Meet Mark

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...

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October 12, 2012

We Are Talking About a Drastic Increase in Quality of Life!

By Guest
64 Comments

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!

Thanks to MDA, my husband Jesse and I are reformed from our carboholic ways. To give you an idea of the magnitude of our addiction to carbs, this is what would happen during our normal weekly grocery shopping trip: We would hit the bakery section first. They had those huge fluffy loaves of French bread. Warm. We would get two. We would tear off chunks of the bread and eat a whole loaf as we walked through the grocery store. The other one, we would turn into garlic bread to go with our spaghetti for dinner that night. And that was after having a whole grain English muffin or oatmeal for breakfast (because at least the whole grains and oats were good for you, right??)

Other than our diet, we were pretty healthy. I lifted weights 7 days a week; for Jesse, 2-4 days a week of weight lifting and cardio. Living in Hawaii, Play was super easy – we would climb a mountain or go spearfishing on the weekends. (Side note: catching your own dinner is extremely satisfying!) We got plenty of sleep. But I was still never able to get below a size 9, no matter how much I worked out. Jesse had a 38 inch waist. It never dawned on us that maybe we should change what we were eating!

Jesse came across your website in July 2011, and suggested that we give the diet a try. I told him he was crazy – grains were half of my diet and there was no way I could give them up! He was smart enough to show me a picture of Carrie Sisson, and I realized that she looked way better than me. Working out 7 days a week I wasn’t even coming close to looking as good as her, so I was willing to give it a try. Jesse quit grains and sugar cold turkey, I limited myself to one processed food item a day for the next 3 weeks. He got the low carb flu, I did not.

We were amazed at the results! We were sleeping better at night and had much more energy during the day. My face cleared up. My one irritable day a month disappeared, and took my cramps with it. My rosacea vanished. Doctors had put me on six different prescriptions for it, and nothing had ever helped. With rosacea, you can’t even take a hot shower or get too hot when you are working out without your face turning bright red and staying that way for an hour. I’m happy to say I can now take a hot shower and workout as intense as I would like without any adverse effects to my face. These aren’t just minor improvements, we are talking about a drastic increase in quality of life!

Three weeks after we started the diet, Jesse’s term was up with the Navy and we moved to South Carolina. Starting with an empty pantry, it was easy to Primalize it. By October, we looked great! Jesse had dropped four inches to a 34-inch waist, and I was down from a size 9 to a size 5. We have worked very hard to make sure that we are eating quality foods and sticking with the Primal guidelines. We had no problem buying healthy foods, our only weakness was eating with others. It took many months, but we can now finally turn people down when we are at their homes and they push a platter of brownies towards us.

In the past few months, our weight started to creep back up. It wasn’t until I read your posts about the 21-Day Challenge that I realized why – we were doing great with the diet, but we were neglecting many of the other aspects of being Primal! We didn’t find it as easy to Play here – it is flat and the water is cloudy, so our favorite activities are out and we hadn’t really tried to find anything to replace those activities. Working out had definitely slid to the back burner without us realizing it.

It would be super easy to make excuses. I get up at 4:30 am and don’t return home until 6 pm (and not until after 10 pm on Mondays and Thursdays). It doesn’t leave much time for working out and getting enough sleep. But, instead of making excuses I decided to figure out how I could incorporate working out into my day. Now I do squats and calf raises as I brush my teeth in the morning and evening. I get into what Tony Horton calls horse stance (legs out to the sides, knees bent, thighs almost parallel to the ground), up on my toes, while I do my face and hair. I do a set of pushups off the side of the bathtub before I get in the shower. Our home is long and has a straight shot from the office, through the living room and dining room, into the kitchen. Now I run as fast as I can when passing through these areas. These mini sprints get my heart rate up. When taking a break at work, I walk around the outside of the building and jog up the stairs. I put my dumbbells on the living room floor to remind myself to stop and lift them throughout the time I am at home. I’ve started taking quick naps some days after work and longer naps on the weekends.

For Play, we go stand up paddle skateboarding. (Kind of like SUP, just on land. It’s a great upper body workout!) Jesse uses Ultimate Frisbee as well for his Play. He has made a renewed commitment to working out 3 days a week when he gets home from work, and I have committed to at least one real work out session on the weekend. Jesse even created some pieces of equipment for us to work out with at home: a balance board to make squats and dumbbell work harder. A 5 gallon jug filled with water, with a straight bar through the handle, to use for curls and rows. A PVC pipe filled with sand, with old rotors on the end, to use as a barbell. Three different size tires to lift and throw. A sturdy wood box for jump training. An incline made out of wood (functions like an incline bench, just with your behind on the ground). And 30-40 pound rocks to do curls with and to throw.

