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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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November 23, 2012

I Have Never Felt Better in My Life

By Guest
158 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!

The beginning of my success story starts out as most might, with very unhealthy eating habits. I can remember as a kid in 4th or 5th grade making my own version of a milkshake which consisted of a whole row of Oreos that was mixed up with milk until it was a consistency that was near impossible to drink. Around that same time I also became addicted to Pepsi cola. It seemed like I had 2-3 cans a day and this continued throughout high school. I was a somewhat active kid and I did not seem to ever put on weight.

After high school I attended an art college where food took a back seat to my artwork. When I would eat, it was the typical college food, e.g. cafeteria pizza, breakfast bars, steak-ums and a lot of frozen microwavable meals (especially taquitos), while changing my consumption of cola to 4-6 Dr. Peppers a day. On the outside I seemed to be very healthy, but inside I was doing great harm to my body daily. I weighed about 130 pounds at 5’7” with barely any muscle at all.

Shortly before I graduated college I was physically assaulted. I had one side of my face crushed so badly that the bone fragments became so small I ended up having to have two six and a half hour surgeries where titanium plates were implanted and a bone grafting had to be done. To say that I was depressed is a gross understatement. My time after that was invested in personal creative projects. I shut myself off from the outside world and with the exception of the artist in me I really didn’t care about myself. I could feel myself declining into a sad state mentally, physically, and emotionally. Around this time I also noticed a gut forming.

About a year and a half after I graduated college, I landed a salary job which included a yearly travel season. Between my newfound income and not having a kitchen on the road, I was eating at restaurants and fast food joints daily. My favorite go-to food at bars were deep-fried breaded appetizers. I kind of knew these were not the healthiest decisions, so when I would buy groceries I tried to counterbalance it by buying anything that said reduced fat or fat free. Little did I know back then that saturated fat should have been my friend and that sugar and carbs should have been avoided. I assumed that fat made you fat and sugar and carbs just gave you energy. So I kept eating tons of snack food while at home and continued drinking 2-3 cans of Dr. Pepper daily. Over a five year period my weight shot up from around 135 to over 180 pounds.

Now, at a weight of over 180 pounds I put a lot of effort into pretending that I was happy. I have always been a comedian, if you will, always joking around, but I wasn’t kidding myself, I was miserable inside. I would wake up in the morning having to pop my back into place because, while sleeping on my side, my gut would twist my back out of whack. Almost daily I would throw up stomach acid, which, let me tell you, was not a great way to start the day. Headaches were a daily occurrence and I was always tired after lunch. As an artist, I did not just work from 9 to 5. I continued working on art and other projects well into the night wearing myself thin and getting stressed out way too easily.

In 2010, I can remember having a typical busy day and stopping by the grocery store after work. I decided to take my blood pressure in one of those machines by the pharmacy. I ended up doing it three different times because after I saw the first result I knew it had to have been wrong. It wasn’t. I was borderline stage three hypertension. During my next doctor appointment I was told that I had to take blood pressure medication and that for my height I was technically obese. I remember thinking to myself that the guidelines were a joke. What if it was all muscle? Would I still be obese? I was in denial.

When I turned 30 in March of 2011, I started to question my health and purchased my first scale. I had taught myself how to make sushi rolls at that time and thought it would be a great way to lose weight and “get healthy”. I actually made a sushi rolling station in my living room and ate tons of the stuff. This approach definitely did not work. My next approach was to purchase a little blender and make fruit smoothies. I was successful with making something that tasted extremely good but there was so much sugar in the drinks that my weight did not budge; it may have even gone up. Was I doomed? Was I always going to be unhealthy?

My next doctor appointment was in May of 2011. My blood pressure with medication was still in stage 2 hypertension and I was still right at the obese mark. I remember thinking that I really needed to change my life around and not knowing how to do it. I couldn’t settle with failure.

I had been reading a blog almost daily that posted an array of different authors from different websites with the common theme of personal liberty, economics, health and wellness, among other subjects. When I read the articles from what I now know was a godsend of a website MarksDailyApple.com showing success stories of how people were able to lose weight and become healthier by eating bacon, I knew it was too good to be true (just like all of the gold that was waiting for me to pick up in a Nigerian bank account). Around August of that year I noticed a friend of mine losing weight who told me it was easy. He was following what Mark’s Daily Apple talked about daily. I said I would give it a try. I knew it was going to be a challenge since I was going into my travel season and so much of the food I ate was on the list of what not to eat.

