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!
I hesitated to share my story since before I started The Primal Blueprint (PB), I was already a fairly healthy 22-year-old, so my transformation simply cannot compare to those that have lost weight in the triple digits and literally cured diabetes. However, I decided to write out this story after some encouragement from my friends, and I do believe that my transformation is incredible in its own right: particularly, the results materialized so quickly. I’m writing this after less than 4 months of following PB. Moreover, I don’t see many success stories involving my ethnic group, Asians, probably because of the importance of rice in our culture. One of the most common critiques that I hear is “look at all those skinny Asians who gobble down rice.” I wanted to show that there exist substantial benefits to toning down the consumption of rice.
My story starts in my senior year of college. After four years of college, I had put on 20 pounds, reaching 160, which was slightly overweight considering my height of 5′ 5″. Furthermore, the acne that I assumed would disappear with time still persisted from my high school years. You can see me as a college senior.
When I graduated, I decided to make my health a priority and threw myself fervently into the Conventional Wisdom (CW) approach. For 5-6 days every week, I would exercise splitting my time about 50-50 between cardio (in the form of running) and strength training (mainly pull-ups, squats, and bench press). As for diet, I ate my whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and upped my fruits and veggies. The results were slow, but over the course of about 3 months, I managed to lose 10 pounds. Suddenly, progress stopped. I stayed the course with this regimen for 2 months, and my weight remained unchanged. In addition, I doubted my ability to sustain this volume of exercise: I constantly felt tired. You can see the results of CW.
Around this time, I stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple when looking for ways to increase my ankle mobility (I was having trouble squatting low, which I have also since remedied). I began to dig deeper into this concept of “Primal Living,” and I found much of it, particularly the bits about insulin and cholesterol, aligned with what I had learned in my college Biochemistry class. Suddenly, I began to look through the lens of evolution, connected the dots, and realized that something has gone awry with how humans interact with our environment. For instance, I discovered that high-carbohydrate diets have been linked to myopia. In terms of evolution, it makes no sense that I was wearing glasses by the time I was 7, and myopia among Asians is the norm. Perhaps, we don’t store fat the way Westerners do, but I sincerely doubt our carbohydrate-rich diet is harmless.
Frustrated with the CW approach and being young with not much to lose, I figured that I would give PB a try. Rather than ease in to the PB, I dove all-in, dropping grains immediately. When I got the low-carb flu, I doubled down and ate more fat. I had an awful case of the flu that lasted nearly 3 weeks, which indicates that I was very insulin-resistant at the start. After 6 weeks, I decided to check my progress, and I couldn’t believe the results. I had already reached my goal weight of 140! That was my weight back in high school when I played tennis and soccer, but I found myself even leaner then than my former 18-year-old self. I’ve managed to stay the course, adding in things like organ meats and intermittent fasting (which for me tends to mean simply skipping breakfast), and have made even more progress as you can see.
The ease of PB has surprised me the most. Fat tastes delicious, so I eat better-tasting food. I don’t go hungry because I simply eat until I’m full instead of counting calories. I work out even less than before: most weeks I lift 3 days and sprint 1 day. If weather permits, on the weekend, I may run 3-4 miles, but this happens maybe only once a month in Boston during the winter. I’d say that the only difficult thing was learning how to cook, but I view it as a fun challenge and a chance to experiment. Furthermore, the 80/20 rule allows me ample chances to deviate without feeling guilty.
Like many, I started PB for weight-loss reasons and have discovered other numerous benefits. Not only have I lost weight, but also I have gotten stronger as measured by my weight room gains, I recover faster from hard workouts, and my skin is much better as one can see. Most importantly, though, my energy levels are more stable, which has made me more productive at the office. Not being a slave to eating three square meals per day and having too much energy to sit still and watch TV has afforded me the time to do things I enjoy like reading, cooking, and mathematics.
All in all, through this experience, I have become convinced that “Primal Living” is the right way to live. If my example can even inspire one person to convert, I’ll feel that I have spent my time well writing this.