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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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January 16 2015

Challenging Conventional Thinking Left Me 100 Pounds Lighter and Medication-Free

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104 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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2My family is from Scotland and, when I was just shy of four, we moved to St. Louis, which is still my home. I was an active kid who loved playing in the woods more than traditional sports, although I did play soccer for a few years. When I was 17, my father died of cancer of the esophagus at the age of 48. This triggered a depression that would follow me for years. I worked long hours—a night shift job I absolutely hated. I started packing on pounds and, before long, I was 215 lbs of fat. I’m just under 5’9”. At the time, I was in my early 20’s and single, so I tried a popular diet program back then—one where you join the program, meet with a counselor, and buy all of your meals. They asked what you wanted to weigh and would give you your money back if you kept the weight off for one year. I went from 215 lbs to 169 lbs in less than three months, eating only their food and bike riding. Some people thought I was ill. All I cared about were the numbers on the scale. I quit the program the day I reached my goal of 169 lbs and quickly started to gain my weight back with a vengeance. I got married a year later and by then was 205 lbs. Everyone said I looked fit and was very happy over all, but I wasn’t eating the program’s food anymore. I hadn’t learned any nutritional lessons, and I was back to my old ways.

I settled into married life with kids and was now working long hours at a desk job. Each year, another five or so pounds of fat appeared on my body and I would get more depressed. I also started to cough a lot and have acid reflux, or GURD, to the point where I could not leave the house without a pack of Tums or Rolaids. My blood pressure was always good at my doctor visits and I was not concerned, even though I now weighed 270 lbs. My wife loved me, my doctor said my blood pressure and cholesterol were fine, and life was good overall. So, I just ignored my weight.

2) Goofing Off Mark 2005 - 2My wakeup call came when I was approaching my 48th birthday (the age of my dad’s death). I was now over 315 lbs and had quit looking at a scale after that. I was on prescription meds for my GURD and, now, my doctor wanted me to take pills because my blood levels were borderline diabetic. I was tired all the time, I overate, and I knew, after years of denial, I was the fattest man in my office, in my family, and in any group of my friends. I hated to see pictures of myself because, even knowing I was so out of shape, I just did not want to accept that it was that bad.

3) Rhiannon's Birthday 2005

So, I started researching, which is something I really enjoy. I read every health magazine I could get my hands on. I watched TV shows and documentaries. I built of a stack of knowledge on weight loss and health and I would eat pizza and drink beer as I “learned.”

6) Rhiannon's Voice Recital 2014At long last, I found The Primal Blueprint and every word spoke to me. “Challenge conventional thinking” was perhaps the most important line in the book for me. Mark’s program was something I felt I could actually do, as opposed to just something else I could learn, but not accomplish. I decided I could at least walk and I knew I could bike ride, from my days before I was married. So, I forced myself to take daily walks, increasing my distances over time. I fixed up my old bike and added that to my routine. As I felt better, I added hiking. To change my diet, I learned all sorts of ways to cook eggs and make salads. I added foods like avocados, healthy snack alternatives, and I started to shop at our local farmers market. It took three months to lose the sugar cravings but they did finally disappear. I was becoming more primal each day in my manner of living. I was still stuck in the mode of checking the scale all the time, but it was OK, as I learned to not give up if the number wasn’t what I wanted or expected. I started on November 1st, my wife’s birthday, and by my birthday the following August, I was down to 210 lbs!

The amount of attention I got through Facebook and from friends and family because of my weight loss was wonderful for my ego. But nothing was better than the day my doctor took me off all of my medicine and asked me how I did it! ME! I started writing a blog called Haver Wisdom, where I share my story with a lot of pictures of my fat self. I always give full credit to you, Mark, and your wonderful site, Mark’s Daily Apple, which I still visit daily for tips, inspiration, and support.

4) SuperMark - Halloween 2014I continue to work on my health. I’m now 51 and I went from wearing a size 42 in jeans to a size 34, which are getting a little too baggy as I write this. My wife bought me a fancy blender and now I start my days off with a smoothie made of almond milk, blueberries, and banana. Lunch is a protein shake and a mile walk, and dinner is a salad with meat most days.

All of my depression is gone. All my medications are gone. I feel stronger every day. I work out several times a week, each session for less than twenty minutes, with a kettlebell and dumbbells. I also enjoy my daily long, slow walks and bike rides, when weather and time permit. But, I also bought a wearable fitness monitor, so, even on days when I can’t get one long exercise goal, like a walk or bike ride, I can still make sure I at least get in 10k steps every day, no matter what.

