What a Difference a Few Months Can Make

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 have had fast, great success with the Primal lifestyle and I would like to add my story to your growing library in order to encourage others who have lost hope of ever getting that middle-age weight back off.

For most of my life, I kept myself in fairly good condition. I was a 1979 graduate of The Citadel, with military experience at Fort Bragg, so staying fit enough to achieve a top score of 300 on physical readiness evaluations came easily and naturally. I kept to the correct weight of 158 to 160 for a long time. But as the decades wore on, I lost sight of the importance of staying fit and it showed. As a writer, I had spent a lot of time in front of the computer, and it was getting difficult to sit down without unfastening the 38-inch belt on my jeans. On September 23, 2011, my family visited out-of-town relatives while I stayed home to work. At one point I got up to stretch and I saw my reflection in a mirror: fat, pear-shaped, and pasty-faced. I had known that my five-foot, nine-inch frame was getting too heavy, but I had no idea until I saw it that day. I weighed 207 pounds.

I had recently heard an interview about folks who followed a particular eating lifestyle. It wasn’t a diet. It was another way of thinking that supposedly worked without much hunger. Even better though, it was iconoclastic. Was it that macrobiotic thing, or the caveman paleo thing? I couldn’t quite remember so I did some research and landed on marksdailyapple.com. What I found impressed me in two ways. First, people were having rapid, healthy success even though they were not starving themselves. Second, the no-fat rigamarole that we’ve heard for so long appeared to be wrong in many ways.

After reading many of the success stories and viewing the before-and-after pictures, I decided that it was time to make a change. The hardest part was the first 3-5 days, as I went completely off of sugar and white flour products. The next few days after that, I began adding many of the recipes from the website. I enjoyed T-bone steaks, butter-sauteed rosemary chicken breasts and all different kinds of omelets, along with lots of creative leafy salads containing leeks and other heretofore unexplored culinary delights (not very expensive, either). Within a week I had lost almost five pounds, and I was not hungry. I think that staying busy with my writing had a lot to do with it as well, as boredom appears to lead to overeating.

Within eight weeks, I had lost twenty pounds, and my clothes started getting baggy. I had stored smaller clothes in boxes for years without much thought that I’d ever be able to wear them again. Imagine my surprise when I could get into fifty percent of them without pulling in my gut. The only problem was that they were fifteen or twenty years old, so I looked like a refugee from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I added thirty-minute walks, five days a week. Before the weight loss I had to be careful, as the brisk walks caused my knees to swell when I was so heavy. Not only was my weight dropping, but my endurance was increasing. North Georgia is quite hilly, but I wasn’t huffing and puffing any more. I felt like the old Saturday morning roadrunner cartoons where the coyote took some muscle enhancer and grew his legs into Popeye muscles. I was booking. By the third month, which was right before Christmas, I added a bit of Airborne shuffle to the walks. For the non-military, this is a cross between a fast walk and a jog: just enough to get the heart rate up a bit without the punishing effects that full daily jogging can cause the knees. By Christmas, I had lost approximately 33 pounds and was down to 174 pounds. People were asking, “what happened to you?” All I could do was smile and say thank you, although I did tell many of them about your website. I have no idea whether any of them went there or not, but I hope so.

So here I am, only 3 1/2 months after beginning a new healthy lifestyle: slimmer, more energetic, and getting into clothes that I never knew I could wear again. The first picture is from last Christmas. The second picture is this Christmas. Another added benefit is that I have a lower food bill, since I no longer eat the chips, ice creams, cookies, and so-forth. I honestly don’t even think of food that much. It has been a challenge to change the mindset, though. I still feel an old tug sometimes when I pass a fast food place, but all I have to do is remember how fine this all feels, and the quality of life that has been added. With that in mind, it’s really not so tough to stay on the no sugar and grains wagon. An old friend of mine, who is a rock-solid 67-year-old retired Navy SEAL, says, “You can either live to eat, or you can eat to live.” The latter sounds good to me. Thanks Mark Sisson for helping this to happen. God bless you as you continue to help people live happier and more productive lives.