Wow, what a leap of faith. Eating more of the foods that I was taught were bad for me (bacon, eggs, butter, and other saturated fat filled foods), however, eating no sugar or grains (wait no pasta, I’m Italian, that’s not possible!). The first ten days of not eating grain or sugar was pretty difficult, but noticing the 10 pounds that shed off “effortlessly” without exercise was a great motivational factor. I was very strict with sticking to this but maybe once every 2 months I would cheat by having a piece of cake or pizza to avoid being “that person” at a social gathering. I did not cheat weekly like I hear some people do because honestly I did and still do digest grains, they are just in a liquid and fermented form. I really enjoy craft beer and did not want to give it up, and the fact that a bar opened up right by me with almost 600 different beers makes it pretty difficult to stop drinking them.

At the beginning of my travel season I started going on all my business trips with a bag of organic apples and almonds as my snacking foods, and avoided all of the foods that I had learned were bad for me. I noticed that the weight kept coming off without exercise. And when I would occasionally look at the FDA’s recommendation for a daily intake of saturated fat I was usually double or triple what they called for so I stopped reading that daily percentage and just focused on the ingredients. I used to get a kick out of it when I told people, who said they were “nutritionists,” that I would randomly eat spoonful’s of coconut oil out of the jar.

On a mission, I wanted to see how much weight I was able to lose without any exercise other than daily walking. In about 5 months I ended up losing 47 pounds and took myself off of anti-depressants and my blood pressure medication. For the first time since I can remember I was looking forward to my next doctor appointment.

As I started to think even more health consciously, I became a huge fan of kale and spinach and would blend them (with my Vitamix blender) with other vegetables like carrots and beets to add some natural sugar. An all-vegetable smoothie actually did not taste bad, it just looked god-awful to the layperson. So when I went confidently to my next doctor appointment with my smoothie in hand I was hoping for a rewarding experience. I was a little nervous because I had heard stories that doctors go crazy when you take yourself of medication. I honestly had not taken my blood pressure for quite some time because I knew I felt healthy. I did the typical weigh-in and then sat in one of the rooms. The doctor that came in looked at my chart and immediately asked what the heck I did. I was ready to have my blood pressure taken, which I used to be very nervous about, but this time I wasn’t. When he got the results he shook his head from side to side in amazement. My blood pressure was 108 over 66 with no exercise, just diet! From that point forward my doctor appointments have gone in reverse. Now they are asking me questions and apologizing for having so many to ask. They actually agreed that the FDA works hand-in-hand with big pharma and that the food pyramid was definitely way off course.

In the past two months I actually started to exercise. At this point, my main workout is doing pull ups with my door-frame bars. On my lunch breaks from work I try to do as many of them as possible as quickly as I can which adds cardio along with strength training. I never thought in a million years I would be at this point. My weight actually dropped all the way down to 127 pounds even with all of the additional muscle. During my physical 3 weeks ago, I had my cholesterol check and the results are: Total:180, HDL (good):74, LDL (bad):84, Triglycerides:109. Before I left the doctor he told me that I was a great “role model”. I don’t think I have ever heard someone tell me that before. I have never felt better in my life. Every day I am getting stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally, and Mark Sisson I have you and all the other paleo health advocates to thank along with my doctors who were so supportive. I hope my story inspires and helps others the same way that other Mark’s Daily Apple success stories have helped me.

Michael

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158 Comments on "I Have Never Felt Better in My Life"

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Jenny
Jenny
3 years 10 months ago

Wow, Michael, your story is very inspiring! I love all the energy and LIFE you have! What a great journey from being in the dumps to health!

Shelly
Shelly
3 years 10 months ago

Comparing the first “before” picture to the last two “after” pictures, the weight loss and muscle tone is obvious. But so is the change of expression; a somewhat sad looking person in the first picture compared to the person who’s eyes shine with a zest for life in the last. Bravo, and congratulations 🙂

Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Shelly – Thank you! The sad thing is that that was the first time I saw that sculpture I made in person and should have appeared to be much happier 🙁

Patrice
3 years 10 months ago

Think the best part of the photos is you did not wax your chest like so many “before & after” photos out there!!

Well done Michael, awesome story

Cody
Cody
3 years 10 months ago

Good for you dude!

Kathy
Kathy
3 years 10 months ago

I’m still in a bit of shock from parents not caring if their 4th/5th grader had 3 cans of pop on a daily basis. But then my 2 year old grandson gets one a day.
Congratulations, Michael, for finding a way to health even without help from the medical community.

