There Are No Limits, There Are Only Plateaus

Steven is almost forty, and his story can be traced all the way back to high school. It is my pleasure to share with you Steven’s long road to Primal living and the incredible result that followed.

If you have your own Primal Blueprint success story and you’d like to share it with me and the community please contact me here. Have a wonderful Friday, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Hi Mark,

I used to be a relatively fit guy back in high school and college… constantly staying active and spending a lot of time training in Martial Arts (which I’ve done for most of my life).

Even though I was broke and ate terrible, having the metabolism of a young active guy really helped in keeping the fat off my frame.

When I got my first “real” full-time job after college I had started to put on a few pounds from eating a lot of pizza and ice cream (I admit it, I was totally lacking any and all will power). Plus, the change from not eating hardly at all to eating a high calorie “standard American diet” was not terribly flattering to my physique.

Fast forward ten years and I had ballooned up to 237lbs (yikes)… way above the “ideal weight” for my frame (I’m 6′).

And honestly, I was ashamed of myself. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I never went anywhere where I had to potentially take my shirt off (like the beach or the pool, and mind you, I live in Southern California).

This was the breaking point! And I decided to do something about it.

Fast forward another five years…

Over those five years, my weight had fluctuated wildly. Going 237lbs to 200lbs and back up again and… you get the idea. I admit it, I was non-committal and had a hard time staying on a “healthy” diet (by normal American standards).

Three years ago I picked up a copy of P90X (yep I joined that bandwagon), and had pretty good results going from about 220lbs to 195lbs… gained more muscles and lost some body fat.

It was great, but I got burned out and got injured by over-training. I got discouraged, my weight ballooned back up to 225lbs.

Then came 2010.

I had been relatively active over the years (teaching and training in martial arts), but honestly, I’d given up on getting that “really fit” look. Plus, I wasn’t getting any younger (I’m pushing 40).

The thing is, while nobody ever said I was “out of shape,” “fat” or “chubby,” my self-image said I was. And I still avoided going to the pool or the beach like the plague.

I honestly didn’t think I could ever shed that layer of fat around my body.

And it was seriously messing with my mind.

I was eating “healthy” but unable to shed the weight or the pounds.

Seriously, I’ve read tons of books on the subject of weight loss and exercise, but I just couldn’t put two and two together.

Then I stumbled upon and the Primal Blueprint.

It was interesting, and different and I devoured all the material I could find on Primal living, Paleo and Evolutionary Fitness.

The ideas behind Primal completely resonated with me, and in May of 2010 (May 3rd to be exact) I decided to finally take the plunge.

I jumped in with both feet and cut out all the crud in my diet! I was proud of myself for being able to do that (considering my diet was pretty heavy on carbs).

And I felt…


I got hit by the “carb flu,” BIG TIME.

And it lasted for about two weeks. I was tired, cranky and just not an all around fun guy to be around for two weeks. But, I (and my family) endured it and all of a sudden it all cleared.

And I felt AWESOME!

By the way, when I started I was about 225lbs…

And by the end of September I was down to what many have called a “ripped” 175lbs.

And the best thing about all of it was that I didn’t exercise myself to death, nor did I worry too much about exactly what I ate from day to day.

Some days I do an intermittent fast, other days I snack all day long.

Because I had a relatively carb-centric diet I thought it would be difficult to rid the habit of eating brown rice and bread, but that proved not to be the case.

In any event, here’s a “Before and After” photo of myself:

Thanks to Mark (his website and his book) and to all the other people embracing this lifestyle! I appreciate you all very much.

And if I can have success with this, anyone can…

All the best,


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97 thoughts on “There Are No Limits, There Are Only Plateaus”

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  1. Well done Steven! Your martial arts training resonates well with me as I too have trained in martial arts for the majority of my life. I know what it is like to fall out of shape and become frustrated by not being able to do the things you were once able to. I also did p90x and got good results but grew tired of the program after two rounds. Then I found this site and I have not looked back. I find that I am easily getting back to my college days of martial arts prowess. Keep it up and Grok on!

  2. I just love Friday’s and the ‘true story’! Congrats, that torso … 🙂

    Spent lunch with a friend and explained the whole Primal thing and I think she might give it a go, I shall forward this page to her! Also chatted to another person at the gym this morning, she was asking me about my weights routine, so I didn’t miss the chance to talk Primal … I saw her light bulb go on!

    Grok on and have a great weekend.

