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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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December 13, 2013

For the First Time Ever, I Feel Healthy and Happy

By Guest
146 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!

Hi Mark,

I was always a little on the big side as a kid, but as I got older my weight became a huge (pardon the pun) issue. From quite early on, I was conscious of my weight but hadn’t got a clue how to change things. I went to boarding school at 12, and was dreadfully homesick. My mum sent me back to school with piles of treats to try cheer me up. She was trying to help, but really it did the opposite. Another problem was the poor nutrition in the school. Cereals for breakfast, starchy food for lunch and pizza for dinner. Schools in Ireland need a serious wake up call when it comes to educating students about nutrition. I’m hoping that I can work with schools on this one in the future. So years of eating poor quality food created bad habits, nasty comments in school contributed to low self confidence and body image issues. By 16, I was heavily overweight and had stopped all organised sports in school because of poor fitness and my dented confidence.

That year was the first time my weight had really impacted my health. During the summer, I woke one morning with swollen glands all over, my eyes were almost swollen shut, as was my throat. My mum was so concerned she took me to hospital where I remained for three weeks. I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever. For the next 18 months, I suffered from chronic fatigue, low mood, psoriasis, eczema, cold and flu like symptoms and endless doctors visits. In all that time, no doctor ever suggested elimination of wheat or a change of diet. My diet remained carb and processed-food heavy, and my weight rocketed as my self esteem plummeted.

In hindsight, I don’t think I ever fully recovered from the period when I had glandular fever. Or perhaps I’d done such damage to my body with processed foods that I didn’t know what feeling good felt like anymore. Or maybe I never actually knew what feeling good meant.

I spent my early 20s miserable and depressed, with very little motivation or passion for anything. At 22, a CT scan showed two tumors in my temporal lobe. Now that made me sit bolt upright and think about my life. I had laser therapy, surgery, cryotherapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and for a long time, nothing worked. At the same time, because of all the blood work I was having done, I was diagnosed with ITP (a blood disorder which causes your body to destroy platelets). My body had turned on me, and seemed intent on destroying me. I struggled with bouts of serious depression, and after confiding in my medical team, the only solution they saw was hospitalisation for depression and more medication. I spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital that consistently served processed foods to the patients.

Diane - Before

I decided it was time to change. I looked at a photo of myself, and realised I needed to take drastic action and do everything I could to help my recovery. I wanted to get better. I wanted to feel well. Up until I saw this photo, I wasn’t ready to make changes to my lifestyle. I didn’t really know how, I was afraid people would judge me, and I really don’t deal with failure well. Fear held me back. Seeing that photo pushed me into action. I didn’t want to spend the next 50 years depressed, sweaty and obese. I also didn’t want to die. I decided to take every step I could towards improving my physical and mental health. I stocked up on healthy foods and joined a commercial gym. I went religiously every day, and ate according to common nutritional advice (namely the food pyramid). As I started to see progress (my weight was decreasing from a shocking 341 pounds), I started to research how to use nutrition as a tool to improve my health. As I learned more about the inflammatory effects of wheat, and the addictive properties of sugar, I discovered Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and consequently your blog and The Primal Blueprint.

I jump between paleo and primal, but what is far more important to me than the label of either plan, is the knowledge that I’m eating real food which hasn’t been destroyed by processing and the addition of chemicals. The main reason I find it such a sustainable way of life is that it’s simple. There’s no hard sell of supplements or meal replacement shakes, it’s all about eating clean food which thankfully is in plentiful supply in Ireland.

After cleaning up my diet, I finally started to see progress in overcoming illness. The tumors miraculously shrank, my depression lifted, I had more energy and things looked a little brighter.

I joined an amazing new gym, with amazing coaches and members and I love strength training now. I’ve always had their full support to train during treatment cycles and keep pushing to improve my health. I owe my trainers a lot for their encouragement to keep going.

A year ago this week, I was diagnosed with MS (which I’ve only recently learned is strongly linked to Glandular Fever). That was a tough one to deal with, but I got on with it. I kept training, stuck to my new lifestyle and I’ll keep on going. It will take a really strong tranquilliser dart to stop me living my life!

