Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
10 Jun

Quitting Chronic Cardio

I hope the publication of this particular success story doesn’t come across as too self-serving. Reader Brett expresses at length his appreciation for what I do, and for that I’m very grateful. My goal is to touch millions of lives with the Primal Blueprint message, and it’s emails from readers like Brett that motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing. But at the end of day it’s not about what I do. It’s about all of the decisions each of you make daily. I’ll continue to do my small part in challenging conventional wisdom and attempting to provide some direction amidst all of the confusion. But it’s up to you to take that information and do something with it. So make like Brett and his wife Beth and get Primal today!

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. Thanks for reading!

Dear Mr. Sisson,

Please allow us to humbly express our deep sincere gratitude to you for the invaluable health and nutrition knowledge you are generously sharing through your online and other publications. We provide a brief outline of our story here in hope that others may find it helpful.

Our Brief Background Chronology

I, Brett, and partner Beth, 54 and 56 years of age respectively, have been enthusiastic lifelong endurance athletes. Our general lifestyle theme is to achieve the highest possible levels of health and fitness. It has long been our ambition to become centenarians. I began excelling physically as a competitive gymnastics champion at 12 years of age. During my teen years I began competing successfully in marathons, and continued in the sport at a recreational level for 30 years. Beginning each day with between a ten and thirty mile run became my fundamental lifestyle principal. More than a decade ago we began to find the Ironman triathlon competition more eventful and appealing than marathon running, and converted mostly to training for Ironman events. Partner Beth’s experience in endurance athletics has been similar to mine, as we evolved and trained together for the past 20 years. Although we were recreational athletes, our training was intense and our level of competitive standing was relatively high. By our mid-40s, we’d achieved success in international business, and made the lifestyle decision to retire and dedicate fully to pursuing ultimate physical fitness, health and well-being. We planned to continue our triathlon training and competitions indefinitely. Subsequent, for most of a decade, our daily regimen consisted of 6 to 8 hours of training. Much of which entailed intense training, where we adhered to performance quotas and rigorous goals. Nutrition is of immense interest to us. We researched and studied sports and health nutrition in depth for over 30 years. In our attempts to leverage optimal health and physical fitness, we experimented over the past 20 years with dietary regimens ranging from vegan to aggressive carnivore, but for the majority of our lives we adopted the conventional lower fat, high carb diet. We have been invariably careful about the quality of our food products. We have not and will not consume any processed foods of any type. For example, we presently live on our own sustainable organic farm, where we produce 100% of our own food requirements under exacting plant and animal raising protocols. We’ve spared no expense in achieving a diet that is free of the contaminants that characterize most of the commercial food chain. Water is our only beverage, and we have our own deep water well that provides water with exceptional natural purity, and we further process this water through our customized processing system, for even greater purity. Essentially we have long been generally trying to do everything correctly to support achieving our goals of ultimate physical fitness and health. The results of our lifelong dietary and exercise efforts, until recently, however, proved to leave us far short of our goal.

Coming to Terms with Failure

As we entered our 50s, we may have appeared fit, and our endurance event performances may have supported the image of strong health and fitness, but this was purely a facade. By reasonable and objective definition, we were unfit and in poor and failing healths. Given our high level of endurance training and  corresponding dependence on frequent carbohydrate fueling, we evolved to become borderline diabetic. Further, we exhibited many symptoms of the currently well recognized metabolic syndrome (namely excess of waistline body fat levels and other systemic markers of potential heart disease). Particularly disturbing to us was the accumulation of excess body fat around our waist lines that we were finding we were unable to lose, despite our 30 to 40 hours a week of training, and even aggressive calorie-restrictive dieting. We had little if any vital energy to carry out tasks and activities beyond our dogmatic endurance training regimen.

At this point it became blatantly clear to us that our entire health nutrition knowledge base had been all wrong, and we desperately needed new direction and a new plan to avert our pending health and fitness catastrophe. We began urgently digging deeply for truths and new direction. We gradually began to understand clearly the insidious health hazards of the carbohydrate-based diet and abandoned such. We then transitioned to a high fat diet and embraced many of the Paleo Diet theories as presented by Dr. Loren Cordain. But as we aimed to continue our commitment to achieving ultimate fitness through aggressive intense endurance training, while fueling on fat, our fitness levels and general healths declined even further. We were forced to moderate our exercise regimens as our fitness levels declined, and we continued with a Paleo type diet, but were lost in a cloud of uncertainty and lack of direction. We researched ambitiously to establish a new dietary and exercise plan, but for a long period of time we were not able to formulate a general healthy nutrition plan that we could be confident about or have faith in.


By great fortune for us, our desperate nutritional research efforts eventually led us to Mr. Mark Sisson’s comprehensive range of principles on health and fitness, which he generously shares through his numerous online publications. As lifelong athletes, with the deeply instilled beliefs that intense physical training of long durations would lead to better health and fitness and a better quality of life, our initial interpretation of Mr. Sisson’s Primal Blueprint theory was one of skepticism. Our deeply ingrained cultural and lifestyle biases brought us to be parochial and not readily able to see the light of reality. However, Mr. Sisson’s tireless and ambitious ability to confess his doctrine and values for the benefit of others, and to do so in a manner that is exceptionally extensive and comprehensive, allowed us to gradually but relatively quickly, internalize his principles and emerge to realize that Mr. Sisson conveys the absolute gospel. It was the fact that Mr. Sisson answered many of our uncertainties with certainty, confidence and comprehensive logical validation, that brought us to realize his great integrity and his abundant authority to provide leadership for athletes misguided as we were. For example, the very controversial and high-profile question of the relationship between consumption of animal fat/saturated fat/a high-fat diet and heart disease, is one which much erroneous information abounds about, and it is a question that  few health authors will take a strong position on. Mr. Sisson, however, thoroughly and comprehensively clarifies the truth for us on this matter, and he provides references to valid logical scientific data that proves his position is correct.

