Success Stories in the Making: The Big Unveil

Okay, is everyone as pumped as I am for this? Ever since reader Adam proposed the idea some weeks ago, I’ve looked forward to making it happen – as the MDA 2012 New Year Challenge no less! Now the moment has come, and it’s a big one. As Challenge participant Brandi put it, “It seems like a lot of folks were looking for something just like this.” A lot is right. Readers, I’ve been bowled over by the amazing response to Success Stories in the Making. More than 400 (do the doubletake!) new and continuing Grokkers responded to the call last week and submitted their goals and photos! It doesn’t get more awesome than this, folks. The bees and I have been hard at work this past week reading and creating entries for each one in what is a whole new section for the MDA site. Today I’m excited as ever to bring it live to our Primal community.

In fact, it’s been such an endeavor that we’ll be completing the entry posts over the next couple weeks. (Be sure to check back frequently as more stories are added!) We’re working hard to make sure all 400+ get posted asap. Reading the hundreds of goals and stories folks sent in, I see that the Challenge call truly touched off something for people. It’s their time, they say, but they need to make it so. The tangible reality of having their stories and photos out there is pivotal, they said, to making it truly happen.

Most of all, I was struck by how much the community backdrop of this Challenge meant to participants. It’s not only that their goals are “public” now. It’s that they’ve chosen to share them with this particular community because they believe in Primal living and because they appreciate the unmatched support of MDA readers. As participant Lex explained, “I need all the support I can get because, until my body is proof this lifestyle works, all my friends and family are going to keep rolling their eyes at me.” Lex, we understand. We’ve got your back and that of every Challenge participant. You’re among Primal friends.

As you read through the participants’ introductions and personal goals today, you’ll meet an amazing group of people who span literally several decades. Some are students looking to get their health on track while they’re young. Others are grandparents looking to gain back energy to live well and play hard with their grandkids. You’ll even find several couples who have committed to the Challenge together! Some have been MDA readers for a while and even dabbled in the Primal principles but are looking to make a deeper commitment. Others have been going full tilt for several weeks on the PB but have continuing goals they’re bringing to the Challenge.

Some sample goals? Many participants, of course, have set goal weights or body fat percentages. Many write that they want to “look good naked.” (Who doesn’t?) Some want to have more energy for their kids. A few want to meet big milestones (e.g. getting married, rounding “decade” birthdays) in better health. Some want to beat nagging health issues or head off looming health threats. Others want to reclaim a vitality they feel they left behind years ago. Check these out….

“heal with diet not drugs”
“feel my stomach muscles”
“wake up with energy not coffee”
“appreciate my own personal power”
“to suck the marrow out of life”

How about feeling “warrior goddess strength” and getting back the “radiant, healthy, cocky smirk I used to have”?

How about this one? “I want my kids to remember their mom when they were little as someone who chased and laughed and played with them all the time. As someone who just oozed vitality so they can grow up with that same zest for life….”

Or this. “I shall NOT so willingly sacrifice sleep for homework, I shall NOT eat whatever because I don’t have time to cook (I’ll MAKE time), and I shall NOT skimp on opportunities to play because I feel there is something more important to do.”

Do these goals sound familiar? Are you thinking of your own resolutions? Does looking through the entries make you wish you’d sent in your own? Let me share the news then. I’m making Success Stories in the Making a permanent feature for MDA. That’s right. We’re kicking it off with the 2012 New Year Challenge, but it’s here to stay as long as folks are making Primal commitments and want to share them with the MDA community. That means you can submit your photo and goals at any time. Just see the instructions on the Success Stories in the Making page.

And remember that there’s more to see than just the entries. Don’t forget about Challenge participants’ personal journals! At the end of each entry, you’ll find a link to their personal journal if they’ve chosen to include one. Look for “Read John’s/Suzy’s Journal” with each entry.

On that note… Challenge participants – it’s never too late to begin one. The Primal Blueprint Journal forum is a great place to send updates, track progress, ask questions, gather support. This Challenge is about so much more than before and after photos. Use the journal to share your journey. Just be sure to send me the link, and I’ll make sure it’s included. If you have updated photos you’d like to post, send those whenever you like. (I’ll also send out quarterly reminders for photo updates as well.)

Readers, be sure to check back as more participants add their journals and updates to the site! You’ll have the chance to offer your own words of encouragement, tips for starting or continuing the Primal lifestyle, strategies that keep you going, etc.