My goal for 2015 is to have fun as I add muscle and firm up, since I still have some loose skin from losing over 100 lbs. Life is great, I feel like I’ll be here long-term for my wife and my family, I have a lot of fun, and I feel I owe a huge thank you to you, Mark, for The Primal Blueprint.

Grok on!!

Mark

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104 thoughts on “Challenging Conventional Thinking Left Me 100 Pounds Lighter and Medication-Free”

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  1. Great story! Congratulations on your journey!
    I’d like to see my stepdad experience something like this…I’m working on him. If he had internet, I’d make him read this, but I guess I can print it out for him to read next time I go home… He asked ME last night about sauteing spinach in EVOO, and he’s the one that taught me how to cook the most growing up. 🙂 I feel like I’m making a little progress with him. He flipped through The Primal Blueprint a month ago when I asked him if he’d like to read it. One step at a time. One conversation at a time.

    1. Yep, my thought was I could help people around me by example, good luck to you as well!

  2. Oh what a great post! Thank you for sharing your story. Also, I’m interested to read about how you got rid of your GERD. I also have a history of it and it’s nice to know that living a primal lifestyle can create a positive “side-effect” of controlling that condition.

    1. Thank you, and regarding the Gurd I was Nexium and other pills but as my weight went down and there was less pressure on my stomach it just slowly healed and I can not remember the last time I felt that dreadful burning.

    2. I had acid reflux, maybe GERD for a few years and as soon as I cut out gluten it went away. If I ever cheat and eat a slice of pizza or something it immediately comes back.

      1. Yep, I have pizza every now and then but the fear of it coming back looms large. Food should not hurt. Glad you were able to beat it!

  3. This is so awesome, great job. Definitely sharing this with a few friends, truly inspiring!

  4. Mark,very impressive job.

    Congrats! I’m assuming that the two photos with the girl is your beautiful daughter. She will have you for a long time now. Grok on.

    1. Thank you, and yes that’s my daughter just as stunning as my wife. I am blessed and thanks to Primal living I’m having a lot of fun!

  5. Mark,

    What a GREAT story! Thank you for sharing – from a fellow St. Louisian who embraces the primal way.

    1. Thank you! we are lucky with all the great parks near us!

  6. WOW! This is a great story. One of the most amazing and bizarre points was about your first weight loss experience — MONEY BACK — if you keep it off, that should be a signal to run! Also loved the pizza and beer while you learned! (It’s milk chocolate and coke for one family member I try to convert). But truly, the most amazing part of the entire story is the before and after pictures with your daughter, brings tears to my eyes.

  7. Love the fit picture with your daughter. So great that it isn’t just how awesome going Primal is for us as individuals, but for everyone around us as well.

    I wish you many happy decades with your family.

  8. Mark, what a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing. I’m awed that you walk 10K steps every day, no matter what. I am trying to get my step count back up there. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

    1. Thank You Sylvia, just this week I passed my Fitbit on to my son who also has some weight to lose. I found out real quick I was not moving enough, but after a year I have it pretty much worked out how far I need to walk. I do all the little tricks like park far away and take the steps etc.. all the best to you!

  9. Great story, Mark. I just lost a friend who was about your age and former weight. I’m so glad you found the Primal Blueprint and took a healthier path.

    One of the really neat things about Primal/Paleo is how quickly one can lose weight and regain health, without being hungry, just by eating the right foods. CW has had people barking up the wrong tree for years, but fortunately word has gotten out. I rarely run into anyone these days who hasn’t at least heard of Paleo. Used to be, whenever we ate out with friends and I bypassed the bread basket and ordered a salad, I would get a peculiar look. Now I’m more likely to get a knowing smile and a nod as they bypass the bread as well.

    1. Sorry for the loss of your friend, I wish I knew about this sooner myself but glad I found the primal way of living. As you know I’m sure it just makes life better.

  10. Wow! That’s awesome. Can’t believe the difference in pictures. That got me pretty fired up.

  11. Wow Mark you’re a superman for sure! I like to show my husband the before and after pictures, he doesn’t read in English, and he is impressed too. Thanx for sharing your story. I sure hope your doctor is convinced of MDA too because of your results? Great story.

    1. Thank you Tanja, yes my doctor was thrilled, all the best to you!

  12. Very inspiring, Mark. I’m a 70-yr-old female, just starting Mark Sisson’s 21-program. I’m looking for better blood test numbers. I’ll check out your blog … love the Clark Kent pose.

    1. Thank you Edith, look forward to seeing your pics as you reach your goal!!

  13. Thanks for sharing your amazing transformation Mark, I love to see how people have “grabbed life by the balls” and built something for themselves. It’s a new year and it’s a time to get things done!

