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...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
August 22 2014

It Was Time to Change: 228 Pounds Lost and Lifelong Dreams Realized

By Guest
137 Comments

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!

I have been morbidly obese practically my entire life. By the time I was 10 years old, I was a chubby kid, weighing in at over 100 pounds. I was in size 44 pants by the time I was in high school and kept going up from there. In November 2010, I weighed 440 pounds (200 kg). I was morbidly obese, lacked confidence, and when it came to my own life, I lived in constant fear that I was having a heart attack every time I was short of breath. I had discretely (and without doctor’s orders) started taking aspirin daily because I knew it was only a matter of time before I followed in the footsteps of almost every other male in my family and had a heart attack. I suffered from massive acid reflux, which also was a source of heart disease fears, and I was pre-diabetic and had constant pain in my joints and lower back.

I had made the decision to medicate my downward spiraling health and not treat it. Moreover, my food addiction was getting worse by the day. I was spending about $500 per month on fast food and another $200 per month on convenience store garbage, like donuts, bagels, and sugar filled soda. I would never choose to abstain from a food because it was terrible for my health, and I never even considered doing exercise for the purpose of fitness, but I was getting to the stage where even getting out of the car was a cardio workout.

I was in pain being on my feet any longer than 15 minutes. This made my job difficult (where I am required to do presentations and networking in social settings) and any time I received an invitation from friends, I had to think about if I’d be able to make it through the activity. I wore ankle braces every day because my body was struggling just to hold my weight, and was forced to buy whatever clothes I could find that could fit me due to a diminishing selection at my growing size.

Tim before Primal

I privately wondered:

Could anyone ever love me (myself included) as obese as I was? How long would it be before my loved ones would start to be ashamed of me? Were they already? Will I live to see my daughters graduate, marry, and be adults?

On the outside, I wasn’t an unhappy person. In fact, a majority of people around me seemed to like me and think I was a positive, happy person, but inside I was just living day to day. I had settled in life, love, and was not long for this world.

It was at this time that I had an epiphany moment. While pondering a church lesson about mistreating my body, I finally saw that I had gotten out of control. That I was miserable and in pain, and that I deserved to live, for the first time in my life, without all of these problems. I had tried to lose weight so many times before, but for the first time, I decided to do it for me. My daughters deserved the best version of me and I deserved to be that man. See, I had never even considered the fact until that very moment, that food and my addiction to it was hurting my relationships, shortening my life unnecessarily, damaging the quality of my life, and taking away from those that I loved most.

It was time to change.

The next morning, I decided to get outside and go for a walk. It was 4am. When I returned home after what was probably a quarter of a mile, I was breathing so hard that my roommate thought I was having a heart attack. But I didn’t die. And that told me I could probably do it again tomorrow, and I might not die then either.

At first, I had a good friend write me up some meal plans, but found myself bored with the plans and started to research diet and nutrition. It was at this point that I came across the Paleo diet. I love to research and I started to listen to podcasts by Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser and purchased Robb’s book and used tons of recipes from EverydayPaleo.com and Mark’s Daily Apple.

Some people have asked me if I struggle with the restrictive nature of an elimination diet, but as a recovering junk food addict, the structure of the Paleo approach was exactly what I needed to stay on track. Having a framework to stay within gave me boundaries to re-establish a healthy relationship with food. Prior to this, food was my security blanket and BFF. We celebrated together. We mourned together. We hung out on dates and business meetings and get togethers. Food was always there with and for me.

Going Paleo gave me an opportunity to reexamine my relationship with food and focus on nutrient dense products. The weight started to pour off of me. The pre-diabetes went away and my joints stopped hurting. My acid reflux was gone completely and has not returned. I was switching products every six months when one would stop working, and now I was completely off medication. My sleep improved and my pants started to loosen.

Tim

After nine months, I started some additional strength training and increased my protein intake to facilitate muscle growth. Essentially, I started focusing on the compound lifts and made great progress with a linear progression system.

