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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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August 19, 2016

Primal Not Only Transformed My Body, but My Passion for Life

By Guest
30 Comments

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!

realifestories in lineIt all started with a shopping cart full of Marie Callender’s frozen meals, lean pockets, and cereal boxes. I had decided that I wanted to stop being fat. As an elementary schooler, this meant that I would ask my mom what this would require and follow her advice. “Don’t eat anything with over 1/3 of the calories being supplied by fat. Here’s how to do the math…” Who doesn’t love the taste of processed carbs and sugar? These low-fat shenanigans (eeeeeevil shenanigans) transitioned into the “cereal for every meal” diet, during which my uncle presented me with a dozen or two of generic cereal boxes. I loved eating it and it was what I was told would lower my body fat. As I was often the fattest body in the room during school or other gatherings, I followed any advice I received wholeheartedly. The only time I was safe from being the heaviest set soul in the building, was when I was fortunate enough for my little brother or the half dozen more obese kids in my school to steal people’s attention with their own chubbiness.

Soccer was always an integral part of my life, and I’m sure it helped my body composition, but it never solved the issue. My triathlete, body-building, never-stop-moving uncle was kind enough to help motivate me to join him in his endurance endeavors as well as provide support for the gym. I followed his body-building style, extended session workouts while simultaneously dabbling in P90X, Body By Science by Kris Gethin, and the conventional low-fat, high PUFA propaganda. I even poured my heart and soul into two years of MMA training followed by two years of wrestling in high school. The body fat wouldn’t go away. Combined with mild gynecomastia, self-confidence and self-worth was not very high. The MMA and wrestling made me feel a lot better about myself, but all too often I could be found wasting copious amounts of time watching the cooking channel, playing Call of Duty, or reading. Sedentary living was my default setting.

zach-before

All the way until college, I had a negative image of my body and no real passion in life, aside from being a health nut that didn’t appear to know what he was talking about. And then one of the ROTC cadets posted Sugar: The Bitter Truth on our Facebook group page. I was enthralled. I went straight to Amazon and bought The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Lorain Cordain. I read the book cover to cover as fast as my engineering work load at The Ohio State University would permit. Internet searches of “Paleo” inevitably led me to Mark’s site. Ever since the day I stumbled upon it in March 2011, I haven’t missed a single post! I immediately ditched all grains, sugar, soy, diary, legumes, and alcohol. I also implemented a workout regimen more in line with The Primal Blueprint’s fitness pyramid.

There was never an immediate weight loss, or anything else visibly dramatic, but I slowly gained more muscle and lost fat. Most beneficial for me though were the posts about social implications of the decisions humans make. Because of Mark, I was pushed toward my passion in life: sustainable agriculture. Somewhere in the onslaught of interesting posts, Mark created a vision in my head that we need to be more careful of how we grow food and grow it in a manner that creates high nutrient yield, while reducing pollution. These ideas inspired me to watch Peter Bane speak on campus about Permaculture. The presentation was so interesting, I changed majors from Mechanical Engineering the following day!

The other lesser acknowledged, but highly beneficial, component of going Primal is the phycological considerations. The posts about body image and accepting one’s self were highly influential to my life and raised it’s quality tremendously! The idea that I could completely ignore how I look, and focus on how I feel, while in the process of making good decisions that promote my holistic wellness and health, was liberating and motivational. I now make decisions based not on “What will cause me to lose another ounce of body fat?” but “What will make me more capable of providing benefits for society or a friend, partner, or family member?” I now am very nearly completely accepting of who I am and what I look like, and it feels so great to acknowledge that every day.

zach after

I can’t say definitively that the changes in my mind wouldn’t have occurred without Mark’s guidance, but “going primal” has been so influential that I have to give it the benefit of the doubt. Eating in a manner that minimized carbon dioxide emissions, hazardous pesticide use, nutrient runoff, soil erosion, and ingestion of toxic and detrimental compounds (sugar, processed grains, and industrial oils) while maximizing nutrients and flavor is a joy, my passion in life, and hopefully my career! I say “hopefully” because I am currently searching for employment this moment in Puerto Rico. 🙂

Zach

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30 Comments on "Primal Not Only Transformed My Body, but My Passion for Life"

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Kyle
9 months 5 days ago

Zach, this is awesome stuff man! I’m glad to hear you’re more accepting of yourself and you can acknowledge this daily. Good luck with the job in Puerto Rico!

