July 28 2017

Success Story Follow-Up: Each Modification Has Built on What I Had Established

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30 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!

Like many other Mark’s Daily Apple readers, I spent most of my life with my eye on the destination or goal and, for the most part, ignored the journey. I can’t say that this approach was a bad one as I had been chugging along for fifty years having moderate success achieving my education, career and personal goals. I applied the same goal orientation to weight management/exercise and would consistently hit the goals (ex. target weights, miles run, etc.) I set but seemed to never get healthier as things would fall apart when I achieved the goal I set. After multiple successful diet and exercise campaigns over the years followed by returning to my old unhealthy ways, I ballooned up to 240 pounds in 2012 and began to see the onset of my health deteriorating as a result of this yo-yo approach to health management.

Then, five years ago, I began the most important impactful journey of my life…the path to living a healthy, long life. Except, I didn’t know I was even on this journey. I started out, as I described in my first Mark’s Daily Apple contribution, with a decision to go to a gluten free diet to address a gall bladder condition. After doing research and reading The Primal Blueprint, I then extended my diet and made a few lifestyle changes to primal. I felt the best I ever felt and this awesome feeling sent me on this journey to better health.

While I wasn’t conscious of it, this journey was very different as I didn’t have a specific set target, such as losing a set number of pounds or training for a marathon, in mind. I was simply focused on better health. It was similar to the approach one would use during their education journey. We don’t focus on one subject or one experience. The most effective educational journeys are the ones where we integrate studies in many areas with social and cultural experiences to achieve personal enrichment. Getting educated is about the series of experiences (journey) and not about simply getting the degree (destination). In fact, the very best educations are the ones that result in lifelong learning and extend beyond the degree.

I applied this same multi-discipline educational approach to getting “better health.” Unlike every other journey in my life, I was not focused on the end game but became totally focused on the journey. I didn’t plan it this way. It just happened. The journey, itself, became so fulfilling that I never wanted to reach “the goal.” This was counterintuitive for me as every other journey in my life I was riveted on reaching “the goal.” Like many educational journeys, my health journey was about learning about multiple disciplines and then, selectively, incorporating them into my way of life one layer at a time. The layering effect has had a snowballing effect. Each new health layer I added in made me feel better and made me even more motivated to find the “next layer.” After the decision to layer in a primal diet on top of my gluten free diet, I then consciously looked at my cardio-obsessed approach to exercise to incorporate exercise modifications as part of my lifelong journey to better health.

Each of these disciplines (ex. diet, exercise) of my lifelong health journey have developed into sub journeys. For example, my approach to diet started out as a gluten-free modification to my diet back in 2012. Shortly later, I then layered in the Primal Diet. Several years later, after many hours of research, I layered in the Ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting (16 -18 hour daily fasts) on top of the primal diet. The important point is that each of these modifications build upon what I have established and are refinements. I am not starting one diet fad, throwing it away, and then adopting another diet fad. I also continue to look to find ways to continue to improve my way of eating as part of my lifelong health journey I am on and expect that I will be able to share new modifications if we speak in a year.

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 6.09.10 AMMy exercise journey has evolved from my previous lifelong focus on just distance running back to an incorporation of some weight and core training when I started “the journey.” During the last couple of years, I have layered in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and yoga on top of my cardio/weight/core exercise platform. Given the value of exercise, I have made it a larger priority and have increased my exercise time from a few hours a week to about ten hours a week. At times this can be demanding with family and job responsibilities, but there are plenty of ways to find a few extra hours in a 168 hour week. There are so many new and exciting programs that I can’t wait to learn about to see if it will become the next layer.

One of the most powerful disciplines in this journey is what I learned about the potential of the mind. The mind is incredibly powerful and can be unleashed to heal just about anything. There is a famous saying that, “where your mind goes, your body follows.” By applying positive thinking and visualizing the results I wanted, I have been able to achieve more. It’s mind over body. Your mind is very much interconnected to your body. I have learned the importance of controlling stress and being happy. When you are stressed, your body creates hormones like cortisol. Too much cortisol increases risk of disease like cancer. The world is stressful. I realized the need to find ways to de-stress. Many do meditation. I have practiced thoughtful breathing and focusing on “staying present” as powerful relaxation techniques. Thoughtful breathing entails closing my mouth and taking deep breaths in and concentrating on the cleaning air going in and through your body and exhaling cleansing breaths. This really helps when I am trying to fall asleep. Staying present is thoughtfully working to focus on thinking and enjoying the present moment. When I take a walk now, have a conversation or exercise, I try not to my mind wander off to think ahead what is coming up. Staying present and enjoy the moment lowers stress. One of the best ways for me to de-stress is to exercise regularly. I have layered in massage and recently went to my first reflexology session to aide in stress relief and relaxation.

As part of my journey, I have developed a new level of respect for a couple of other basic life disciplines such as sleeping well and getting enough sun. I became aware of how important it is to get enough sleep and the need to sleep during the right hours at night. This level of consciousness about sleep has resulted in feeling much more rested. I also became aware that too little sun (and the Vitamin D you get) is a far bigger health risk than too much sun. I try to get 20 minutes of direct sun light a day without sun block.

