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.

Salvation

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. I have no doubt this story is real. It is remarkable in that it describes a breakthrough moment. It is hard…HARD…for an obsessive person to acknowledge his obsession, let alone act on changing it.

    There’s no way these two can just screech to a stop. If 100 miles is an easy ride, then it’s an improvement. I just hope that next week it will be 90 miles, and the week after that 80, and the week after that five days a week at 80, and so on. And maybe a nice long LEISURELY (3mph TOPS) barefoot (on the burning sands of the desert? maybe not) handholding walk to take up the slack. This last may be agony at first, but give it a serious try and you’ll find yourself liking it. Maybe even smiling…

    Most of us have to get moving and work harder. You’re simply starting from a different point on the spectrum. If you’re really committed to the Primal lifestyle, then you’ll work hard at slowing down and easing up. Good luck, you two!

    Nannsi wrote on June 11th, 2011
  2. Dear Mark,

    I don’t think it’s strange or disappointing that people are upset by this post; I think it’s a credit to you and to the community you’ve created at MDA. MDA is a place where people trust one another, and learn from one another, and deal with one another honestly, in an effort to get to the truth — and therefore it’s distressing to come here and get duped. People aren’t upset because there’s a Mercedes, or a lack of body fat, in the pictures; they’re upset because they’re being lied to. (And also, of course, because they look up to you and don’t like to see you get duped.) I don’t know whether this is a malicious fake or just the work of an insane person, but it’s rife with totally outlandish inconsistencies, some of which have been pointed out by other commenters, and is unworthy of your really, really excellent site.

    BogieBear wrote on June 11th, 2011
  3. Maybe I’ve become jaded by reading too many Matchdotcom profiles, but if this guy isn’t fake, he’s a self-involved anorexic. Retired young to pursue his own physical health? Come on, why live forever simply for the sake of living forever?! Help someone, create something beautiful (besides your own physique, which looks alarming to me anyway), work toward something outside yourself, for pete’s sake!

    Julietta wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • Juliett,

      The fake element does prevail in the sense that I (Brett) and especially (Beth) cast an idealistic Hollywood image of health/fitness, but in actual fat were in poor health and far from being fit. Highest quality of life is our philosophical aim, but it seems longevity emerges as a necessary corollary.

      Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
      • Lol… “Highest quality of life is our philosophical aim, but it seems longevity emerges as a necessary corollary”

        Seriously dude, STOP posting and just let this “Success Story” fall deep within the archives.

        Erik wrote on June 12th, 2011
  4. Mark, I’m a big fan of your site and the PB, but I think you are being played here. Beyond the over the top writing, the pictures tell the story. Pic #1: Totally ripped body…check. Angry scowl…check. Clenched fists…check. Fancy Mercedes…check. Conclusion: Even with all my worldy posessions I’m not satisfied with how I look and my face and fists say it all.

    Pic #2: Body not as healthy as prior pic (yet still very fit)…check. Only eat animal fats…check. Over the top praise for Mark…check. Still not happy…check. Conclusion: I’ve been a disciple of yours for a short while and look at these great results? In his letter, he said he’d like to provide an update in 6 mos. to 1 year. I’m sure that will be real interesting.

    Skeptical wrote on June 11th, 2011
  5. i think the major takeaway points of this story are not the typical ones that are so much more obvious in overweight people who need to “lose the fat” because they were in the evil grips of a CAD ;-).

    I don’t remember Brett saying he had love handles to lose; he said he was getting the thicker waist of the middle-aged due to VISCERAL fat, which is harmful and also not able to be “grabbed”; it’s INSIDE the belly, around your organs.

    The message is a good one; it was definitely scrambled by the extreme lifestyle and the unusually formal, serious, somewhat strange affect of the author.

    I think the takeaway message is still a valuable one – dangerous visceral fat can still become a problem even in those with endurance lifestyles and low subcutaneous bodyfat; and I would rather not waste my time with all the other quesitons.

    Jill wrote on June 11th, 2011
  6. Where is Primal Blueprint Law number 7 – Play – in this post? It all seems so joyless, I love the PB concept but it is meaningless if it is an endless struggle to achieve physical perfection. I draw, I paint, I play guitar I have fun with family and friends and I try to live a PB life style. Have broad interest enjoy life.

