Two Years Primal: Pain Free, Allergy Free and Fitter Than Ever

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!

My wife (a naturopathic physician) has always been interested in the pursuit of a healthful lifestyle. Wanting to lose the last 15 pounds, feeling a bit bloated and believing she may have issues with bacterial overgrowth, she started researching the paleo diet. After months of trying the paleo diet, she couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t helping, until she came across MDA (and read The Primal Blueprint) that she began to understand the importance of monitoring carbohydrate intake. As soon as she started abandoning starchier foods, she watched the numbers on the scale go down. Given that we enjoy cooking together, it was only natural for me to adopt the Primal lifestyle, too.

IMG_0142I used to eat extremely un-healthfully and was very addicted to sugar. To give you an idea of how addicted I was, I often emptied seven packets of sugar in my cafeteria-sized coffee; I drank energy drinks every day with entire chocolate candy bars; I ate desert with every meal; every evening I consumed a pint of Ben and Jerry’s; every weekend I munched on doughnuts and each morning I had a fun, sugary cereal. My non-sugar “meals” (if you can call them that) consisted of the dollar cheeseburgers and meals at McDonalds. Dinner was usually the “healthiest” meal, which consisted of an array of cafeteria food or pizza. Of course, as aforementioned above, I completed my meal with desert and a Pepsi (water and I were not friends back then).

I always knew that I wanted to eat more healthfully but I never really knew how to do so until my wife started coaching me on nutrition, sharing what she was learning from The Primal Blueprint, and I saw how well she responded to her diet changes. After a while, I slowly weaned myself off sugar and began eating more whole foods. However, it wasn’t until I fully switched to Primal that I began to understand how this lifestyle would truly impact my life.

Two months into the diet, I started to notice that my sciatica was not flaring up as frequently as it used to. In fact, prior to implementing my new eating habits, I experienced debilitating pain one to two times per month. It had been a 15-year struggle. Despite this breakthrough, I remained a bit skeptical of the reasons behind my two month sabbatical from pain. My skepticism was quickly halted after I attended a work function that offered foods such as Korean beef sliders and beer. I decided a little veering off of primal eating couldn’t hurt me too much. After indulging in wheat buns and beer, I had severe sciatica for a week following my binge and instantly I made the connection between carbohydrate-laden foods and inflammation in my back. I’ve since learned my lesson and I haven’t had any sciatica pain since that time.

Not only have I been pain free, but my seasonal allergies decreased significantly. The first year I started eating primal, when allergy season approached, I was able to switch from over the counter medications to natural nutraceuticals for two months or so, until the pollen count dwindled. The following year of remaining on The Primal Blueprint, I didn’t even need the natural supplements and only took a couple capsules once or twice during the entire season! In fact, my immune system seems to be operating so well that I have been able to bypass the cold and flu season each time it visits my colleagues at work. My co-workers have all been sick at least a half a dozen times in the last two years; however, it passed me by every time. While I did catch a minor cold after being cold free for two and a half years, it passed quickly and I haven’t been sick since. My boss actually had to ask me to call in “not sick” to use up my sick days because I hadn’t touched them.

IMG_1678Along with the change in my diet, I have also been experimenting with high intensity interval training using body weight and strength-building exercises. I’ve been using Mark Lauren’s “You Are Your Own Gym” DVDs and have really benefited from the functional bodywork. I have incorporated a pull up bar into my workouts and have noticed a huge difference in my upper body strength. On the weekends, I enjoy a lengthy hike or walk with my wife. We’ve even incorporated play into our workouts by longboarding at the park. Even at 41, my wife enjoys longboarding with me. The results of working out 20 minutes three times per week have far outweighed the minimal results I experienced with my two-hour gym workouts. The at-home workouts have provided quick results and made cancelling my gym membership an easy decision, considering both the time and the money I was consuming trying to get fit. After just a few short months of working out in a more primal fashion, my belly fat has nearly disappeared and a six pack is starting to show. I was never a heavy guy or “overweight,” but I’ve always had a little fat layer over my belly. For the first time, my abdomen area is no longer pudgy.

