The Benchmark For Me Is “What Works?”

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!

Write a success story. Success? Really? Me? This is no rags to riches story, no 50lb weight losses or disease turn around. In fact, by Western world standards I was probably considered pretty “healthy” (or at least ‘normal’) and probably well above average in terms of general fitness and energy.

So let’s define what “then” was: I was over 40, could get close to a 3hr marathon, worked out… ate (by SAD standards) ‘sensibly’, drank a bit too much (alcohol) but (thought I) was doing pretty well. Right? However, in my early forties I also had a 36 inch waist, I was hypertensive and taking medication (along with various off the shelf supplements), I had an enlarged prostate (measured at 38g). I could be up over 80kg if I wasn’t running 100km a week… and as for those chronic exercise issues, well even now I still try and justify them! (Looking back it is amazing I didn’t see more of these signs as ‘abnormal’.)

What made sense to me then? My breakfast was super healthy as I saw it… cereal and fruit… tasted and felt great… and fresh… and hungry two hours later… but that was because I exercised right? Sandwiches are healthy options so lots of those. Pasta? Well, I was running so of course plenty of pasta… and when it came to race time well what could be better than a carb loading pizza party with friends and a couple of days of downing pocari sweat and Gatorade to prepare?

But it didn’t make sense. While I thought I was relatively sensible and moderate in my eating habits there was this nagging feeling that the exercise/eating balance and what I actually ate just wasn’t right.

Three years ago I arranged lunch with a friend, Chad Davis, who was starting out as a wellness coach. Besides wanting to learn more about diet I was also looking for a panacea for long distance (marathon and ultra marathon) running and thought that a low carb, high fat diet might be just the thing. Turned out there are not any magic fixes. But that lunchtime meeting to talk about food and fuel was the start to many other things.

What I didn’t know at the time was that much of Mark’s work had steered and guided Chad to his low carb, high fat diet recommendations—recommendations which I took on wholeheartedly. Something made sense from day one. Cupboard and fridge cleaning complete I embarked on my journey to eliminate carbs and sugar and start fat-burning at a lightning pace.

However, the story (if there is one?!) is more about what happened around the diet changes: I started reading—I devoured books on calories and carbs and tried to debunk what I was being told. But it made sense… and worked. Those books on diet led to books on sleep…books on meditation…on productivity…you get the picture. I began to see diet as part of a ‘holistic’ approach to being ‘healthier’ and ‘happier’.

And that worked too. I was able to integrate a much improved diet with other all round well-being philosophies. For example a year ago I started meditating, something that has changed my life. I understand the importance of good sunlight, grounding and of course sleep as well as other areas of improving my life.

That all said, the ‘crux’, so to speak of my journey, and by the tales on these pages that of many others, is the dedication of Mark (and those in his field) to making incredibly complex ideas make sense to laymen like me…and making it fun and digestible—quite literally. Common sense ways of bringing together diet, exercise, sleep and the like is something that I will be forever grateful.

The benchmark for me over the last three years has been continually asking, “what works?” What can I see make a difference—both in myself and those who follow similar practices (good or bad) around me? I place little faith in studies or statistics, but more in common sense and results.

So where am I “now”? Still on my journey (which I describe on my blog, Ways To Wellness) is the short answer. Still learning and in some instances relearning diet, sleep, gratitude and more. I am now 48, I have a 32 inch waist (it has changed for at least a couple of years), I am stable between 70 and 72kg, I take no blood pressure medication (or other supplements) and my prostate was measured 25% smaller (than it was three years ago) eighteen months ago. More importantly, while maybe not quite fast, I only run 20km a week, balance that with lifting heavy things and swimming and have more time for my family and when I do ‘go for it’ I recover quicker.

Advice: Don’t stop learning (stay in touch with MDA, new books and alike) and don’t stress: an extraordinary life is all about daily continuous improvements in areas that matter most. Knowledge is power and the vast knowledge that Mark and his team impart are both fascinating and invaluable (even if I don’t make sense of all the science).

None of us know what tomorrow will bring, but you can chart your way to a happier, healthier and more productive life now and well into old age—and have fun doing so. Wellness is not the answer to long life itself but the means to being happier and healthier through the one we are given—no limits.

2018 - 48 years old

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22 thoughts on “The Benchmark For Me Is “What Works?””

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  1. This story is an awesome framework for optimizing health!

  2. You look less inflamed! That should mean everything at any age and/or weight. Congrats to you, former sugar burner!

  3. Andy (it took a little research to find your name), it was great to read about your U-turn on the road to greater health and happiness with successful changes in diet, training, sleep, meditation, etc., along with a commitment to life-long learning.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Susan – feel like I am still at the beginning of an amazing learning experience with lots more to learn… and enjoy

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s a great one. I’ve been reading MDA for 18 months now and you’ve inspired me to comment for the first time. Like you I’ve no major problems to resolve but what I love about your story is the way diet has lead you to a better, happier life. Amazing results!

    1. Thank you Gabrielle and good luck with your journey – if I can help at all don’t hesitate to contact me.

  5. ” I place little faith in studies and statistics but more on common sense and results ”
    I love this statement you made. As with many things in life we need to be more intuitive and do what is right for us. The rules just don’t always work for everyone.

    1. Yes! Doing what works should be everyone’s benchmark. One’s own body is the only “statistic” that counts.

    2. Thanks Kathy – its even more so when you realize the exaggeration/twisting of numbers and statistics to fit the story (e.g. – 20% higher risk of X cancer doing Y – just plain rubbish). Get back to basics and work with common sense good wellness practices – so much more to learn and enjoy 🙂

  6. Thank you 🙂 it’s the internal transformation that makes it all happen; and quality of life is what it’s all about

  7. What do you think was the most important part of your diet that has led to a reversal of your prostate enlargement?

    1. Hi Zoltan – Interesting question and honest answer is ‘no idea’. My understanding is that the root of most chronic disease/issues is inflammation and that’s best reduced by cutting out sugars, grains, carbs and bad oil (which I probably do about 90%). I am about to experiment with a three day fast and will see if that has any impact – I’ll keep you posted

      1. Hey Andy,
        How is your prostate doing now? It’s been sixth months since the last post? I suspect its something to do with the high fat, low carbohydrate diet. Do you have a ballpark of what your macro’s have been for the last 3 years?

  8. I love the final paragraph. Going paleo helps improve life. From that point, a place of feeling good one may work on life extension, if desired.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story, sir! I like your focus on small wins.