Wayne Atwell
3 years 10 months ago

When I was in middle school and high school I probably had 2 or 3 sodas a day too. But I did lots of sports so I didn’t put on weight.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 10 months ago

My boyfriend is at uni and he drinks up to 2-3 sodas a day too, he also plays sports and doesn’t put on weight, but it still can’t be that good for you??

Actually I saw this young boy (about 4 foot tall) walking home from school the other day with a giant 750ml can of energy drink, couldn’t believe it, it was almost as big as him!!

Wayne Atwell
3 years 10 months ago

I agree, it isn’t healthy. I just didn’t see the negative side effects of weight gain because I was so active. I’m glad I kicked my soda habit. I was pretty bad about drinking soda even 2 years ago.

JohnC
JohnC
3 years 10 months ago

Weight gain is only one of the many problems with eating too much sugar as it pointed out on this site all over the place.

Michael
3 years 10 months ago

JohnC – very true. I should have stated that I appeared to be healthy when I was young.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Kathy I would drink them mostly without my parents knowledge – and just like Wayne said, I was still healthy because I was young and active. If I could go back I would have substituted it for water with lemon. Be careful with your grandson’s sugar consumption but then when I was a little older than that crawling around on the kitchen floor I used to eat brown sugar out of the kitchen cabinets – HA

Liz
Liz
3 years 10 months ago

I had at least three cans of soda a day, too, in middle school. In high school, there were soda machines all around campus. I lived on twix and soda during the day but ran cross country so didn’t (apparently) have the effects. I don’t believe it is a matter of parents not caring necessarily, it is other factors.

Oly
Oly
3 years 10 months ago

Information was twisted then. Sugar may have been considered empty calories but they were still just calories…everyone knew the problem was saturated fat and cholesterol foods that were bad for you. Energetic kids *needed* sugar. Juice was a health food and it was better to skip the fat or have a small serving of margarine instead for balance.

defrog
defrog
3 years 10 months ago

So proud of my three year old: this weekend she had her first sip of Coke, and when she tasted it she screwed up her face, took a dramatically hard swallow as if she had just tasted something disgusting, and said, “Yuck!”

Our relatives were shocked that she responded this way. I was chanting, “Rah rah, sis(son?)-boom-bah!”

Juiettegold
Juiettegold
3 years 10 months ago

So handsome, what a great smile, you look so happy! Inspiring!

Wayne Atwell
3 years 10 months ago

Great story. I love the fact that got to surprise your doctors. I never was able to do that because even at my heaviest I still had pretty reasonable physical measurements because I exercised so much, I just weighed 40 pounds more than I wanted.

oxide
oxide
3 years 10 months ago

I love it even more that Michael’s doctors were open-minded enough to ask questions and to believe the answers. Let’s hope they pass it on to other patients!

Kathy
Kathy
3 years 10 months ago

+1

ella
ella
3 years 10 months ago

Please tell us what you eat in a typical day- Your change is amazing!!

melissa
melissa
3 years 10 months ago

It’s great the doctors were supportive. When I went the other day I was told I shouldn’t eat bacon because it’s too fatty and my dr was worried about the nutrients I was missing from grains. I had to keep from laughing. Let’s keep educating the dr’s!

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 10 months ago

For school (working on teaching credential), I had to take a health class in which we evaluated our personal health. I wrote about my new change over to a Primal/Paleo diet. My instructor wrote on my paper that he was concerned about my health choices and hoped I would go back on a more sensible diet. Eventually they will learn, right?

Tapsticks
3 years 7 months ago

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

I am a doctor, and a completely converted Paleo. I can’t wait to hear what my doctor has to say about my diet…

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks Wayne!! I am so luck to have such great doctors!

Mike
Mike
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t even know where to begin. You’re story and transformation is both incredible and inspiring.

GrokHard
GrokHard
3 years 10 months ago

Right on!

Carola
Carola
3 years 10 months ago

This is my first comment ever but I had to say, you look soooooo happy and fit, and healthy. Congratulations, lots of blessings to you.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thank you!!

Pam
Pam
3 years 10 months ago

Once again, the joy in the after photos speaks volumes! Not just a “Wow I am thin” smile, but a real inner joy that is captured on film. Love it!

Diane
Diane
3 years 10 months ago

Michael — you look fabulous. I love the last pic with a background of what? Tire track art? or maybe paleo big-game skeletons? I vote for the latter.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks Diane! It is actually my work. Large-scale non-objective experimental piece where I show the idea of a brushstroke at an enlarged scale. The “paintbrush” I used was actually a trashcan filled with paint with a slit cut out at the bottom. But I do like your take on it 🙂

Lisa
3 years 10 months ago

Fantastic! Some of these friday stories just speake more to me then others even though they are all great. This is one of them. Great job!