    Apeman wrote on June 11th, 2011
  7. Wow. I am hugely disappointed….in the response of the MDA community. This story inspires. All success stories are great, but one coming from someone who is incredibly dedicated to optimal health, like this one, I found unique and thought-provoking. You’re knocking this guy because he drives a Mercedes? Because he took his health seriously enough to source all his own food? Criticizing his writing style??? C’mom guys. Kudos to you Brett and Beth, and thanks for sharing you one of a kind story.

    Matt wrote on June 11th, 2011
  8. Wow. Is everyone so high and mighty that they cannot understand another’s unique journey that honors their truth?
    Brett and his partner were searching for the truth, and going deeper and deeper in their quest for supreme health. How can you judge him for doing this, even if you cannot understand it? I think we are all on a quest to live our lives truthfully. Kudos to them for going deeper and deeper, letting go of what’s not working, tranforming their beliefs to lead a healthier life for them, and what serves their highest good. Do I detect jealousy because he was successful, retired at a fairly young age and was solely in pursuit of ultimate health, having his own organic farm? More power to him!!! He is somebody who is taking personal responsibility for his life, and living his truth.

    June wrote on June 11th, 2011
  9. I just took the leap 3 months ago and try daily to read Mark’s website.
    Every story I read and comments made are usually very inspiring and reinforces my decision to go Primal.

    The “Awesome Dave”story was my catalyst for leaping.

    I don’t recall Mark ever mentioning in his column that taking the leap meant I needed to conform to a protocol on what I drive, ride or how I take a picture to share a story and that I would need to answer to a “Primal review board”.

    Looks like Brett is in front of the “board” now.

    Thanks for sharing Brett. Maybe those who are most critical should post their story and picture? But Im sure they are better at being critical then laying it out.

    Mark-Thank you for the column.
    A close friend of mine saw you in Overland Park Ks back in May and said the seminar was very great.

    james wrote on June 11th, 2011
  10. So a farm matching the details Brett provides should be pretty high profile. Any farm that produces vegetables in greenhouses, and also the livestock that he mentions–beef, goat, rabbit, duck, plus also produces all of its own animal FEED, all organically, would be a pretty high profile operation. A farm like that would cost quite a bit to run and would need to advertise and have a presence in the community. And yet, it is impossible to google any such farm owned by a “Brett” and “Beth” in Arizona. In fact, running a completely self-sustaining organic farm that produces all of its own animal feed is almost unheard of. Polyface farm is one such farm, and was so unique it was featured in a book by Micheal Pollan. It stretches believability to the breaking point to think that “Brett” and “Beth” have set up this kind of farm to feed themselves in their retirement in their spare time as they commit up to eight hours a day training. There are a number of other inconsistencies in the story and in the actual writing that suggest the prankster is a foreigner. He mentions “emanating” from China and there are numerous other odd phrasings and malapropisms that make the whole thing just very strange. The China thing seems to be a hastily-added enhancement to cover the lack of familiarity with the English language. It’s also suspicious that there’s no photo of Beth or description of her results, since she’s supposedly been on this journey with him.

    Mark–you can probably get some help tracking IP addresses and such, and also since you theoretically have this guy’s full name, you can request verification of his address and the existence of his farm in Arizona. That would be much more reassuring than a series of emails that “seem sincere.”

    Even if you take this story at face value, I have to question Mark’s judgment in posting it. This is someone complaining of overweight who very clearly in his “before” picture is not overweight and has very low body fat. (Contrary to what some are claiming, visceral fat is not invisible. Visceral fat results in the stereotypical “pot belly,” so it is not believable that this guy somehow had dangerous amounts of visceral fat hidden under his clearly ripped abdomen.) Calling this a “success story” does not send a very positive message to your readers.

    Catherine wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • Catherine,

      Thanks for your interest in our AZ organic sustainable farm. Your request for verification is reasonable.

      Here are the details of our farm that anyone can verify now online (www.asr.pima.gov) :

      Tax assessors ID 208-46-116B
      Owner: Min Jiang Sun Trust
      Trustee: Brett Adams (me)

      You are correct that our sustainable farm, being off grid with a lot of elaborate infrastructure did take a stack of money to establish. For us, however, given our strong interest in health and fitness, the large investment was fully warranted. Our farm’s location is about as remote as you can find in most of the USA, being located next to the 129,000 acre Monument National Forest (about 30 miles Northwest of Tucson city in Marana AZ). We do not aim to be high profile, and prefer to remove ourselves far from most all tenets of conventional urbanization. Although because sustainable organic living is our hobby and an important personal concern, we do operate as a information resource base for our peers within the global sustainable living community (sharing information on water conservation, organic gardening, solar harvesting, and all other matters of sustainable living ). In accordance with our original farm design we constructed a fully equipped fitness center and tri training facility, hence it was not difficult to incorporate a fairly ambitious training schedule with our farming lifestyle, although things have changed a lot since we embraced the PB life.

