Murray: “I Freed My Animal”

I got an email this morning along with stunning graphic evidence of a body transformation so profound and in such a short time that if this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

Hi Richard,

I just wanted to give you a quick message here to thank you for the awesome work you’re doing with your website. I came across your site at the beginning of the year after seeing a link to your shampoo experiment, and really liked what I found. I had just started to try and get into shape (like I do for 2 weeks every January) using the old standby – 6 meals a day, whole grains, low fat, daily workouts, etc. I decided to try the caveman thing out, using your site (and Primal Blueprint, discovered as a link on your blog) as my sources of info.

Well after about 6 months of doing this, which is 4 months longer than I’ve ever managed to keep to any kind of eating or fitness plan, I’ve lost 34 pounds and feel better than I have in years, going from 201 to 167. I’m surprised how easy this has been, with fat melting off me even at 36 years old. I’m in better shape than I was in my twenties.

I’m also sending this now after reading your most recent post, maybe as another pat on the back to keep the great work up. There might be a rush of new bloggers coming out of the woodwork, but I’m sure I’d still be fat and cursing yet another failed New Year’s Resolution if it wasn’t for your blog.

I’m attaching a couple of photos. The first is me at the end of 2009, and the second is a few days old, so basically 7 months between photos. I didn’t do any measuring, have no idea what bodyfat is in either photo, all I know or care about is that I’m hauling around 34 less pounds of crap with me everywhere, and I feel better than ever.

Thanks a million, man.

Cheers, Murray

And here you go. To avoid any confusion, the before pic is to the left. You can also click the image for a larger version, y’know, in case it’s difficult to tell the difference:

Murrays Transformation
Murray’s Transformation

I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the transformation itself, or that it took place in only seven months.

In moments like these where I’m the recipient of such gratitude — and really, the transformation itself is payment enough — I think it’s a good idea to -make a few key acknowledgements myself:

Art De Vany, Mark Sisson, Stephen Guyenet, Peter Dobromylskj, Mike Eades, Chris Highcock, Brad Pilon and others, but these are the main suspects who helped me so much when I was just getting stated. Thanks gents. It’s great to receive such sound information and it’s great to pass it along.

Any more doubt that the paleo/primal way, including episodic fasting and lifting heavy shit is the way of the future? It’s the way of the future because it was the way of the past.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Lute Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 16:10

    Wow, what a transformation in such a short time. Big time congratulations are due you Murray. Keep up the outstanding work. Results like this even inspire me more to do better. Thanks for sharing your success.

  2. Craig on August 12, 2010 at 16:38

    (Paleo + Free the animal) digested by Murray=BADASS…..congrats to Murray on his new way of living.

  3. Ryan Robitaille on August 12, 2010 at 16:40

    Awesome. Very inspiring and impressive!

  4. chris c on August 12, 2010 at 17:15

    Wow! Congrats to you. I’ll be sending this link to all my non believer friends and family. Would be interested in the training details as well

  5. Todd S. on August 12, 2010 at 17:46

    That’s just… astounding. And gives me hope as I looked like the left picture a few months ago myself. Lately I’ve lost my motivation and have been eating like crap. This gives me incentive to get back on track – along with Sisson’s recently released training videos and PB Fitness eBook. Looking forward to getting some bodyweight stuff in and back on dietary track.

  6. TrailGrrl on August 12, 2010 at 18:20

    Wow! I need you to talk to my husband about how to eat!


  7. Dean on August 12, 2010 at 18:46

    If that story doesn’t motivate I don’t know what will. AWESOME JOB.

  8. Karen DeCoster on August 12, 2010 at 19:07


  9. Kellen on August 12, 2010 at 19:19

    Great transformation. But we need more information. Workouts, food, IFing, etc. I’m just fascinated to see exactly what got him from point A to point B in those 7 months.

    • Flying Burrito on August 13, 2010 at 15:03

      I agree…what produced such a radical transformation in such a short time? If memory serves me correct, Sisson suggests that 80% is in eating right but you changed from a couch potato to Superman practically overnight and it begs the question of what the other 20% was that brought you there? Either that, or you were a natural-born killer all this time and just never knew it! Some people are just made right.

  10. Michelle Matangi on August 12, 2010 at 21:41

    Gobsmacked! That is one hell of a fast transformation, so impressed, well done Murray! JUST WOW :)

  11. Austin on August 12, 2010 at 23:05

    AWESOME :)

  12. Chris on August 12, 2010 at 23:49

    Thanks Richard. I have learned from and been inspired by you too.