Finally, I know many readers will offer their own accolades to our Challenge participants today, but let me offer my major kudos to each of you for being bold and brave in your journey toward greater health and well-being! In your submissions (and comments for last week’s Challenge introduction), you’ve shared your excitement, your humor, and your resolve. I was inspired as I read how each of you clearly feel the power of your decision and are excited to take your vitality to a whole new level. I’m excited and honored to share in the journey with you. Grok on, everyone!

Now I’ll turn it over to our incredible MDA community. Enjoy visiting the Challenge section, reading the stories and journals, and offering your own support for their journeys ahead! Thanks for being here today, everybody.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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86 thoughts on “Success Stories in the Making: The Big Unveil”

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  1. I sent in my picture. Being publicly accountable is the tipping point for me. (I just turned down some homemade treats someone gave me because I know I have made this commitment.)

    Glad to be doing this with over 400 like-minded people. 🙂

    1. You won’t regret it. Once you start feeling better, you won’t be able to go back.

      1. He’s right. I’m now officially a slave to real healthy foods. Yesterday on my way back from university I indulged in a McDonald meal for the first time since 3 or 4 months. Even thought I only ordered the sandwich (I would have bought an entire trio, but I just didn’t crave the high-glucose-fructose coke and french fries) I started feeling weird once home and this morning when I woke up I felt a little sugar crash, which is the very same thing that happened to me last time I indulged in fast food or grain products. And believe me, When these don’t happen to you anymore, you feel the difference. Fortunately, aside from the crash, (which affected both my body and my mood) in the end it just reinforced my way of life!

        1. Crashes don’t happen to me even when I eat badly.

          I think if your diet is actually making you stronger, eating something normal and not really that bad for you like a sandwich, is not going to affect you in that way. Your body will digest it, and gain strength from it. It’s not going to throw you out of wack suddenly.

          When I lowered my carbohydrate intake drastically, I found nutritious foods like bread and apples affected me badly, whereas before, they did not. It took me a while to regain my normal response to them by eating lots of nutritious carbohydrates, but it’s so much nicer to be able to eat some sugar or whatever sometimes, without negative effect.

  2. This is perfect timing! I am giving a lunch at learn at work about the primal blueprint to encourage others at work to consider the lifestyle. Thanks Mark and the worker bees for making this happen! And good luck to everyone posting their goals!!

  3. I am excited to see how this goes! I submitted mine but with so many it looks like its still in the process. I also decided to make myself more accountable by making a blog site with recipes and a page with my January 30 day challenge! That alone has helped me tremendously-the first time I have felt the pressure of accountability.

  4. This is brilliant. I wish everybody the best of luck. If this isn’t going to be tangible proof that this lifestyle works, then nothing will be.

  5. My own success story would be more one of health than weight loss…I thought about sending in a pic but I think people would think it’s a joke losing 10 lbs and going from medium slender to real slender.

    1. Oh I think there are enough serious fitness freaks on here that goals relating to strength, definition or leanness will not be unique.

    2. I think that health is everyone’s primary objective on here. For some that entails weight loss, for others it entails getting their blood sugar down, and yet for others it means having more body strength or eating less processed foods. Sign up already 🙂

  6. About a million high fives to all of you whose stories I just finished reading! So inspiring! Looking so forward to the updates!
    Grok on!

  7. Woo Hoo. I was having an office WL competition and the primal diet got me the win! Although my competition was eating brown rice and chicken breasts like they were going out of style 😛 Not a fair race I know. Glad to be able to post my progress to my journal on MDA.

  8. I wasn’t going to send in a photo (too chicken), but I did.
    The ‘accountability’ part is already proving a huge motivator… and like Lex, I need to show results so that my family and friends stop rolling their eyes… and trying to sabotage my efforts.
    Let the games begin!

