Where’s Timothy Now?

Who’s Timothy, you ask? Timothy is a fellow that submitted a Primal Blueprint Real Life Story a few years back. He’s also a PrimalCon veteran (we’ve been lucky enough to have him and his family attend each PrimalCon thus far), a Shovelglove Master, and an all-around great guy. Oh, and you might recognize him from The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

As you may know from past “Where Are They Now?” articles, I like to periodically check in with friends that have shared their success stories on Mark’s Daily Apple to see how they’re doing. There was The Unconquerable Dave and his update post The Unconquerable Dave: Still Unconquerable (Grok on, brother, if you’re reading), and a host of others (1, 2, 3).

I caught up with Timothy recently and, lucky for us all, he was happy to provide an update. And what an update it is.

First, here’s a pre-Primal pic from Timothy’s original success story.

If you haven’t read Timothy’s story, do so now: Complete Recovery Within a Week. It’s worth your time.

Now, without further ado, let’s find out how the Primal lifestyle has been treating Timothy.

Enter Timothy…

Dear Mark,

It’s been three years since I first discovered Marks Daily Apple. My wife had just given birth to our first child, and at age 33 I was motivated for the first time to make a serious effort at improving my health. I knew I needed more physical and mental strength to be a good father and husband. But I was completely ignorant about exercise and nutrition.

In my luckiest break ever, I stumbled across MDA. Intellectually, I was convinced. Of course the human body does best in its native environment; how silly not to have thought of that! But what really convinced me, on an emotional level, was reading the success stories of those who transformed their own lives, complete with astounding photographic proof. Maybe, I dared to fantasize, such magic might work on a basket case like me!

Oh, man, I had no idea.

I put down the processed foods and picked up a sledgehammer. It was a fun game to think about the Primal paradigm and apply it to every aspect of my life. The first changes came almost overnight, and that taste of success made me hungry for more. I discovered that cooking real food was actually enjoyable. And later that weightlifting was my favorite hobby, even better than video games!

A few months ago, I decided to apply everything I had learned to bodybuilding, taking a Primal approach to the Leangains method. This seemed like the ultimate challenge of mind, body, and soul. After twelve careful weeks, the results astonished me! Here’s a photo from before I started lifting.

Here’s one after I had been lifting for one year.

And here are two from the end of my diet (much credit due to the coaching of Andy Morgan of rippedbody.jp).

Going Primal didn’t just introduce me to my favorite hobby. It gave me more strength and vitality than I could ever have imagined and drastically enhanced my enjoyment of life. But most important of all, I got what I came for: being a capable father to my son. This worked out so well we soon had another! (Going Primal has noteworthy effects on fertility). Keeping up with two healthy boys is a serious challenge, but thanks to my degree in Primalology from MDA, I am prevailing with aplomb.

Just for fun, here are eight of my thoughts after three years. I hope they will inspire those who come after me, and amuse those who came before:

We have more potential than our tiny minds can imagine. People rarely appreciate how amazing our ancestors were. We’re all descended from an unbroken dynasty of heroic survivors stretching back millions of years in the hominid line alone. That legacy lives in our genes, stronger than ever, but waiting for the right environment to be expressed. Every living human is a unique gem that only needs primal polish to shine. That polishing can go on for a lifetime. Our dreams barely scratch the surface!

Homo Sapiens must squat. As the bipedal animal, this is our most distinctive physical adaptation. My toddler does it perfectly by instinct. But as we grow up, we become crippled by sedentarism and lose our facility in this basic motion. The more we neglect squatting, the more uncomfortable it becomes, and we avoid it even more, until we can barely stand up from a chair. But it’s worth working through that discomfort and discovering what you knew as a child, because squatting is the foundation of human strength.

Homo Sapiens must fast. As omnivorous survivors, this is our most distinctive metabolic adaptation. It’s no secret that ancient humans survived countless cycles of lean times and abundance. As J. Stanton writes, prey animals graze, but predators fast and gorge. Our bodies perform best under these conditions. This works on at least three levels: daily intermittent fasting (e.g. skipping breakfast), day-to-day calorie cycling (overfeeding after a vigorous hunt, underfeeding and resting on other days), and seasonal cycling (lots of calories during some months, not quite enough during others). What is the optimal frequency and magnitude? I’m doing my best to find out…

SLEDGEHAMMERS! Is there any greater exercise appliance? Sure, barbells are best for building strength. And kettlebells are fun and functional. But for me, nothing spells paleolithic party time like a weighted stick. You can shovel it! You can swing it! You can throw it in the air, whirl it overhead, swing one in each hand like a crazy berserker! My personal favorite is to simulate stone-age combat. I came up with a hammer combat protocol that combines Moving at a Slow Pace, Sprinting, and Lifting Heavy Things for a hugely entertaining devil of a workout, one that was extremely effective in the final weeks of my recent diet.

True ecstasy is mastering heavy lifts. Everybody talks about runner’s high. How come nobody talks about lifter’s high? These days when I deadlift for reps at my limit, or power clean and press a barbell overhead with all my strength until it finally crashes down – the euphoria is indescribable. It’s like being tasered with pure ecstasy, or being mind-melded with aliens, or dying and being resurrected on the spot. Only crazier! The effect was minor when I first started lifting and my body was just learning to exert itself. But now that I’ve practiced for a year and a half, holy smokes, it keeps getting more intense. That feeling is all the motivation I need to keep lifting.

Un-deafen your palate. “I couldn’t live without bread.” This was my most dreadful fear when I first went Primal. And to abandon not just bread, but all forms of birdseed! Even cinnamon rolls, heaven forfend! Maybe it was gliadin addiction, maybe just habit from growing up on fast food, but I was seriously concerned about a life sentence in a culinary prison devoid of all pleasure. HA! Now I realize that bread, and all the other supernormal stimuli of modern food substitutes, had deafened my palate to the subtle flavors of real food. After turning off the static, my sense of taste slowly awoke. Eggs, salmon, and bison are just as soul-satisfying for me now as bread used to be, with the added bonus that I feeling great after eating them. As for cinnamon rolls, they can’t compete with a pot of maple cinnamon coconut quinoa. I did this experiment recently and the results weren’t even close.