I’m continuing with DMD for MS and platelet transfusions for the ITP, but as I get stronger and healthier, I’m hoping that nutrition will be my primary medicine and I can step away from traditional methods, despite being told by a neurologist that “no hippy fad diet would keep me from a wheelchair”. I’m not sure Dr. Terry Wahls would agree with that!

Diane - After

Since going fully Primal 15 months ago, my health is the best it has been in years: MS flares are at a minimum, my hair has finally started to grow again despite serious radiation burns to my scalp, I jump out of bed every day excited about what’s in store for me, I honestly never look in the mirror and feel unhappy. There are things I’d like to improve, but that’ll come with training.

It’s now just over two years since I decided to make a change and I have lost over half my body weight, dropped 8 dress sizes, train really hard, lift heavy (who knew that lifting heavy stuff wouldn’t turn girls into men!), eat incredible real food, and have so much energy!

For the first time ever, I feel healthy and happy. Life is fantastic, and I absolutely credit my change in lifestyle with all the positives I’m experiencing now.

I’m four days away from being a fully qualified Personal Trainer, and I am so excited about helping people discover how amazing it feels to be healthy and happy through strength training and nutrition.

Discovering the Primal Blueprint has without a doubt saved my life and changed my life for the better.

Thanks, Mark!

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146 Comments on "For the First Time Ever, I Feel Healthy and Happy"

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Jaws76
Jaws76
2 years 9 months ago

I admire your strength and composure while dealing with a host of medical issues.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays…….I will now use your example as a foil for continued motivation……thank you.

Merky
Merky
2 years 9 months ago

OMG! What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing! You look amazing and your newfound health just radiates off of you! Stay strong! You got this!

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 9 months ago

Yours is one of the more amazing stories I have read. With best wishes and a Happy Christmas.

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Happy Christmas to you too … Thanks for taking the time to comment

cajungrokgirl
2 years 9 months ago

Now that’s a great success story! Truly inspiring! If stories like that don’t bring people to the primal lifestyle then nothing will.

Keep of the good work and keep sharing your story.

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 9 months ago

WOW! WOW! WOW! That is such a powerful story. And every time I read one like this very depressing that the medical system has no or little insight into how diet affects health.

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for your comment 🙂

It’s up to each one of us to try to share what we’ve learned with our families and friends… If we can help one person, and encourage them to pay it forward, then we’ve done a great job..

Danny
Danny
2 years 9 months ago

Wow.

For me this is hands down the most moving success story. Your perseverance and courage is nothing short of amazing!

I wish you all the best!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks so much 🙂

Melissa
Melissa
2 years 9 months ago

Beautiful story and beautiful you!

Ray Finkle
Ray Finkle
2 years 9 months ago

Incredible! You look GORGEOUS and should be very proud. Well done

dave
dave
2 years 9 months ago

fantastic story and great to see another irish person on the site…really great job, you should be so proud – real food – it’s pretty simple isn’t it!!!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

It’s so simple I wonder why I didn’t do it years ago!

Joey
Joey
2 years 9 months ago

I am so happy that you have found health and a new lease on life. Thanks for sharing your story!!

Mike
Mike
2 years 9 months ago

SIMPLY AWESOME! Keep at it

Jeff F.
Jeff F.
2 years 9 months ago

It’s the season for thanks over here across the pond, so thank you for your inspiring story of personal courage and respect. I wish you continued success, both personally and professionally. Thank you for spreading the good word!

gibson
gibson
2 years 9 months ago

Strong woman! Thank you for your story and continue to grow stronger.

archie
archie
2 years 9 months ago

Amazing what you’ve dealt with and I wish you all the success in your PT position. Merry Christmas

Anne
2 years 9 months ago

My favorite part of this is you’re about to be a personal trainer! So happy you can now help others on their own journeys.

vaiga
2 years 9 months ago

incredible.you look totally a different person.absolutely GORGEOUS

Julie
Julie
2 years 9 months ago

Your story inspires me!