When I first made my decision to lose weight, my friend Bret dropped in my mind the thought that I could actually drop 100 pounds by the next Christmas (a year and a month away). When I first started eating healthily, the weight poured off of me. It’s clear to me now that my body wanted to be fit and I had been fighting it my whole life with my addiction. Despite hitting a few plateaus along the way, by the following Christmas, I had almost hit my initial goal weight. In fact, in just one year and nine days, I had lost 200 pounds on the nose. That’s right, I lost 200 pounds in a year without pills, shakes, or surgery: eating the foods I loved and established, for the first time in my life, a healthy relationship with food.

On Thanksgiving, I ran in my first 5K and my entire family was there cheering me on at the finish line and inside I knew that I had become the man they would always know: healthy, strong, and happy. Loved by others always, but finally by himself.

On the 18-month anniversary of my weight loss journey, I participated in the Wildflower Triathlon, and although it was too far away for my family to attend, I was surrounded by some supportive friends and proudly finished the race.

Tim's Triathalon

Paleo worked so well for me for a few reasons:

  • Consistency – Paleo gave me a framework on how and what to eat, which is exactly what a recovering junk food addict needs. Also, I had a linear training program that allowed me to systematize my fitness as well.
  • No “Cheat Days” – I love the way Robb has said that your diet is not a marriage. You can’t cheat on it. This has helped me to learn that if I want to eat something, I need to change the way I see it. I am still 100% gluten free and have been since day 1 of Paleo. I don’t miss the foods because I love the way I feel.
  • I did it for me. This was the click that changed this time. See, this was not the first time I’d attempted a change, but this is the first time it stuck (I’ve been at my goal weight for over two years now). Every other time, I did it for a girl or a suit or some other reason. This time I did it because I realized that I deserved to be healthy and happy and I deserved to live.

Did I have some external motivation? Of course. I was concerned that relationships had deteriorated due to my poor health. I like the attention that comes from the opposite sex now. I love being strong in and out of the gym. I get a rush from completing a new personal best or when I did my triathlon.

I love not having limits. I work for a construction company in marketing (I don’t actually do construction) so when a homeowner for the first time offered for me to go on a ladder and check out the damage in his attic, I said yes. The truth was that I don’t know enough about construction to actually know what I was seeing, but I was just excited to be able to climb a ladder for the first time in my life and walk around up there because a couple of years before, no one would have in their right mind invited me to climb anything.

In closing, please allow me to present the tale of the tape:

Weight: 440 pounds to 212 pounds = 228 pounds lost or over 50% of my body weight. I’ve also added some of muscle weight to this. Waist: 56 inch to 33 inch = 23 inches lost. Neck: 22 inch to 16 inch = 6 inches lost. Shirt Size: 4X to a Large Collarbone: I now have one (or two? I failed anatomy). Adam’s Apple: Finally. Visible Vascularity: About time. Fitness: I couldn’t walk to I feel physically fit for the first time in my life.

In short, I could say that Paleo made me the man I’ve dreamt of becoming my whole life: the man hiding inside that other one that I used to be and I couldn’t be happier.

Tim

Tim after Primal 2

TAGS:  guest post

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

137 thoughts on “It Was Time to Change: 228 Pounds Lost and Lifelong Dreams Realized”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. OMG!!! Just – wow! This is one of the most impressive Friday transformation stories ever! You look like a completely different person! Congratulations!! And how wonderful that you can now be a healthy role model for your daughters too!

  2. When I read a story like this, it brings tear to my eyes! Way to go!

  3. Nicely done.
    I have a question: I lost way less than that and I have a lot of lose skin, which I hate.
    It may be only the pictures, but you don’t look to have that problem. What did you do?

    Thanks!

    1. Hello Eri! I definitely have some significant loose skin in my lower stomach, inner thighs and underarms. But I wear it as a badge of honor! I honestly haven’t done anything with lotions or cocoa butter. I do stay pretty hydrated which I’ve heard might help?

      Paleo has improved my skin significantly though, so perhaps that helped?

    2. I wondered about that too. I have known obese people who lost weight but have oodles of loose skin in rolls with nothing to fill them.

      Surgical removal of excess skin?

      1. No surgery yet! If it was free and minimal risk I would consider it, but the truth is, I’m not interested in becoming a figure model, so I can deal with having an imperfect body :).