We are definitely excited that you have once again helped to spark a commitment in us to be healthier, and to realize what we were lacking. While we know we won’t be ripped in just 21 days, we can’t wait to see the long term results! In less than 2 weeks I’m already down 3 pounds of fat and Jesse’s clothes are fitting him much better now. Thank you for everything that you do to inspire all of us!

Jesse and Vicki

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64 Comments on "We Are Talking About a Drastic Increase in Quality of Life!"

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Nick
Nick
3 years 11 months ago

Oh man I love your workouts! There’s something about skipping the gym and doing it yourself that’s so supremely satisfying. You both look great – way to go!

Sonagi
Sonagi
3 years 11 months ago

Agree completely! Never had and never will have a gym membership. $100 worth of workout equipment at home and the great outdoors are all I need to keep fit.

Joy Beer
Joy Beer
3 years 11 months ago

Delightful! It is so true about the rosacea. That was my second sign that my own life was changing for the better. Way to go, you two!

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 11 months ago

+1 on the Rosacea! My skin quality is soooo much better on primal!!!

defrog
defrog
3 years 11 months ago

Second on the rosacea! I am still transitioning to primal, and its so amazing to me how brightly my face flushes when I have something with wheat now! (haven’t gotten to the non-breaded pizza crust yet…)

My success story: as of this morning, I am 4 inches smaller around my torso (bust/waist/hips) than I was in October of last year. All from gradually dropping total carbs to an average of 100g per day!

Jay
Jay
3 years 11 months ago

Oh Rosacea – I never thought for a minute primal could cure Rosacea. I am a primal dilletante – I do it 60-80% of the time but now I might just try for that extra mile. My rosacea makes winters in the office heating so embarrassing.

Danny
Danny
3 years 11 months ago

I love all the homemade equipment! And stand up paddleboarding on land?! That’s genius! Every time I see the picture on MDA of Mark on the water I think man I wish I lived by the ocean so I could do that. Kudos to you two for the ingenuity…and of course the lifestyle change. I would imagine ‘improved quality of life’ is one of the greatest compliments Mark can receive.

Alison Golden
3 years 11 months ago

I couldn’t agree more about building exercise into your day. Squats, side bends, push-ups against the wall, lifting heavy things – while you’re brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil, carrying heavy laundry. It all adds up.

Alison Golden
3 years 11 months ago

Oops, hit reply too soon. I meant to say congratulations! You both look awesome and your creativity to just get it done speaks volumes.

Paula
3 years 11 months ago

Lack of play is my weak link too. I keep telling myself I have to have more fun, less “work” in the workout. You inspired me to do what I’ve wanted to do for so long: pull out the Roller Blades. This weekend it’s on! Thanks!

Deanna
3 years 11 months ago

I have a hard time with this one, too. I don’t “play” enough. Thankfully my workouts feel a lot like play now since I usually have a buddy, but still. I could incorporate more “real” play into my week.

luke depron
luke depron
3 years 11 months ago

Awesome! I too love the homemade equipment, and the idea that of always being able to get some kind of workout in! Keep it up, congrats. You got me amped for my workout, off to the park!

Tim
Tim
3 years 11 months ago

You guys are lucky to have each other!

Onge
Onge
3 years 11 months ago

+1

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 11 months ago

Wow! Stand up paddleboarding! That looks like so much fun! I am super scared to try to skateboard, but I might have to give this a try! Way to go, guys!!!

Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 11 months ago

The first time I stood on a longboard I could barely keep my balance. After one practice session using a friend’s board during high school lunch I decided to buy one. Eventually I’d go as fast as I could down some hills.
Since then my balance has improved. If my muscles aren’t too worn out I can easily walk across logs and branches.

Charlayna
3 years 11 months ago

When I was living in Hawaii, I would stand up paddleboard with my vibrams on too! Man, I miss being able to do that…

Next Friday, I get to play the funnest game on earth–KAYAK POLO!!! So pumped!

Congrats!

Erok
Erok
3 years 11 months ago

Wow, you guys! That’s awesome! One thing I don’t get – and maybe it’s because I grew up a So. Dak. flatlander – but why, oh, why, would anyone leave Hawaii? Don’t get me wrong, the Carolinas are beautiful, but I mean, SPEARFISHING? Come ON!
Anyway, I’m off to the breakroom for a max set of pushups with my feet on a chair. Hopefullly, the water cooler will need a fresh jug today, so I can do lunges and KB swings down the hallway.
Thanks for your post, you two, and happy Friday!

