When You Reprogram Your Genes to Become a Fat-burning Beast, Life Can Be Good!

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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.

realifestories in lineIt goes like this. I married at 23-years-old (180 pounds), and my wife Joanna and I had 3 kids by the time I was 28-years-old (190 pounds). During the kids’ younger years, we did what everyone else did. Run around with the kids, taking them to this sport and that club meeting. All the while not really paying any attention to ourselves. Fast food for dinner, hamburger, hot dogs, French fries, pizza and soda at the games as we watched. Working hard at our work and bearing the stress of moving up in a growing company, again not paying attention to myself. Long hours, a lot of times sedentary at a desk behind the keyboard. All the hard work payed off in my position at the company, but where did it take me?

I then found myself at 45 years old (217 pounds), miserable and feeling terrible every day. My oldest son Bryan was 21 at the time, and he decided to go into the Army. He went away to basic training at Ft. Benning GA. When he graduated we traveled from NY to GA to be with him. This was a life altering trip for me. During this trip all the pictures that were taken of our family with Bryan fresh out of boot camp all toned up and ready to conquer the world were great. I was taken back by the pictures of myself with him and how overweight I really was. It literally scared me to death, because that’s where I felt I was headed.

Chuck 2

When I got home from that trip I told Joanna I need to take care of myself, so I am here for our kids as they get older. I was in a bad place and the only way out was for me to take the bull by the horns and make it happen. Joanna had bought a workout program from Beach Body called Power 90 by Tony Horton. I had been so inactive for so long this was challenging for me. I started very slow and did not overdo it. I also started eating better and made this my new way of life. The pounds started coming off, I called it my “eat less move more” program. The Power 90 program was actually perfect for me as I got started, not too intense and very doable as I could modify the moves as needed.

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Bryan was sent to Korea for his first tour when out of training. When he came back from Korea a year later I wanted to surprise him and be in much better shape than when he went in the Army. I lost about 30 pounds the first year. I felt so much better, and it really put me in the right frame of mind to continue this way of life. I wanted now more than ever to get in the best shape of my life. I was now 46 years young.

Chuck 5Now feeling better, I needed to up my game and went on to P90X from Beach Body. This is actually when I first heard the name Mark Sisson because he did a piece on the video for the Recovery Drink, which I bought a lot of during this period. I now worked my tail off every day and followed the diet plan and used the supplements. I got the results they said I would get. I went from a size 36” waist to a 32” waist and extra-large shirts to medium shirts. I was now at 162 pounds and felt on top of the world, and nothing could stop me. I lost a total of 55 pounds.

Now at 47 years young I just figured I would keep this up for the rest of my life. Boy, was I wrong! After pushing myself harder and harder, I began to burn out. I just couldn’t keep up the pace. I kept the weight off but started getting injuries that set me back, just attributing it to the fact that I was not as young as I used to be. I continued with some Beach Body programs, but I started looking for something that was more sustainable for me.

Chuck 4

One day I was online and came across Mark’s Daily Apple. I immediately recognized Mark Sisson from the P90X program and started reading what he had to say on the webpage. I was very intrigued and ended up ordering the Primal Blueprint book. Once I got the book I just couldn’t put it down because it made so much sense to me.

I have been following the Primal way of life for over 3 years now. I am 50 years young and absolutely feel the best I have ever felt in my life. I have had so many people ask me how I lost all the weight, but more importantly how I am keeping it off. There is no doubt I did work hard to lose the weight before finding Primal Blueprint, but it is because of Primal Blueprint that I have been able to maintain my weight comfortably. Fitness became such a part of my life I decided to learn more and become an AFAA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer. I still have my full time job but I have been helping friends and relatives work on their goals of weight loss. I am currently working on becoming a Primal Health Coach, I am starting Module #4 as I write this story.