Now, two years into this lifestyle, my appetite for sweets is completely different. I used to want the entire candy bar, but now, two pieces of dark chocolate is enough to satisfy me. When it is doughnut day or pizza day at work, I am no longer tempted. Everyone at work thinks I am superhuman because I easily decline these foods, including birthday cake (which occurs often in a large office).

My typical meals now are relatively simple but very satisfying. For breakfast I have black coffee with a bit of butter, a protein smoothie with a few berries and a tons of greens. Lunch is usually more greens, grass-fed beef or organic chicken breast with a quality mayonnaise-based or avocado-based dressing. Snacks are usually nuts or pumpkin seeds and dinner is roasted veggies with salmon or grain-free meatballs or steak. Of course, most nights I indulge in a glass (or two) of quality dry red wine.

It is hard to say if I am mentally and emotionally any different, but I can go great lengths without eating and not feel like I’m going to go crazy. Before I changed my eating habits, I experienced low blood sugar symptoms (i.e. crankiness) that often accompany glucose deregulation. These days, skipping a meal here and there is no big deal.

IMG_1962Overall, the primal lifestyle has completely overhauled my health, my body composition and my outlook on life. I am pain free, I am allergy free, I am nearly cold and flu free, I am gym membership free, I am time-sucking-workout free, I am prescription free and I am food addiction free. The best part is that I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything! The recipes on the MDA resource list are all incredible. My wife and I like the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook as well and have even enjoyed creating recipes of our own that fit the primal parameters. I love that I still get to enjoy red wine and dark chocolate and I never feel deprived, now that my sugar addiction is gone. I can’t think of better preventative medicine than taking control of your health (and reversing symptoms) by simply changing what you stick your fork into!

Thank you, Mark, for sharing your knowledge and vast research on the proven benefits of this lifestyle. It has saved me many trips to a doctor’s office – both presently – and more importantly, in the future!


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39 thoughts on “Two Years Primal: Pain Free, Allergy Free and Fitter Than Ever”

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  1. Beautiful story, John! How differently you must experience life and body, now that you’re free from allergies, pain, meds and food addictions!

    Wonderful example of how sticking to a supportive paleo-primal eating plan offers such freedom to live a fuller, more ease-filled, more vital life.

    1. Thank you Dr. Dana. You are correct, I experience life in such a different way now. In the past when I had bad sciatica flair ups, one leg would be noticeably shorter because of how inflamed my body was. I limped around a few times a month at least. Vital is definitely a great word for that!!!

    1. Probably sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, bananas, other fruit.

      1. Spaghetti sauce has some carbs, but not a whole lot- I think you’d have to be eating entire squashes in a day to put much of a dent in a 75-100 gram target…

    2. It’s actually pretty easy to eat a combination of “Paleo” ingredients that are nothing more than empty calories and junk food. In fact, most grocery stores have an entire section devoted to Paleo breads, pastas, and desserts–which misses the point entirely. Merely replacing one form of junk food with another (via substitute foods), and calling it Paleo, means a better understanding is needed as to what a healthy diet really consists of.

      I’m not saying John’s wife did this, but it’s a marketing trap that many people get caught up in.

    3. I’ve done “high carb” paleo. I ate sweet potatoes and/or white potato every day and a few servings of fruit. So, every meal had a good sized portion of potato, and then there was all the fruit. I didn’t make a bunch of paleo sweets to accomplish this, either. You still reap the benefits of paleo, for sure, but the scale didn’t budge!

    4. Good question: Yes, lots of sweet potatoes and plantains, with coconut sugars!

  2. You musta been eating 400 grams of carbs a day before Primal. Great that you can get healthy so fast. Dropping the gym membership is great. I’ll never go back with all the info out there on body weight workouts…Kivaldo, Convict Conditioning, Mark Lauren, etc. Congrats!

  3. Nice transformation! I have a very similar bone structure. Those long arms can really complicate things when it comes the the free weights. It’s good to hear that your seasonal allergies are subsiding. I feel as if mine get better when I’m really dedicated to eating clean, but have never been sure if it was all in my head!

