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...Tell Me More
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!
It 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.
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.
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. 🙂