  3. Keep these stories coming, they’re really great for inspiration!

    Well done Steve-

  4. Great results, Congratulations.. What exercise plan did you follow.. Did you continue with the P90x…

    1. i am curious on this as well.. what type of exercise plan did you follow Steven? i did p90x twice and i did insanity but now i am trying to find my way between yoga, hiking, running, some p90x beyond workouts, some insanity workout, primal Blue print workouts.. i would love to know what mix you used!

    2. No I didn’t continue with P90X… I tried late last fall, but I just couldn’t get into it. :/

      I use mostly bodyweight exercises along with a few Kettlebell exercises.


  5. I just want to say I am really glad that someone in the success story admitted that for a couple of weeks they felt terrible. My husband and I first started Primal in September of 2010. My husband had finally decided he would join me and he said he would do anything i told him to. He didn’t say he would enjoy it. His favorite foods were corn, bread, pasta, etc. For the first three weeks he was really unpleasant to be around. He was tired, grumpy, and he just seemed to hate life. The fourth week, he was a bit more normal, and then all of the sudden he kept mentioning how fantastic he was feeling. So it is different for everybody. I felt great since the first day, but my husband had to go through a three week withdrawal. Its important for people to know it feels different for everyone.

    1. I just got done reading Dr. Rosedale’s book. Lots of good info on leptin. He also talks about a 3 week transition period to convert from burning sugar to burning fat as fuel.

        1. Dr. Rosedale seems to be a big fan of supplements, l-carnitine being one of them. His diet (low carb from fibrous sources, high fat, and just enough protein) was designed to promote fat metabolism. The supplementation is suppose to help people with metabolic problems make that transition into fat burning.

  6. Whoooooooaaaaa!
    I love that the camera upgraded, too.
    Really remarkable! Congratulations!

  7. I remember seeing your before and afters on the forum. Very nice!

    The body is usually the primary focus, but I’m always fascinated by facial changes. Your “before” face looks like a chubby Wayne Newton. Now you’ve got a real jaw-line!

    1. a chubby Wayne Newton…thats just cruel lol…the after shot certainly looks ripped…………..!

    2. That’s it… Wayne Newton! I couldn’t think who he reminded me of. Facial changes do tell the story. People look completely different.


  8. Steven, you look amazing. I really hope you don’t avoid pools/beaches anymore 😛

  9. Congrats! I cut out grains, legumes and most dairy Jan 3 for a 30 day challenge. I love the info here on Mark’s Daily Apple and the inpsiration.

  10. Meh. Your before and after look about the same to me.

    Just kidding. That’s a huge difference and let me offer you a huge congrats! Way to go!

  11. Great inspiration going into a long and tempting birthday weekend! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Wowee. What a difference.

    Congratulations, you do look completely different. Amazing what can be achieved in just a few months.

  13. Thanks for sharing Stephen. Great job. I love the subject of plateaus and am working on notes for a post right now. Plateaus are completely different when you have the mindset of who cares I made lifestyle changes that will be with me for the rest of my life, vs the mindset of dang my diet must not be working because i didnt lose any weight this week. The mindset is everything.

  14. Wow — that is ripped. Looks like there’s some muscle stacked on there too. I’d be interested in what he ate each day and what he did for exercise.

    Awesome change!

    1. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary for food… pretty much what’s recommended in the book.

      I was pretty strict on not eating white carbs (rice, pasta, bread, potatoes etc.) and legumes.

      I also tried to stay with fruits that are not too sweet… a lot of apples and avocado. (I love pineapples but didn’t eat it too often).

      And no liquid carbs either… (see my long comment further down on the page).

      Exercises were pretty simple. Bodyweight and Kettlebell workouts. I also did Martial Arts a couple of times per week at first (mild to moderate intensity).

      All the best,

  15. Nice transformation!
    But why does everyone get a nice phone After going primal? Haha

    1. haha I guess when your not buying that crap you can afford other things!

  16. Congrats! Very inspiring story and I appreciate you sharing it with us!

  17. Awesome job! Inspiring for those of us who are just finding this site! I, too, am interested in what you did fitness wise and meals, etc.

  18. Now that I’ve got the weight down and boundless energy, I need to work on the muscle definition too – what an inspiration; grok on!

