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 was always super skinny as a teenager, and I ate rubbish everyday with no thought to my health or weight. I hated exercise and avoided it like the plague. I would do anything to get out of PE each week. My poor PE teacher, Mr. Jackson – I was on my period every week for two years! Anything to get out of cricket or touch footy! Will someone puh-lease make school PE fun??? At 15 years old I weighed 42kg/92lbs and stood 173cm/5’9” tall.
My mum was always overweight, and had Lupus and took a lot of steroid medication which she always said made her fat. That woman ate nothing bad according to CW. She was on every diet bandwagon that came to town. I admired her determination. She did Jenny Craig when I was about 15 and she was thin while she ate that tinned “food” but it never lasted. In the 80s both my parents went mad for aerobics and the Pritikin diet, but we all hated the food so much that it didn’t last in our house. My dad loved his ice-cream too much! We ate really basic old fashioned food. Porridge/oatmeal for breakfast in winter, cold cereal in summer, bacon and eggs on the weekends. Lunch was cold meat and salad with no dressing. Tea was meat and three veg with no gravy sauces or anything fancy. Mashed potato was for special occasions and everything was bland and boring. Salt was gonna kill you, and so was butter. I was known to get the butter and milk out of the fridge during dinner and mash my own potato on my plate. Mum baked scones, and biscuits, but we ate this homemade stuff in moderation.
My mum was a Weight Watchers lecturer in her 40s and I distinctly recall her stating in one of her classes, “sugar does not make you fat, FAT makes you FAT”. OMG Mum ? Her students may well have asked her – so why are you still fat? I mean she wasn’t obese but she was still big, and how she was allowed to lecture astounds me. My mum died a few years ago at 54 from skin cancer (not melanoma though), and there is not a day goes by that I don’t want to call her up to tell her that I’ve found the answer for her weight and possibly her health. I found the secret way to lose weight without starvation or 7 classes of aerobics a week. We could have a burning of the Styrofoam rice crackers, now in caramel flavor good lord!
So mum, this story is for you…
At school once I had pocket money I was allowed to buy my lunch from the tuck-shop, and I would eat lollies, caramel tart, plain milk, frozen yoghurt, cinnamon donuts and pies or sausage rolls. At home though it was back to basics and there were never any biscuits or anything in the house that wasn’t homemade. I was 16 before I ate a muesli bar/granola bar. By the time I was married and left home I had eaten Maccas/McDonalds twice in my life. Takeaway food was not a part of my family’s lifestyle or anyone else I knew for that matter. I guess that was a good thing. I got married young and had three babies about 5 years apart. During this time I got bigger and bigger. I tried everything. Gloria Marshall, Jenny Craig, shakes, Weight Watchers, the gym 6 days a week, swimming 80x100m laps of the town pool 5 days a week. I bought Susan Powter DVDs and I even dug out Richard Simmons “Reach”, another relic from my mother’s past. I walked everywhere until I was 25 yrs old and got my car license. I did try the Atkins diet way back when, and I lost a good 7kg in two weeks on it and kept it off for a year, but my vegetarian husband was dead against it and he made it hard for me to eat that way. I never got fatter than about 80kg/180lbs and my normal weight on any given year was 75kg/165lbs.
Several years ago my marriage ended. I got traded in for the younger and bloodier skinnier model, ha ha! I initially lost a lot of weight – stress and living on $3 a week for food will do that for you! One night for dinner I ate PEPPER that I got from Maccas. Funny now, but not very funny at the time! The stress got less and the weight gradually came back. I decided to go to university and get an education so I could have money – that helps, huh? I was doing a Bachelor of Dietetics and Nutrition. I chose this program simply because even as an uneducated single mother of three kids, I could tell that Australia was becoming fatter and that if I wanted a good secure government job then I should probably get on this food/diabetic bandwagon and get myself into an ever growing industry, pun intended. One of my first year subjects really blew me away…
Picture this. Biochemistry 2011:
So there I am in a class of a few hundred “kids” sitting next to another old girl (in her 40s like me). My lecturer (buff, shaved head, awesome biceps, probably in his late 40s early 50s) shows us up on the screen the metabolic pathway of proteins, carbs and fats. At the point where he describes the metabolic pathway of CHO I turn to my overweight neighbor and grab her on her fleshy arm and threw gritted teeth utter these words…
”are you f-ing kidding me woman? Did you hear what HE just said?”
She looks at me dazed and confused.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS”?
She looks panicked like I might just jump and in the theatre and scream like a madwoman, raises her eyebrows and shhhs me!
