I Simply Could Not Accept the “You’re Just Getting Old” Excuse

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!

In the summer of 2012, I was like the vast majority of people (and doctors, for that matter)—entirely ignorant of the role nutrition plays on health. Little did I know how absorbed I’d become in the burgeoning ancestral health movement. In fact, if someone were to have told me then that I’d be a health coach by 2016, I would’ve laughed in their face and rolled my eyes, slowly backing away.

However, I’ve always had a passion for science and how it should shape spirituality. This passion led me to obtaining my Bachelor Degree in Geology—the rationale being that if I understood how the earth works, then I could gain a better understanding of how life (and thus mankind) propagated and succeeded on this beautiful planet. From there, I would have a strong base upon which to build a logical, spiritual relationship with the universe.

Part of my coursework included historical paleontology, which details how life grew and changed through time. I found this subject particularly fascinating, and throughout my career in the environmental field I continually enjoyed learning more and more about it, though it played a very minimal role in my profession and I was unsure about how I would ever utilize that sort of information. Enter the ancestral health movement. However, let’s backtrack a bit first…

Years ago I went to the doctor complaining of occasional severe pains in my right foot. The pain would occur instantaneously, and disappear equally as fast, like a bolt of lightning. An X-ray revealed bone spurs, and when I asked the doctor why I was apparently susceptible to them, he replied that it was likely due to arthritis setting in at my age. I was in my mid-30s at the time, and this was an entirely unacceptable explanation to me, having been an athlete and in good shape throughout my years.

Not long afterwards, during an annual physical exam, my doctor told me that my cholesterol was borderline high. Since both of my parents died relatively young due to cardiovascular problems, he prescribed a precautionary statin drug for me. When I asked why my cholesterol was high, he responded that it’s typical with increasing age. I was around 40 at the time, and this was another entirely unacceptable explanation. Not knowing any better, I began a daily statin regimen.

In May of 2009, I met a particularly intelligent and beautiful woman, Camille, who would eventually become my wife. She was finishing up med school at the time, and was experiencing inexplicable digestive issues severe enough that she could hardly eat even a small portion of a meal. Since standard doctors could not determine the cause, she was prescribed proton pump inhibitors and given the designation of an IBS sufferer with chronic reflux.

Being a scientist, I was certain that there were completely logical explanations for both of our health conditions. I simply could not accept the ubiquitous “You’re just getting old” excuse with its subsequent prescription drug regimens. However, not being versed in health or nutrition at the time, I found myself at a loss for adequate and accurate alternative explanations.

Then, in August of 2012, I heard an interview with Robb Wolf on one of my favorite podcasts. During the interview, he rattled off virtually every single symptom that both Camille and I had been experiencing for the last few years, and mentioned that improper nutrition was likely the root cause. We immediately implemented the Paleo Diet and, at the risk of sounding like a zealot or cheesy infomercial salesman, we experienced miraculous results virtually overnight. Camille no longer uses prescription PPIs, and I no longer take the statin or experience the crippling pains of arthritis. In fact, 3 months after going Paleo, having reviewed my expanded blood lipid panel, my doctor stated, “You have the blood of an 18-year old.” I sure wish I would’ve kept that voicemail.

Little did I realize that this new diet would quickly become my passion in the years to come. I became obsessed and absorbed with all things Paleo, and began advising friends and acquaintances on their nutrition, to incredible effect. Through the people I helped, I had an epiphany – I would absolutely LOVE to do this as a profession! But, of course, I was missing something – legitimacy. I scoured the interwebs for any sort of ancestral health certification program, to no avail. All I could find were weekend life- or fitness coaching certs that looked like they were more interested in getting my credit card number than actually providing knowledge or benefits of their program. Then, as if the universe had heard my frustrated cries for help, Mark Sisson came out with his Primal Blueprint Expert Certification (so named at the time). It was PRECISELY what I wanted – what I NEEDED – and I signed up as quickly as I could.

Alas, I didn’t have to go through a traditional school and labor through years of now-thoroughly-debunked pseudoscience proclaiming grains as an essential source of nutrition and other such nonsense. I could learn from the most distinguished people in the cutting-edge ancestral health movement, widening my knowledge not only of what works health-wise, but most importantly WHY it works. To top it all off, while the certification would require hard work in understanding the core health principles, it could be done from the comfort of my own home in a time frame of my own choosing – which was extremely important given the fact that I already had a full-time job. Within about 6 months, I became Primal Blueprint Certified Expert #239.