    To be honest, I’d like to have abs like Murray!

  13. James M on August 13, 2010 at 00:42

    I was planning on emailing about my transformation, as well, in November once I reach my goal of 200 pounds for the year. Like Murray, I came across the blog post about going shampoo-less, read more of Free the Animal, and then read Primal Blueprint. I’ve gone from 245 to 215 pounds, starting in mid-April. All I’ve done is eat the primal way, walk 25-30kms (5.5+ kph), and lift my 18-20 pound daughter often. In the coming months, I’m looking forward to boosting up the physical part of it, as I want to be like Murray for next year’s beach weather.

    When your mind is set on reaching a goal, you can achieve anything.

  14. 08/14/10 – Solo WOD Saturday on August 13, 2010 at 19:02

    […] Serious Transformation – Free The Animal […]

  15. Tyson on August 13, 2010 at 07:27

    It’s stories like that that help to motivate me to continue with my programs. Thank you so much for sharing. What an amazing transformation!

  16. pfw on August 13, 2010 at 07:31

    Holy crap.

    I wonder what his athletic background was prior to gaining the weight. Even assuming he was a star athlete before, that’s damn impressive. And even more so if he wasn’t.

  17. Chris on August 13, 2010 at 08:08

    Shocking. What I find the most impressive is that Murray has a great physique – but you’d never guess that from photo one. The great body is just hidden.

  18. Paul on August 13, 2010 at 11:25


    I lost 22 pounds in a month. Do you think this much that fast was fat or , mainly water?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2010 at 10:28

      Depends on how fat you were to begin with, Paul. If your normal weight is 150 and you’re getting started at 300#, then you’d expect even more than that if you went very low carb, but yea, a lot of it is water, initially.

      If you have only 30 pounds to lose I might be concerned that you’re undereating for that much to come off in a month.

  19. Amy Baker on August 13, 2010 at 12:54

    I, too, have had great results. From 3/15 – 6/15 I lost 23 lbs. Unfortunately, 6/15 marked the full onset of summertime and my biggest weakness, ice cold beer. I’ve stuck to paleo eating, but the weekend camping trips and beach visits with a cooler full of beer has canceled out any additional weight loss. I have maintained my previous weight loss but have plateaued, I am sure due to my weekend festivities. . Even light beer is high in carbohydrates if you drink more than a 6-pack a weekend. I’m sure once fall rolls around I will slip back into a more subdued weekend routine. In the meantime, is there such thing as paleo beer that tastes good?

  20. Scott W on August 13, 2010 at 13:58

    So…this begs the question…when are we going to get details on your own cutting routine? Haven’t heard much on that lately…is it still occurring?

    Scott W

    • Richard Nikoley on August 13, 2010 at 14:15

      No offense and I hope you don’t mind, but a bit of pet peeve alert. Rasises the question, not begs the question. The latter is a form of logical fallacy where some bit of information, fact, evidence is assumed in an argument but needs to be substantiated itself.

      As to the question you’ve raised, still going but got a bit off track dietary & fasting wise over the last three weeks (Italy and then camping). I’m now back in swing and planning good progress over the next month.

      • Tin Tin on August 14, 2010 at 00:32

        Keep a couple of these in your pocket in case of a ‘begs the question’ emergency…

      • j.f.smith on August 15, 2010 at 13:42

        Awesome! Thanks, Tin Tin.

      • think on October 21, 2010 at 17:35

        Hmm … you seem like and INTJ sometimes … google MBTI if that doesn’t make any sense … and you have a great blog!!

      • Richard Nikoley on October 21, 2010 at 22:56

        Sorry, have never given Myers Briggs a second thought. Could not care less what sort of little corner people want believe I live in, and I say that having no idea whether I’d find your idea of my corner warm & cuddly or not.

        It’s bullshit. People are individuals

  21. T H on August 13, 2010 at 14:31

    Wow, Murray, great job. Aside from Primal diet, did you fast and what kind of exercise did you do and how often. You inspire me.

    many thanks

  22. Flying Burrito on August 13, 2010 at 14:52

    Very inspirational…even better than my results. You must have worked out too along the way…X Fit?

  23. Of Kipping and Tires and Bowers. « Primal Painter on August 13, 2010 at 15:00

    […] Frees the Animal with some impressive […]

  24. Murray on August 13, 2010 at 15:36

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone. It’s still pretty crazy to me seeing myself up on the front page like this.

    I definitely did not have an athletic background before doing this, and it wasn’t a matter of “getting back” to this condition. This is the best I’ve looked and the strongest I’ve been.

