Mark Sisson Answers Your Burnin’ Questions:
Why do you have a blog?
According to my staff, I need about five blogs. But seriously, I believe that the more people talk about health with each other, the better. Taking charge of your health is up to you. Often, there’s a hidden bias – you’d be surprised how often the health news item of the day comes straight from some company’s press release (I know this, because I happen to own a successful nutrition company). I believe fundamentally in taking personal responsibility for everything that has ever happened or will ever happen to you – and this applies to health. I am convinced that this is the best, most proactive, effective way to live life. Now, more than ever, you cannot simply hand over your health to others. Take a look at the news: 40 million on their way to type 2 diabetes, a third of Americans morbidly obese, and on and on. I am passionate about changing this.
How do you stay so ripped, dude?
I follow a routine that includes a workout 5 to 6 days a week for about 30 minutes. Some of my workouts are as short as 10 minutes. I alternate between resistance training with free weights and bodyweight, throw in a good deal of low level aerobic activity and sprint maybe once a week. The big joke around here is that at this point in my life, I just want to “look” fit. I’m also an avid snowboarder. For the latest update on what I’m doing check out this post: Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention
Mark, tell me about your family.
My beautiful wife, Carrie, and I have been happily married for over 19 years now. We have two great kids we’re pretty nuts about, Devyn, 18, and Kyle, 15.
Are you a Republican or a Democrat?
I find politics entertaining at times, infuriating at other times. I’m not too political. People’s health and personal enjoyment of life matter more to me than politics and the hot air from the latest pundits.
What do you do on a daily basis?
Every day is a mix of business, family, and activity. I try to get enough sleep and maintain a healthy, stress-free balance (no one is perfect). I do travel a lot, both for business and for pleasure. I do a little bit of everything: I coach, consult, teach, write and speak on a frequent basis. Of course, I run my company, Primal Nutrition. I also read voraciously – mostly history, science, and medical journals (hey, someone has to).
What is your health philosophy?
Really, my health philosophy is surprisingly simple. I follow a diet based on an understanding of evolutionary science. I think it’s more important to eat, move, and live according to how humans are designed and not according to society’s artificial developments of the last 100 years. Fortunately, this regimen is not only incredibly healthy, it’s quite simple.
In a nutshell:
- fresh, organic, unprocessed food – no junk!
- daily activity – whether it’s the gym or a walk along the beach, it all counts
- plenty of quality sleep
- plenty of water, no soda or sweetened drinks
- antioxidants galore – the key to limiting stress
- a good fish-oil supplement
- lots of essential fats, reckless amounts of vegetables, and clean protein
- time for fun – don’t take anything too seriously – ethical behavior – because what goes around comes around
- taking responsibility for yourself and your life – openness to new things and ideas
For more on my health philosophy see my book.
What is your bottom line?
Easy! I am nothing short of outraged by the mass-marketing of deadly drugs, surgery, and lifestyles that do nothing more than destroy people’s lives. I believe humans have a right to something better – if we demand it.
You say some bold stuff. Do you have enemies in the food and drug business?
I don’t really care what people who have sold their souls think about me. I sleep at night.
Do you really chain your employees to their desks?
All right, which one of my staff slipped that in here? The answer, by the way: only on Fridays.
How old are you?
57, never better!
Why should I listen to you?
You shouldn’t. I’m partly kidding, of course, but I do believe in critically assessing everything we come across, particularly if it has an impact on our health – including anything I say. I learn something new from my readers every day.
What kind of music do you like?
I love all kinds. I am partial to Earth, Wind and Fire; The Doors; REM; Pearl Jam; and The Police.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is a big, 20-ingredient salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Really. (I know, I know. Lettuce???) But for 20 years now, I have enjoyed a daily salad in my trusty 6-quart Tupperware bowl. I throw in turkey, salmon or tuna, sometimes some nuts like almonds or walnuts, along with tons of veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers and artichokes. I always say real men eat lettuce.
What is your favorite beer? Can I ask that?
Sure. I like some light imports and pale ales.
You founded a supplement company, Primal Nutrition. What is your philosophy when it comes to your customers and business?
Well, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t really separate the personal from the professional. People come first. Help people, only say yes if you can do it (be sincere), treat your employees as well as you treat your family, and your business will do well – that’s been my personal experience, anyway.
Mark: Mac or PC?