Willpower doesn’t exist. This was a shocker for me, because conventional wisdom is that success, especially on a diet, comes from making a decision and just plain sticking to it. But when I honestly thought about it, none of my successes came from willpower. When I actually did try to rely on “willpower” it was almost always self-sabotaging. What works instead? Habit, distraction, playfulness, desperation, vanity, OCD, cognitive dissonance, endorphin addiction, the urge to disprove doubters, the desire to set a good example – these are a few of the tools that worked for me in various contexts. But willpower, what does that even mean? It’s just an illusion. Like consciousness!

Set a good example. We’re all in this together. I honestly believe that everybody would be Primal if they only knew what it felt like. How much happier our world would be! But how are folks to know? Not everyone is lucky enough to stumble across MDA. But neither is confrontation productive. We can only set a good example. Few people notice. Fewer still inquire. But when we open even one other person’s mind, that action echoes through eternity. It is not given to all of us to have children of our own, or to create cultural monuments to live after us. But we all have a real shot at immortality through our brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews in the human race.

Every one of our ancestors, without exception, unto the humblest protozoa, prevailed where countless others failed. And so we walk the earth right now. Only for an instant, but one flash of lightning is enough to illuminate the world. Where will we strike next?

Grok on,


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  1. Wow, I’ve seen some examples of positive change but this one is radical! Are you sure you didn’t spend $19.99 on a miracle weight loss pill from late night TV? 🙂

    1. All I needed was the knowledge found on this very web site. As for miracle pills and supplements — the best are disguised as whole foods at the farmer’s market!

      1. I couldn’t agree more. There is no magic pill, only REAL food, REAL effort and a REAL life built from those foundations.
        And great thoughts, Timothy! I found the same with my palate when I went primal too. I could taste food so much more after a few weeks. It’s incredible.

      2. Hi Timothy

        I read your great post on your website. Just wondering with the diet a few things, like when you say a bag of blue berries, exactly how many grams is that bag. Also your protein intake looks to be under the 3 grams per kg of body weight, but I can’t be sure because you don’t specify exactly how many eggs etc

  2. Wow, incredible! I second you on the squats. Everyone should be doing squats right through into old age and we’d be much better off!

    1. Agreed! My squats are still relatively weak and awkward after a life of way too much sitting. But practicing them has improved my life more than any other single exercise.

      1. I was just trying to decide if I was doing any squats today. Fine! I’ll do them!

    2. Squats are awesome. I can now get “ass to grass” when I squat and can hold one for quite some time. At first, they hurt like an SOB, but now they’re fun and I love the wakefulness my body feels after a round of squatting and lunging!

  3. “True ecstasy is mastering heavy lifts. Everybody talks about runner’s high. How come nobody talks about lifter’s high? These days when I deadlift for reps at my limit, or power clean and press a barbell overhead with all my strength until it finally crashes down – the euphoria is indescribable. It’s like being tasered with pure ecstasy, or being mind-melded with aliens, or dying and being resurrected on the spot. Only crazier! The effect was minor when I first started lifting and my body was just learning to exert itself. But now that I’ve practiced for a year and a half, holy smokes, it keeps getting more intense. That feeling is all the motivation I need to keep lifting.”

    Seriously, this!

    1. I second that! Crossfit made me discover lifting, and I would never have imagined I would like it that much.

    2. Second! I maxed out on squats, dead lift, and power clean for the first time in several years and I literally felt euphoric for several hours afterward.

        1. Check my website, urbanprimalist.com, for my entire caloric-restriction menu.

          I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the maple quinoa!

  4. Congrats on your Primal transformation, looking good Timothy.

    I agree with so much of what you say, especially the parts about cooking being enjoyable, needing to fast and weight lifting. I try to learn at least one new recipe every week. Finding so many delicious foods have made my life more enjoyable.

    I think the fasting and weight lifting go really well together. Ever since I started taking intermittent fasting more seriously I have been seeing great gains in the the gym. When you fast your insulin drops and HGH increases to allow you to burn fat, but it also helps you build muscle faster. Fasting has also been shown to significantly extend the life of lab rats. That is why I do a 16 hour fast every day and one 24 to 36 hour fast every week.

    1. Totally with you on the fasted training, Wayne. I did 22-hour fasting (single meal) for the longest time, and nothing beats it for convenience. 16-hour seems to be somewhat better for building muscle, but I bet there’s all sorts of individual variation here.

  5. I really like the will power part. Each one you named a person popped in my head thinking. “This is the mentality they need to use”.

    It’s amazing the palate change. I talk to clients about that all the time. Of course apple don’t taste good if your eating skittles! Remove the crap and all of a sudden strawberries are amazing!

    Keep up the good work, got me all excited to go hit a workout. Thanks!

    1. The palate change didn’t happen overnight and I was highly skeptical that it ever would. But sure enough, it seems almost anything is possible.

      Great that you’re stoked to workout, Luke! Go rip it up today!

    2. +1 for willpower! I needed some when I first switched to the Primal lifestyle, but now I know that anything with sugar/grains will leave me feeling unsatisfied and I’ll actually end up in a worse place than I started. My roast beef wrapped in a lettuce leaf on the other hand, will keep me feeling full and satisfied all the way until dinner … even if dinner is a few hours late!

      Everyone at work remarks on my amazing “willpower” when I turn down sweets. When I try to explain to them that the junkfood doesn’t even tempt me I just get that “Oh, so you’re just one of those freaks of nature” looks so, normally I don’t bother. If they only knew!

