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!
A lot of us work hard most of our life so that we can enjoy our retirement and do all the things we never had time to do when we were younger and worked long hours for little pay. The problem with that, however, is being old can pretty much suck especially with all the chronic disease that is so prevalent in Western society. Being overweight, poor digestion, fatigue and joint pain are symptoms that I am very familiar with and are just part of the aging process……or at least that’s what I used to think. They certainly create major impediments to living an active lifestyle and enjoying life.
I always loved competitive sports growing up especially baseball and football. Although good enough to make the high school teams, I was mediocre at best, but it was still a great experience which I will always treasure. It taught me many valuable lessons which proved critical to me later in life. I also spent 2-3 years of 5 days a week of “home” weight lifting in my basement and then best friend’s root cellar. We had no idea what we were doing but worked hard an hour or two most days and were very competitive. I became quite strong for a wimp weighing 142 pounds (benched 295) but never could put on any bulk. My friend on the other hand bulked up to about 180, left me in the dust, and continues to lift to this day.
So as an adult I took up tennis to get my competitive fix; thinking I could play the rest of my life. When I retired at 60 I was looking forward to playing tennis five days a week and working out at the gym; which I did for a couple years. Then I developed joint issues requiring surgery for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and again for carpal tunnel syndrome. While preparing for surgery I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. After the surgeries I quit playing singles and focused on doubles as I was having too many cramping issues probably tied to the statin drugs I was taking for high cholesterol; as heart disease runs in my family. The thyroid medications probably didn’t help either.
In Nov 2013 my wife and I took a 30 day trip to Germany to visit our two daughters and grandkids for the holidays. Both of their husbands were in the Air Force, assigned to Ramstein AFB. I also had spent 5 years at Ramstein as a federal civilian; so we were also looking forward to the German brotchen and beer which we both loved. While in transit to Germany I was doing research on wild caught salmon as I decided I wanted to focus more on getting healthy and fit. The article I read came from MarksDailyApple and I became hooked. By the time I returned to the states in mid December I had spent hundreds of hours reading the blog.
I couldn’t wait to start my Primal journey on 1 Jan 2014; thinking it would be too difficult to begin right before Christmas. On 1 Jan 2014 I jumped into the Primal lifestyle and focused on high healthy fats like coconut oil, grass fed butter and avocados. Also lots of meat, fish, fresh vegetables and salads. Although the 80-20 strategy was pivotal to me believing this lifestyle was sustainable; I ended up with about 95-5 compliance. I still drink wine and/or beer almost every day in moderation of course.
A little more background on my body type, weight and the goals I hoped to achieve. I was never considered fat by my contemporaries. Although I wanted to lose some weight (15 pounds) my primary objective was to improve my fitness and quality of life. When I retired in 2006 my weight was 178 and my waist was around 37 inches.
Once I started playing lots of tennis I dropped 10 pounds and could wear 36 inch waist comfortably. I felt pretty good about myself but knew I still had a spare tire around my middle and had lots of muscle cramps and joint pain. On 1 Jan 2014 I started my journey and went from 168 pounds to 150 in 45 days. I was shocked at how fast the weight came off and how much better I felt. I quit all medications as well as over the counter pills like aspirin, tylenol, aleve, etc. Since I previously lost 10 pounds after retiring I thought I was done (28 pound loss) and wanted to see if I could maintain this weight over time.
I became even more focused (my wife would say fanatic) and started reading and listening to podcasts 3-4 hours every day on paleo/primal and functional medicine. I started playing singles again as well as going to the fitness center for 30 minutes 3 times a week for resistance training. I experimented on myself often, figuring I have little to lose and much to gain considering my age. A few of the more important hacks I utilize are Bulletproof coffee (3 cups per day/3-4 Tbsp of coconut oil and grassfed butter), taking potato starch, ACV daily, diatomaceous earth, bentonite clay, etc.
Intermittent fasting and keto have been the two most critical components of continued weight loss. I often only eat one meal per day in the late afternoon primarily because I am not very hungry even though I am pretty active. I do believe that most of us eat too much and that feeling a little hungry is important to a longer and healthier life. I have snacks like nuts and seeds, or a cup of bone broth, boiled eggs, sardines, etc. I average less than 45 carbs per day. My wife thinks I am too thin and I agree I looked better when I was heavier but I feel much better than I have in a very long time. I still have thyroid issues and some joint pain but hope to mitigate that over time. My current weight is 138 plus or minus 2 pounds contingent on my activities.
I will always be indebted to Mark Sisson and his Primal Blog which I continue to refer people to and read on a regular basis. The Primal Blueprint by Mark is a must read for anyone considering the ancestral health lifestyle.
From my perspective the most important impact this lifestyle has had on me is psychological, my outlook on life…….getting old but still looking forward. Growing old can be depressing at times especially if you have numerous health issues and take lots of medications. Living longer might be nice but is not the objective…….being healthy, having fun and enjoying family and friends for the time you do have is. For some strange reason my high school yearbook caption from 1964 was: “The Days of our Youth are the Days of our Glory.” I hope that I can turn that on it’s head and make this decade the best yet. Grok on!