  14. **waves** from the Old Country 😉

    Congratulations, Mark! Great work both on your progress and on never giving up and keeping looking for the answer.

    All the very best for 2015. Hope to join you on the Success Story pages this time next year!

    1. Thank you so much, the thing that surprised me was even when I first started I was feeling so much better everyday. cheers!

  15. Thanks for that motivation for me! I’m 235- 5’9″ and from St. Louis as well. I’m also 55. I hope this year will be the year I get serious and stay the course. I know I could be 190 and 8% BF this year! And you are now my inspiration. Will definitely check your site!

    1. Hey Bob,

      Big thing to consider is spending more time working out with bodyweight or my fav. the kettlebell and build muscle. all the best to you!!

  16. Many thanks Johnfor the great suggestion, also non-developers including me personally should yank this away: )This is actually vital for a new multi-international internet site in relation to SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION.

  17. Inspirational!

    Thank you so much for sharing and wishing you continued good health & happiness.

  18. Never ceases to amaze me how small differences can make huge differences. Another excellent example and kudos to you Mark for changing your life.

    Surely there is a book here somewhere MS – collecting all these case studies and segmenting them into a) weight loss, b) strength gain, c) boosting immune system… Would be a great, practical go-to illustrative guide.

  19. Nice work. Once those sugar cravings and the GERD go away, it’s amazing to think we just accepted that as part of life “before” isn’t it?

    You are setting a great example for your family and for people around you. And you look great too, congratulations.

  20. Mark, I just have to tell you: I am in St. Louis on business right now. Just finished a long day at a conference, and was ready to settle down in my hotel room (with some primal food choices I brought with me to make sure I stuck to eating “my way”) and do my every Friday reading of MDA success stories.

    After reading your story, I was so pumped up and inspired, that I went down to the hotel’s workout room and got in my 10,000 steps plus.

    Thank you for so generously sharing your story, and congratulations on seeing the light that led to your success, and following it. Many years of wellness and joy to you and your family.

    Grok on!

  21. Bravo! You look great. I’m sure your family loves the new and improved YOU.
    ????

    1. Thank you John, I always read this page on Friday myself looking for inspiration!

  22. So I had a blood pressure check at the doctors this week and BP was down. Hooray! But my bold work showed my triglycerides were high. This blood work was done before changing my eating. So she tells me to cut my fat way back. I tell her I’m cutting my carbs and we politely were not agreeing. I had been eating pretty healthy for a white but my carb intake was high. Advice on getting my trigs down? I’m eating more fat not less. Opposite her advice. Very confusing.

    1. Drop the fruit and simple carbs. My mom cut out most fruit save for berries and her triglycerides dropped over 100 points just doing that. Triglycerides are driven in a large part by excess fructose. Fructose is processed in the liver where it’s converted to fat (triglycerides). It’s shocking how many doctors don’t know that. Keep eating the fats and drop the carbs as low as you can realistically do. It will work itself out. However, high carb/high fat is a disaster. I think that’s partly the aversion to fat. Most people would just add fat to a sugar filled diet. But if you swap them out, it works great.

    2. Absolutely, lowering carbs is The key to lowering triglycerides & you can see a dramatic drop after just 8 weeks. (My husband did). His carbs consisted of salads, low carb veggies & fruit was limited to berries only. No starch will help lower trigl. faster & also help with weight loss if that is an issue. Definitely eat healthy fats: Coconut oil, grass / pasture fed butter & cheeses like Kerrygold, cream, avocados & don’t skim the fat from the grass/ pasture fed meats you eat.
      I know It seems so counter-intuitive to eat more (healthy kinds) fat & ditch so called healthy whole grains to improve your blood markers, health & weight. Whenever someone doesn’t believe me, I offer to show them my husband’s blood panel before & after 2 mos. of going primal.

      Mark Creighton: Absolutely Fabulous!!

  23. Oh man I love Friday at Mark’s Daily Apple. Having had my own story appear here this is just so inspiring. Congrats. Mark and Grok On!! I had to go to a doctor’s office the other day for a shoulder injury and had my blood pressure taken. It’s been a few years since starting my primal journey. I became lost trying to find the office. Arriving late and aggravated I thought for sure that my blood pressure would’ve been high. 121/73 Not that long ago my family doctor was concerned with the measurement. I’m still amazed that I can feel this good approaching sixty years of age.