    3. Agreed with the palate change. I had some raspberries for lunch today at a work potluck and they were amazing! Screw the cheesecake for dessert. Give me some more of the berries!

  6. Great story. I have been doing this for roughly 2 months and my motivation is through the roof after seeing such quick results. Thanks for sharing Timothy!

    1. Andy, that’s the best compliment you could give me! When I was just starting out it was the other people’s stories that made me believe change was possible. To repay that favor is the best reward I can imagine.

      So here’s to all the inspiration that your own future story will provide! 🙂

  7. Some great points. Few people notice and fewer inquire. I have been on the journey to primal for almost a year and am trying to come to grips with this. Primal knowledge is so transformative and now seems so obvious, I see those around me who are so sick and could improve their health so easily, but have no interest . . .

    1. same here. too bad. but at least 2 of the people I care about most, did join and make great progress. my wife and my mother 🙂

      1. You can offer people a potential solution to their woes, but all they really want is sympathy, and to cling to their problems, rather than solutions.

        1. I’m afraid this is usually the truth! The best you can do is plant a seed, and hope that sooner or later the time will be right for germination.

    2. As a doc, it is even worse. People come to me to fix their back or elbow or something… And they ask WHAT can they do? Meanwhile they are 20,50,100 lbs overwieght. With some, I give them the 21 day transformation book. With most, I’ve given up sharing unless they ask. The addict will not look for solutions outside their addiction. If I give talks, I hope that even just 1 out of 100 are impacted and change. Nothing more but living by example.

      1. But you have to keep saying it Dr. Jason, if only so that your patients can’t then say “no one ever told me . . .”

        Excellent work Timothy! I keep having the bread fear myself. I live in Portland and the bakeries here are world class; to heck with the bumper sticker that says “Keep Portland Weird” it should be “Keep Portland Breaded” as far as I am concerned. I am moving so slowly toward this change because of the staff of life. I do have a perfect paleo breakfast in place – two eggs fried in butter – but that leaves me so hungry I have to put the timer on or distract myself some other way.

        1. Dr. J., it’s the truth. I was totally blind to my own addiction until I had the reality check of becoming a father and the intellectual epiphany of reading MDA. It takes a lot to admit that you’ve been taking the wrong road for most of your life. But redemption is always possible.

          Vanessa, there’s just something about bread that is particularly hard to shake. I’m tempted to say it is physically addictive. My taste for it didn’t disappear overnight, but it did disappear, to my everlasting surprise and relief. It will for you, too!

        2. Ruth – fill out those eggs with a heap of veges and some pesto or mayonnaise/fat. Or bacon!Just add something to them. In my old ‘wholegrain’ life, I’d have brekky at 7.30, need a snack by 10 and be hanging out to get lunch ready by 12 on the dot. Now with some eggs and vege (or this morning – tinned mackerel fillets, spinach and cherry toms, homemade mayo) I sometimes don’t remember to eat lunch until 2ish – and I’m currently growing a whole new human being inside of me!
          You can do it Ruth! Ditch that bread!

        3. Ha – just replied to you below (??) and called you Ruth, twice! I’ll blame that one on the baby brain.

        4. Vanessa,

          You have the right parts, but need more of them. I don’t feel like you should be starving. Part of that may be due to carb intake from your breads. I find that 2–4 pieces of bacon with 4 or 5 eggs is filling for the entire morning without any significant hunger for 4 to 6 hours. Also, toss some veggies in there. I love onion in my eggs. Mushrooms, peppers, etc.

          Good luck with your bread addiction. You will get there. I have been working toward Primal life for the last 6 months. We recently splurged on various holiday treats such as cookies, egg nog, peppermint ice cream, etc. The treats tasted good, but the feeling afterward was not enjoyable. I am pretty well to the point that those things just aren’t going to be a part of my life, but very rarely and only of top notch quality.


        5. Vanessa, if your breakfast is leaving you “so hungry” — for goodness sake! Have another egg! Have two! You shouldn’t let yourself get starving and in need of distraction! Try having four eggs for breakfast for a week, and see how you do! (Do you look, feel, and perform better? <– Especially FEEL better!)

          I often find myself 'suddenly' thinking in the late afternoons going "oh, maybe I should eat something" cause I haven't eaten since the night before — but I'm not yet hungry! I pat myself on the back for having become Mark Sisson's 'fat-burning beast' (thanks Mark for the great concept!) and I can think slowly and logically about what I might want to have for fuel — cause I'm not craving and not desperately hungry. (I'm not hungry at all!)

        6. Two eggs in butter? That’s 200 calories, max. You SHOULD be hungry!

        7. Vanessa, I have to agree with all the previous replies–try eating some more. I usually have 3 eggs with lots of veggies, cooked in at least a tablespoon of ghee. I also have turkey sausages or 3-4 pieces of bacon. Sometimes I add half an avocado or some sauerkraut. This will get me through most of the morning (I eat at 6 am and can make it til 11 or 12). But this also took some time–I had to switch from being a sugar burner to a fat burner for me not to be starving every 2 hours. Don’t be afraid to eat in the beginning. I know snacking is discouraged, but you will only be miserable and cranky if you are hungry. I snacked at first as I was making the change, and now I don’t feel the need, unless I am really active.

      2. So true. Just had this discussion on FB. I have always put a lot of blame on healthcare. A friend pointed out that consumers share the blame. We want fast and easy.

      3. Years ago, when I lived on the west coast, I taught Tai Chi in the local …what do they call it now? Extension? Night school? “Community Education” it was then…

        I took “refuge” (in my head) at having to say (and say and say), for instance: “shoulders down” about 10-15 times in an hour-long class, in EVERY single class, and pretty much to EVERY single student. (Cause everyone’s shoulder would creep up.) Every-so-often, someone would suddenly “get it” — and usually say: “Oh WOW! WHY didn’t you ever tell me this before!?” {mock-agonized eye roll}

        I would point out (in fact, I made it part of my ‘introductory lecture’ in the first class…) that they wouldn’t *hear* (that is, actually “get”) something until the “21st” time I said it — which meant I had to say it 20 times when they just heard me repeating something that didn’t mean anything to them. (In fact,I chuckle because, decades later, I can still hear in my head, MY teacher repeating: “shoulders down”!)