      You discount the merit of my story as a “success” story, and this also seems reasonable as I at present continue to work on achieving some important health goals. Significantly, however, I now have a clear idea of how to achieve the goals, thank you to Mr. Sisson.

      Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
      • I don’t see the comment I attempted to post just now. My apologies if it ends up being duplicated. This property is listed by Pima County as vacant. A search of the address turns up multiple current for sale listings describing it as a partially developed parcel with a number of unfinished buildings that was intended to be developed as a sustainable farm. Google maps satellite searches do not show anything that looks like a farm in the vicinity.

        Catherine wrote on June 11th, 2011
        • So ask the guy for the complete address and go there to check by yourself. Seems to be the only way to be 100% sure and put an end to your ridiculous obsession.

          john wrote on June 11th, 2011
        • The address is 3988 Sassy Rd. Marana, Arizona. It is a VACANT parcel of land with some unfinished buildings on it. It is not a farm. There are no animals. There are no greenhouses. There is no house. Brett apparently purchased the land in 2008 for a little over $21,000, put up the buildings, and has it listed for sale for $125,000. There’s no sign that there is such a person as Beth.

          Catherine wrote on June 11th, 2011
        • Catherine,

          Well, from a rational standpoint it may seem a stretch of our imaginations to imply that Brett is perhaps an Idogines living in a barrel on, as you claim “vacant” land, in the remote rural Sonoran desert – ha ha!

          Regardless, the matter may not hold a great deal of relevance to the meaningfulness of our examination of PB health principles. I sincerely wish you well in coming to terms with your conceptual challenges.

          Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
        • Google the coordinates that follow. There is a fence around the property that looks like the fence in the first picture. Not exactly the same address but very close. Google misses on the addresses sometimes:

          32.275684,-111.328927

          Ralph wrote on June 12th, 2011
  11. The jealous people who are attacking and doubting Brett’s story, lifestyle or appearance should put their money where their mouth is and submit a wonderful and motivating success story filled with photos, so that we can analyze the details (but without a shred of real evidence) and call them liers.

    me wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • Dear PB readers/contributors,

      Please accept our sincere gratitude for the abundant amount of constructive feedback regarding our humble story of transitioning to a PB lifestyle.

      Some of you have provided some particularly helpful additional questions, insights, and encouragement. For those of you whom seem skeptical or doubtful about the truthfulness of our account for one reason or another, please be advised that your critical feedback is also much appreciated. In our society where deception abounds and perception or misconception overrules reality, skepticism is at least a helpful tool (especially in the high stakes realm of health/nutrition).

      I should apologize a bit, because my writing ability in English is not the best, and perhaps is inconsistent with conventional American idioms and colloquialism, therefore it is confusing and/or boring. My story was a bit burdensome to grasp based on the way it was written.

      Nonetheless, we must nominate Mr Mark Sisson as our hero, and as the source of our personal salvation. This is the main message we hope to convey by responding and sharing our modest story in his great discussion column.
      “Thanks to Mark” in itself is somewhat trite and superficial, but we hope it might prompt some due diligence in researching pertinent facts of health and nutrition that Mr. Sisson has prepared and presented for us, which help bring about stronger levels of general health awareness, and a better quality of life for many of us. It was perplexing for Beth and I that despite being persons of at least modest intellect with graduate educations, it took us many years of analysis and finally the particular guidance of Mr Sisson to define a clear and valid direction to real health and fitness.

      Sincere best wishes to you all with your personal PB health experiences, and thanks for the great discussion here.

      Respectfully, Brett

      Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
      • Hello, I am Beth, partner of Brett who wrote this testimony, and has received a volume of replies. In general, it sounds like many readers disbelieve that Brett could look so fit yet be unhealthy. (I told him to not suck in his gut while snapping these photos (joke) …; )
        Brett has always looked fit and has wanted to go higher in his health pursuits. The thing was neither he nor I were achieving our wellness goals.

        At one time, I believed that health and fitness were one and the same but I was wrong. I would get comments about how great I looked and learned that looks are deceiving after seeing the results of my unhealthy blood tests. If not for Mark’s description of Chronic Cardio, I would still be out there every morning trying to run! Running had become a daily struggle, more like a shuffle and no longer enjoyable. Plus, the health benefits were not showing. There is a distinction between health and fitness, a hard lesson Brett and I learned. Thankfully Chronic Cardio hit the nail on the head and I sent Brett a copy.