All the best,

George Steffner

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116 thoughts on “What a Difference a Few Months Can Make”

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  1. Hoooray! Congratulations, George.

    I’ve been trying to get my dad to go primal for a few months now. I think I’ll send him your story.

  2. Very nice! Its great to see the variety of people this lifestyle works with. I hope to see my mom’s story here someday. At this point she has lost 30 pounds (which is awesome!) but has a way to go yet. Thanks for the encouraging story.

  3. Congratulations George! Keep up the good work, we’re rooting you on. Iconoclasm can be a very powerful thing.

  4. Thanks for sending this in. It shows that even in a small amount of time a huge difference can be made. Congratulations! 🙂

  5. So glad to see your story. You look great. I’m also “middle aged” and it’s been harder for me to lose weight. Now I’m inspired again.

  6. Wow, well done George! Only 3 1/2 months? That’s awesome! And inspiring. Keep up the good work!

    1. They do, don’t they? I love to see them, always inspirational. Congratulations George!

  7. This is very inspirational — thank you for sharing it! As an older newcomer, I am especially interested in hearing from folks who are my age (50) and up, making this change now in their lives, and also I would love to hear stories of folks who have been on a primal-based diet for a couple years now — how is it working out for you, once you are past the quick initial and dramatic body changes? is it indeed a healthy lifestyle? Do you have healthy bloodwork (or whatever) from your doctor to prove it? This is a sincere question. I want to do this, and I am hoping to hear that longterm, it is indeed safe, effective, healthy, etc. Thanks. And thank you again, George, for sharing your story! Wow!

    1. I’m 51 (52 in April). I’ve been primal for several years now. Lost 30 lbs initially (first 4 months). Cured a growing blood sugar problem (last HA1c was 5.0). Cholesterol ratios are perfect. I do Crossfit 3X a week and routinely outdo those 25 years my junior. I’ve never been fitter in my life.
      It is indeed safe, healthy and effective.

    2. Dariadoll: I’m 67 years old and have been off sugar and grains for almost 2 years now. Never felt better and I look pretty good for an old lady – not to mention I feel great. There’s still wrinkles and some gray hairs but I actually have a waistline, a flat belly and lots of energy. Plus my mood is all the better for it.

      The doctor said I was in damn good shape for a 67 year old! I’m so glad I found marksdailyapple – I only wish I knew of it years ago. Good luck!

      1. Primal Grandma – you’re just what I needed. I’m 63 and have just begun to avoid grains and sugars. Thanks for sharing.

      2. I am 52. I have been paleo for 18 months now.
        If I had only known it 30 years ago!!!!
        That is my great regret Mark!! Why didn’t you tell us some decades ago!!!!

    3. Go for it Dariadoll!
      I’m 50 and have been primal since last August, have lost 22 pounds, really slow going for me though, but it’s more than weight, it’s better sleep, better moods, no GERD, fewer allergies, brighter outlook, I idont feel chained to food anymore, off insulin resistance medication. Even though weightloss has slowed to a crawl, I have resolved to get stronger this year, and get off the hypertension meds. It’s not all about weight, I will never go back to my old ways,

    4. My husband and I have been primal now for two years (we both lost 35 pounds!-each). And yes, its healthier. Blood work proves it, but we FEEL better. After a few minor cheats over the holidays, it feels great to jump right back on track wholeheartedlty- my body is grateful!

  8. Wow! The difference in your skin is fantastic. And your sweetheart looks great in the after picture, too! Eating better is great for the whole family.

    1. The skin. I should have added that sunlight is actually good for us, just as the right kinds of fat is. In fact, skin cancer is actually DEcreased when folks get vitamin D from moderate amounts of sunlight. No burning, but healthy exposure. Gives you that slight tan glow.

  9. Dariadoll, I neglected to mention that I had lots of indegestion, reflux, gas, and fast heartbeat even when lying down. I no longer have any of them. I’m not saying that I’ve reversed aging, though, since I still have grey hair creeping around the sides of my head, but I feel much better. My most recent check up was two years ago and the doctor wrote “Obese” in the notes section of my chart. I plan on having a check up this month and I will post the results.

