Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. Iโ€™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 weโ€™ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
August 29, 2009

The Beginning of a New Life

By Guest
195 Comments

Hi Mark,

I’ve been Primal for about two weeks.

In that time, I’ve learned more about how my body works, how ill-informed doctors can be, and how important movement is to health than in all my 38 years combined. This is both mind-blowing and humbling for me.

I’ve always lived in my head. I never had much use for my body, because I was a chubby kid and I became a more-than-chubby adult. I ignored warnings about high-sugar food, went on every diet known to man at the time (from the 600-calorie-per-day no-fat diet to Weight Watchers to the Water Diet, where you ate… wait for it… water and nothing but), you name it, I’ve probably tried it. Exercise hurt and made me sweaty, which meant I had to shower, which meant getting undressed and looking at my body, which I didn’t like doing. It was just easier not to exercise. I hid in books and, later, computers and the Internet. By trade, I’m working on being a sociologist and a statistician – lots of head-work, but not much field-work. (I used to say that that was the advantage of sociology over anthropology: you don’t have to go out into the fields to do your field-work.)

Every now and then I’d have a spurt of “I’ll try to be THIN!” but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks. And it always involved cutting out fat and sugar, but still eating lots and lots of those supposedly “healthy” carbs and grains. In high school, I weighed 200 when I started freshman year and, despite four years of marching band, I weighed 280 when I graduated. When I got married the first time, I weighed 340. I thought surely I was as big as I was ever going to get, right? When my first marriage broke up nine years later and I went vegetarian, I was at 370. I maintained that weight for eight years. Sure, I got told I was a diabetic two years ago (with what I argued at the time was a single and unrelated anomalous blood sugar reading of 127 when I was completely stressed out), but although I took the tester and strips, I didn’t bother to follow the program, and I insisted that one could be heavy and healthy at the same time. (And I’m still a fat activist for the rights of fat people, because as most of us know, so many fat people aren’t aware that they’re being told all the wrong things about weight and health and food that I can’t really blame them for their lack of knowledge. I tell those I can, when I can, and let the rest of it work out on its own.)

So I thought I was doing pretty well. I was in graduate school, I had two beautiful daughters and a strong relationship with my husband (he and I married last year when it was legal for us to do so in CA), I was bright, I was articulate, I’d graduated from undergrad with honors. Oh yeah, and I was a hell of a good cook.

Then, in January of this year, my father died of cancer and diabetes complications (inoperable gangrene in his feet). You have to understand about my dad – he was the most important person in my life next to my husband and my kids, and when he died, I went a little nuts. More than a little – I started eating everything I could get my hands on. Ice cream? Check. Pie? Check. Hi-carb snacks, chips, dips? Check, check, and check again. Bring on the mashed potatoes and the rice pilaf, and add a hot fudge sundae in there, for good measure.

Six months after my father died, I was up to 397 pounds. Essentially, I was 400 pounds. I’d gained 200 pounds in 25 years, and I wasn’t skinny at 200, but I was six inches shorter then.

My doctor got on my case on the 7th of August. Nicely, but firmly. It was time, he said, for me to stop pretending I wasn’t an impending diabetic and get with the program. I came home and didn’t eat anything for two days. Then I started testing my blood and was shocked at the numbers. 192. 178. 217 (after a high-carb meal at my brother-in-law’s)! Even my morning “fasting” numbers weren’t great: 144, 148, 152, 139.

So I dove into research, and among other sites about diabetes and low-carb ways of eating, found MDA. And reading the success stories here, I decided I was going to go low-carb. Not to lose weight, but to get my sugars back under control.

I’ve been low-carbing since August 13, and I started with a goal of no more than 80 carbs/day. Now I’m down to a goal of no more than 40 carbs/day, and I hope soon to get that down to below 20/day as I figure out what affects me and what doesn’t. Although my morning numbers are still annoyingly high (mid-140s most days), my daytime sugars go down all day long, and by the end of the day my average is sitting in the mid-110s, which is a hell of a lot better than the mid-180s!

I’ve also noticed a few other things. It’s no longer a struggle to buckle my seatbelt. My shortest belt is too long to really keep my pants up. I saw a doctor last week and I’d already dropped five pounds – and that was before I got seriously into the Primal way of doing things. I feel better. I sleep better. My teeth don’t bleed when I brush anymore (and that was just a lifelong thing for me, the bleeding teeth). I walked a half mile (round trip) to the store the other day – something I NEVER would have done before – and although I came back in a muck sweat, I was so proud of myself. And I’m working out, gently, every morning. I’m up and moving for thirty minutes before I do anything else, and it’s made a huge difference in how I feel.

I want to live a long, long life. And the image of my father’s feet is all I need to keep me going, even when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. But if I hadn’t come across the Primal way of living, I’d probably be sucking down my little pancreas-killing hypoglycemic sulfonurea drugs right now, eating 60% of my calories in grains, and wondering why the glucometer stubbornly refuses to get out of the 250s.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some steak and wilted spinach for dinner. I promise to post the recipe, too.

