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: Stress Management

Ooh! I’ll Have the Stress, Please

We talk a lot about hot topics like Big Pharma and carbs. But today we’re going to share some of the best tips for both preventing and addressing stress. Stress is ultimately at the root of many, if not all, of our most pressing health issues, including aging.

Of course this depends on your understanding of “stress”. An unhealthy diet that triggers an inflammatory response or the development of arterial plaques is one definition of “stress”. So does the emotional anguish of being in an unhealthy relationship. Another big one: the oxidative stress that promotes cellular breakdown. And simply failing to use your body actively – not moving your body daily – is stressful to your heart, muscles, bone tissue and even to your brain.

A little stress is useful: it’s how we learn, and grow, and survive. Indeed, when you work out, you’re stressing your body, just as if you were pruning a rosebush. There’s some value in moderate amounts of stress, which is a good thing, since life will never be free of it. But most of us probably suffer from too much chronic stress, and if we aren’t taking prudent steps to healthily deal with stress, the cumulative effects are devastating. Whether from the environment, lifestyle, injury or the way you use – or don’t use – your body, stress is really an umbrella term for a critical host of factors affecting your health.

Here’s what we recommend:

10. Take a vacation.

Really. Just find a way to do it – even for two days. For some of you that means actually taking the weekend off. It’s amazing how a brief change of scene literally refreshes your spirits and helps you gain some perspective. On a daily basis, apply this shift logic and take a brisk walk outside or call a friend.

9. Say no.

This one is on every stress list , but everyone has a hard time following it. No one needs you that much. Strangely, the world will go on without you. If someone is trying to make you feel otherwise, you need to go on without them.

8. Stay away from processed food.

Most processed, packaged foods are land mines of sugar, empty calories, fat, sodium, chemicals, dyes and other ingredients detrimental to overall health. Refined foods spur inflammation, but they also can alter your mood, especially if you’re sensitive to drugs and chemicals. Very simple: eat food, not food products. You can get salads, veggies and fruit to go, just about anywhere. ( What to eat in a day .) No excuses…unless you like running around at 80% all the time. Eat food that nourishes you, energizes you, and strengthens your brain .

7. Exercise.

Most Americans don’t. We’ve blogged about one major overlooked reason why. Here’s a trick: just put on your sneakers. Don’t think about the workout. Just don’t think. Simply think “I’m going to put my sneakers on.” If you do that, and give the workout three minutes, you’ve won the battle. Exercise is just too much of a health panacea to

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Banish Nervousness Forever in 1 Easy Step

A Monday Moment

You’re about to pitch the boldest idea of your life to the board of directors.

You’re going to ask your boss for a raise. A big one.

You’re giving a speech at the upcoming fundraiser. It has to be memorable and inspiring.

You know all eyes will be on you as you toast the bride and groom.

Nervous yet?

We all face situations where nerves can seize us and make presenting a terrifying prospect. Whether it’s in the workplace, at the courthouse, or even on celebratory occasions, having to present yourself and your thoughts is stressful to even the most outgoing and charming folks.

You can try all kinds of techniques and tips for banishing your nerves and boosting your confidence, but perhaps the best way to overcome the nervousness of “putting yourself out there” is in shifting one’s perspective. This is easier and more effective. There is but a single, key step to take to banish your nerves forever.

Embrace your nervousness.

That’s it. Rather than feel bad or embarrassed or even panicky about your nervous state, welcome it! Embrace it! Fear is a good thing. Don’t fight it. As Soren Kierkegaard said, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Nervous? Good. It’s a sign that you’re living your life with boldness and authenticity. If you’re feeling nervous, that’s a sign you’ve got a pulse.

The important thing is to channel this nervousness into positive energy. That’s where success comes – it’s not in “beating” nerves. Attempting to fight or ignore or beat your nervousness is an exercise in futility. What’s more effective is welcoming your nervous flutters and in fact feeling grateful for them. Stage fright is wonderful. If you’re nervous, that’s a sign that you have energy and enthusiasm for your daunting task. In fact, you should be more worried if you aren’t nervous.

