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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August 27 2009

Cardio Queen Gone Primal

By Guest
98 Comments

I was always a little on the heavy side, ever since I had my tonsils and adenoids taken out in kindergarten. I would say 3rd grade was the last time I really felt “normal.” After that it was all down hill. I can remember my childhood being filled with snacks, cakes, and overall poor food habits. As I got into my teens and after graduating, that’s when I started really suffering the emotional consequences. By the time I was 18 I weighed 200 lbs, and being a teenager, that made life pretty much hell. My life was generally unhappy and not going the direction I’d always dreamed, unable to afford college and working at minimum wage jobs. Food was my comfort. It was so comforting I ended up at 250 lbs… at least that’s where I think I ended up. I stopped weighing myself after that.

I had just ended a very serious relationship and I got fed up with my life. I decided it was time for some change. I moved into a new apartment where for the first time in my life I could cook for myself and eat what I wanted- which meant finally eating healthy food. I remembered back to when my sister went into the Air Force and had to lose a lot of weight just to get in. Her recruiter told her no “white” foods. No bread, no pasta, no potatoes. I started following that rule, and was thrilled to see the weight start to slowly come off. My mom bought me a treadmill for my birthday. At 250 pounds I was no runner, but I could at least walk. Gradually as the pounds came off my speed went up, until I was at the point of slamming out 6 miles on the treadmill every morning, faithfully. I was meticulous when it came to my meals. Every hour and a half to 3 hours there would be a “mini-meal” or a snack, you know- so my metabolism stays high. (At least that’s what I thought.) Every day was planned out, what I would eat, when, and how many calories. It was all right there in my journal- what I ate, how many calories, along with a log of my weight, my workout, and how many calories I burned from running. It seemed like the more weight I lost, the more obsessive I got about food, exercise, calories, cardio… the whole shebang.

I remember when I got down to my goal weight of 150 lbs. On one hand I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t even remember the last time I weighed 150 lbs! On the other hand, I still had a lot more fat than I imagined I would at that weight. I was a little shocked. I was a runner and runners are supposed to get skinny! What happened!? So naturally I cut calories a little more, and increased my miles. At my max I was eating 1800 calories a day and running almost 50 miles a week. I knew deep down that this was not a pace I could sustain for long, and what’s worse, at 140 lbs the weight completely stopped coming off. I was so frustrated and depressed.

During my “Cardio Queen” phase I’d joined a forum for runners, and a fellow runner directed me to MarksDailyApple.com. I’m an admitted Foodie and was looking for recipes, and boy did I find some great recipes! I couldn’t believe all the great foods, no grain required. What really impressed me was Mark, and his wife. I remember seeing a photo and thinking “Wow… I want to look like that.” I did some reading through the archives and decided to take the leap. It was incredibly hard wrapping my brain around the idea of eating more fat, and running less.

So I got my diet straightened out and restructured, and it really was surprisingly easy once I got over my fat phobia. It was a little sad giving up my Kashi TLC bars and my yogurt. Of course I don’t miss the gurgly gut the yogurt used to give me. Eating Primal has opened doors to new foods I never knew about. Coconut milk is one of my new favorite ingredients, and I love cooking with beef tallow that I render myself. It has also spurred me to think more in depth about the meat I eat, and where it comes from. I’m proud to say I’ve gone from buying the cheapest CAFO “club packs” for $1 per pound to shopping for a chest freezer to hold my grass fed/finished beef, and the wild boar I will soon be ordering- uncured bacon and all. I’ve also broadened my food horizons to foods I thought I hated, like radishes and liver. Yes, I actually like liver.

That’s not the end of my Primal evolution. I’ve learned great lessons about not only eating Primal, but living Primal. I sleep better, and I play more. I also exercise differently. No more pounding miles on the treadmill at 5:00 am, annoying my downstairs neighbor. I’m sure she’s as grateful for my lifestyle transformation as I am. I do still get up at 5:00 am, but now it’s of my own accord, without the alarm clock, to go to the gym to play leisurely on the elliptical, do tabata sprints on the stationery bike, or lift lots and lots of heavy things. Admittedly, random outdoor exercise is better, but I do like the structure the gym provides me, and I certainly don’t turn down an opportunity to use my lifting and sprinting skills in the outdoors. One of my favorite games, part exercise, part play, is “chase the rabbit.” If there are no rabbits in sight, it becomes “chase the parents’ Jack Russell terrier.” He loves it too.