Griff

TAGS:  guest post

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

192 Comments on "The Beginning of a New Life"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Ryan
Ryan
7 years 3 months ago

Good stuff Griff! Keep it up!

Roland
7 years 3 months ago

Great story. I’m glad it’s working for you.

Mike
Mike
7 years 3 months ago

Wow. Congrats on deciding to change your life and good luck!
I’m sure this story will have many great updates in the future!

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

I hope it will. Maybe after ten or twelve weeks I’ll be brave enough to post some photos like Chucky did. I’m not sure yet.

BarbeyGirl
7 years 3 months ago

Awesome, Griff! I’m always impressed by people who take on a huge challenge after years of thinking they can’t…and who retain their empathy for others who are still stuck in the quagmire of misinformation. Go get ’em!

China
5 years 4 months ago

Never would have thunk I would find this so idinspnesalbe.

SarahRingo
SarahRingo
7 years 3 months ago

I don’t even know you, and I’m proud of you for even taking the time to do a little research, much less taking the much more difficult step of acting on it. Too many people just want to listen to what they are told. Keep up the good work!

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Heh, it feels like I’ve done nothing BUT research for the last three weeks! My husband finally broke and begged me, “Can we PLEASE talk about something that isn’t nutrition for a while?” about four days ago. (Obsessive-compulsive? Me? Surely you jest.) I just want to tell the world, you know?

I feel like I’m finally getting a grip on this situation that’s plagued me my whole life.

Gwennie
7 years 3 months ago

Heh! I know what you mean about talking nutrition. I feel sorry for my partner, having to listen to my synopsis of everything I’ve read that day. He assures me he enjoys the conversation, but… let’s face it: I’m obsessed. At least it’s a healthy obsession, right?

Grats on the progress, by the way. And keep up the steak! I’m glad you’re open to lowering your carbs as much as needed. So few people seem to understand that one’s metabolism can be broken to the extent that the body cannot begin to heal even with a very modest, veggie-based carbohydrate intake.

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Heh, this morning I had leftover sirloin steak for breakfast. Last night I had clam chowder (I ate around the potatoes), a Caesar salad without croutons, half the steak – about 4 ounces – and half of a half rack of baby back ribs – again, about 4 ounces. My sugars went up 15 points two hours after eating, which, frankly, is a blip. And they were still well below the supposedly “dangerous” level of 140.

This way of eating works. The ADA’s recommendations don’t. That’s all I need to know to keep me on it forever.

Tracy
Tracy
7 years 3 months ago

yay

thebkon
7 years 3 months ago

Welcome to the Primal Lifestyle!

Your story is truly inspiring! The best of luck (and hard work/effort)to you. I can hardly wait until you share your next successes with all of us Groks and Grokettes!

Geoff
Geoff
7 years 3 months ago

Fabulous story. Very inspiring to see you’ve found the solution. Congrats, Griff on turning things in a positive direction.

Martin P
Martin P
7 years 3 months ago

Amazing story. I find it fascinating that essentially, your father was responsible for the series of events which led you to a much healthier lifestyle. Congratulations and best wishes.

Kiran
Kiran
7 years 3 months ago

Congratulations on your first few steps. Stay with it, you can beat this thing.

Catalina
Catalina
7 years 3 months ago

Glad your here at MDA, Griff, and I’m sure you’ll do great living Primally–sounds like you’re seeing differences already and you’ve got great motivation!

Derek
Derek
7 years 3 months ago

Congrats Griff! I wish you all the best!

chuckyZ
chuckyZ
7 years 3 months ago

Keep it up Griff, you’ll be amazed how you feel better and better as time goes by. Your bod will reward you for playing and eating like it desires.

Jeanne
Jeanne
7 years 3 months ago

Way to go. Every day gets easier.

Mike Stone
Mike Stone
7 years 3 months ago

Keep it up Griff! Be strong, you CAN do it!!!

Luke
7 years 3 months ago

All this in just two weeks! Very inspiring.

Max Lambert
Max Lambert
7 years 3 months ago

YOU CAN DO IT MAN!!!

You have no idea the awesomeness that’s in store for the rest of your life!

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 3 months ago

People who fuss about those last 10 lbs should read Griff’s story and realize what it is really like to struggle. Keep going Griff!

GrokTheBoat
GrokTheBoat
7 years 3 months ago

Reading this made me hungry for steak somehow…

Chris H.
Chris H.
7 years 3 months ago

That’s awesome, I wish her the best in her journey.

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Him, actually. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for the good wishes!

Chris
7 years 3 months ago
Excellent job. Isn’t it rather strange and sad how our parents darkest moments can be so inspiring to us kids? I pick up my parents’ medications – about 6 different prescriptions each – every week. And I think to myself that I do not want to be SO dependent on medication to keep me going when I’m 80 years old. I need my body to support me in my old age, so I need to support my body right now with healthy eating and exercise. Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’ Griif, it will pay off more than you can… Read more »
Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Oh man, when my father was in his last few months (hospitalized before he came home to hospice) his partner came to me and got very upset about how many pills my dad was taking. He was on something like 38 different medications for diabetes, migraine, myasthenia gravis, cholesterol, you name it, he was taking it. His partner (a gruff 74-year-old man) expostulated, “Your dad takes nothing but PILLS!”