In the meantime, Camille finished med school but had become frustrated that modern medical practices had essentially become nothing but compartmentalized pill dispensaries, focusing little (if at all) on giving patients the knowledge needed for good preventative care and building natural health. So she turned her attention to learning more about alternative health modalities in an effort to help people construct a strong, natural foundation of health. With her degrees and certifications in these various alternative practices, and with my becoming a Certified Primal Blueprint Expert (again, so named at the time), we decided to combine our passions and start our own company—McClellan Natural Health, Wellness & Nutrition.

However, we had absolutely ZERO entrepreneurial experience. We had NO idea where to start! We quickly found that you can’t just create a website and expect clients to come stampeding through your doors. It takes a plan—and we didn’t have one. We struggled, not knowing where to turn or whom to turn to. There were plenty of people out there who were more than willing to take our money and offer generic entrepreneurial advice, but no one had expertise in the field of our passion—natural health – which is a much different niche than just selling a product. We suffered and barely scraped by, wondering and doubting if we’d really get to help people as much as we KNEW we could.

And then, once again, as if the universe (or at least Mark Sisson) had heard my frustrated cries for help, the Primal Health Coaching (PHC) modules came out, supplementing the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification program! The coaching modules provided lessons on everything we needed, from starting a business to gaining clients, coaching them, and marketing/growing your business, not to mention the fantastic PHC resource library. And it works! We started gaining clients!

The PHC resource library is an absolute must-have for our business. It has all of the information to provide to clients and/or market our company. Some days I just surf the PHC resource pages to explore the new materials and incorporate them into our business and health programs! I even find material that helps me with my own personal health issues! We simply cannot express enough gratitude to the PHC team for basically providing us with everything we need to succeed!

Camille and I have seen such incredible results from our clients that we’ve made it our mission to positively affect the health and lives of as many people as possible in the time we have left on this planet. Hats off and a tremendous THANK YOU to Mark Sisson and the PHC team for providing the knowledge and resources that allow us to not only live an optimally healthy lifestyle, but also pursue our passion and truly live the American dream! You’re the best!

Bret McClellanMcClellan Natural Health, Wellness & Nutrition, LLC


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22 thoughts on “I Simply Could Not Accept the “You’re Just Getting Old” Excuse”

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  1. I love to see more professional people become part of the Paleo/Primal movement and spread the word that our big “national health experts” should have been doing all along. I really believe that most of our health care issues in this country can be solved quite easily if only people knew better. Thanks again to Mark Sisson and thanks for your story Bret.

  2. Thank you for this inspiring story! First we pull ourselves out of the waves, then we extend our hand to help others to shore. If only they will reach out and meet us halfway! How do you convince people to take the leap of faith that contradicts conventional wisdom? Serious question. Respect for finding an answer!

    That “just getting old” excuse! I heard it too when diagnosed with herniated lumbar discs and compressed spinal nerves at age 32. In exquisite pain, watching my right leg atrophy, I asked the orthopedic surgeon: how could this happen? “Wear and tear” was his confident reply and of course his solution was to cut me up (foraminotomy).

    This seemed insane, and much as you did, I declined his generous offer and ran flat out in the opposite direction. Then discovered MDA and within a couple of years was deadlifting 400 pounds. Seven years later, still do. Wear and tear!

    “Wear and tear.” “Just getting old.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “Take 20mg at meal times.” “Sacrifice a goat.” “Stop eating red meat.” “Crack open your skull and let out the evil spirits.”

    Suit yourselves! But have you tried acting like a human?

    1. I don’t have the answer to your question, but I sure wish I did. Your Sacrifice a goat.” comment made me laugh, partially because of something my oldest daughter said to me about plastic wrap, and my ability to “get plastic wrap to cooperate” with me. Both my mother and her wind up with a bunch of plastic stuck to itself and not what they wanted it to. She’d asked why. “What did you do? Sacrifice a goat? Or a virgin? Or a virgin goat?!?”

    2. Yes to, “if only they would reach out and meet us halfway.” My interpretation of and success with paleo seem to be repellant to people, not curiosity provoking. Sorry everyone, I am the opposite of a paleo encourager. At this point I try not to talk about it too much and no one ever asks me.

