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!
“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”
H. G. Wells
Since it was the Friday Success Stories that truly inspired me to go Primal, I thought I’d share my own. My journey to the Primal lifestyle started about a year after I gave birth to triplets (around January of 2012). At that point I had made multiple trips to the doctors with health complaints. I’m guessing my doctor thought I was a hypochondriac, but my body had started falling apart, and it was affecting my ability to care for my trio. I was reminded by my doctor how pregnancy (and breastfeeding) takes a toll on your body, and even more so with triplets. I just wanted to cry at the prospect that this was the new normal. I felt so blessed to have these three healthy babies, but hated feeling like I couldn’t be the mom I had imagined.
Growing up I had periods of sickness; I remember having to repeat 4th grade because I had too many sick days. Even as I child I recognized that certain foods made my stomach hurt. I remember loving the taste of fast food, but hating the way it made me feel afterwards. Around 6th grade I started participating in sports, started feeling a little better, and continued to feel relatively healthy through college. After college, I noticed some of the same feelings of sickness after eating; grumbling stomach and frequent trips to the bathroom. I knew it was probably something in my diet, but wasn’t willing to make the commitment to any type of elimination diet to figure out what was causing the issues. It wasn’t until after giving birth that I felt like I’d hit rock bottom, and wanted to get to the root of the problem.
One of the things I hated most is that people didn’t seem to take me seriously because I didn’t really look sick. On the inside I felt like I was dying. Some of the things I had been experiencing were: night sweats, racing heart, trouble sleeping, anxiety, rashes around my mouth and face, hip and chest pains, tingling feeling in my extremities, recurring symptoms of endometriosis (I had had laparoscopic surgery to remove endo and cysts in 2009), and intestinal issues that seemed to be getting worse. When I told my doctor about my symptoms, he decided to do some blood tests. The results showed that I was severely vitamin D deficient and slightly anemic, but other than that everything seemed “normal”.
I was given high dose vitamin D supplements to take for a month, and told to come back and repeat the blood test. He also did a mammogram and tested for peri menopause, and both were normal. I was told to take NSAIDs for the pain, and that I should cut back on caffeine. I didn’t notice much of a difference with the supplements, but followed the doctor’s advice. I decided to start doing my own research. I noticed some of my symptoms were similar to these with gluten intolerance. I gave my sister Laura a call because I knew she had gone gluten free along with her fiancé who is gluten intolerant. She suggested I try going gluten free (GF) for a few weeks and see if it helped with my symptoms. The idea of giving up bread, pasta, and beer was almost more than I could fathom. Sourdough bread slathered with butter had long been my go-to comfort food, especially when I was sick (which was a lot). Where would I find my comfort now?
I must have had the low carb flu because the first week gluten free was tough (headaches, constant hunger, extreme irritability). Then something amazing happened about a week in, I noticed some of my symptoms clearing up. I started sleeping better at night, and experiencing a little more energy. But it didn’t take long to find gluten-free replacement foods (read: high carb & processed); I was happy to have my bread (GF) and pasta (rice) back again. I found some gluten free websites to get ideas about how to go gluten free. It was great to find a place to commiserate with others who were stuck with GF beer, and finding replacement flours for their favorite cookie recipes. Around this time I noticed I was gaining a little weight (and feeling bloated), and feeling a little depressed at the prospect of never having gluten again (the GF beer *is* lacking in the taste department).
It was right around the time of my 20th high school reunion (June 2012) that I mentioned to my sister Clare that I had gone gluten free. She recommended that I check out Mark’s Daily Apple, and told me specifically about the success stories. What struck me most was how upbeat the success stories were; these people didn’t seem like they were losing out on anything by changing their lifestyles. So many of the GF (and celiac) websites I had visited focused on what you couldn’t have, so this was a breath of fresh air.
My sister loaned me her copy of The Primal Blueprint (I still need to give it back), and I started reading it at the babies’ nap time. I ended up getting the Kindle edition as well, so it traveled easily in my already cramped diaper bag. The principles of PB made a lot of sense to me. I had long been a chronic cardio junkie, but training for marathons usually left me sick and injured. As a Social Science major, the evolutionary viewpoint using the Grok analogy really struck a chord. I had been a victim of the Standard American Diet for a long time, and I think deep down I knew that my diet played a role in my symptoms.
I’m going into my 40th year feeling healthier than ever! I have the energy to keep up with my 2 1/2 year old toddlers. And who knew playing outdoors could be so fun!? I definitely underestimated the power of play. Although I do still run for fun, I don’t push it as hard as I used to; my kids love it when I run “super-fast” (sprint). I don’t have to go far to find heavy things to lift, considering my guys still love to be carried. I’m trying to teach them to live Primal by setting a good example. We’ve started growing some of our own vegetables, and they love to help harvest.
Best of all, ALL of my health issues have improved, and then some. I had been a skeptic that diet changes would cure my deteriorating health. Those rashes around my mouth that were irritating and made me self-conscious have cleared up. No more racing heart, night sweats, or bone pain! I am no longer vitamin D deficient. I am still amazed by how many of my symptoms improved. There were so many “little” health issues that I just attributed to getting older or bad genes that improved as well. I no longer have issues with: sinus headaches, insomnia, teeth grinding, cracking joints (only after a tough workout), dry eyes, balance, mood swings, anxiety, brain fog, bloating, swollen feet, and I no longer have to take any “sick days” during my monthly cycle due to pain and cramping.
And then there’s all the things I gained: energy (oh the energy!!), clearer eyes, muscle definition, healthier hair and nails, softer skin, more vivid dreams, the best sleep I’ve had in years. Most importantly, I’m able to be the kind of mom I’d hoped to be to my energetic trio. My husband recently asked, “but don’t you miss pizza?”; I didn’t respond, instead I showed him the long list of symptoms that had improved since going Primal. I’d much rather have my health than an Ultimate Slice.
I’m definitely a work-in-progress, but it feels great to be going in the right direction. I occasionally eat a little more dark chocolate than I probably should, and I’m still warming up to sweet potatoes in lieu of white potatoes. I also need to work on getting more sleep, but I can say when I sleep now it’s a much sounder sleep than before. I actually even nap from time to time, whereas in the past it was near impossible to ever just relax enough to nap.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who loves the before and after photos. I don’t have any that are too dramatic (I did throw in a “scary” pregnancy photo for fun though), but I used to have a constant bloated look, and never had much muscle definition (skinny fat). I recently took one of my kids into the pediatrician (it had been about 6 months), and he asked how much weight I had lost. I honestly couldn’t tell him because I didn’t keep track, but it has been a nice side effect. The comments have gone from, “you look good for having triplets” to just “you look good!”; both are nice, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I prefer the latter.
I’m so grateful to have found this site and The Primal Blueprint. Thank you, Mark, and to all who have helped me along the way. And to all the naysayers, I dare you to try it for 21 days. What have you got to lose!
Pre-triplet belly 😉
Post-primal happy family 🙂