    1. I am chicken too! But after reading others stories and goals I am going to go ahead and submit a photo and goal also. I was so impressed with all the stories so far. Keep up the good work

  9. Fantastic!

    Mark — is there any way that you can use the database that you’re going to generate as the basis of some kind of study? An N of 400 is not too bad. You’ve already got age, sex and weight. Perhaps encourage them to get their bloodwork, and get them to keep track of what they eat, and their exercise schedule (fit day), whether they have support… ? And / or use this year a pilot run for a more controlled study next year? (You could get some longitudinal data going here!) Perhaps team up with a low-fat diet website for comparison. Oh, the possibilities…

    1. I LOVE that idea! I would totally volunteer my services as a statistician for data collection and analysis!

    2. That is a great idea! I’d volunteer some input as I do research projects every day at lab/work! 🙂

    3. Talk about big-brother??
      While you’re at it, how about where you live, how much you earn, if your kids are vaccinated and while you’re at it, just hand it over to the FBI/CIA?
      Whatever happened to personal resposibility?

  10. could not figure out how to comment on any of the Success Stories in the Making… is this not an option Mark?

    Good luck. The first thing I thought of when I saw your photo was that underneath all those layers was a very pretty woman… and then I saw in your description that one of the things you said was that you wanted to “be pretty again.” You so will be!

    1. No, that’s not an option, but you can comment in the forum journals for those that have them. Forum links will be added when they are submitted by participants, so check back.

  11. … our tribe could go head to head with the vegans, or the Ornishians, or whoever. Bring it on!

  12. Friday is my favorite day at MDA because I just can’t get enough of success stories! For me, after reading all the success stories in the making, today was like MEGA-Friday :).
    I wish everyone Primal success and awesome “after” photos.

  13. Hi, so excited about this but just wanted to let you know that the formatting on the new page is a bit messed up (on my screen, anyway) — the text is running down the left side of the page in one long vertical strip

      1. Thank for quick response, Mark! It didn’t work, tho — maybe it’s just my work computer acting up. I’ll try from home tonight. I take it no-one else has this problem?

        1. MissJelic, try turning off compatability view if you are using internet explorer. Its the little button that looks like a torn piece of paper by your refresh button. That solved the problem for me.

  14. Are all of the stories posted? It seems that we’re a couple hundred short? LOL….so GLAD to be part of something that is supportive and communal!

  15. Awesome post and amazing concept! I am excited to read the stories of real people accomplishing real goals! It is refreshing to see….

  16. I wish all the participants the absolute best of luck and strength, both mentally and physically to push through the hard times and reach your goals. Just take it one day at a time!

  17. In this tribe..
    BRAVERY IS ALWAYS REWARDED…personally and publicly…GROK ON TRIBE!!!!!!>>>>
    BE THE CHANGE you wish to see…
    Strength/Courage/Ability…I send it to you all>>>

  18. What a gift this website is, Mark Sisson! I have been reading posts and comments for what feels like two days straight and now this! Even if it is just “virtual” at this point, I’m sticking close to my tribe and I’ve never felt more encouraged about a second chance at life!

  19. I say, let’s one by one and as a community OCCUPY Good Health, OCCUPY Big Food, OCCUPY AMA, OCCUPY Conventional Wisdom, OCCUPY all the places where tragically wrong and harmful “healthy eating” is being pounded onto many unsuspecting people (including the political powers that keep this horrible charade going–OCCUPY them too.

    This is my first comment, but been working on eating/living Primal since first part of December (found MDA from Wheat Belly Blog). Can’t even describe the changes! I have already lost weight, but may get busy and set some goals and get my own success story going up here. I am 63 year old woman in decent shape–exercise and eat OK but always did better on a low carb diet. But in November I was feeling OLD, TIRED and DEPRESSED. My joints ached and I was experiencing symptoms of GERD along with the winter blahs and carbo craving. I just thought that was because 63 year old’s get that way. HAAA! I know different now. Good journey for all 400 plus of you and the rest of us who will join as we can.

  20. For people rolling their eyes at you for the choices you make screw em! This is your life you are talking about! I have so many family members and friends who do not understand. I ask them what medications they are on and when they tell me mostly it’s high blood pressure and diabetes dope. I tell them when you can get yourself off all meds like I have you can give me your opinion. I am excited to take this to the next level. I have been faithful to this for a week and feel so much better already! My Ronnie Montrose shirt (my fav) fits me loosely again. Pretty exciting to think how hot I will be again 3 years before i turn 50! My goal? Legs like Kate Walsh!

  21. This is awesome!! I am in awe of all that Mark does to educate and motivate!

  22. “I need all the support I can get because, until my body is proof this lifestyle works, all my friends and family are going to keep rolling their eyes at me..