Siobhan
Siobhan
3 years 10 months ago

WOW!

wendy
wendy
3 years 10 months ago

Fabulous! Tell us about your art if you don’t mind!

Chris
Chris
3 years 10 months ago

“a milkshake which consisted of a whole row of Oreos that was mixed up with milk until it was a consistency that was near impossible to drink” I realize now that as a child I was small time with just cookies and milk. You were a kid with a vision. Nice.

Congratulations on your success! Awesome.

Christina
Christina
3 years 10 months ago

Michael- you are glowing from the inside out. It is so wonderful to hear about how you got off of your anti-depressants. Food is healing, it is medicine, and it is the first step to overcoming things such as depression. I did the same and I continuously try to urge my family to follow. It’s hard getting them aboard, but stories like yours continue to drive the point home. I will show everyone your story later- well done. 🙂 You look awesome.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thank you so much! The success stories of the past helped me to get on board so I am so happy to be able to pass it on! My parents are now pretty much on-board – good luck!

Wes
Wes
3 years 10 months ago

Great job! Your story is very inspiring, keep up the good work.

stuart
stuart
3 years 10 months ago

awesome very inspiring
i love coconut oil too

Boyd
Boyd
3 years 10 months ago

Mark, thanks for posting this story. What a tremendous, well written autobiography. I felt like I was able to relate and understand Michael’s choices and that is something I cherish. For me, the points that I remember and have taken away are: personal commitment and finding your own “reasons” for making new choices; Respect for this fantastic gift of a physical body; and lastly, a renewed vigor to make choices that improve my body and soul. Thank you Michael.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

You’re very welcome!

Anders
Anders
3 years 10 months ago

Dude, awesome!

gcb
gcb
3 years 10 months ago

There should be a Facebook-esque “like” button for this article! 🙂

einstein
einstein
3 years 10 months ago

thanks for the inspirational story, Michael. you made it! when one of us succeeds, it feels like all of us do – to a certain extent. that’s why i feel good after reading every single success story.

luke depron
luke depron
3 years 10 months ago

Michael,

Congratulations amazing story. I love hearing about the health gains, particulary the mental health side…really inspiring. Focus on health and the physique follows! I would have love to sat there listening to the docs ask so many questions. Sounds like the movie “Fat Head”

Charmaine
Charmaine
3 years 10 months ago

This story is crazy. So inspiring. And you are very handsome!

Jennifer Jacoby-Smith
Jennifer Jacoby-Smith
3 years 10 months ago

I absolutely loved this. Some success stories just hit me and this is one of my favourites. Your eyes are full of life and confidence. The look on your face says it all. Blessings on you!

HeatherJ
HeatherJ
3 years 10 months ago

One of my favourite success stories ever featured on MDA! Thank you for sharing, Michael.

I’m curious to know if your art changed while your health was changing? As a fellow artist, I can say the things I want to work on now, and the creativity I have, has changed since going paleo. I’m wondering if it was the same for you.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Heather – Thanks! To answer your question I have more consistent energy rather than spurts and my head is clearer and more efficient at coming up with concepts now that I’m paleo. Earlier this year I put together a solo show in under a month with a day job on the side, so my drive and passion is definitely revving. I wish you all the best in your future are endeavors!

Madama Butterfry
Madama Butterfry
3 years 10 months ago

+1 Heather.

alexandra
3 years 10 months ago

You look gorgeous and so happy! Congratulations!

Kelly
Kelly
3 years 10 months ago

Michael, your cheesy, beer-toting facade has disolved to yield an amazing creative glow, a balanced, beer-enjoying energy and happiness exhuded from deep within. I choose you as my inspiration this day. Thank you for your gift. And please have the courage to sustain…..

Chance Bunger
Chance Bunger
3 years 10 months ago

Awesome work!!

Steve
Steve
3 years 10 months ago

What was your cholesterol before the change? I am super-impressed and inspired. Especially about the not giving up the craft beers. (One a day?)

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Steve – I know that my cholesterol levels were not as good before, but I have been waiting for my next doctor appointment to get the exact numbers. Those are my numbers while averaging easily more than a dozen eggs a week. I actually don’t limit them (craft beers) to one a day but usually look at total carbs for the day and limit that number to 100g – Usually my carb intake is much lower though.