Realizing the Primal Blueprint Good Life

We are beyond grateful to state that we have made some enormous improvements in health and quality of life during the past year through having adopted Mr. Sisson’s exercise and nutrition principles. We have come to realize that intense aggressive endurance training is not a prerequisite for, nor component of, physical fitness. As Mr. Sisson clarifies, training regularly for a 10 hour intense endurance event is unnatural, unsustainable, and in discordance with our biological evolutionary heritages. Mr. Sisson has redefined accurately and clearly what constitutes physical fitness and a corresponding higher quality of life. Mr. Sisson provides brilliant leadership guidance that is comprehensive and correlates all relevant matters of nutrition and physical activity, leaving nothing vague and uncertain. We gave up Ironman training and competitions nearly a year ago, and are now grateful for having done so. Also, for nearly a year we have adopted the general principles of the Primal Blueprint diet in their entirety. We have, for instance, at present in our freezer at our Arizona organic farm, several hundred pounds of beef fat harvested from organically raised cattle. Beef fat is our soul source of fuel and our favorite food item, which we consume thousands of calories a day of. The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years, stable blood sugar levels, stable energy levels, and the return of normal vital energy for engaging in daily activities. We have abundant energy, for example, to take a 100 mile recreational day bicycle tour through the Arizona desert and do so often. Our running, weight training, and other physical activities are now limited and rarely intense. Our strengths and general fitness levels have improved, and perhaps for the first time in our lives, we are beginning to realize genuine physical fitness. Adopting the logical evolutionary science-based Primal Blueprint principals, which are correct and effective, for the longest time eluded us, as they may elude many persons of similar cultural backgrounds. It took Mr. Sisson’s ambitious and caring leadership to guide us to our enlightenment, and we remain immeasurably indebted.

I’ve been converted to the Primal Blueprint only a short time, and only recently transitioned from the bio-systemic instability inherent in a carb-based diet to the excellent stability and well-being inherent in fueling exclusively on fat. In this photo, which is a very early “after” commencing PB photo, versus the pre-PB photo (above), I have reduced the relaxed waistline (and waistline body fat deposit) measurement by 1.5 inches. Perhaps in six months to a year, both wife Beth and I can resubmit some photos and updates.

In conjunction with communicating and sharing his valuable health and nutrition knowledge, Mr. Sisson de facto acts for some of us, as a mentor, role-model and therapist. Many persons of Mr. Sisson’s generation, perhaps bestowed with similar cultural indoctrination to Mr. Sisson, formulated their lives around the concept of intense endurance training fueled by a high carb diet being a requirement for or a component of optimal physical fitness and a path to a better life quality. For such persons, the eventual realization that their plan was skewed and their efforts have not only been in vain, but have been health destructive, may be a matter that requires some difficult coming to terms with and cognitive adjustment. To arrive at the ultimate realization that they have dedicated perhaps the better years of their lives and the major portion of her lives to a false and harmful prophecy may be at least disturbing. Mr. Sisson provides a model of excellence for dealing with this consideration. As he advocates in his various writings, we need take responsibility and accountability for our circumstances. Mr. Sisson executes this nobly as he candidly identifies and shares the realities of his earlier life misdirections with health and fitness, and without remorse, employs his experience constructively to help others find their way to health and nutrition enlightenment and a genuinely better life experience.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Is that Charlie Sheen in the first picture?

    KM wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Ha! I had the same thought!

      heather wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • OMG, I knew it!

      Arty wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I revisited the posting and scrolled through, swearing that the guy looked an awful lot lie Charlie Sheen. And I am not the only one!!!

      ObligateCarnivore wrote on June 10th, 2011
  2. I’m very skeptical of this, and think it was written by Mark or a member of his team. The language used, content, views, etc. It’s all very suspect.

    I like browsing the forums here and reading Mark’s latest posts, but the Friday success stories are sometimes (not always) suspicious.

    I’d like to see a shorter more believable story next week. Prefereably with photo’s, but that’s not as important as an authentic story.

    Joseph wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I don’t think Mark wrote it, but I do think its fake as hell, and I think Mark knew that before he posted it but did it anyway. If Mark didn’t know it, then maybe he should read it again because it screams “FAKE” to me…

      Fern wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • While I HATED the story and found it depressing as Hell (to the point of questioning…just for a moment…my interest in PB), what do you all think is fake. The pictures are certainly real. What would be the point of someone crafting this story from fiction? I think a before/after showing a 275 lb person transforming to look like the second picture, would be more suspect. Which is why a lot of other sits like Body For Life would have people holding newspapers in their Before/After pics to validate them.

        I think this is 100% real…just depressing. And if Mark made it up, wouldn’t he instead fabricate a story that showed dramatic results for an average Joe, that would have great mass appeal, unlike this account?