        I hope the Primal readers can understand the point of this story, Looks are Deceiving! I am grateful to Mark and his publications and to the Primal community. Thanks for your replies!

        Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
        • You two have taken the skepticism so well, I would be quite offended if it was me. So kudos for that. I hope PB continues to work out for you and you achieve your goals. I agree with your comments about Mark. Though I’m not exactly on the primal blueprint, being able to look to this blog for what “healthy” really means rather than some SAD advice about more whole grains and cardio has helped enough. By giving up grains and living mainly on meat/vegetables/fruit I’ve love a lot of body fat. I’m glad you and Mark distinguish between looking fit (basically being muscular and aesthetically appealing) and actually being healthy on the whole. A lot of people will just point at body aesthetics and say this proves the success of whatever lifestyle they have. It goes a lot further than that. Mind you I’m not the picture of perfect health whether it be inside or outside, but I’m improving thanks to the advice here.

          P wrote on June 11th, 2011
  12. After reading all, well most, of the comments I do believe that some who wrote them truly believe that all the other adopters of PB should exactly as they are. If you think that Brett’s story is fake, then… you should also question Mark’s. They are not that different, really.

    I also have no problem with 100 mile recreational rides. On a flat course and if you’re fit (I wonder what Brett’s resting HR is) it does NOT have to be ‘chronic cardio’. It’s all (well, simplifying a bit) about the % of HR max.

    By the way, Mark, I think you should define ‘chronic cardio’ more clearly, otherwise one might claim that during your 9 hours of night sleep you’re deep in a ‘chronic cardio’ session. Metabolically, it’s not that much different from slowly running or cycling. Doug McGuff makes a very good point for dismissing cardio as a valid term at all.

    Tomasz wrote on June 11th, 2011
  13. Brett, first of all congrats on the improved health markers but most importantly for improving your quality of life. I have to ask though, what are your goals at this point now that you’ve ditched the ironmans and triathlons? If its simply health and longevity I would argue that you could make a few minor changes and see drastic improvement. Have you tried just doing 2 or 3 short but heavy lifting sessions a week- with no cardio other than walking or the hiking you mentioned? This would do wonders to lowering overall inflammatory markers- have you had your C-reactive protein levels checked? Most importantly it seems that you are trying too hard. Relax man, take a deep breath, eat when your hungry and stop when your full, dont measure yourself or stand on a scale for a while and see how you feel. The fact that your here at MDA means your are well on your way to true health but I would bet good money that if you ditched all planned cardio or training sessions other than some heavy lifting that you will see a big improvement not just in the way you look and feel but also performace. Congrats once again!

    AAvKK wrote on June 11th, 2011
  14. This is the scariest success story I have ever seen.

    Debbie_Downer wrote on June 11th, 2011
  15. Oh and after a few months of what I just suggested above throw in a sprint session once or twice a week. Also, it might be a good idea to just take a full week or 10 days off completely before hand. To me it sounds like you still may be over trained, thoughts?

    AAvKK wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • AAvKK

      You provide the type of helpful discussion that makes this site rewarding and meaningful – thank you.

      Both Beth and I have had C reactive protein tests, but the tests were last taken earlier, around 2009 at our home near Sanya, Hainan, PRC, where such tests are relatively more readily available and affordable. Beth’s results revealed high inflammation, mine were normal to low. Perhaps more instrumental for us than the tests were the actual physical symptoms of ankle and leg stiffness and soreness that may have seemed to be associated with possible overtraining. Initially we doubted that overtraining was a cause, whereas the uncomfortable symptoms came with our diet change, and our customary training regiment had not changed.

      Here we can raise the question of whether carb fueling genuinely supports more endurance training or if it only conceals over-training. The question for us is anyway unimportant, as we will never revisit a carb based diet nor intense endurance training.

      For persons whom have our type of extensive background in endurance training, and whom still enjoy the sensation of a good regular running regimen, your suggestion of abandoning aerobic conditioning for a period, is a bit difficult to embrace. However, taking valid evidence into account along with intuitive instinct, we’re feeling that your advice is entirely valid. Shortly after ceasing our aggressive aerobic training (almost 1 year ago now), the inflammation symptoms, that being the physical stiffness and soreness, have mostly entirely disappeared. Moreover, we now have energy and enthusiasm to participate in recreational type endurance events, such as a few regular long bicycle tours at a moderate rate of travel.

