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!
Hi Everyone, my name is Jason. I am 37-years-old. I have a beautiful, brilliant, and ambitious wife, two teenage sons and a 2 1/2-year-old daughter. I am a business executive, entrepreneur, and a life long learner with a master’s degree in management, and not to mention what I consider a pseudo “doctoral degree” in lessons learned the hard way. Driven by my desire to ensure my wife and kids had everything they could ever need or want, not too long ago I changed career fields from not-for-profit to for-profit, moving from social work to the IT world. In three years I went from a consultant position to an executive running the company’s operations. I specialize in engaging people and moving the management systems toward a place of consistency and efficiency while capturing what makes the company tick and not losing that. I am very excited about my work. I enjoy what I do and like that I am able to help the people around me succeed, and as a result they help me.
While an increase in income had its benefits, it also had adverse effects on my health, which ultimately threatened my ability to enjoy the things I worked the hardest to support. Taking on more and more at the rate I did caused me to constantly live in a state of fight or flight. I worked crazy hours to maintain and never felt at rest.
Having children relatively far apart (my sons in my 20s and my daughter not until my middle 30s) had a major impact on my perspective, and was the true driving force in my choice to search for a healthy lifestyle. I needed to be healthy for a long time to come to see my daughter’s future, walking her down the aisle for example, but having two active teenage boys who were heavily involved in sports meant I also needed to be fit right now as well. Working out historically for me involved long, drawn out hours at the gym, and frankly, took away precious time I could have been spending with my family. I eventually sacrificed my highly time consuming exercise routines and focused on being a business executive, an entrepreneur, and a family man. This inevitably lead to a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Once I had my daughter and my activity decreased, it was obvious that the boys took notice, and they openly expressed how much they missed tossing the football and essentially just playing together.
Being heavily involved in sports since an early age, I was never obese, nor did I ever really struggle in a serious way with my weight. Being in shape and exercising was normal for me.
During 2010 – 2012 I was in peak physical condition, with a lifting routine coupled with biking or running on alternating days. I rarely took a day off, abiding to the ‘no pain no gain’ mindset, and really pushed my body to the limit. My diet consisted of steamed rice, veggies, chicken or fish, and some nuts. I would drink only water, coffee and the occasional ‘light’ beer. As a lover of a good local micro brew from time to time, this was rough. While I saw muscles in the mirror and could run for quite a distance, the LGN factor as Mark calls it, I felt aches and pains all the time. I even ended up with a kidney stone, which was probably the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I really wasn’t even enjoying this ‘healthy lifestyle’! What’s there to enjoy about a bland, boring diet, hours at the gym, and super expensive supplements, to just feel rather mediocre at the end of it all.
As you can probably guess, I became rather burned out, eventually giving up my rigorous exercise routine and transitioned back to the SAD. I put on a little weight, but nothing shocking, so I didn’t worry. Around 2015 I truthfully stopped working out all together. It didn’t help that when my wife became pregnant in 2016, pizza was all she could tolerate with her severe morning sickness, and I allowed myself to eat as many pepperoni slices as she did.
I began to notice my mental performance and overall energy levels were low. I was increasingly irritable and found it hard to be patient. I was feeling sick all the time with what seemed to be cold like symptoms. I felt just so heavy and not as physically capable as I once was. At one point I was in the shower and lost consciousness and my wife found me lying down. I was not sure what caused this, but it was very scary and definitely a symptom of declining health. I had a very serious infection that ultimately ended up causing vertigo. After a trip to an urgent care to be checked out, he promptly sent me to the ER for a full work-up due to my family history of stroke and heart disease in conjunction with the scary symptoms I was experiencing. To top it all off, Sophia was born in 2016 and it finally hit me—I had three kids who were all going to need me to be around for a long time. I had gone from 170 lbs to 207 lbs. It was time for a change. Enough was enough.