        Dr Jason, keep saying it, keep telling them; you have to get through the first “20” times before what you’re saying ever even ENTERS their ears! (And then, even years later, they’ll hear the concept, if not the exact phrase, echoing, in your voice, in their heads!) You have to do the not-entirely-pleasant work of repeating yourself to people who SEEM deaf… in order for the message to get through. That ‘aha’ moment is worth the grind of telling people something they can’t hear or imagine for however long it takes.

  8. Congrats Timothy! My wife and I recently discovered we are having twins, so I am renewing my efforts to get in shape and revamping my diet to more primal foods. Like you, learning a you have little ones on the way makes you want to be at your very best. Needless to say, with two newborns and a daughter who will be 17 months, I will need every advantage I can get to keep up with them! Lol! Congrats again. I always look forward to reading the Friday articles.

    1. Jacob, there’s no more powerful motivation. You certainly don’t need willpower when you have parental instincts and the right knowledge.

      You will inevitably be a great dad! Enjoy the process!

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more on many of those points, Timothy.

    “People rarely appreciate how amazing our ancestors were.”

    Amen, to that.

  10. My grandson, 5 months old, is breast fed. I’m interested to know about introducing solids following primal guidelines. SAD starts with rice cereal. Any good sources of info on this that I can pass on to his (open-minded) parents? Thanks!

    1. We didn’t introduce our daughter to grains starting off. We went straight to pureed fruits and veggies and she did just fine. Later we incorporated meats and still no issues. Grains are not a necessity for babies. Just be sure they’re getting enough calories. We supplement with formula, whole milk (when they’re old enough), and starchy veggies like potatoes. Granted, this is all anectodal, but it just shows it can be done pretty easily. Best of luck!

    2. Weston A Price foundation has some really good tips for baby foods. Basically though, babies are able to digest protein easier than grains – they are already set up to digest the milk which is full of good protein and fat. We also fed our little ones pureed veggies, kefir, yoghurt (plain) and fruit. We tried to start out with more veg in the beginning so that their palate was not too focused on sweet. Again, look at Weston A Price foundation and just exclude the grains…. kids thrive on this.

    3. Just went thought this myself (my little Grok turns 1 tomorrow).

      Sweet potatoes and parsnips are your best friends. Pureed at first, then small chunks. Lamb works really well for babies starting around 6/7 months, plenty of recipes out there.

      One of our favorite things for baby food is a mashed mix of sweet potatoes, parsnips, and turnips.

      When ready, blend a little ground beef/bison/lamb in as well.

    4. All of these are great ideas!

      Both my boys started out with pastured egg yolk and coconut butter, among other things Once they had a couple of teeth, it turned out they enjoyed salmon as much as their dad.

      I like to give them the skin and the really fatty bits from the spinal area. You can almost see them becoming smarter with each bite 🙂

        1. Would you like a baby harp seal instead? Canada is overflowing with them

    5. I exclusively breastfed my daughter for 6 months, and nursed her until she was nearly 3 years old. Someone at La Leche League introduced me to the book, “Super Baby Food” by Ruth Yaron and I used this as my guide. A terrific book, although not in the Paleo tradition. I never really gave her grains, in any case, although pureed frozen peas, green beans, and sweet potatoes were favorites (all veg were mixed with greek yogurt once she was 7 months old).

      I’m a proud mama now, when my 3.5 year old asks if she can have a snack of baby kale, or when she makes a slurping “nom-nom” sound as she chows down on bacon, butter, or “han-gle-burger”!

    6. I started both my kids with avacodo and bananas. Then moved on to other veggies and some fruits. An old wifes tale is the baby shouldn’t eat meat till they have teeth. So that is when I started mine.

    7. Have a look at Baby Led Solids or Baby Led Weaning. We never pureed anything at all for our son. He started on lightly steamed vege and went from there. No need for rice cereal or any other cereal for that matter.

    8. I highly recommend home made meat and bone broth soup stocks. These are highly nourishing and easy to digest. They are recommended as a baby weaning food by doctor Natasha Campbell-Mcbride in her books on the GAPS diet.

      My 4 year old has been on the Gaps diet which is essentially paleo with an emphasis on broths and fermented foods and his behavior has improved markedly with a big reduction in tantruming and anxiety. He is on the autism spectrum and we would let him cheat on our family’s primal eating plan before. We had to get him to stick with it 100% to see the results. It’s amazing how much crap food they push on kids!

      Great post, btw. Thanks for the breakdown on the eight points. Inspired!!!

    9. My Mom would cook up organ meats (heart, liver,etc.) and purée them in the blender. That was our “baby food”… My Mom’s always been a genius…

    10. I can only pass on our experience with 3 breast-fed.

      Don’t worry about it. (Seriously) Totally ties into What Would Grok Do post previously? Grok probably wouldn’t bother with pureeing. Too much work!

      When the baby is ready, have them sit at the table and cut up into little itty bitty bits whatever it is you’re eating. They’ll pick it up with their fingers. No worries, to mess. (Okay, a little mess, but less than the puree/spoon method.) Nursing is still the primary means of nutrition through the first year and sometimes well into the second.

      My oldest are 12 and 10 and they eat a full range of foods. There’s no need to hurry. They grow up fast enough. 🙁

  11. So happy to see it just keeps getting better and better! Well done! 🙂

  12. Great results.
    I really like to ask you- did you make the 12 weeks with Andy eating fully primal foods? No grains and legumes at all?

    Can you give some details of your food choices on training/rest days?

