Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Thank you so much for e-mailing me back! I’d love to share my story! I find that even though people are constantly asking me how I lost so much weight, they tune me out immediately when I try to answer.
Believe it or not, my story starts with a car accident. I fell asleep at the wheel, and I realized that I had a problem. I had been much more tired than usual, my decrease in cognitive ability was affecting my grades, I was “throwing things” or falling for no reason, and my crazy hallucinating nightmares were keeping me completely stressed out. Since I was 18 when this started (I’m 19 now), I had a hard time finding the help I needed. I was sure that I had a neurological disorder, but my family and friends kind of thought I was crazy.
Since I was tired all the time, I was eating constantly. I was a chubby kid starting in middle school, and my weight had never really affected my happiness. All I wanted to eat was grains, even though I have IBS and grains make me incredibly sick. I knew that on top of my other health issue, I had some sort of weird addiction to grains and sugar. My stomach problems were enough to land me in the hospital for a night, and get me a colonoscopy/endoscopy as a high school senior. Though I tested negative for celiac disease, grains were definitely the culprit. Following my gastroenterologist’s suggestions I cut out all grains for a while, and my stomach started to improve. However, I was still eating a bunch of processed crap that I knew I shouldn’t eat; but I kept telling myself that it was normal for college students to eat that way.
Finally, I found a physicians assistant that would see me about my neurological issues (no one would see me without a referral from my doctor, which was impossible to get because my pediatrician was unreachable 99% of the time and my new adult doctor couldn’t give me a referral because I’d never actually gone to him). My physicians assistant’s name, ironically, is Mark and he changed my life. I went through some crazy tests and found out that I have narcolepsy. I was so incredibly tired all the time, I was actually damaging my memory and my thinking ability. Even though I was sleeping, my body wasn’t going through sleep cycles correctly. My body was looking for the energy that I missed from sleeping, so I tried to fill that need with food. Finding out I have narcolepsy was a difficult thing for me. I had done poorly in my first semester of college, and I was disappointed in myself for letting my health go for so long.
When I finally coped with the fact that I have narcolepsy, I started to take control of my life again. Medicine and new advice about how I could improve my situation allowed my life to go back towards normal. I realized that I wanted to be as healthy as possible so I started exercising. I was always active, playing sports up until high school and taking dance classes until college, but I was definitely not fit. Overweight and lazy, I started slow. When I saw results, I decided to stop “winging it” and find a plan that would work for me. Through my search, I was changing what I would and wouldn’t eat by the day – one day I would eat sugar and the next day I would only use artificial sweeteners.
I found real structure when I bought a pair of shoes. A friend of mine bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and I fell in love. Before long I blew a week’s pay (my babysitting money) on my very own pair. I knew that Vibram’s were a cultural phenomenon, but I never realized that a pair of shoes could start what they started. Every time I wore my FiveFingers in public, someone would tell me to “Grok on”, ask me if I’m “Primal”, or say something about “Mark’s latest post”. I was confused. Finally, a mom that I babysit for told me about a friend of hers. She told me all about MDA and The Primal Blueprint, so I bought the book.
I jumped into the Primal Blueprint eating and fitness lifestyle full throttle. I started losing weight immediately. Now, I’ve lost a little over 100 pounds and I’m still going! I had to make a few psychological changes when I started to get healthy, and these changes are what I like to share with people most:
1. Stop rewarding yourself with food – I thought that I “deserved” a “treat” for everything. If I got a good grade I could “skip” a workout and go “relax” because hey, I worked hard. I had to change my mindset. I realized that unhealthy food will never be a “treat” because all it does is hurt my chances of reaching my weight and fitness goals. Food is something that humans eat in order to gain the necessary nutrients to survive. Fueling my body correctly is important for living the life that I am living, and that is the “treat” that I “deserve” for working hard. OK, let’s be honest, this mindset is harder to change than it sounds. So, I stopped biting my nails. I grew them out and began getting weekly manicures. My new reward was relaxation, pretty nails, and smooth hands.
