Meet Mark

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
Stay Connected
January 24, 2014

My Entire Attitude and Outlook on Life Has Been Altered by This Lifestyle

By Guest
138 Comments

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 should have been happy, I was sitting around a dinner table at a restaurant enjoying a martini with my step-father and talking with the rest of my family. I reached for another roll (I skipped the butter of course) but before I could even take a bite I was lightheaded, dizzy to the point that I had to leave the table. In the bathroom of the restaurant I almost passed out – I had no idea what was wrong with me. What I didn’t know is that I was bleeding inside, and the amount of bleeding was significant. The next day after my morning throne time I noticed that the entire bowel movement was blood – this repeated three times that morning. After a long night in the hospital and a halfhearted diagnosis of “bleeding ulcer” I was discharged and told to see a specialist. The pain and sickness wasn’t new, neither were the intense headaches, but everything was getting worse.

I was at the end of a six year military enlistment and had been unable to pass the physical requirements that year; nobody, including myself could figure out why. About six months before, I was running 15+ miles a week and living in the gym.  Now I couldn’t run the required two miles in the allotted time, it wasn’t even close, I had to stop multiple times during the run just to catch my breath before soldiering on for another few hundred yards. I felt such immense shame but it was just the beginning. At the age of 28 my health was collapsing – only a year prior I was in great shape and very active. Below is a photo of my girlfriend (now my wife) and I about a year before I started getting symptoms.

David and Girlfriend

My energy levels, strength and endurance had been collapsing steadily for months – the only other change in my health at the time was intense abdominal pain. After further misdiagnosis my frustration was growing; I couldn’t live the active lifestyle I was enjoying prior to this sickness and the feeling that this was the way I was going to have to live my life was leading me into a deep depression. Weight started to pile on and my physical, emotional and mental health was collapsing. Something had to give.

David and Wife

Finally something did give, my appendix. I woke up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in a new spot. I knew almost instantly what this was and woke my fiancée (now my lovely wife) and through clenched teeth, told her I needed to go to the ER. At the ER check in I told the nurse what I believed was the problem and then sat to wait for close to an hour. When I was taken in the doctor ran some confirmatory tests and told me what I already knew – appendicitis. Prior to surgery they needed to run blood tests – and this is where it hit the fan. The doctor returned to my room and asked me if I had been “wounded” lately. When I asked for clarification he suggested stab wounds, gun shots or severe lacerations as possible causes for the 7% hematocrit reading he got from my blood samples (normal levels for men are in the 40-50% range).

Amid growing concern I received multiple transfusions over the course of the next several hours before the surgeon went in to remove the pieces of my now ruptured appendix. This entire situation led to several meetings with a new GI specialist. During these meetings over the course of the next few months I asked repeatedly about potential dietary causes to which the only response was – you tested negative for Celiac-Sprue. Eventually we arrived at a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. This diagnosis led to a feeling of bitter relief. I was relieved to “know” what the cause was even if it meant that I was stuck with this horrible condition for the rest of my days. At the very least I knew what had been causing my health to steadily deteriorate for the past 4-5 years.

The next few years were spent trying different ineffective medications and closely monitoring my bleeding induced anemia – on a good day I could get a reading in the 20-25% range, still a long way from normal. My activity levels continued to decline, and the resulting depression, inflammation and sedentary lifestyle were causing my weight to balloon and my attitude continued to deteriorate. The extra work my heart was having to do to pump my anemic blood faster and harder was leading to blood pressure problems which caused the doctors to prescribe additional medications to alleviate this symptom.

It was a discussion with a gluten sensitive coworker that caused me to revisit the idea that this could be dietary. She described her symptoms prior to eliminating gluten and they mirrored my own – I began to do some research into gluten free living and at roughly the same time my wife suggested I look into this “paleo” diet. There seemed to be a wealth of information available about this particular gluten free lifestyle so I set out to build an exceptionally rigid paleo nutrition plan – I would find out for sure one way or another if this was something I could control myself. It was during this time that I discovered MDA and The Primal Blueprint.

The principles set forth in The Primal Blueprint simply made sense to me. I am a biologist by education with a hobbyist’s interest in evolutionary biology. It would seem this lifestyle was tailor made for me – if by name alone! By this point I had been paleo for a couple of weeks and was already seeing promising signs. Sure, weight was coming off but what was more important to me was the way I was feeling.

