How an Ex-Marine Lost 77 lbs in 5 months following a Simple Paleo Diet Plan

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By Creative Innovation


Meet E.J. Hunyadi

I’m a husband to an amazing woman who also lost a lot of weight with me (and continues to be my partner in our new journey towards being healthy) and a dad to two great grown kids. I’m a former Marine, bass guitar player, RC pilot, and music lover.

My wife and I enjoy taking trips, dinners with friends, and cooking together. I was a swimmer and cross-country runner in high school and a US Marine.

I was generally always in great shape, but after leaving the Corps and going into the corporate workforce, I found myself sitting at a desk all day every day while continuing to eat the same amount of food I had been accustomed to my entire active life.

This resulted in me gaining a lot of weight very fast and by the time I realised what I had done, I was over 100 lbs heavier than I was when I left the Marines.

My wife and I with Nathan Fillion in 2014. I was at my largest here.

My wife and I with Nathan Fillion in 2014. I was at my largest here.

What’s Your Story?

Ever since leaving the Marine Corps, I’ve struggled with my weight. I’ve lost 40+ lbs twice before, only to gain it back and more. Both times, I used diet and exercise to lose the weight, but in retrospect, the plans were flawed because they were not sustainable.

They involved cutting food items that made no sense, and in diets that were very high in sugars and carbs. This time, my wife and I spent a lot of time reading and studying nutrition. We wanted to make a change that was sustainable and that we could make and be happy with for the rest of our lives.

We settled on the Whole30 and then Paleo lifestyle. For the past 5 months, it’s been working great for us, and as we’re able to eat delicious and varied foods that are high in satiety, we find ourselves never craving for snacks and able to avoid counting calories and just listening to our bodies.

I think that kicking the sugar habit is every bit as hard as I have read it is to kick cigarettes or drugs. My wife and I both had withdrawals and horrible headaches and body aches when we cut out sugar in our first week of our Whole30.

My sister and I in November 2015. I'd lost about 30 lbs here.

My sister and I in November 2015. I’d lost about 30 lbs here.

We felt better after the first week, but I still had yearnings for pasta and bread for three weeks after cutting out the sugar and carbs.

I can honestly say that I’ve only become immune to carb cravings within the past two months. Now that I’m past it, I feel liberated and I feel like I have a chance to succeed at this lifestyle in a way that I never could before.

Also, my wife and I are a team in our new lifestyle. I’m the one who convinced her to start this with me, and she’s the one who creates our menus and prepares most of our dinners. I help her as a sous chef most nights except for those evening when I make dinner.

I make all my own breakfasts and lunches. On Sundays, my wife and I will make two dishes we can eat throughout the week for lunches or for easy dinners, and I also cook two packages of bacon we use throughout the week. It helps us save time.

There are times when one of us becomes depressed over a lack of perceived progress, and that’s when it’s the other partner’s job to cheer lead and pick us up emotionally.

Neither of us has fallen off the wagon or had any sort of issues, but there are times when it’s frustrating to be doing everything right and not seeing any results.

We invariably find that while we may not have lost weight, our pants are looser or shirts are bigger. It’s this teamwork that has really made the difference for us.

Neither of us wants to let the other down, and while we’re doing this for ourselves, we’re also doing this for each other. It’s so nice to be healthier, to be able to take long walks together, or to hug without having bellies get in the way.

Me in 2014 and in February 2016. There's an 83 lbs difference in these two pictures.

Me in 2014 and in February 2016. There’s an 83 lbs difference in these two pictures.

What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?

I loved food. LOVED it. I not only loved delicious food, but sadly, eating lots and lots of food. The mere volume of food satisfied something inside me that I could never quite put my finger on.

Add to that my lack of exercise and it resulted in weight gain of over 140 lbs from when I left the Marine Corps in 1997.

Where does your motivation come from?

Ironically, from being a Marine. It is there that I learned how to motivate myself, and how to be dedicated and to have discipline. I firmly believe that dedication and discipline are necessary for a successful lifestyle transformation.

I had to dedicate myself to a new lifestyle that was unlike any other I’d ever been in. I had to use every bit of discipline I had to stick to the plan, to not sabotage my progress, and to resist the temptations around me daily.

Motivation plays into it, and it manifests as encouragement to keep with it when I see myself in the mirror or when someone mentions how great I look now.

Major motivation came from the results of my blood tests after losing a lot of the weight; blood sugar normal, liver enzymes normal, cholesterol normal, and all other markers the doctor would be interested in were normal.

I was told to just keep doing whatever it is that I’m doing because it had such a positive impact on my health.


My wife and I at our Valentine’s Day dinner this year.

What Does your daily diet look like?

It’s very Paleo now. My wife and I started by doing a Whole30. Afterward, we stuck to it for a few weeks but then transitioned into the Paleo lifestyle. Since we do occasionally have some hard cheese or dairy in our foods, you could say we’re Primal Paleo.

I start my days with two free-range chicken eggs sunny-side up cooked in coconut oil and two strips of bacon. For lunch, I typically eat left-overs from our dinner the night before which could include a Paleo chili, Mexican Casserole, or smoked ribs.

Dinner tonight was lean ground beef stuffed Portabella mushroom caps with a sweet potato hash. There were no left-overs tonight.

What workout routine has worked best for you?

Honestly, I have not yet started any particular workout routine. I try to walk every day, but nothing major or full-scale yet.

I injured the cartilage in my knees as an Active Duty Marine for 12 years and was advised by my doctor to not engage in any physical exercise involving my knees until I’m under 200 lbs.

That should be soon after which I will begin a C25k program. This is kind of important to note, though. There is a big difference between weight loss and getting fit.

While I’ve lost over 73 lbs as of yesterday, I’m not nearly as fit as I would like. Also, weight loss is possible without exercise.

I know so many people who have told me that they would love to lose weight but they can’t because they are unable to exercise.  To them, I say you can do it! Eat right and stick with it and you will be shocked with the results!


Me with one of my former Marines in January. I’d lost around 60 lbs here.

How has your life changed since the transformation?

Remarkably, yes!

I have so much more energy, I can walk up the stairs in my house without losing my breath, and I can tie my shoes without holding my breath. I can play with little kids or dogs without breaking into a sweat, and I can sit in chairs without worry they will break beneath me.

I also have a lot more self confidence and I generally feel better about myself. Being able to walk into any clothing store and buy clothes off the rack is something I haven’t been able to do in a very, very long time.

Any noticeable difference in the quality of your life?


Since I feel better not only physically but emotionally, I am generally happier.

I’m going through a transition in my career that would normally be causing me a lot of stress, but with the new diet and lifestyle changes, I feel far more hopeful.

Favorite Quote: There is no such thing as a cheat day; it’s sabotage, and I cannot allow sabotage in my life.

You can connect with E.J. via his personal blog at

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