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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March 11 2011

Four Christmases

By Guest
109 Comments

In 2007 Paul weighed 300 pounds. Today… well you’ll just have to read his story.

If you have your own Primal Blueprint success story and you’d like to share it with me and the MDA community please feel free to contact me here. Have a wonderful Friday, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Mark,

I am a 26 year old software developer and I have been a mixture of paleo and Primal for approximately two years now. When I first decided to lose weight, I was sitting at around 295 – 300 pounds. As I went through college my entire life consisted of sitting in front of computers and the TV playing video games and watching movies. I felt like a slob and I lived like a slob. While I was generally a happy person I always felt like I was doing myself a disservice. I wanted to become more involved with people, I wanted to become more involved with the opposite sex, and I wanted people to start taking me more seriously. Unfortunately, a mixture of World of Warcraft, a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew, and a horrible social anxiety caused by my weight and general appearance made these things very difficult to do.

One day, after eating an entire container of Walmart potato salad I contracted a horrible case of food poisoning. After three days of horrible sickness, I turned out to be 15 pounds lighter. I had also passed out at some point and face planted onto my tile floor and shattered my glasses. When I saw myself in the mirror without the glasses and with a slightly thinner waistline, I made up my mind right there that I would fix myself and become a member of society again. I immediately jumped onto the whole-grain wagon and started eating oatmeal by the boat load, whole grain bagels every morning, fiber crackers with lunch, and every other classic conventional wisdom food you could imagine. A few months into this lifestyle I developed a crippling case of diverticulitis that resulted in having a foot of my colon surgically removed at the age of 24.

I continued to eat the way I had been as I just did not know any better, but I did join a CrossFit gym and started attending the sessions regularly. I was so horribly out of shape and was completely humbled and embarrassed to see myself next to the hard bodied and sexy machines training all around me.  I used them as inspiration to keep pushing myself harder. Over the first month of attendance I was constantly bombarded with the paleo diet and then the Primal [Blueprint] diet.  It seemed like all the best athletes at the box followed these diets and if it worked so well for them I knew it would work for me too! I then read your book, The Primal Blueprint, and Cordain’s book and finally saw how my low-fat, high-carb diet was killing me. My diverticulitis, I believe, was a direct result of my attempts at eating “healthy” whole grains.

I jumped feet first into 100% paleo and then Primal and I have not looked back ever since. The first two months that I went Primal my weight plummeted from 300lbs to 250. Everyone around me was amazed. A couple more months in and my weight had dropped to around 215. CrossFit had built me some muscles and endurance, and I was feeling the best I ever had in my life. People were paying me attention and girls didn’t look the other way when I walked into a room. I felt like I was finally becoming a person I could be happy with.

I continued to train and dial my diet in and over the course of a year and few months I had reached my goal of 150 pounds. At this point in my life, due to my new looks and self confidence I was able to begin making friends and getting over my social hangups. I really started to enjoy life and knowing that I could go out and actually do things in the fresh air and in public. I began to focus on building strength and really transforming myself into an athlete who could compete in a competition and not be ashamed. Everything about me was becoming something I could be proud of.

By switching to the Primal [Blueprint] diet and following a good fitness plan, I turned myself into a powerful, lean, and self-satisfied person. I now also train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have more friends than I’ve ever had in my life. If it wasn’t for your book and website with its amazing forums to keep me on track and answer my questions, I do not believe I would have ever reached where I am now especially as quickly as I did. All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart to both you and the amazing forum members who helped me get here.

Here is a picture of me from Christmas of 2007 through each consecutive Christmas up until this past one.

Paul

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109 thoughts on “Four Christmases”

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  1. Paul, the same thing happened to me. I was a big fan of whole wheat and fiber. My first diverticulitis attack was in my 20s, the second was in my 40s. Lucky for me I didn’t see a doctor after the first one, but I did for the second.

    My doctors told me to eat more fiber, so I did, got sicker, and wound up having surgery.

    http://yelling-stop.blogspot.com/2010/08/diverticulitis-my-story.html

    I can now reproduce my diverticulitis symptoms at will by eating wheat.

    The Primal way of eating is without a doubt the way to go.

    1. Wow, what a story. My grandmother was just diagnosed with diverticulitis and when I told her to eat Primal, she thought I was crazy. Her doctor told her to eat whole grains for high fiber. Maybe your story will convince her I’m right!