  19. Wow, he went from Val Kilmer to Antonio Banderas! And the phone got an upgrade too!

  20. Congratulations man, that is awesome. I’m interested to know what you ate and didn’t eat. As Mark always says, there is no single Primal diet, but a range of different possible Primal diets and each person must find the one that works best for them. Yours has clearly worked a treat and I’m just curious what it was (and also your exercise routine while going Primal)?

    1. By the way, I love these real life stories, they are maybe my favourite part of the site – so inspirational. But it would be great if people could put a bit more detail about what they ate and didn’t eat rather than just say they “went Primal”. For example, did they cut out dairy? Did they eat any potatos, sweet potatoes, etc or cut the carbs right down? Perhaps a few example meals to get a general idea. Thanks!

  21. I never get tired of looking at these before/afters; people look so much better and YOUNGER! The pics could pass for mother/daughter or father/son! Congrats and enjoy the beach! 🙂

    1. I did some basic martial arts (Karate and Jeet Kune Do) for my first few months out. Since then I’ve dropped the Karate and re-started BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) since I feel a lot lighter on my feet. 🙂

      I did no ab specific training for the first couple of months of training. However in BJJ we do some situps and such in every class.

      All the best,

  22. Well done, Stephen! A fantastic transformation, and I am sure you have more energy than you have had in years!

  23. Steven- you look AWESOME. LOVE martial arts! I was involved in sport jujitsu, seikan karate, and kickboxing for years.

  24. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my laptop. I have my first primal crush. Your transformation is amazing. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. No strict plan.

      I just created my own based on how I felt.. most of the workouts consisted of bodyweight and/or Kettlebell style workouts.


  25. That is fantastic Steven. Great story and I am sure so many others have similar story… including myself. Although I haven’t quite got to the six pack stage yet – but your photo further inspires me. Thanks

  26. Great job man! You’re absolutely ripped! I have a feeling you wont “fall of the wagon” this time.

    Although I was closer to eating Primal than your average American (about 200 grams carbs a day, mostly from fruits and vegetables, but some whole grains and a little sugar) I still had a transition period myself.

    While I had plenty of energy and an improved mood from the get-go, I never felt full, even if I ate till I was practically sick. That lasted for about 2 weeks. Now that my body’s adjusted, I can skip meals (even though I have no reason to (I’m below my desired weight) with little problem. I never feel famished nor do I get cranky and drained three hours after eating, like I would before going Primal.

    So for those just starting–push through the mild unpleasantness, like Steven did–it is well worth it!

  27. Steven – you look absolutely GREAT. What do your friends say?? Keep it up, brother.

    1. Some say: “I didn’t think you were fat before…” or “I didn’t think you had that much to lose”.

      But oddly enough while many of my friends have picked visited this site (and picked up Primal Blueprint) only a couple of my buddies have actually started it.


  28. Keep those pics of shirtless hotties comin’, Mark! Congrats, Steven, on remolding your body to become the person you want to be.

  29. Congrats man you look awesome! I would have never even thought you were pushing 40.

    Did your family change their diets too? They had to have after seeing results like that!

    1. Nope. No one in my family changed their diet. Most of them still think I’m insane and/or that I’m a pain in the ass to go out to eat with (or make dinner for).

      And only a couple of my friends are ‘trying’ the primal lifestyle.


  30. Great job! I started to see results when I started inadvertently doing IF. I don’t eat until I’m hungry and sometimes that’s like 2 or 3 pm. I could never do thar on bodybuilding or standard diet… I would wig out if I didn’t have breakfast. Now I don’t worry about food or taking food on travel, or whether the hotelvfitness center will be crappy (usually it is).

    Impressive transformation, but you’re never gonna live down the new camera phone!


  31. Steven, thanks for sharing you’re story! You look amazing! Strong and healthy! And, as always, thank you, Mark, for everything you shared with all of us and for this site.

  32. Steven, awesome results with the PB way of living. I am sold on this way of eating and working out, too. As I am on a plateau of losing the last 5% of BF the past 3 years, I have tried increasing and decreasing protein, fats, and carbs along with crossfit and weight lifting, getting more sleep,etc., to rid of this stubborn BF. Did the last few body fat% take more focus or effort for you to lose and if it did, what was your program to lose it?

    1. Honestly, I’ve just been ‘staying the course’.

      No changes to the diet… however, I did up my training frequency. I increased my personal martial arts training from 2 days a week to 5 – 6 days a week for about 2 months prior to taking that picture.

      This was in addition to my ‘regular’ bodyweight / kettlebell workouts.