It took my body about three to four weeks to “feel” adapted. Eating clean like this was causing all sorts of changes for me. I noticed my ability to taste the subtleties in food was becoming stronger. I attribute this to the absence of all the processed garbage which was creating “noise” for my taste buds. Without all the noise I could enjoy the taste of the food that these additives and their accompanying outrageous sugar and sodium levels had been masking all this time. Other physical changes manifested themselves across an entire spectrum of benefits ranging from dry skin on my elbows going away for the first time in years to the holy grail of my quest – absence of abdominal pain. The inflammation and bleeding had stopped. It is something we obviously take for granted, the ability to eat a meal and not double over in pain. After living that way for years, to not feel gutshot every time I eat is incredible, it still defies description.

Energized by these positive developments I began to exercise, slowly at first – just 20 minutes at a time on the treadmill. I began to up this amount as my strength began to return. It was at this point that I knew I had made the first correct decision about my health that anybody had made in years. From this point on, every small change I made to get myself more in-line with a Primal lifestyle was yielding benefits and they were all complimenting each other. My exercise routine changed from 20 minutes on the treadmill to 30 minutes of outside running, to running longer distances 4+ times a week (bordering on chronic cardio) to my current routine of HIIT days alternating with heavy lift days with shorter runs, swims and hikes thrown in for good measure. I was weighing myself every day, but more to develop an understanding of my body than to monitor weight loss – which was occurring at a steady pace.

My entire attitude and outlook on life has been altered by this lifestyle. The gift of being able to challenge myself physically has been returned to me, and it isn’t a gift that I intend to squander. I’ve developed an addiction to obstacle racing! Here is a picture of me crossing the finish line at the 2013 Spartan Beast world championship race in Killington Vt. For perspective – only 8 months prior I was 115 lbs heavier and so anemic I couldn’t ascend a flight of stairs – my heart would pound so hard that it shook my torso. This race was 12-14 miles long up and down the mountain all day with 40+ obstacles.

Spartan Race

It is almost a year to the day since my first steps down this path, although to be perfectly honest my weight hasn’t fluctuated in months. I just had to wait to get my physical results before I submitted this, I wanted the data for that side by side comparison.

Results

It is easy to focus on what I lost during a period of change like this (115 lbs, an array of worthless medications, and frequent headaches) but it is far more valuable to focus on what I gained – energy, confidence, health, speed, strength, vitality and youth; like a phoenix born from the ashes of my prior life.

David Before

Before

David After

After

Sitting down to write this story brought in to stark focus exactly how long and challenging this period of my life has been. Undiagnosed for years, misdiagnosed for even longer – I lost nearly a decade of my most vital years (28-37) because I wasn’t confident enough to make my own decisions about my health. No more, my vitality is mine to control. I know this lifestyle has its fair share of critics and doubters and while I have a hefty repertoire of arguments, counterarguments and even my own openly expressed data sets (see above) I don’t engage in debate. If there is anything this experience taught me it is that there is nobody with a bigger stake in your well-being than yourself, and it is up to you to not only make the change, but to commit to it. It isn’t easy – but it is simple.

It is wonderful to know, that when people do finally reach the point where they know a change is required – there is a wealth of information and a supportive community here at MDA waiting to help them through the metamorphosis. This is something I hope to provide as well with my own upcoming blog dedicated to Primal living. Thanks for reading!

TAGS:  guest post

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

138 Comments on "My Entire Attitude and Outlook on Life Has Been Altered by This Lifestyle"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Irish
Irish
2 years 8 months ago

I am a daily lurker here and at other Paleo/ Primal blogs. My transfomation has been slow do to my own issues that I need to fix. What amazes me is the amount of negativity that is shown towards this lifestyle. When you read these stories and visually see the AMAZING transformations.. HOW can anyone not think this is the way to live?

What an amazing life change!

de
de
2 years 8 months ago

It’s not so amazing (the negativity) when you realize that there is no money to be made from it in the form of diet shakes, bars and membership fees. Conventional Wisdom says that Weight Watchers and Slim Fast at he best .
What a joke! We know better though.

Freelancelot
Freelancelot
2 years 7 months ago
The anti-capitalism mini-rant is every bit as stupid and childish as the brain-dead criticisms of Paleo eating. Mark Sisson engages in plenty of capitalism, in case you didn’t notice. He doesn’t live by begging for handouts, does he? There are tons of money to be made from being a Paleo business. You buy your Paleo foods and ingredients somewhere, don’t you? You buy your active lifestyle clothes somewhere, don’t you? The problem of cynicism about Paleo is not one of money or markets. It’s one of government-backed (and endorsed) idiocy. It is a deeply-embedded cultural problem and doctors, as a… Read more »
Bob W
Bob W
1 year 8 months ago

FDA — “Grains good — Fat bad”

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 8 months ago

WOW! Great story, and another sad testament on modern medicine.