      1. Epic fail on multiple levels by your doc…
        #1 is not knowing the difference between water soluble and insoluble fiber (water insoluble will damage your intestines, just like water insoluble solids will damage a hydraulic pump),
        #2 is suggesting fiber that could feed colon bacteria and lead to more damage/infection,
        #3 is thinking fiber is anything but near-useless,
        #4 is being so nutritionally retarded your doc is a prime example of the dunning-krueger effect…

    2. My sister was told to do the same thing by her doctor. My sister is smart. She saw how ridiculous this idea was and cut out the grains from her diet on her own. Then she received confirmation from reading The Primal Blueprint. She’s had very few problems since.

  2. Awesome transformation!! Congratulations on all your hard work and discipline paying off.

  3. Damn, of course the ladies don’t look away! Congrats and you look amaaaaazing!

  4. Go Rivvin! Your progress is inspiring and you are a great asset to the forum here.

  5. Yeah, it’s pretty incredible what motivation and the RIGHT information will do for you. Inspiring.

  6. Absolutely amazing Paul! In each picture, you like a different person!!! Keep up the good work.

  7. I like the photo progression:

    2007: Obese
    2008: Pudgy
    2009: Skinny
    2010: Muscular

    Great job!! 50 lbs in 2 months? Awesome! I myself lost 35 lbs in 3 months (208 down to 173) and people were shocked as well. Especially since I wasn’t even working out, just eating right.

    What I find strange about the general public is that they see results like this and are still skeptical. Oh well, our gain… their loss. 🙂

  8. Great job Paul very inspiring. I swear World of Warcraft should be labelled an addictive health hazard lol. I had a harder time quiting that than I had quiting smoking.

  9. I LOVE these stories every week. I love seeing people take back their life and make it the way they always hoped to be. We all have that power in every aspect of our lives…

    Awesome.

  10. Love these inspirational stories.

    Your story will inspire many more to take your path. Congrats.

  11. Thanks for all the kind words, it is a bit of an odd feeling seeing my story up there but if I can convince just one more WoW player to step back and look at their health than I’d be happy!

    1. This is so crazy. Earlier today I had remembered about a PWO meal/snack that you had mentioned involving sweet potatoe and cinnamon (I believe). I wasn’t going to start looking through all the forum posts to find it so I made a mental note to PM you in the forums later and ask about the recipe. And as I come to the front page of MDA, there you are. Good job on your transformation bro!

  12. Outstanding job! Now you’re the inspiration and after all that, you got that Matt Damon thing going for you too. Yehaw!

  13. Congrats Paul – no tears from me mate – just a big grin. You do truly look like a different guy. Awesome!

  14. Amazing. An absolute inspiration. I’m also glad your humor has remained intact, your forum posts are must-reads.

    1. Haha thanks, I appreciate that. I unfortunately got lazy while I’ve been down for ACL surgery so I need to get off the lazy-train and come up with some new material soon I think. 🙂

  15. Paul is HOT! Congrats!

    I just love these weekly success stories, keep ’em coming!!

  16. You don’t even look like the same person! Way to go. What an inspiration!

  17. Wow – impressive transformation indeed! The 2010 pic doesn’t even look like the same person

  18. Well done and amazing work, Paul! Your new physique is enviable.

    From one ex-WoW-junkie to another, I know what a dramatic change it is to go primal. But I also suspect that our dearly departed hobby prepared us in some key respects for the primal journey: sharpening our analytical skills to trace the connections between environment and health; honing our competitive urges to match and exceed the accomplishments of others; and most importantly, teaching us that life’s most epic achievements aren’t won in a day, but are ground out one tiny unit at a time with relentless dedication to a long-term goal.

    You make me proud to walk a similar path. Grok on, my brother!

  19. Also a recovering WoW addict. Also down 40 pounds (took longer cause I wasn’t as gung-ho and gradually cut things out) on a paleo/primal diet.

    Losing that much weight (I was 350 years ago and now down to 215) is like wearing a disguise. Keep up the work!

    1. … I thought you and Matt were talking about Workout of the Week for a minute there. I am proud that I figured it out! Haha.

      So you went from WoW to WOW (workout of the week) and ended up wowing. Nice.

  20. Nice work! The 100lb transformations are always amazing. One can only wonder how much better you feel every day of your life now.

  21. A ‘video game playing slob’ has revealed he really was a HOTTIE!!!
    Congrats on the amazing transformation!
    Isn’t it great to FEEL GOOD on the inside. 🙂

  22. I love Fridays.

    I also love a story that shows that even though it may take a while for the weight to come off, it will come off eventually and stay off!

    P.S. What a cutie!! ;D

  23. Holy cow! I wouldn’t even think you are the same person! Congrats to you!

  24. Amazing story…. and a very handsome man! Keep up the great work!

  25. I love seeing comments from other WoW players on here, maybe Mark needs to add that as a marketing angle for his next book.

    “Tired of sitting alone in your basement? Read my book to see how bacon can fix that!”