    A common problem in my household..
    They all think that this is just another fad thats not working.. even though I have dropped 8kg in 2 months without cronic cardio/weights

  23. Wow this sounds incredible!!! I love hearing about all the different goals people have. Inspiration can come from so many directions. This year I hope to put on more muscle and add more healthy fats to my diet for increased vitality 🙂

  24. I was a bit leery at first to send in my pic but I’m glad I did. This is going to be an awesome addition for inspiration and motivation.

  25. Woo! Sent my story in last week. Hope to see it posted soon. Day 10 of Primal. Feeling good. Good luck to everyone.

  26. I can’t wait to read the stories!

    I submitted a success story back during the 21-day challenge, but didn’t follow through with photos. My after photos…well…those will have to wait awhile.

    Apparently going primal didn’t make me skinny but it did make me fertile.

    1. Congratulations, Marcia. I know what you mean. Within two months of going Primal, surprise!

  27. I discovered The Primal Blueprint in August… and as of today, I have lost 23 lbs. (From 146 to 123) Most people say I didn’t need to lose that much weight… and yes, many people roll their eyes… but I feel better than I have in years, and am off all prescriptions including antidepressants. That is worth all the weight I’ve lost- in gold!!!! Many many thanks to my friend (and trainer) Wendy Savino for getting me started in the right direction. Now my husband, and two teenage daughters are on board! We have a primal household!

  28. I am 10 days in! I am proud of myself for healthy cooking and refraining from temptation.
    We can do this!
    I lost 5 pounds the first week but nothing since. I know my body will catch up. Only 10 pounds to go. NO PROBLEM!
    I am detoxing. Tired, low energy etc. but FREE!!!
    I live paleo

  29. mark,
    is there any way to search to see your post. scrolling through 400 pictures takes a lot of time…

  30. Soooo glad I made my goals (and picture) public! Being primal for a little over a week and having all of my stomach pains GONE now, plus that awful “before” pic up for Grok and eveyone to see- these helped me turn down free pizza at lunch AND dinner today! Yay me:) I had packed an awesome primal lunch, but got stuck staying late at work and was “rewarded” with pizza for a job well done. Having been a long time reader, I had several strategies up my sleeve to politely thank the gesture, but decline the food. No hard feelings from my boss and everyone else indulged. I was pretty hungry, so I’m proud of myself for consciously picking my health and pain free stomach (after only one week!) over a quick fix I would have hated myself for later. Thanks MDA and fellow Grok-ers for the support and insights. I will need them both to become and STAY primal and healthy.

  31. I hate my picture, but I am so glad I sent it in. It really does make me think twice about eating something I shouldn’t! It will be nice to put up a progress pic with some actual progress!

  32. I hope everyone is successful in their ventures. I love seeing the before/after pictures.

  33. This is a GREAT idea. I started a Week Ago tomorrow and have pretty dramatic results for Week 1 which I know will slow down over time. I really am inspired by seeing other’s success as well as being part of the greater GROK community.

  34. I, too, submitted my photo, a side shot that was way too revealing of all the work I have to do to get down to my goals. My doctor is on board with me and agreed to let me get off Nexium slowly. YAY!!! Thanks to this blog, I had the desire (and was armed with the evidence) I needed to push to get off those bad, bad pills.

    I’ve lost about 4 lbs so far, but my scale is just a tool. I am going in now with a tape measure to measure myself. That’s what I’ll REALLY watch….

  35. Seriously. The life needs a Roku channel in the worst way. Mark, really, with all the cooking videos and stuff people have submitted over the years it’s not like there’s no content for it. Consider that, please.

  36. Wow, this is so awesomely perfect! Today was Day 1 of primal for me. I decided today was the day I commit without knowing about this! Ill have to get my stuff together! 🙂


  37. I LOVE how positive and encouraging everyone on this site is. This is an amazing group of people just wanting to feel better, live better, function better and everyone is given the tools to do just that. Amazing!

  38. Oh this is so awesome!! I would totally participate but can’t exactly focus on losing weight.. at least not until August 😉
    Good luck to everyone!

  39. I seem to have had the opposite of “success” I’ve gained 15 pounds since going Primal about 9 months ago. Tired all the time too. I fully embraced the Primal lifestyle, defended it, and it has hugely let me down.

    Why does this seem to work for EVERYONE except me???

