The Evolution of a College-Age Caveman

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!

Dear Mark,

I’m a 21 year old Midwesterner with prehistoric eating habits, but a modern day tale to tell.

I don’t have a story of amazing weight loss, curbed eating habits, or winning a grand competition. What I have is a life changing experience I hope will inspire those older and younger alike to view life in a fresh light.

As a younger kid, my family moved constantly. My father, a mining engineer, was often finding himself being transferred, moved around, or having to find a new job. This all meant that I never had the chance to really set my roots and become fully involved with the community or school I was a part of. But there was a community that was always there for me: The Internet.

Being that I never really took the time to make any “real” friends, I put almost all of my social effort into cyberspace. Throughout all of middle school and high school I was glued to my computer screen. 80+ hours a week was the norm (no exaggeration here).

In those times, plenty of sleep, good nutrition, and an active lifestyle didn’t even exist. Why would I want to be like one of those “healthy” jocks at school anyway? They were mean, and I didn’t want to be mean. When you’re always the new kid you learn what bullying is the hard way.

On the internet you’re socially invincible, or so you think. You can add/delete friends within a moment’s notice. For my young, fragile, and over-analytical mind this was my domain. My social life consisted of people around the globe who I had never met (and still haven’t) in real life. I still consider these people my friends, but now I know there is something genuine about being able to shake hands, hug, and see the face of someone you care about.

Being your fairly standard American family of four, you won’t be surprised to know my mother, father, and older brother were all overweight. You may be surprised to know I was always at about the right weight or a little under. I didn’t gain weight, and only lost weight during bad illness (at least twice a year like clockwork).

Our diet was definition SAD. My father’s specialty, and my favorite meal, was biscuits and gravy. Luckily, my father loves his meat, so at least there was plenty of MSG laden sausage in the gravy. Spaghetti was my brother’s favorite food and a constant staple in our diets. Looking back on what we ate it’s really no wonder why my acne was always terrible.

The saving grace of our diets was that we’re a family of hunters, so deer, turkey, etc. was a fairly often occurrence. My father is also a big fan of veggies, so every meal usually consisted of a meat, a veggie, and a side (rolls, bread, pasta, you get the idea…).

Those couple of strong points and my habit of being the slowest eater at the table may be what saved me from being overweight. The 80+ hours sitting in a computer chair definitely wasn’t helping.

Skip ahead a few years to the end of my sophomore year in college… I wasn’t very motivated, had mediocre grades, and spent most of my time sleeping, or on my computer and oh boy did it show.

Michael - Before

I hadn’t taken the time to seek out an internship or job for that summer and that wasn’t okay with my parents. They swiftly signed me up, via my uncle, to work summer labor at a sand mine. The job consisted of shoveling sand for 40 hours a week during one of the hottest Illinois summers ever.

Talk about not being prepared. Eight plus years of sitting at a computer will all but atrophy the little muscle you had as a 5’10” skinny-fat college kid. I was thrown into what could be described as a loud, machine filled, mid-westernized Sahara where you are asked to move dunes, taller than yourself, with nothing but a wheelbarrow and a shovel.

Knowing I wasn’t at all prepared for it, I began eating “healthy” and “working out”. I began doing online research of “health” and found myself eating mostly spinach salads with tuna, cottage cheese, and Sriracha sauce. For breakfast I usually ate plain Greek yogurt with vanilla protein powder and this super healthy high fiber whole grain cereal mixed in.

Needless to say, a couple months of this and I did lose weight. My troubling pudgy belly was gone, and I felt confident in my body. Though my acne still persisted, I had some nice back pain to go along with being a 20 year old college student, and my energy levels were dismal.

I spent my free time constantly researching health. My newly acquired smart phone was (and still is) an amazing source of information. I learned so many things about the body’s processes, how nutrients work, etc. I read Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body because I loved the term “bio-hacker”. I read countless blogs and articles, all of which displayed varying opinions on what was actually healthy. I pieced together what I believed was correct. (Come to find out a while later, what I had thought was right was nearly Primal.)

This path of health came to an end when my grandmother, thinking I was “too skinny” (and she was right), constantly fed me brownies… Then two things happened: College began and my then year-long relationship came to a rough and abrupt end.

Needless to say, that fall semester was spent doing anything and everything as long as it wasn’t considered healthy. I quickly found myself back at my computer, baking cookies for my fraternity brothers, drinking, and feeling terrible. Worst of all, the pudgy tummy was back!

During winter break I decided things needed to change. I pulled out my phone and began my quest for health again.

Starting with spinach, tuna, and Greek yogurt I tacked on a workout program (P90X2). I more or less locked myself in my room for two months. My health was priority, no more social life, no more distractions. I wasn’t going to let peer pressure hold me back.

During the first month, I found Paleo. Since I was tired of reading countless opinions on the internet, I bought a book: Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. I immersed myself in the Paleo lifestyle, I even had a pair of Vibram FiveFingers from my “3 miles a day” cardio stint the previous summer!