I noticed some other side effects of my new lifestyle. I wasn’t hungry every hour like I used to be. I don’t have to plan out an entire day’s worth of food, nor do I need to keep an emergency Soy Joy bar in my car in case I’m lost out in the concrete jungle without a snack. I only eat 2 or 3 times a day (rather than 5 or 6) and yet I had energy- and lots of it! My boss recently commented to me how I was “too chatty and upbeat” too early in the morning. We were pulling overtime at 6:30 in the morning, and I was wide awake and ready to go, while my co-workers were dragging themselves around by their coffee cups and breakfast bars. When I get home from work, I’m proud to say I don’t pass out on the couch after dinner anymore. The energy levels I have now are amazing, albeit sometimes frustrating when my non-Primal friends and family aren’t raring to go, go, go with me.

Of course, what would a success story be without results? I’m very proud to say that I’ve lost another 15 lbs after 3 months of going Primal, and am continuing to improve my body composition. That’s a grand total of 125 lbs of weight loss in 2 ½ years. I am exactly half the weight I used to be. How freaky is that!? I’m building muscle tone in my arms and don’t look quite so “skinny fat” anymore. I still can’t do a regular pushup, but I can do several “girl” pushups- a huge improvement over my previous state. I have to say, I look amazing! I can’t wait to finally wear a bikini.

The biggest change in my life, beyond what I eat, how I exercise or how I sleep, is the simple freedom that the Primal Blueprint has afforded me. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. If I’m running late for work, it won’t kill me to skip breakfast. Some mornings I don’t feel like lifting weights, or doing sprints, so I don’t feel guilty for just taking a walk, or doing no workout at all. I don’t have to measure every serving of food and count every calorie, and make sure I burn off a certain number of calories on the treadmill in order to lose weight. I can eat meat, and fat, and eggs in butter without the fear of getting fat again. I can be free… free to eat, to run, to breathe, to live Primally.

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98 thoughts on “Cardio Queen Gone Primal”

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  1. I would never know those before/afters were the same person!

    Congratulations, fellow rat-lover. (I assume you’re giving it a kiss and hug, and not eating it.)

  2. What an inspiration! Looking at your transformation, I have to say, “Wow… I want to look like that.”

  3. Aaron took the words right out of my mouth. The first thing I thought when I saw the after picture is “OH. MY. GOD.” You look great. Talk about inspiration!

  4. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Diana! I so want to show this post to all the naysayers!

  5. This if off to my daughter and a friend.

    I cant believe your success. What an inspiration.

  6. WOW you look so hot girl!!! if anybody needs proof of the workings of the primal blueprint… holay! 😀

  7. Wow what a difference you look amazing. What a inspirational story. – How long did it take for you to go through the complete transformation once you went primal?

  8. I agree with the guy who said he doesn’t normally comment ….but holy sh**!

    Amazing…just amazing.

  9. If you helped but one other person with your amazing story it’s been worth it. I wish I had discovered this way of eating when I was young instead of at 55 years of age when almost everything had either stopped working, broke down or hurt. Spreading the word like you are doing can save many lives.

    Thanks

  10. Woooooow! You look fantastic. The thing that really shows in the “after” photos is how much more happy you look. I don’t know you, but I’m really proud of you.

    Grok on.

  11. Forgive my admittedly tactless curiosity, but where’s the excess skin?

    I ask because I always thought that skin stretched out and would remain saggy when obese people lost that much weight, but you don’t seem to suffer from that problem at all! You look like you’ve been lean and healthy your whole life!

  12. Way to take charge of your health!

    I also like how you focused on how much better you feel, how you have more energy in your day to day life. This is the key to living better IMHO.

    Your story is going to help so many people. Congratulations!

  13. pardon this outburst but:

    !!!! HOLY CRAP !!!!

    GREAT JOB GF!!!!!! WOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!

    You look totally completely 100% without a doubt AMAZING!!!

    ok, I’m picking myself up off the floor now. thanks for a great hit of inspiration!!

  14. That has to be one of the best (if not THE best) inspirational story of primal living. I don’t think the billion dollar diet industry can beat that.

    Amazing! Great Job!

  15. Beautifully written and my gosh, you are one gorgeous woman! All the best!

  16. WOW congrats!!! You are a hero!

    How Ironic – Just this morning I found out about coconut milk. I mixed it with my smoothie at lunch and it’s going to stay around. I’m about to drink the rest of it raw because it’s so delicious. Unfortunately this can is ‘light’ coconut milk and is mixed with water, but it’s good enough for now.

  17. It’s just incredible! You look *AMAZING*! Thank you so much for your story, it’s exactly what I needed right now. THANK you! Congratulations!