The best presenters and performers in the world get nervous. Nervousness isn’t a bad thing. It’s a prerequisite to a life of adventure and satisfaction. Embrace your nervousness in every endeavor. It means your whole body is tuned in to what you’re about to do. That’s living in the moment – the healthiest thing of all.

Go get ’em!

[tags] nervousness, stage fright, presentation [/tags]

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The Secret to Health & Longevity: Are You Following the 10/90 Rule?

I have a little saying: if you’re doing 10 things right, you’re 90 per cent of the way there.

The details are important, of course. Potatoes and broccoli are both vegetables, but the green stuff is a lot better for you. Walking and taking a kick-boxing class are both heart-pumping activities, but you’ll get a lot more out of the class. Knowing the “details” of nutrition and fitness is challenging and rewarding. Knowing the details can also be completely overwhelming at times! Just when you think you “know” something is healthy – low-fat milk, for example – along comes some health expert like yours truly who says, “Bring on the butter!” Thanks, Mark.

Today I’m going to let you in on my little 10/90 rule. If you’re doing the following 10 things, you’re already 90 per cent there. (And by there, I mean on the road to good health for many years to come.) I’m not saying the details aren’t still important – they are. The details often mean the difference between good and great. But the details change. As we continually learn more, we must constantly adjust.

So start with the 10/90.

These are my 10 healthy things, but I’d argue that if you’re doing 10 healthy anythings, you can’t help but come out ahead of the pack. Way ahead! So many people never work out, always eat processed and fast food meals, slurp soda all day and alcohol all night, never get a handle on the stressful factors in their lives, and never deal with negative issues in their lives, either. And that’s the norm.

Try 10 to be 90. (An A- ain’t too shabby.)

10. Move Daily

I work out for 45-60 minutes nearly every day. Whether it’s beach sprints or resistance training, I never skip exercise. To me, the idea of avoiding exercise is like not brushing your teeth. Gross, huh? So is not exercising. The leaner and stronger you get, the better you feel – and the longer you’ll live.

Key point: not only will you live longer, you’ll live longer without disease. The last thing I want is to be 75 on six meds and chained to a walker. So I take major action to avoid that. But even if you get out and walk for 20 minutes, or stretch every morning, some type of daily movement to get your blood flowing and your muscles lively is the right idea. The more, the better, obviously.

9. Drink to Lighten Up

I’m not talking about beer here – although that’s certainly one way to lighten up. I mean liquids that literally purify and lighten you. Water is an obvious one, but I’m not that strict about it. (I swear, I’m really not that hard core. Although I readily admit to having a hard core.*) Some days I have very little water – I just don’t bother with the “rules” of water intake. Drink when you’re thirsty. It seems to work very well for cats and

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Are Men the Weakest Link?

Why do women outlive men?

There are plenty of theories about this. The pat answer from the Angry Guys Crowd is often, “Well, duh, we work harder and are more stressed out.” Aw, grow up. I’m certainly not the most politically correct of men, and I think the wave of feminism in the early 90s was pretty tough for a lot of guys to swallow (forever giving that Limbaugh something to rant about). But news flash, guys. Nearly as many women work full-time as men, more women now go to college than men, and if raising kids while simultaneously working a career isn’t stressful, what is?

As the parents of both a teen girl and boy, Carrie and I see very stressful challenges beginning to hit both of them. Let’s be honest: girls are still expected to look attractive, but now they need to be increasingly career-minded and financially savvy, too. Boys have a sharp line to walk – these days, men are also judged by their appearance as well as the traditional “manly” achievements like financial success and social leadership. (That said, still, I don’t see any guy having to deal with the question: “But how will I balance work and family?” This still confronts most women.) This isn’t about me piping up on the politics of feminism, but any guy who still thinks men work harder or are more stressed out needs to take a look around. Men and women both have unique stresses and challenges, and the real issue here is health.