    Thank you,

    Take care.

    1. I did indeed eat entirely primal, except for small amounts of casein to round out my macros. Quinoa and maple syrup are primal, right?

      I published my entire cut menu on my website, urbanprimalist.com. Check out the highlighted article on the front page.

  13. I love the willpower realization. I’ve been telling people forever (it seems) that you should NEVER curb your desire, but desire your curb, by focusing on what it is in life you truly desire.

    A big part of this lies in the realm of time-preference. Since I dearly desire to live to 100 for example, I don’t suffer for missing any short-term desires I previously had, as I find that in light of my longer-term view, I really don’t desire them like I once did.

    And if I do have a desire I can’t shake? Well, I go completely overboard in attempting to satisfy it, to the point of sickening myself of it. (Which itself takes less and less exposure as time goes on.)

    Anybody who is fighting their urges, IMO, is doing it wrong.

    1. “Desire your curb”, I love that!

      Time preference really is essential. Once you know that you can make long-term improvements, it gets a lot easier to plan for the future rather than just getting through the day. This has enormous benefits in every area of life.

    2. Agreed. I’m doing exercise, low-carb/meatatarian paleo & 36-hr. intermitten fasts so I can control my insulin / damaged carb metabolism & get my body to shed its junk proteins & slow itself down on my fasts.
      More research is needed but it looks like not only can I get to live to 100 without worrying about breaking a hip or high-insulin/carb induced alzheimer’s, but doing this might actually extend humans’ maximum lifespan the same way calorie restriction might… only this way is way more fun!

  14. Timothy – how many carbs do you estimate you were taking in while cutting w/ Andy? I’m curious how you made his philosophy work with regards to fat/carb intake.

    1. I can’t give you the precise numbers out of respect to Andy, but you can see my entire cutting menu on my web site.

  15. I am SO happy you’re thriving like this. I also LOVED the exuberance that came through in your writings. Thanks for being such a joyful inspiration to the rest of us!!

    1. Thank you so much. Our greatest advantage is inspiration from fellow primal brothers and sisters!

  16. YES!!!! What a wisdom-filled, thought-provoking, and confirming post. Thanks for sharing, and as always thanks to Mark Sisson for transforming another life!

  17. “Not everyone is lucky enough to stumble across MDA.”

    Maybe Mark could post a file in a common business card format (Avery #xxxx) that allows us to print out MDA business cards and hand them out to friends, in airports, on street corners, etc. Let’s get the word out.

    1. Great idea! I am always seeing people in the street I’d like to hand an MDA card!

    2. Bumper stickers! I’d love to slap a primal/MDA sticker (or 10!) on the back of my car.

      Way to go Timothy!

    3. I actually do this. Of course, besides listing Mark, I have Dr Mike Eades and Tom Naughton and Gary Taubes and Doug McGuff and and… If it’s okay Mark, I’ve posted an example here:


      just to give an idea. (Make up your own to emphasize what you usually talk to folks about.)

      I change it up now and again — depending on what I’m … er … {wince} proselytizing about at the moment. But it’s SO easy, compared to trying to find paper and pen to (remember and ) write URLs down; or hope the person will remember: “okay, so remember the saying an apple a day? and can you remember the name Mark? — so it’s Mark and a daily apple… so, Mark’s Daily Apple? Oh, never mind, I’ll email you!)

  18. Thank you for sharing your journey and experiences with us. I lost 17lbs, 11″ within a 3-month period and very few people even acknowledge my new ‘form’ which has gone from a size 12 to a very comfortable size 8. And those individuals that do notice, and have asked me a few questions, appear shocked and concerned that I don’t ingest wheat or sugar or processed foods. Their typical question is: “What do you eat, then?” I am always amazed at how people really believe that carbs and lots of fruit is the foundation of a healthy diet — we are so brainwashed by the National Food recommendations. A nutritionist recently scolded me that the Food Guide was perfect, but that PEOPLE don’t know how to follow it. I laughed, and asked, “then how do you explain an obesity rate of >50% and diabetes now at epidemic levels?” Until the paradigm shift in thinking comes, we will continue to fuel our bodies with the wrong foods, and illnesses and poor health will continue to abound. It’s very difficult to change the mind sets of people — even my husband, who is a very educated individual, thinks that there’s nothing wrong with the Canadian Food Guide. Meh!

    1. Congratulations on truly impressive results!

      Sad to say that even after three years and immense health improvement, I still catch flak from friends and family for my diet, usually on the grounds that I eat too much meat and fish and that this is inevitably going to catch up with me someday.

      Some people are never going to be convinced. You’ve just got to do what you know is right. Good luck!

    2. Louisa, sometimes I don’t say anything about another person’s weight loss b/c I don’t want it to sound like I used to think they were overweight. “You’ve lost weight” sounds almost like, “You had weight to lose and now you’ve finally done it.” I guess I should really consider that some more b/c it is always such a nice compliment when someone acknowledges a weight loss.

      1. yes, people aren’t that stupid. When I became fat I didn’t notice at first and if you’d said that I would not have cared that much, because, being skinny, I didn’t pay much attention to that sort of thing.
        When I got fatter… well at some point it gets very hard not to notice yourself getting fat.

    3. Louisa, people are brainwashed very early on about the food pyramid. I would say as early as kindergarten. My daughter even had a visiting dentist lecture about the food pyramid. It is SAD.

  19. Hi Tim, can I ask – is your wife primal too? If so, how’s she finding it? If not, how’s she finding it?? Thanks. Pen

    1. My wife is primal, but she eats very differently than me. She follows the 80/20 rule more than me (I’m more 95/5), and she eats a lot more carbs, but this seems to agree with her.

      Her story is also truly remarkable — she overcame a devastating health condition for which she was constantly urged to get surgery — and I’m hoping she’ll tell it in her own words some day.