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago

When the military is no longer paying the bill for housing and such, one doesn’t stay in Hawaii 🙂
(just to give you an idea of the cost of living out there, our rent was over $2,000 a month for a 3 bedroom, milk was $10 a gallon, and civilian wages definitely don’t compensate for the prices!)
But yes, the spearfishing and mountain climbing were awesome while we were there!!

Nick
Nick
3 years 11 months ago

Sounds like San Francisco!!! Our rent is that high for our 1 bedroom apartment… le sigh.

mars
mars
3 years 11 months ago

+1 from another bay area resident…

way to go vicki & jesse! you guys rock!

Hilary
Hilary
3 years 11 months ago

Yep. Over $900 a month to rent a master bedroom in Santa Barbara. Brutal. I finally left.

Jenn
Jenn
3 years 11 months ago

What an awesome story! I love your gym! I want one just like it!!

Jessica
3 years 11 months ago

Awesome story! Love all your homemade stuff and that you found all sorts of little ways to add strength training to everyday things like squats while doing your hair. Who would have imagined! LOL Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Jeff
3 years 11 months ago

+1 for all the homemade workouts.. and a huge congrats on the drastic change. What a difference it made in both body and your faces!
Simply awesome and inspiring!

Peggy
Peggy
3 years 11 months ago

🙂 I was reading this between sets of squats & pushups in the storeroom… who needs a fancy gym or paying those membership dues?!

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago

That’s awesome! Jesse has gotten to the point where he’ll drop and do a set of push ups in other people’s homes just to make sure he’s getting his exercise in!

NotApplicable
NotApplicable
3 years 11 months ago

LOL, most people probably think that’s Navy thinking, rather than Grok’s!

Until you’ve indoctrinated them, that is. 😉

Wayne
3 years 11 months ago

That is a great story, I am glad to hear they were able to lose so much weight and get healthy. Personally I dropped 36 pounds and most of my back pain went away. I used to take a ton of advil and a heating pad to deal with back pain and now I do nothing and it is pretty much gone.

Alex Fields
Alex Fields
3 years 11 months ago

That is a great story! And I like all the pictures:)

Mark… I’ve been very interested in the whole gut bacteria thing since I struggled with IBS previously. Hope you can write more about that….

I also saw this article this week which I really liked on the subject, how to get paleo gut flora in the western world: http://gutflora.com/?p=1026

Pamela
Pamela
3 years 11 months ago

AWESOME!!
Grok On!

Susan Alexander
3 years 11 months ago

Jesse and Vicki:

Well done! These words jumped out at me:

“Instead of making excuses I decided to figure out how I could incorporate working out into my day.”

That’s a beautiful replacement for “I don’t have time to work out.”

Designating time(s) during the day to cram in exercise is am excellent way to make sure it gets done.

Seems like what you do is routine driven, which is great. I think routine is key. With so many things, following one makes the difference between getting things done and not getting them done.

Thanks for sharing.

Susan

Ed
3 years 11 months ago

I love reading these success stories! Congrats to you two both!

Tasha
3 years 11 months ago

You guys look amazing! I love to see people making fitness work for them with what they can find.

Nikki
Nikki
3 years 11 months ago

This is great! I am getting closer and closer to ditching my gym membership (and keeping my money). Your home-made gear is impressive and inspiring.

Grok on!

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago

Thanks! I am also a huge fan of saving $50+ a month from not getting gym memberships! We also made a slosh tube this past weekend, it has definitely added a new dynamic to our workout!

mars
mars
3 years 11 months ago

slosh tube? hmmmm.. tell us more…

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago
Deanna
3 years 11 months ago

I work with a trainer who has a homemade slosh tube. That thing is killer!

crowley
crowley
3 years 11 months ago

I love this site. I come here for daily enlightenment. But, let’s just be straight about one thing, those silly toe shoes are 100% gimmick.

Mad Am Flintstone
Mad Am Flintstone
3 years 11 months ago

Speaking like someone whose never tried barefoots. Look at vivo’s then. They are RAD.

Madam von Sassypants
3 years 11 months ago

I love hiking and scrambling in my toe shoes! They’re excellent for gripping surfaces you wouldn’t be able to normally in regular kicks. Just yesterday my husband and I were climbing poles on a playground swing set with ours.

Yvette
Yvette
3 years 11 months ago

As someone who works a 14 hour day on my feet in regular shoes, spending the next day walking around in those ‘gimmicky’ toe shoes is pure foot heaven. I can feel my feet returning to their natural shape. That is a gimmick I am willing to pay for 🙂

Kitty =^..^=
Kitty =^..^=
3 years 11 months ago

Congrats on your success and lifestyle changes! You both look great. I love your homemade workout equipment 😀

Paula Burrus Hinton
Paula Burrus Hinton
3 years 11 months ago

I love your idea of sneaking primal movement into your daily routine. The exercise is usually what I skip, but, what I need the most. Keep doing what you do!