  10. George, I come here so often looking for inspiration after letting myself down and this story fired me up. Yesterday I threw all my non primal stuff out and hubby even agreed to go primal with me. I went and bought some lean meat, no nitrate bacon, berries and all the veggies and root veggies I could afford. I know when I stick with it I feel amazing. Thanks for re inspiring me!

    1. You can do it, Sally!

      Seeing others’ success is such great motivation. Just keep with it…there’s no better encouragement than seeing your own progress and looking and FEELING well.

    2. Sally:
      Don’t forget to eat enough fat so you aren’t hungry. I eat fatty meat (steak, shortribs, chicken thighs, pork chops) and make sure to use enough olive oil on my salads and add some avocado. Egg yolks are great too, and cook those root veggies in butter or some of the fat from that bacon.

  11. Like so many of these success stories, you look amazingly younger in your “after” picture. There is a vibrancy there that you can see. Congratulations on your success! Best of luck on your continued journey.

  12. So great to see success stories about those of us in our 50’s. The distance from beginning to successful end is often even greater for us.

    I’m really interested in the “airborne shuffle” idea. I’m going to google it. Can you recommend any resources for technique?

    1. Essentially half-way between marching and jogging, where the feet are pulled just off the ground. This is to provide a middle ground between marching and jogging. This is often employed by an individual wearing or carrying heavy equipment since it provides a faster pace without jarring the knees and ankles like in a regular running form. Its name is derived from US Army paratrooper as they rapidly shuffle to exit the door of the aircraft.

  13. What a great transformation in such a short amount of time! Be proud of yourself, George! It takes courage (and being fed up with the status quo) to switch to primal eating and start questioning everything we’ve been led to believe about “healthy diets.”

    It always amazes me how quickly the body changes when we feed it the things it wants and needs and stop feeding it things that make it sick, overweight, and inflamed. It’s truly beautiful how well our bodies respond to good things!

    It breaks my heart to think of all the people I know who are on low-fat, low-calorie diets, feeling miserable and hungry all the time, and forcing themselves to go longer and longer during cardio…and they’re the same size and shape (and with all the same health problems) as they’ve been through all the *years* they’ve been trying…

    If it wasn’t so firmly grounded in science and plain, good old-fashioned common sense, I’d say Paleo was magic. KUTGW, George!

  14. Great story George! Just another example I will send off to my older relatives to get them on the wagon.

    One question for you is did your wife adopt the lifestyle as well? Whether she did or didn’t, what were her thoughts through all of this?

  15. This 24 year old woman says… you look gooooooood! You look very healthy. Great job!

  16. George,
    Congratulations from a fellow Georgian! I admire your discipline and positive outlook. You look very healthy and handsome! I’m sure your wife is very proud of you.

  17. This is an awesome story and very inspiring. Good luck in the future and I wish you continued success!

  18. Someone above me here already mentioned, but you do look younger and much healthier. Congratulations on your success. You’re right about that feeling when you pass fast food places, or pass on other junk food. You really do feel much better with a primal lifestyle.

  19. Wow, what a good looking couple 🙂

    And what a transformation on your part, you look like a younger brother to the above photo, very nice.

  20. You look fantastic! And in such a short time period.
    Thanks for your story.

  21. Thanks George. Another inspirational story. I’m in my first two weeks of going primal and your story is just the thing to keep me focussed.

  22. I just have to say, first picture – Ron Swanson from the NBC show Parks and Recreation. “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have. You probably heard ‘I want some bacon and eggs’. That is in correct. I want *all* the bacon and eggs that you have.”

  23. I am a “93 Citadel grad and PALEO! I am still losing and feeling awesome!

    “You’re Citadel men, you have no pension for failure, you wear the ring, you never let a friend down, you will be good fathers, husbands, and leaders in the armed forces and industry, those around you will forever be attracted to the shining light in your lives, and you will guide others in your path of success, you are strong in heart, body, and mind. You have deep interests in protecting such things as honor, fidelity, and all matters unmaterial in nature. Your virtues will matter not only in wealth, but in the richness of family, you are the last of the knights” – – Pres. Ronald Reagan (Citadel Graduation Speech May 1993)

    1. It’s great isn’t it, Jim? Feels just like it did when we used to company run after Friday parades. Go Dogs and Grok on!