Chuck 6A couple years ago my daughter Stephanie had twin boys, Aydyn & Jaylyn. They are my motivation now, and I am working hard to stall the effects of aging by following the Primal Blueprint. I have big plans to be around a long time for them and whoever else may come along in the future. I already have them move frequently when they come over and lift heavy things. I call them a couple of little Groksters. We have plans of building them a play area in the yard this summer. The goal is to make this play area not only for them but for all of us so we can play together and benefit everytime we go out there. So we will be calling it our Primal Playground, for kids of all ages.

cowI want to thank Mark Sisson for breaking the mold of conventional wisdom and showing people there is a better way. I feel like I can follow this the rest of my life comfortably and avoid burnout. Not to mention the food is so much better than anything I have ever had. We now are very creative in our cooking and food preparation. We joined the local CSA and frequent the Farmers Market just about every week. We buy pasture raised chickens and farm fresh eggs regularly, since eggs are my favorite breakfast. The last 2 years I have also raised 2 grass fed steer on my neighbor’s farm. Our freezer is full of the best meat money can buy, and it is all local farm raised.

Chuck 7It has been tough getting everyone in the house to be interested in this way of life but the proof is in the pudding, and I intend to keep steady and to prove the point that when you do the right things and reprogram your genes to become a fat burning beast, life can be good and last a long time. When my kids are eating their pizza and drinking their energy drinks I tell them I am going to pick your nursing home instead of you picking mine. My new line to people is I want to make it to 120, and they say are you nuts, 120 pounds! I then say no—120 years. Live Long, Drop Dead!! I know I have a long way to go, but I am going to give it my all.

Chuck 8Being fit has allowed me to do so many more things and has enhanced my life tremendously. My youngest Son Tony got interested in hiking and wanted to climb the Adiriondack NY High Peaks. There are 46 peaks over 4,000 Ft in elevation. If you climb them all you attain the rank of 46er. We began a couple years ago and now have 7 summits under our belts. Joanna even joined us for one, a great family day out. Once we get to the summit I pull off a set of max rep pushups. Its awesome when you feel like you are on the top of the world!

My Father at 77 years young was having knee problems and needed full knee replacement surgery. Prior to surgery he wanted to get himself as fit as possible to minimize his recovery time. I gave him my Primal Blueprint book and put him to task reading and learning about becoming a fat burning beast. Of course he had watched my transformation but was still a little skeptical about the whole eat more fat thing. Once he digested what he read in the Primal Blueprint he put it into action.

Chuck 9He was 185 pounds when he began, and when he was preparing for his knee surgery he was 155 pounds. He lost a total of 30 pounds following the Primal Blueprint and could not believe the energy he had out on the golf course. He traded his oatmeal breakfast and peanut butter and jelly snacks in for bacon & eggs that ended up getting him through the whole front 9 with plenty of energy to spare. Here I am helping Dad with some upper body strength training after surgery. His knee is coming along fine also. It’s amazing how they can replace parts now a days. He has a golf date coming up in April, and I think he will make it.

Chuck 10I one day would like to meet Mark Sisson and tell him how much I appreciate all he has done for me with this program. Maybe I can make it to a future Primal Con.

Thanks for listening to my story!!

Best Regards, Chuck Ciaccia

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50 thoughts on “When You Reprogram Your Genes to Become a Fat-burning Beast, Life Can Be Good!”

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  1. How inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story. I especially like that you got your dad on board before his surgery. As long as you’re still breathing, it’s not too late!

      1. Getting his dad onboard was my favourite part! Gives me hope for my dad, but he currently loves his bread and soda too much, despite his deteriorating health (but loves to lecture me at Christmas time for eating the skin on the turkey or ham). One day he’ll realise how much my health has improved (though I still have a ways to go before my goal), and see that it’s not just some hippie trend.

        1. Hi Steve, I was really surprised Dad took the Primal Blueprint so seriously. Even though all of our life we have lived around conventional wisdom, I think even more so dad’s generation has a hard time breaking that train of thought. I truly was glad to see him go for it and succeed. He is now out driving , stopped at my work today to visit. Still keeping the weight off and recovering. Golf around the corner hear in NY, couple more months.

  2. Great story and well written. Your enthusiasm really comes though. Has your wife taken the plunge too? How has her success been?

    1. Thanks JoeBrewer! Yes, Joanna has and is doing great. It really helps when you can do this together. We really enjoy being creative with trying different meals and also spending time together exercising.

  3. Chuck you are an inspiration to the max. Your story is so well-written, personal and chock full (chuck full?) of great advice. You have me fired up, I’m ready to run through a wall! Or at least run some sprints out on the grass. 🙂

    1. Awesome HealthyHombre! I truly enjoyed writing this story and plan to keep adding to it. I am happy that I could inspire you, I think the sprints in the grass would work best.

