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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...

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September 11, 2015

A Better Way to Live

By Guest
32 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. 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. Thank you for reading!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2Though my primal journey isn’t one of losing hundreds of pounds or overcoming disabling digestion issues, it is one where my life has unquestionably improved from the sweets-loving, chronic cardio lifestyle in which I was buried a few years ago.

As a three-sport athlete in high school, I was desperate for activity after not playing any sports in college. My sister, who is an avid runner, convinced me to take up the sport, and I loved it. I ran a marathon my senior year of college, and worked and worked to improve my half marathon time. Addicted to running, I ignored the small injuries that kept cropping up. My I.T. bands were tight to the point of disabling pain, my lower back was tired, and my knees ached consistently.

My girlfriend (now wife) and I took a cross-country bicycle trip where I hit my not-very-deep rock bottom. After a pre-dinner snack of an entire pack of Oreos (not an exaggeration) one or two times a week on the trip, I came back a pound heavier than when I left. My body composition had changed, but it seemed ridiculous to me to have worked that hard and gained fat. That was July, 2011, and I haven’t eaten any SAD desserts again (though thanks to Danielle Walker, I’ve enjoyed some paleo treats).

Chronic cardio was the only way that I knew to fight the slow, insidious weight gain of the SAD, and, as I now know, you can’t slowly outrun an unhealthy diet. Though I wasn’t terribly overweight, I was certainly gaining a pound or two a year because of my insatiable appetite for food and beer.

As my wedding approached, I went to talk to a personal trainer, and he recommended the paleo diet, some resistance training, and tabatas. After doing a bit of research, I found MDA. I began to nibble away (pun intended) at my bad habits. I would do a paleo month, and then I would revert to the SAD. Then I would live primally for a couple more months to see how it felt. I was able to see the benefits of going paleo, but I wasn’t ready to make a full commitment yet.

sambeforeFinally, in July 2014 at 219 pounds and drinking a borderline ridiculous amount of IPAs, I decided to go primal for a longer stretch. My wife and I were about to leave on a trip to Iceland and the U.K., and I decided to eat thoughtfully on that whole trip. That iteration was more ketogenic than paleo, with lots of full fat dairy products and not many vegetables or fruits. Six days into the new lifestyle, my wife and I both noticed a physical difference. Although I had no specific sickness to overcome, my face was definitely thinner, and I was losing fat quickly. When we got home from the trip, I realized that I felt better and that sticking to this “diet” was what I wanted to do. The fat loss continued as the beginnings of some abs started to appear for the first time in my life.

More interesting, however, was a mental acuity that I hadn’t even known was absent. I was better able to focus on whatever task was at hand, I began making the choice to meditate and play guitar every day, and I drank (and, more importantly, wanted to drink) less.

Another byproduct of the lifestyle is I have become obsessed with cooking and sourcing my food. My college roommate operates a livestock farm in Rhode Island called Wild Harmony Farm, and his meat and eggs are (in my humble opinion) the best in New England. Rather than hummus, whole grains, and fruit, the mainstays of my diet are leafy greens, whatever other vegetables I can get my hands on, bacon, beef, and pork chops straight from the farm. My kitchen has become a place to express creativity and partake in a borderline meditative practice. Wild Harmony Farm has given me the chance to butcher a slaughtered pig, and I have a chest freezer in the basement full of the healthiest food I can imagine.

sammeat2

Admittedly, I began living primally with the goal of LGN. Whatever it takes, right? However, in retrospect, it has infiltrated every part of my life, as I feel more present and happier. I am gratefully in a cycle where making healthy choices begets making more healthy choices.

samafterMy last physical revealed that my cholesterol ratios are fantastic, my doctor (who, miraculously, is also paleo) was pleased with my choices, and I had dropped 30 pounds without starving myself or even feeling hungry.

I still don’t have a six pack (a two pack maybe?), but I can tell there are muscles there now. I am not tempted to eat sugary foods or desserts anymore, and though I occasionally want a beer, and even less occasionally indulge, those cravings have largely gone away, because I have broken my sugar addiction.

