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. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.
I have always tried to be ‘healthy.’ From the age of 14 (really!) I worked as an Aerobics Instructor and Personal Trainer. I taught the message I was trained in ‘eat less move more’ & ‘calories in versus calories out.’ If you were overweight, it was simply because you were a pig and you were lazy. Fat was the enemy and from the age of 14 I refused to eat it. I even refused avocados based on the fat content. I suffered pretty bad acne as a teenager and a visit to the Doctors saw me on a course of Oxytetracycline with endless repeat prescriptions. Oxytetracycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic, which works by interfering with the ability of bacteria to produce essential proteins. Great news for my pizza face, nuclear bomb to my gut.
Fast forward a couple of decades—I spent ten years in the health & fitness industry and a decade as a Business Manager for a recruiting firm in the city (think 10 hour days chained to a desk and headset, if you took a break or left at 5 p.m., you were a slacker) and the past decade as a Mum to two kids age 10 & 7. I had to ditch my corporate job as it didn’t fit in with motherhood…good move! Health continued to be a priority for not only me now but my husband and kids too, and finding a decent income that fit around my children proved difficult.
I had always been up and down mood wise, with definite spells of depression. I didn’t take medication for it and never linked food with mood. Where I am from in Yorkshire, UK, you are taught to ‘pull yourself together’. Easier said than done.
Things sort of crept up on me. I continued with my low-fat, high-carb diet and my chronic exercising pattern (3-5 hours of classes at the gym per week). By age 38, my life looked like this: insomniac, constipated, libido-less, overweight, anxious, chronic heartburn (chowed down on Zantac whilst pregnant), chronic nausea (think hungover with a side of morning sickness), headaches (popped NSAIDs like candy), sore feet (plantar fasciitis), full body aches and pains, dizzy, flat, disconnected and I developed really weird phobias! Even though I had spent my 20s travelling the world I now was terrified of flying, which causes problems when you are English with a New Zealander husband and live in Australia!! I also developed crushing fears around the kids getting sick, I couldn’t stop my mind from going down this dark hole of worries. Although I was still functioning—groceries had to be bought and kids taken to school, I was utterly overwhelmed and certain I was dying of some awful disease, the outcome of which seemed like welcome relief.
At a really low point a voice inside me said “go gluten free!” I had always viewed people with dietary restrictions as ‘fuss pots’ (there’s that Yorkshire in me again), but I decided this could be worth a go, anything to stop feeling so sick. So on Easter 2013 I posted my GF plan on Facebook, seeking advice, and a dear friend said to me the magic words “why don’t you try paleo?” I had never heard of paleo and when I realised it included cutting out grains, legumes, alcohol, sugar and dairy I thought it was totally INSANE! I also couldn’t believe where I found gluten—what was gluten doing in my fat free ice cream??!! Anyway, in a desperate attempt to reset my health I did a Whole30—well more of a Whole45 and found a great naturopath who diagnosed me as having Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) plus a leaky gut. Grateful not to be dying of some awful disease and now empowered to make changes. Why was this the first time I was finding out the truth about food?
The turnaround in my health was nothing short of a miracle. After an initial mean detox from going gluten free (they say the worse the detox the more you needed it, right!) I found relief from my nausea. ‘Strangely’ about two weeks in to my Primal life I jumped out of bed and my feet didn’t hurt!! Wow—this was amazing!! I became amazed that you could ‘fix’ so many niggling health problems ‘just’ by changing what you ate!! I became a bit evangelical!! EVERYBODY needed to know this!! Wow! I became a Primal geek and listened to podcasts round the clock and my bedtime reading included books like Grain Brain, It Starts with Food and of course The Primal Blueprint & The Primal Connection—a real fave of mine!
One day my friend Caz said to me “Jeez, H, it’s like you’ve found God.” Point taken. I was compelled to spread the Primal word, so I started a blog and called it “Primal Soapbox.” People read it! I got emails and people stopping me in the street, telling me they felt the same as I had done, asking me “what should I eat.”
I started to share recipes, and the feedback I got was “how do you have the time!” So I offered to make it for them! My food line was born! I had also found a way to supplement our family income, just by cooking with my Thermomix in my kitchen!! Council (health dept) approved five items that they deem ‘low risk’ enough to be baked from home, for sale to the public. I started to sell my homemade Paleo Fruit Toast, Seasonal Paleo Bread, Gluten & Grain Free Cookies, Paleo Pizza Bases and gut nourishing Gellies at our local community markets, health shops, gourmet pizza shops, delis and cafes.
The feedback I got was AMAZING! My Primal Alternatives were life changing! It’s fine having plants and animals, plants and animals, plants and animals, but sometimes you want a slice of hot toast…and oh! Pizza night!!! I found my products helped people to ‘stay on the wagon,’ and it made going Primal way more sustainable and doable.
Meanwhile – to satisfy my thirst for my Primal knowledge and to gain credibility I graduated as Primal Health Coach, such an amazing course! I could listen to the course work whilst I was creating and then sit the tests! I now have a successful Primal Health Coaching business, and I work with women across the world empowering them to get their health back.
Meanwhile, my health continues to improve. My sleep is AH MAZING I thought this level of sleep was only reserved for husbands! Everything is just working like it should be—for the first time in my life. My mood is default happy and positive, and my resilience is off the charts! Yes, life is still up and down, but it no longer overwhelms me. I barely think about the kids getting sick, and if they do I can handle it, plus I have done a flight to the UK and have a flight to NZ planned for 2017.
Not to put you off with any hocus pocus, but the one thing that has been most transformational for me is my connection to the universe. I feel so connected. I feel like the universe ‘downloads’ my purpose to me. My inner guide is honed. I am living ‘on purpose.’ I know my reason. Part of my transformation has been personal growth, I have been drawn to light workers and realised I am one too. When I received guidance to franchise Primal Alternative so that other Mums like me, with a passion for Primal could also work from home and align their passion for income, I did it. I am so proud to now have www.primalalternative.com and invite you to take a look. There was so much work involved in there that I would never have had the courage, focus or energy to do pre-Primal.
I feel like my previous life as a Personal Trainer and then Recruiter has primed me for a life as a great coach. I take great pleasure in educating women that their health issues are not their fault and they are not alone. I delight in watching women transform ‘just’ from getting back to the foods and lifestyle that we thrive on as a species.
I choose Primal over paleo because Primal is about becoming an expert in you. I think that a blanket approach to health is quite negligent and find Primal to be more empowering, flexible, and therefore sustainable and doable. Primal is all about the joy of life.
Much gratitude to Mark Sisson for leading this tribe and being an inspiration to us all. Thanks for reading!