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
Announcement: I am about halfway through the writing of Primal Endurance, a breakthrough book that will change the way we look at endurance training and competition. The main emphasis is on low-carb and/or ketogenic diets and training strategies. I am looking for Success Stories that exemplify this approach. If you compete in any event and have had success training and racing on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, I would love to hear details and maybe even feature your story in the book. Please submit your story here. Now, on to yet another inspiring Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a fellow Mark’s Daily Apple reader. Thank you for reading!
I’ve been waiting for the right time to share my story and feel that now is that time. I didn’t feel ready to share until my health was up to a level which I think is primal-worthy. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect as I’m not a super-disciplined person, but I’m happy and full of energy!
I grew up in a typical South African home with high-fibre cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and meat, starch and vegetables for supper. At least I had a good dose of veggies and meat at supper. I was a mostly healthy child but began to struggle with health issues in my early twenties. I developed irritable bowel syndrome and hated the effects when I went to my day job. The doctors said they couldn’t do anything for me – it was all stress related. The symptoms didn’t go away and continued right into my thirties and through three pregnancies. As a young adult, I did try to live healthier by exercising regularly and eating more fruit and vegetables. I noticed that bread didn’t work well for me so I thought it was the yeast. I cut out yeast products and then mostly wheat but continued to eat rye, maize (corn) and lots of rice and potatoes. On top of that, I ignorantly continued to eat vegetable oils and low fat products.
Every decade I went up a dress size. By my early forties, I was beginning to dislike the way I looked. The negative effects happening inside my body were gradual but deadly. I sincerely believe that if I had not found out about the primal/paleo diet at the time, I would have become very sick. In my early forties, I developed hypothyroidism and went on chronic life-long medication.
My weekly symptoms were this: I wouldn’t go to the toilet for 3-5 days, sometimes longer. Then I would go and suffer horrible diarrhoea and cramps, reducing me to a shivering mess afterwards. I struggled to fall asleep at night because of indigestion and nausea. I couldn’t understand it because I ate lots of whole foods.
My sister-in-law told my husband and I about this low-carb, high-fat diet she was following as advised by very controversial sport nutritionist, Tim Noakes, who has received terrible negative attention in the South African media. Curious, I listened to her but thought she was doing something really crazy and risky for her health. The lady who advised her explained the diet to me and told me to look at Mark’s Daily Apple. She belonged to the church I was attending at the time. I noticed that she and her family had lost a significant amount of weight. My first question to her was, “What about fibre? I need fibre.” With my chronic constipation, I was seriously concerned the diet would make me more sick. But I was desperate to lose weight so I gave it a bash.
The first few weeks I experienced carb flu and didn’t feel good, but the first thing I noticed was my ankle-swelling went down. Then the weight started dropping off. The first year of primal was hard for me. The extra work in the kitchen and the roller coaster ride of my health made me doubt my decision many times. The only thing that kept me going was the way my body was changing. I liked the way I looked and I did feel more energetic. My digestive health got worse before it got better. I upped my fat content and that helped – coconut oil, ghee and butter help keep me regular as well as shredded coconut and fruit like apples. But this didn’t happen straight away. It’s been a long road in that regard but when I compare myself to what I was three years ago, I’m overflowing with gratitude. I shudder to think what was happening inside my colon all those years and what could have happened if I’d continued to eat wrong.
I’ve also gone through some experiments with dairy. I decided to stop dairy completely because of digestive problems. I noticed the problems didn’t go away and I actually put on weight. Dairy, especially butter and yoghurt works well for me. I can’t have too much milk but I always go full-fat. It’s very challenging to eat organic or grass-fed here in South Africa. I can’t even access the food sometimes, and if I can, it’s way too expensive. Sometimes, I have to eat a bit of rice or potato because protein is so expensive and I’m hungry. So yes, I’m maybe not as lean as I could be, but my health and energy levels are wonderful. I can do many tasks during the day and keep going. My thyroid levels have gone up. I’m still on medication but the lowest dosage.
As far as exercise goes, I’ve noticed I don’t need to push myself in cardio excessively anymore to keep slim. I push weights and do ballet and yoga plus go for brisk walks. It all works well for me.
I’ve recently had an operation and am astounded at how fast I healed and gained my strength. I attribute that to the Primal Blueprint diet.
My story is one of slow healing and health gain. Yes, I felt vastly improved when I first started the Primal Blueprint diet but the years long negative effects of eating wrong took nearly two years to heal. I hope I can encourage those who may be struggling to stick it out and wonder if it really is working. Yes, it is. It may just take some time for your body to heal when it’s been sick for so long.
Now to just convince my kids and relatives that it’s the way to go.
Thank you, Mark. It was through reading your website with all the scientific info plus all the wonderful life-changing testimonies that helped me keep going.