        1. What a fantastic attitude. I truly believe the most successful losers (so to speak) are those who do it for health rather than vanity.

        2. That’s an amazing attitude, congrats on breaking free from your addiction!

      1. Ah, that explains the juxtaposition of the bunny ears and a pumpkin on the table. I wondered. 🙂 Fantastic (and inspiring) job uncovering the real you!

  4. “On Thanksgiving, I ran in my first 5K and my entire family was there cheering me on at the finish line and inside I knew that I had become the man they would always know: healthy, strong, and happy. Loved by others always, but finally by himself.”

    … I cried.

      1. Damn it! I made it through the whole thing without even getting misty eyed. After reading these 2 comments, I found myself suddenly having to blink to clear my vision, which had suddenly become blurry….. 🙂

  5. Absolutely blown away!!! You are HAWT! Inside and out. These are the stories that I look forward to reading every Friday. You, sir, have made my day!!

  6. Just brilliant – such a transformation and, as always seems to be the case, you needed a lightbulb moment in your head before the changes happened to your body. I’m with you on keeping it strict, cheating just slows the whole process down. Great story.

  7. Man, that’s just incredible. I have a feeling you will be climbing many more ladders to the top, the rest of your life.

  8. Seriously… that’s so truly impressive and inspiring and heartening. An appreciation of the power to create positive chance is an elusive state of mind. It’s stories like this which cause it.

  9. Congratulations! This is such a heartwarming story, it has to be one of my favorites!

  10. Your story inspires and gives hope to everyone looking to change their health, no matter how bleak their situation looks now. Thank you so much for sharing, you seriously made my whole day!

  11. Great transformation Tim! Are you still running and competing in triathlons? Mark has a new book coming, Primal Endurance…I can’t wait to read it.

    1. Today I’m in an indoor soccer league and I weight train 4 days a week! Those are my current loves :). I’m a collector of hobbies. I love to learn new things and master them and move on to the next thing!

      My health held me back from so many experiences and now I’m playing catch up. I’m honestly thinking about rock climbing next!

      1. Try dancing! Great exercise and a definite attractor of the opposite sex (or relationship improver).

  12. Thank you for your incredible story! I was wondering what training program you used to get from not being able to walk to fitness. You describe a set program, and I’ve been looking for one myself! Thanks!

    1. I actually had one designed by my trainer at my local globo gym.

      Once I was flexible enough to do the movements, I did Strong Lifts 5×5. I loved that program!

  13. My heartiest congratulations to you! Losing 200 pounds in just over a year is nothing short of amazing, although not really surprising to those of us in the MDA community. Your story is exactly why Paleo/Primal has become the biggest weight loss sensation ever. You are living proof–truly a walking advertisement–that Paleo works!!!

  14. I love that last picture! Such a great story Tim. So happy for you and your family!

  15. What an awesome transformation! Great going, Tim. I know personally just losing 5-10 pounds would make a great difference in how I feel and move around so I can only imagine how great you feel losing 228!

    Awesome job, Tim. Keep it up!

  16. Wow!Congrats you are such an inspiration & you look amazing! You are a wonderful role model to your daughters!

  17. Amazing job and great timing for me. I’m a lot older than you but through my own actions got to 457 lbs. I started about 30 days ago on my plan to change. I’m down about 35 so far, but I’m totally committed this time. Your success is a great inspiration to me. I may not match your amazing success, but if I can do 2/3 of what you accomplished I’ll be a happy guy. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

    1. Jerry! I love it! Old or young, you can do this. If you need an accountability partner or someone to cheer you on, I’m totally down.

      1. Tim, thank you for your story. My 27 yr old son is 498 lbs and is 6ft 4″ and he has been trying on primal, but is having trouble staying on it. Is there any way he might connect with you? I think if he could talk to someone who has actually done it it would help him so much. Let me know what you think. Either way, your story is a gift and you are amazing.

        1. Kay, I’d love to talk with him. Click on my name in this comment to go to my website and use the contact me link at the top!

