Meet Mark

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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December 31, 2014

End of the Year Review: What We Learned in 2014

By Mark Sisson
33 Comments

2014 reviewAt the dawn of a new year, I like to go back and revisit everything from the past year on the blog. It helps me reflect on the past and plan for the future. 365 posts a year is a lot to remember, and sometimes you need to go back and jog your memory. Then it all comes flooding back. Normally, I do this at home, in my office, in quiet solitude, as a sort of personal ritual.  This year, I’ve decided to publish my remembrances.

2014 has been a big year. Let’s take a look at what we learned and explored together. Where to begin? Well, first…

I took a step back to look at the big picture of human history, addressing the “criticism” that simply won’t die and isn’t even a real criticism of ancestral health: that there was no one single grand overarching paleo diet. Critics love to point this out, as if it destroys the credibility of what we’re doing here. In reality, it strengthens our resolve and our credibility. There’s no one true paleo diet, but so what? Definite trends exist in observed hunter-gatherer and ancestral dietary patterns, we actually do know many foods they ate as staples, and we can learn a lot from studying them. Reality is messy and complicated, without simple answers, and that’s totally okay.

Nutrition was a huge focus. Rather than flail around mindlessly, you learned to watch for the signs you need more carbs, more protein, and more fat. You also learned when not to eat more protein. We revisited the omega-3/omega-6 ratio and questioned our previous stance — was it really as important as we thought? — and we explored the effects of artificial sweeteners on gut health.

As always, food was a major subject on MDA. You discovered the power of medicinal foods, the surprising nutritional content of mushrooms, how to choose a good dark chocolate, plus any potential downsides of dark chocolate. I published a comprehensive guide to buying, cooking, and storing perfect eggs, and I even broke out the old “Is It Primal?” series for a new round of foods. I also explained the potential downsides of processed meat and the advantages of gently cooking your food.

Supplements, too. I gave a comprehensive breakdown of the usefulness (or not) of antioxidant supplements. The myriad benefits of whey protein that have nothing to do with building muscle also got extensive coverage.

We can’t forget gluten. In 2014, together we looked at whether or not gluten is unhealthy in non-celiacs, explored the supposed “dangers” of going gluten-free without a doctor’s note, and researched the connection between gluten and irritable bowel syndrome. Yep, it’s still not very good for you.

You also learned a whole lot about walking this year — more than you thought you didn’t know (that sentence makes sense, I think). You learned the many benefits of walking regularly, both to physical and emotional health, and how to make it more exciting (and sustaining). You even walked with our ancestors as they traversed the globe, exploring the world, shaping the human experience, and setting an example for our greatest thinkers, writers, and artists.

2014 saw us hone in on fitness in a big way. My focus was on helping you find a sustainable plan for physical activity. You figured out how to determine the very best exercise for your body; how to distinguish between movement, exercise, and training; why exercise sometimes feels like a chore or a drag (and what to do about it); and whether or not bodyweight exercises are enough for good strength and fitness. You learned the ten most important rules for successful exercise, why everyone can benefit from a breakthrough workout every now and then, and why you should run a mile. And just in case you needed a little more motivation, I explained what to do when you only want to sit on the couch and just why squatting and sprinting are so important for health and fitness (plus, how to avoid sprinting injuries). For those of you who can’t, or don’t care to squat, we’ve flouted the experts and provided some worthy alternatives. We also explored how fitness is changing “out there,” with top athletes adopting many of the same modalities we’ve been championing for years.

We took a close look at what resistant starch is. We explored who can benefit from it and who can’t. We ran self-experiments to determine the best way to work it into our eating strategies. And, quite frankly, we analyzed the stuff to death and even investigated the paradoxical claim that it increases the risk of colon cancer.

The focus on resistant starch led us to delve more deeply into the wonderfully weird internal world of the gut biome. We explored the things most people never even knew gut bacteria could do, like manufacture steroid hormones and influence our behavior. We also learned about how the things we do and eat in turn affect our gut bacteria. Speaking of the gut, I explained what happens when it gets leaky and how that affects your health, and I provided a few good tips for establishing a healthy gut in your Primal babies. I even talked about the skin biome and learned how to support a healthy one.

Work life balance was a big issue this year. I asked if Grok would have worked overtime and I asked you to really question whether that long commute was worth the trouble, time, and money. In the event that it wasn’t worth it, you learned how and why to telecommute.

I also covered other generally healthy habits, like morning movement sessions. I talked about my decision to give up alcohol for the foreseeable future, even adding some healthy ways to relax and chill out at night that didn’t involve alcohol. I also explored a few alternatives to traditional coffee or tea for waking up in the morning (although if you want coffee, there’s no better thing than a Primal egg coffee frappe).

I asked whether the obesity epidemic is exaggerated and statins are worth the health risks, and wondered if the dietary guidelines are due for a change (they are). I also went over a few signs you aren’t as healthy as you think you are.

We explored our connection to nature (including water), and why severing that connection only leads to unhappiness and poor health. You learned to heed the call of the wild, to acknowledge and cherish your place in the savage world. You learned how sunlight may actually protect you from the worst kind of skin cancer.

