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 just celebrated my 29th birthday, and thanks to this lifestyle, I’m almost completely pain-free for the first time in over 10 years. I made the switch about 5 months ago, but unlike a lot of people who find the Primal Blueprint, I wasn’t looking for a change.
If you had asked me 6 months ago, I would have told you that I was in the best shape of my life and in the best shape I could be. I had daily gastro-intestinal problems, debilitating migraines almost weekly, chronic back and all-body muscle pain, and serious sleep disruptions – but I was sure that was as good as it could get for me.
At 28 years old, I had accepted that pain was just a part of my daily life and always would be. I felt tired and sick to some degree every day, but I had given up on anything more than minimizing the pain and finding ways to push through or ignore the sleep and stomach problems.
A little background: at least back to adolescence, if not before, I’ve had severe muscle pain (mostly in my back and legs) and headaches. At my worst in high school, I would get a migraine every single afternoon and couldn’t do anything for hours until it subsided. I also can’t remember ever sleeping completely through the night; I thought everyone tossed and turned and woke up 5-10 times every night like I did. I would sleep 12 or 13 hours and still feel tired. I could never understand how other people seemed so rested with just 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
Then, in late 2000 (during my senior year of high school) I found a grapefruit-sized tumor in my abdomen that required major surgery to remove. The surgery resulted in the loss of about 3 feet total from several sections of both my small and large intestine.
After the surgery, nothing gastro-intestinally ever worked right again for me. For 10 years I had daily problems, ranging from ulcer-like shooting pains to symptoms more akin to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I tried to figure out what foods would cause the worst problems, but the patterns seemed random and not linked to any one food. Both the doctors and I wrote it all off as the unfortunate and permanent side effects of missing large parts of my intestine.
Then in college, I finally decided to talk to a doctor about the muscle pain, headaches, and sleep problems, and I was diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Sydrome (similar to Fibromyalgia). They gave me prescriptions for an antidepressant and a migraine medicine, which helped me sleep a little better and stop a migraine after it started, but nothing prevented the pain or headaches. The antidepressant also made it hard to wake up in the mornings, and I wasn’t totally comfortable taking a medication intended for a problem I didn’t have.
Fast forward through five more years of headaches, back pain, and stomach problems. I am 5’6” tall, and 6 months ago I weighed 135 lbs. I had been working out 3-5 times a week for several years, my blood pressure and cholesterol were good, and I ate what was considered a fairly healthy diet by conventional wisdom: lots of whole grains, limited fat and red meat, plenty of fruit, no soda, etc. I was doing everything right! And my doctors agreed: I was doing well for someone with my kinds of problems.
Then I met my boyfriend, who didn’t see my pain as normal or under control. He started telling me about the Primal Blueprint and the way he ate, and he told me it could really help me with my problems. The concept made sense to me, but when you have problems like I do, it seems that everyone you meet has some cure-all solution you’ve never thought of, so I was skeptical.
Doctors never talked to me about diet at all (after all, I wasn’t overweight!), so I couldn’t believe just eating differently would do anything when doctors had already done all they could. So, on a lark and mostly to prove this guy wrong, I decided to try it. Of course, I didn’t do any research or visit your website, even though he told me to check it out at least 10 times (sorry, but I can be stubborn!). I just decided to stop eating grains and to limit processed sugars for a month to see what would happen.
Around 11:00am on Day 1, after not having my bowl of cereal and glass of juice for breakfast as I had every day for most of my life, I realized I didn’t have my usual mid-morning blood sugar drop and sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
After a week, I realized my stomach had been feeling a lot better and fewer foods were upsetting it.
After two weeks, I took an overseas trip and did all the usual things that would have caused serious muscle pain and migraines – sleeping on planes, walking miles in bad shoes, carrying heavy bags – and yet I felt good every day and didn’t have much of my usual pain.
At that point, I was a convert. Two weeks of cutting out grain and most sugar but not changing anything else in my life, and I felt better than I had in 10 years! With that one change, I had achieved results doctors couldn’t give me with any advice or medication.
Since then, I’ve been reading a lot more about the Primal Blueprint and working to improve the rest of my diet and exercise habits, and I’ve seen amazing results. Five months later, I am off all of my prescriptions but am still sleeping much better with just some natural supplements. I lost 15 pounds I didn’t even realize I needed to lose, and have started to notice a lot more muscle gain from my workouts.
Everything gastro-intestinally is now better than it was even before the surgery, and foods that I used to think I couldn’t eat don’t cause me problems anymore. My muscle pain is completely gone most days, and is just a low-level annoyance on my few “bad” days. My migraines are also almost gone – I’ve had 1 or 2 in the last 5 months (down from 2-3 a month), and each time I could point to my own bad eating as the immediate cause.
Several people have told me that I also seem much happier lately, and I am – funny how not being in pain every day can do that for you! I hadn’t realized it, but all those problems also had a huge effect on my mood and general happiness. In fact, I just noticed the other day that I am no longer amazed every time I realize that nothing hurts. Thanks to this lifestyle, I have a new, pain-free “normal,” which is something I never imagined I’d have.
I wish I could send you a picture of my newly happy, healthy, and better-rested muscles, stomach, and intestines, but even if I could, I don’t think anyone would want to see that :). I don’t have any dramatic before or after pictures to show, either, so I’m just attaching some happy after-shots.
I hope my story can help other people like me see that this lifestyle can do more than help you lose weight. I never looked at my diet – and neither did my doctors – primarily because I wasn’t overweight. I am proof of what a huge impact diet and other lifestyle choices can have on severe and chronic pain, and in my case, even on problems caused by physical damage, like the after-effects of major surgery.
Thanks for all the great information and inspiration!