Dave
Dave
3 years 11 months ago
Great job and a great idea on the paddle boarding! I had not seen that before, just goggle it and I am looking into a Kahuna Big Stick right now! I started longboarding two years ago at age 56, I have been using my 95lb Black Lab as my tow vehicle and we hit some high speeds out on the road. I use a full set of Pro Tech protective pads and the few times I have hit the pavement they were 100% effective. The stick will definitely make it more of a workout but my dog is gonna be… Read more »
Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago

You’re welcome! Although we made the paddles from materials we got from Lowe’s for less than $15 each: 1 broom handle, some PVC for the handle, and rubber from an old tire for the end of the stick. Plus some colored tape so we could tell ours apart 🙂

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 11 months ago

Thank you for sharing and helping me to realize about working those little bits of exercise in to my day. I keep thinking it has to be a planned workout to count, but it doesn’t. Squats, here I come…

Deanna
3 years 11 months ago

This was a great before-and-after! You two didn’t look particularly unhealthy before, but now you’re both absolutely glowing! I love the homemade workout equipment, and I love the play suggestions — I have just been thinking about how I need to get more play in my life, but I’m not always sure how since I don’t have the stereotypical “go play with your dog or the kids” going on.

Karen
Karen
3 years 11 months ago

Vicki,
I love when I read about someone’s skin clearing up! Do you eat dairy? My roseacea is very stubborn and has not gone away.
Great job with sticking to the primal plan – even through a move. That had to be challenging.

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 11 months ago
I do eat dairy–I am able to get raw milk from the farmer’s market every other week, so I use that in my coffee. I also get a grass fed, no horomone cheese from Trader Joe’s for the surprisingly low price of $5.50/lb. I just put a bit on my salad for the sake of adding a little fat to the meal to keep me full longer (I used to eat cheddar as a snack, I’m proud to say I cut that habit!) It took about 6 months for the rosacea to completely clear up, but I’m sure it’s different… Read more »
Sarah Martini
3 years 11 months ago

Let me first say congrats on finding Primal and Mark Sisson! Life is so much better now, isn’t it?!
You both have inspired me to make a balance board to help my core.
I mean, anyone can just stand there and lift…but balancing and lifting…Primal goodness!
You both look wonderful and happy, thanks for sharing with us!

aliseya
3 years 11 months ago

you two look great! thanks for sharing how you were able to incorporate short workouts into your daily routine -very inspiring!

andi c
andi c
3 years 11 months ago

awesome!!!! Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring!

NJ Paleo
NJ Paleo
3 years 11 months ago

What an awesome story! I love how you both made a commitment to creating change, not making excuses “why not”. I too was a huge carb-a-holic (whole wheat pasta, granola, and oatmeal being my big downfalls — I thought they were OK because they were healthy) and NEVER thought I would be able to give those up. After reading Mark Sisson’s book and seeing the facts, I gave it all up and haven’t looked back or regretted my decision at all. Congratulations to you both!

Beryl
3 years 11 months ago

Thank you for sharing your success. Gonna dust off that old balance board and mine and follow your example!

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[…] pasta) that are causing these issues and stop relying on short term pharmaceutical solutions. This article illustrates a typical young couple who have experienced a real life change by eliminating grains […]

Patrick
3 years 11 months ago

Hey I love all the stuff you’ve built! Inspirational for sure!

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[…] please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep […] Mark’s Daily Apple Related Posts:Finally, I Am MeOvercoming the InsurmountableA Doctor Finds Primal BalancePrimal […]

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[…] Read Jesse and Vicki’s Story>> […]

Carol M.
Carol M.
3 years 9 months ago

What part of South Carolina are you in? My husband was in the Navy for 6 years, and we moved to SC in 2004, after he got out. We’re outside of Columbia, in Irmo. We’ve done paleo on and off & we’re about to do it FOR REAL! Would *love* to connect with some like-minded friends who are also in SC!

Vicki N.
Vicki N.
3 years 9 months ago

We are in Charleston! Feel free to find me on facebook–Vicki Nault.

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[…] me, it is ingrained into who I am”); Katie (“I’m still learning and tweaking every day”); Jesse & Vickie (“We knew we wouldn’t be ripped in just 21 […]

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[…] sauteed pears, as a change. If you don’t do the cooking, try to get your spouse on-board. Do it as a team, encourage each other.With children, make it fun, call it caveman food, make up names like dinosaur […]

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