        Peter wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I agree there’s something fishy, but Mark is too successful to post false stories that he has written himself. From what I’ve read about him he has more integrity than that. If the story is made up or exaggerated, I would say he was fooled as well.

      Andrea wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • True enough, just one look at the Before and After Pics thread will show you there are plenty of success stories. There’s no lack of material and no reason to lie about it (for Mark, dunno about the submitter.)

        Jenny wrote on June 10th, 2011
  3. What a sad, unhappy life that couple lives. They seem to be looking for what only Christ can fill.

    Matt wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • That’s what I was thinking, too. Except I would suggest the Peace Corps or some kind of volunteer work to get them out of their own heads for awhile.

      lyra wrote on June 10th, 2011
  4. I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but how something as positive as Success Stories can be brought down by the negative comments. As far as I see it, everyone who visits MDA is on a journey of some kind and while that connects us, each of us need to understand that we each journey from a different place & have seen different places along the way. I always saw MDA as a place where we don’t judge, constructive critisism on occasion perhaps but not judging. I just think that some opinions should be thought about before bringing people down, do you really think Mark would post something as a joke when he knows people value success stories so much? Plus, did you consider that it would offend/hurt someone who is serious about their personal journey & success if it wasn’t a joke as you’d thought??
    Long enough post really so one last thing… Good on you Brett & Beth. You’re following what you feel rather than being swayed further by conventional wisdom. :)

    liz wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I don’t mean to offend. Just saying I’m suspect, as many other posters are.

      If Brett and Beth are out there reading this, I’m sure they’re not bothered what I, or anybody else thinks, considering that they’ve reached their full potential.

      Why would a comment get them down?

      Joseph wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Yes, Joseph, you got that right! They’re much too narcissistic to be offended!

        This was one creepy article.

        honeybee wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • This personal journey is like a guy telling you that he went to Atlantis for his vacation.

      Tim wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Yeah, what irks me the most is that the whole scenario just feels like he’s bragging. Bragging about how fit he and his partner are, bragging about how dedicated they are, bragging about how extreeeeem they are, and then it was finished with a photo of him posed gratuitously in front of a Mercedes and I laughed out loud.

        It’s cool you’re on a journey, but…don’t be a jerk about it.

        cTo wrote on June 10th, 2011
        • cTO

          We contributed a lot of years on our incorrect and harmful pursuit of health/fitness, and therefore feel more so as failures and do not sense any accomplishment to be boastful of. A major issue of adjustment for us was coming to terms with our failure.

          Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • Nicely said…
      The more I think about it, the more it this all reminds me of the old Rula Lenska shampoo commercials; “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”
      So they made smart investments & could “retire” before they reached the age I am at now (at 51 I realize I will never be able to retire…) good for them!
      They were addicted to chronic cardio & are learning to overcome that addiction.
      Ya, maybe alot of this smacks of fiction, but that’s because we haven’t had that life. Maybe it really is 2 people trying to overcome some OCD workout issues & who are we to judge?

      peggy wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Rula Lenska! Now that’s a trip in the Way Back Machine! :o)

        Peg wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • When somebody claims they were unhealthy, and cites “symptoms of the currently well recognized metabolic syndrome (namely excess of waistline body fat)” I think it’s reasonable to look at their picture and gauge whether they exhibit said symptom.

        If you think that before pic is a guy with excess waistline body fat, then I am 100% justified in judging your opinion as well.

        And frankly, I think it’s imperative that we DO judge and question. If he thinks his 6 percent body fat (or whatever it is) is too high, he needs professional help. He’s anorexic. It’s in this guy’s best interest to hear some of these comments, I believe.

        JD wrote on June 10th, 2011
        • JD

          You make a reasonable suggestion here in that we may well consider the role of psychological disorder in any of our health related concerns.
          In our particular case, the hypothesis of psychological disorder and our health deterioration being perhaps more imagined than real simply doesn’t hold up if one examines facts such as, stability/sanity in other areas of life (career, education, marriage, social activities, financial security etc,) and very importantly, concrete medical test results.

          The health problems we incurred as a result of intense physical long-term endurance training and the carbohydrate diet were real and profound. It was not imagined that we were exhibiting symptoms of diabetes and heart disease and the diseases were progressively worsening conditions. The aesthetic is not much the issue for us at this point in our lives as seniors, more so we pursue bona fide inherent good health. We now feel fully confident we are moving in the correct direction with the PB lifestyle scheme.

          Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
  5. Call me crazy…but this guy looks like he needs a good meal! I live in sport/health/weight obsessed Boulder, CO. I am 30 days Paleo, feel great, but this should not be about self obsession. Live life a little :)

    Rae wrote on June 10th, 2011
  6. Who gives a shit if its fake…its still a funny story! And the pricipes are there!

    frank wrote on June 10th, 2011
  7. Take away the body in the first photo and he looks like Charlie Sheen. Anyone else see it?

    TinaC wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • yep. he looks just like Charlie Sheen- if Charlie Sheen was in shape. haha

      Andrea wrote on June 10th, 2011
  8. Haha i do! Maybe its his brother

    francois gamache wrote on June 10th, 2011
  9. I’m surprised at the hostility of some of these comments. Not to be cynical, but perhaps it has something to do with our human tendency to sympathize with those who are in worse shape than ourselves, physically and financially, and to feel much less generous towards those who are in the opposite position.