Even more importantly, the lure of addictive substances has decreased as my sense of well-being has increased. I am not denying myself instant gratification. I simply no longer find “cheat” foods gratifying.

The primal lifestyle hasn’t been a hugely dramatic story for me. I felt okay before, and I feel better now. I was heavy but not obese before, and I am lighter and healthier now. Simply put, this lifestyle has made me eat, exercise, and live with a bit more joy and purpose. Can’t ask for too much more than that!

Sam

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32 Comments on "A Better Way to Live"

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Alpha Foxtrot
Alpha Foxtrot
1 year 10 months ago

That is a beautiful piece of meat. What cuts are on your table there?

And good work!

Sam
Sam
1 year 10 months ago

Thanks! That’s the pork chops, loin chops, and a couple of butt roasts. It tastes better than it looks.

Sam
Sam
1 year 10 months ago

I should say it tastes even better than it looks.

VJ Mack
VJ Mack
1 year 10 months ago

“…this lifestyle has made me eat, exercise, and live with a bit more joy and purpose. Can’t ask for too much more than that!”

Yes, indeed! What more can one ask for? I’m happy for your physical/emotional/spiritual transformation. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

primal_chiro
1 year 10 months ago

That line for me was also the best part of the story!

Julian
Julian
1 year 10 months ago

+1

Paul
Paul
1 year 10 months ago

Nice work. This is pretty much my story. Never really was super overweight or terribly unhealthy, but I just needed to change bad habits over time until I realized that I would rather feel good most of the time than just when I was eating some sweet foods or drinking beer.

Jessica O
1 year 10 months ago

Great story! And I’m drooling over that meat!

2Rae
2Rae
1 year 10 months ago
Thanks for sharing your story. It has been similar for me, not obese, not fit but not totally out of shape enough to let my son win a running race up a hill. Primal has helped me to be more mindful and eat “real food” and feed my family good food. They are still addicts but they find it harder to “practice” their addiction when they are at home since I have food in the house, not “pretend food” for them to munch on. Lazy people will eat what’s there and we are all somewhat lazy when we eat junk,… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
1 year 10 months ago

I love your story because for many it is a process, not something that comes on overnight. I too was looking for a way to lose weight but found so much more.

Time Traveler
Time Traveler
1 year 10 months ago

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” Buddha

Welcome aboard Sam and congratulation on your achievements.

Clay
Clay
1 year 10 months ago
I dig this story as well as I’m not a tragic story either. Just much improved version of a pretty good older version. I’ve always been fit, but I did get sloppy after my daughter was born. I got introduced to the joys of french cooking, french desserts, and high quality cakes and pastries. My portions got bigger as well. This slowly put on the pounds. The funny thing was, because I was really fit and had a slim type frame, I carried the extra pounds well and was still considered thin by most, especially for my age. The wake-up… Read more »
Paul in Australia
Paul in Australia
1 year 10 months ago

“Then I came to the realization that I was one of those vegetarians that didn’t eat many vegetables. That’s most vegetarians actually.”

There’s a widespread perception that the Paleo diet’s rather carnivorous and not a few people have been surprised when I’ve told them that I, like most Paleo dieters, eat more vegetables than most vegetarians.

Vanessa
Vanessa
1 year 10 months ago

Well done Sam, and beautifully written by the way!

Sam
Sam
1 year 10 months ago

Thank you so much. Thinking about the primal journey was a really fun process.

bayrider
bayrider
1 year 10 months ago
I am another with a similar history. I never worked out a day in my life or worried about what I ate (in retrospect my eating was fairly healthy because I preferred meat, potatoes and rice over sweets and snacks, always ate a second helping of ribs or steak in lieu of a dessert). My drinking choices were beer with dinner and then steadily sipping Maker’s Mark until bedtime. I finally reached a bloated stage after quitting smoking at age 57. Initially I had great success with general primal eating, bike riding and strength exercises, cut out the bourbon. At… Read more »
Cali798x
Cali798x
1 year 10 months ago

Thank you for sharing your story! I am coming to the conclusion that I too need to cut alcohol in order to reduce my body fat/weight. I feel relieved knowing you are still able to have some on the weekends an have results. I love my wine but can live with having some on the weekends knowing that it really did help you and maybe, just maybe it will work for me too. Have fun at Oktoberfest in Chico!