  18. Wow that is a great story! you look awesome! keep the great work up

  19. Wow… thank you everybody. 🙂 I’m not really sure what to say.

    I know I’ve been complaining a lot lately because I don’t have the “beach body” I picture in my head, but doing this project has really put things in perspective for me. It makes me very grateful and appreciative of my accomplishment and I can accept this gift for what it is- a second chance at life. Now I just have to find a Primal dude for my “happily ever after.” LOL.

    Life really is 1000x better now, in ways I never even imagined, and I’m thankful to have MDA and so many supportive people here.

    Oh- and to answer a couple questions-

    I was about 75% grain free for 2 years. I went fully Primal back in May, cutting out the rest of the grains and nearly all dairy. That’s also when I changed my exercise regimen.

    And the little guy in the picture is “Dizaster” or “Zaster” for short.

    1. Thank you again for your story, Diana. As you can see it has inspired all of us. You’re looking fierce in those photos. Say hello to Zaster for us!

    2. Eliminating grains and nearly all dairy helped me shed about ten stubborn pounds of middle-age weight creep and simplify meal planning. Meat/fish/eggs + 2 non-starch veggies + olive oil/butter/coconut oil/red palm oil + spices = one healthy and delicious meal.

  20. WOW you look incredible and what an inspiration you are! You go girl 🙂

    1. Dollface, I don’t know if you wrote a “story” for this contest or not, but I wanted you to know that your blog and progress are just as inspiring as Diana’s story here, and I’ve sent your blog to several people hoping it would inspire them to try this way of life…

      thought i’d put that out there, in case you didn’t know.

  21. Diana, until you commented a little while ago, I didn’t even know this was your entry. Is your name on that post somewhere?

  22. Echoing other commenters, I agree that you look absolutely amazing. Your skin looks firm and taut, thanks to toned muscles and slow and a slow and steady weight loss of about 1 lb. a week. Your story is a testament to your incredible perseverence and the resilience of the human body.

  23. What the first commenter said –
    OH MY GOD!!!!
    What a fabulous transformation inside and out!

  24. Way to go! This really gives me hope and motivation because I’m around the same weight you started as. Thanks for sharing your story!

  25. I went back and read the other comments and just realised it was you Diana. My goodness yes you should be so proud.
    Your skin looks so great – resilient. It seemed to shrink back nicely as I can’t see any loose skin. Brilliant.

  26. Great job, girl! You look amazing! I read this post 3 times because it’s that GREAT! Congratulations!

  27. Now this is an inspirational story if I’ve ever heard one! I bet every non-primal person who reads this is now seriously considering the lifestyle change (myself included).

    You are inspiration, motivation, and logic all rolled into one.

  28. Amazing job with your story…I knew you could do it once you set your mind to it! I hope your words help others!! It’s been a long journey for you but worth every pound you lost…the REAL you is finally shinning bright as i remember when you was a small child! I’m so proud of you and what you have become…you are totally beautiful! I love you sis!

  29. Fantastic results. Thank you for posting. You are an inspiration.

  30. My jaw literally dropped at the difference between the before and after photos. You don’t even look like the same woman!

    AMAZING!

  31. Great job Nan. This is just another way for me to say how PROUD I am of you and to be your dad. I can’t think of anything that makes me more proud of you than to see you having TOTAL control of your life. All fathers should have daughters like all mine.We all Love you!

  32. Outstanding DR. I thought you rocked before knowing your story, now you grok!

  33. i love seeing your family all chime in with support! that’s incredible, and your story is amazing. my husband and i are in the beginning stages of no starches and primal eating, and it’s encouraging to see how it will really pay off if we stick to it like you did!

  34. You look totally awesome and soooo happy. I am so proud of you and glad you achieved your wonderful goal! I love you girl!

  35. Hot stuff Diana, I haven’t been on-line for a while and this is what I see, gosh darn girlie you are one hot chick, I keep on going and looking at your before and after photos, your arms are amazing, you should be so proud of yourself and I love the photo of you having kisses with your ratty. You are an inspiration to us all.

  36. Wow! The best part is you can keep your new body and awesome energy levels the rest of your life. It’s EASY to sustain on a primal diet. How long do you think you could have kept up measuring every single calorie you consumed and pounding out 50 miles a day? Blah! No thanks.

    I like that you pointed out how even with severe calorie counting and pounding out miles on the treadmill, at 140 pounds weight loss stopped! Unlike ‘The biggest loser’ which largely uses calorie counting and chronic cardio, you didn’t just go from FAT to skinny-fat, you went the extra 15 pounds to Hot! Seriously! I’m with you on that thinking. “Skinny-fat” is NOT something to strive for! Great, I don’t look fat in clothes. NOT good enough. I want to look good on the beach. You did just that.