June 2016Another major discipline in my journey is awareness around toxin intake and the importance of detoxifying. Toxic buildup increases risks of disease like cancer. The air, food supply and water have become increasingly more contaminated and can have a massive effect on your health and longevity. I realized the need to work hard to minimize the amount of toxins I was consuming and, also, how to get rid of the toxins (detox) that I knew I was retaining. I shifted from drinking bottled water (stored in plastic containers) to drinking filtered water.

After learning about its value, we prioritized buying clean (organic), whole food and realized that the costs to deal with medical issues were way more than the cost of buying clean food. Despite working hard to limit harmful intake, I realized the importance of getting rid of the toxins that I was soaking up. For this reason, we purchased an infrared sauna and use it daily. The sweat that is produced contains a relatively high amount of toxic build up. It is one of the best ways to release toxins and is a wonderful way to relax. Exercise is a great way to release toxins as well. I realized that toxicity and detox apply to people, relationships and your job as well. They can have an equally destructive impact on your health as well. I saw the importance of minimizing or ending relationships that were toxic and the need to avoid spending time with negative, toxic people. I continue to look to spend more time with positive people.

My decision, five years ago, to move to a gluten free diet was the start of a health journey that I didn’t know I was starting. This was a much different approach to dealing with health issues as I was focused on the lifelong journey for better health and not to getting to an arbitrary weight goal and ignoring the other health disciplines and then return to my old habits. I know that I am only at the start of this journey and am more motivated than ever to find new layers to incorporate into this wonderful journey. I would love to learn about what others have done in their journeys.

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30 thoughts on “Success Story Follow-Up: Each Modification Has Built on What I Had Established”

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  1. Enjoyed reading about your journey, thank you for sharing. Grok on!

  2. Your well rounded approach touches body mind and spirit. A philosophy that works for me instead of chasing perfection!

    1. Thanks. That was the main point. Seems many put hard focus on one of the disciplines and hope will benefit to expand the view.

  3. Thanks for this updated post. Your perspectives about the journey and patient layering versus hitting a target really hit home for me. Congratulations!

    1. Glad you enjoyed Kris. Knowledge also plays a big role and love to hear ideas/feedback from others.

  4. This was the first Success Story Follow-Up I read in its entiretly for the 5+ years I have been following Mark’s Daily Apple blog. Your story really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. The reason I contribute is exactly for this purpose…to motivate/provide ideas where others can benefit. Good luck.

  5. Love the part where you say “Getting educated is about the series of experiences (journey) and not about simply getting the degree (destination).” So true!!

    I understand exactly where you’re coming from… I too started this health journey out of medical necessity. When my boys were very young they didn’t thrive… they were allergic to everything. Every doctor we took them to gave us the same prescriptions for allergy medicines, benadryl and an epi pen. After reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price, we took matters into our hands starting with organic, pasture-raised and wild caught nose-to-tail foods with varied organic, in-season fruits and veggies. This was over 6 years ago and now you’re looking at the healthiest, most thriving boys that exhibit strength, health and happiness.

    Early in this journey, I discovered Mark’s Daily Apple… even set a timer to read the blog everyday. Read Primal Blueprint, Primal Endurance and even got my Primal Blueprint Cert. We’ve taken this ancestral approach so far as to avoid exposure to wifi signals, excessive EMFs and other dangerous environmental contaminants… We even sleep on the floor thanks to my favorite biomechanist — Katy Bowman!! The recurring theme that we preach (in business and in life) is a smorgasbord of ancestral / primal philosophies… many from Mark’s Primal Blueprint… it’s how we live now…

    Stay positive… think about the wonderful things in your life that you’re grateful for… eat like our early ancestors did… move around like our ancestors did… avoid danger like our ancestors did (think lions, excessive wifi, emfs, vaccines, mercury, fluoride, etc)… slow down… go barefoot, connect to the earth… get sensible sun exposure… get cold (environmental conditioning)… mind your magnesium… sleep like a rock… keep stress in check… and breathe like Wim Hoff.

    The journey continues…

    1. Awesome advice LK! As a software engineer who spends WAY too much time in front of a damn computer, I definitely need to take more action to get off of the grid (as he posts on the internet lol). That and get more sleep, that’s my biggest “achilles heel” which is preventing me from achieving peak performance.

      1. Hey Hombre!! I too spend a lot of time in front of a computer… It’s always grounded and it’s always connected to an ethernet cable… we don’t have wifi here at work (nor) at home… it’s faster, more secure and no worries about the influence on voltage gated calcium channels.

        Good luck with the sleep… I’m sure that you know exactly what to do… you just need to do it!