    There are a lot of primal virtues, but there are primal vices too, among them envy. I think Brett was brave to share a story that many folks have a hard time relating to, and to admit that he spent decades of his life in error. Before joining the mob in condemnation, please contemplate: is it cool reason that leads you to criticize, or an ancient emotion welling up inside?

    Personally, I only hope that someday my own success story is so incredible that nobody believes it. (“You’re trying to tell us that guy with the rippling 8-pack and lats like a flying squirrel, swinging two sledgehammers in each hand, is 84 years old? And he eats only mongoose adrenals, yak eyeballs, and white-elephant kefir from animals he personally raises on his secret Himalayan plateau…? Shenanigans!”)

    Timothy wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Reason leads me to criticize – I’m not envious of Brett or Beth.

      To have a skeptical, even critical personality, is simply just healthy self defense. We developed our skepticism because, in the words of George Carlin.. life in this country is about a whole lot of BS that needs to be detected and avoided. There are too many people that will take advantage of you if you are not able to see their intentions. Skepticism helps you see the intentions behind the actions.

      Most of us here are natural skeptics. If we weren’t, we would never have suspected flaws in the SAD, and when looking for answers would look no further than the doctors, or government websites (just one example). It’s skepticism that bought me to MDA.

      Joseph wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • I understand that we’re all skeptics, and it’s natural to question things that don’t make logical sense. But I don’t see anything in Brett’s story that’s more implausible than the usual success story. Then again, perhaps I’m not looking carefully enough. If your own reasoning leads to different conclusions, then by all means, criticize.

        But consider. When we read stories of obese people becoming fit on the PB, we never see comments like “oh, he’s obviously on steroids”, or “she must have starved herself to get that thin”, or anything like that. We give the storyteller the benefit of the doubt, and we take their word for it when they say they lost X pounds in Y months using Z methods.

        I’m just intrigued that so many are withholding the benefit of the doubt in Brett’s case.

        Timothy wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I agree 100%. I would LOVE to have the time to be active all day, every day. And although many people can’t relate to the changes he had to make in his exercise regime, it does not mean they were any easier to make.

      How many of us struggled big time giving up foods like pizza? They didn’t.

      How many of us struggled to give up our long morning run and adapting the intense exercise regime we’ve followed for decades? Had to admit, as an exercise/fitness/health fanatic, that we were wrong… for decades? I certainly didn’t, but I can’t imagine it was any easier than cutting out pizza in my diet, which I thought was tough.

      Angela P wrote on June 10th, 2011
  10. Mark, I believe the pop-culture phrase that applies is “You just got punk’d!”

    Better take this one down.

    Bookstorecowboy wrote on June 10th, 2011
  11. wow this guy and his wife are super duper serious. his writing style also conveys what he describes. hope they are “ok” with making “mistakes”. hope they have a sense of humor and can be laid back and laugh at life. hope. this particular story did not seem inspiring, Mark, and it seems to me, this fellow has not resolved his addiction to exercise AT ALL. His compliments are nice, Mark, but..WOW.

    cindy wrote on June 10th, 2011
  12. Yup, definitely charlie sheen in the 1st pic.
    I can understand all the neg comments with the writing style and conflicting imagery, but is it that hard for people to understand some people out there obsessed with aspects of their life. Here we have an example of the person being completely obsessed with the chronic cardio lifestyle. The story is showing he has had an epiphany in understanding that there is a better way to live. Maybe he hasn’t fully transitioned to a primal lifestyle in that he is still obsessing, but he has made the crucial turn in the right direction and this is a huge success considering his previous path in life.

    The beef fat, is probably referencing most calories coming from that not that it’s the only source of food(regardless of how its worded).

    Also, the 100mi ride does not automatically constitute chronic cardio. I just did a 110mi charity ride this weekend and guarantee you it was the same as most people walking around town for the day. Heart rate always low enough to hold comfortable conversation.

    jostle wrote on June 10th, 2011
  13. Mark:

    It’s a great story, especially for someone like me, who’s seen countless endurance athletes over-fuel on carbs and sugar.

    There’s something Brett writes, though, that really needs clearing up. As the comments bear out, readers are particularly thrown by this:

    “Beef fat is our soul source of fuel and our favorite food item, which we consume thousands of calories a day of. The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years, stable blood sugar levels, stable energy levels, and the return of normal vital energy for engaging in daily activities. We have abundant energy, for example, to take a 100 mile recreational day bicycle tour through the Arizona desert and do so often.”

    I’m not being judgmental here. I just think some clarification is needed. Doesn’t this mean that Brett and Beth are on what amounts to the Atkins Diet? I’m not an expert, but consuming protein and fat to the virtual exclusion of all else is essentially what Atkins is. If that’s the case, and that’s what they’re eating, how is it possible to do 100 mile bike rides in the Arizona desert? And if that’s what they’re doing, then aren’t they still endurance athletes (notwithstanding that they’ve given up their triathlon training)?

    Riding like that on protein and fat can lead to little else than what we see in the photos. Which looks great. But again, I make no judgments. I just want to know, as I think other readers do, what your take is this particular part of the story – especially with respect to its sustainability.

    Thanks, Mark. I hope you’ll reply.


