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!
I’ve been wanting to send in my story for a long time but I think I was waiting for a “happy ending” before I felt I could put it out to the world. I finally feel like I’m in a great place to send this out, though I would hardly consider it an ending.
My unhealthy relationship with food starts at the age of ten or eleven. I was swimming several times a week, so I was not overweight – but my eating habits were putting me on a track of a lifetime of unhealthy eating. I would come home from school before anyone else in my family and eat an entire bag of chips or candy and hide the evidence, because even at the age of ten I realized that this was an odd thing to do, and felt guilty about it.
At the age of thirteen my family moved across the continent and I stopped swimming. The absence of physical activity, and bad snacking habits coupled with depression all caught up with me. I steadily gained weight and thought nothing of it.
By the time I started high school, I made more friends and got to a generally happier place, but the bad eating habits had settled in. I remember loving the weekends when I was baby-sitting because I could snack on junk food while the kids were in bed. I was 5’7″ and around 160 pounds. This isn’t a bad weight to be at for the average woman, but for a 16 year old this was well outside of my comfort zone. I was really unhappy with seeing that number on the scale, but had no idea what to do about it.
During University, I decided to be a vegetarian. This involved eating a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries while on the school meal plan. By the end of the holiday season after my first semester of art school, I had hit 175 pounds. That was my limit. I still had no idea of what to do about it, but I figured limiting the french fries and pop tarts was a solid start. By the end of the school year I had lost 15 pounds just by making slight changes. And I do mean slight – I was still eating the grilled cheese sandwiches, I was just not also eating Oreos.
Over the next summer, at the age of 18, I decided I wanted to get more serious about my health. I looked up the government calorie count website and calculated my meals religiously. My goal was 1200 calories a day, and I was usually thrilled if I came in under that. I also spent hours walking on the treadmill and went swimming several times a week. To the calculator’s credit, it was consistently telling me I was not getting enough calories – I took that as a win. An interesting thing to note was that though I had been a vegetarian for a year at this point, I started craving meat after my swim sessions – once or twice I gave in and snuck a few pieces of turkey when no one was around and immediately felt guilty about it. Over that summer I lost thirty pounds, but even though I was a healthy and happy weight, I still had sugar-obsessed eating habits coupled with a desire to keep losing weight. I would spend one day eating fluffernutter sandwiches and then do a juice fast the next.
In 2008, I spent a semester abroad in France, and the vegetarianism and food paranoia couldn’t hold out against all of the delicious meat, pastries, wine, and butter. I gained 10 pounds in that semester, but enjoyed every minute of it, for a change. Of course, when I came back I immediately began my old regime – with the addition of weekly running, purely with the intention to burn calories to make up for dietary trespasses.
Fast forward to just three years ago, I met a guy, and at the time of our meeting he had just lost 30 pounds and several inches off his waistline on the paleo diet. We started dating and really enjoyed cooking together and I perfected my grain/sugar free chicken tikka masala and the occasional paleo pancake.
Two years ago, the guy and I moved in together, and I finally read your book – not going to lie, it had been sitting on my nightstand staring at me for quite some time before I actually picked it up and read it. We decided to do a strict 30 day paleo challenge. During that time, my skin cleared up, and I lost weight without counting calories – a huge revelation for me.
Over the year, my commitment to eating paleo waxed and waned, but I had a much better idea of how to be healthy, and psychologically I was in a much better place. This January I started off the year by re-reading The Primal Blueprint and starting another strict 30 days of paleo and was astounded at how quickly the holiday weight came off – and stayed off. I also decided to join a local CrossFit gym. While I love the workout, I love the community more – I had never met other primal people out in the wild until then.
And that is where I am now. I no longer run or workout simply to reduce the circumference of my thighs, but just for the thrill of seeing what they are capable of. I can’t share my current weight – I ditched the scale several months ago, but my clothes fit and I’m happy. My now-fiancé and I still love to cook together, and eating is no longer something to be stressed out about or calculated, just something to enjoy.
All the best,