet because of “mental” symptoms, too. But when you consider how much the gut and brain are connected, it was really a gut problem. I had a ton of food intolerances.

    I’m so glad you wrote! I think this will give people hope that their life can get better!

    1. Thanks, Debbie.
      I had a severe reaction to kiwi fruit the other day!
      …be careful of them. That stuff will kill ya! 😛

  36. Awesome story mate, good to hear ur paleo story.. catch up with u soon bro. Till I c u next. Later

  37. Great testimony! Got me thinking about depression and how it’s treated with drugs. Seems like the first line of defense should be emptying out cupboards, refrigerators, and start eating real food. Continued success!!!

    1. That’s right. And that approach would be less damaging and probably more effective.
      Thanks, Linda.

  38. “Change begets change and ours began with a little Primal living. The world needs more people like Mark and the community that he has helped build. The crux of my letter being that even the smallest change, shift in consciousness or awareness of our actions can have the most profound effect on ourselves, others and the world at large.”

    Beautiful, heartfelt sentiments, fully seconded.

    Thank you so much for sharing your life’s experience with us. It is deeply touching and inspiring.

  39. We have every reason to live primal in Australia: lots of sunshine, amazing fresh food and produce and beautiful beaches and landscapes. But, it’s bread, breakfast cereal and fast food everywhere. And trying to convince friends and family that eating grains is harmful is very challenging. We cleaned out the pantry 10 months ago when our child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (probably caused by genetically modified wheat I have found out too late) Consequently, he is the healthiest diabetic child you will ever meet, and his healthcare team can’t believe it. Diabetics in Australia are taught to base their diet on carbohydrates!!! The information on Mark’s Daily Apple has literally saved my child’s life, and we will never go back to the “healthy” Australian food pyramid.

    Do try grass fed beef from King Island. It is expensive, but soooo worth it.

    1. That’s great, I’m glad things turned around for your son.
      Many of my extended family have developed diabetes too.
      Maybe I should turn my sights on them too….

      And I have tried King Island meats. Very tasty indeed!

  40. Nathan, your story has brought me hope! I have yet to fully dive into the Primal lifestyle but have been considering it for some time. Your story parallels my husbands in many ways as he is currently addicted to beer and drinks 8-13 every night. He is responsible, works hard, pays the bills and spends time with the family but feels disconnected, depressed and doesn’t know how to handle those ‘dark’ emotions. I know I can’t make him change but I hope that if I take the first step to go Primal that he will eventually come along and find the leverage he needs to conquer his addition. It’s great to hear that you’re feeling so much better and that your relationship with your parents has been healed. Very inspiring!

    1. That is so touching to hear.
      My suggestion is just to give it a shot, you have more to gain than you do to lose. And once you do, you won’t want to be any other way.

      As for your husband, I don’t have any real answers I’m afraid.
      He has to make the decision himself.

      Perhaps ask him to try a month alcohol-free.
      I did that prior to going Primal and that cleared my mind a lot and gave me the strength and inclination to take it further.
      Don’t give up on him.

      All the best to you and yours, Amy.

  41. Thanks for sharing. There is much truth in the adage a healthy body makes for a healthy mind.

    Finally realized after many years that I was depressed, with brain fog, feeling out of touch, and never being happy. A consultation with a health professional was somewhat helpful, but part of his solution was to offer to write me a prescription. I avoided drugs when I was younger, I did drink (part of the culture of another former British island colony), but I did not want the false sense of euphoria or dullness that drugs gave. I was eating the SAD diet, had read about eating better, but never really stuck with it until I started reading MDA. I find that following the primal path has helped tremendously, with both physical (that would be a lengthy other post) and mental health.

    I’m still trying to incorporate other lifestyle changes that Mark has wrote about such as adding fun activities, getting into supportive and diverse social settings, getting out in nature, to help combat the depression.

    Achieving balance in all aspects of life is my goal.

    1. Startling revelation huh?

      One simple tip I have is to try Vibrams. I love them.
      It improves my posture and I feel strong and tall but grounded at the same time. So that has a positive impact on the mind.
      Speaking from my personal experience of course.

      Small additions here and there can have a significant impact.

      Best of luck, James.

      1. After losing about 30 lbs, one of the happy results was that I found it comfortable to walk around barefoot, even doing some circuit training barefoot.

        Vibrams are on my list of things to try, adding to my incremental changes.