  37. Words cannot express how proud I am of you for your accomplishment. You know how proud I am, and every chance I have, I boast about you. I never realized how miserable you were growing up, but then again I did. Deep down inside I felt so bad for you, but I took it for granted that your weight was suppose to be the way it was because of genetics. I guess you took them by the horn, and turned out to be the girl that was when she was a pre-schooler. You’ve made your mamma proud, and when I look at the before and after pics, my eyes well up with tears, and I ask myself, “Did I do that to her out of trying to show her I love her?”. Shame on me. But, you overcame the obstacles, and look really great. And as everyone has said, you ROC. I love you, Nan, and I can’t show or tell you enough!

    With ALL My Love~ Mom

  38. I am stunned…wow! And that last part about freedom is great… all I want is to just not have to think about it anymore…to be basically strong and lean and fed and happy, without it being in my uppermost thoughts all the time.
    I’ve been reading MDA again for the first time in a while, so just saw your story today, and guess what? It kept me from eating a big bowl of fettuccini noodles w. sour cream, cheese,and butter. I’m having chicken w. sauteed mushrooms and onions instead. I could go on for 12 paragraphs, but hopefully I’ll have my own success story in the future.
    Well done Diana! (and well done family for the support and non-sabotaging you’ve given her.)

  39. Diana, your journey has really, really inspired me! Thank you so much for sharing! You look AMAZING! Simply amazing!

  40. Somehow that posted before I was finished.

    As someone noted above, it’s not only the physical, but the obvious difference emotionally/spiritually.

    Have you visited that ex-bf lately? Ha ha ha….rub it in.

  41. I realized that after the new year I need a new outlook on life and food, and I stumbled on your story after a few clicks into the internet for inspiration. Now it doesn’t seem so daunting, and seeing you positively glowing and happy in your ‘after’ pics is so inspiring!

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  42. Thank you so much for sharing. My daughter has been such a fan of this website for months and your story has inspired me to take the leap of faith to join her on her healthy journey… I can see it is real! I need the weight loss and she was already slender… so I never really got the connection. But your story and this website/book has helped me to understand how it works and the connection to HOW TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE! Thank YOU!

  43. You maybe didn’t have money to finish the college but hey girl, you have just truly inspired me and many others to live healthier lives!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! This is one of the most amazing transformations I’ve ever seen! Truly inspiring!

  44. Way to go girl! I stumbled upon this post late too but had to comment. You are a definite inspiration. I used to weigh over 300 pounds and lost a bunch of weight myself but it slowed down considerably after 70 pounds. My personal trainer turned me on to primal eating and the weight is coming off again. I can’t wait to see the results you are experiencing. Thank you for your story.

  45. I’d not seen your before pictures yet, and this post is very inspiring!

    Congrats and keep doing what you love!

  46. Wow, what a transformation! Right now I think I’m stuck exactly where you were once stuck: trying to eat more fat and do less cardio. This is very inspirational to me!

  47. This is amazing and I am psyched to be changing my eating habits and LIFE!

  48. Diana, darling girl – you are an absolute inspiration.
    well done

  49. Would you be my friend on here? Your story is very inspiring and very similar to my own. I used to do Weight Watchers and was very successful but the grind of always counting was cumbersome and I really didn’t eat healthy and didn’t feel that good, even at a much smaller weight. So of course I gained it all back. I started at 285 (on a 5’1 frame), I lost 10 lbs on WW and then started primal this week. I am down to 266.6 as of this morning so it is working and I am feeling better. Its still hard right now with no carbs but I am satisfied when I do eat, although I get hungry after lunch (I have heard this is normal). Thanks so much for sharing and here we go….!!!

  50. Let me just start out by saying how inspired I am by your drive and ambition. I cant count how many people feel like they have hit a dead end when it comes to diet and weight loss and make up constant excuses as to why they cant have success in their weightloss goals. I think I speak for everyone who has read your story that it is possible as long as you make it a lifestyle and not something forced to lose weight. This was an extremely helpful story, you should really consider making a blog.

  51. Wow! You are SO inspiring. You look amazing… Mark, can we have an update? Are you able to reach her? I’m so curious as to how she’s doing 3 years down the line!

  52. Very Inspirational!!! Very Motivating!!!
    7 years later…where are you goal wise and
    Weight wise?
    Post a Updater if you could!
    Best Regards,
    Dave V