    Susan Alexander wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Thank you for your comment, Susan. Yes, for clarification, I do not recommend a diet consisting solely of (beef) fat (and protein).

      As one commenter pointed out, it may be that he means that beef fat has become his primary source of fuel rather than sole.

      Notice I titled this post QUITTING Chronic Cardio. Brett has only recently started adopting the Primal Blueprint principles. He’s been a chronic cardio junkie nearly his entire life. Taking things easier and scaling back the distance and time may not happen overnight.

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Thanks, Mark. The best part is that Brett has been open minded enough to try something new that’s so different from what he’s embraced for so long.

        I think it’s good to keep in mind all the people who wouldn’t try Primal for even one day – much less give it a wholehearted try for any length of time.

        The paragraph I quoted in my first comment jumped out at me because I’m both a cyclist and a Primal follower, so I’m always trying to square one with the other.

        I think I know enough about endurance sports and Primal for it to be fair to say that Brett hasn’t quite reached the right balance yet. It’s understandable because he’s new and he’s working on a lot of change. As he works at it and keeps reading the blog, I think he’ll evolve into all of this, which is the whole point. It’s what we’re all doing.

        I think most people here are just trying to figure out what to do and what not to do – for their own purposes. I thought some clarification (from you, and thanks for giving it), was needed on this particular point, because in its present form, in the text of the post – it’s could easily throw some people.

        Again, thanks for writing.


        Susan Alexander wrote on June 10th, 2011
        • Susan,

          You raise a helpful question when you suggest “riding like that on protein and fat can lead to little else than what we see in the photos”. I am not sure what you see in the photos, but my goal has been to reduce some of the health hazardous visceral fat that has progressively accumulated in my abdomen. Significantly, considerable uncertainty remains about what impact even recreational level (low intensity) endurance activity may have on visceral fat reduction/accumulation.

          Further, your suggestion that we’ve perhaps not reached a desirable “balance” as yet is appreciated. Yet, how does one gauge where is the balance? Coming from a background of serious tri-training, a 100 mile cycle ride through the Tucson mountains and desert feels nearly effortless and is pleasant.

          I apologize for the ambiguity about our fuel source. By fuel I meant the entity that drives our direct kinetics vs food for providing nutrients. We consume less than 50g of carbs daily, and derive 60% to 70% of daily calories from high quality animal fats.

          Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • Although some people think Atkins is all fat and protein, that’s actually not true. There are 4 phases of Atkins, and in Phase 1, which only lasts 2 weeks and is designed to jump start weight loss, you are only eating 20 grams of carb a day…I suppose that’s where the idea that it’s all fat and protein come from. PB is probably most like Atkins Phases 2 and 3, where you are eating plenty of fat and protein and anywhere from 30 to 150 g of carb a day (from veggies, dairy, fruit, nuts, seeds) depending on your tolerance for carbs. Phase 4 is beyond PB, as it allows some grains.

      Kathy wrote on June 10th, 2011
  14. The title of this post is “Quitting Chronic Cardio” and I believe that this post shows us that we can be fit (or at least look fit) without all the endless hours 24/7/365 of constantly working out, jogging, aerobics, cardio, resistant exercise, ad nausem. And based on what I’ve read in Mark’s bio and other comments Mark has made in MDA I believe that’s why he decided to post this particular success story. As far as I’m concerned, the point is well taken. Gary Taubes touches on this subject in his latest book: if you’re exercising that much now just to keep at a constant weight, how much will you have to do 5, 10 15 years in the future?

    All the other factors regarding the individual life style choices of the people involved are IMHO not really anything I should be worried about.

    Sometimes looking fit and actually being healthy are 2 different things but that’s not the discussion here.

    BTW – who the hell is Charlie Sheen?

    PrimalGrandma wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Have you been living in a cave? :-) He’s an actor. The world has been bombarded with stories about his antics.

      Harry wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • Actually, our tribe considered itself very lucky to have found this cave. We only have to share it with an occasional bear during hibernating season.

        PrimalGrandma wrote on June 10th, 2011
        • Lay off the drugs. They aren’t good for you.

          Erik wrote on June 12th, 2011
  15. I am BLOWN away by the amount of hate and personal judgment expressed by the primal community in the comment section of this post today. It is disgusting.

    I have always been thin and lean, or at least looked that way. Always. So has my dad, who never exercises, eats a terrible diet, drinks tons of alcohol, and smokes. He looks incredibly healthy. And he is in his 50s. We are, or at least look, lean, no matter what.

    And you know what? So many people think they can say anything to someone who is thin. I have never struggled with an eating disorder in my life, and my BMI has never dropped into the unhealthy range, but do you know how many people have made comments like, “Wow, have you been eating? You look incredibly thin.” As if anyone wants to look “incredibly thin,” anorexic, etc. That is just as hurtful as “Wow, you have been eating. You look fat.” We live in a society where most people are overweight, the primary reasons for which are discussed on this and similar blogs, where the cures are also found, and consequently the dramatic weight loss stories and photos. While I understand that the before/after photos in this story do not tell a story of dramatic change, his words do. Photos cannot tell how a person feels about himself, what his energy levels are, or how his gut feels that particular day. I appreciate a success story with dramatic before and after photos as much as the next person, but I am not less affected by a story of someone who appears to be healthy, moves toward a primal life, and then feels much healthier.