        Thanks again for sharing.

  42. Nathan, (the one writing the Friday/Saturday story here, he, he, he, not that you other Nathans are not fabulous of course)
    Thank you for sharing with all of us, one of the most encouraging parts for me was to see that you replied to nearly everyone. How kind, thank you for that. Nice touch.

    1. No, thank you.
      All these amazing people have taken the time to write to me so it is a great pleasure to give the love back.

      All the best to you, 2Rae.

  43. Good on ya! Drinks are my last hurdle. Too social and too fun! When I take breaks the mental clarity is like a transcendence to a higher state if consciousness. A negative side effect to sans drinking is I have greater difficulty relating to average people on an mental/philosophical/intellectual level. So back to drinking I go and talking about the mundane like sports, weather, and where interest rates are heading. I have more in common with complete strangers via online phylums (like MDA) than real people in my daily life.

    1. Yeah I get you man.
      Just be yourself, no matter what.
      Sounds like a truckload of cheese, but it’s true.
      I have shocked many people in my life by putting all this out there but I had to do it for me and others like me.

  44. Hey Nathan…..wonderful….wonderful!! When my world becomes too busy and life a little trying, MDA Fridays are a great place to find joy….keep sharing the love….its a beautiful thing;)

  45. Paleo Bon,

    I think sometimes the lack of connectedness to others comes from being an outlier. It is sooo rare to meet anyone who I can relate to on a mental/philosophical/intellectual level, I completely understand what you are saying. I am exceptionally good at finding a common ground to connect with others so they feel comfortable, but I don’t really have an interest in the mundane topics so I still feel disconnected/discontented. Lucky for me (?) I have no tolerance, so one alcoholic drink makes me act completely goofy. If I drink a second, I tend to fall asleep so I don’t drink more than a couple times a year anyway…

    PS… You have a great sense of humor and wit in your posts that often makes me laugh out loud, thanks :o)

  46. My beloved husband was suicidal the whole time we were together. (I met him when he was preparing for it — and he drank turpentine as a teen (and was dismayed when it merely made him sick…) and he was always depressed…. He was having angina, and I convinced him to start taking fish oil “for his heart” — I did NOT tell him that in Germany they prescribe for depression… and amazingly, not only did it make his angina go away — it healed his brain! He went from not wanting to go out and join our cul-de-sac parties to being the one who was dragging chairs out and calling for the neighbors! From wishing he could die (but thankfully, not (usually) actively suicidal) to looking forward to more life!

    Alas, by the time he decided to try primal and quit the cupcakes and soda and juice and so on… his heart was paining him again. (No, of course, he would NEVER see a doctor…) But he HAD decided, and we were cleaning up his diet…

    Then, he had heat stroke from several too many hours up in the attic (on a Georgia summer day — where it was 95 degrees out, and 90% humidity — and, of course, the attic was way worse… I found out when he semi-passed out and put a leg through the hall ceiling… (Thankfully he wasn’t hurt! But he said later that he remembered just before he lost his balance, thinking “oh, it wasn’t so hot up there anymore.” !!) That was Thursday. Despite me trying to keep him indoors, in the A/C and hydrated — he went out Sunday and mowed the lawn. And died at age 60 from a heart attack. {sigh}

    Sorry to be a downer — but hearing the joy of Nathan’s (mental/emotional) recovery — and knowing that Michael HAD committed to cleaning up his diet — and that the fish oil had freed him from life-long depression, makes me want to urge people NOT to give up — on themselves, or their loved ones! Putting it off… may not do.

    1. Wow.
      I am so sorry for your loss, Elenor.

      One of the many reasons I tried to bridge the gap between my parents and myself was in the case of their untimely death. I didn’t want them to pass thinking I hated them.
      You have given me even more determination to improve the lives of the people around me.

      Sincerely, thank you.

  47. Nathan, you’re wonderful! Have read all the comments, and it’s plain to see that taking control of your life and making a simple change causes huge beneficial waves. Following the primal diet myself since about March I’ve lost 7 kg, gained muscle tone and reduced my blood pressure. I’ve also gained a huge sense of control over myself at least.

    It’s great that you convinced your parents. I have dinner with my parents again tonight where they’ll tut-tut over my refusal of dessert and tell me that my diet is not healthy. This is from parents who while they are quite old, are suffering huge side-effects from their medications for heart conditions!

    Great work Nathan (and Mark)!