Mark’s Daily Apple was also a huge source of information for me, so I bought The Primal Blueprint and engulfed myself within it as well. I was a big fan of the way the PB dug into the details of living LIFE Primal, not just eating Primal.


The Primal Connection was next on my list, and it too was an amazing read. I have to personally thank you, Mark. You have taught me so much and allowed me to not only improve myself, but help my parents and brother all lose 30-40 lbs each, while changing their lifestyles.

What started as me being a shut-in and ridiculed, turned into me being a teacher to most everyone I know. People saw the change in me, and in helping myself I learned of my love for helping others.

Since starting Paleo/Primal I have lost 20 lbs of fat, gained ~20 lbs of muscle, helped many friends and family members change their habits, got rid of my acne, and became more energetic and motivated. My motivation lead to improved grades, an internship, and now multiple full-time job offers.

On top of all of this, one of my many friends whom I introduced to Paleo/Primal came to me with an idea. With that idea we are now starting a nutritional and sports supplement company that aims to use only natural ingredients and no harmful chemicals, “Mobius Nutrition”.

Months of planning, research, and work have all come together for the launch of our crowdfunding campaign (now expired) for our first product “Primer”, an energy drink mix to break the status quo of unhealthy energy drinks/shots.

Michael - After

I want to thank you Mark for your priceless knowledge and inspirational dedication to the health of others. I hope one day to be as inspirational as you.

While I stand here at my desk, wearing my toe shoes, and typing out this story to you, I only have one more thing to say:

Grok On!

– Michael E.

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47 thoughts on “The Evolution of a College-Age Caveman”

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  1. Ahh, to be 20, or 30, (or even 40) -something again! Eat an extra large pizza and down a coupla pitchers of beer for dinner, and run a flight of steps the next day and be back in shape.

      1. Haha, nice. You’re proving the power of persistence, pastor. : )

  2. Good story, but man, you really don’t like showing your face, do you? You’re either famous or wanted by the FBI. 🙂

    1. I just didn’t have any decent pictures at the time I was writing this up. Me and cameras don’t see eye to eye 😛

      1. I think the camera likes you just fine 🙂 congrats on your success with PB and in your business endeavors. Good luck!

  3. Good for you! I know how it is being trapped in the internet world (my trap was World of Warcraft). Real life is so much more gratifying.

    Best of luck on your business venture and congrats on your newfound health!

    1. Lol my WoW account is running in the background as i read this.
      I do go outside a lot though 😉

      1. I found out about the Whole30 and Paleo through mmo-champions. I used to played WoW 7 days a week but now I only play two times a week to hang out and do some in-game stuff with real life friends that now live in different parts of the country. I go outside more now than I ever have, I credit this site and Whole9 for the motivation.

        I say you can still play video games and have an active outside life. 🙂

  4. Congrats College Caveman!! When I was 21, low-fat was a must to be healthy and the internet not available for searching health info. (A pan of fat free brownies was only empty calories). I applaud you for searching around so early and figuring out something wasn’t right.

  5. Well done, Michael, from a fellow Illinois caveman! Enjoy the good years ahead.

  6. Great story Michael – goes to show the Primal lifestyle works for anyone, any age and anywhere. No excuses! Grok on!

  7. Wheelbarrow+shovel=fond memory: About 10 years old, helping my grandpa do some work on his small farm. He says to me, “Stand away from that wheelbarrow, son, you don’t know nothin’ about machinery!”

  8. Awesome story, and I see you’ve taken the advice of Mr. Ferriss in more than one way (starting a sports/nutrition supplement company). Hope to see Primer on the shelves in my hometown soon!

  9. Dude, we need a current shirt-off frontal photo please! Very inspiring story BTW, thank you.

    1. I thought I had included one, but perhaps not. Nothing too impressive. My stomach is the last place to lose fat so only have a “4 pack”, but I am happy to say the “V” on my hips came in nicely.

      I am much more impressed by the fact I no longer get sick, have way more energy, and feel better all-together. Physical improvements are just a bonus

  10. My husband spent the summer working in the mill. It was hard work and hot. Just before summer he was thinking that college was hard and maybe he should quit. He credits his college education to that mill job. After one summer, he realized that he never wanted to do something so hard and miserable again (definitely not for a lifetime) and that college was a breeze by comparison. Puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

    Thanks for your story.

  11. Great story man, cool you got inspired to start a business too! Excellent handstand! Good luck with supplement company.

  12. Good on ya, Michael!

    And by the way, some people pay health club memberships so they can be allowed to “move dunes, taller than yourself, with nothing but a wheelbarrow and a shovel”! 🙂

  13. Well done, Michael. Congratulations on doing your own research to find out how to improve your health and outlook on life–and then doing it. Good luck with your business goals. Have you thought about starting a Primal-friendly restaurant?

    May you live long and prosper! 🙂

  14. Good for you, Michael! Your last photograph is a great metaphor on so many levels: you’ve turned your life upside-down, you enjoy being outdoors, you’re obviously physically active, and am free of being self-conscious.

    Congrats to a young person who has broken free of the chain to the Internet – except, of course, the connection to Mark’s website!