        1. That’s true for me if my carbs come from fruit or neutral starch (tubers, occasional rice.) Grains beg for sinus headaches.

        2. ffs it’s like women are from another species – even Ron is hand-holding the ladies, telling them it’s okay to be mediocre, it’s okay not to even try the more “radical” keto stuff. It’s bad enough Sisson is kind of obssessed with magic fruity anti-oxidants at times and isn’t that fond of keto himself…

          Wait… you’re not Ron, you’re… AN IMPOSTOR!

      1. Hmm yeah low carb was terrible for me. 😛 I need to eat an abundance of carbohydrate foods to keep my mood and energy levels up, not to mention the lovely feminine bodyfat. I hope your wife will write her story as well. 🙂

        But hey um, speaking of bodyfat, your levels look suuuuuper low. I know if a woman were do do that, she’d be losing her period and shit. Men are different, I know, but do you think your current level of bodyfat is sustainable? I would just be careful of doing anything to extreme to keep it (like fasting an entire day, or eating nothing but fruit, or eating nothing but meat), lest you lose muscle or hormones or anything. 😛 Dunno if that would be a danger for you cause you eat quinoa and stuff, which is good.

        1. Funny you should say, Kait. When I first went primal, I did great with almost zero carb and thought that was the magic bullet for everybody. But when I got much leaner, my appetite for fat went way down and I realized I was feeling much better with carbs.

          There’s no perfect diet for everybody — intelligent experimentation is the only way!

          As for bodyfat, I certainly didn’t want to starve and lose my hard-earned muscle. My strength actually increased week after week, which was a surprise. But I did end up feeling so hungry that it was affecting my mood and getting very distracting. That’s how I knew the diet was over, and I started eating freely again. Rebounded quite significantly and then leaned out again without trying.

          It seems to me these kind of cycles are actually healthy and natural, the way the body was designed to work. But our goals in manipulating diet should always be increased strength, health, and happiness, never the arbitrary pursuit of numbers or a certain look.

    1. Oh, man, you should try it. Comedian Leo Gallagher may be one of the most important exercise pioneers of the 20th century…

  20. It’s exciting to hear your story continue on 🙂 I came across your original in ’21-Day Transformation’ and was excited to hear all of your changes as your progressed, and know that they may be in my realm of possibility also.

    It’s also exciting to see yourself and others recognize that “every body” is different, and what make work for one, may not work exactly the same (or at all) for another. Ever since I realized I wanted to be a Physical Therapist, and I really started paying attention to health, fitness, & lifestyle, I think the “every body ‘lesson'” is the most important thing for anyone to learn.

    1. Thank you! Individual variation is one of the best things about humanity. We’re not insects; we each have unique advantages, the better to cooperate with each other.

      The more we give our bodies the right environment, the more personal talents we discover. We are all just scratching the surface. Keep digging!

  21. Timothy,

    When I first met you, your primal transformation was already astonishing.

    To see you leap far beyond your initial gains, instead of coasting and plateauing on your initial success, is indeed inspiring.
    What will year four bring, Timothy? 🙂


    1. Lars, buddy, thanks so much! You’ve come a heck of a long way yourself. Stasis is not possible — one can only grow or die.

      As for year four, anything is possible! The only thing that is certain is more people hating on my deadlift form 😉

  22. Amazing!Is so cool to see Timothy again.I read your story so many times in the past year.So Inspiring!Best Wishes.

  23. So true about the willpower. I don’t feel deprived AT ALL, and I’ve put off 70 pounds. It’s amazing!

    1. Wow, major congratulations! Not feeling deprived is the only sustainable way. We must embrace our human nature, not smother it.

  24. “It’s like being tasered with pure ecstasy”

    This guy has a way with words!

  25. WOW !!! You are truly inspirational.
    I love your 8 things to think about… again… WOW !!!

  26. Thanks for this chaper of your powerful story, Timothy. I used to think eating right was a willpower thing until I learned to just embrace the foods that sustain me. Amazing what freedom it brings! How great that your family members are with you on this. Makes things so much easier.

    1. Gibson, I’m glad you enjoyed it, and that you cured your own palate as well!

      My extended family is far from on board, but everyone in my household is primal, and that has been a huge advantage. May we all have that support, if not now then eventually.

  27. Is it just me, or does your hair look thicker now too?

    Very impressive. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, I hadn’t noticed that! This despite my 11-month-old removing fistfuls at a time.

      Male pattern baldness is universal on my mother’s side of the family. Time will tell if that’s genetic or epigenetic…

      1. Yup, I think there’s a good difference between the shirtless pic before you started lifting and the second-to-last, end of diet pic. Looks much fuller, healthier, and shinier. And it just looks like there’s more of it…is this the cure for baldness?! 😀

  28. OMG youre writing style is the best! I could read your stuff forever.

    I wanted to add that yesterday when I was asked about my “willpower” I answered it thus:

    Willpower has nothing to do with weight loss. There are several aspects of my life that had to come together, I believe, before I was “ready” to do primal. The planets of fate if you will had to align. For me there are about a dozen things that aligned but I felt the following were THE most important.

    Cognitive dissonance. I wan’t sure this was all that important amongst the dozen at first, but now that I coach others to turn “primal” I can see what a stumbling block OR a motivating factor it can be. I am a mature age university student and I’ve noticed that there are several schools of thought during uni lectures. When a new concept is introduced there are those that accept blindly what is being taught with the “is it on the test” mentality. There are those that disregard the concept and learn it only “for the test”. There are those that know better and would rather fail the test than accept the concept and then there is me…
    I spent most my life being a bit of an uneducated know it all who refused to see anything from a second perspective. Now… when I feel that familiar feeling of cognitive dissonance creeping up my spine and making my brain hurt, and the release of bile into my stomach, and the opposing argument forming in my mouth…

    I stop. I change my physical form (I sit up straight and lean forward) and I say to myself…
    “Jane, stop thinking, and listen for you are about to learn something that may change your life”.