    1. It is quite surprising to me!
      But I am happy to see it.

      Congratulations on your changes, mate.
      Especially the control over yourself, that’s a huge win.

  48. Thank you Nathan. I too have alcohol issues. I’m able to keep them under control, but I know it’s too much. Unfortunately, my turning primal came after a divorce where my ex got the kids a majority of the time. So, I feel and look better but there’s still a lot of pain to cover up. Grok on brother!

    1. Cheers man!
      I’m sorry to hear about that.
      It’s never too late to heal relationships.
      Good luck

  49. I’ve had the precise same issue with the mental fog. Ever since I was a little kiddie – sugar would do weird, weird things to me. O.O

  50. Great story! It is amazing how eating the foods we were meant to eat, as opposed to processed rubbish, leads to so much mental clarity and vitality. It makes it hard to be thinking positive when your body is telling you it feels like shit all the time.

    My boyfriend, who is constantly being told he must have worms as well, has been 80 kilos since he hit puberty, and skinny as a rake at 6’4”. As much as I love him, I know he drinks way too much. It’s the college culture here in Australia unfortunately, especially so where I’m from. 14 out of the last 18 days he tells me he’s been drunk (and I mean drunk i.e. to the point of passing out) for one event or another. He’s generally a very happy and outgoing person, but I worry about the effects down the track. Thankfully he’ll soon be out of this environment and hopefully the excessive drinking will cease.

    I’ll have to be like you and get more proactive in my advocation of a primal/paleo lifestyle in the future. Maybe i’ll just spike his drinks with a little coconut oil… It would be a start.

    1. Ha! the spiking the drinks might not work… Probably taste to good.
      Thanks Alice

  51. hi Nathan, I’m in Perth Australia – are you and your partner on this side of the earth or the other!!! lol… thanks so much for sharing your story. If you feel like lending some support to a beginner – either of you – I’d love to get in touch. Cheers for sharing – so very very inspiring.

      1. hi Roberta! That’s great 🙂 Wondering if you want to get in touch and how/if we can do that here lol! 🙂 would love to friend up ..

    1. Hi Anna, sorry to say I’m over in Melbourne.
      Thank you for the kind words.
      In what manner would you need support?
      I’m only a beginner myself!
      I don’t know how I could help but I’ll try!
      What do you suggest?

  52. Hi Nathan,
    thanks for the reply. I love Melbourne ! (Raised in Frankston). well – I guess I just feel like I want that daily contact you would normally get in a gym or other type of health group/team you know? – I’m thinking as I reply that I should probably say hello in the forum here.. There’s just so many people there though ! I’m a site builder actually and I’m wondering if I should build a site around my – and others if anyone wants – experiences. Just looking for emotional support really – to give some and receive some. I guess with your partner and family all on board you’ve got some of those needs being met lol sorry getting heavy here! lol hope that all makes some sense.. 🙂

  53. As soon as I read the line “I thought and felt differently than those around me.”
    I thought, this person is an alcoholic or addict. The reason I know this, I am too. I am an alcoholic in recovery. If after a while, you start finding yourself in a “dark” place again because the “pink cloud” has blown away, try an AA meeting also. We call it a “dry drunk” when alcoholics are sober but do not have a solution. Not every alcoholic needs AA, but it is a great place to get the empty feeling that we have filled up so that we do not go crazy or start drinking again.

    Cheers, you are awesome.

    1. Takes one to know one they say…
      Thank you for the advice.
      I am proud and lucky to say that since posting this story my friends and family have really gotten behind me and have given me so much love. Not to mention all you lovely people on MDA.
      I am very lucky for that. I will always keep that in my mind though.
      Thank you Karen, YOU are awesome.

  54. Nathan! I don’t always read these Friday posts..but I’m glad I read this one! I’ve always been the round one, not the skinny one..but can relate to the “off” feeling. have dabbled in paleo…going to merge it with the Dash Diet to please my Dr (cholesterol came back all wonky in last physical) and get myself back to a better shape! maybe I can be the inspiration in my office…in addition to just feeling BETTER!
    thanks for giving me a shove in the right direction…when I didn’t realize I needed it!! good on ya, mate!

  55. Aww Nathan, you’re a real sweetie! Thank you so much for inspiring everyone who has read your Friday post and thank you for taking the trouble to reply to virtually everybody. You’re a star and totally inspirational 🙂