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

Feel Better about Feeling Everything. Also, No More Beef.

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

Click it out, Apples!

More Beef, Less Sperm

Well, the title says it all.

Feeling Disgusted? Good.

The capacity to feel disgust (among other strong reactions) is a healthy thing. It’s all the way nature designed it – unfortunately, there are still areas where we need to catch up, and our health is perhaps the biggest one.

A few examples: our bodies are still hard-wired for “fight or flight” (making both stress management and fitness in the Age of the Cubicle serious challenges); we’re really not meant for as many calories as we get; we’re definitely not meant for as much sugar as we get.

The evolutionary door has hit us on the way out, so to speak, and while this causes all kinds of problems with obesity, happiness and fitness, there are other snags, too:

“We often respond to today’s world with yesterday’s adaptations,” Fessler said. “That’s why, for instance, we’re more afraid of snakes than cars, even though we’re much more likely to die today as a result of an encounter with a car than a reptile.” – UCLA Professor Dan Fessler, via Science Blog

In other words, give yourself a little credit. We may be the most sophisticated, feeling animals on the planet, but we’re still animals. It’s natural for us to worry, stress, fear, and get grossed out.

The Secret to a Better Memory

We have to hand it to the NZ Herald. They always have fascinating, useful, interesting health news articles that are decidedly sensible, too. Find out about an easy way to boost your memory, feel happy, and sleep like a baby. Feel the burn, baby!

What’s the Opposite of the Blues?

Feeling down? Trying to figure out the source of a negative issue or emotion? Whatever you do, don’t go about it by means of “problem thinking“. It’s what we all do naturally and unconsciously – after all, no one ever talks about having “the reds”, right?

Prevent that stress! With a little awareness and just a few consistent, consecutive efforts, you can turn problem thinking around permanently! It’s not about repressing feelings (hey, they’ll just bubble up – or explode – eventually). Rather, this is an excellent, handy, and ridiculously simple way to rewire your brain. We love it!

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For Longevity’s Sake

Here’s a question for you: what do we really mean when we talk about anti-aging?

Anti-aging supplements, hormones and tools are some of the hottest things going right now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about “brain health”. Sudoku is enjoying a popularity only rivaled by high school prom queens. Botox is big, everyone dyes their hair, and if you’re not taking antioxidants, well, it’s time to get with the program. And let’s not even get started on the youth-worship in prime time TV and magazines. We don’t really have to: anti-aging has taken over health, too.

Which is fine by me. Who wouldn’t want to get more out of life? But here’s the issue: are we talking about living longer, or living better?

At best, if you do everything, and I mean everything, right – don’t smoke or drink, exercise, eat well, sleep, control stress, maintain healthy, loving relationships, enjoy meaningful work, avoid sugar and carcinogens, breathe fresh air, take vacations, stay positive, stretch your mind, save your pennies (getting tired yet?) – there’s still ultimately a limit.

At best, doing everything perfectly, you can expect to make it to 80 or 90 – perhaps 100 if you’re really, really doing something right. (Then again, we all know the stories about the guy who ate bacon and had a flask of whiskey glued to his hip at breakfast yet managed to live to 110.)

So what do we really want? The current model doesn’t look too appealing. It appears to me that we’re all aiming for a place in the longevity race. Getting a few wrinkles? No problem – slice ’em away! Diseased and overweight from years of neglect and poor choices? There’s a pill and a surgery to fix it! So we’ve got a whole barrel of surgeries and drugs to make up for mistakes. Which is fine, but is this really living well?

Personally, I’d rather not see the inside of 100 if it means I’m hobbling along thanks to a slew of surgery and drugs. I think most of us want energy, vitality, and more bang for the buck – yet our diet, our medical system, and our approach to health don’t reflect this at all. Most health treatments seem to be patching the leaks, rather than preventing the leaks to begin with. Yet I think most of us would choose living well over living a long time. So, how do we align our choices with our goals?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click “Ask Anything!” to send me an email, or visit the forum to leave me a message.)

Most Popular Posts
[tags]longevity, anti-aging, botox, vitality[/tags]

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Reduce Stress, Like, Yesterday

We’ve all heard (and don’t forget experienced!) that major life changes like getting married, giving birth, moving or starting a new job can be unbearably stressful. But it isn’t always the big transitions that take the heftiest health toll. Day-to-day stress – the kind you ignore that accumulates over time – can create detrimental health effects on your body.

So, the next time you begrudgingly roll out of bed at 6 a.m. because you’ve got two kids to feed and drop off at school before you head into the fray of congested traffic and board meetings, think about taking time to undo all the pent-up tension with some of the terrific tips that can be found at the following handy websites. 20 minutes a day of “love insurance” (as in lovin’ your own life!) makes all the difference!

My favorite suggestions from around the web this week:

“Talk to yourself.”

15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life

“Attempt to Control Absolutely Everything.” (They’re kidding, of course.)

5 Ideas for Stressful Living

“Enjoy Life’s Little Luxuries”

Fight Stress! (Who’s biased?)

“Be passionate – About how your work improves people’s lives.”

A Clear Eye

“Be Mindful”

Your Brain on Multi-Tasking

[tag] stress [/tag]

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A Monday Moment

Keeping up with the Joneses

I’m always amazed at how far people will go to keep up appearances – or keep up with the Joneses. Truth be told, these days, the Joneses themselves are usually living paycheck to paycheck like everyone else – albeit a bigger paycheck.

