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
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.