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!
Five years ago, a young and “healthy” 22 year old, I was working as a groom at a high end horse ranch in Western Colorado. I suddenly found myself with debilitating migraines. I’d never had migraines before so it was a bit shocking for me. But they were bad. Really, really bad. Like, 10-14 days long. I couldn’t function. My boss was as understanding as can be so I didn’t lose my job (thank goodness), but I remember my head felt like it was splitting in two, even dim light was painful, and I’d have to get a horse, go into the barn, shut the doors, turn the lights off, wear sunglasses anyway, and try to do my job. That’s neither sustainable nor a solution. It was horrendous. And ridiculous.
But the many doctors didn’t have any solutions. Migraine meds didn’t do a thing. The neurologist ordered a battery of blood tests and an MRI of my brain. Everything normal, nothing to fix here. Just keep trying the migraine meds. In the meantime, I was frantically trying to find a way to improve my health. I figured, What do healthy people do? They run marathons right? Let’s google how to do that. I didn’t really want to run (who was I kidding, running sucks!) so when one of the results was an MDA article about training for marathons with a link to an article against chronic cardio I checked that one out. I figured it might give me an excuse to not have to take up running. Ha! I had no idea it would lead to something way better.
From there I checked out the rest of the site. So, if lions are designed to eat meat and zebras to eat grass, what are humans meant to eat? What a common sense question, why hadn’t I ever thought to ask that? I signed up for the introductory emails but didn’t even wait for them before I binge read everything on the blog, cleared my pantry, and started in. There was a local rancher that sold grass fed steaks at the grocery store. I liked veggies. I really liked bacon so if this new diet said that was in, I was in. It’s funny to think back to all that now.
But I tell you what, as much as that low carb flu kicked my butt, I felt better. And I didn’t get a migraine that first week. Or that second week. Or ever again.
Then I discovered the missing piece of the puzzle. On the way to the neurologist’s office to hear my MRI results, I hadn’t had time to eat at home so I grabbed some convenient chicken fingers on the way. 80/20, I figured. The neurologist was out of town so the nurse practitioner saw me. When she gave me a look over, my thyroid was swollen. Like, huge. Scary swollen. And I was starting to get a headache. We started talking. And then she figured it out. (I tell you, nurse practitioners can be pretty amazing people.) It was gluten. I was having an autoimmune reaction to gluten—celiac. I had celiac. As it turns out, and I later found a Chris Kresser article explaining it, the gluten protein looks similar to something thyroids are made of, so when your body attacks the gluten your thyroid can get attacked too. How about that.
It all made sense now. As a kid I had what I now know to be symptoms of celiac in children. Underweight, constant stomachaches, etc. And before I started getting those migraines, it was summer time so I was with the horses at the high altitude portion of the ranch living in a tiny 120 square foot cabin. The grocery store was a long trip down the mountain. And with only a small mini fridge and no freezer, I ate a lot of shelf stable food. Processed food. Mostly pasta and granola. Really, my diet was about 80% wheat. And my body had finally had enough.
So Mark’s Daily Apple led me to find that I was celiac. But just as important it gave me a way of eating that made me feel healthy.
But I also helped in a far bigger way. A year and a half ago my husband and I found out we were going to be parents. And I kept eating primally. And I had about the healthiest pregnancy I could imagine. Alright, so the morning sickness was miserable and persistent. But otherwise it was perfect. I was one of those “belly only” pregnancies I hear people aim for. I was like a walking beach ball. But I felt great. And the delivery went great. I chalk it up to good nutrition and faith in my body’s ability to do what it was made to do. We had our baby at home with a midwife because that’s what I was comfortable with. After a short 3.5 hour labor (which was uncomfortable but honestly not painful. I now hate the expression “the pain of childbirth.” I think it sends the wrong expectation to women about how birth feels but I digress) we had a healthy 7 lb 12 oz baby girl. She’s so perfect and so healthy. I feel so lucky.
When I was pregnant I read a lot of Weston A Price articles. They brag a lot about how their nutrient dense diet produces healthy pregnancies and healthy babies with a wide jaw (which is an indication that the mother had good nutrition, especially plenty of Vitamins A and K). While I was pregnant I did take dessicated grass fed beef liver, occasionally some Dr Ron’s freeze dried organs and glands, a high quality prenatal with 5-MTHF folate (as recommended by Chris Kresser), fermented cod liver oil, and some high vitamin butter oil in addition to the Primal diet. So I did follow a couple WAPF recommendations. But I was not interested in buying raw milk. I don’t even like drinking milk so I did not want to pay the local raw milk producer the equivalent of $25 a gallon. I didn’t want to hunt down fresh organ meats and eat them. Yucky taste, no thank you. And I didn’t bother soaking/fermenting grains because, well, I’m Primal and I don’t even really do grains. Occasionally I do rice but it’s not that exciting so meh.
I know every parent says this, but my baby is the cutest little sucker in the world. I don’t think it’s just luck either. I think the nutrient dense diet I learned from MDA and the PB are why I’m so healthy and why my daughter is so healthy and so beautiful.
I’ve lost all the “baby weight” with zero effort. I actually weigh less now than I did before I was pregnant. I walk my daughter in the stroller a few times a week for 5 miles while she naps. She keeps me active and busy. I never have time to sit down. Lift heavy things? That baby’s a heavy thing and I carry her constantly. Sprints…Well I’ll get back to those and normal workouts eventually. But I’m not worried about it. I’ve got my walks and my yoga for now.
So I might catch a little flack for my five toe shoes and my obsession with bone broth but gosh dang I couldn’t be happier or healthier. Thank you again and again Mark, you changed my life.