    I can only wish I had made fitness and nutrition high priorities my entire life, like Brett and Beth have. They’ve tried very hard to be healthy, but they went down the wrong path. How is it NOT a success story when someone finds the right path, the path that makes them look and feel better?! I can’t relate to before/after photos of people who shed huge amounts of weight. But I am still encouraged by them. I look very similar, regardless of my lifestyle, but I feel like a different person entirely when I am eating poorly and not exercising. Just because my pictures don’t tell a dramatic story doesn’t mean that my body didn’t undergo serious changes when I converted to the primal lifestyle.

    Kudos to you Brett and Beth and thank you for telling your story!

    Angela P wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • While I see where some commenters are coming from I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed as well.

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • I was also blown away by such hatred of this column and success story. Everyone is so astounded that this guy’s writing style is way to structured and that the facts and pictures add up, when in fact I think they completely add up. If someone is extremely hard core about the things they take on and detail oriented, his life before and after primal, as well as his writing style would all come off as hard core. People seem to be bashing it because they can’t associate to it as much.

        Well here something we should all realize, we are all hardcore here! The fact you guys are reading a health blog everyday makes you a bit more hardcore about your health than the average dude walking down the street. It amazes me that with all the cynicism that every one of us probably encounters when we try to explain how we live to normal folk that we still have it in us to be this judgmental of someone else’s lifestyle.

        If a story doesn’t resonate with you, move on. You don’t get a gold star for your hatred. In the off chance that this is fake, pointing your finger and someone and saying “phony!” doesn’t help (anyone catch that reference…). All the hatred that is contained within people never ceases to amaze me.

        Jeff wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • I agree with what you say, except that first picture is somehow bogus. The second one absolutely looks like the guy who wrote this post – beaten up by decades of chronic cardio and endurance events. He looks 54. The guy in the first photo, Charlie Sheen, Brett’s son or whoever he is, has not spent decades over-exercising and eating lots of carbs. He just has not.

      Harry wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • There is absolutely no way for you to know this. And you are actually accusing Mark of printing a bogus story, which I would be insulted by if I were him. You come to this blog to learn from Mark, yet you seem to be able to identify a “bogus” photo, while he was not.

        Photos are not complete stories. They are one moment in time, from one angle. He is much more tan in the first picture, which alone could explain why he looks more muscular. There is a reason body builders spray tan and oil their bodies before a show.

        Angela P wrote on June 10th, 2011
        • No. If you look through my posts, it is clear I am not one of the haters. Clearly Mark believes the story is genuine. My faith in Mark is just as strong as Brett’s. Normally in MDA I use lots of qualifiers. In this case, I would bet money that the first photo is not Brett just before starting Primal. If not for the recent license plate, I would say it was him at 30.

          Harry wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • If this story is fake, so be it. Mark certainly didn’t know it. Mark’s own story involves years of going down the path of hyper-athleticism, only to find his middle aged body to be unforgivingly truthful.

      Many folks in that realm LOOK great, look healthy, but are not. That is the point. My own brother-in-law ran marathons and did triathlons, only to suffer from a heart attack at 45, to everyone’s complete shock and amazement.

      I’m with you Angela – disgusted by the pile-on here, and especially at the people doubting Mark’s integrity. And now I am never going to post my “before” pictures – I’m thin too. How dare a thin person be a “before”??!!

      HillSideGina wrote on June 10th, 2011
      • “My own brother-in-law ran marathons and did triathlons, only to suffer from a heart attack at 45, to everyone’s complete shock and amazement.”

        Fine, but did the marathons cause the heart attack?.. No – didn’t think so

        Marc wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • I couldn’t agree more Angela. This story didn’t sit well with me, but the hate-filled replies are ridiculous. I have been skinny my whole life but am very fit, strong, and eat well. People who are not happy with their weight often make negative comments about my appearance. While I pity them, I resent their negativity and attempt to bring other people down. Many replies to this story serve as a prime example of this type of behavior.

      Calling bullshit on a story is one thing, as is critiquing dietary and exercise choices. Personal attacks are lame.

      Steve D wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Well said, Angela. I’m all for healthy scepticism, but what about compassion too? The dirtiest looks I ever got were when I was Anorexic with a BMI of 13.4 – people seemed ready to bring out the pitch-forks and torches to hunt me down, when clearly I was in need of help… This mob mentality is kind of disheartening. The Primal Blueprint can help people from both extremes of the health spectrum move towards a more balanced lifestyle. It isn’t always about hearing what we want to hear… Some of the suspicion may stem from Brett’s verbose style of writing, but he just seems to be the kind of guy who likes to do a thing really well. Hopefully he is able to be kinder to himself now – no one else can do that but him.

      kerrybonnie wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Thanks for posting this encouraging response, Angela.

      Like you, I’ve always been thin; and I often hear that I look “athletic.” Sadly, my fitness level ebbs and flows, and it’s nowhere near as regular as the tides. Even when I was lifting regularly, I didn’t always address cardio, so I may have been muscular and “athletic” but not necessarily fit. Others construct opinions of my fitness level based on their interpretation of my appearance, but looks can be deceiving.

