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!
My story is not one of significant weight loss or dramatic health changes, but one of mental freedom and peace that I have not felt in over 20 years. You have changed my life and I am enormously grateful to you. I have been struggling with my weight and my mental status surrounding my weight for 20 years. I am 5 feet 6 inches and during college I weighed as much as 145 lbs. But for most of the past 20 years I have weighed around 128 lbs. I fully recognize that this was not overweight and is quite healthy, but I also knew that I was religious about what I ate and exercised a ton. My body did not reflect my hard work.
Based on what conventional wisdom was telling me, I should have been quite content with the number of calories I was consuming. In actuality, I was STARVING all the time and was white knuckling my 128 pounds for years. I wanted to be the best I could be and I knew from the bottom of my heart things weren’t right. I wasn’t setting an unrealistic goal for myself, I just knew things weren’t supposed to be so hard. I just had to find the right path. My family thought I was crazy, but I was relentless and kept trying to find the answers I knew I wasn’t getting. And so my journey began…
About 10 years ago, I did the Atkins diet and successfully got down to 123 lbs. I stayed there for a good 5-6 years. During that time, I had a baby and lost the weight fairly easily. Unfortunately, while I was on the Atkins diet, my focus was on low carb, not necessarily healthy whole food. Goodness knows what kind of chemicals I had been putting into my body.
I also started running about the same time I tried Atkins. I had always been very active, but not a very good runner. I wanted to be a runner. I ran a 10k, then a half marathon and then a marathon. I was finally a runner. I started running as a means to burn calories, but thankfully, I also found that I truly enjoyed that time to myself and the feeling it gave me. It was the only time I appreciated my body. I qualified for Boston, ran Boston, had another son and kept on running.
I had a really hard time losing the weight after I had my second son. I was stuck at 128 lbs, not a big deal, but also not where I knew I could go. I had gotten away from the strict Atkins diet because I had a family to think about. My focus had shifted from wanting to look good on the outside to wanting to do the right thing on the inside. I thought this meant whole grains, low fat and very little meat. I was still STARVING all the time.
After the birth of my second son, I immediately started training for my 6th marathon. I was running 60 miles a week just a few short months after he was born. Not surprisingly, I ran a horrible marathon and I still couldn’t lose those last 5 lbs. I needed a break from running, so two years ago I decided to do a Half Ironman. If I just burn more calories, I will lose the weight, right? During my HIM training, I participated in an online training group and met a lot of great women through that venue. I couldn’t believe how many women said they gained weight while training. How could this be? Few people are as fastidious about what they eat and their training as these triathletes. I began to think what if everything we have been reading/being told isn’t right. What if all these carbs (read processed food) aren’t the answer?
I loved the HIM experience and am glad this journey has taken me down these athletic paths, but I was mentally unsettled. I was always anxious about my weight and hungry all the time. I knew the more I exercised, the hungrier I got, but I couldn’t stop for fear of gaining weight. Plus, I found myself in a unique situation in which I genuinely liked the exercise and didn’t want to stop. I would spend all day trying to fight the hunger and was miserable. I kept reading articles that told me to continue down this path, but this time just work a little harder and so I did, only to end up in the same place once again.
About 8 months ago, I stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple and it has totally changed my life. I have increased my fat and protein and dramatically reduced my carb intake. Although this is similar to the Atkins diet, this time, I am eating all organic, grass fed, REAL FOOD and I feel amazing. No processed food and very little sugar. I feel good about feeding this to my family and raising my kids with this lifestyle in mind.
I just ran the Chicago Marathon and I can’t believe how great I felt during my training runs with so few carbs. Much to my surprise, I didn’t have to eat anything on my runs. During previous training, I would eat a bagel with honey before my run and at least 1 or 2 gels during my run plus Gatorade. I still can’t believe how I have been able to convert my body from burning sugar to fat. On race morning, I ate a very light breakfast and only drank water during the race. I never bonked and even managed negative splits.
I ran my third fastest time, but trained less than I ever had before. I am trying to incorporate the exercise principals into my life as well as the eating. I do feel blessed for all that running has given me but now I feel a sense of freedom about the need to run high mileage. I have found the answer to controlling my weight and more importantly my hunger. Thankfully it does not involve running 60 miles a week or restricting myself. I am not sure where my running will take me in the future but I know that the motivation will be from the pure enjoyment of getting outside every morning (even in January in WI) not the calories burned.
I am back down to 121 lbs, but the best part of eating this way is the mental freedom and the sense of calm it has given me. I am no longer obsessively thinking about food during all my waking hours. I used to make it until 4:00 in the afternoon and then I could barely stand it anymore because I was so hungry. This would inevitably make me feel badly about myself because I couldn’t keep my hunger at bay. Going through life hungry and feeling badly about oneself is no way to live.
I knew that conventional wisdom wasn’t working for me. I spent 20 years beating my head against the wall and then finally stumbled upon a few amazing web sites and my life has changed forever. It is crazy to think that I spent all those years stressing over food and couldn’t lose any weight. Now I don’t think about it much at all and I weigh less than I have since high school.
Admittedly my before and after pictures won’t impress anyone, so I didn’t include any before pictures. I wasn’t really overweight before, but that wasn’t the point of my journey. I don’t look much different on the outside, but if you could see a picture of the before and after on the inside, it would be dramatic.
Thank you Mark!