The Primal Lifestyle Has Been a Game Changer

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 feel compelled to give back to your organization (Primal Blueprint/Mark’s Daily Apple) as it has it has a profound impact on my life. I hope my story will motivate others to consider taking the steps to lead to a longer and more fulfilling life.

Like many others, a slow deterioration of my health led me to seek out a sustainable approach to a healthier life. My goal was not just to be alive at 85…it was to thrive and enjoy an active life.

I never would have imagined that I would be dealing with health/weight issues as I was cruising through life counterbalancing poor eating habits with an active lifestyle that included long distance running (40-50 miles/week, marathon races, etc.) for 20+ years.

When I hit my late twenties, my weight started to creep up given my increasingly sedentary lifestyle. That’s when I started to practice crash conventional diets to bring my weight down. The funny thing was that I never had a problem losing the weight as I am a focused, goal oriented person. I would psych my mind up to put my body into deprivation mode for 2 months and the pounds would come off quickly. Unfortunately, I would hit my goal and then return back to the toxic eating habits and the weight would come back stronger than it came off.

I turned 52 last year and had undergone one too many yo-yo diet experiences based upon many of the conventional dieting techniques. My weight loss/gain swings started at 20 pounds and soon got to 40 pounds. This occurred at least 7 times over a 15 year period. As a result of my weight management issues, I slowly developed “middle age health issues” such as gastric reflux, sleep apnea and other GI disorders. These disorders were treated mostly through prescription drugs. After going to a GI doctor, and hearing that I was at risk of losing my gall bladder, I was shocked into reality. I wasn’t ready to enter a phase in my life where I would slowly lose functionality of my body and increase my dependence on prescription drugs to slow down my body’s deterioration.  This would not get me to my “Thrive at 85” goal.

At the same time, my skeletal structure was showing wear and tear from the years of pounding it endured through long distance running. I thought I was in great shape being a marathon runner but I realized I was totally out of balance with very low core strength. I develop chronic issues with my back and knees that resulted in “outages” that immobilized me for periods of time. These outages made me miserable as I couldn’t do the things I enjoyed.

After the gall bladder incident, my wife had encouraged me to read materials on the Paleo Lifestyle. After reading The Primal Blueprint and subscribing to Mark’s Daily Apple, it became so clear that the approach I was taking to managing my health (yo-yo dieting and cardio obsession) didn’t make any sense. I realized that my body was not intended to eat the foods I was eating or to endure the pounding it was taking. The logic in the blueprint and the daily articles made sense and inspired not only me…but my wife as well.

The only question was whether I would be able to make the huge transformation in eating habits. The staple of my diet was based mostly on grains and I would get this maddening sweet craving after dinner that was usually satisfied with junk desserts. The change appeared intimidating at first. I was shocked how easy it was, after just 2 weeks, to get a great feeling of satisfaction from eating healthy, high fat foods. I lost 50 pounds during the first 7 months of Primal and, most importantly, my weight has been stable for almost a year!

I also have been getting into lifting weights and core strengthening for the first time in my life. I have not had an outage in over 1 1/2 years and feel a lot stronger.

But…there are so many other more impactful benefits that come from the Primal lifestyle, including having much more energy, being able to handle stress and having fewer mood swings.

The key was that my wife and I took the journey together. We never turned back. I transformed from a stressed out, carb loving, and cardio extremist into someone who truly enjoys all aspects of the Primal lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, etc.). It has been a game changer for us. Besides the weight management, we have loved the wonderful feeling of well-being that we experience now. In addition, taking this Primal journey together has really strengthened our marriage. The success stories and articles we have read on Mark’s Daily Apple have been an inspiration to my wife and I, and I felt compelled to give back to the Primal community and the people who may be considering it.

Dave - April, 2012 and Jun, 2013

Dave D.
Gaithersburg, Maryland

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78 thoughts on “The Primal Lifestyle Has Been a Game Changer”

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  1. Congrats Dave! Having a partner makes all the difference, I can attest. You look so much healthier – and happier! Way to go 🙂

    1. Thanks Heather. Totally agree with partner impact. The only issue is that our kids (and some freinds too) complain that all we talk about is Primal. 🙂

      1. I get in to full blown arguments with my sodapop belly dad with BP and knee Problems, and my low cholesterol had a heart attack at 43 Brother about my consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol and salt. My diabetic mom won’t let me talk about it with her at all neither will my sisters. The younger sister is fat phobic, slightly anorexic with a touch of bulimia(still overweight). My older Sister is prediabetic morbidly obese woman who wont give up soda or sweets, using that fact that she has no teeth for an excuse to eat 3 dozen cookies, ‘Cus I cant eat hard foods’. Tomatoes are soft, coconut oil is soft, some cheeses are soft, eggs are soft. . . . on and on but don’t discuss it with her because that is like pointing out that shes morbidly obese. YES i talk about primal alot, but thats because I don’t want anyone in my family to die just because of CW bs.