    Recognising cognitive dissonance as a possible a-ha moment as it happens has changed my life. I hope it changes the life of the people I am “preaching primal” to also.

    The other motivating factor in my journey was one based in revenge! Newly divorced and traded in on a younger model I was driven to BE MORE than the ex could ever imagine. Now I am not here to say this is a particular glamourous angle, but it worked. And no ex’s got harmed in the making of the new revised me.

    Tim youre amazing. I am renewed and refreshed after reading your story. Grok on mate.

    1. Jane, thank you for the kind words and very thought-provoking insights.

      Motivation is the decisive factor in lifestyle improvement. These days, the information is out there. The tools are out there. But what makes some people apply them consistently over time, while others give up or fail to get started?

      I’ve asked this of a lot of people who had successful transformations. It seems the answer is different for everybody, and even for the same person at different times. Understanding this in yourself is a huge advantage. Understanding it in other people could change a lot of lives for the better…

      “Willpower” is what people say when they don’t know what the motivation was. It’s like explaining technology as “magic” or circumstances as “luck”.

  29. Great story, Timothy is definitely ripped. Looks a tad calorie deprived, if he could get a bit more size he would look even healthier. I have been studying health, fitness and nutrition for 40 years so none of this is new to me, but Mark, and Tim here also, frame it in a very intelligent and inspirational / compelling way. I lost, without trying, about 15 pounds this year by cutting way back on (nearly eliminating) grains and started to go heavy on veggies, berries, eggs, whey protein shakes. I then came across this site and it has for the most part validated what I have been doing. I have been doing functional fitness training for years, but at almost age 60 not as ripped as Tim LOL. No excuses though, need to do a bit more tinkering and lean out my midsection a bit more.

    1. Congratulations on your weight loss, George! One thing I’ve learned — particularly from Mark — its that life is still just beginning as one approaches 60. I’m rather looking forward to that decade myself. Best of luck making the most of it!

      Keen of you to spot the calorie deprivation, I did in fact feel real hunger for perhaps the first time in life. And I massively refed myself after I hit my target weight. Gained most of the weight back, but kept a lot of the leanness and all of the strength gains.

      After this, I’m convinced that “bulking and cutting” is a eustressor for the whole organism — surviving a prolonged energy deficit, followed by recovering gloriously, is one thing we humans are really cut out for. At any rate, it certainly is fun.

      With PrimalCon coming up in April, rest assured the subcutaneous stuff is all coming off again, and then some! 😉

  30. Hey Tim – wow. I’ve never commented on an MDA article in 3 years and I just wanted to say your primal application of leangains is unbelievable. I remember you commenting on my short lived goal thread on the forums a while back. I’m currently doing “primal” leangains myself and so far so good. Hopefully I can get as ripped as you!

    1. Primal Pete, how great to hear from you and learn that you’re still at it! I hope you’ll comment a bit more on future articles, I always appreciated your perspective.

      The key to primal leangains, I think, is precision and patience. When I was originally just guesstimating my macros and changing things around a lot, my mind confounded my progress. I did get a lot stronger (as in the one-year lifting pic) but not as lean as I wanted.

      So my advice (not that you asked for it) is to count your macros, lift like a barbarian, and have patience! Of which the last part is the hardest…

      1. For sure, Tim. I’ve been weighing everything and diligently counting. I’m sure I won’t do that forever, but I agree that I finally accepted it to be necessary for a true cut. I’ve just been making very large meals and divying them up into tupperwear. pretty simple. Martin’s lifting style is what I’ve always believed to be best over the years, so lifting hard and heavy has never been a problem for me. I might post a progress pics soon enough… and yes, slow and steady wins the race!

        1. Pete, that’s fantastic! You need do nothing more but keep that up and reel in the progress.

          One other idea is to track your progress multiple ways. I use a tape measure and weekly photos in addition to scale weight. There are times your scale weight won’t budge or will even go into reverse, but these other measurements will confirm that progress is still happening.

          Hold fast, man! The promised land awaits 🙂

  31. Yep! Agree, agree, agree!!! I love deadlifts especially!!! And you are spot on about willpower, squats and fasting also!

  32. Timothy, congrats on your success!

    “It’s like being tasered with pure ecstasy, or being mind-melded with aliens, or dying and being resurrected on the spot.”

    You definitely should start a MDA style blog, I think you have a great, fun way of expressing your thoughts.

    1. Thank you very much! I do have a blog at urbanprimalist.com, but I don’t get to update it very often.

      Most of my creative writing happens at Fitocracy.com where my screen name is Gnugnug. Heavy lifting never fails to give me weird ideas…

  33. I squatted 110lbs today and deadlifted 125 — almost my body weight. There really is a lifter’s high, even when your lifts are pretty unimpressive. I’ve got to find out more about this sledgehammer stuff. The gym will be closed for over a week.

    1. This is the truth! It’s not about the numbers as much as your state of mind on the last rep. Even a beginner can touch the cosmos. But rest assured that it gets even more profound with practice!

      Just picking up a sledgehammer will probably give you some ideas. But there’s a ton more on my web site if you want em!

    2. Diane & Timothy – Thanks to you both for your inspiration. I’m a natural at the eating but have just started lifting. So far, I’m pretty far from lifting my body weight — more like half an arm ;). But I did discover right away that it’s impossible to think about anything but the lift — must be fully present. I train with a trainer once a week and that allows me to concentrate 100% on failure. I had no idea how satisfying failure can be. Thanks again!

      p.s. This thread also made me consider inventing the “squatting desk” to compete with the “standing desks” that are showing up everywhere.

  34. Timothy,

    Fantastic story! What an inspiration. My Primal path is in its relative infancy but our motivation is similar. That is to be a better father. I have three young kids and being there for them and being a guide to them has been a strong motivator with going Primal. The ancestral, old ways are of high interest to me now. I am hoping to regain some of that knowledge and wisdom that modern society has forgotten. Keep up the good work.


