The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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
As many of you know, I have a long history as a former elite endurance athlete. Back in the day, I achieved a 2:18 marathon and landed 4th place in the Hawaii Ironman. That was all well and good, but above all I was vying for Olympic gold. There was just one small issue: I was giving my body the beat down in the process. At the time, guided by traditional training advice, my eye was on the prize, not the long term sacrifices I was making to get there. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. After years of spending time in the endurance game, life had other things in store for me—researching, blogging, and sharing my story with all of you, for example. And I’ve never looked back. But that hasn’t stopped me from respecting the awesome achievements made by my past contemporaries, or the great wisdom they have to share as a result of their boundary breaking feats.
The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge manifests differently for everyone. Some folks are focused on improving their diets, on removing this food or adding that food. Some have committed to optimizing their sleep by getting to bed at a certain time and eliminating nighttime electronics. And many just want to look better naked. But there’s one tie that binds nearly everyone I’ve interacted with through the course of this and previous challenges: physical activity. Whether you’re trying to eat, sleep, or look better, exercise matters. Effective exercise especially matters for everyone, and my intent when creating Primal Blueprint Fitness was to democratize fitness without compromising it—to distill effective training down to its essential elements so that everyone could practice it.
Hydration. It seems like it should be so easy: drink some water, go about your day, the end. If only it was that simple. In fact, there are many (often contradictory) opinions out there about what we should be drinking, and how much, and when, especially for the athletes among us. I have written about hydration before, and kept up to date with breaking research in recent years. Now, as I am working on the completely revised, updated, and expanded edition of The Primal Blueprint (slated for release in December 2016), I’d like to share a more sophisticated and nuanced opinion on the subject. As you might recall, in the original Primal Blueprint I essentially said, “obey your thirst like Grok did” and left it at that. So let’s dig a little deeper, especially for those of us who are active and athletic.
For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering just a single reader question, but it’s a big one. Janice and her husband have endured their family’s light-hearted ribbing about their “caveman lifestyle” for years. Now that the paterfamilias of the clan is severely obese, almost 80 years old, and recovering from a relatively mild stroke, the family has turned to Janice’s expertise for help changing his ways. How can she convince her father that it’s never too late to get healthy? That changing your diet, exercise, and lifestyle can improve even the most unhealthy person’s trajectory and enjoyment of life? She’s confident that if she can just get through to her dad, the rest of the family—who also needs an intervention—will inevitably follow suit.
Let’s give it a shot:
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. First, Will wonders whether his brother’s recent back injury from lifting a bag of mortar and his father’s lifelong bout with spinal stenosis following a deadlift injury should inform his exercise choices. Is the deadlift inherently risky? How prevalent is disc degeneration, and what does it mean? Then, Mike is a very active 52 year-old with a history of great blood pressure readings who’s been Primal for four months. At his latest checkup, his blood pressure and heart rate were elevated. Should he worry? What could it mean?
I’m mostly joking with the title. Though, considering how much I’ve written on this topic since starting this blog way back in 2006, it’s probably not too far off. And it’s not just me. Endurance training has been getting the snot beaten out of it in recent years. A variety of media outlets, TED talks, other blogs, observational research and clinical trials have all sounded the alarm about the dangers of excessive chronic cardio.
A new string of studies has found evidence of higher arterial plaque levels in the most active endurance athletes. This is becoming a trend. While endurance athletes tend to have more of the calcified kind of plaque, which is more stable and theoretically less prone to dangerous ruptures than less-calcified plaque, it remains worrying. I’ve spoken in the past about the proclivity toward heart problems found in endurance athletes. I know many former peers with atherosclerosis, cardiac arrhythmias, and other heart troubles.