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