The vast majority of Americans carry too much consumer debt. Our average credit score leaves something to be desired. Big mortgages are possible thanks to interest-only loans. I see 21-year-olds with student loan balances rivaling the profit margins of healthy small businesses.

Wow, thanks, Mark. Just what I needed on a Monday. Now, now, before you get too irritated, stick with me. This isn’t to depress you – let’s take a moment to put things in perspective so we can all have a healthy, productive week.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re busting your back just to make ends meet. Everybody is. Even the Joneses (especially them). In fact, give yourself a big break – the Joneses are sweating bigger bullets than anyone.

There are plenty of great blogs out there for financial advice on getting out debt, finding the career of your dreams, staying positive, and so on. The purpose of this post is simply to help you get your head in the right place – a positive, realistic place (they’re not mutually exclusive). The less pressure you feel just to keep up with life, the happier you will be. Happy = healthy.

With years of hard work, intense focus and plenty of practice, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some nice successes (setbacks, too). I’m grateful for that. One thing I can tell you is that the worst thing you can do is to put pressure on yourself to appear like those you’re impressed by – often, they’re actually worse off than you are. So many times, it’s nothing but a false face.

Much of our stress, resentment and striving could be eliminated by simply accepting that how we live – not how the friends or the neighbors live – is truly good enough. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ambitious or seek rewards, of course. But do ask yourself who you’re putting pressure on yourself for.

Are you driving the car with the hefty payment because you get so much joy from that car, it outweighs the burden of the cost? Or is it because you’ve always felt like you’d be more respected if you could sport around town in a nicer car? Do you live a nice lifestyle but run your bank account down to nothing by the end of the month, anxiously waiting for the next check? And is that feeling worth the hour spent in a nice restaurant eating food you’ll forget about a few days from now?

Only you know what truly can satisfy you and bring you happiness. We all have different stress thresholds and we all view the trade-offs of nice things differently. The key is not getting caught in the fear-greed-fear-greed cycle, because

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Great Health Hits

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news links you want to click! Mark’s favorite articles from the world of health:

1) Take heart!

Women, like men, are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks. But according to the following link, about one in five women who have heart attacks show no signs of heart trouble before the attack. The usual diagnostics and symptoms just don’t send up any red flags. The Boston Globe‘s online news source, Boston.com, reports:

“For the last 40 years, doctors have relied on five factors to evaluate a patient’s risk of heart disease: their age, whether they smoke, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and levels of good cholesterol, known as HDL.”

The news that doctors want to add inflammation – hello, a no-brainer! – to the list of red flags is a great step in the right direction for heart health, and one that is long overdue. Inflammation can be a factor in many health conditions and diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Stress, sugar, and plain old sloth all contribute to inflammation, as do smoking, alcohol, and other free-radical sources like trans fat in fried foods.

2) Oh, FDA, what will you goof on next?

More FDA shenanigans. This time, infants are affected. This is an important article if you are a new parent (or know someone who is).

3) Real men eat lettuce

Men, if you care about your prostate, it’s time to make vegetables your best friend. Like Mark always says, it’s not like they meow – so get over the veggie aversion already!

4) The worst health advice, ever!

According to this article, eating carbs – and not just any carbs, but starchy carbs – is a great way to assure yourself a good night’s sleep. It’s also a great way to put yourself at an increased risk for depression, obesity, and diabetes. The article cites a study which found that carbs stimulate tryptophan and serotonin, the body’s natural sleep aids. However, exercise and fruits and vegetables also have this effect, and they won’t sabotage your health!

Here are a few quick, healthy ways to fall asleep fast, and they won’t spike your blood sugar:

– eat a tablespoon of peanut butter before bed – the natural chemicals help soothe your racing mind.

– drink a little warm organic milk – it really does help!

– try 5 minutes of deep breathing or some light stretches.

– wash your hands and face in warm water, wear socks, and keep your room nice and cool!

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A Monday Moment

Are you ruthlessly committed to enjoying yourself?

At first glance, this can sound selfish and counter-intuitive – even shallow. But I believe that total commitment to enjoyment is the best way to love yourself and others. What does this mean?

It’s not about possessing material goods, and certainly not about instant gratification (in fact, instant gratification is often the exact opposite of true enjoyment and self-love).

Committing to enjoyment means having gratitude – even (or especially) for your flaws and shortcomings, your mistakes, and the things you feel are missing from your life. True gratitude for life – your life – frees you from needing things, from needing approval, from needing control. True gratitude is pure, simple, and joyous.

Committing to enjoyment means steadfast obedience to your inner voice – your heart or instinct. We all know the satisfaction and peace that comes from the times you do listen to your intuition – why not commit to this 100% of the time? How many painful mistakes and personal tangles could have been avoided if you’d simply been true to yourself? Commit to what philosopher Marcus Aurelius referred to as “fidelity to self”. This can seem selfish at times, but by being faithful to your own heart, your actions will be a blessing to others, rather than a cause of misunderstanding or pain.

Ruthless commitment to enjoying yourself – what an idea. If you can commit to pure and genuine participation in your life – because you know it in your heart to be the right thing for you – you can turn your world upside down. Commitment to yourself means commitment to your purpose. The beautiful side effect is that those in your life actually benefit when you commit. When you sacrifice things you know you shouldn’t, and do things your heart isn’t really into, not only do you harm yourself – ultimately, you harm others, too.

Be gentle with your soul by being tough with it – commit to true enjoyment.

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