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!
Although you are totally unaware of it, you and I just celebrated our second anniversary. It was two years ago, February of 2011, that I was introduced to you. At the time, you were nothing but an experiment, a fling if you will, but now you are among the most important men in my life. No, I’m not really flirting with you. I’m a 54 year old teacher from the Midwest, married, mother of four and grandmother of two. But now that I have your attention, here’s the rather unremarkable story of my two-year Primal journey.
I’ve always had an interest in healthy eating and fitness. I have read most of the books, tried a lot of diets, and done a variety of fitness activities, and every one of them ran its course to be followed by something new. Two years ago my older son, Adam, started telling me about this blog he was reading where this guy had ten basic rules for living like the cavemen lived. He was intrigued and was set to try the eating plan as an experiment for Lent. I thought I might just give it a try as well. Adam is a high school science teacher, so all the science information he’d been reading on this blog really clicked with him. I’m an English teacher, so I skimmed the science and paid close attention to the summarizing paragraph and asked my son a lot of questions. I downloaded The Primal Blueprint and read it immediately as well as spending a lot of time on Mark’s Daily Apple. Since I was in the Lenten mode of self-sacrifice, the new eating style really came pretty easily. Then came Easter. My time of “sacrifice” was ended, but I no longer felt like I was sacrificing anything. By then it was my new lifestyle.
Bear in mind, that the Primal lifestyle was basically an experiment for me; I had no real goals for weight loss or improved health. I just wanted to see what it was like and what might happen. I was not particularly overweight – 5’5 ½” tall, about 145 pounds, size 8. But after a few weeks, pounds started dropping off, and the little aches and pains I had been noticing disappeared. I never realized how bloated I felt until the feeling was gone. The most notable difference was in the pain and stiffness I had been experiencing in my fingers. The pain would wake me up in the night, and in the morning I could barely wrap my fingers around my toothbrush. As the day progressed, the pain subsided, and I just attributed it to being in my 50s. At some point during that six-week experiment, that pain and stiffness disappeared and has never returned. Knees don’t hurt like they used to. Mid-afternoon energy crashes are non-existent.
I say that I had adopted the Primal lifestyle, but in reality during the first several months it was mostly the Primal eating style that I embraced. I used to be a twenty-mile-a-week runner, but I had given that up because of back pain, so at this point my exercise consisted of walking. I had the “moving frequently at a slow pace” part down pat, but it took some time to get myself on the rest of the program. That’s where my younger son comes into the picture. Aaron had become a CrossFitter and was often telling me how much I would like it if I tried it. My response was always that I was too old… until October of 2011 when I finally joined in the boot camp program at the gym. In January 2012 my husband and I both jumped into the CrossFit classes, and we’ve been doing 3-4 CrossFit workouts per week ever since. Mark, you are so right about lifting heavy things! It not only has changed my body, but it feels so empowering to be able to back squat my own body weight, lift barbells over my head, climb up a rope or do a bunch of handstand pushups. I consider the short, highly intense workouts that last only a few minutes to be my sprint. While I love the gym atmosphere and the progress I’ve made over my past year in CrossFit, I don’t do CrossFit just so I can do more CrossFit. I do it so I can do whatever I want to do with confidence that my body has the strength and flexibility to handle it. Last summer I went whitewater rafting on the Chatooga River with my two daughters (exactly the section where the movie Deliverance was filmed), and I won my age group in a 5-K race with no real running training. Earlier this month my husband and I went stand-up paddleboarding when we were on a trip to St. Thomas. Who knows what else I’ll try!
Speaking of that trip to St. Thomas, we traveled with people we have known for over 25 years but see infrequently. It was so gratifying to hear their comments about how I look better than ever. My current weight is 128, I wear a size 4 or sometimes a 2, and I do not hesitate to hit the beach wearing a bikini.
My Primal journey hasn’t been about a dramatic weight loss. It has been about some easy-to-do lifestyle changes that I expect to make the next few decades an entirely different life story than they might have otherwise been. That’s why you are on the list of “most important men in my life,” Mark. I’m really glad you came into my life – figuratively speaking, of course.
I wrote to you recently telling you about my two years as a Primal, and I have a quick update.
I allowed my son/trainer to talk me into registering for the CrossFit Open although I felt kind of silly doing it. It was my hope that I could make it through the first workout because I figured it would start with something all body weight and would soon advance beyond my abilities. Well, I did 13.1 on Friday and scored 142. Because I will turn 55 before the Open ends, I was put into the 55-59 Masters Women category, so I got to use lighter weights on the snatches. But here’s the really crazy part. As of right now I am in 17th place in the North Central Region. I still know that I won’t be able to do everything they throw at us in the Open, but I’m having fun with it right now!