    P.S. I looked at your site a bit and the hammer routine is awesome.

    1. That is fantastic, three kids! Truly you are a credit to your ancestors. And who knows, maybe they’re looking down with approval right now and figuring out ways to help you along.

      I often feel like much of my brain was dormant until my kids came around. They made a man out of me and I’m sure yours will do the same to you, as long as you give your body and mind the right raw material.

      Congratulations, and good luck. We’re on this journey together. Hope you can find a good deal on a hammer!

  35. Hey Timothy,

    This is very inspiring stuff – thanks for sharing it with the world. I am turning 30 in the new year and will be starting my primal journey. The plan is to share my own personal Primal Blueprint Real Life Story a couple years from now.

    Question: Anything you wished you had tracked but hadn’t? This isn’t to say you started off on the wrong foot, but anything you tweaked partway through that made a huge difference? The answer very well could be ‘nothing’, and even that would be an interesting answer.

    What you’ve laid out above and in the comments is fantastic – thanks again for the inspirational story.


    1. Congratulations on your commencement! If you follow the 10 primal laws, you will inevitably be sharing your own success story, and quite possibly sooner than you anticipate.

      That is a very prescient question! There are a couple things I would have changed. One would be to not do cardio. That was a total blind alley for me. Walking is great, and sprinting is awesome, but I feel like I threw away a lot of energy on steady state cardio that could have gone to transforming my body instead.

      Second, I would have started barbell lifting right from the start. Squats and deadlifts most crucially. It takes a while to learn to do them right, but there simply is no substitute for what they will do for your mental and physical health.

      One thing I’m glad I did do was change everything at once. I didn’t ease into the diet and exercise program bit by bit, I changed everything at once. This gave me almost immediate results, which was encouraging and motivated me to push for even more, in a virtuous cycle that continues today.

      All the luck to you, not that you’ll need it! You are going to love this. If you ever want to share a thought or get a word of encouragement, you can reach my through my web site.

  36. Congratulations on your results and a really great description of your views. I agree with just about everything you said, though I haven’t yet tried sledgehammer training…

  37. TIMOTHY!!! “The Student becomes the Teacher” comes to mind with a way with words exposing the wisdom and photos to impress. I was so excited to see MDA capturing this fine update of your so many successes. You responded to a comment earlier making fun of your personal form when deadlifiting…..however I have watched in amazement as you deadlifted 400lbs!!! “Fargen” Incredible!

    See you ate PC2013 my Grok brethren.

    1. Paul, thanks! Knowing your own accomplishments I’m really humbled by your compliments. You have an extraordinary combination of strength and endurance and I’m stoked to see you develop it even further.

      On the deads, I’m very happy with the results after all this time. I have good reasons for lifting the way I do and all the curlbro mockery in the world can’t change that. In fact, I kind of enjoy it…

  38. Wow Timothy! Congrats on your transformation. You look fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was in need of new motivation this morning and this did it for me! Grok on my friend!

    1. Excellent! Any fuel is good for the furnace. If I helped you build a bit more momentum, I couldn’t ask for more!

  39. I was rolling my eyes a bit when I first saw him mention a website. …But he’s a great writer! Solid, inspirational stuff that he’s thought out deeply.

    “One Year Primal: What’s Easy, What’s Hard”,
    “Lessons from One Year of Heavy Lifting”, and
    “How I Got Ripped” are excellent, and I haven’t even gone thru the others yet.

    Great work, Timothy.

    1. Thank you, Moshen! I’m glad you liked it. I don’t get any money from my web site (quite the opposite in fact) and I do it solely as a labor of love for those who are interested.

      Comments like yours are the best compensation I could hope for. 🙂

    1. You bet! It’s at urbanprimalist.com, in the diet section of the article “How I Got Ripped (and you can too).”

  40. I bow before you, fellow grok! 🙂 Congrats with your continuous success with the lifestyle change. 🙂

  41. Wonderfully written, insightful, deeply human and very inspiring, Timothy. Bravo.

    Thank you for putting yourself out there as an example for others.

  42. Love your insight that willpower doesn’t exist! I’d have to agree and it infuriates me when i read that obese people simply “lack willpower” there are so many things going on beyond that!
    I have also found a love for weightlifting! Hate running, but the joy i get when i manage to lift that extra “x” kilos is intense!
    Nice one! 🙂

  43. Ten ounce sirloin, (smeared with butter during cooking), a two egg-cheese omelette, a straining spoon full of green French beans and raw onion rings!

    And to think, in the old dieting days I would have had to eat just the beans and maybe a little piece of steamed fish.

  44. Almost forgot. My only real exercise is walking and gardening (Without a Rotavator) Lost 56lbs in three months.
    I made myself a spear too, and chuck it at a big oak tree in my garden, just to keep limber. I’m getting quite good at it. The tree doesn’t think much of it mind!

  45. You don’t need willpower. You need ‘won’t-power’! Won’t eat that bread! 🙂

  46. Timothy, you are such a blessing and an inspiration….and a fellow anthropology graduate! It was wonderful seeing you again at PrimalCon ’13. Thank you for the reminder about squatting. I forget to do it since I haven’t learned how to do it correctly until later in life. The good news? I am planning to convert my workspace into a stand-up desk, without costing my job anything. That will encourage me to do more air squats while at work. I’ll post pics on FB once it’s completed.

    Take care and Be Well Always,

    1. Russell, great to see you again always! Big congrats on getting a stand-up workstation, that sounds like a dream come true. Way better than bouncing your legs all day as if having to pee! Looking forward to the pics.

      Squats are so important. Nothing like a set of air squats to get you going at work, too. Loaded squats take a long time to learn, but they’ll feed into your deadlift which is the best part of all!

      Best wishes my good man.

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