  18. Incredible…just wow…I got choked up on this! Congratulations on getting your life back!

  19. Wow, I am in awe of what you’ve accomplished!!!! I like the fact that you became healthy for yourself and not for an external reason. Great take-home lesson!

  20. Amazing and inspiring! Congratulations on the fat loss and more importantly, maintaining for two years.

  21. Magnificent accomplishment. I am so impressed ! We’ve seen this story here again and again but it never fails to astonish me. You, and all the other folks in these stories who decided to take control of their lives and made such incredible physical and mental transformations, to my mind you are real life super heroes.

    Dude, you’re the real Captain America now! Congrats!

  22. Tim,
    Such an inspirational story! While you did this for yourself, there is such a ripple effect of how many people you will touch. Friends/family/coworkers and even total strangers. As for your daughters, you stand as a testament to determination, and willpower and strength which is so much bigger than the 228 lbs. You’re unstoppable now!

    1. Thanks Rosanna! I’ve already seen half a dozen close friends and family members lose 20+ pounds. Always proud to be an inspiration for anything positive.

  23. holy crap… I’m all tingly right now! That is INCREDIBLE!!! This is why I love Fridays, how freaking inspiring are you 🙂

    Emailing your story all over the place right now. Way to GO! Grok on my friend, grok on. So happy you found your place, your motivation, your inspiration, your love, and your happiness. It’s a wonderful thing when it all falls into place like that – but it doesn’t happen without a lot of work. You are a MAN amongst the boys for stepping up to this challenge, my friend. This takes more courage than most people will ever have, and you DOMINATED this challenge.

    Woo-freaking-hoo buddy, you are one kick-butt dude!!!

  24. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and for reminding us that we all have to our own biggest fan. The world is your oyster – enjoy!!!

  25. Great story Tim–like most of us here on MDA we look forward to Friday –but today this has given many who are atruggling much hope–and others reaffirmation that their goals can be met and surpassed.

    As for me, well let’s just say between faith and Grokking on– I hope to live long and drop dead!

      1. Reminds me of the words of Abraham, an entity channeled by Esther Hicks. Abraham says we don’t have to have an old age of slowly deteriorating health. We should shoot for happy, happy, happy, dead. Sounds like Paleo is the way!

  26. Wonderful story, Tim, thanks for sharing. I loved the line ” But I didn’t die. And that told me I could probably do it again tomorrow, and I might not die then either.”

    I’ve started and fallen off the paleo trail so many times and am really amazed by the ones like you that start and come to such a beautiful finish.

    Ok, it’s not a finish line, it just keeps going…but you’re in such a beautiful spot along the trail. Congratulations.

    I don’t know if it’s age (54), gender (f), medicine (celexa, now trying zoloft), or the nature of my carb addiction…but one of these days I’m going to join the ranks of paleo success stories.

    Stories like yours keep me trying.

  27. Tim,
    You look absolutely amazing! Do you mind sharing what your daily meal intakes look like?

    1. I was eating three meals a day and my meals were almost always 6-8 oz of a high quality protein and veggies.

      I would consume sweet potatoes based on activity for the day as well as 2-3 servings of fruit.

      I know that’s not incredibly unique, but it worked for me!

  28. Oh my!!!! You look great! Love the ones with your daughters, you look so happy.
    You have inspired me to put more effort to find a trainer to guide me into becoming more fit. I don’t have much time to invest in it so need to find a person to guide me in some sort of HIIT I suppose.
    Thanks for sharing!

  29. Did you just go into Paleo without counting calories/carbs? I get such mixed signals about this. Some say just count carbs. Some say no matter if it’s healthy food or not, you should still count calories. Some say just listen to your body. I feel listening to my body has led me to being 303lbs 🙁 But calories freak me out. Any advise? Congrats on such amazing work. You look fantastic and can see from the pictures that you are a happier person! Cheers.

    1. Hi Alyssa!,

      I definitely was low carb in the beginning which I feel like was a great system for me. Paleo carbs are never fun in my opinion. I would occasionally have some berries and sweet potatoes but only on workout days and even there sparingly.

      I started with calorie counting because I felt like I was metabolically broken and always hungry so I wanted to get a grasp of what “normal eating” felt like.