        1. Sugar is not an easy addiction to give up. If someone is determined to eat themselves into a slow suicide nothing you and anyone can say will change it.

          I don’t know – if your relatives are anything like mine, they may never even consider the diet if you keep pushing it because then they’d be “wrong”. If you live Primal to the best of your ability and enjoy life but drop the subject, they may on the odd day at least choose to experiment with it. I suspect my Father has been quietly playing around with at least reducing his sugar/starch intake.

        2. I just want to encourage you to keep on enjoying your heath & maybe they’ll come around. I’m a homemaker & unfortunately my family has been very resisitant. They love the dinner I make, but Dad always brings home the sugary treats. My highschool daughter finally came around just out of acne desperation. And my step-mother became paleo after colon cancer. Having some people that you’re close to share the paleo journey sure is nice, but everyone has their own journey. I TRY not to say anything anymore. Everyone knows how sick I was before so I’ll just let my health do the talking.

        3. just set the example and say nothing. if they say anything critical shrug and say “it works for me”. let them see how well you are doing and maybe they will follow on their own. or maybe they won’t. either way, you can’t make them, it has to be their choice.

  2. Nice job, Dave!

    I’m still far away from 52, and I love these stories from those in decades other than my own. I need the perspective you have to offer–thanks so much for bringing it!

  3. Congratulations to you and your wife, Dave. My fiance joined me in primal living over a year ago and it has helped to strengthen our relationship as well. Grok on!

  4. Proof that being in middle age doesn’t mean putting up with middle-age spread. Nice job!

    1. You and me both! And I wish I could get my daughters on it as well. *sigh* Maybe one day…

  5. Speaking of “alive at 85”, I wonder what Mark’s succession plan is for keeping MDA going after he’s gone. I’d hate to lose the one voice of leadership here, and have the whole movement backslide into a trend, then fade away because of a death.

    So many of the readers here are 30-somethings, and the thought of Mark leaving us just when they’ve become 50-somethings bothers me. Who’ll be there to cheer us on, or to decipher misleading research articles, or just ferret out the good, bad, and ugly of foods in general?

    If the current 30-somethings aren’t enough to bother you, what about their children growing up in this movement? Who will be here for THEM to turn to?

    Who will be at the helm when Mark has to pass his Apple over to someone else?

    1. Take the helm Wenchypoo, the action is in your hands!

      P.S. Does Mark know you are already planning his death? I’m pretty sure we’ll keep Groking on….

    2. Mark is only in his late 50’s and you’re already worried about his demise LOL?

      1. I had a feeling that Mark had just turned 60, but I may be wrong (sorry Mark if I’m making you out to be older than you are!). Anyway, I am sure he has plenty of life left in him as yet. It just depends on how much longer he wants to keep blogging for.

    3. What’s great about Paleo/Primal is that it’s NOT a cult of personality! Mark is an inspiration and a thought leader for sure, but the movement is much bigger than any one individual.

      And like George said, Mark is only in his 50s. Reports of his imminent demise are greatly exaggerated 🙂

      1. One more point. I’ve noticed lately that what used to be called “paleo” or “primal” is now often simply labeled “good nutrition.” Case in point: just joined a new, large, mainstream gym (a chain, locations across the country). As part of my new membership, got a “healthy eating guide” that recommended more saturated fat, lower carbs and generally an eating style precisely in line with paleo principles. This is the future – no labels required.

        1. Here in Colorado (and now, a lot of the west and even Midwest), there is a family-owned natural foods grocery chain that carries no non-organic fresh fruit and veg, and of course they have informational fliers and an annual calendar with recipes and healthy living tips. I noticed that this year’s calendar recipes were all paleo (but not labeled as such), and their monthly information literature is now stressing the need for wonderful things like coconut oil and saturated fat. They are mentioning it more and more, without the paleo label, I suppose because they have a large customer base of vegans and vegetarians who might be offended (it has to be tough to know you’ve discovered something important, but your business could suffer with certain groups who simply won’t go there).

          I can understand why they are keeping it low key. I was quite the paleo evangelist when I first made the change, and this is where you discover just how “core” food is with some people and can become a huge source of friction.