I hear the Worker Bees are fiercely divided. I stay above the fray.
What do you think about carbs?
Not very much. In particular, refined carbohydrates are a primary factor in contributing to obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety and depression, lack of energy, inflammation, metabolic syndrome or “Syndrome X” and heart disease. I subscribe to the Primal Blueprint diet, which essentially follows the evolutionary model of meats, fish, greens, nuts, vegetables and limited fruits. I believe the evidence is compelling that carbohydrates in grain form, especially the highly-processed varieties found in most restaurant and prepared items, are simply not a good energy source for human health.
What are your top 5 values?
5) Curiosity: having a critical openness to new ideas
What are your top 5 pet peeves?
Where to start?
1) Impenetrable plastic packaging
2) People who don’t take responsibility for their actions
3) Telephone support for just about everything!
4) Dessert Menus (the food we eat after we’ve … already eaten)
5) Doctors who would rather prescribe meds that prolong a condition rather than spend the time to educate the patient on the simple lifestyle changes that would eliminate the condition. No brainer.
What’s your favorite way to exercise?
Snowboarding, but I’ll try my hand at just about anything.
How much do you sleep?
Usually, 7 hours a night.
If you’re still here, I’m impressed. Here’s even more about me (the official bio):
I am the oldest of four children, born and raised in Maine. I was always interested in human health and athletic performance, probably because my father had been a top track and field athlete and inspired me to test myself at an early age (I even broke my leg at age two jumping off a rock for distance). By age 12, I was holding one-boy track meets in my backyard, running laps around the block and pole-vaulting with a bamboo pole into a dirt pit. My mother was always interested in achieving good health through nutrition, so I also began devouring books on health and nutrition.
I excelled at cross-country and distance track events in high school and at Williams College, where I was a pre-med candidate and received my degree in Biology.
In fact, the running was going so well after college that I decided to forgo medical school for a few years (it’s at 31 years now) and concentrate on a running career. I trained seriously as a marathoner for another five years, racking up well over 100 miles each week in training. The effort culminated in a top 5 finish in the 1980 US National Marathon Championships and a qualifying spot for the 1980 US Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, by then the inhuman amount of training and weekly racing was taking its toll and I found myself constantly sick or injured. (Note to self: too much exercise is not a good thing). In fact, in my last year of competition, as a world class, extremely “fit” athlete, I experienced eight upper respiratory infections! Clearly I was ruining my immune system and my joints doing too much exercise. That’s when I started exploring nutrition and supplementation as a way to enhance my performance and to support my damaged body and bolster my immune system.
The running injuries – osteoarthritis and tendonitis – precluded ever racing at a high level again, but that was just about the time that the new sport of Triathlon was starting to emerge, and I was immediately hooked. While I couldn’t run much anymore, I could certainly cycle and swim to my heart’s content…and I did. I spent a few more years racing triathlons, including finishing 4th place at the Hawaii Ironman, the biggest in the world at the time.
I finally retired from competition in 1988 and decided I would do whatever I could to help others avoid making the kinds of health mistakes that I had made. I figured I could use my pre-medical background, my degree in biology and an intense desire to unlock the health secrets that I knew were out there – answers to questions about health, wellness, anti-aging, safe weight-loss, nutrition and supplementation – to find the natural ways of achieving good health.
I wrote several books, including Maximum Results, The Fat Control System, The Anti-aging Report and The Lean Lifestyle Program (over 400,000 copies distributed). I edited the Optimum Health national health newsletter (circ. 90,000) from 1994 through 1996.
But most importantly, I saw the need for specific natural supplements to address the concerns of aging baby-boomers who needed nutritional “tools” to help them achieve better health. I was appalled at the amount of medications people were taking and the speed with which people were having surgery to address lifestyle problems. So I drew on my extensive research and science background to design natural state-of-the-art health-enhancing nutritional supplements and educational diet and exercise systems.
During this time, I also served for 15 years as the volunteer elected anti-doping and drug-testing chairman of the International Triathlon Union and as its liaison to the International Olympic Committee.
At the end of 2006, I decided to jump into the blogosphere to help foster compelling, critical and enjoyable health discussions. So far, it’s been incredibly rewarding.
For interviews, guest posts, questions, criticisms, and outrage, shoot me a line via the contact form. I’m more than happy to respond to your thoughts, and I try my best to answer every email I get.