Stephan R
2 years 8 months ago

Looking really solid now. Like a machine…

Nick
Nick
2 years 8 months ago

Goosebumps, my man. Goosebumps. Truly excellent story – thank you so much for sharing!!!

Alice
Alice
2 years 8 months ago

I wish this success story could be printed onto the side of every box of processed food at the grocery store. Absolutely amazing. What comes to mind is a phoenix rising from the ashes. I hope you can look at it not as 9 wasted years but as a well-documented extreme transformation that will convince many other people that they can be transformed, too.

I still can’t get over the fact that so many “GI specialists” don’t know anything about food.

Bob W
Bob W
1 year 8 months ago

Yeah, it’s not just GI specialist, it’s 95% of so called healthcare professionals. They just can’t seem to put their heads around that our biggest environment input, food, has the biggest effect on our health. It is as if they all came to an agreement to ignore the tragic effect the SAD is having on us to support wheat farmers in Kansas.

Coll
Coll
2 years 8 months ago

+1 Inspiring all the way!

Grokolicious
Grokolicious
2 years 8 months ago

Amazing results and story! Fantastic transformation! Grok on, man!

C. Hand
C. Hand
2 years 8 months ago

Regarding those before and after pics, afraid I’m going to need an affidavit attesting that it’s the same guy… just kidding! Your story is truely an inspiration. Congrats.

adina
2 years 8 months ago

incredible. to life!

Brooke
Brooke
2 years 8 months ago

Amazing! I just had to pick my chin up off my desk. Good for you. Enjoy your newfound health and wellness.

Shaiek
Shaiek
2 years 8 months ago

What a transformation! I picked up my chin off the table too.

CAR
CAR
2 years 8 months ago

“If there is anything this experience taught me it is that there is nobody with a bigger stake in your well-being than yourself, and it is up to you to not only make the change, but to commit to it. It isn’t easy – but it is simple”.

Great attitude and you look fantastic – the picture of health

Brian
Brian
2 years 8 months ago

Fantastic! I am totally envious of your transformation. I need to get serious about my own transformation. Totally motivating.

Eric
Eric
2 years 8 months ago

One of the best success stories I’ve read! Very inspiring!

Awesome job man!

Melissa
Melissa
2 years 8 months ago

This is an amazing story. You look great, but it’s probably nothing compared to the way you feel. I have crohn’s too. Isn’t it truely amazing how you can get used to that kind of pain every day and that you lived with the “fact” that you would never feel any better than that? It’s like you get a second chance at life and now you can truely appreciate your good health.

Dave R
Dave R
2 years 8 months ago

You are so right. That you can just accept pain like that as part of life is pretty amazing. I didn’t want to let myself believe I wasn’t having stomach pains for the first few days, as if acknowledging the improvement would summon the pain back!

To second chances!

granny gibson
granny gibson
2 years 8 months ago

So glad you got it figured out early! Wishing you a lifetime of good health. 🙂

Bev
Bev
2 years 8 months ago

Thank you for a wonderful success story and congratulations! Loved the before and after pics.

Siobhan
Siobhan
2 years 8 months ago

What is there to say but WOW! What a great story, the most inspiring yet! I am so happy for you and your lovely wife also!

Danny T
Danny T
2 years 8 months ago

From one soldier to another…GOOD JOB! Your high speed again!

j
j
2 years 8 months ago

I love MDA and the success people have! Awesome recovery and thriving on top of it! I am glad you feel so good now. Kinda gives me envy. I have learned a lot thanks to Mark. I have also learned it is not for me to go all in with it. I better understand what is good for me, though.

Ali
Ali
2 years 8 months ago
Congratulations and good for you! What I love best about your story is your emphasis on taking responsibility for your own health and making the commitment to educating yourself and putting into practice what you’ve learned. It’s truly sad that so many people don’t make this connection. Yours is a truly inspiring story. Here’s a thought – could you imagine how the health insurance, pharma and healthcare industries would be transformed if we all made this same commitment? No more astronomical health care bills, no more pricey prescriptions to pay for, no more health insurance companies holding the upper hand… Read more »
Gydle
2 years 8 months ago

Hah – the pharmas and health care companies would HATE IT. They make their money off of sick people, after all. Not to mention the beverage industry (which just last week sent out a “scientific” press release saying diet soft drinks are part of a “healthy” dieting strategy – contradicting a rigorous study done by Johns Hopkins Medicine saying they contribute to weight gain…)

** steps off soapbox and back onto yoga mat **

JennF
JennF
2 years 8 months ago

You, sir, are a beast!!! I imagine with all you had to go through to finally find your health, you are now unstoppable. Congratulations!

