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
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!
Several days after Thanksgiving 2012, I began my Primal journey. I had to finish all the cornbread dressing before I started this life changing adventure!
Growing up, I was your typical kid. Always outside playing, involved in every seasonal sport, and always finishing off my plate. I was never really fat growing up, but as my mom always told me, I was “husky.”
During the football offseason of my freshman year in high school, the hormones began to kick into overdrive and I started to lean up, get stronger, and faster. Several of my friends had questioned me if I was on steroids since I was making huge gains, which I wasn’t. I focused on football during high school and worked out all the time. My diet was the Standard American Diet but I was so active that I never really noticed anything. In my senior year, I was selected to the Texas 2nd Team All State as a center. I was recruited by several colleges to play football and finally accepted the offer from the United States Air Force Academy.
Prior to leaving for the academy, I didn’t train as much and continued to eat. Prior to reporting to basic training, I went from a playing weight of 195 lbs to 230 lbs. However, after starting basic training, I quickly lost weight and got back down to about 195 lbs. During my first year, I put on about 25 lbs of muscle thanks to the intense training regimen we were put under. I was in the best shape of my life at the time.
I did not finish the academy and left to attend a civilian school, ultimately ending up and graduating from Texas A&M University. My then fiancée (now wife), moved in together and started school. Neither of us were working and were living off of credit cards and student loans. Needless to say, we were going broke and things were pretty dismal. Our health and mental well-being were in danger.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a police officer. I had met with one of the local departments and inquired on being a reserve officer while I completed school. I met with the chief and after a quick interview, he told me that if I applied I would probably get hired. My wife told me that she had heard an advertisement on the radio that one of the other local agencies was hiring. I decided to test, but I was 20 years old and out of the several hundred people testing for just a handful of jobs, I didn’t think that I had a chance. However, after placing at the top of the written test, I was allowed to move on to the physical fitness assessment. Needless to say, the PT test was difficult for me, I did not understand what had happened. But, I did pass and eventually made it through the background process and was offered a job.
While in the police academy, the PT wasn’t that hard and my weight held steady at about 225 lbs. After graduating the academy and finishing field training, I was assigned to night shift patrol. While on night shift, I always stayed active. I worked out and moved a lot! The area I worked had a lot of crime, so a lot of nights were spent chasing bad guys and walking several miles in the neighborhoods doing foot patrol. While on night shift, I didn’t eat much, typically ate when I woke up and had a small snack during the shift. I had lost about 10 lbs and felt fairly good. After a few years on patrol, I transferred to a narcotics unit. There was a joke about the unit which was similar to the term of “freshman 15,” it was called the “Task Force 20.” The typical day of a narcotics officer is spent typing reports, warrants, talking on the phone, long hours in your car doing surveillance, and driving around town. Since I worked during the daylight hours, I typically ate breakfast, had lunch at a restaurant, and ate a lot of fast food since we stayed on the go. My weight began to creep up, and in no time I had gained about 20 lbs. I was now in the worst shape in my life.
After several years, I began to workout again. I wanted to try out for our SWAT team so I spent nearly every morning in the gym. It was the typical workout, pound on the treadmill for about 30 minutes and go lift some weights. Pretty conventional workout. I had dropped some weight and felt better, but the obstacle course I was required to run for the SWAT tryout beat me down for sure! The course is modeled after Marine Corps and Army obstacle courses. We are required to finish it in 15 minutes. I did it in about 30 minutes and failed to negotiate several obstacles. I was miserable when I finished.
As several years went by, my weight continued to go up. I had accepted the fact that I will always weigh 250 lbs. I was overweight, weak, and slow. After leaving narcotics, I transferred back to patrol and eventually the K9 unit. The K9 position can be physically demanding, but I kept getting heavier. For the longest time, I refused to get on the scale. I hated looking in the mirror and every time I bought a new pair of pants, the waist line only got bigger.
On one August day, my wife and I were helping her father do some work around the house. After 8 plus hours of sweating and working in the Texas sun, I got on the scale prior to taking a shower. I was shocked, 271 is what I read. Finally, enough was enough. But, with all my conventional wisdom, I had a plan! Count calories and do a lot of cardio. Well, I probably lost about 10 lbs but stalled out as usual. I began to think I had something wrong with me. I had my testosterone tested, had my doctor do other tests, and finally got prescribed an inhaler for exercise induced asthma. Being the father of a young child, I could not keep up and I felt horrible! How could I go from respected athlete to fat, out of shape, and wheezing dad?
During October of 2012, my life changed forever! I attended a school for a month out of state and stayed with a friend of mine. That is when I was introduced to Mark’s Daily Apple. As with most people, it made no sense to me. What do you mean you can eat bacon? I was so engrossed in conventional wisdom it was sickening. I argued with him at first about how whole grains were good for you. But, since I was living under his roof for a while, I ate what he ate for several weeks. Not many bad carbs, snacked on beef jerky and almonds, and began to move more. I started to feel better within a few days.
After several weeks of living like this, I went back home for a week break. I started eating our traditional fare and of course, my body revolted and I felt horrible. When I went back to his house, I ate like he did and felt great. Once I got done with training, I came home, signed up for the MDA newsletter, and began reading as much as I could. Things started to make sense. So after one last hoorah of Thanksgiving, I decided to go all in.
In the beginning, I was losing several pounds a week and I was feeling better. But, the real breakthrough for me is the day I could feel the upper ribs – the fat was starting to melt away! In the beginning, I wasn’t working out much. We own a seasonal business and we stay extremely busy. But, the weight continued to come off with diet alone. I then started to take it slow with the exercise and started with Mark’s recommendations. I bought the 21-Day Transformation as a guide and things continued to get better. My wife and I had been trying for our second child for about 18 months, and within a few months of going Primal, she got pregnant. Pretty sure I read some stuff that this lifestyle makes you fertile!
This past summer I began to workout harder and then started doing CrossFit. My body had never felt better! I felt like I could suit up again and play! I had always told myself that if I could pass the obstacle course in the required time, then I knew I was in good shape. I ran the course with the team one day with some apprehensions. Had I come as far as I thought? I ran the first half of the course and got to the rope climb. I think the rope is about 25-30 feet high, which is the one obstacle I couldn’t even do several years back. However, on this morning, I went right on up. I ran the remainder of the course with the team and learned techniques. I felt great! I was asked to try out for the team and after several months, I ran the course again and passed! We are also required to do a challenge course which was a culmination of different PT exercises for over an hour. It was very difficult, but I made it through. Since then, I have run my first half and full marathon (bucket lists) and recently completed the GoRuck Challenge in Austin. That was the hardest endurance event I have ever done! In 13 hours we covered 17.4 miles doing all kinds of crazy things.
Thanks to MDA I am a new person! I now play with my kids without getting tired, have been recently assigned to the SWAT team, and I feel like there is no challenge that I cannot overcome! The nightly heartburn and miserable feelings have gone away! The Primal journey has changed my life forever and I love giving people advice on the lifestyle when they ask me for it. My wife questioned me in the beginning but she is now a true convert! After our second child was born, within weeks she was back at her starting weight and she loves the new life. My only regret about this journey is that I didn’t do it years ago!
I have attached several pictures of me and our family several years ago. The after pictures are with our new baby boy and me after the GoRuck Challenge. Grok on!