Things got a little weird this year, too, with us seriously considering the idea that infectious parasitic worms may actually reduce the incidence of autoimmune disease and regulate our immune systems to work better and that playing video games can actually improve cognition and decision making skills. We welcomed the release of the EXO Bar, a protein bar made from cricket flour, and we learned the proper roadmap for exposing our little ones to dirt, mud, and hopefully non-toxic amounts of animal droppings (just avoid that raccoon poop). You also learned how to manipulate your own neurochemistry using foods, physical activity, and experiences to produce natural (and legal) highs.

2014 saw MDA take a more serious look at the psychological aspects of health. Every Thursday, I turned inward and learned a great deal many truths: a new way to look at affluence, the importance of being thankful for one’s health, the true cost of health, the benefits of being present, the power of a growth mindset, the pros and cons of comparing yourself to others. We explored why we eat (cravings, hunger, and other people) and how to accept our imperfections.

Things aren’t always serious around here. Cheeks have tongue grooves for a reason, getting silly is fun, and satire is oftentimes the best way to get to the heart of a problem. Whether it was learning about the incredible weight loss technology awaiting us in the near future or how to outsource your physical activity to avoid unpleasant sweat, elevated heart rates, and unseemly muscle and fitness gains, I had you covered.

We were lucky enough to have a host of talented guest posters grace us with their knowledge, too. Denise Minger told the story of how she healed the tooth decay caused by her vegan diet (she also wrote a book). Dr. Ron popped his head in to stress the importance of flexibility in health and diet (he wrote a book, too). Bodyweight training master Al Kavadlo gave us a few tips on stretching, Kevin Geary showed us how to liven up our walking, Bethany McDaniel from Primal Pastures told us about the time she killed a chicken and ate it, Michelle Fitzpatrick told us why kids need sun, and Larry Istrail showed us what to take away from crowdsourced ancestral health data.

Every week, delicious recipes were posted to the blog, whetting appetites and fueling family dinners across the community. From snacks like bacon trail mix, cabbage chips, cauliflower muffin bites, and Primal Fuel bars to full-fledged meals like Cuban mojos, lamb meatballs in fenugreek coconut sauce, slow cooker harissa stew, pressure cooker braised short ribs, and chicken vindaloo, 2014 featured some wonderful recipes. Oh, and something called bacon jam exists. It’s as wonderful as you’re imagining.

I can’t forget the Success Stories, which never cease to amaze. Jay overcame overtraining to excel with Primal Blueprint Fitness. Barbie ditched her diabetes medication. Anne-Marie beat Crohn’s. Larry lost 100 pounds, Tim lost 228, Felicia lost 110, and a skeptic was converted. A boy overcame “reverse dysmorphia,” a triathlete made Primal work, and mama successfully retrieved her misplaced sexy. Bob made his passion his business and a pro baseball pitcher improved his game. People have beat terminal illness and injuries. Entire families have made the switch. And those are just a few of them.

Yeah, 2014 was pretty, pretty good. I can’t wait to see what we’ll discover, explore, and learn together in 2015. See you there!

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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33 Comments on "End of the Year Review: What We Learned in 2014"

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Jacob
2 years 8 months ago

A great wealth of information you gave us this year, Mark. Wish you the best in 2015.

Groktimus Primal
2 years 8 months ago

And the main thing we learned? How darn little we know (as usual).

Cody
Cody
2 years 8 months ago

To all the Groks and Grokettes out there, here’s hoping that 2015 exceeds your wildest dreams. Grok on!

Hopefully this (coming) year I will finally make it to a PrimalCon!

Cindy
Cindy
2 years 8 months ago

Thanks for all you do! Happy New Year!

Tom B-D
2 years 8 months ago

Mark, I’m grateful as always for your leadership and work–how do you do 365 blog posts a year, anyway?!–and for this thriving online Primal community.

Grok on into 2015!!

Daniel
Daniel
2 years 8 months ago

Thanks for the balanced view and amount of external references you supply. Hoping this year will see me with my Daniel Craig body by the summer. My wife hopes so too…

Leslie
2 years 8 months ago

Mark,
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for keeping it straight forward, to the point and therefore easy to understand the “why” of it all.

Jamie Logie
2 years 8 months ago

Happy New Year Mark, thank you for all you do and Happy New Year to everyone as well

-Jamie

Al Day
Al Day
2 years 8 months ago
Hi Mark, I’m new to Primal Blueprint this year and it has made me realise how we in England have been brainwashed by the cereal, bread, margarine (in fact nearly every) manufacturing company. and what amazes me is that our Government has allowed this to happen to it’s people! Over 25% of Brits are obese today, that is an absolute tragedy. Us Brits have a General Election next May and I wish you Mark were a candidate on my ballot paper! Voting for Primal Blueprint would save Great Britain billions of £’s in National Health Service costs, lost days at… Read more »
John Caton
2 years 8 months ago

Mark, 2014 was the year I got my health back and your information had a lot to do with that. I’ll always be grateful to you and fondly remember this year.

I hope 2015 leads many more to your door and that they find the help that sets them free as well.