Anthony
Anthony
2 years 9 months ago

Absolutely wonderful. Best wishes for continued success in all of your endeavors.

Alison Golden
2 years 9 months ago

Wonderful story, congratulations! By now you’ll no doubt be a personal trainer and with your tenacity and experience you will be inspirational to your clients. You’ve already started by sharing your story. Great job!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks! I feel like I have to share my experiences with people… if I can help someone who feels miserable or is ill, then it’s all worth it 🙂

Pearl
Pearl
2 years 9 months ago

You are a tremendous inspiration! Best wishes for continued happiness and success.

Doris Baum
Doris Baum
2 years 9 months ago

Keep up with that “hippy fad diet”! Who’d of thought that real food is a fad diet?

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 9 months ago

Amazing! Live long and prosper.

Chance Bunger
Chance Bunger
2 years 9 months ago

Can I just say “amazing”

Myra
Myra
2 years 9 months ago

WOW! This is the most amazing story I’ve read.! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you get to show that very knowledgable neurologist how with your hippie fad diet you are able to carry the wheelchair, lol!

Paleo-curious
2 years 9 months ago

Frankly, I’d be tempted to pick it up & throw it at him! 🙂

What a moving & powerful story. Thank you for sharing & inspiring us all!

Chris
Chris
2 years 9 months ago

I know. What a jerk. So glad you didn’t listen to that small minded P****K

Rock on sweetie!!!!

SeattleSlim
SeattleSlim
2 years 9 months ago

Seriously — sounds like medicine is not the field he should be in if he can’t have a positive attitude. Good on ya!!

Sagar
Sagar
2 years 9 months ago

Mind = Blasted

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
2 years 9 months ago

+1
Exactly.

ninjainshadows
ninjainshadows
2 years 9 months ago

Wow, You look great! Congratulations. Grok On!

Alice
Alice
2 years 9 months ago

That’s just amazing how you completely turned your life around. Thank you for sharing your story and pics!

Jess
Jess
2 years 9 months ago

Wow, incredible! Great job, so happy for you!! This was a truly inspiring story to read. Thank you so much for sharing.

PrimalGrandma
PrimalGrandma
2 years 9 months ago
As soon as you said you were diagnosed with MS, I immediately thought of Dr. Wahls and wondered if you had heard of her. Then in the next sentence you mentioned her name so I knew you were on the right track. Gotta love the comment about the “hippie fad diet”! If that mentality wasn’t so sad, it would actually be funny. Thank you for your perseverance and showing how wrong CW can be. You are a wonderful inspiration for many folks who don’t know where to turn. You definitely need to get your message and enthusiasm out there, and… Read more »
Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for your lovely comment!

Terry Wahls is an inspiration! I fully believe I can maintain my health and avoid further progression of MS through diet.

Erin
Erin
2 years 9 months ago

Congratulations on your health! I worked on an oncology unit for 2 years and have never heard of ITP. So I suppose it must not be very common. Thank you for making awareness of it. I may just have to research it further.

Joe from A2
Joe from A2
2 years 9 months ago

In 1989, my then-9 year old son spent Christmas Eve in Mott Children’s Hospital in AA with ITP. At least in infant/toddlers, gamma-globulin treatment was straight-forward and effective.

Matt
2 years 9 months ago

Wow! What a huge transformation!! Such an inspiring story.

Jill Pontiere
Jill Pontiere
2 years 9 months ago

Amazing what a person can do when they get on the right track. Good for you and what better way to continue your healthy journey than to give back to others and share your knowledge. Best wishes in your successful and exciting future as health trainer and mentor. You are incredible.

Breaking Red
Breaking Red
2 years 9 months ago

MOTHER OF GOD!!! To read your story of horror and see the first picture only to scroll down and see you now….. MIND is BLOWN!!! You go girl! And your doctor needs a ‘I told you so’ dance on his desk with some booty shaking and twerking screaming ‘how’s that for needing a wheelchair!’

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
2 years 9 months ago

Exactly. I did not expect the second picture. How? How can we not all be so inspired?