  26. “Everything about me was becoming something I could be proud of.”

    Nice!

  27. Also, good to hear that Paleo is owning up the gym crowd. It is hard to argue with results, after all…

  28. I’m a recovering WoW addict too! I never got obese or anything, but I went from 125lbs to 155lbs (I’m 5’9″) within the 5 almost 6 years I played that game. I quit just before this latest expansion came out. It got to the point where I became too disgusted and literally sick when I looked at the screen. People’s voices on ventrilo annoyed me, standing in Dalaran jumping in circles or doing the same stupid daily quests every single day, having to have gold to raid, blah blah blah…. That’s when I knew I couldnt play anymore. I dropped 10lbs within a month of not playing because all I did was walk my dog every afternoon by the creek instead. Something that simple. Then I dropped another 10 lbs with primal diet. Then I got pregnant so now I can’t really do anything til I’m done – 10 days til im due! HURRY UP BABY!!!

  29. Amazing story Paul! Way to go man! This site, this lifestyle and everyone involved is such an inspiration to me as i’m just 2 1/2 months in. Congrats and thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Haha I didn’t expect that video to show up here. Its my primal opus.

  30. I love these stories, they always inspire me to continue on (or get back on track). =P

  31. I am someone that has recently began the primal thing. You have given me some great news that this process is all worth it. Thank you for your story!

  32. Go Rivvin! Even before getting to the pictures, I knew it was you from the story. Great transformation! I only wish you (and all of us) had found this way of life before you needed surgery…

  33. The guy in the background of your 2009 (your brother?) photo looks like the same guy as the 2007 before picture. Out of curiousity, has that the brother tried this lifestyle yet?

    1. That is actually my twin brother! While he is still very overweight he is slowly becoming more interested in a healthier diet.

      My goal is to one day have him do crossfit with me and be able to keep up. It would seriously be the greatest thing ever for me.

      1. Neat! You definitely look like twins. I bet he will get onboard soon, you have to inspire him so much!

  34. Wow is an understatement. You look great and what a wonderful story!
    Knowing how to treat your body and being able to do this with ease means you will be able to keep those unwanted pounds off for as long as you desire.
    Nothing like being able to have control over your health, and weight.Keep up the good work handsome.

  35. Once upon a time, there was a tub of Walmart potato salad…. 😀
    Awesome job, especially overcoming that social anxiety!

  36. Paul, you are a hottie! And CrossFit didn’t give you those muscles, you earned them. (I’m a level 2 CF instructor, I know!)

  37. Nice, Paul! You had an awesome drive and when you find the key to unlocking your perfect healthy you were unstoppable! Way to go! I hope your new found energy paves the way for more love and fun!

  38. You’re a weight loss/muscle building warlock. You Leroy Jenkins that journey!

  39. Awesome job Paul! I found your story about diverticulitis and some of the other commenters interesting. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis last summer, a few months before I ditched the conventional wisdom. The doctor asked me if I ate “enough fiber” and was incredulous when I responded that I was eating tons of fiber. And I was–big heaping bowls of oatmeal, whole grain bread, tons of veggies and nuts. And yet here I was with a torn up gut. I just lived on juice, broth and yogurt for a week and fortunately it resolved without me needing a gut resection. But obviously not everyone is so lucky, and the advice to eat more and more fiber (especially our favorite–the grains) is probably causing the problem to begin with.

    Anyway, again, amazing transformation.

  40. Dude! Hot!! Thanks for sharing your fabulous journey.

  41. All these replies, and not one mention of sauerkraut?

    Awesome job, Rivvin, and you’re also a wonderful, hilarious writer.

    1. Fortunately I doubt the sauerkraut experience will ever hit the front page of MDA… whew! 🙂

  42. Awesome! What a great story! So many people in the position you were in feel trapped and see no way out. I am so happy you found it!

  43. I swear the guy in the back of 2009 is the guy in the original picture, lol

  44. That’s how he lost the weight! He took it all and made another person! Great detective work Dustin!

  45. WOW! I’m thinking the next time doppleganger week comes around on Facebook you need to stick a Mark Wahlberg picture on your wall. You look fantastic!

  46. What a happy story,Paul,actually brought tears to my eyes! There are so many people out there who could have a more fulfilled life if they were just eating right.

  47. you do look like Matt Damon (in his slimmer years)!! congratulations!!

  48. Paul, yeah!! What a great, inspirational story. And what a good looking guy!

  49. Holy hell man! What a transformation! Your story screams “You have no ****ing excuse. Get off your ass.” I think you definitely will convince at least a few people to unglue their face from the computers/TVs

  50. Congratulations!

    You don’t even look like the same guy – and you look fantastic now! 🙂

  51. Another ex-WoWhead here, best thing I ever quit! I had a great time with it, but I have an even better time being out and about and actually DOING things. I confess, every time I start something hard, I think “Ok, I’m level 1″… DING. Get better. Ding! Get better at it. Ding!