Happy New Year!

Grokesque
Grokesque
2 years 8 months ago

This year has seen some big improvements in my health, thanks to MDA and Mark for much needed info and advice. A happy New Year to you, the worker bees and everyone out there. Enjoy your celebrations!

Barbara R
Barbara R
2 years 8 months ago

I’ve been absorbing all you have to say for a few months now…I’m new to this lifestyle, but I hope to be one of your success stories in 2015! Thank you for educating the masses and have a Healthy & Happy New Year!

Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
2 years 8 months ago

Exactly what Barbara said!

Sue
Sue
2 years 8 months ago

Happy New Year, Mark. This was my first year going primal/paleo after seeing you on “The 700 Club” discussing IBS and arthritis, and again talking about the 21-Day Challenge…I decided to embrace the challenge because you are my age. I found it quite easy to lose 35 pounds; I have about 10 more to go, and I am energized and very happy with my health. Keep up the good advice and enjoy each day you are blessed with.

Time Traveler
Time Traveler
2 years 8 months ago

Marks,

2014 has been a big year in so many ways and I can’t wait to see what 2015 will be like. A big thank you (and everyone at MDA) for your insight and thoughtful advise, for challenging and encouraging us and last but not the least, for terrific recipes (I just cooked a tasty sweet potato bolognese).

Happy New Year everyone!

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 8 months ago

I hope to get my 2015 MDA with lots of Mayo…

Dr. K
Dr. K
2 years 8 months ago
Well Mark – in the spirit of recap – in April it’ll be 5 years since I was turned on to you and your website (and 6 years since I had a stent put in my LAD) and switched from a no fat to a high fat diet – I’ve learned that all I can do is pick a path and monitor it to see if the path is working – in my case my inflammation markers are down, colds, respiratory congestion, kanker sores gone, testosterone and HDL up – to the extent that my doctor friends are going high… Read more »
Erin
2 years 8 months ago

Happy new year, Mark and readers!! Just wondering, when will the 21-Day Transformation challenge start?

Stacie
Stacie
2 years 8 months ago

Happy New Year Mark and all the worker bees, and all the wonderful people in this community. Here’s to 2015 – learning even more and making each day better than the last. Grok on!

Jed
Jed
2 years 8 months ago

I’m bookmarking this page. I suggest others do the same. There are so many links that it will take me some time to read the ones I missed. So bookmarking this page makes sense to me.

Nate
Nate
2 years 8 months ago

Belated Happy New Year!

I know that some European dud probably set up the idea that the new year starts ten days after, what I consider, the real new year, the Winter Solstice. I think it had something to do with allowing the waring season to be as long as possible. But, from all of the archeological structures that were laid out based on the movement of the Sun, I’m sure Grok celebrated the new year with the return of the Sun.

Hoping you all have a wonderful New Year and enjoy the new sunlight!

ShaSha
ShaSha
2 years 8 months ago

So much thanks to Mark for all the great and life-saving/enhancing information!

Happy New Year! to all and Grok On!!!

nekta
nekta
2 years 8 months ago

I’m rather new to this site, but this year in review will be my go to source for 2015 (amongst all the other nuggets of gold littered here)..
I’ve got a lot to learn but cannot wait
happy 2015

Vanessa
Vanessa
2 years 8 months ago

Happy New Year to Mark, worker bees and the rest of the community!

Brian Beaven
2 years 8 months ago

Happy New Year Mark! Thank you for all of the information you have provided this year and all the past years. Grok on!

Casey
Casey
2 years 8 months ago

I love this website. 🙂

Heather
Heather
2 years 8 months ago

A balanced sane view on life has made this website and it’s workers and it’s community a joy to interact with, I never feel far away despite living in rural Australia. I will be bookmarking this page as well. I have had a challenging year health wise, but I know that sites and communities of this calibre have insights that just can’t be found in western medicine. Thank you all, have a safe, healthful and connected 2015.

Pedro Pereira
2 years 8 months ago

Really awesome article as always Mark. Thanks!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
2 years 8 months ago
I’ve started doing a new indoor alternative to squats and sprints. If I extend my arms out to the side a bit in the kitchen of where I’m staying I can hold on to the edge of the sink and have one hand flat on the counter opposite to it and then drop into lunges with one leg behind and one forward, trying to get a good stretch going low and then spring up, pushing down on my hands a bit to help, and switch what foot is forward and back in the air, and keep doing that as fast… Read more »
whitedaisygirl
whitedaisygirl
2 years 8 months ago

LOL! Just imagining this made my day.

Lisa
Lisa
2 years 8 months ago

I am so thankful that I have MDA in my life. What a difference it has made and continues to make. To myself and my husband, and to our children. People listen to the words I bring to them about these changes because we are living proof !!

WC
WC
2 years 8 months ago

When essentially the whole article is highlighted green links, it becomes hard to read.

Lesley
2 years 8 months ago

Love this round up of the year… Good idea and I will be implementing it on my blog. Your articles on our connection to nature and general healthy habits were of most interest to me, thanks. Wishing you a good and healthy year ahead.

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