      I heard an interview with Layne Norton and he mentioned that metabolism is a moving target. If you aren’t losing weight with your current diet, try to eat 10% less and see what happens! Seems sound to me.

      Thanks for your sweet comments about happiness. I’m way happier today than I ever have been and will be happier still tomorrow.

  30. At what stage of the Paleo journey did the bunny ears fall off?
    😉

    Seriously though, yours is an astonishing story of inner & outer transformation. And yes, I teared up several times while reading it. What a powerful example you have set for us all!

  31. Tim, thank you so much for your story; it is truly inspiring.

  32. There are a few of the Friday stories that really stand out for me. This will be one of them!

  33. The statement about “No Cheats” has hit me. I have been on the Primal journey for two years .It has been a very slow process of successes and epic failures because “I CHEAT” smh I’m on a 21 day challenge right now to commit to the new lifestyle. I never seem to stay the course.

  34. AMAZING. So inspiring. Congratulations – your hard work clearly paid off.

  35. Amazing, I would really like to talk with you about what your daily eating plan was especially if you kept a journal. I have lost 18 pounds in the last two months eating Primal but 11.5 of that the first month so it has seriously slowed down. Starting at 312 pounds and now sitting at 294-5, I feel like I am doing something wrong and would love your input.

    1. Robb, I’m not Tim, however, in weight loss there will be times when it seems to have slowed down in the pounds (our favorite way to “see” our loss) but in my journey I found the scale wasn’t giving me much in the loss department BUT my clothes were getting too big. So, please don’t get too discouraged. Your body is learning and changing still even though it seems to be covertly at this time…… Keep going, you are doing well.

      1. I would be really interested to hear what a day (or two!) of food looks like for you now as well. It’s so hard to slay that sugar dragon – and you did it – so I know it an be done!

  36. Absolutely amazing. You’re very inspirational for me, as I’m still in the beginning of my journey. Congratulations, what an awesome transformation.

  37. Outstanding-what an inspirational story. Congratulations on your wonderful success.

  38. Your story is truly amazing and inspirational. Thank you for sharing. I believe that while improved health and quality of life is great, it’s the ability to prolong and strengthen relationships that is the most rewarding benefit gained from any weight loss. It is this aspect of your story that got me a little misty eyed as well.

  39. Wow! Simply amazing! You have found your inner athlete! You look great and you can see how happy you are by both your words and photos! 🙂

  40. Respect! There’s no shame in admitting you’re addicted to junk food, it’s the first step to recovery (cliche but true) and you’re story exemplifies this. Lot’s of marketing and research £ are spent on making foods that lead to addiction and terrible physical and mental health challenges whilst making investors rich. The junk food industries probably here to stay, that’s why it’s important to educate and support the message and help our fellow human! Great job primal blueprint et al 🙂

  41. Thanks so much for your story of gradual, amazing life change! Wow! What an inspiration. Although I’ve only been about 20 pounds overweight, tops, I’ve also had an addictive relationship with food. I’ve gradually added more and more structure to my eating, and found that I do best if I eat only 3 times a day, and have fixed amounts of meats and vegetables I eat. I’m pre-diabetic, and have genetic tendencies toward diabetes, so even though I’m at a slender weight, I still have trouble processing carbohydrates. A low carb, ketogentic diet works best for me. I’m starting to work on a website to help those of us who are pre-diabetic, but it’s not up yet!

  42. Congratulations Tim! You are a rock star!

    For those who have questions about what to eat, how much to eat, etc. – read through the archived articles here on Mark’s Daily Apple, and/or participate in the forums – plenty of helpful folks there.

    I’m going to Primal Con next month and I’m so excited to meet fellow Groks and Grokettes!

  43. Tim, most diets fail. It’s so sad to see this but when you see how companies like Weight Watchers stay in business and their members struggle I’m so happy you had that “epiphany”. What you’re doing is a life style and not a diet and its gonna be with you always. Good for you and good for your research!!!

  44. WOW…I just found marksdailyapple from the gym junkies top 20 fitness blogs list. This is an inspiring story…Congratulations Tim!