      1. So true Vanessa. I have found that too. I just live my life quite happily, and if people ask, i will talk about it. Those who are ready will listen carefully. Others not so much. Some can be quite hostile. In those cases I just smile quietly and change the subject.

        1. Right, and I even understand that response, I often bristle when someone tells me they are vegan. It’s my way or the highway, right?

          1. One of the challenges the newly converted to any cause face is proselytizing fervor. We have found the light, and we are ecstatic.
            We want to share our joy with the world. Heh. Unless we want our friends to cross the road when they see us coming we soon learn to moderate excessive messianic enthusiasm. Simple joy in living is infinitely more appealing and persuasive.

  3. I’m a little torn on this one. I usually love the Friday success stories, but this one comes across as much like an advertisement for the PB certification and coaching as it does like a success story.

    1. Considering all the amazing free information we get from this site and the fact the world would be a much better place if more health professionals and people in general would embrace ancestral-based modalities, I don’t think an occasional plug for something you truly believe can be life altering is a bad thing. I’m an IT guy and I do a lot of mentoring and give out free advice, but if companies hire me from time-to-time to help with their IT needs it does help me to pay the bills. 🙂

      1. I agree, Healthy Hombre! I personally was really excited to read this Success Story, because it gives me hope for our medical field and the health of our population. I LOVE that there are more and more primal doctors and experts available to help people change their lives.

        Congratulations, Camille and Bret! I know you will continue to be successful.

    2. I actually know Bret personally, and I know of his passion for a paleo way of life and Camille’s passion for integrative medicine. I think that when you finally find what you are meant to do in life, you want to share it with as many people. I had a winding path to my current career, and I tell everyone I know about it! 😉

  4. Great success story! Alway love hearing about people who not just improve their own health, but want everyone else to feel amazing too. And drives me crazy when people use “getting older” as an explanation of any symptoms they are having. When a friend says to me “well, we’re getting older…” as an explanation for any ache or pain that they are having, or the fact that they can’t fit into their jeans, I just think “speak for yourself.”

  5. Nice to read about educated professionals embracing natural healing modalities and integrating it into a set of services. No less than the Cleveland Clinic now has a holistic approach to patient care. I bookmarked the site, very nice.

  6. I am in the medical industry in the cardiovascular area and I think about this all the time. We don’t really help anyone. They all get weaker and sicker. The main focus is the medications. If there’s dietary advice, it’s always the same low fat, low salt, low cholesterol diet that clearly is an abject failure. I’ve been paleo for nearly 10 years. Maybe one day I’ll do this. I’m just not so sure I’m ready to jump in.

    1. You would be interested in Dr. William Davis’ new book Undoctored. He discusses this extensively.

      1. just placed a hold at the library – thanks for the recommendation!

    2. I work as a ER RN, and I’ve come to the realization that there’s a certain aspect of people that, due to our culture, only wish to be given a band-aid.

      You see it all the time – people don’t actively want to manage their own health. They want a pill to make them feel better. I blame it in large part due to effective marketing campaigns from prescription companies that advertise a “pill to make you feel better.” But does nothing to really empower the patient.

      Regardless, I do my best to make sure to be able to empower people the best that I can. Honestly, a hospital is a pretty piss poor place to do that though. People are overwhelmed with information that they can barely digest anything. Hospitals are also in the pockets of those who are paying for their bills, so you can toss anything that doesn’t preach typical nutrition advice right outside the window.

      Keep fighting the good fight. One patient at a time.

  7. Thank-you for this story! It’s frustrating to hear friends and family complain about ailments that affect their quality of life, then attribute it to getting old, as if they have no control over their own bodies. Who are they getting that idea from? Are doctors being taught that chemistry stops when air meets skin? I am grateful for people like you and your wife who strive to make the changes not just for themselves, but to help relieve others’ from problems that can be relieved. It is so heartening to hear the numbers, too. Over 200 certified? My mind automatically calculates an average of about 4 per state, in addition to all the anti-aging doctors and functional medical practitioners and environmental medical doctors offering obtainable good health beyond a lifetime of distress, pain, pills, and surgery, so that next time someone complains I don’t have to sound preachy and can simply say “you should look into finding a blah blah blah practice, They use specific lab tests and research to identify and eliminate underlying issues to stop chronic pain and health conditions before resorting drugs and surgery. They’ve been getting really good results.”