      Your advice today is very helpful, and it prompted Beth and I to discuss and make an affirmative action decision to genuinely stop with the aerobics of all sorts for a significant period of time. Earlier we were opting to only reduce aerobic training, but continue regular sessions. Logically, it may be that ceasing for an extended period is more effective or even necessary to counter overtraining.

      Our goal is simply achieving high-quality general health. We have no further aspirations to compete or be competitive in sports activities. We feel that an important element in achieving our goal is engaging in ambitious soil development at our Arizona farm, both for our own direct plant foods and for feeding our animals. Yet, as you imply, the quantity of food consumed, along with the nature and volume of exercise is vitally important. Our feeling is that you are 100% correct about the need to keep up with heavy regular sessions of weight training. This must be essential to ward off the skinny fat person syndrome, as well as to perhaps stimulate metabolic activity. Remarkably, Beth has taken up the sprint sessions occasionally, as you suggest. Sprinting only a mile, her times have progressively improved. I believe that you call it absolutely correctly, in suggesting that I’m still a bit overtrained. I rarely feel the ability or ambition to sprint any distance, and at one time I could easily sprint a mile in little over 5 min.

      A somewhat difficult issue for us now is gauging how many calories to consume. We don’t really feel a need to precisely count calories, but the beef-fat we are eating is extraordinarily delicious, and it is all too easy to consume far beyond our requirements for energy or fuel, and in my case I still aim to reduce visceral fat. You’re probably correct, in that it is best to focus on healing ones metabolic circumstances, and then maybe eventually, in the longer-term, pickup ones fat loss ambitions at a moderate pace.

      Many congratulations to you, whereas your discussion reveals that you are doing well and certainly are well ahead of us in your state of health and well-being.

      Brett wrote on June 11th, 2011
  16. Well, who knows if this is true or not. I definitely side with the doubters, and that’s what prompted me to write. I can’t know if this is a satire or not, at least not right now, but I am thrilled to see the amount of skepticism leveled at the post. It’s easy to call it hating, but it’s not, it’s a sensible reaction to what seems unlikely and unrealistic tale. I was brought to Mark’s Daily Apple by my own skepticism of SAD–as many of us probably were. I think my skepticism, my reluctance to accept what is placed in front of me, is an essential strength. To question assumptions, to make up one’s own mind, to test hypothesis–these are admirable qualities. I lurked on this board until I saw how much healthy skepticism the commenters displayed. I’m very happy to see thinking on a blog. Keep it up!

    nakedjimmy wrote on June 11th, 2011
    • As one of the doubters, I appreciate your post. I am and have always been a skeptic and something rang very ingenuine to me about this story. I don’t see a problem with saying so, either.

      I would encourage anyone to incorporate the PB way into his or her lifestyle, regardless of whether the individual wrote a success story or not. I think all of us would. But it is a part of the unwritten contract of communication to ask questions and to think critically about what one is reading or hearing.

      ObligateCarnivore wrote on June 11th, 2011
  17. I found it amusing how many people don’t believe in this story and the level they go through to disprove it.

    Brett writes like my grandfather and so it can come across as very factual and impersonal but there is nothing wrong about his writing style.

    The reason he looks “healthier” in the first picture is simply because the photo has a higher level of saturation in the colour (you can tell by looking at the dirt and plants in the back ground) this makes it appear like he has a nicer tan in the first picture. (I think both pictures may have been taken at different times of the year or with different cameras)

    People are forgetting he is new to PB and still maybe transiting to the new life style- I personally have been moving over to PB for the past 6 months and i still don’t sprint or lift heavy things regularly and drink way to much milk. If anyone submitted their personal story a few months into PB you would also have some hang ups left over from your old lifestyle and may not appear very different to your before PB pictures. But I bet everyone here after a few months on PB (whether strict or not) can attest to how amazing they felt and how much their health improved.

    Amelia wrote on June 11th, 2011
  18. While I agree with the point of this article, this couple sounds like they seriously could find better things to do with their lives. Like some have commented, I read this very cynically, surely this is a joke.
    I hope they figure out a better meaning of life for them because right now their meaning of life is organic farming and working out?? Sad.

    abs wrote on June 11th, 2011
  19. i’m really sorry MDA – but i dont “get” this case… I dont see any difference in the photos (other than the 2nd photo looking worse) – he seems to continue to go for chronic cardio style workouts … and is just is not inspirational (in fact a little off-putting) …

    Give me a “normal” case like the rest of the friday stories any day..