Melissa
Melissa
9 months 5 days ago

+1 Great work!

Nocona
Nocona
9 months 5 days ago

Great story Zach, thanks for sharing.

Whitney
Whitney
9 months 5 days ago

Awesome work Zach! Grok on!!

Cee
Cee
9 months 5 days ago

OMG! How wonderful and inspiring to read…’I now make decisions based on… “What will make me more capable of providing benefits for society or a friend, partner, or family member?’ ”

Thanks for the great post and food for thought. You are an awesome human. : )

Jeff
Jeff
9 months 5 days ago

You and I were very likely sitting in Scott Lab at OSU together working on ME homework the day you had your realization 🙂 I had not discovered MDA at that point…I’m still working on getting out of the engineering/corporate world! Very inspiring!

Zach rusk
9 months 5 days ago

Oh man! I tried so hard to find other Primal folk (or converting people haha)! Where are you now?

Jeff
Jeff
9 months 5 days ago

I’m in Chicago working for GE Aviation. I’m on the hunt for something new, I just don’t know exactly what that is yet…jshaknaitis@gmail.com if you want to talk more!

Time Traveler
Time Traveler
9 months 5 days ago

Amazing transformation in so many ways; good on you!

Amy Thiessen
9 months 5 days ago

Great story! I completely agree- the mental shift is just as important as the physical one! Thanks for sharing!

Sylvie
Sylvie
9 months 5 days ago

Zach, you’re an inspiration! I love what you said about focusing on how you feel rather than on how you look. Best of luck!

Zach rusk
9 months 5 days ago

Thanks for the affirmations and support everyone! Happy to provide inspiration! Keep up with some of my thoughts and experiences at my blog, linked in my name for this comment 🙂
Contact me about collaborating on food and wellness related projects and discussion if you are in Puerto Rico or Maryland!

Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
9 months 5 days ago

How fantastic, Zach! Not only the part about embracing a primal eating pattern…but also finding and following your passions…and doing the deeper work – the stuff that goes beyond what’s on your plate.

Thank you for sharing!

Dave'sWife
Dave'sWife
9 months 5 days ago

Fantastic outcome, your are such an inspiration. I have many friends that are finding primal lifestyle so life changing as well. They have a great deal more energy! Mark always provides a great foundation and sustainable resources!

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
9 months 5 days ago

Mind and body are one. Diet definitely affects the mind just as much as the body. Congratulations on finding your “zone” in life!

HillyM
HillyM
9 months 5 days ago

Great post. I think you have described the best benefits of changing your diet & lifestyle as far as I am concerned. If your mind sees the benefits to the way you feel and the impact we leave on the earth, then the decisions about what to put in your mouth become easy. It’s not “will power” but informed choices that influence each day. Love your passion, good luck with the career.

Reya
Reya
9 months 5 days ago

Awesome!!

Molly
Molly
9 months 5 days ago

Inspiring post. Very happy for you on switching majors to something you can truly believe in. Primal in mind, body and career should give you a long, happy,healthy life!! Very happy for you!

Sophie
Sophie
9 months 5 days ago

Is the first picture supposed to be your “before” picture?

Zach rusk
9 months 4 days ago

Yes it is! That was a triathlon I did at Lake placid, NY when the ironman was there. I think it was 2010?

Brenda
Brenda
9 months 5 days ago

So inspirational. I love your change in thinking. I hope you find a great job there!

begob
begob
9 months 5 days ago

I thought phycological was a typo until I looked it up. Cheers!

Elizabeth
9 months 5 days ago

Great story Zach, and so great that you are discovering such a healthy lifestyle while you are still in college. Love the way you make decisions!

grace @ the smokin' chemist
9 months 4 days ago

congratulations, what an excellent transformation. really illustrates how changing your outlook on fitness & health can change your outlook on nearly everything else.

Caroline
Caroline
9 months 4 days ago

I love the way this story focuses on the essence of holistic well-being – that whole change of mindset that makes a big difference to every little thing. Thank you, Zach.

Nick
Nick
9 months 4 days ago

Great story Zach. Good luck in Puerto Rico.

Kinh do
9 months 4 days ago

Great shared story

Vernon
9 months 3 days ago

Great job Zach. Keep it up.

Kjersti
9 months 3 days ago

Wow! Impressive!

Michael Patrick
9 months 1 day ago

Great stuff Zach. Thanks for sharing your story.

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