2. Prepare yourself mentally for the people that will sabotage your good intentions – I’m Italian, and my family eats pasta. Thankfully, my parents are very supportive and they ALWAYS make sure that there is something for me to eat. My boyfriend’s family, however, is not as supportive. They don’t intentionally trap me by only serving food covered in flour, they just simply don’t understand that “no grains” doesn’t mean “a little bit of grains”. It’s hard to change people’s minds. I’ll never be able to respectfully get it through their minds that I will never eat “low fat” salad dressing (or any dressing out of a bottle) because it’s full of sugar and other chemicals that I don’t want in my body. They are sure that these foods are healthy, so I am still learning how to speak up for myself about my dietary preferences.
I knew that it would be at least slightly inconvenient to eat out (at restaurants or other people’s houses) but I didn’t realize how much my feelings would get hurt. It’s really hurtful to watch people in your life completely disregard your lifestyle and cover everything in stuff you can’t eat. My favorite is how everyone chooses Italian restaurants to eat out at; I am Italian so nothing there is going to impress me anyway but unless there is steak on the menu, I can’t eat there. I’ll admit, I had my share of hysterical fits when I came home to find my perfect organic (and expensive) chicken marinating in something that had sugar in it. It’s important to educate your family and friends about your choices, but it is imperative to your own mental health for you to realize that they won’t listen at least some of the time.
3. Listen to your excuses… they are the hurdles you need to overcome before you can commit to a healthier lifestyle. I am the first person to call bull$#!% (excuse my language) when someone says that they are simply too busy to eat healthy. The time a person spends at the drive-in could easily be spent preparing a salad. However, if you have no salad in the house, you aren’t going to make one. Instead of saying you’re too busy to eat healthy, realize that you are too lazy (probably because of the tiredness invoked by your hectic schedule) to eat healthy. However, if you feel that eating healthfully is “too hard” for you, then you’re not going to do it. You need to make it easy. McDonald’s isn’t going to start serving Primal meals, so you have to take your health into your own hands. Find one recipe that you can do quickly and easily and keep the ingredients around. Slowly expand your healthy meal making, and you’ll love the food you’re eating so much, you’ll be “too busy” to eat unhealthy food before you know it!
If your excuse is that healthier food is more expensive, I’m going to tell you that you’re flat out wrong. Grow your own vegetables, buy what’s in season, use the money from your daily run to Dunkin’ Donuts to supplement your new healthy food grocery bill. Whatever you do to figure out a way to buy the foods you should be eating, just remember that eating healthy now will probably save you costs in the form of medical bills in your future.
Another excuse I hear a lot is “well, every time I try something it doesn’t work so I’m just going to eat whatever I want”. Here’s the deal: you haven’t tried the Primal Blueprint. DO IT. If the success stories, the easiness of the plan, and the clarity of the core ideas aren’t enough to prove that the Primal Blueprint is awesome, then try it yourself. you will see the results that you want to see. Why would you stop trying to get healthy just because you think it’s hard? What if a heart surgeon stopped operating because it was too hard?
If you examine your excuses, you will be able to come up with a clear plan of how to jump over your own personal hurdles when it comes to getting fit. Seriously, the only thing standing in your way is you.
4. Take control of your health – When I was trying to find out what was wrong with me, I blindly listened to any medical advice I got. Instead of fighting to see a doctor, changing doctors when I should have, and putting my health first I acted like I was wrong for seeking answers. I felt that I should be apologizing for “wasting” people’s time. I felt like a big baby who was whining about my problems. Here is what I didn’t realize until later: it is never wrong to be cautious about your health. Don’t let a busy doctor or a person who can’t feel what you’re feeling tell you that there is nothing wrong. You know your own body, and your health is something to fight for. If you feel like you might have a medical issue that is affecting you, let that become part of your new healthy lifestyle. Take control of your whole health, not just your fitness.
After you commit to stop rewarding yourself with food, prepare yourself mentally for the hurdles you might encounter, stare your excuses in the face, and take control of your health, here are some tips to make the transition a little easier:
I’ve attached two pictures, one of me before I started the Primal Blueprint (last fall, peach picking) and two of me taken recently (at an outdoor concert with my boyfriend, and a picture of me and my boyfriend before a night out). I hope my story is helpful in some way. The Primal Blueprint has really changed my life!
Thank you again!