I wanted to jump up in that theatre and scream like a madwoman. It was like someone flicked a switch.
At the end of the lecture I raised my hand and asked Dr. Hotstuff (name change due to privacy or something), “Excuse me, can you tell me WHY Im eating lots of “healthy” carbs like on the food pyramid, please?”… and my lecturer, god bless him, answered me with this – “that’s a very good question Jane, perhaps you should look into that.” Or at least that’s how I recall it going. I was a bit mesmerized by his amazing guns, six pack stomach, smooth skin and general buff looking self. ? I wonder to this day if he’s Primal. He sure looked like he might have been. That hot and in your 50s, cmon???
So from the very week I took my biochem exam I gave up carbs. Carb flu and headaches were no match for my determination. I ate eggs and bacon with abandon. I ate tuna and veggies for lunch. I had steak and salad for tea, and in between I ate cheese cubes, olives, salami sticks, macadamia nuts. I still drank a load of Pepsi Max though (seriously, is there crack in that—is that stuff legal?)
I had no book or anything to follow but I typed “carb counter” into Google and basically avoided carbs like the plague… I did happen upon Mark’s Daily Apple and I don’t think I slept for a month. Ironic when you’re reading about turning the laptop off to ensure good sleep at 2am because you’re too excited to sleep! I was about 80kg at first. Here is a picture of me in all my awful glory.
I have no clue what possessed me to think I could pull that bikini off. Truly it’s a shocker. Shudder. The kicker is I paid $200 bucks to look that ugly. AND it’s a “slimming bikini”, as in it’s about a ¼ of that size when off your body, and takes two muscle bound men and a shoe horn to get me into it. When wet, getting it off is a workout in itself. I used to cut myself getting it off wet…. I’m not kidding!
After my last child was born I found I was suffering from back pain so bad I was taking anti-epileptic drugs to quiet the nervous noise down. It didn’t help. I was going to chiropractor several times a month. I was taking pills for the pain and doing a lot of self medicating with prescription drugs that had belonged to my dying mother. I had bakers cysts behind my knees and my feet were killing me. I was in a fair amount of pain on a daily basis and very frightened about the bleak looking future. Any exercise that made my hip move, made my back worse. Anything that made my back worse made me depressed, and depressed made me fatter.
The second I cut sugar and grain out of my diet many of my aches and pains left. I lost weight effortlessly and immediately. I had energy. I woke up one day and thought, “what the hell, let’s go for a run.” It was winter and I had to dig to find summer shorts to run in. Here’s me in them…
I didn’t go running, as I couldn’t find a thing to wear! I was actually disappointed that I couldn’t go running! What would Mr. Jackson make of THAT!
I lost about 15kg/33lbs in the first month. People noticed. They asked me if I “meant to do that”. I was whispered about at work. People thought I was sick or had cancer! I was shocked. When I told them what I was doing I got “the look” and now 9 months later I’m still getting “the look”. It’s very frustrating! I am adding some exercise in soon. I really want some definition and some muscle.
I’m now 173cm tall, and weigh about 58kg/127lbs. I took this picture in January 2012. I’m wearing size 8 (size 4 USA) jeans whereas I was a size 16 (USA 12). I’ve gone back to the bra size I wore in high school – good old 12B! OH my god, my shoes are too big! My 15 year old daughter said I have Victoria Beckham knees (wrinkly from losing so much fat around the knee cap area). GOD BLESS HER COTTON SOCKS!!! Sometimes, when I’m driving my car I don’t recognize my own wrists. Mate, it’s crazy!
This pic was taken January 2012.
So that’s my story. I am currently going through an anger stage. I want to grab random people in the supermarket and scream, “STOP buying diet poison”, and “here, eat some bacon you poor hungry fat thing.”
I am no longer studying to become a dietitian, as I fear that it will kill me to regurgitate lies in exams. So I’m going to teach high school maths and biology. I might even be able to slip a few metabolic words of wisdom in there. I want to start a Primal school group. I wonder how that might work – get ‘em young and get ‘em buff? Woohoo!
Finally, I wish to say a big thank you to Mark, you’re fantabulous mate, and please come visit Australia asap. Our bacon is superior to anything anywhere in the world and that fact alone should make you want to visit…. In the words of Bill Bryson (my favourite author), “Australian bacon…. looks as if it was taken off the pig while it was trying to escape. You can almost hear the squeal in every bite.” Is that Primal or what?
I would also like to say to my mum, you were always an inspiration to me mum. I wish you could be here to share this journey with me, but wherever you are please sit down, put your feet up and EAT. No more Styrofoam rice crackers for us! Woo hoo!!!!!