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!
Like most, I grew up playing sports in high school. I ate a “healthy,” low-fat SAD diet. Junk food was never allowed in the house. My only exposure to junk food was at friend’s houses. The closest I ate to cookies were graham crackers. Chips? No, we had dry saltine crackers.
I think my mom’s theory was, if it doesn’t taste too good, it can’t be that bad for you. She really tried. The first time my sister ate a cupcake she ate the wrapper not knowing it was there! You can’t make that kind of stuff up.
As a kid, I ALWAYS had stuffy sinuses and sore throats. I would develop bronchitis three to four times a year. To get to the bottom of it, an allergy test was performed. The results showed I was sensitive to dust mites (they live on everything, including us), cats, and dogs. We had all three.
The doctor’s orders were no pets in my room, and my pillows and mattress had to be wrapped in a plastic liner beneath the sheets. Nothing ruins a good night’s sleep like a noisy tarp under your head. It was fun convincing my friends I wasn’t a bed wetter. I swear I wasn’t. Really.
Entering my teens, bronchitis continued occurring even though I was following the bubble boy protocol. Strep throat became a yearly occurrence too. Maybe now it was my poor diet? Food at home remained “healthy,” but friends had cars and fast food was common.
Turning 18 I became what “non MDAer’s” would call a health nut. No longer participating in sports, I began working out, and eating “healthy.” I ate lots of veggies, heart healthy whole grains, and avoided saturated fat like the plague, no junk food whatsoever.
In college, alcohol consumption on the weekends became common. Everyone else drank but also ate terrible. Fast food, fried food in the dorm, late night pizza, alcohol, and yet they rarely got sick. One day my roommate said to me, “You’re the healthiest sick kid I know, you work out all the time, eat better than anyone I know, yet you’re always sick.”
I was lean and “in shape,” but he was right. Bronchitis and strep throat were still VERY common into my adult years. Z-Packs were like Tic-Tacs! Again determined to find out why, back to the allergist I went. There were no more cats or dogs, so what was it?
Between feeling like a swarm of fire ants were attacking me, and the red reaction patch on my back the size of a volleyball, I thought this time we had gotten to the bottom of it! I don’t remember the name, but was told I was allergic to pollen that “at certain times of the year gives people problems.” I found this odd because I had a year round problem.
Onward I went, “the healthiest sick guy” you knew. This label was discouraging; I was going to school for Exercise Science and wanted to help people become not only fit, but also healthy.
After graduating college I moved to Colorado to intern at a sport performance clinic. Nothing like elevation changes to let you know when your sinuses are acting up. One weekend, a visit from a friend led to a few nights with beers. By the time he left I woke with a familiar itch in my throat and stuffy sinuses. At this point in my life I rarely drank and wondered why alcohol affected me this way and not others?
It’s sad to think this was the “aha” moment (maybe getting drunk can solve your problems. Kidding). I wondered why I felt so bad and my friend didn’t. Maybe it was something in the beer? Our beer of choice that evening was a micro-brew wheat beer.
A few days of Googling wheat allergy symptoms led me to the Paleo diet, and eventually onto MDA. What I read seemed so simple and logical. Why was I only hearing about this now? I gave Primal a go, and a few weeks later my sinus congestion was gone! My daily morning phlegm, no more! That constantly itchy throat? Gone. I haven’t experienced bronchitis since. In fact, I hardly ever get sick.
Breathing better is huge. I’m a big hiker and love being outdoors. Today, if I consume wheat, the stuffy sinuses and itchy throat return. I haven’t tested it, but I’m confident if I continually ate wheat, bronchitis would return.
This journey has brought me more than the ability to breath. I sleep MUCH better now. I’ve never slept well in my life, EVER. I can’t state how much of an improvement this has been. My entire life I’ve dreaded going to bed, no matter how tired I am.
On average, I would lay in bed for one to two hours each night, regardless of what time I went to bed or how tired I was. That’s ridiculous, right? Now I easily fall asleep. No hitting the snooze button, I wake up refreshed.
Being an active person, I noticed another awesome change. The idea of “hitting the wall” disappeared. In high school I worried about getting what I called, “the rubber band body” during football practice. Essentially I was describing a blood sugar crash. Things change when your breakfast isn’t Honey Bunches of Oats, orange juice, and wheat toast with peanut butter and honey.
After moving to San Diego, I found a new and demanding hobby, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I get tired while training, but feel like I can train all day without ever hitting the wall and experiencing that “rubber band” crash feeling.
To this day my journey with food continues. I’ve joined local CSAs, began growing my own greens, and sourcing quality meat products (to the best of my finances). At times intermittent fasting has become an incredibly valuable tool.
I used to require eight meals a day to function. Skipping a meal meant I’d become a dizzy, miserable, “hangry” monster. I would freak out! Imagine a seven-month old baby crying for food. Now imagine that baby being a 6 foot, 190 pound grown adult, capable of communicating with words about how hungry and miserable he feels. That should give you an idea of what I was like to be around.
Now, going ten hours without food while working an active day training clients, isn’t a problem. Hunger comes on slowly and steadily. It is a gentle reminder that it’s time to eat, not a complete code red, meltdown-system failure!
Obviously my personal health gains have been tremendously important to me. However, I want to say thanks for what this journey has helped me do professionally. As a personal trainer, the nutrition I promote now is far different than what it was after graduation. I’ve always understood that you can’t out train nutrition, and that is the first piece of advice I share with clients. The second is to check out a website called Marks Daily Apple.
Countless numbers of my clients, friends, and family members have regained control of their weight, energy, and relationship with food by using a Primal/paleo approach to eating. I’ve been so enthused about what eating this way has done for me, that it inspired me to share it in person. Last winter while visiting my family in Illinois, I hosted a fitness seminar that lasted three hours. Two of those hours were spent presenting the basics of eating a Primal/paleo diet; including recipes and the resources and tools to make it happen!
It was a great success! A handful of the group took the plunge and are experiencing amazing results first hand. Having resources like MDA, The Primal Blueprint, MDA success stories, and other leaders in the ancestral health community to point people towards, validated the nutritional suggestions made during the seminar. So Mark, thank you for that! You have created a ripple effect that you may not be aware is taking place!
I also want to say thanks to the MDA community. It’s refreshing to read encouraging, positive, and inquisitive comments and discussion. Most places online, whether a YouTube channel, blog, or Facebook post, you can’t look past the first page without finding a rude, racist, degrading, or otherwise nasty comment. On MDA I see none of that! What a great place to send people who are looking for direction!