      That being said, I can empathize with Brett in regards to being thin but feeling visceral fat developing, and being frustrated. I’m not obsessed about it, and it’s not something that would be obvious to others. However, I am definitely aware of a change that’s going on with my metabolism and my body, a change I want to address before the signs are significant enough for others to notice, and that’s one of the reasons I ended up on this site in the first place.

      I’m glad the primal lifestyle is working for you, and I think it’s great Brett & Beth found a new path that will hopefully work for them. Eventually, I’ll give this primal thing a go myself.

      Thin isn't always fit wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been primal six months now and I was very lean even before that. My biggest problem with the PB-litestyle is how to gain weight and increase in muscle since I look even smaller now than I dead before, although ripped, which is nice of course. But still, it’s though to feel so skinny. I’m 191 cm so I don’t want to look too skinny, it’s actually a big problem.

      And all the comments after this succes story made my extremely dissapointed and I was really shocked actually. We all have different reasons for eating like this and we certainly all have different backgrounds and goals we want ti achieve with it.

      This was my first comment here, I just had to write something since I was so upset. And sorry for the poor english, I’m from Sweden.

      Filip wrote on June 11th, 2011
  16. Some people just don’t get it.

    NoSurf wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • How many head of cattle does it take to supply one couple, even a couple that eat a lot of beef? One or two? Can you raise one or two head of cattle in the Arizona desert? Duh!

      Harry wrote on June 10th, 2011
  17. I am happy that the couple found MDA and the primal lifestyle. Congrats!

    But looking at the 2nd photo after seeing the 1st one was quite a shock. First thing that came to mind was Auschwitz.
    This needed a different title because this guy hasn’t stopped cardio…he’s standing next to his racing bike.
    The whole thing is a little confusing.

    So they’ve switched out grains and sugar for fats and continue the chronic cardio even though the title says “Quitting”…the right title should’ve been “Obsessing with chronic cardio”.

    Seems like many of us are a bit confused…but the story still seems real and I wish Brett and Beth the best of luck on the primal journey to perfect health.


    Yamashita wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • No, as people have pointed out, it is not a “racing bike” – it is a recreational bike.

      Harry wrote on June 10th, 2011
  18. There are a lot of clues in the text that the story is fake, regardless of the pictures, which are in themselves bizarre.

    Catherine wrote on June 10th, 2011
  19. There are so many different ways to struggle with health and well being. Cripes, I can relate to OCD, anxiety, anorexia and other mental disturbances myself, especially while I was a vegetarian (maybe I should submit my own success story!). It takes a long time of good, animal-based nutrition to cure what you do to your brain by chronic cardio and a carb-based diet. Give the guy a break, he has done as much damage to his brain as anyone else might have done to their body by being obese. He’s fixing it. It’s a journey. Getting over being OCD and having anxiety issues has been a way bigger deal for me than giving up pizza and milk chocolate.

    Samantha wrote on June 10th, 2011
  20. Hey Brett – Smile more.

    I’m not jealous of the Mercedes though, it’s only a Kompressor. Now if it were a CL65 AMG, on the other hand….

    Kristina wrote on June 10th, 2011
  21. I didn’t have any sense this was faked, I had the sense of “OMG,those poor folks!” (Apparently) they suffer with the same sort of body dysmorphic image disorder as any anorexic. Y’all may not realize there are many men who have the “male version” of anorexia — which is the same completely unreal mental image of ‘how their body looks’ and as much commitment to (in this case, chronic cardio; in others’, hours in the gym doing everything) because their brains don’t let them see what others see.

    All I ‘heard’ in his writing was a desperate, desperate, “try anything” attempt to meet some (unreal) ideal ‘form’ — rather than any sort of self-acceptance of a human body, with its innate lack of perfection.

    Farming and purified well water and a seemingly crazy-massive training regimen sound like symptoms of an inability to accept any imperfections. “If only I do “it” *exactly* right, why then I’ll be lovable / loved / acceptable” — every abused child knows that song!

    To Brett and Beth (assuming Beth is as addicted/addictive as Brett seems to be): keep going, keep working on that primal eating… maybe try to cut down on the ‘recreational’ 100-mile rides in the desert, and see if letting your body relax and heal a bit, letting it relax into its Nature, rather than the (false) picture of perfection you’re chasing doesn’t make your health better and your life longer!

    Elenor wrote on June 10th, 2011
  22. If your goal was to get from lean to even leaner you certainly have succeeded.

    “The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years”

    Congrats :-)

    Resi wrote on June 10th, 2011
  23. Healthy skepticism demands I consider this story an epic troll job.

    Surely MDA staff must realise that extraordinary claims (of which this piece is nothing but) require extraordinary evidence. The negative reactions this has garnered are only to be expected given how outlandish and extreme a picture it paints.

    Personally I would very much like to learn more about Brett and Beth and their unique lifestyle. I wonder have they ever been approached by reality TV producers?

    Chris wrote on June 10th, 2011
  24. It looks to me like the head in the first picture has been photo-shopped. The shadow on the top of the chest does not look like it matches the head and sunglasses. The body is so brightly lit from the sun and the face seems much less bright. Maybe I am wrong but they don’t look like the go together.

    Ralph wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Wow. It is odd. The shadow doesn’t look right. The entire photo is front lit by the sun, yet his face is completely in Very odd. Not sure of what the point of going through this exercise would be, though.