    4. Mark is dying? lol Why are we talking about him leaving us? Don’t worry so much.

      1. Certainly not any time soon, I’m sure. But I do love the saying, “I don’t anyone getting any younger…” 🙂

  6. Great job! You are so lucky to have found a solution before you were told to have gallbladder surgery. I wasn’t so lucky. That being said, anyone who happens to read this comment should be aware that going primal is a solution for those with gallbladder issues. I am without one and have faired well…no reduction in good quality fat either!

  7. Great job Dave, and as with so many success stories, that smile says it all. You look amazing, and I’m sure your wife does too!

  8. Not to take away from Mark, but I truly think this whole primal thing will make inroads into the current unhealthy lifestyle promulgated by others, and I think there will be influential and charismatic voices speaking up. That in itself is primal!

    Dave, many congratulations to you and your wife. I am so happy to hear these stories that pretty closely parallel my own.

  9. Congrats Dave-you do inspire! Thats not the usual 52 we’re looking at 😉 you’re rocking a healthy physique.

  10. What a great transformation! You look 10 years younger in the “after” photo! Great health really makes a difference!

    1. :-)…hair color is natural. The dark room may have helped me in the after pic.

  11. Dave, your story mirrors my own and it’s great to have a partner on board as well. No turning back…and reaching 85 should be a cinch!

  12. Dave… amazing! Such an incredible transformation… and a great story.


  13. Congrats David!

    My father is 55 and i wish he could read Primal Blueprint to and make this changes, he is very exseptical but i would be suprised with the changes in his health.

    Mark pleasee print your book in spanish!!! i can read english but i would like to share your book with a lot of people that dont like to read in english, would be very helpful, in Mexico we are in the first places of obesity 🙁

    1. Please encourage him. My Dad died in 2009 at 66 and I wish I’d been able to tell him about this way of living and eating!

    2. What an excellent idea! The Primal Blueprint needs to go multi-national, and it sounds like Mexico is a very good place to start.

      1. I have been thinking that Spanish would be a great language to start with. 22 countries use that language, all of Central and South America and a couple places in Europe too. I was just in Mexico for the first time in three years and I was startled because I thought every weighed more (in just three years!).

        1. People could certainly benefit from a German translation of this book too.

  14. Great job! You’ll want to keep the hair too!

    Dave (MD expatriate)

  15. So, if my math is right, you’re about 53/54 now Dave? Turned 52 last year, lost 50 lbs in 7 months, weight stable for almost a year…so we’re looking at about 1 1/2 years, give or take… Looking good! If I were to see you out and about, you’d get my attention; and I’m a decade younger than you and usually go for younger men. Now if only I can get my husband to give paleo/primal a try, hopefully before he turns 52, espedcially since he’s dealing with serious health issues and is only 38 now. (Told you I go for younger men.)

  16. Do you miss running marathons? How much are you running now?

    1. At first, I missed all aspects of running a lot. But I got over it pretty quickly when I saw the benefits of a mixing strength training in with a little cardio. The running caused so many injuries that created long periods of inactivity. With a stronger core, I can do much more without fear of injury. My mileage has gone from 40 to maybe 10 miles a week.

  17. Great pictures with the same shorts and same wide smile! Hubs and I are your age as well and have been doing this for about two and a half years. It is amazing how many benefits we’ve reaped from ditching the SAD. For you younger folk – age is not the issue! You CAN look great, feel great and be active and healthy into your middle ages and beyond!

  18. Great job Dave! Love that grin.

    I liked a quote I saw yesterday – it feels amazing to feel amazing! Judging by your happy pic I reckon you look AND feel amazing – keep up the good work.

    I am about the same age as you, and feel younger than I have in many many years – ain’t it great!

  19. great job im 54 and my girl is 58 and probably 90/10 paleo feels great ive have lost 90 pounds in three years ,concur with everyone regarding family tough watching your brothers and sisters suffering from the SAD, diet they just take their meds and still eat and drink crap,they see our way of eating as deprivation BULL we love food bacon and eggs breaky ,big arse thai fish salad lunch,meat and veg dinner,+nuts berries and 80% chocolate for snacks NO DEPRIVATION THERE,our only downfall is alcohol sauv blanc,gin and scotch lol we are aussie though that’s our excuse cheers

    1. The alcohol thing isnt an Aussie thing, That is one area we (Americans) bend a little but limit our intake to wine.Cheers and congrats on awesome results.

  20. I really think it’s time you treated yourself to a new pair of shorts, Dave. 🙂 Excellent story- thanks for sharing.

  21. Thanks, Dave! I turn 53 tomorrow, and about a week ago I launched into Primal full bore with my 16 year old daughter. My husband generally won’t get on the front seat of a bandwagon, but today he went over to Whole Foods to find duck fat and truffle salt and assorted other exotic but delicious new additions to our pantry -and he only murmured one time at the seven or eight grocery bags of grain and sugar based crud that went into the dumpster last week. (I think it helped that the teenager texted her dad and told him that if he brings home any Costco barrels of chips or cookies, we’re going to build a big fire and burn them – LOL!) You have dropped 15 years on the outside and probably more on the inside. And the details about your yo-yo years help. You look terrific. If you can do it, I can do it! Thanks, bro!