    1. How many grams of carbs per day are you eating? (If you haven’t carefully measured that, you might consider that…many people are derailed thinking they are eating primal when in fact they are still eating high carb diets. Carbs are so rampant that it’s hard to source ’em all sometimes.)

    2. Hi Laura,

      Is your primal diet high in fat? I know when alot of people go primal they do up the fat which is good but they also don’t realize how much fat they are consuming and go a bit overboard. Especially when it comes to seeds and nuts. Those things are pretty fat dense. I know when I am trying to lose some weight I usually cut fat and cycle carbs.

  40. I am almost totally meat and fat…with VERY little veges /nuts/and other carb related items…and I have a steady weight that does not move that much at all…BUT I HAVE LEARNED a major thing in this way of life…FEMALES…DO NOT respond the same as Males do…I am active in the community at large and I PAY ATTENTION. So If you have the thoughts of being let down and not getting the results you are looking for…Your not alone!! This way is a series of steps to clean up and get stronger and above all LEARN what works for you and have the BACKBONE to give each vartiation a 30 day try out to see if does anything for you. BE the “Test Steak”..Humans are a variable species…so what works for me….probably wont work for you..pretty sure your not my size and gender and dont do what I do for a living and for muscle work. I CAN ONLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS HERE….LEARN AND DO DIFFERENT THINGS…DONT LOCK INTO THE SAME WAY AND THINGS OF OTHERS…BE YOUR OWN GROK OR GROKETTE…PAY ATTENTION AND STRIP EVERYTHING DOWN TO THE MINIMUM LEVELS..AND TRY DIFFERENT FOOD PLANS///MAKE IT YOUR LIFE…AND LIFE IS NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE…SO FIND THE WAY THAT WORKS FOR YOU..I SEND YOU..ENCOURAGEMENT/STRENGTH/ABILITTY..AND ABOVE ALL THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND THAT CONTINUED INVOLVEMENT and support from all of us will eventually help you to find your place on this path. some fols I took 1 whole year for them to figure out what worked for them…and then they saw results…1 year out of your whole life to find the way…not so bad in the long run….KEEP GROKKING!!..pretty please…you can find your ZONE..I knoew it!~!>>>

    1. Despite your intimidating all-caps, I agree! The guidelines Mark sets up on this website are a good starting point and a minimum for good health. But it’s everyone’s responsibility to turn themselves into their own experiment. A female like me with PCOS – and maybe some adrenal/thyroid issues I’m not quite sure of yet – has different problems with nutrition, insulin sensitivity and energy as the average person. In my own experimentation – as much as I didn’t want it to be true – my blood sugar and energy was much better off without fruit or dairy. I might even be testing life without nightshades soon. Turn yourself into the scientist. Some of the most basic and most important scientific discoveries were made through pure observation, not expensive gadgetry and chemicals (think Gregor Mendel, father of genetic study).

  41. Sorry F5 doesn’t work for me to get the background information to fill the pages. Any other ideas?

  42. I am looking forward to seeing the progress everyone makes, whatever your goals.

    Your a brave bunch and I am sure you will be happy with your new healthy selves. Good luck.

  43. Took a deep breath and sent in my picture! Can’t wait to read everyone’s success stories as we go along!

  44. What a wonderful idea!!! Mark, I’d say you’ve done your part for the paleo movement!! 😉

  45. If you’re still on the fence whether to send in a picture, just take the plunge! The bungee cord won’t snap on this one. Being unfit, unhealthy and looking like “what the heck happened to YOU over the years”, fuels the excuses to avoid people, social events and even the gym. I’m on day 6 and feel pretty good. There is just something about sending in the picture and exposing yourself. It’s all business now. Game on!

  46. I’m so excited. I usually need “something extra” to push me into discipline. This challenge is perfect. I sent in my pic at the last minute.

  47. BE YOUR OWN GROK>>>>stand firm>>>Its your body…DO NOT let anyone EVER tell you anything about what your trying to do here…and if they do..just let em watch the results…ya wont need words…the view will get em ..>>>

  48. I look forward to becoming healthier, happier, and a smokin hot Gramma. I’m dragging Grampa Grok along too and he’s not grumbling nearly as much as he used to. Thanks for the inspiration!

  49. HURRAY!! Go everybody!!! You can do it and you will love it (says the formerly 245 lb. food addict)!