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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February 25 2019

Falling Off the Mountain and Climbing Back Up

By Mark Sisson
13 Comments

It’s Monday, 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 Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My primal story all started while hiking one day back in 2009. Hiking has always been more than exercise for me. It has always been a place to clear my thoughts and think of new ideas. On a late summer day when hiking one of my favorite trails, I asked myself the question. “What would I eat if I lived out here?” I took a mental inventory: pine nuts, rabbits, chipmunks, some berries, and a deer if I was lucky. I started thinking that nothing out in the wild really represented anything I would find at my local store. I would have a hard time finding rabbit and chipmunks at the Mega-Mart, if you know what I mean.

This idea sparked my interest so much I went home and started searching everything online I could find on wild human diets etc. and eventually landed on Mark’s Daily Apple. I was hooked from the first words I read. (I eventually read all of Mark’s books too). I was all in from that day forward. I told my wife I finally figured it out, she said “what” I said “everything” and I told everyone. It all became so clear to me. Not just the diet but the lifestyle in general. It seemed the Primal Blueprint answered all of the problems of modern living.

I started cleaning out the pantry, went grocery shopping, and the next day and started my new life. It was really that easy to be honest. I had a bit of a headache and a few cravings here and there, but after that it was smooth sailing.

At the time I weighed 210 lbs on a large 6’1” frame and thought I was in good health. I hit 185 lbs after the first six months of my life altering experience, and maintained 175 to 185 it for 3 years. I was down 25 lbs, and never felt better. I was hiking about 40 miles a week things were great. All my blood markers were good, my blood pressure was low, and resting heart rate was under 50 bpm. I felt on top of the world, I was invincible.

I maintained the Grok lifestyle until 2012, and then things took a turn. I changed jobs, and moved to Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong—Hawaii was great, but the stress of being so far from family, and the hustle and bustle of a million people on one little island started taking its toll. All the great new foods didn’t help either. Who can’t resist a piece of Haupia Pie now and then? I still followed the primal eating principles for the most part probably 75/25. However things were changing for sure. I started drinking more beer and eating less than ideal (this is not the best way to handle stress). I gained most of the weight back and then some over the next three years.

While living in Hawaii we had a few deaths in the family (this was the breaking point really). So my wife and I decided to move back to the Mainland. The job search was on and I ended up taking a position for a company in the same town we lived before. Sounded great, ended up the worst decision I ever made. The job was a terrible fit, high stress, and I never took so many trips to the HR office in my entire life. To compensate for the stress, I started drinking more (if that was even possible), and eating polar opposite of the Primal Diet—SAD. I also quit hiking. Life was going downhill fast.

I finally hit rock bottom (so I thought). It was late 2015. I had fell off the Primal Wagon and bounced three times. I started having issue with heart palpitations to the point where I would almost pass out. I went to the doctor to get things checked out. The diagnosis was not good. I was up to 233 lbs, had too much bad cholesterol, triglycerides sitting at 180, borderline hypertensive, and well on my way to being a type II diabetic. The good thing through all of this, I was never prescribed any medications, and my echocardiogram looked good.

In the spring of 2016 after a year and a half of pure hell, I quit that horrifying job without notice. The good news, the heart palpitations went away almost the next day, and I slept better than I have for a few years. I started hiking again off and on but I would get a lot of pain in my legs and hips. The bad news, I was drinking even more beer.

Unemployment was not treating me well and I was in a really dark place. Death was not out of the question and an option for me. After 6 months of beer drinking and unemployment I blimped out to 245 POUNDS. I was fat, had leg and joint pain and just wasn’t there mentally. I was afraid to go to the doctor and get things checked out. I really thought the end was near. Then the end of 2016 I interviewed for a great job at a good company and got it. The position started in January 2017. I’m just grateful a good company took a chance on a fat unemployed alcoholic.

I have to admit from 2015 through 2016 had a tremendous negative effect on my family. I don’t wish it on anyone. My wife and kids stood by my side however and supported me, I love them. If not for their support, understanding, and love the difficult times would have been unsurmountable.

2017 was a big year of change, I turned 50, and started getting my head back on straight. I fell off the top of the mountain and needed to start climbing back up. I knew that I needed to make some big lifestyle changes to make the summit. I wanted to be there for my wife, kids, myself, and future grandkids well into my 80s. The first thing I did was quit drinking, cold turkey August 1st 2017. After 25 years of drinking this was one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken. After I went through that, I figure I can make it through anything!!

After I beating the drinking problem, wanted to start back down the Primal Path. It was difficult at first. I attempted and failed a few times through 2018. Slowly but surely I got back on track. January 7th 2019 I was full on following the Primal Blueprint again. I started with The Keto Reset for the first month and it worked great. I now practice intermittent fasting a few times per week as well. I keep my carb intake around 50 grams per day now. I started at 244 lbs and now I’m down to 220 as of February 18th 2019. My target weight is probably 175 to 180 (this is where I feel best). I’m back on track to hardcore hiking too.

My first grandchild will be born this year and I can’t wait to teach him or her how to live like a Grok Child (payback for my daughter’s teen years). I have also enrolled in the Primal Health Coach Institute, I’m just over 30% complete. I plan on coaching, and helping people for the next 25 years or more. I first need to pass the comprehensive and challenging course however. The Primal Blueprint was great for me the first time. The second time is personal, and I never plan on looking back. I am looking forward to living a happy healthy life well into the future.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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13 thoughts on “Falling Off the Mountain and Climbing Back Up”

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  1. Dude I can’t tell you just how MUCH this 48 yr old male can relate to your story. What an inspiration you are!

  2. I can relate too. I’m 53, male, and about 40% finished with the Primal Health Coach Program, and beer always has been and continues to be the big stumbling block for me.

  3. Nice job! Welcome back.
    While you cant change the past, the future looks great.

  4. Great job! Never give up.
    Falling off the mammoth is not the problem, not climbing back on is 🙂

  5. Wow what a journey. Thanks for sharing this; timely for me as I’ve started to slip off the Primal wagon a bit too lately (doesn’t help when your wife makes incredible homemade sourdough bread). Good on you for fighting through the dark times and getting back to the light.

  6. Thank you for sharing! Stress is such an important factor often overlooked or minimized. I’m seeing more and more people mention stress in posts like this lately. I’ve been struggling since 2016 to get back on track! Thank you for the timely inspiration. Good job! Keep moving forward!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this! Having fallen off quite a few mountains in my time, I appreciate a good “getting back up” story more than any other kind. Best to you.

  8. So happy for Mark that he is doing well, but as I read his story I realize it wasn’t about the food as much as the emotions he was experiencing. I have been up that mountain more than once and diets don’t work for me, for long, and then I feel like a failure because I eventually can’t stick to the “plan”. It’s about not using food for fuel and using it to soothe or stuff emotions. The plan may be great but some who are overweight may have an eating disorder and a diet won’t fix that. I love the story, it really is a hero’s story because I know how hard it is.

  9. Have been having to remind myself tale of Sysiphus and his rock. Oh how far I’ve let the rock fall back.

  10. Congratulations on your difficult trip back to a healthier place! It sounds as if you have discovered – as I did – that a healthy lifestyle and diet will help you to handle stress. Falling off the wagon just makes everything worse.
    Welcome back!

  11. That is a AWESOME story, so much to relate to!

    I’m excited for you!

    Pete