  22. Wow, love the transformation! You’ve shed years and look fantastic and healthy. Best of luck to you and your wife. 🙂

  23. yea I think the way to promote it is not even mention paleo/primal just bag processed food and sugar v lean protein plus veges,salad and fruit then they are more receptive plus If they are interested talk about basic hdl,ldl blood pressure all mine read like I am 20 again compared to scary pre diabetic 3 years ago not to mention looking good naked he he

  24. I am shocked at how much younger you look now! Kudos to you, my friend, and may you certainly “thrive at 85”!

  25. My father is 52, and don’t tell him this, but you look a lot younger! I wish I could convince him to do primal 🙁

  26. I’m 54 and really inspired by your transformation! I’ve been Paleo for over two years now and initially lost weight and improved all my biomarkers of health. But my life has gotten so stressful of late and I find myself slipping. In the last quarter of nursing school I gained back 6 pounds. (stress, fruit and dark chocolate)

    You look 52 in your first picture and 32 in the second one! Amazing! I wish I had a partner to share this journey with. Anyway, good work!

    1. Thanks Melissa. Very similar experience here as well recently (about the 2 yr mark on Paleo). We hit a wall as well as we got really close to our desired body fat % but couldn’t get to the last 10%. For us, we found that eating slightly bigger meals and cutting back on the in between meal snacks (we were consuming too many nuts and dark chocolate) made a huge difference. Also, increasing exercise during periods of high stress is a great way to deal with the core issue (I can attest its easier said then done). Finally, we view this as a life long journey that will be filled with periods of gains/losses. You have a lot to feel great about being on Paleo for 2 yrs. Great work!

  27. Yay! I am 56, just discovered this way of life, and you inspire me to want to enjoy the 30 or 40 years I have left, not become a burden to the family and the healthcare system and society at large….Thanks Dave!

  28. I managed to follow the PB eating style for about 3 months, and lots about 14 lb, which made me the slimmest ever in my adult life. Then I fell off the wagon, because the bad foods are so cheap and convenient, and after a lifetime of eating them for comfort, when I got stressed, I turned to them again. My husband is over a decade older than me at 45, and I worry about his health, as he carries all his weight around his middle. This has spurred me on to try and get back into the swing of things, and bring him with me. It’s not too late! I hope he manages a transformation like your Dave! Well done!

    1. Its definitely not too late! I started at 52 and never felt it was too late. I found that the paying a little extra for healthy food is much cheaper than the costs associated with doctors/presciptions. I hope he (and you) finds a system that works. Good luck!

  29. I heard a lot about Marks Daily Apple blog, here I am , reading first blog and commenting. You are a great inspiration of healthy living and diet. Keep it UP!

  30. Wow- you look 20 years younger. The “After” picture looks like it could be in your photo album from many years before! Great job.

  31. First let me say….Dave no longer has the blue shorts 🙂 Being on primal together has been so much fun! I highly encourage enlisting the support of a partner, friend or other group with whom to start a primal lifestyle. Unlike Dave, who had health issues, I was in perfect health before starting Primal. The huge difference I feel is a massive increase in my energy level. This alone has improved my quality of life tremendously. Good luck to every one who’s going to try primal…it is SO worth it!

  32. Wow Dave! The pictures do not lie! Great job! Not only are you paleo lean, you look healthy, strong and happy! You must be doing some strength training too?

  33. Thanks Rose. Yes…strength training is big focusof mine. Core strengthening seems to get mire important as you get older. Good luck to you.

  34. Great work Dave, the positive results are obvious.

    I’m 51, my wife and I just hit the 4 week mark eating paleo. Even in this very short time span we are already feeling much better, and have dropped a few pounds. I didn’t have much extra weight (I’m 5-11, was 170 lbs, now about 165 lbs) but the difference is already remarkable in my energy levels and just “feeling clean” for lack of a better description.

  35. Excellent point. There is so much emphasis on weight mgmnt today. With Paleo, there are so many awesome benefuts. Congrats to you and your wife. It only gets better.

  36. Very inspirational, Dave. As a newcomer to Primal I’ve been reading one success story every night and finally reached yours. I learn something new from each one and yours is no exception.

    The before/after photos look like two different people – just the smile remains the same.

    Glad you got a new pair of shorts too! Thanks for sharing your story with us. 🙂