So if it’s not really the level of stress or the 9-to-5 life, why are guys still croaking 5 to 10 years earlier than women? Is it because men go to the doctor less, are taught as boys to ignore pain, take more risks (cars, sports, booze, fights) and eat more junk? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But that’s not all.

Are men still kicking the bucket too early because more money has been diverted in recent years to women’s health? That’s what this article , which inspired this post, questions (it’s a knock-out piece of reporting, so please check it out). But that argument doesn’t pass muster. It might be a factor, but the overwhelming issue here is that men just don’t go to the doctor. For example, every guy knows prostate cancer is a big risk to all men – but we avoid the doctor anyway. I don’t think the fact that more money has finally been spent on women’s breast cancer research is the reason men are dying of prostate cancer or are dying sooner in general. This boys-versus-girls health debate makes for a good news piece on the T.V., but biology is the answer here, not politics.

Even accounting for all possible factors, and even when the odds are fairly and squarely stacked, scientists come up with the same darn result every time: the dudes do not fare well.

Here’s the reason: nature didn’t design us to live as long as women. (Gasp!) Men may

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Have a Blissed-Out Monday

Take this moment to make the rest of your Monday nothin’ but bliss. You’re just 3 steps away – how easy could it get?

1. Resolve to let the little stuff slide.

Be a duck and just let the little irritations slip right off. People can be grumpy on Mondays, and we never get as much done as we would prefer. Shrug it.

2. Call someone you love.

Whether it’s that pal whose crazy ideas make you feel better about your own goofs, your understanding Aunt Susan, or your significant other, take 10 minutes out of this hectic day to have a friendly conversation. No multi-tasking, either! Give this person your complete focus for ten whole minutes. You will both feel great. That rapidly filling email inbox will not melt your computer if you ignore it for a bit.

3. Eat something!

Between 2 and 4 p.m. today, eat a complex carbohydrate snack such as a handful of nuts or a banana. This will boost your serotonin levels. Wash it down with a big glass of water to wake up and feel alert for the rest of the afternoon.

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Does It Have to Be This Way?

Something has been on my mind and I want to ask for your thoughts on the matter.

The other day, I stopped at the local Starbucks for a coffee. Rather than book it to my next errand, I decided to sit and relax for a few minutes. Yes, I’m a people-watcher (guilty as charged). It was late in the afternoon and people were hurriedly running their errands, trying to get everything taken care of before dinner.

I started to notice something: everywhere I looked, people were stressed out. Brows were furrowed, children were ornery, wives looked anxious, the husbands had that “I’ve officially hit the wall” numb look. Drivers were impatiently honking horns, the intersection was jammed, and the general feeling in the air was pretty lousy.

I shook it off and walked over to the drugstore to pick up a few sundries. Same thing – a woman was tearing the poor clerk to pieces over a soda discount error. The line was piling up, people were complaining and grimacing, and there was a lot of huffing going on.

Against my better judgment, I headed for the bank to take care of some business, and it was the same scene there: a college kid crying about her overdraft charges, an incompetent teller, a missing manager, an obnoxious guy in a suit screaming on his cell phone.

We all have those days. Evidently, this day, everyone was having it at the same time. We all hit our limits, and sometimes the manners just go. Nobody’s perfect. Life is really stressful. And yet, I find myself asking: why do we accept this?

Is there ever really a reason to scream at a clerk, your child, your spouse? We all dread getting stuck behind “that person” in line – that person who gets rattled by the tiniest mistake and apparently feels that yelling at another human being is acceptable behavior. Even worse, most of us have been that person at least once, despite our best attempts.

So, is this just life? If life turns ordinary people into angry, stressed, impatient souls, should we really say that’s just the way life is? Should we accept it?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know if I’m asking the right question (but I think I am). I’m certain you know what I’m talking about – we all witness this hum of stress on a persistent, sometimes even daily, basis. All I want is one good, compelling, logical reason why it has to be this way. I don’t want to know why it is this way – that’s easy enough to figure out if you simply look at our modern lifestyle and the insane pressures many of us face. That’s not what I’m asking.

I want someone to tell me why it has to be, not why it is. Does it have to be this way?

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