    2. Congrats! What a gift you gave to your boys. You not only rid their allergies but you set the foundation for them to go on this wonderful path that you and I found. You hit on several different “layers” that I didnt write about but make a lot of sense. I get interesting looks when I take my dog for a walk in the neighborhood barefoot. 🙂

    3. I always love hearing stories about your cohesive primal tribe, Brian!
      That said, I have two cents to give. While I call preference on avoidance of excessive wifi & emfs, avoiding vaccines can be downright dangerous.
      Vaccines do not cause autism, and do not harm. They have side effects because of hormesis exposure to pathogens, but that ultimately strengthens your immunity system.
      I agree not taking it when it’s not necessary and relying on your own immune system when it’s not a dangerous option, but vaccines should not be overall avoided – especially the important ones in infancy!
      Also, thanks for the deodorant suggestion a few days back! It’s amazing for a smelly bastard like me!

      1. Thank you for the encouragement and thank you for making such a great point! I think that I’m going to revise that blanket statement because there’s so, so much more to the story when it comes to vaccines… and, clearly, vaccines have done some pretty amazing things.

        My views on vaccines have largely been shaped by the work of Dr. Stephanie Seneff… the real dangers are not necessarily vaccines but are from sulfate deficiencies in the brain… that under optimal circumstances, the pineal gland can synthesize sulfate stimulated by sunlight (which most people are deficient in) and deliver it via melatonin sulfate to the brain. However, aluminum (a common vaccine adjuvant), mercury, and glyphosate are working synergistically to derail this process, and sunlight deficiency (exacerbated by the misguided use of sunscreens containing aluminum nanoparticles) is further contributing to the pathology.

        I think that I’m going to heed your advice Stefan… I think that I’m going to figure out a way to emphasize the other contributing factors. To be continued… Also, glad to hear that the AO+ Mist is working out for you!

        1. That sounds like a very interesting read. After immersing a little bit into the wi-fi & emfs arguments you mentioned off-hand, I’m intrigued to expand a little bit more in this area and research.

          Do you have any resources on this stuff, as well as other obscure health ‘layers”, as Dave calls them, or practices/precautions that aren’t discussed extensively over here at MDA?

  6. Love everything about this! Yes, it’s totally about the journey. Love how you talk about layering the different approaches. It’s a constant growth process…once one area becomes comfortable, you can expand a little more. And totally agree with the power of the mind…it’s amazing!

    1. Totally agree Elizabeth. Seems like with each new layer…i find a couple of others to continue this awesome journey. Would love to hear any ideas you have.

  7. Great story and great advice! I think I’m forgetting to enjoy the journey, a much needed reminder. “The mind is incredibly powerful and can be unleashed to heal just about anything”. This is not a cliche folks it’s something the epigenetics folks and the manifestation gurus are merging into a framework that is close to miraculous. I’m not the kind of guy that normally recommends books, there are a million of them out there and it is a little presumptuous to do as time is so precious for everyone and everyone has their own tastes and agendas. BUT … relative the the power of the mind, “You Are the Placebo” by Joe Dispenza is one of the most profound, life altering books I’ve ever read … period. Same can be said for “The Biology of Belief” by Dr. Bruce Lipton, although even though it is geared to the non-scientist it has quite a bit of information about how our cells work and is a little more challenging of a read.

  8. I remember your first success story here, Dave, and loved reading your update! I also love seeing how you’ve continued along your primal path – embracing the reality that there’s ALWAYS another level to explore, rather than settling into a static set point. So inspiring – way to go! Please update us again in another few years!

  9. How true

    “I realized that toxicity and detox apply to people”

    Thanks for a post with so many insights!

    1. WG, I picked this concept up from someone else and also saw the light as well. So much of our well being comes from a healthy mind and soul.. The people you surround yourself with and your physical surroundings have a big impact in this area. Good luck.

  10. This makes me feel much better about where I am at! A couple years ago, I went strictly gluten free because of allergies, which is a challenge of its own. I like the idea of continually layering on additional healthy habits so that it doesn’t feel like a goal:target cycle, but just better and better health! Great perspective.

    1. I agree. I started out the same way and felt the overall approach made sense and stuck with it. Good luck Emily!

  11. Wow, Dave, this post is full of all kinds of goodness. Congratulations for all that you have learned on your health path. I also have learned to adore the journey, in sharp contrast to my pre-primal life of restriction/excessive exercise in order to achieve fleeting weight goals. I whole hardheartedly agree with your beliefs surrounding the power of the mind and the incredible value of breath and awareness of the present.

    It seems like life just keeps getting better with this lifestyle, doesn’t it? 😉

    1. Agree Katie. Just checked out your site…great job on it with lots of helpful info!

  12. I love your perspective about layering in health related habits, that it is a journey, not a destination. I need that reminder!

    Re: Stress, I highly recommend a book called “The Myth of Stress”. The title may be misleading, in that it isn’t saying “stress doesn’t exist”, but rather it is about how we actually create stress … or eliminate it!– with the way we think about things. Properly applied, it is a game changer!
    Also, I find that avoiding gluten is good, but also keeping overall carbs low (keeping in mind Mark’s carbohydrate curve) was the real tipping point for me as well.
    I look forward to reading about your next phase of increased health!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. Just ordered the book you suggested. Good luck with your journey Andrea.