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...

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Category: Personal Improvement

Musings on Specialization and Self-Sufficiency in the Modern World

Every once in a while I come across a quote that makes so much sense I can’t get it out of my head. Sometimes it reveals a new truth or illuminates a long-held one. Other times it makes good and plain something so logical, so sensible, so obvious that it’s like a slap upside the head. Such was my impression of this Robert A. Heinlein quote mentioned by a commenter on Mike Eades blog: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

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The Joy of Receiving

As we round the solstice today, I’m mulling the idea of receiving. Sure, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about health or the holiday season, but bear with me here. First off, I’m not talking about the massive, gimme-gimme materialistic free for all that too often edges out any genuine meaning to the holidays. Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I tend to gravitate toward observing solstice. You don’t get 483 emails the week before reminding you that stores are now open 24 hours a day until the longest night of the year. (Most people couldn’t care less, in fact.) There’s something kind of appropriate to it really: the original mid-winter holiday remains the sparest and most unadulterated of the December celebrations. I’m talking about the nudge toward contemplativeness and a spirit of hospitality that I think most of us enjoy about this time of year. When we’re not rushing around harried by the compulsion to make this the most Martha Stewart worthy event ever, the holidays can call us to take stock, reach out, live it up in a way that’s good for body and soul.

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The Power of Ritual

The holiday season for many people, my family included, has a simple pattern about it. We’re relatively understated about the whole affair, but there are certain things we do because, well, we do them every year. December, for example, wouldn’t be the same without the small, casual solstice gathering we host. In the midst of the greater hoopla (and maybe as an antidote to it), I always look forward to that evening. Fill in your own holiday and routines, but the principle applies for most people. Let’s consider the “royal we” here. We put up certain decorations and bring out certain dishes. We cook a specific slate of recipes. We gather at these houses for these particular parties. We might take the kids to this museum or go to this play. We attend the same services and concerts. We volunteer time or resources to these charities. We read a particular set of books and listen to the same music. Maybe we watch a certain movie every year. We send holiday cards. It’s an elaborate dance that both inspires and exhausts. We can’t imagine celebrating the holidays without this standard lineup, but most of us are somehow glad when it’s all done and taken down. (I know it’s kind of sacrilege to mention that part this early in the month.) Whatever the efforts required, we tend to organize our lives and society around ritual. And there’s a reason we gravitate toward these common, recurring practices.

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How to Find Your Personal Tipping Point

Almost all of our Friday success stories have one thing in common (besides the whole Primal thing): they finally “decide to do something about” their health. Something changes. Their health, their stamina, the health of those around them change for the worse, or maybe a diagnosis is made. Whatever it is, life reaches a tipping point, after which change is a hurtling inevitability, moving almost of its own accord. And as you can see from their stories, success comes rather quickly. It’s a few months, sometimes up to a year, but when you consider the immensity of an entire life of ill health, those months or that year are mere blinks of the eye. After that, there’s really no going back.

Okay, but what does a tipping point look like? What does it feel like?

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Dear Mark: Matcha Tea, Runner’s High, Stress and Weight Gain, and Fasting for Teens

Yesterday was the Malibu Marathon (and Half Marathon), and yeah, I snuck a peek. I could never do it myself, not ever again, but I always like to take a gander at the hordes of faithful. Tons of folks in Fivefingers (and even a few totally barefoot runners), about half of whom were either still heel striking, running with a total disregard for midline stabilization, or bobbing their heads up and down like pigeons trolling for scraps of bread. At that point, their heads are in the right place but they’re doing even more damage to themselves. Barefoot running isn’t a panacea. In fact, it opens you up to even more injury if you persist with the same shoe-centric running form you used before. Oh well. They’ll learn. I just hope the lesson takes before any serious damage is done.

This week, we’ve got questions on whether IF is safe for teens, whether the runner’s high is worth pursuing, whether stress can lead to weight gain, and whether matcha green tea matches up to the hype (see what I did there?). Let’s go.

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30 Primal Hacks for the Fall Season

Yes, yes, I know. I’m getting in somewhat under the wire here. For those of you in the Northeastern U.S. who got an early helping of winter this weekend, you have my sympathies. As a native New Englander, I love fall but know it goes all too fast…. As beautiful as autumn is, I think it presents some Primal challenges – for us moderns as it undoubtedly did for our ancestors. It’s darker. It’s colder. Food is generally more expensive – particularly the sensitive summer produce. We might get different cravings or be more likely to put on weight in these months. We may even feel our own inclinations toward semi-hibernation. While some of us keep our routines the same throughout the year, I know others prefer to make seasonal changes. Our motivations vary. We want to save money or work with what’s more readily available. We know ourselves and understand that we need to switch out the summer workout to stay in shape during the more inclement months. We’re dealing with busier schedules, more stress, or less productive sleep. Or maybe we’re just interested in making some changes more in line with approximated ancestral conditions. Whatever your intention, I’ve got some Primal hacks for making the most of the fall season.

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