Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means more Primal Blueprint Real Life Stories. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thanks for reading!
After reading some of the other stories on your site, I decided to share mine with you too. I too was your typical high school athlete, I played basketball year round and some football, got strong fast, and I could eat Arby’s 5 for 5 without thinking twice. Then came college (do you see a pattern here?). I actually stayed pretty fit throughout college somehow without much more than the occasional pickup basketball game, but over time the beer and crap food choices began to catch up with me. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back at pictures I was a poster boy for “skinny fat”. I graduated from college in 2007 and came home to an always exciting cubicle job, and that’s when all…physical…activity…stopped. I got an apartment with my girlfriend (now my wonderful wife), tried P90X for about a month and quit, obsessed over wanting to look and feel better but never did anything about it.
My wife and I got married in Key West in January 2010. Looking at the pictures as time went on I was not really satisfied with myself, but I kinda figured at 27 (about 215 pounds), maybe I’ve passed up any opportunity to really look how I want to look. Turns out I was dead wrong. One day in the spring of 2010 I was exceptionally motivated and we (Krista and I) went to a local personal training facility. We did a workout, learned alot (like my usual giant bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch was less than ideal) but were in no shape financially to pay for personal training (we just bought a house within the last year). So now what? We spent a weekend up in Northern Wisconsin with two friends; we spent our time trying handstands on the beach and having my friend Jason talk our ear off about thing thing called CrossFit (thanks, by the way Jason). He heard about it from another good friend we had in college who had been training using the functional crossfit methods for sometime. We came home and called our local box, and signed up for a 2 week trial. I literally barely made it through the warm up on day one but we loved it and have been going strong for almost a year now. During that time I’ve learned alot about nutrition. I recently finished your Primal Blueprint book while on vacation and before that I read The Paleo Solution. In the time I’ve adopted the Primal way of eating and living, I have noticed my body composition change unbelievably fast (now I weigh about 190), I haven’t been sick and I always feel perfectly rested and alert everyday. I cook all of our meals everyday for my wife and I and we’ve even signed up for a local CSA farm share this summer. Between that and our small garden we’ll have more fresh, home-grown veggies than we’ll know what to do with! By no means are we perfect (a point in your book I thought was pretty important), we definitely treat ourselves to some sweets now and then, but overall I’ve been living the Primal life (and my wife too, indirectly) and I love everything about it.
So before I ramble on for too long here, I just wanted to say thanks for putting together such a great book and I hope you’ve enjoyed my story. I’ve attached a couple of pictures, one from January 2010 in Key West and the other from April 2011, after about 10 months of doing CrossFit and about 1 month of eating pretty strictly Primal.
My dad is a food scientist for a major processed food company and my mom is Italian. Needless to say, I grew up on carbs. I always had things like chips, cookies, microwavable meals, mac ‘n cheese, soda, and ice cream in the house as a kid. We ate plenty of starches and grains in our Standard American Diet household. I never questioned the Conventional Wisdom because my dad had a degree in nutrition and knew everything about food. We were eating “healthy” as far as I knew.
I started putting weight when I was pretty young. I was never really big, but always had a gut. I assumed I just needed to exercise more. I spend a lot of my high school and college life trying to motivate myself to run and work out more. Nothing ever worked. I’d lose a bit here and there, but always gain it back. It didn’t help that I’d have half a bag of Doritos after a workout. I always stayed pretty chubby. It never occurred to me that it was the eating habits, not the lack of exercise that was keeping me fat.
I went to college and the belly continued to grow. I managed to lose some weight in my second year there through lots of working out and working my butt off while pledging a fraternity. But by the end of college I still ended up with my “Freshmen 15”. I started to learn a bit about eating then and totally bought into the whole grains thing. Of course this didn’t help the spare tire I was accumulating.