Pastor Dave Deppisch
2 years 8 months ago

Who is that big fat guy in the BEFORE pics? Graet change–inspiring–I am going out right now and sprint in 5°F!

AJJ
AJJ
2 years 8 months ago

Just. Wow. I have been reading Friday stories for 2 years, and yours, my friend, is what this is all about.

Cindy
2 years 8 months ago

This story is getting forwarded to my husband! Congrats on your life changing decision!!

paleocrushmom
2 years 8 months ago

I get monthly solicitations from the AMA to join, as I’m sure do 85% of physicians who are not AMA members.

Until they embrace grain-less diet as the gold standard not just for diabetic patients but for general population, they can count me out.

Forrest Beck
Forrest Beck
2 years 8 months ago

Hear, hear!

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 8 months ago

+1

Paul in Australia
Paul in Australia
2 years 8 months ago

“Until they embrace grain-less diet as the gold standard not just for diabetic patients but for general population, they can count me out.”

That’s a bit optimistic. But if they got to the point where they were recommending that overweight and obese patients should severely limit grains that would be something. Half a loaf, is better than none.

phenocopy
phenocopy
2 years 8 months ago

No loaf is better than half a loaf, unless it’s meat loaf.

k.c.
k.c.
2 years 8 months ago

LOL

Matt
2 years 8 months ago

Crazy story. That’s one the lowest crits I’ve seen. I’m doing the Spartan race tomorrow in Temecula for the first time. I signed up to do it last year but I got appendicitis a week out. This year everything looks good to go. Can’t wait!

WalterB
WalterB
2 years 8 months ago

Isn’t cholesterol of 177 a little low, isn’t the minimum death rate about 200-200?

Sandra B
Sandra B
2 years 8 months ago

Actually, the docs get more upset if your over 200 – 220 (and that difference can be seen running the same blood sample twice on the same instrument). Lower isn’t bad. They focus more on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ pieces. Don’t forget the triglycerides matter a great deal and that change rocked!!!

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
2 years 8 months ago

Exactly! Those tryglycerides went from really bad to extremely superior! That’s the thing that caught my eye hugely.

I love the second to last paragraph. AMEN: “No more, my vitality is mine to control.” We are grownups here and we know what is working.

Forrest Beck
Forrest Beck
2 years 8 months ago

I haven’t ever posted here, but I have a wonderful excuse to now. Having just given a talk at the company I work for on this subject (Primal), it is an absolute joy to hear feedback of what life-changing information this is to people. Your story brought tears to my eyes. So happy you chose to fight and rise from the ashes. All the best to you!

Rob
Rob
2 years 8 months ago

You absolutely rock man! Those years you lost are going to be followed by what you rightfully deserve, the best ones of your life. Dig in!

PrimalGrokette
PrimalGrokette
2 years 8 months ago
WELL DONE! I also have been reading these Friday stories for a while but must say this is a story that resonates with me quite a bit! I’ve recently been going to one doctor to the next trying to fix all the different ailments I was experiencing with my stomach, fatigue, and variety of other frustrating symptoms. After a year and a half of expensive tests, medications and no real change in how I’m feeling, I come to the realization that none of those conventional doctors are trying to actually CURE me and are just trying to treat the symptoms.… Read more »
Luke
2 years 8 months ago

“there is nobody with a bigger stake in your well-being than yourself, and it is up to you to not only make the change, but to commit to it. It isn’t easy – but it is simple” – well said man!

Awesome transformation, both from a physical standpoint to a health standpoint!

Christie
Christie
2 years 8 months ago

Incredible story! Congrats!

Corey
Corey
2 years 8 months ago

Based on the change in your face alone, I can see you are now a healthy person. Congratulations on discovering your key to optimum health!

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 8 months ago

Another WOW for our Friday post. Thanks for sharing this for all the people who have been led astray by the “no, it’s not your diet” lie that health officials like to give us.
I have so many friends and co-workers that could benefit from this way of living but are not interested in taking over their own health care. Sigh, I will still encourage them to benefit themselves in any way I can.
Thanks again for sharing your story!

glorth2
glorth2
2 years 8 months ago

Great work man. You look awesome!