    I used to eat pasta and garlic bread at least twice a week, cereal and toast every morning, drank a lot of milk, lots of sandwiches, and every supper would have either potatoes, rice, or bread of some kind, but I’ve eaten 95% strict primal/paleo since the end of January. I completely cut out alcohol for 4 months, and just started adding back the occasional light beer (hey, it’s summer).

    I made my switch simple but strict – absolutely no grains, starches, sugar or dairy. I ate lots of eggs fried in butter or coconut oil, bacon, beef, whole chickens, veggies, and very moderate amounts of fruit and nuts. There were lots of days where I didn’t have fruit or veggies at all, but I’m starting to add more veggies in now that I’ve got my weight down. I also supplemented with a pretty high dose of fish oil, 8-9g of DHA/EPA per day. I had a weekly cheat meal for the first couple of months, usually a big pizza or something similar, and was still getting results, but as time went on I felt better keeping those things to a minimum. Cheats now are random and kept much smaller. Lately a cheat for me will be one of Richard’s Liquid Fat Bombs.

    I don’t weigh or measure food, or count calories, I just eat until I’m full. I do IF once or twice a week for 24 hours, just going from 6pm until 6pm the next evening. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and it’s totally effortless. I’m sure my caloric intake varies quite a bit, some days I don’t eat much at all because I’m not hungry, other days for example I’ll eat a pound or more of ground beef at lunch, then a huge rack of ribs and a salad for supper. I also only eat breakfast maybe once a week. I’m never hungry until lunch time anymore.

    As for workouts, it’s still funny to me, because I workout less now that I ever did on any of my other attempts to get fit. I pretty much only do bodyweight exercises – 2 or 3 days a week I’ll alternate chin-ups and pushups, as many sets as I feel strong enough to do that day. Once in a while I mix in overhead presses instead of the pushups. I’ll do some pistols or high box jumps for my legs after that. I go for long walks a few times a week, and mix in some hiking in the hills maybe once a week, sometimes with a weighted vest on, and usually wear my Vibram Sprints. I go for short sprints less than once a week. I just try to stay active when I can, try to stand most of the day, etc.

    It’s definitely not any kind of regimented program. I eat a lot of meat, eggs, and veggies, and I try to do something physical every day, either a walk or hike, or a quick pullup/pushup/squat workout in the basement. This is the least amount of effort I’ve put into a program before, but I’ve gotten by far the best results of anything I’ve ever done.

    • JIM on August 14, 2010 at 06:21

      Canadian? Toronto perhaps?

  25. Troy on August 14, 2010 at 00:01

    No thanking Martin…?

  26. Flying Burrito on August 14, 2010 at 09:27

    Thanks, awesome…

  27. Flying Burrito on August 14, 2010 at 09:38

    Murray, I was wondering, do you drink coffee in the morning–and if so, do you use cream or any form of sweetener at all (like Stevia)? I’m still losing weight too but I noticed a slow-down in my progress and I’m trying to determine the culprit. I buy cheese and cream from a local farm and I’m wondering if that’s it but it shouldn’t be, right? Maybe I should pull back on the diary but I thought organic and raw/next to raw dairy was okay. Or despite what some suggest otherwise, maybe even stevia is the culprit? Your results and enthusiasm are pretty spectacular and I’d like to bump-off the final 10 or 15 lbs for good! Of course, it could be the mangoes and peaches, which have been in season lately…I’ve been eating a couple a mango or two a day–maybe I should pull back on the fruit intake. I wonder what Sisson or Richard’s take would be on this?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2010 at 09:52

      I use fruit very sparingly. Other than yesterday, last time I had any was more than a week prior, a small mixed berry thing at breakfast. Less than a cup.

      Yesterday there was an enormous cantaloupe sitting on the counter that my wife had gotten somewhere. So after downing a pound of lean ground beef fried up with onions, garlic, curry powder, stock, tomato paste and simmered with both white and sweet potato, I did 1/2 of the cantaloupe. Came out to a pound, 3 oz.

      This was a post workout meal; squats and other leg stuff.

  28. Keith Lawson on August 14, 2010 at 12:06

    Same thing here – the ADA plan almost killed me. Went from ~210 to 148 and stable at ~150 now. 38″ waist to ~31″.

    • Chris on August 14, 2010 at 14:54

      @Keith – great – you should send in photos too.

  29. Brett Legree on August 14, 2010 at 17:58

    I went from about 215 to low-140’s since mid-December 2009, 38″ waist to 30″, feeling better than ever, blood pressure went from thermonuclear to normal.