  15. Congratulations! I envy you that you discovered this lifestyle at such a young age. Good on you for spreading your knowledge to your family and friends as well!

  16. You are an articulate young man- I enjoyed reading about your journey. Best of luck for a happy & healthy future!

  17. Great story. I can definitely relate as a current student from the midwest who turned Paleo a couple years ago! Is your company based out of Texas, as it states on the indiegogo page or is it in the Illinois/Missouri area? I’m in St. Louis for law school, so let me know if you need any local support!

  18. Congratulations Michael and thank you for such inspired and articulate writing. It’s certainly a blessing to have learned all that you have learned at such a young age. I have no doubt that you will continue to be a great teacher to many people out there.

  19. Oh to have discovered Primal in College…..Oh to have had a computer when I was in college I bet that makes it much easier. Hahah great story and all the best in your business venture.

  20. Oh, I can totally relate to the frequent movings and socializing on the computer. I’ve even had the chance to meet two friends! You have a strong body. When I tried eating “healthy”, I became anemic. It’s great how people become happier after they become fit, congratulations! ^_^

  21. Smart guy.

    Yesterday I was eating at “In&Out Burger” with my preschooler daughter who is beautiful, tall and lean. We were having hamburgers “protein style”, i.e. no buns.

    A few tables down there was a father and son (the kid about 10 years old), both significantly overweight, eating two burgers each and each had a heap of French fries in front of them.

    As we were leaving, one of the workers brought a burger to their table saying “here’s your burger” to the kid. The kid had a huge smile on his face,
    My heart dropped. He probably has metabolic syndrome already.

    I wanted to come up to the father and ask him how he can do this to his kid. Or give him this

    Hopefully the kid will see Grok’s shadow but with such terrible guidance, he’ll be just another statistic.

  22. Michael, thanks for sharing your successful journey to health! I will share this with my teenager, who still isn’t totally on board with primal/Paleo. I don’t push too hard – turns them off at that age. But a testimonial from another young person- priceless! All the best to you in your business venture, and in health.

  23. Way to go Michael!!…..I love to read the stories about young people who find the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. I’m 75 and it has sure helped me…but I’m not going to show anyone a picture, that’s for sure…Grok on!

  24. Did you say full time job? Scary. That’s where young people lose their good healthy habits. Especially when sitting at a desk 40 hours plus commuting. If there’s anything we older people can contribute to your fantastic Primal routine – it’s to make sure you compensate with your physical routine outside of work, if indeed you accept one of those 40 hour jobs. Real life can challenge good eating/workout habits.

  25. Excellent Michael! And, best wishes for your new company. We need all the healthy resources we can get. I am a new primal cave woman. Wish I would have discovered this life change at your age. Noticed you never showed your face in any of the pictures. Would have loved to connect your face with your story.

  26. Can we call a moratorium on the phrase “skinny-fat”? It’s perverse. It’s old-paradigm. If people can also be fit-fat, than fat isn’t the problem, so what’s the point of tacking it on? Can’t we just say “skinny,” which implies a lack of muscle tone, or “out of shape”?

    please and thank you.

    1. actually, there is no healthy pattern of increased weight. i wrote about this in my blog recently. being fat is a big problem.

    2. I hate the term too. Why it’s not called “having no muscle” or “lack of muscle tone,” I have no idea!

  27. Congratulations, Michael, on being an inspiration to others. I think you nailed it… change has to start with you and making a commitment to improving yourself. Especially smart of you to eliminate distractions and temptation early on! Best wishes for you and your business 🙂

  28. Wow – yet another inspiring story! I love hearing how it’s not always/only about weight loss, but also to improve other parts of our health and lives! And it seems the sucess stories keep getting younger and younger – things are finally changing and can only get better from here! Here’s to better, healthier versions of everyone!

  29. Awesome! I’m a book-nerd/computer-geek, so this story strikes a lot of chords with me. Congratulations, Michael. And congratulations to your family. That makes it even more amazing! (I haven’t been able to convince mine yet.)

  30. Hey, I see the indiegogo is over – but are you still going to sell Primer? I’m interested in this – sounds so much better than other sports drinks!

  31. Congratulations Michael. Great inspiring story !
    Wish you great success with your enterprise – I am sure many people (here in Australia too) would like some of your “real natrual” energy drink.

    Like others I wished I had the knowledge about Paleo and Paleo Lifestyle (exercising and mindset) when I was 20. Although I was very nearly Paleo, stuck to it most of my life, but once I had my family I got side-tracked into the “normal diet”.
    A few years on, I am (nearly) fit and (nearly) my ideal weight (just 5 kgs to go – losing it gradually and it is staying off). No Medications, and thanks to Paleo – almost fit as a fiddle and I am 70+ and improving all the time.
    Paleo style eating makes life sooo much easier for me to deal with gluten /dairy/soy intolerances (let’s face it – I am convinced that people should not eat that stuff at all).

    I shall keep an eye open for Michael’s product here in Australia. All the best Peggy