    Blake

  45. Oh wow Tim – awesome story. I particularly love your comment when talking about cheatsI ” I don’t miss the foods because I love the way I feel.” That is what has resonated the most with me too. I think you have expressed really well, the difference between becoming healthy because it feels good and you know you are looking after yourself, and going on a “diet” because you know you ought to or others pressure you into it! You explain really well how feeling and being healthy impacts every area of your relationships with others and most importantly with yourself! Well done.

    Oh and I love your response that you aren’t worried about your loose skin – just reinforces that your motivation is how you feel not how you look – you are an excellent role model for those lovely daughters of yours.

  46. Tim, awesome work! Thank you for being iman inspiration to us all. I bet that you couldn’t even dream of the happiness you are experiencing when you were overweight. One step at a time everybody!

  47. Thank you so much for the story….it gives me hope.You said that you hit a few plateaus, if you dont mind me asking how did you break through them?. I cant seem to budge mine.

  48. Tim, you are awesome! Your transformation is nothing short of remarkable. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring the rest of us.

  49. Speechless. Such an incredible accomplishment and story — thank you for sharing!

  50. Wow! I can’t really say anything but wow! I’m just that shocked and inspired. It just goes to show that once you switch your motivation from external to internal (doing it for yourself as opposed to doing it for others), it doesn’t fade.

  51. Wow! What you said resonated with me so well… And I only have maybe 28 to lose! I’ve been paleo for awhile, but need to work on honoring my body and realizing that there is no cheating!

  52. I, too, had a powerful love affair with sweets and pastry for most of my life. I am a cook and baker, and have had a very hard time quitting/limiting the baking. Understanding the love of these foods as I do, I am SO IMPRESSED by your resolve!!! You are TOUGH!!
    Since adopting a primal lifestyle, I have had several instances of falling off the wagon, and rolling right under the wheels. Your story will help me to avoid that. Thank you!

  53. Wow congratulations!

    I just went through and read your entire site. You plus the many others who frequent this site have helped me break down the (subconscious) prejudices I previously held about morbidly obese people.

  54. Great job Tim. Loved the ladder story. It’s funny to picture you up there, with no idea what you’re looking at, but happy as hell just to be up there. Good for you.

  55. Thanks Tim for telling your story. Very inspirational!

  56. Well done! You just gave me the hope to cont. doing the same as you did. Thank you for sharing.

  57. Thank you for sharing your story. Very timely; I really needed to see something like that to stay inspired.

  58. Such a gorgeous story & I love that you said the difference this time was because it was for YOU! That is the same reason I began the paleo journey myself. After eating primal for 8 months my bub is now old enough to play solo while I exercise. After 3 weeks of my working out I am SO proud to say my hubby has now started his own paleo journey. We feel great & I love when our 16 month old joins us in our squats & tries to do pushups. May you live long and drop dead 🙂

  59. i find your story touching & you look wonderful 🙂

    ($700/month on junk food + fast food? that’s is more than enough get high quality real food tho)

  60. You did really so hard work with your aim and I think it is not a simple work to loss extra weight. great job 🙂

  61. AWESOME!!!! Thanks for sharing and GREAT GREAT JOB! Very inspiring 🙂

  62. What an amazing story! Well done Tim! I wish the weight would pour off me too. It doesn’t seem to be happening for me. I don’t know if it’s my PCOS or the Insulin Resistance or my lack of motivation to do anything that is holding me back? Right now I feel like giving up and crawling into a hole somewhere.

  63. Awsome story Tim. I’m one who has a lot of extra weight to and foung your story inspirational… Thanks for sharing it

  64. Incredible job man. I’ve lost over 80 and have 60 more to go to be where I want. Others like my fiance say I’m good now, but I’m not gonna be content till I hit my goal and do the bike ride I wish I’d done in my teens so long ago, and of course stay that way for life, and it’s stories like yours that keep feeding the fire of my motivation whenever I start to get that slacking mentality.

  65. What a transformation! You have so much to be proud of. You are an inspiration to others as well. Keep it up! Grok on my friend!

  66. How did you go with loose skin? Did you suffer from this much? Have you thought about surgery to remove excess skin?