      All the best,

  33. Hi everybody!

    Thanks for all of your kind words. I truly appreciate it.

    Writing about my diet and exercise routine might be a bit difficult in a commenting area of a blog post.

    But, I’ll try to share some insights that I had from living this lifestyle for over 250 days or so…

    I’m one of those guys that think “less is more” and try to simplify things into things that I can remember or can accomplish. 🙂

    So, when it comes to exercise, diet and day-to-day routine… I tend to keep things simple.

    My workouts are short (my longest workout is usually 25 minutes and it consists of mostly bodyweight exercises and 3 Kettlebell lifts).

    My diet is simple in that I eat pretty similar types of food from one day to the next. For instance, I like to make a “primal hash” at least once a day (I have a half-dozen different variations of it).

    As for my daily routine, I tend to NOT stress about too many things and only do activities that I think are fun. So, I don’t go to a gym… but work out in my backyard (or garage), in addition to doing and teaching martial arts.

    Another thing that may help from a dietary standpoint is to actually take a picture of what you’re about to eat (then post it on facebook or your blog)… as another accountability factor.

    This can really help if you’re just starting out and having a hard time staying away from certain foods… just the action of pulling out your phone or camera to take a pic makes you feel weird about smashing your face into that pie. 🙂

    Since we’re talking diet… I try my best to avoid grains, legumes and potatoes (with the exception of yams).

    I also don’t drink soda (pop) and only partake in a beer or a glass of wine once a week (usually not that often).

    One thing that I noticed about myself when first starting out was that I was WAY too ANAL about this stuff… counting every single calorie (or grams of carbs or what not) that I was putting into my body. This was especially true when first starting out.

    But what I found out (once I tracked what I ate for a week) was that it is HARD to eat enough calories every day if you eat right (according to Primal / Paleo standards).

    I don’t track what I eat anymore (haven’t since the 3rd week of Primal). I only spot-check my intake once a month or so to make sure I’m on the right track.

    Also remember, that the world does not end because you ate a piece of chocolate (or whatever) or missed a work out (which is how I used to think).

    Just keep true to the diet as far as avoiding the things I talked about above and you’re well on your way…

    One last thing…

    I can’t stress this enough (and it’s something I learned from both “Body for Life” and “P90X”) is to take your “BEFORE PHOTO”.

    Do it now!

    I tend to take one every month to track visual changes. While it sucks to see your own fat ass at first, it actually gets more fun as you see the physical changes.

    I honestly couldn’t believe it when I started seeing the signs of my abs. 🙂

    You may also want to write down your weight and bodyfat %. I tracked this once a week in a notebook (which also contains my workouts from week to week). I did this every Monday morning before I ate breakfast.

    You may also want to take other measurements (chest, arms, waist, hips, thighs)… although I personally didn’t do that (I only weighed myself and used a bodyfat caliper to track bf%).

    Hope this helps,

  34. Wow great job!!!
    Your story and pictures!!! are very inspiring and motivating!:)
    Now I am even more convinced that I can get into the best shape of my life within the next 5 months! Thank you!!!

  35. I am interested also in the bf% in both the before and after pictures. I measure bf the same way and am curious.

  36. Being that it’s a caliper, I can not say it’s all that accurate, and I don’t have the exact number in front of me… but my bodyfat percentage for the picture above was over 25%.

    In the ‘after’ picture it is about 8.5%.

    All the best,

  37. Steven,

    Congratulations again and thank you for all the answers so far. I’ve been strict primal since May but have actually gain a bit of fat. My issues are overeating coconut cream and portion control in general. Can you tell me how big and how frequent your meals where? What was your daily calorie content (on the days you measured it)? And how did you avoid/cope with binding.

    Many thanks,


  38. Well this is great Steven. Now I’m trying to do the same thing at 61!

    I started at 220 and am down to 115 after 2 weeks. I have a goal to lose 30 lbs of body fat by my 62nd birthday in June. When I do it I’m shaving my head and getting a tattoo!

    Semper Fi!

  39. Thanks for the inspiration Steven.

    I know exactly what you meant when you wrote that no one said you were fat, nor chubby, but your self-image told you you were.

    Congratulations on your achievement.
    You deserve to look awesome and feel awesome and you do! Thanks for sharing your story.

  40. Steven

    What exactly is your ‘primal hash’? After your amazing results I think I need to make me some!

    How are you doing now a year later?