    PS – Showoff..
    PPS – Awful style of writing …

    pj wrote on June 11th, 2011
  20. I must confess that I was also puzzled by the before picture – I don’t see much evidence of fat accumulation around the waistline. He looks pretty lean compared to most people. In a later comment he says something about gaining visceral fat. Is this something that can be measured without doing a CAT scan?

    I am also curious as to how he determined that he was border line diabetic. Was this based on A1C, fasting blood sugar, glucose tolerance test. If so, what did the numbers look like.

    I also agree with what others have said – some of the details of his life do sound a little too good to be true: living on a self sustaining organic farm, training 6 to 8 hours a day??? I’m not saying it is a fake, but if it is not, then this is a pretty unusual fellow!

    Cal wrote on June 11th, 2011
  21. Honestly, I think the top/before pic looks better than the bottom/after pic, but nonetheless, I can relate to the spirit of this post. Mark’s “chronic cardio” message has resonated with me too, as I feel liberated to hear from a former marathoner/triathlete that there more efficient methods to be healthy than running, running, and more running. And MDA has opened up a whole new internet for me with links to Richard Nikoley, Jimmy Moore, Art Devany and Loren Cordaine just to name a few. Keep up the great work guys!

    Kelly wrote on June 11th, 2011
  22. Gyday;

    In the last 7 days 3 people have ‘found the light’…

    When people ask me ‘what are you doing at 45 to look so good” ; I just get out my pen and a bit of paper and write Mark Sisson.

    That is all i do.

    You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink….inless it wants to.

    PB..the results speak louder than words.

    bob redford wrote on June 12th, 2011
  23. I’d like to ask what exactly is wrong with ‘chronic cardio’, as I hear that humans evolved for persistence hunting.

    lukys wrote on June 12th, 2011
  24. I would think it would easy to verify the background of this story by looking for Brett’s ironman/triathlon/marathon results online. I’ve had a quick look and can’t find a 50+ year old Brett Adams mentioned anywhere (there’s a younger one from MN). But I’m not a distance runner, so I may be looking in the wrong places.

    Liz Chalmers wrote on June 12th, 2011
  25. I think it’s clear that neither Brett or Beth exists in actuality.

    They’re a fiction of somebody’s imagination, made up to serve some purpose, to advance somebody’s agenda.

    Anybody can write out a story and sign it with a different name. It happens all the time!

    Joseph wrote on June 12th, 2011
  26. I believe the story is true…and even if it isn’t, I KNOW for fact that Primal principles rule based off my own experiences.

    Mark rocks!

    Drama wrote on June 12th, 2011
  27. Come on guys, ye are a bit overreacting. Don’t like the story? So don’t read it. No problem. I didn’t like teh story myself, but what’s the big deal? And threats with FTC are sipmly a shamefull disgrace.. Very, you know, American

    Mna Na Mara wrote on June 12th, 2011
  28. Catherine,

    We interpret from your contributions here that we would be unlikely to convince you of our story being authentic, and frankly, we do not interpret that you possess any genuine altruistic motives to reveal the truth. Moreover, we don’t feel the obligation to prove anything to anyone, nor to place all aspects of our private life under public examination.

    We nonetheless reply here to you because of the potential harm your false statements and litigation threats, may impose on PB readers and contributors who’ve come here with a sincere interest to lend help or obtain help in improving their health and lifestyle.

    We must make it clear to anyone concerned that we have no personal relationship or rapport with you. Certainly you have no authority to report on any of our financial transactions as you falsely did in your recent post. Your claims about our story lacking veracity, and your claims about our farm being vacant are maliciously false.

    In the scope of your litigation threats, it should be clarified that Beth and I are not as you falsely state a “customer” of Mr Sisson’s, and it is disgraceful that you seem to be deliberately setting out to discredit Mr. Sisson’s great and meaningful contribution to his society, as he freely shares his health knowledge on his web site.

    Your malicious agenda here can come to no good end. Persisting with your ploy will only make you guilty of per se defamation of character, of which there would be no effective defense, being that Beth and my reputations are excellent, and our story is truthful in every element.

    We respectfully request that you rethink and approach this situation in a more dignified manner.

    Brett wrote on June 12th, 2011
  29. Enough is enough on this one. Anyone that would like to continue the discussion can do so in the forum.

    Mark Sisson wrote on June 12th, 2011

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