Then I graduated and got a nice desk job where I could sit all day long! I kept going with the whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy, and lean meats thing. I ate a lot of turkey and mustard sandwiches on wheat bread back then. Add to it plenty of oatmeal, granola bars, fruit, and “yogurt” and I thought I was eating healthy. Not to mention the hour long elliptical sessions…
Then about a year and a half ago, I was doing more research on how to lose weight. At this point I was pushing 230 at 6’. I know this is not terrible, but I started having to buy size 36 pants and was not happy about it. I used calorie trackers religiously and did plenty of cardio and weight machines. None of it was working though. I was the fattest I’d ever been.
While doing that research, I happened to find Mark’s Daily Apple on Reddit and started reading. I think I read the whole archive of the blog in the next two days. It immediately made sense to me. I realized that I hadn’t been eating real food this whole time. It was like having a blind fold pulled off. It was all finally making sense.
Within a few months of eating about 80% paleo/Primal I dropped back under 200 pounds. I felt better and looked great. To this day, I’ve kept it under 200, even getting down to 190 at one point. I still have an inch around the belly that I’d like to lose, but it’s not much. Now I’m getting more into heavy weight lifting and some intermittent fasting to get rid of that last bit. Today is actually a big day for me because I squatted 195 pounds (my current bodyweight) in the gym.
Now I’m focused on getting stronger and living a more paleo/Primal life. The Standard American Diet is truly a product of advertising with no regard to the wellbeing of the actual consumers. I find that a lot of this goes along with minimalism and rejection of what TV tells people to buy. (There is no way kids need to eat fruit loops just because there is extra fiber added) I try to keep with the paleo/Primal mindset of questioning everything that Conventional Wisdom tells us and thinking for oneself.
My next goal is to work on getting my dad to try the Primal/paleo eating plan. It’ll be a bit of work convincing a food scientist that food products are bad for you. But his gut is bigger than mine was so I hope he listens. That and figure a way to not need this desk job anymore. Grok definitely didn’t know what a cubicle is.
Lee – Surviving the Cubicle
I wanted to share some interesting results with my Primal lifestyle.
About five months ago I decided to get off the couch and get in shape. I use to be in shape (Sprint Triathlons), but after the birth of our two children – I let myself go – work stress, no time to exercise, kids first, et cetera… same situation as many people. I decided I needed something to motivate me – so I signed up for something dramatic. I signed up for Navy SEALs “hell week” training for civilians. I learned about this from an extreme vacations show on the Travel channel. The program is called Extreme SEAL Experience (www.extremesealexperience.com). As a side note, I do not receive any compensation for posting this. I’m posting it just in case someone else is interested. Mark Sisson> Interested in taking the challenge?
After signing up, I started going to the gym, running, etc. I was feeling better, but I wasn’t losing any weight for the first two months – I figured it was because I was converting fat into muscle… and muscle weighs more, right? Then I remember seeing an old friend on FaceBook awhile back that had lost a lot of weight since the High School days. He said his “secretS was the Primal Blueprint. And that was the turning point for me. I read the book and changed my eating habits and workout routines according to the Primal Blueprint. So during the last two months prior to my civilian SEALs course I lost 17 pounds. I was pretty excited and motivated to see my love handles and double chin fade away. I was starting to feel fit enough for my civilian SEALs course.
The civilian SEALs course is as demanding as you can imagine. However, one thing I was not expecting was the huge meals they provided. I was thinking we would be eating military style MREs. But instead they were large “Southern Comfort” foods. The meals were loaded with pastas, breads, rice… a very high carb intake… which at that point I wasn’t use to eating. However, with as much energy we were expending – I needed fuel from any where I could get it. So I ate everything they provided. (Everything is delicious when you are exhausted.) After seven days of burning several thousand calories a day I was expecting that I would lose some more fat and build more muscle tone. (We did about 800 push-ups the first day?!) But when I got home and weighed myself I had actually gained four pounds. Perhaps it was muscle, but I account it to the very high carb intake. I quickly changed back to the Primal lifestyle and I lost those 4 pounds in about two weeks.
So my result was that even with a very physically demanding exercise routine combined with a very high carb intake – it did not result in weight lost or increased muscle tone for me. Afterwards, switching back to Primal eating habits with low intensity activity/sprinting resulted in weight loss.
Enjoy the moment,