  24. Great story, George! I always laugh when I see these stories; I know the ‘after’ picture is going to look like the son/daughter of ‘before’. Or like a family photo from 20 years before the first one. I assume your significant other was on board? She looks younger, too. Well done!

  25. Great story, George. I love seeing stories from others who also allowed that middle-aged weight gain. I think the weight gain is inevitable for most of us, if we eat the typical American diet. I’m glad we found another route. And, I live in Clemson, SC. This area of the country is beautiful!

    1. True June. Let’s hope that more will avoid the typical American diet, one at a time. I’m really grateful to Mark Sisson.

    1. “Congrats on the weight loss! Continue to inspire so others have the courage to live Primal as well!”
      (c) Primal Toad

      Cant say it any better. You give hope to newbie Primals like me. Keep it up George.

  26. George – outstanding story! Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to the Friday stories every week, they mean so much to me. Your short but successful journey with primal living is such an inspiration. I will be sharing it with those I know to help spread the word. Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year and beyond! Cheers. 🙂

  27. Thanks for sharing George! I’ve been having troubles getting motivated to stay on Paleo, but when you mentioned experiencing the old tug when you walked past fast food places and deciding not to go in because of the good way you felt already, I realized that most of what’s holding me back is the “feel good” reward of eating shitty but tasty food. The thing is, whenever I eat grains or chips or something, I always get heartburn, and that’s not a very nice feeling. Also: I’m 23. Heartburn at this age, to this severity, is BAD. Congratulations on your transformation. Keep eating primaly and exercising slowly and you’ll look like Grok in no time!

    1. Daniel, You not only can do it, but you are going to do it. You are.

  28. Great work George! And thanks Mark for finally showcasing someone on the other side of 50! Now if you’d only post a success story for a 50-y-o *woman*.

    1. I’ve never written up my success story, but I’m female and started low-carb at age 45, and went primal around age 52. I didn’t have much weight to lose, but did drop 20 lbs. and I no longer have headaches (they were from sugar), aching joints (that was from grains) or sinus infections/bronchitis (that was from dairy products). My Mom (age 77) has also picked up this way of eating and she’s also doing great!

  29. Thanks for the inspiration and story, George. I’m 71 years young and on my way to Paleo/Primal health too!

    Hope to have a similar story to tell in the near future.

  30. Great to see a Citadel grad representing the college so well; in your after picture, you most certainly look the part! My dad and brother are both graduates, also.
    Congratulations on the life change.

  31. Wonderful story, George, and such a happy “after” picture! As an older primal person myself, I am always delighted to read about the successes of the 50+ crowd. Your commitment and results are inspiring!

  32. Wonderful George, my dad who is close to 60 and carrying a few extra kgs should see this. He’s thinking about Primal but hasnt really grasped it. He eats his bacon and eggs now with gusto but fails to see the toast and jam afterwards as being a problem. Funny how people hear the bit they want to hear (ie bacon is your friend) but not the other half (skip the toast dad). I will send him your story for sure! A picture speaks a thousand words!

  33. Congratulations, George! I’m approaching 46 and am just getting serious about being Primal (instead of just reading about it on MDA ;-)). I must say, George, you’re looking pretty hot in that After shot! Really happy for you and yours!

  34. Way to go. It’s an awesome feeling to accomplish something this good about ourselves. The happiness factor it provides is the ultimate. Keep up the good work! Love the inspiration.

  35. Congratulations, George! I LOVE hearing these wonderful success stories! I just wish my husband would listen to me and read all of them!! I’ve just started my journey at 45 and have my 10 year old son trying for 30 days! Today is day 2! All the best to you! Happy New Year!!

  36. Wow! What a great story. Thanks so much for such an inspiring one!! You look FANTASTIC!!

  37. Thank you so much George! I love brilliant inspiration! I’m experiencing the middle-aged-middle and don’t like it one bit. I’ve decided that embracing the paleo way is the smartest answer to healthy living. It starts now. Finding time to live to eat is way better than finding time to deal with a preventable illness in the future. I’m a sugar-holic, so this will be bumpy at first. But I’m confident that the herculean warrior is in me somewhere. Thanks again for your story!

