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!
You heard my wife’s story recently and since I have seen other husband/wife stories on Mark’s Daily Apple, I thought I would write mine. While my story is similar to previous male stories in that I have lost weight and improved my health dramatically since going Primal, my story might be different because I would not be successful without my wife and family’s support. The stories of couples or families who disagree on Primal vs. CW break my heart because I know my success is 100% attached to my wife’s. She is a stay-at-home-mom and the CEO of our house. She manages the budget, plans the meals, buys the food, and cooks. Without her buy-in and support, I would be fighting a losing battle to try and eat differently. So to all of you out there who believe in Primal and feel the same way, maybe my story will help you get your spouse or significant other on board.
While my wife didn’t start struggling with weight until college, I have struggled with weight my whole life. I was always a bigger kid. I did every sport I could growing up, and excelled at most of them, so I wasn’t a “loose” fat kid…I was a strong fat kid. When I was in 8th grade, I was 6’0”, 205 lbs, and 13 years old. By the time high school ended I was 6’2 and 275 lbs. Being big and strong for sports was always my excuse for being heavy. I was a linemen in football, a center on the basketball team, and a shot-put/discus thrower on the track team. I was that guy who couldn’t lose weight to save his life, but could get stronger in the weight room faster and easier than anyone else. I went on to be a shot-put/discus/hammer thrower in college as well, and that is when my sports/weight delusion really got bad.
I topped out at 305 lbs when I was only 19 years old. Granted, I still had a good 40 yard dash time (~4.7 – 4.8 seconds) and could dunk a basketball, but I was still 305 lbs!!! My older sister worked at the Weight Watchers where she lived and always encouraged me to join. I had watched her lose weight doing it and that was inspiring for me, but I was still doing sports and needed to be big and strong (strong-like-bull). By my junior year of college, I had the opportunity to start a rotational engineering co-op with a local company (I was a mechanical engineering major). It was now decision time. Do I stop doing sports to pursue something that could really benefit my career or continue with sports since this is my last opportunity? The decision was actually pretty easy for me. I am somewhat of a logic-driven guy (typical engineer), so I decided that my sports career was about to be officially over. I knew when that decision was made, my big-strong-sports-guy excuse for being heavy was over as well. It no longer mattered how fast I could run, how much I could bench, or any other weight room statistic. It only mattered that I was healthy and fit enough to engage in the things I love. I wanted to be the dad or grandpa that could play hard with his family later in life. So the summer that my co-op started, I started Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers was a good experience for me. Their ideology followed CW (I didn’t know any better) but I was able to lose a lot of weight. With Weight Watchers, I was able to get as low as about 215 lbs, but I had to eat 100% perfect and I was hungry ALL of the time! If I deviated from the system at all, 3-5 lbs would go on before I knew it. I got into running and would run 2-3 miles a day 4-5 days a week. I would follow the running up with a solid 45-60 minute workout in the weight room. Over my time at Weight Watchers, I was unable to maintain the perfect diet (or what I thought was a perfect diet…I know better now) and I slowly gained weight and ended up maintaining between 225-230 lbs.
Since my wife told her story, we can fast forward a few years. Let’s jump to a point where I am a few years out of college, married, have a son, and just finished moving from Michigan to Minnesota for a new job. I joined a local gym near our house and worked out in the morning before work. I was running on the treadmill (thinking about how much I hate running on the treadmill, except I have no other choice since this is Minnesota and it’s -20 outside) when I see an infomercial for P90X. I am a former athlete, so I think…game on, I can do this! I bought P90X soon thereafter and did two rounds back to back. I also really got into the forums and Facebook groups, etc. I didn’t lose much weight (I also didn’t follow the eating plan that well) but I got a whole lot stronger, and that was motivating. I saw Tony Horton post one day on Facebook that he read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and recommended others to read it. I remembered seeing Mark at the end of one of the P90X DVDs talking about the P90X recovery drink. My wife and I are big readers, so during our next Barnes & Noble visit, I browsed through it and quickly realize it’s unlike anything I have ever read regarding health and fitness. I can’t describe it, but it just clicked for me. It just made total and complete sense. I decide I HAVE to own this book. This was after my wife had figured out, on her own, how to control her gestational diabetes during the pregnancy of our second son. So I read The Primal Blueprint, and suddenly, what she was doing to control her gestational diabetes made total sense.
We always had this vision of eating real, clean, locally grown food. We had a vision of a beautiful vegetable garden to provide fresh vegetables, my fall deer hunting to provide meat, and buying from local farms to supplement chicken, beef, and other food items. The Primal Blueprint approach and its laws were exactly as I envisioned us eating long term, so I was sold. I spent some time trying to convince my wife, after the birth of our second son, to go Primal. She was still doing Weight Watchers on her own and didn’t want to give up on the CW. She finally decided to read The Primal Blueprint. For her, it was taking what Mark was writing about and correlating it back to her own hands-on experience during the pregnancy to really believe in the system. I will never forget the day when we decided to go Primal – we went through every cupboard, got out the big black trash bags, and threw away everything that was not Primal (which was a LOT). We packed up the kids and went to the grocery store to buy all new food. Of course, it was our first time shopping Primal so the bill almost made us faint, but my wife (being the super stay-at-home-mom that she is) quickly learned how to be Primal on a budget. We both lost weight immediately and effortlessly. This was in the fall of 2010. I was back down to around 215 lbs, felt great, and maintained that weight with ease.
We changed our behavior very quickly, and were able to support each other day in and day out, but we had some concerns about changing our then carb-heavy sons over to a Primal Blueprint diet. What kind of resistance would they put up? Or more importantly, how long would the resistance last? We ended up starting with a core set of fruits and veggies that they already liked, and slowly expanded the selection. They have always been meat eaters, so we just had to slowly take out the processed junk and carbs. My oldest son, who was about 3 1/2 at the time, went through a remarkable behavior change as a result. He all of a sudden started sleeping better and was able to maintain much better focus throughout the day. After some time, the boys really transitioned well into being Primal. Now, my oldest thinks chocolate milk is gross!
I really found my groove when Mark published the Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook. I always enjoyed the functional fitness exercises like pull-ups, pushups, etc. From my sports days, I also enjoyed really pushing myself with heavy, hard workouts. The PBF book provided the best, most efficient way to achieve both. I go to the local community center to workout everyday at 5:15 am, with a schedule of lifting heavy things some days, walking some days, and sprinting other days. I love all the looks that everyone slaving away doing chronic cardio gives me as I am in and out of the gym in about 25 minutes. It’s even better since all 20 cardio machines are busy at 5:15 and I am the only one over by the weights. I chuckle about it every day.
As my wife mentioned in her story, we are now pregnant with baby #3! Like our first two pregnancies, I tend to gain a little weight (sympathy weight?) during the pregnancy, but getting it off is no longer a worry. I look forward to growing our family and experiencing life in a Primal way.
Mark Sisson, the Primal Blueprint, and Mark’s Daily Apple have changed our lives indefinitely. You have connected us with others who have helped motivate us, and hopefully you connect us with others whom we can help to motivate. You have helped us to get more out of life and we will always be in your debt.
To those of you who have spouses or significant others who aren’t on board yet, I hope my wife’s story and my story can be that extra nudge towards a Primal lifestyle for you.