    And I eat like a bloody horse… same kind of stuff that Murray eats, my “cheats” are usually a bit of fruit, the odd piece of dark chocolate, a glass of wine once a week perhaps.

    People ask me if I miss “what I used to eat”, I tend to say, “a bit, but what I don’t miss is being 70 pounds heavier”.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2010 at 18:09

      I’m definitely formalizing the reader results thing. Stay tuned. We’ll get it going next week. These kind of results deserve and need to have their day or two at the top of the blog.

  30. Paul C on August 14, 2010 at 19:35

    Amazing results Murray!

  31. Primal on August 23, 2010 at 22:22

    Huh, my genes must suck because I’ve been eating Paleo for 8 months, doing Olympic lifts for 2 yrs and been IFing and sprinting on top of my workouts and being Paleo for the last month and I don’t look anything like this guy.

  32. Brian T on September 26, 2010 at 14:46

    After seeing this dude, I may try cutting out dairy. My bodyweight setpoint dropped from 200 to 175 after going paleo, with my lowest weight being down to 165 when I was doing regular IF, but I could never get my body fat down as low as he’s gone, even when I was doing crossfit 5 days a week.

    Dairy (and maybe nuts) are the only things I was eating that he wasn’t. That, and my fish oil intake was MUCH less. 8,000 to 9,000 mg daily seems very high!

  33. […] why not give Primal a try? And if one story isn’t enough to convince you, check here or here for further proof that these crazy grain-shunners might just be on to something. What do […]

  34. Murray on November 24, 2010 at 10:45

    Hey Richard,

    Just a quick update to those that are interested.

    I cruised along after this e-mail to you at around the same weight, basically about 171 on average. To try and shake things up and regain my focus (and stop the food and booze cheats that were starting to become more frequent) I went on the Whole 30 program. Basically the way I had been eating, but also removing all dairy, sugar or sweetener of any kind, and alcohol. I ate however much I wanted, which some days was several pounds of meat, and even ate a little more fruit and nuts than usual. I also didn’t step on the scale the entire time.

    I almost shit my pants when I hopped on yesterday and I was at 159.4 pounds. My strength increased at the same time, so I’m not worried that I lost any muscle.

    I guess this could be considered an answer to Flying Burrito’s question: I’m still not sure if it was the dairy and sweetener being removed that kick started it, but I’m sure it helped a lot. I also cut probably 3-4 drinks a week out of my diet. But more importantly I ate a LOT. My family is surprised I didn’t gain weight considering the amount of meat I was putting away.

    I’m switching gears now and plan on trying to increase strength and pack on some solid mass. I don’t want to go any lighter than 160. I’ve been reading your Lean Gains stuff and plan on getting that going.

    Oh, and to answer Brian, I was on 8000-9000 mg of fish oil – that’s only 9-10 caps of the stuff I get at Costco. These days I’m down to about 3000, except for days when I eat salmon.

    Anyway, still making progress after almost 11 months at this. You’re right man, it’s almost like this stuff works.

    • Sean Joseph Blackburn on August 14, 2020 at 04:10

      hey murray, just found this and wondered how you are getting on now? cheers

    • Murray on October 11, 2020 at 11:44

      Hey Sean, things are going well. I’ve ended up backing off quite a bit from the high meat/fat diet in the last while, though I’m still lower carb than most people. I’m not quite as lean as I was back then, but not much less – 175 +/- a pound or two. But the kicker is that I’m putting in almost no effort nowadays. I pretty much just use IF.No counting carbs, or really thinking too much about food. I just never eat breakfast, no snacks, two meals a day most days. Once a week or sometimes twice, I only eat one meal. It’s so easy now.

      I’ve considered doing a hardcore run again to free the abs a little more, but I’m enjoying 90% of the results while putting in <5% of the effort, so I can't be bothered.

  35. Mark__S on December 23, 2010 at 09:39

    WOW! I have been debating and debating in my mind whether I should try to eat paleo for along time. I just got a copy of Rob WOlf’s book on my kindle yesterday.. but a picture is more powerful that a 1000 words… I am going to give this diet a shot and see what happens…. what an inspiration! did you use any supplements? BCAA? Whey? Creatine? I still don’t understand if these are allowed on Paleo or not!
    – Mark

    • Richard Nikoley on December 23, 2010 at 15:51


      Allowed or not isn’t the right question, but what works for you. I think it’s best to eat & chew your food so the protein drinks are less optimal for me. BCAA? If you like. Not particularly necessary.

      Supplements to consider would be vitamin D and fish oil.

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