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

Taking Stock of 2010: Your Annual Health Review

The time leading up to New Year’s is typically about everything but resolutions – or related reflection. With the seasonal slew of parties, shopping, and travel, resolutions too often emerge spontaneously from the hazy shadow of holiday recovery. Little wonder these last minute, little thought out pledges barely make it beyond the starting gate. Here’s a modest proposal to consider: forget the resolutions (for now). Instead of planning for 2011, take the day (or more) to mull, ponder, scrutinize, dissect, chew on, and generally pore over 2010. Think long and hard – from where you were sitting last January 1st to now. What kind of year was it for your health and overall well-being? (Do I hear applause, sighs, groans?) What were your successes? Your failures? Unfinished business? New or ongoing excuses? (Hint: Brutal honesty and unbridled inquest are key here.) Wherever you are in your Primal journey, this New Year’s Eve there’s a lot to gain from a serious and thorough self-review.

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15 Ways to Fight Stress

Do I need to really even say the holidays are a stressful time of year? Every lifestyle blog, magazine, evening news program, and newspaper will have a stress-related feature right about now. I bet Dr. Oz has a “holiday stress relief” show airing. It’s part of the culture – we expect holiday stress and seem to love wallowing in it. So I’m not going to go on and on about how stress is a problem, or even why it’s a problem (I’ve already done that), because we know it. So, how do we avoid it and, once it’s here, how do we deal with it? That’s the important part. How do we hack it?

Well, we don’t want to hack it all to pieces. We need stress, too – just not too much. It bears mentioning that many things can be considered stressors depending on the context. Lifting heavy things is a stressor, and the right amount causes muscles, connective tissue, and bones to respond by getting stronger, which are desirable; too much, or too little recovery, and muscles, connective tissue, and bones suffer and atrophy, which is undesirable. It’s about context, quantity, and quality. With that in mind, I’m going to break down anti-stress strategies into categories.

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Monday Musings: Dirt Deficit Depression, Active Learning, and Thought for Food

Things are nice and clean nowadays. You can easily go a day without seeing a single speck of visible dirt, while hand sanitizer stations dotting the modern landscape take care of the less visible stuff. This is, of course, an environmental novelty with big implications. We”re all familiar with how the extreme sterility of modern environments negatively impacts the ability of our immune systems to do their jobs. We get more exaggerated and sustained inflammatory responses to things that don’t really merit them. We get a lot more asthma and allergies, especially as kids. Well, a recent review in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests it goes even further – all the way to clinical depression. To be more precise, dysfunctional inflammatory responses of imbalanced immune systems due to sterile environments are causing depression in kids. A lack of exposure to “old friends,” or the microorganisms normally present in dirt, food, and the gut, increase levels of depressogenic cytokines, so the natural inflammatory response to psychosocial stressors is “inappropriately aggressive.”

So, like I’ve said a bunch of times already, don’t fear the dirt. Exercise caution, however, when using this study as justification for shirking household chores.

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How to Use the Buddy Effect to Achieve Your Health Goals

Your alarm clock goes off for your early a.m. workout. The kids are in bed and you know you have a good two hours before the gym closes. It’s a nice afternoon outside – the perfect day for a walk or set of sprints over your lunch hour. What will you choose? Would it make a difference if you knew someone was waiting there for you? Of course! The truth is, some of us need a little extra motivation, and all of us could use added incentive once in a while. There’s a different level of accountability when you know your best friend will be disappointed (or chew you out later) if you bail on them. (Seriously, who wants to be that person?) Call it social encouragement, interpersonal obligation, or conflict avoidance, but it works. Health strategy of the day: the buddy system.

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How Being Thankful Can Make You Healthy

With all the talk of food this week, I didn’t want to give the impression I’d missed the forest through the trees. Primal or traditional eats aside, it’s really about gratitude, isn’t it? Gratitude for those we love, for all we have, and for how far we’ve each come in one way or another. For my part today, I’m grateful for the love of my family, the benefit of health, and the continuing inspiration and support of the MDA community. While I appreciate the many emails I get from readers saying how the PB has changed their lives, this community has, indeed, changed mine. I want to thank you all today for reading and contributing. I value the wisdom, perspective, challenge, humor, and personal stories you have offered here over the years. MDA would not be what it is without you – the active, intelligent, and supportive community behind it.

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When Grok Lives with Korg, or How to Cope With an Unsupportive Partner

When I introduced a forum thread asking folks to share their top three challenges in going Primal, one issue got major traction: the S.O. factor (significant other, for those of you not into the whole online brevity thing). It’s a familiar story. One partner takes on a new health commitment. Life changes for that person. He/she goes through struggles, triumphs, growth – an entire physical and psychological process that potentially leaves a relationship chasm in its wake. Then there are the logistics, a menacing obstacle course of loaded questions and irksome details. Do you still eat together? Who cooks (not to mention shops)? Do we have enough pots and pans to make two different meals each night? How do we handle the kids’ food? Finally, what does it mean for the arrangement when one person’s food expenditure overshadows the other’s?

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