Brent Stephens
1 year 10 months ago
It’s become pretty clear to me that alcohol is a big impediment to transforming body composition, at least at the more advanced ages. I have always loved drinking and never let it get out of control but the fact is I feel better, sleep better, train better and look better with less of it. Wow that sounds like my story above! I too was drinking 3-4 beers a night, and more like a 12pk on the weekends or Margaritas or Rum and Cokes. Those were the killer trying to loose my Goodyear Tire around the mid section and gut. I… Read more »
Nocona
Nocona
1 year 10 months ago

Great story Sam. Another example of tweaking just a few things and the benefits are endless.

HillyM
HillyM
1 year 10 months ago

Excellent story – you look very healthy in the “after” photos. Amazing how such a small step to healthy food makes such a huge impact on our wellbeing ins’t it? In fact it is incredible to think that we have come to the point in the world where we need a website and “success stories” just to tell us to eat unprocessed clean food to make us feel better – SAD (see what I did there!)

PS: wish I had a friend with a beef & pork farm – lucky you!

Primal Pam
Primal Pam
1 year 10 months ago

Great story. It’s all about how you feel. It’s great when you get in touch with how food makes you feel. I have become what I consider to be a food snob. Give me real food and no frankenfoods. I feel a little sorry for people addicted to the junk. Been there and don’t ever want to go back.

Sam V.
Sam V.
1 year 10 months ago
There could be an entire book of the lamentations of former beer drinkers struggling with the primal lifestyle. Maybe a trilogy. When I was disciplined, the weight fell off and everything improved healthwise. But during that time I thought about beer in the morning, in the evening, and most days in between. I rarely have more than two at a time, but sweet providence are they a gift! Pale ales, brown ales, IPA’s stouts, imperial stouts, big, giant DIPA’s, oh my! There is no material thing in life that brings me as much pleasure as beer. I could never eat… Read more »
Toyota Tundra
1 year 10 months ago

I agree that It’s great when you get in touch with how food makes you feel. I have become what I consider to be a food snob. Give me real food and no frankenfoods.

Memo Stephens
1 year 10 months ago

Nice story, Sam. It’s great to see someone embrace the primal lifestyle before they’ve fallen too deeply down the well of modern living. Congrats.

Memo Stephens

Kelli
Kelli
1 year 10 months ago
Hi, Sam! Congratulations on your success! I have a question, though . . . is your diet still mainly ketogenic? Are you still eating full fat dairy? I’m trying to decide whether I want to incorporate dairy into my diet, at all. I recently completed a Whole30 and felt amazing during the process! However, I LOVE cheeses and heavy cream in my coffee. I believe I would feel deprived, otherwise. I do love leafy greens and almost all vegetables, though, and I do have a sweet tooth I would love to get rid of. Any insight on the “dairy question”… Read more »
Sam
Sam
1 year 10 months ago

I wrestle with it frequently. To get to that six pack, I probably should give it up for a few months, but it tastes so freakin’ good. I try to follow Mark’s advice and only eat aged, hard cheese along with yogurt, kefir, etc. Every once in a while I’ll have some home made whipped cream and berries for dessert. That’s probably not really helpful, but it’s where I’m at.

Neil
Neil
1 year 10 months ago

Congrats man! That picture with the piece is so awesome, and it looks so good!!! Keep up the good work man!

Dodge RAM
1 year 4 months ago

Very Interesting…
great Post.

Auto
1 year 4 months ago

the information is very interesting, I like your post. Thanks,,,,,,

Dodge Durango
8 months 16 days ago

Thank you have given the opportunity to share here

Jeep Limited
8 months 9 days ago

very good articles

Honda
5 months 7 days ago

thanks to you, because you are already sharing information that is very useful for me. success always for you

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