    1. Sugarholic describes what I was. I feel that times are coming in which health insurance will be either too expensive or the treatments of bad eating will not undo the problems. We must eat well now so as to avoid future problems.

  38. 3 1/2 Months? I’m sharing your story with my family. Most of them think we’re crazy for giving up grains. Very impressive sir. Congrats.

  39. George I am looking forward to the one year after pics – you rock big time 🙂

  40. Wow George! You look great and sounds like you are reaping great rewards in terms of energy! You have just reconfirmed to me that I can and will succeed doing this! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  41. Good work George! You scare me a little when you talk about how you were 209 on a 5’9″ frame. I am two inches shorter, but I am hefting 215 lbs on the beginning of my Primal journey. Like you , I am focusing on my writing as well. Funny how many things are parallel! You are a good source of inspiration, keep up the good work!

  42. Wonderful, George, I’m so happy for your success. Thank you for posting. I really needed some encouragement as I have just begun this primal journey. At 57 and about 80 lbs. overweight with hypertension, I knew I had to get serious. You have inspired me greatly. It helps to know, too, that you struggled with no sugar or grains in the beginning. Honestly, the other night I dreamed about toasted sourdough bread! God bless you richly and thanks again for sharing your story 🙂

  43. Wow George, You look amazing, I have just started my 21 day challenge 4 days ago.I hope to have the same success you have had. Keep up the great work!!

  44. Congrats. A friend of mine recommended this book and lifestyle and I started exactly one week ago and I feel amazing. I have been overweight my whole life and Im going on 29 years old. I want changes and I feel this is the right step

  45. AIRBORNE !! Way to be Sir !! Hope to see my story up here soon .. Thanks for the inspiration.

  46. You took 20 years off your appearance, too. An inspiration to folks on the other side of 50, like me. Congrats!

  47. WOW! You are glowing in your after pic. Just what I needed to keep me on track for another week!

  48. Good job!
    Another quote your friend’s at the end just reminded me of that I intended to pass onto this site is by Aristotle: “You are what you habitually do.”

  49. Thanks for sharing your wonderful success story! You look fantastic — especially with your beautiful wife next to you! 🙂


    Thank you, too, for serving our country.

  50. Well done, George!

    “The hardest part was the first 3-5 days, as I went completely off of sugar and white flour products.” -Yes, I recognize that. Getting rid of the body’s sugar dose is hard, but when you reach the end of the tunnel, you really feel the difference.

    No sugar, no pasta, no bread – that’s what helped me! Glad it helped you too.

    I think I will add that “Airborne shuffle” quick-walking to my walks, sounds good.

  51. Ya Hoo George! Couldn’t decide which was my fave line:

    “and other heretofore unexplored culinary delights”
    “refugee from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”

    Can’t wait to send your story to my mom — Good work!

  52. Great Job George!
    Now, carry around your “before” picture, and show to everyone you know. Tell them what you did, and that this new you is NOT simple genetics.
    It’s due to nutrition (paleo/primal), exercise, and lifestyle….yes, it’s that simple.
    Thanks for sharing.

  53. I kicked grains about 2 months ago. Still working on the sugar :(. I am a 54 year-old female. The first thing that went was gas and bloating, and my stomach is almost flat. Then my muffin top began to go away. Then it dawned on me. My family (except me) were all farmers before they moved to the city. My grandma ate bacon, pork chops, sausage (pig farmer), lots of different veggies (garden), and berries (grew own). She put bacon grease in everything. She was organic before organic was cool. She did eat some grains, but no pasta or rice. She lived 98 healthy years.

  54. These stories truly are amazing. Life before going Primal is much like the description by Hobbes in Leviathan: Nasty, Brutish, and short. After going Primal is much like Altucher’s book “I was Blind, but Now I See”. Unconventional wisdom at its finest. Hopefully, 2012 is the year that more and more people see the light. It’s stories like these that continue to drive inspiration to all of us!