I don’t want to live that way. You know what I mean?

RT
7 years 3 months ago

Great job – primal rocks!

Bryce
Bryce
7 years 3 months ago

Great story! Thanks for for sharing…it’s inspiring to all of us.

Karl T
Karl T
7 years 3 months ago

Awesome story, I love how honest you are with the things in your life that brought you to where you are. Keep fighting.

BrianM
BrianM
7 years 3 months ago

Inspiring story!

And as for the contest, it said to leave a comment…so…

COMMENT!

Ryan Price
Ryan Price
7 years 3 months ago

I’m glad you found out about the Primal lifestyle! Good job, and keep up the good work!

gfly
gfly
7 years 3 months ago

Keep on keeping on!

Florian
Florian
7 years 3 months ago

congrats

trichick
trichick
7 years 3 months ago

My father barely survived a heart attack at 41.. he has since turned his life around and is healthier than he has ever been.
He has inspired me to make changes to my own lifestyle, I draw strength from his perseverence.

Congratulations!

Sharon
Sharon
7 years 3 months ago

Just think, your gonna have the rest of your life to feel good and healthy. Keep your eye on the prize. I know you can do it.

Aaron Blaisdell
Aaron Blaisdell
7 years 3 months ago

Congratulations, you’ve taken the most difficult step in going Primal–Starting.

The rest should be easy and fun. Enjoy the journey and keep us updated!

maba
maba
7 years 3 months ago

Griff, it will only get better. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Dan Morgan
Dan Morgan
7 years 3 months ago

Nice work!

amandamarie
amandamarie
7 years 3 months ago

Keep up the good work!

wiz
wiz
7 years 3 months ago

good work, mark! please send me a black t-shirt!

smiling_jack
smiling_jack
7 years 3 months ago

A wonderful story, thank you.

GeriMorgan
7 years 3 months ago

RAWR! Nice job, Griff! Make sure to post a follow-up in a few months so we can check out your progress. I’d love to show you to some of my obese relatives.

FlyNavyWife
7 years 3 months ago

Great job on taking your first primal steps! Keep it up, and if you haven’t already, join the forum and start a journal there… you’ll find a GREAT community here.

Nelter
Nelter
7 years 3 months ago

๐Ÿ˜€

Halo
7 years 3 months ago

Keep it up, you’re doing great! ๐Ÿ™‚

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks, everyone! My next step: exercising Primally. I’m still not there yet (trying to find ways to keep exercise from spiking my sugars too much) but I’m getting there.

t.rock
t.rock
7 years 3 months ago

i heard about MDA from my crossfit coach. crossfit and MDA go together like steak and veggies! i would think about talking to a local crossfit trainer. first time is always free. you get your sweat on, AND they modify workouts for every level of fitness! i’ve never been so strong in my life, but then i’m also only 28. it’s just going to get better! good job!

dragonmamma
dragonmamma
7 years 3 months ago

Sounds like this is the lifestyle for you!

I don’t think I’ve seen your name in the forum yet. Come join us for some scintillating discussions, debates, and recipe swaps!

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

Oh, I’ve been there – just not often yet. Mostly I’ve responded to people and posted recipes.

I’ll work up to posting journals… just not quite that brave yet, I guess.

Twonky
Twonky
7 years 3 months ago

It’s good to see more and more people changing their lifestyle to the primal way. You won’t regret it, Griff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Alex
7 years 3 months ago

It’s maddening that doctors keep spouting this whole-grain, low-fat nonsense … and then people keep wondering why they can’t get their sugars under control. My dad has been testing high for his sugars (first time ever, never been overweight) and luckily my mom listens to me and has done her own research in the past. By limiting his carbs and grains, he now has them under control (although he won’t go totally Primal).
You are a great example. Keep up the great changes and don’t get discouraged!!

Nicola
Nicola
7 years 3 months ago

Congrats! Life will only keep getting better!!

JUPITER BOONE
JUPITER BOONE
7 years 3 months ago

Griff, i know what your talking about, when i started primal i was pushing 360 and am now down to 330 in the last 6 months, it might be hard work but beats the hell out of being dead. keep up the good work, it’s good to know that i’m not alone.

Steven
Steven
7 years 3 months ago

Congrats… keep up the great work.

jack
jack
7 years 3 months ago

Good job brother. It takes time and patience to develop a new way of living, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

logmyloss
7 years 3 months ago

Great story. You said it all in the first few lines when you talked about learning. It is something we don’t do very well. Sure, we learn what we are taught, but how often do we really go seeking out the truth?

Wiwo
Wiwo
7 years 3 months ago

Congratulations! Don’t forget to start Lifting Heavy Things.

Griff
Griff
7 years 3 months ago

As soon as this sprained thumb heals, I plan to. Right now I’m Lifting Small Things – which is more than I ever did before.

wpDiscuz