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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Category: Motivation

5 Things You Learn Being a Primal Lifer

Being a Primal lifer is nice. You get to pat the heads and tousle the hair of precious newbies who just learned the words “lectin” and “phytate” and can’t stop talking about it. Navigating your local farmer’s market is a breeze, and you’re such a regular that you can show up half an hour past closing and still get the choicest produce. But there are other benefits, too. Bits of wisdom that you glean over time, and that can only come from years of adherence. Today, I’m going to discuss the five biggest ones.

Newbies: don’t expect to use these as a guide for your own immediate existence. These aren’t necessarily suggestions. Much of what long term Primal adherents learn about their bodies and their lifestyles requires that they put in the time to learn the things directly. You can read about it, but don’t be dismayed if you’re unable able to implement or integrate them immediately.

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Why Getting Fit Isn’t the Best Exercise Motivation (and 10 Better Reasons to Move Today)

We’re told time and again that in order to get healthy we need to let go of our “lower” instincts (e.g. conserving energy on the couch or preferring to go out and have fun) and embrace future goals. We need to take things seriously – have concrete objectives and clear steps to execute them. It’s about getting down to business and whipping ourselves into shape through the grit of sweat and discipline. Or?

Sure, a proclivity to plan for the future and to favor self-control over momentary whim, research shows, will get us far on the health front (PDF).

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How to Overcome Inertia and Get Yourself Unstuck

The 17th Century physicist Isaac Newton observed in his famous laws of motion that objects at rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. You’ve perhaps experienced this phenomenon as you chase your kids’ baseball while it rolls for a block and a half as you curse under your breath. You’ve also maybe observed it when you’re parked comfortably on the couch after a long, stressful day and know it would take all the king’s men to move you from that spot.

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Why Is Regaining Weight So Common?

It’s an age-old story. A person has a huge amount of weight to lose and gets rid of most of it through a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle modification. And they feel fantastic. They’ve got energy for days, their skin glows, they exude newfound confidence, and they experience other small miracles. Many of you have lived this. But then something happens: the weight loss stops, or, worse, it reverses. They can keep the weight at bay as long as their diet is ironclad and they don’t skip any workouts, but as soon as they slip up even a little bit, they gain weight. And when they gain, they seem to gain it faster and more easily than should be normal. It just doesn’t seem fair.

What’s going on here?

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Should You Eat Periodic “Cheat” Meals?

I get a lot of questions about cheat meals. Are they allowed on the Primal Blueprint? Is there a reason someone should actively seek to eat unhealthy food from time to time? The allure of the cheat meal is obvious: you get to eat stuff that’s otherwise off-limits and extremely delicious. You get to throw caution to the wind for a night. It’s like vacation and you’re a food tourist. But are there actual benefits? Today, we’ll take a look.

As I see it, there are three arguments to be made for including periodic — that is, scheduled or preordained — cheat meals in your otherwise solid Primal eating plan.

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Why We Eat: Other People

For those of you who did a double-take, how could I resist? It’s not only an example of why punctuation matters but another major reason why we hominids chow down (in addition to the hunger and cravings we discussed the last couple of weeks). Ah, the power of social suggestion… Think for a moment about your experience, and compare eating alone to eating with others. Maybe it’s helpful to break it down further. What is it like to eat with your partner? Your kids? (Yup, that one definitely belongs in a category all its own.) Your extended family? Your friends and neighbors? Strangers? Obviously the particular function and arrangement of the gathering matters (e.g. a raucous Super Bowl party versus an intimate lunch with friends versus a formal cocktail hour). All these factors likely influence our choices and even the mindfulness behind our choices. With our own stories in mind, how do they line up with the research on social eating? What’s really behind the influence of others’ presence anyway? Finally, what’s a good Primal take on the pressures and benefits of social eating?

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Why We Eat: Cravings

Last week I picked up the theme of hunger with an intention to visit all the angles of the instinct – the physiology behind it first – but also the outer reaches of hunger’s emotional and social sway. The fact is, I can’t think of an instinct (other than sex) that influences our evolution more or perhaps a more complex motivation. It’s one of those areas in which you can’t always separate biology from emotion. (The more you learn about the human animal, I think, the more apparent the melding of these two fields/forces becomes.) Enter cravings. Beyond the general experience of hunger (Feed me now!) are the urges toward particular foods (Need THIS now!). What exactly goes on here? What’s the real impetus behind our cravings, and what’s the ultimate pushback we can offer on the way to derailment?

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Dear Mark: Constantly Falling Off the Primal Wagon, Frozen Produce, and A Few More Carbs

For today’s Dear Mark, I answer three questions from readers. First, I give some advice to a reader with a knack for doing a week or two strict Primal and then falling promptly off the wagon into a pile of donuts. How can she make it stick – or should she? Next, I extoll the merits of freezing your freshly homegrown produce rather than rely on under-ripe fruits and vegetables from half a world away. Finally, I discuss what to do when you feel your performance in the gym diminishing.

Let’s go:

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Improve Your Workouts with This One Simple Trick

Every once in a while I run across a study that makes me laugh even as it makes me think. Such was one in a gaming journal (admittedly unfamiliar territory to me). The study assessed the comparative impact of varying degrees of “human-like, software-generated” workout partners (e.g. “a nearly-human-like, humanoid partner (NHP), a hardly human-like, software-generated partner (HHP),” against one another and a no partner control as well as a genuine hominid presented virtually. The concept made me chuckle as I pictured the potential animation, but the results gave me something to consider. Subjects’ motivation was higher and generally the same in any of the partnered conditions, no matter how “hardly human-like” the partner. Other factors like perceived exertion, enjoyment or self-efficacy were also relatively constant among the partnered scenarios. The only significant difference measured was persistence, where the virtual hominid took top honors. (Grok would be proud – or just wholly befuddled.) The conclusion, as drolly described in the title of the study, was “Cyber buddy is better than no buddy.”

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When All You Want to Do Is Sit on the Couch

We all have days when our motivation is less than sprightly. We stayed up too late the previous night. We’ve had a busy week with work or family duties. We’re worn out after trying some new fitness experiments. The snow and cold are getting on our nerves. There are plenty of good reasons to take a day off from exercising. An overabundance of physical or mental stress, after all, can deplete us without adequate recovery. Plus, some days we just want to wallow in some abject, Grok-style leisure. As healthy hominids, we’re entitled, yes? All this said, what about the times when a day on the couch becomes a couple weeks – or couple months? What if we’ve, in fact, spent much of our lives on the couch (or office chair, driver’s seat, etc.) and are trying to make our way out of the sedentary trap? If this kind of chronic inactivity describes your lifestyle of late, consider this post for you.

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