  55. You look great, George! Thanks for sharing your success with us!

  56. So inspiring! You look terrific. 2012 is going to be a super year for you. NG

  57. You are an inspiration! You look amazing. You also make it sound easy. Thank you!! Your hard work and self-respect show through!

  58. wow george, you look amazing. and 3.5 months??? that’s an eye opener….i discovered mark’s daily apple through dr eades’ LOSE YOUR MIDDLE AGED MIDDLE book, and they give very similar advice to mark – ditch the sugar n carbs, increase protein n fat. i tried their diet but did not lose an inch or a pound. i have cut down severely on sugars n wheats, i can go for weeks without bread, and if i do make desserts i use dates or maple syrup or honey to sweeten rather than processed sweeteners. i also cook all my food in coconut oil. but none of this has helped me shed any weight. i am 36 yrs old, and only have a stone to lose, so maybe therein lies the problem; perhaps i am already at the plateau stage and changing the diet wont help (esp. since i have a fairly ok diet to begin with – no crisps, cookies, ice creams etc. in the first place)….maybe switching over to paleo only helps if you have actually got a contrast from lousy diet to paleo diet; but going from ok diet to paleo diet probably doesnt affect much of a change…and if u have a lot to lose i guess it comes off quicker and change happens faster…? im feeling so low about this, no matter what i try its not working….maybe i am just not a protein type…? on dr mercola’s website he says ppl are either protein types, carb types, or mixed, wh/ means a protein-heavy diet wont work for the latter two. mark any thoughts on this?

  59. this is a great inspiring story and it gives me some hope as I too have become less active recently and have no energy! so I will strt a walking regime and try to train for a half-marathon to be held in my city at the end of april with the Kingston Road Runners Association. Thanks for sharing your story.

  60. You look ATLEAST 15 years younger! Congratulations. Totally inspiring.

  61. Your story is inspirational….thanks for sharing it and best wishes in your new life!

  62. My husband and I have been aiming for the Paleo diet since about 2000, which was long before I’d heard the term. We got a parrot in 2000 which radically changed our eating habits because parrots, when they love you, want to share whatever you’re eating and we wanted that level of companionship with our bird. We’d never eaten much in the way of sweets, fast food or fake foods but the parrot’s health required we give up a lot of unhealthy things (like Ramen and teflon pans) so did. We had a great relationship with our good bird. He died of anesthesia-related complications in 2007 but by then our awareness of food was irrevocably changed and we never went back to our old ways.

    In about 2008 I stopped eating grains and rice because of a chance reference in a health book entry on IBS, which seemed to be what I was experiencing. The various doctors I’d seen, even the naturopaths, had been unable to help me with my symptoms but eliminating grains and rice did it in about three days.

    Since then we’ve gone more and more into Paleo and the results have been very good despite a lack of exercise. That’s the next thing to work on!

    The biggest challenge this year has been that my thyroid and adrenal glands basically up and quit on me after two years of extreme stress due to my Mom’s cancer experience and death. I’m on Armour Thyroid and a ton of supplements which help tremendously but I’m still far from well. Exercise is almost impossible right now but I can at least walk a little bit and do a few very simple things indoors. I’ve never spent so much time indoors in my life but being on the east coast in the hottest summer on record and being extremely sensitive to heat and humidity was a bad combination.

    But, I’m getting better all the time.

    I’m only posting this because of the person who wanted responses from folks who have been going Paleo for a long time. Our blood results, even without regular exercise, astound our various doctors with the near-perfect numbers. Our blood pressure is also well within normal tolerances, we rarely get sick and generally are very healthy, except for my thyroid/adrenal issues. Also, we’re on no medications at all except for my thyroid med. I’m 54 and my husband is 58.

    I’m so glad to have found this site- it’s so inspiring and makes me feel we’re really on the right track with our diet. Thanks for all the stories, hints, tips and recipes!

  63. Very inspiring! A few months can really make a huge difference. I used to take photos every week while I was losing weight.

    Every month I would look back at the old photos and see a big difference. It’s a great way to motivate yourself!