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Absolutely love this comment!

Thank you 🙂

Vince G
Vince G
2 years 9 months ago

HOLY GOOD LORD!! … ahem… I mean, um, you look great! 😉 Wonderful story and outcome, thanks for sharing. I am finishing my CPT as well (and an FNS). Something I hope people will understand, and I have had similar experiences, is that MOST doctors have been fed the same lies (often to a far worse degree) as everyone else and are guilty of being misled. However, there certainly are some who are just @#$% ^&** also. Heehee. Good job, and continued success to you!

Angel
Angel
2 years 9 months ago

What an amazing story – thank you for sharing it, and best of luck to you in your future recovery and profession.

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 9 months ago

wow, what an amazing transformation! good for you for holding on to hope when things were tough, and gradually making lots of changes! way to stick to it and keeping going!

The Beckster
The Beckster
2 years 9 months ago

100% pure awesomeness. Love your story.

Luke
2 years 9 months ago

Amazing transformation! I’m really blown away, you pushed through some serious obstacles. Congratulations on your success, your persistence is inspiring.

Curious what that doctor said when you mentioned Dr Terry Wahls? Keep up the good work, I’m sure you will make a hell of an impact as a CPT!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

I actually never mentioned Dr Terry Wahls to my medical team. Sometimes you’ve to pick your fights, and I know their reaction would be negative & just frustrate me!

Lora
Lora
2 years 9 months ago

So inspirational! Please keep us updated as you continue to hold your MS symptoms at bay. There is MS on both sides of my family, and I am encouraged that some patients are finding relief from the symptoms by adopting the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. Keep up the great positive attitude!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

I hope your loved ones find eating real food a positive addition to their lives.

I wish them all the best 🙂

bayrider
bayrider
2 years 9 months ago

Incredible. I salute you for your courage and tenacity, you are one strong person and one hell of a fighter! And thanks for reaching out to others, you are truly inspirational. I am so happy you’re feeling better, you certainly look terrific!

Debbie
2 years 9 months ago

What an amazing journey!!!! I’m so happy for you :).

John C. A. Manley
2 years 9 months ago

Amazing story of perseverance. I strongly recommend reading (if you haven’t already) Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book, “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” It outline a primal-style diet specially tailored for overcoming neurologically conditions, including MS. I’ve been following the program for twelves months now and have seen more improvements than I can keep track of (I was quite sick, myself). There’s also an interview online between her and Dr. Mercola where she discusses MS (sorry I can’t remember which one it was — I think there are three). All the best to you.

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks so much for the recommendation!

I’ll check it out and report back 😉

Mel
Mel
2 years 9 months ago

I’m just in awe – your journey from hell to health is just amazing! What a transformation! All because you listened to your body and sought information. Kudos to you!

I eagerly anticipate Friday – just for these stories. Today’s is just over-the-top awesome!

Tyler
Tyler
2 years 9 months ago

MONEY. Absolutely beautiful! The look in your eyes in the before and after photos seem to tell it all. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’d love to have an update to see where you are in the future.

Danny Lake
2 years 9 months ago

That is such an amazing and inspirational story! Your persistence is on another level completely! Well done!

joey
joey
2 years 9 months ago

You are so beautiful and your story is so inspiring! I especially love that you want to share with other people. You get back so much when you give of yourself; your clients and friends are very lucky to have you!

Michelle
Michelle
2 years 9 months ago

Beautiful story & a beautiful person. You are a total inspiration.

Siobhan
Siobhan
2 years 9 months ago

Wow! Except for your beautiful eyes, I can’t tell you are the same person in your before/after pics! Congratulations and best wishes for a healthy happy life!

Diane
2 years 9 months ago

Thank you!

Plugger
2 years 9 months ago

Thank you for such an inspiring story!

jefferson
2 years 9 months ago

Very inspiring indeed.

I can tell that you are a true fighter, and hearing how you pulled yourself out from the depths, is a great triumph.

Best of luck in your efforts to become a trainer and continue to help others.

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