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...Tell Me More
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!
My weight struggles began when I was in my early 20’s. I was 183 cm tall and weighed in at about 110 kgs, and didn’t feel at all good about that. I felt worse when I overheard friends comment on the excess weight I carried. I decided to do something about it and went on a severely reduced calorie diet. Living on lettuce leaves (literally) by mid-1983; I weighed considerably less and ran a marathon to celebrate.
That year I changed careers and joined New Zealand Police as a constable. I was 78 kg when I went to the Royal New Zealand Police College. I was 27, and was second top fitness in my recruit wing of 43 people.
We have a Physical Competency Test (PCT) in New Zealand Police. This involves pushing a trailer 15 metres, carrying a wheel assembly 15 metres, a 200 metre sprint, hurdles (over and under), balancing beam, ‘window’ to climb through, a seven foot wall and an eight foot fence. I was always a top performer until about 10 years ago, but not because of maintained times, more because the required performance is age related (you get more time the older you are).
Every second year we are required to undergo a Physical Health Analysis Test (PHAT); based around body fat level and weight primarily. My records show that, like most that lose weight by reduced calories, I steadily regained weight. In April 1986 I weighed 78.4 kg with 13.4% body fat. It was all downhill from there! By August 1986 I weighed 86 kg, with 15% body fat. By May 1994 I weighed 92 kg and had 20% body fat. By 2000 I was back to where I started in terms of weight: 110 kg.
I tried to lose weight during 2012, managing to drop back to 107, then to 102.3 kg (see photo below). I didn’t feel great about being this size.
I didn’t have any real health problems as such, probably because of good genes (both parents are in their 80’s and in good health) and basically because I did keep fit. I was running two to three half marathons a year until about 2000. From 2009 on, arthritis in my right hip affected mobility.
I have been a Commissioned Officer at the rank of Inspector since 1998 and as such was not required to do the PCT. However the Commissioner of Police ruled in late 2012 that no member of Police could be deployed operationally (to events like the Christchurch earthquake) unless they held a current PCT.
Come 27 March 2013 I decided to do the PCT. I was way above time (by 22 seconds) and at one point fell. It was embarrassing to say the least, almost shameful.
This, combined with the pep talk my doctor gave me at my February 2013 checkup (“You are killing yourself”), was also life changing.
The Physical Training Instructor gave me a copy of Allan Carr’s book Lose Weight Now. It changed my whole attitude to food, but not wanting to go vegetarian I looked for an alternative. The answer was in the paleo food movement, and The Primal Blueprint especially. Why The Primal Blueprint and MDA? Because they outline a lifestyle, not a diet, and I wanted a new lifestyle that included diet. I subscribe to MDA and follow it avidly. Of I was looking for two words: ‘sensible’ and ‘works.’
On 2 April 2013 I went Primal/paleo.
I chucked my doctor’s advice to “eat less fat and more whole grain!” Now knowing that doesn’t work.
I lost weight quickly; by June I was 92.6 kg (waist 101 cm, hips 101 cm, chest 113 cm). The lowest I went was at the end of November 2013: 89.3 kg (waist 97.5 cm, hips 99 cm, chest 108.5 cm). But I had just had a hip replacement and was basically doing no activity. By Christmas I was back exercising, just like The Primal Blueprint recommends (lots of walking, some heavy lifting, a bit of biking, and recently, I started sprinting on a cross training machine). As I exercised, I increased weight and have stabilised at about 91.3 – 92.3 kg (waist 99 cm, hips 99 cm, chest 111 cm). My eating hasn’t changed, so I put the kilo or so added down to the increased muscle mass in my right leg following the hip replacement and exercise programme: the muscles in that leg are now noticeably bigger and more defined. I am the same weight I was 20 years ago.
My blood tests tell an amazing story. I have a routine checkup every February. It’s all improved!
Going primal has been life changing for me. I am about 95%: I’ve had about 3 croissants, a couple of muffins and a couple of slices of genuine sourdough bread, and a couple of gluten free Easter buns over the twelve months. I’ll have the occasional ice cream, iced coffee or smoothie, or slice of gluten free cake. I have no trouble following the lifestyle; I embrace it.
One reason is this: lots of grass-fed livestock – quality food at a good price.
So what’s the Primal lifestyle done for me?
I have yet to do the PCT – I’ll hold that until one year after the hip replacement. However, having been a bushman and hunter for 30 years, on 22 April 2014 I got out into the bush for the first time in 14 months. The photo below shows me visiting a stationary boiler used for log hauling in the 1930s (Tararua Forest Park, New Zealand). About 1.5 hours from the road end, a major river to cross, generally off trail. Wearing my aqua five fingers. It’s great to be back.
Go the Primal lifestyle!!!
Paraparmumu, New Zealand