My wife started a journey of weight loss and self discovery after delivering, and began to research paleo and primal lifestyles. She purchased a copy of The Primal Blueprint, and though I was familiar with Mark’s Daily Apple, I had never really engaged. I picked it up and read it along with another favorite of mine, Dr. Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. I took the next few years doing my own research and fully digesting what it all meant. Watching my wife begin this journey, sampling some of her food, and seeing her energy levels increase along with her overall health improvement, in July of 2018, I decided to dust off our copy of The Primal Blueprint and try the 21-Day Total Body Transformation.
As mentioned earlier, I do have a family history of heart conditions and stroke, so I knew genetics were at play. Knowing what I had read about ancestral health and what Mark refers to as gene expression, I was skeptical that I couldn’t control these systems and even reverse some of them through just eating and living primally.
I chose to dive in to commit. I really engaged in the primal way of eating and I was amazed at my general overall improved health and well being. I almost immediately experienced mental clarity. Tasks that used to overwhelm and frustrate me due to brain fog became trivial and easy to think through. Being fat adapted was key and in a week in I noticed a definite change in my demand for food, especially in the morning. I would start the day with coffee with heavy cream or occasionally a rendition of “Bullet Proof” coffee, and this could take me until 1 p.m. At that point, I would feel a dull signal to eat when possible, but not the crashing hunger or a brain meltdown like I used to have when I was a sugar burner. Being free from the all consuming demand to eat with out of control blood sugar levels and insulin spikes is amazing—I feel like the machine is humming the way it should and I do take comfort in that.
The biggest thing for me in all of this is just once again being able to enjoy life. When I was at my least fit and most unhealthy, my sons commented on missing the days dad was ‘a beast’ or ‘like a super hero’. This hit me hard. I remembered the times I would be climbing the trees in the park with them and how I was able to keep up and not get winded, often getting social media shout-outs from teenage boys on how ‘the old man can keep up!’ I took on more and more professional responsibility and left myself, health, and most importantly what it felt like to just live a thing of the past.
Mark speaks to the idea of incorporating natural movement into your routine every day. I bought a kid carrier for my mountain bike to pull Sophia. She loves it and my wife joins us as well! I converted my garage into a workout area and invested in some padded floor squares. My son, the wrestler, and my wife, the Martial Artist, especially love this addition. I use this space for my essential movements, lifting heavy and other fitness experiments I find at MDA. I hooked up a sound system for extra motivation during tough workouts, and my daughter particularly loves dancing to Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones, so everyone wins. I have always enjoyed photography, so I invested in a professional grade camera and now go on nature hikes, scavenging for local flowers and other beautiful wildlife I can catch in the moment. I usually carry a heavy weighted rucksack for added resistance. I now press the record button and chose to watch television shows later in the evening after I have completed a long, challenging but gentle walk, leaving my phone and other distracting devices behind. Being able to disconnect has ironically helped me stay clear minded and level headed during working hours when I need to be connected. I read books, prep meals, and engage in activities that relax and rest my mind, while also challenging it. Speaking of meal prep, I absolutely love the avocado based dressings and Primal Fuel with the Grass-fed Collagen is awesome post workout. Incorporating movement and my newfound healthy lifestyle into my daily rituals and allowing it to also touch my wife and children’s lives is a priceless investment for all of us for years to come.
In the end, once I was able to get over my own analysis paralysis, and simply follow the primal principles, things fell into place. Mark’s references all the time to living 80/20 and really engaging in the rich experience of the journey has made it easy. I feel unstoppable, like I can take on anything life throws my way.
After recently listening to a Primal Blueprint Podcast in which Mark introduces his mantra of ‘Living Awesome!’, it resonated with me, and I truly feel like I am able to live awesome for my family and for my personal and professional goals. This lifestyle has allowed me to be a better husband, father, colleague and have so much more to give in lifting them up in their own goals and life dreams.
Mark’s Primal Blueprint has given myself and many others a second chance at achieving the best versions of ourselves, and it is something that should be shared. I am truly excited to use my newfound health coupled with my business, operational, leadership, and executive skills, with inspiration from the Primal Mission, to inspire others to live their best lives as well. Thank you Mark!
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.