Meg
Meg
2 years 8 months ago

Unreal!!! Great job. So inspiring!!

Allen P
Allen P
2 years 8 months ago

You’re an animal dude! I mean this in the best way possible, of course. Congrats on your transformation and successes!

Grokesque
Grokesque
2 years 8 months ago

Excellent recovery – well done! Thanks for sharing such a great story.

Lor
Lor
2 years 8 months ago

holy %&^$. serious my jaw just dropped onto my keyboard.

Bucket
Bucket
2 years 8 months ago

I second that… WOW!

Jill
Jill
2 years 8 months ago

Wow, what an amazing transformation story! Congratulations on finding the answers and regaining your health. May you have many, many more years of health and happiness.

Emma
Emma
2 years 8 months ago

Hi,
This is my first post. I am very impressed with your story.

Stefanie
Stefanie
2 years 8 months ago

I would love to know- What did your doctor have to say about your health changes?

Dave R
Dave R
2 years 8 months ago

That is a story unto itself. He was pleased to see less of me but I was surprised by how little he inquired. I got my oil changed the same day and remember recalling to my wife that night that I got asked more questions by my mechanic than I did by my doctor.

Debbie
2 years 8 months ago

Same with me! I’ve been maintaining an 80 pound weight loss for 25 years, and doctors are never interested in how I did and do it!

Bear
Bear
2 years 8 months ago

Boy, oh boy…is this story familiar! Taking charge of one’s own health…a simple concept, yet one we rarely engage with until something forces us to. I have my own story to tell…maybe later…but this story is absolutely spot-on. There are times I feel our country’s way of life is insane, with medical “intervention” taking priority over common sense, and like the subject of this story, I believe it’s up to us to take control. No one will make your life a priority except you.

Thanks for the inspiration, and confirmation of my own belief…awesome.

BFBVince
2 years 8 months ago

Was not expecting that picture man, dang. Very awesome.

SumoFit
2 years 8 months ago

A frightening story that turned out well. Good for you!

Bayrider
Bayrider
2 years 8 months ago
Outstanding job, going from life threatening illness to Superman in a single year! I thought I’d seen it all on here but your story pretty much tops them all. Imagine a nation of super fit individuals like yourself, we could do it if we were properly educated instead of medically misled. It’s criminal. Oddly enough I am recently familiar with hematocrit counts because my very athletic 6 yr old dog was diagnosed with immune induced hemolytic anemia about 6 weeks ago after I observed blood in his urine. He is currently taking massive doses of prednisone and immune suppressants to… Read more »
Laura
Laura
2 years 8 months ago

My dog had lupus and would always get very serious flare ups after being vaccinated. It took me years to put the two together. I stopped vaccinating her and she stopped having flare ups. Not looking to have a discussion about vaccine safety – just saying this was our experience.

Dave R
Dave R
2 years 8 months ago

I’ve thought about how the appendicitis incident may have saved me. Life is crazy like that sometimes! As for specific allergens, definitely gluten. There have been a couple of dining out incidents that caused almost immediate problems.

All the best to you!

BW
2 years 8 months ago

Duude. Well done. Great story.

Did you ever go back to that GI specialist and help him see the light?

Dave R
Dave R
2 years 8 months ago

I never did! That is one office I hope to never see again 🙂

Linda A. Lavid
2 years 8 months ago

Yikes. That bleeding sounded insane. Great recovery! Thanks for sharing an amazing story.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
2 years 8 months ago

Oh my flippin’ heck! After reading success stories for three years I can still be amazed. Congratulations on figuring it out and taking control of the rest of your life. You look fantastic and I’m so happy that your health is back. Now spread the word and Grok on!

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 8 months ago

Damn, all those doctors are pretty much worthless. Great job figuring it out on your own. Loved the story.

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
2 years 8 months ago

Yup, that’s a common thread in these success stories – doctors don’t help.

“Doc, I’m bleeding toilet-fulls of blood!”

“Uh, okay. Take this anti-inflammatory and go home.”

What a nightmare. And we’ve read these stories over and over. People out there are very sick and the establishment doesn’t know what to do, or they make it worse. An acquaintance of mine had her appendix and gall bladder out and now she’s on chemo for auto-immune disease. She still eats grains. Another friend had his gall bladder out a few years back. He still eats grains.

Auuuugggghhh!

eDeaRL
eDeaRL
2 years 8 months ago

Well done brother! Thanks for articulating the “I don’t engage in debate” part. That truly resonated with me.

wpDiscuz