    1. Thanks Tom, working on getting some more muscle this year!

  24. WOW!! Such a tremendous job! I’m glad you are still going strong and not just getting comfortable in your position.

  25. Awesome! As I read your story it reminded me of me. I was 375 and dropped down to 228 a few years ago. I did it by cutting carbs but not being healthy. Once I got to 228 I went back to my old life style. Fast forward to this January and after trying to recapture the ZEN of losing weight I have committed to actually follow all of the research in Paleo Primal I have done and actually follow the Blueprint (bought the book last year and reading it is only half the equation) I also follow the Daily Apple and all of Marks podcasts and Youtube videos. Started at 311 on 1/1/15….I am now 293 and pushing on! Doing the 21 day online challenge along with the book. My failure was setting a defined weight goal and not making a lifestyle change for LIFE.

    1. Good luck to you Herb,

      My plan moving forward is to keep it fun and not beat myself up. Sounds to me like you have it worked out and I expect I will be reading your success story soon.

      Grok on!

  26. Amazing changes! I love how you started with walking and just kept adding things to become more primal over time. I think a lot of people jump in full force and find it’s too overwelming. Your daughter is beautiful, my little daughter is just 2 🙂

    1. Thank you Mary, one of my driving forces is to be in good health and be there for my family. All the best!

  27. Wow Mark-
    What struck me is not only the wonderful story, but the emphasis you put on the joy of it all. Diets are grim. Grok is not grim at all. I went for a long bike ride/hike yesterday, had a picnic at the beach with myself and stopped in at an art show on the way home: totally primal and absolutely delightful. Life is too short not to have it be a pleasure as much as possible.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

    1. Thank you Bella Donna! Made my day reading your post, I keep positive all day long and a picnic on the beach sounds like heaven!! Grok on my friend!!

  28. Another wee email from the ‘auld country’ Mark. Well done. You look great. I have just started within the last few weeks, although I’m doing it a wee bit more sedate than your good self. I decided to cut the carbs, but to do it slowly, starting with the carb that I eat the most and that is bread for me. I didn’t realise just how difficult it is to cut carbs and I’m really glad that I chose to do it slowly. I began at 255 lbs and have so far dropped to 248 lbs, just by not eating bread. By the end of this month, my craving for a sandwich will be gone (it’s more or less there anyway) and I’ll be looking at ditching the next biggest carb in my diet, which is Fries.

    Kind regards from Scotland and have a ‘guid’ New Year!

    1. Thank you Puff,

      My mum said if I lost 100lbs she would buy me a Kilt, the day I went below 100lbs she said “oh bugger !” and ordered my kilt. I get to rock the kilt whenever I can now. Giving up bread was tuff but it made a big difference to me. take a slow and enjoy that each month will be better. Lifting a cup of kindness to you!

      Cheers

  29. Way to go! You look happy and healthy! I live in St. Louis too! When can I come over for some of your Primal Jambalaya?

  30. Well done on your incredible transformation. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story.

  31. What a great story! The pictures alone are enough to inspire me to start this program. Like you, I enjoy riding my bike and walking, even though I have knee issues from my weight. I’m going to follow your sight. Thanks for inspiring me to reach my goal by next April.

  32. Mark,
    Very inspirational. I too have become heavier than I ever thought possible. I have been fortunate that I have always tried to be semi active. But when I hit 295 and to embarrassed to be seen without my shirt off along with my pant size approaching my age I knew I had to do something. Like you I searched and searched and then I discovered the primal message and it has given me hope (and it makes so much sence to me intuitively as well) along with success stories like yours. I am now 275, truely enjoying eating primal and looking forward to the giving the gift of returning to my wife her once fit husband (along with gifting to myself good health on all fronts). One day I will muster the courage to post before and after photos as well. Kudos to you Mark. Well done!
    David.

  33. Thanks. Doing Paleo primal in third month. Incredible glucose normal after 10 years with normal blood pressure. Blood tests results were fantastic. Thanks Paleo Primal.

  34. This one inspired me, primarily because you and I are around the same age. My weight loss demand isn’t as great as yours was, but I have other problems that are the direct result of the a sedentary life full of eating the wrong food. I love your attitude! Thanks, Mark — keep it up!

  35. Lifelong Insulin dependent diabetic. Also had 3x hip replacement and double back fusion. I am currently approx 15 lbs over my ideal weight. How the heck do I loose those extra pounds. I only eat green veges, game protein, eggs and fat free yoghurt. Help what can I do to loose those pounds.

  36. thank you for sharing your progress and admitting it was gradual and not instant gratification. The more we read how other people stick with healthy eating habits the easier it will become for our society to do the same. Cheers to you and your supportive wife as well buying you the blender!