  4. Thank you Mr. Ciaccia for sharing your story. I have been doing Primal Blueprint off and on for a while. I’m doing it alone, sometimes it’s hard to find the inspiration. Especially after a long day at work, the easiest thing is the plop myself on the couch and call it a night. But reading your story, I feel more inspire to be in the best shape of my life too. Thank you again.

    1. Your welcome Kitty! Stick with it, it is worth every minute. I agree there are times when you just don’t feel it. You have to listen to your body, some days you don’t do it. But then the next day your are better prepared to move forward and you have a break through day. So keep moving forward, you will be amazed at what you can do!

  5. Great job, great write up! My wife and I started our workout program with a single Jillian Michaels video I bought for her on Amazon for $7. Later I picked up P90X3 from Craigslist for a few bucks, it’s a less stressful program and we picked and chose which parts we would do. I was happy with it but although I got toned I neither lost weight nor really built much muscle on it. I have since moved on to pure strength work classic weightlifting program and my body composition and strength has really taken off and is now far and away better than ever before even though I have been an active athlete my entire life. At age 62 and still gaining muscle mass and hormones!

    I always tell folks the same story regarding bacon and eggs over oatmeal and toast but no one seems to take it seriously, too outrageous!

    1. Thanks bayrider! I know what you mean about the programs. It wasn’t until Primal Blueprint and how Mark explains everything so well that I really started to understand how my body was working. I have never felt in tune like I do now.

  6. Great success story Chuck! You really have embraced what it means to be healthy and embrace life. It’s quite amazing how taking control of your health can have such a domino effect so many positive changes in life. What you helped your dad accomplish was quite amazing as well–I need to help my grandparents (who are in their upper 90’s) make some primal changes to boos their health. I just finished the Primal Health Coach certification so congrats ahead of time on your pursuit in the program.

    1. Thanks Ryan and congratulations on becoming a Primal Health Coach!! I am in Module #5 now and doing well so far. I never thought I would be learning so much about how the body works but I love every minute of it. Dad is doing well on his knee recovery and getting stronger everyday. He has been using primal shakes to help him through some dietary challenges and it has worked quit well. Maybe your grandparents could benefit as well. Best of luck with your Primal Health Coach certification, maybe once I get completed we can chat again.

  7. Great Job Chuck! Can you tell me how much you included carbs, especially fruit, in your Primal Diet?

    1. Thanks Ricky! Well I try to stay around the 50 to 100 grams of carbs a day. I mostly get them from the greens in my salads. I do eat a small amount of fruit each day but not very much, usually with lunch or mixed in my salad. Definitely a banana here and there, ripe bananas actually have 25 carbs. Hope this helps.

  8. So cute twins. My husband just turned 51 2 months after our twins turned a year so hes got a long time to go too. Weve been primal over 3 years. Loving it. Husband walks a lot but hasnt got into the rest of the exercise though…well when i met him 17 years ago he did 160 pushups a day but not any more. It’d be cool if he got back into it. This story was really well written as well as being an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Gwen! I know your twins are enough to keep you moving all day long, that’s for sure. I think your husband will get back to 160 pushups a day, as the twins get older he will want to keep up with them. I know that is definitely inspiring me!

  9. Very inspirational Chuck! I’m 50 too, and like you feel better than ever following a Primal lifestyle. Love how you convinced your dad to get involved too! Thanks for sharing your story….I always look forward to Fridays!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I always thought I would be afraid of 50 but I got to say, no big deal now. I feel better now then when I was in my 30’s. My dad was definitely a hard sell but once he got the results all doubts were gone. I think I will now look forward to Fridays!

  10. Thank you Chuck! Very inspiring success story, especially interesting to learn how it help you and then others around you year after year. Love to see these “long term” success stories! Grok on!

    1. Thanks TheMadRoot!! I think helping others has become the best part of me helping myself. It really has become a snowball effect. The more I am able to help others the more I also take care of myself and so on! Grok on!!