      Hooter wrote on June 10th, 2011
  25. I’m afraid I feel strongly enough to chime in with the doubters here. Don’t hate or envy the guy, but pity does come to mind. The pictures are over the top poseur photos.

    and I’m a grammar cop, I couldn’t read further than here: “is one which much erroneous information abounds about”.

    Love YOU Mark!

    Cecilia wrote on June 10th, 2011
  26. Seems to me a lot of people here have forgotten why Mark did all the research and developed the Primal Blueprint in the first place.

    Endurance marathons, chronic cardio, constant injuries … anyone???

    Cut them some slack and go eat a steak.

    Belinda wrote on June 10th, 2011
  27. Honestly, what is with all the hate and doubting? Isn’t Mark’s own story not that different from this guy’s? He was an elite athlete and by all appearances the picture of health but acutally unhealthy and sick all the time. Why do we doubt Brett’s story because of his appearance? The whole point is that his appearance is not a good indication of his actual health. Also, yes, his writing style is a little formal and full of superlatives, but if I could hazard a guess, I am thinking English might not be his first language. I could be wrong, but even so, disliking his writing style is really no reason for this level of virulence.

    Karen wrote on June 10th, 2011
  28. The writing style fits perfectly a type A person, someone who has made enough money to retire young and spend countless hours training. Everything about the post rings true to me except the first photo. I was wrong to call it bogus. It is just hard to understand how that could be the same person fairly recently before the second, that’s all.

    To Brett, a 100 mile ride probably does seem relaxed now. And he certainly can do a race once in a while like many people here.

    Here is a human being who has tried to share his passion about Primal, only to be kicked in the face here. I’m sorry if I did some of that. I believe the story is real and inspirational. I do not pity Brett. He has found the right track.

    Hedonist wrote on June 10th, 2011
  29. ok yes, brett seems a little obsessed with fitness and i think he might agree to that. but his story is about his change in thinking regarding constantly working out (chronic cardio) vs the grok way. if that was the purpose of this post (hence the name quitting chronic cardio) then that is what you have to look for when reading.

    rebecca wrote on June 10th, 2011
  30. I thought the first picture was Charlie Sheen. When he was healthy! Which is not a bad thing at all.

    Amber wrote on June 10th, 2011
  31. I live in Arizona and take exception to the comments about organic grass fed beef/cattle not being capable of being raised here — mainly because we are thought of as a desert. Well, for the most part we are a desert but —-

    Therefore I decided to google “Arizona Organic Beef Farms” just to see what would come up. Here is the first link to come up:

    BTW, I buy organic grass fed beef at a small natural food store here in Central Arizona – not sure if I can mention the name – but here goes: New Frontiers in Prescott.

    PrimalGrandma wrote on June 10th, 2011
  32. Sounds like most people here are getting their undies in a bunch and taking this way too serious. Lighten up people, no need to be personally offended. I am certain Mark did not post this to pull a fast one on any of us. Take what you want from the story, or don’t. Now go to bed, you’re all WAY too grumpy today!

    Sandy wrote on June 10th, 2011
  33. People of zee wurld…relax! Welcome to Primal, Brett. Thanks daddy Grok.

    Dasbutch wrote on June 10th, 2011
  34. wow, well now I know never to share my own success story. I think it takes some guts to put your name, pictures and personal thoughts and struggles out there for all to see. The least this “community” could do would be respectful of both Mark and the submitter.

    not every story has to be about a fat person losing weight in order for it to be inspirational. I’ve never been overweight, but I’ve had lots of health and wellness struggles as Brett and Beth obviously have too.

    I’m happy for them that they’ve found a better path to take. Whatever their weights, level of tanning, vehicle they drive, etc is of no interest to me. It is inspirational to know that in your 50s it’s not too late to change course and feel better.

    Pitter wrote on June 10th, 2011
  35. Sorry Brett, I should not have made that comment(though, you gotta admit, you do look like Charlie Sheen in the first pic). Taking a step back, I and many of us are probably being too insensitive with our words.

    morgan wrote on June 10th, 2011
    • Perhaps, but for for the most part it’s healthy skepticism, and Brett can handle it!

      Joseph wrote on June 10th, 2011
  36. I’m super curious about your farm, I live in Tucson and would be a total customer in the case that you produce a surplus!

    Elizabeth wrote on June 10th, 2011
  37. I’m new here but my first thought was that not everybody is good at writing their story. It was kinda hard to sift through this one. And maybe the same goes for his choice of photos. He wasn’t thinking of the effect they would have. I mean that the photos don’t illustrate his story very well. He says he was quite I’ll before but the photo shows his tan fit looking bod. However, it wasn’t a healthy fit body. Just looked that way.

    Violette wrote on June 11th, 2011
  38. Also calling BS. You’re triatheletes so you’re posing in front of a female Wal Mart bike? Sorry. Not buying it.

    glorth2 wrote on June 11th, 2011
  39. I hope those people learn to relax. Why live a hundred years wound up tighter than a prairie dog’s butt in a dust bowl?

    Samantha Moore wrote on June 11th, 2011
  40. At first I thought the “before” picture was the “after” picture. Like Mark said, “It’s isn’t cookie cutter.” There are many different people and experiences. I too hope Brett and Beth are living life. As someone mentioned on a previous post, life is for living. Good luck Brett and Beth. And I second the “amen” to Mark.

    Nancy Chavez wrote on June 11th, 2011

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