    1. I’m convinced that allergies themselves are mostly in our heads. Mine completely subside when I lay down for a nap, or get really busy and distracted.

      1. You are kidding, right???
        Allergies are in our heads???
        You’d be one of those people that would sneak peanut dust into someones meal just to proof them wrong and make a point of them being crazy and you’re the only sane one!

        I’ve had 2 anaphylactic shocks and hundreds of intestinal edemic shocks that put me into the hostipal. Nobody knew what caused it until 20 years later I got to see an Allergy Specialist and the skin test was FLAMING with Histamines.
        Needless to say I wasn’t allowed to leave the office for 2 hours and not without an Epi-Pen.

        You can’t build anti-bodies to a region that is alien to you.

    2. Thank you. I doubt it is in your head if you notice a difference. The allergy meds I took years before this were pretty serious and my nose would get so clogged that my ears would be effected. After I found Primal, I thought it might just be a low pollen year or something but I noticed that everyone around me was suffering. There are a few times a year where I have some small symptoms but no where near what it used to be.

      1. I have noticed the same kind of thing for seasonal allergies. I used to take Claritin almost 6 months of the year because EVERY season got me. Since switching to a Primal lifestyle, I haven’t taken Claritin in over two years or any other kind of allergy medicine for that matter. And we had a bad spring for allergies this year. The only time that I have noticed an issue is when I have decided to have a few cheat meals over a weekend.

  4. Great story John! Love that you are pain free and no longer sick. And amazing how that
    pain came back when you strayed! Tell your wife she is a badass for learning to longboard. I’m going to have to try that!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, it is amazing when we allow our bodies to take care of themselves. It’s nice to know what foods I have a hard time with and stay away. When people think I am strong for keeping distance from a certain food, I tell them that it’s not necessarily because I have strong will power but I think of the consequences and it’s easier to avoid.
      I will send your regards to my wife, just don’t try any large hills on a longboard like I did trying to show off 🙂

  5. Excellent story, thanks for sharing. I can attest that going primal greatly helped me with my allergies. Glad that it worked so well for you also!

  6. My husband grew up eating similarly. Since he has been on this program he has experienced significant progress as well. So proud of him! I have been extremely fortunate to have a lean and healthy genetic make up. And have lead an athletic lifestyle sailing, wind boarding, surfing, ice and roller skating, ballroom dancing, modern, jazz and ballet and skiing. And believe that staying active really keeps my muscle tone in good shape. I appreciate Mark’s website so much because it is instrumental in maintaining our good health.

  7. You’re feeling good and looking good John, great story thanks for sharing and inspiring everyone!

  8. John, I have never commented before but love your story so much as it resonates with me. Great work but it is easy if u know how

    1. Wow, that means a lot, thank you. I’m curious what part of my story you identified with? Thank you for the awesome feedback.

  9. I really enjoyed reading the story of your awesome transformation, John!

  10. Awesome story!! Just goes to show how easy it can be to make this a lifestyle and how beneficial it is! Congrats and thanks for the inspiring story!

    1. Thank you Kyle, it seems hard for some people but it really isn’t if ready to make a change. I’m so happy to see all of the positive responses from people here.

  11. I think I got a cavity just reading the section on your former diet! Congratulations on a thorough transformation.

    1. Haha, right? I sometimes can’t believe that is how I used to eat. Thank you for your replies.

  12. Great story! Did you notice a difference in your mental clarity? And/or sleep?

  13. Hi John,

    Well done mate!

    Which “natural nutraceuticals” did you use for your seasonal allergies, if you don’t mind me asking, please?


    1. Hello, Richard~

      I used Pure Encapsulations AllerEssentials, and I found it very useful. I took 2 capsules per day when allergy season started and I’d take 3 capsules on the “bad” days. I hope that helps?


  14. Great story- It is inspiring to hear other people having positive results I started April 1- I feel great pain-free.

  15. Very Inspirational Life style routine for people like me. I really wants to follow all your routine to help myself and eat healthy. Thank you so much.