Kathleen
Kathleen
3 years 10 months ago

Great job, Michael! You look great and you look like you FEEL great! That sounds like quite a milkshake you used to make. It reminds me of making my “Chip Ahoy Sandwich” when I was little. 4 cookies between two slices of white bread..wow 🙂

Allie
Allie
3 years 10 months ago

WOW, you look great! Congratulations on the success.. you remind me of Gerard Butler from 300 in the last picture 😉

Laura
Laura
3 years 10 months ago

Very Inspiring!!! You look so healthy and happy!

Nora
Nora
3 years 10 months ago

Wow, great transformation! I love how you just look so happy! I’m always so inspired to read the Friday stories. Love it!

gibson
gibson
3 years 10 months ago

Awesome, Michael! Love your story!

Gillian
Gillian
3 years 10 months ago

Michael, what a great transformation! You look so happy and healthy. A great inspiration, truly!

Rene R
Rene R
3 years 10 months ago

What an inspiring story!! One of my favorites so far -and I read them religiously every Friday. The difference is dramatic! Keep up the good work, and keep us posted!

Tanya
Tanya
3 years 10 months ago

I’m so happy for you! To go through what you had to then find yourself, wow, truly an amazing story. Thanks for the inspiration!

J
J
3 years 10 months ago

Inspiring, thanks for your story.
I’m so inspired that I’m going to eat two more pieces of bacon.

freddy
freddy
3 years 10 months ago

Awesome story, man. Very inspirational. Way to go and keep it up.

Robert
Robert
3 years 10 months ago

Bravo!

JohnC
JohnC
3 years 10 months ago

Good job man. Those after pictures really capture a great inner spirit, kudos to you and the photographer.

As a completely side note as an artist do you face a lot of flack from your peers for living paleo?

(I don’t know if this is universal but I’d be hard pressed to find a meat eating artistic type around these parts, strictly yoga, granola and poorly cooked veggie eating types with few exceptions.)

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks! One of the perks of being an artist is having friends that are photographers – props to Julie L.

I’ve gotten a lot of flack from a lot of people…lots. Usually people who have studied diet/nutrition.

Keep brushing the flack off your shoulders.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 10 months ago

If you’re feeling like a paleo pimp go on brush your shoulders off

Amy
Amy
3 years 10 months ago

You look wonderful and so happy!

Scott O
Scott O
3 years 10 months ago

I just LOVE it when I hear that the doctors are shaking their heads!

Amy
Amy
3 years 10 months ago

Wow! Maybe I CAN do this!

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

YES you CAN!!

Victor Dorfman
3 years 10 months ago

Michael…to say I loved reading your story is a gross understatement. First of all, you’re a great storyteller but man, this is inspiring stuff.

It’s amazing that with all of the ‘think positive’ cliches out there, how changing diet can transform your inner world too. You’ve created a positive feedback loop with your mind/body and it’s only going to get better. Cheers!

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Thanks a ton Victor! I’ve never been told I was a great storyteller either! You’re right about the mind/body loop. Cheers!

Jane
Jane
3 years 10 months ago

OMG I love Saturday mornings, I wake as nature intends (the sound of fish sploshing in the creek) I make myself a lovely coffee with my coconut oil, I frantically scramble to get my iPhone onto MDA and I read the Success Story of the week. Then I cry.
Michael thanks for getting my nose running and tears a-flowing mate. Nothing like a joyful sniffle on a Saturday morning….

I love Saturdays!

Jane xo (ps in Australia the SS come out on a Sat morning)

Helen
Helen
3 years 10 months ago

I love Saturday mornings for this reason too Jane! I get my son a meat muffin and quickly log on to see the Friday success story. Love it.

Congratulations Michael! You look like you feel amazing.

Michael
Michael
3 years 10 months ago

Wow Australia!! I’d love to be there right now – is there a good art scene there? Coffee with coconut oil? Tell me more.

Heather
Heather
3 years 10 months ago

Depends where you are. I am in regional Australia, and the art scene is spread pretty thin, but the cities have plenty of vibe. Just checked out your website, just when do you sleep? Love the sexy red glass!
Great story to read, well done. My art changed when I disconnected with sugar in particular. Sugar is actually a depressant, and removing it from my diet made me euphoric. Come on down, I am sure you would be blown away by what Australia has to offer 🙂

James Earl Hunter
James Earl Hunter
3 years 10 months ago

Congratulations. You look great. Keep on Grok’in.

Bill
Bill
3 years 10 months ago

Right on brother!!!!

Carol
3 years 10 months ago

WOW! You look amazing! I love the paleo/primal/real food way of eating!!!

Carol
3 years 10 months ago

Amazing job!!! This is inspiring 🙂

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