    You look fantastic, and are an inspiration. The best part, is you’re now a buff hottie with that inner core of geeky goodness, and sense of humour only a true ‘net junkie has 😀

  52. Thanks for your inspirational story Tim, I’m going to forward this to my daughters as further proof that eating plants and animals with a bit of primal exercise is so worth the minimal effort. 😉

    They keep telling me I’m a bit wack, but I’m down from 226 to 211 simply by moving to primal with my food choices.

    Thanks for your encouraging words, and for more fodder for my daughters.

  53. +1 for BJJ. Good to know there’s another Primal Blueprinter who trains.

  54. Holly COW! What a great journey.
    I actually think you kind of look like Marky Mark..uhm…sorry, Mark Wahlberg now with your big arms and all:) Nicely done!

  55. Paul, You look incredible! Keep up the good work and thank you for being such an inspiration.

  56. Congrats on your well-earned success Paul. You look wonderful, but even more I am happy to hear that your mental space is less cluttered with self-defeating chatter. You’ll be a champion from this point forward in your life.

  57. I know I’m quite late to this thread, but had to chime in. I’m really happy to hear that Paul and several commenters with diverticulosis have found success with the Primal Blueprint. I’m hoping this lifestyle will make a huge difference for me and my husband (who happens to have diverticulosis). I’ve seen lots of reference to the “eat lots of whole grains” recommendation, but a couple of my husband’s doctors also told him to strictly avoid nuts and seeds. I’ve read that there’s a decent amount of controversy over that recommendation, but to err on the side of caution, he’d avoided them until we began our Primal journey this week.

    With a couple of flare ups still in recent memory, the thought of him eating nuts when strictly warned against them makes both of us a little nervous. Of course, I know that it may just be more CW that we need to look past. Can anyone with diverticulosis weigh in on the real risk/consequence of adding in more nuts to his diet? He’d of course be making all the other adjustments like more fat, protein, fewer carbs, and no sugar/junk/processed stuff. Have you been eating nuts with no issues, or do you avoid them (and let your fat and protein come from meat and dairy sources)?

    Thank you so much, Paul, for sharing your impressive and inspiring story!

    1. I don’t have div but I have Crohn’s Disease… Eating fiber to improve health is an idea completely devoid of sanity.
      Try to eat as near as zero fiber as possible… at first your gut may need to adapt but as long as you’ve got healthy bacteria that can actually digest the food you’re eating you’ll be fine. I’ll copy and paste a reply I made further back about a doctor recommending fiber:

      [i]Epic fail on multiple levels by your doc…
      #1 is not knowing the difference between water soluble and insoluble fiber (water insoluble will damage your intestines, just like water insoluble solids will damage a hydraulic pump),
      #2 is suggesting fiber that could feed colon bacteria and lead to more damage/infection,
      #3 is thinking fiber is anything but near-useless,
      #4 is being so nutritionally retarded your doc is a prime example of the dunning-krueger effect…[/i]

      1. In theory you can eat nuts if you calculate the Omega-6 content and add in Omega-3 to keep a 1:1 – 1:6 ratio, and avoid the fibery ones (all nuts have water-insoluble fiber) or eat them with large meals so the fiber won’t press against and damage your colon as much – the less fiber grams you eat compared to the total grams of food you eat, the less damage you’ll cause… at least in my experience… (good idea to treat nuts as a side-dish treat anyways)

        What you’d need is a good method of determining direct feedback from the foods you eat. With my autoimmune disorder my gut will tell me if I ate too much fiber or too much of a certain food it doesn’t like. But it’s not 100% accurate as the healthier it is the more punishment it can withstand.

        1. Wait…. if even CW docs are warning you against nuts why would you even want to eat them?! They’re barely even primal/paleo as they still have anti-nutrients (white potatoes are more paleo and healthier than nuts imo, so is white rice & baked beans, relatively speaking). It’s already hard to find nuts that won’t promote advanced aging from the high polyunsaturated fatty acid content (and if oxidized PUFAs don’t bother you perhaps the insane amounts of Omega-6 in some of them will)

          I used to love nuts. I stopped eating them. Now, I might go back to eating some as dessert, but I might not; I don’t miss them that much.

  58. Dude, I had been diagnosed with diverticulitis back in March and had to have a foot of my colon taken out. Just decided to go primal last month after my brother started over the summer and kept nagging me about it. This story definitely gives me hope that I can get rid of that disease with this diet.