  11. Very well done! Loved the nursing home line, humour with hint a reality!!

  12. Great story, Chuck. Thanks for sharing. I’m 45 now so your timing hit home for me, I’ve been (80%) primal about a year and a half, lost an easy 30lbs when I started. I’ve had challenges with the fitness aspect, like you I overdid it and burned out, so I’m trying to find the balance between lifting, running, sprinting etc that works around some past injuries. Would you still recommend the Beach Body programs, and what is your basic fitness routine now?

    1. Thanks Tom, I am glad I was able to get my story out to share. I think there are so many people in our age range going through this same situation. I really have found that not following a program has worked best for me. I really listen to my body and stay in my comfort zone. I do mostly PEM workouts at home and in my back yard. I like doing body weight exercises and also mixing it up with resistance bands and weights. I do avoid pull ups, mainly because I really can’t do many and have some tendonitis in my right arm from doing so many in my previous program. I like to keep myself ready to run a 5k race but I really am not a big runner. I am able to stay 5k ready by simply keeping my aerobic exercise level at peak performance. I walk a lot and jog some but not much. I do a lot of pushups, usually while out walking I will stop along the way and do a max rep set when I feel the urge. I do sprints once a week which really helps adapt to extreme challenges and definitely reduces body fat. So to sum it up I follow the Primal Blueprint recommendations and I really do find it is 80% diet and 20% of a mix of exercise, getting a good nights sleep and managing my stress level. It’s the Primal Life for me! Hope this helps Tom, take care! Chuck…

      1. Chuck, thanks so much for answering my question, as well as all the others. Just want you to know it’s really appreciated. Based on what I see here you’re going to make a great Primal Coach – good luck with it!

        1. Thank you Tom! I wish you the very best. Hopefully soon I will be in the listing of coaches. Feel free to drop me a line anytime.

  13. Absolutely wonderful stuff Chuck! I’m about the same age as you and have been doing primal for four years. I’ve been struggling to get working out lately but reading your story has given me a big heap of motivation.

    1. Awesome Guy, I am glad I could help. In the previous post from Tom, I outlined mostly how I get my exercise and movement. I hope this can help get you started on the right track. Remember you don’t have to spend a lot of time every day. Use your high energy days to do the heavier work. This allows for breakthrough days and really pushes you to the next level. Once you get in the grove there will be no stopping you! Enjoy! Chuck…

  14. Thank you Chuck! Very inspiring! What are your favorite primal snacks and what’s your favorite thing to cook? Grok On!

    1. Hey Andrew, thanks! I would say nuts and seeds are my favorite. I keep every kind available in my cabinet so I have variety, all raw unsalted. The macadamia nuts work great since you don’t need many to feel full, usually just a handful. I also like to mix dark chocolate (88%) with shredded unsweetened coconut and add a some almonds. Joanna calls it Joyful Almonds. I also love olives, so I will bring a serving (15) of those with me to work. Bananas come in handy, I don’t eat a lot of them but they are great with almond butter on them. Sardines or herring out of the can, great light lunch. I do also enjoy a small amount of dairy. Full fat cottage cheese and the local cheese farmer makes an awesome full fat Greek maple yogurt and aged cheese, I do mean small amounts but its so good. Small amounts of fruit of the mixed varieties. Hope this helps, take care. Chuck…

      1. Andrew, I forgot to mention my favorite things to cook. For breakfast its eggs, usually with meat of some kind and veggies. Ham, bacon, beef liver or sometimes steak, at least once a week. Lunch is most always salad of some variety, I mix it up with different proteins added. Chicken, beef, shrimp or tuna, the Primal Mayo is great for mixing with these. Most times the protein is what is left over from dinner. For my favorite dinner we buy 4 to 5 pound pasture raised chickens from the local CSA farmer. We put one in the crock pot sitting on 4 balls of aluminum foil to keep it off the bottom. Rub the chicken with seasoning. Nothing else is added, this cooks all day while we are at work. You come home to the awesome smell of the chicken cooking and best of all its ready to eat. Better than any roaster chicken I have ever had and much better for you. My favorite by far, taste is delicious. Now I am hungry, glad there was some chicken left over from the other night. Take care! Chuck…

  15. Very inspiring!! Congratulations on your hard work and success!

  16. Thats why i havent seen you in awhile, not seeing the same person, great job

    1. Thanks Lorraine, we started digging this week and construction is underway! Looking forward to seeing the kids enjoy, along with the parents. Kids of all ages!!