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!
I’ve been debating writing this for quite some time, as I’m pretty shy when It comes to sharing personal details about myself. But if I can inspire just a single person with my story and spread the good word even a little bit more, then it’s well worth sharing. So thank you Mark for all that you do and for allowing me a platform to spread my not so typical journey to health with others.
As a young girl, with a family of four brothers, food was quick, cheap, and decently healthy. Lots of big casseroles and pasta dishes, some veggies, not much meat, cereal for breakfast, packed lunches for school, and rarely any fast food. Despite a somewhat standard American diet, I was a thriving, happy, and active kid.
I took an interest in health at a young age; around 11 years old I started going on jogs to get in shape for my competitive skating team. I did an agility training camp in the summer months for many years (yay sprinting!), and figure skated between 2-5 times a week for about 10 solid years. I also managed to squeeze in soccer, softball, basketball, and tons of outdoor playing time in between it all. To say I was active was a bit of an understatement, and I loved every sweaty second of it.
By the time I hit high school I was still just as active and eating “healthy”; oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, apple and peanut butter for snack, soup and salad with some meat for lunch, big salads with some protein for dinner, with some snacking in between it all. Although I was never overweight before, I lost some weight my senior year eating this way and felt pretty good despite usually being hungry.
I continued down this “healthy” eating path until it went a little too far. I slowly slipped into a vegetarian lifestyle when I moved out on my own, mostly out of restriction but also convincing myself it was a much healthier lifestyle. That, with a combination of too little sleep and too much drinking, wound up with me having mono heading into my freshman year at college. I was the thinnest I had ever been, and friends and family were concerned.
But I continued eating this way for some time. No meat, very little fat, processed snacks, soy milk, veggies, beans – honestly I can barely remember what I survived off of. I just remember being hungry, having several anxiety attacks, sleeping AWFUL every night (out of hunger), being depressed, having eczema, dry patchy skin, no period, a very slow heart rate and very low blood pressure which frightened me, and I was constantly cold… The list could go on and on. My body was at an all time low.
Here I am my freshman year in the white; my lowest weight, and lowest level of health I’ve ever been (symbolically holding a packet of Crystal Light drink mix). For about two years my body remained at a low weight and I had most of those symptoms on and off.
My junior year of college things began to change. After an appointment with my doctor, discussing some symptoms (GI issues) and low iron levels, we considered food intolerances. I decided to cut out gluten to see what affect it had on me, and that very day decided to add meat back into my diet, after a 3-year hiatus. It was Thanksgiving break, so no better time than a good home cooked meal to kick things off. I didn’t exactly hit the ground running with this diet, it was tough, but I stuck it out (with the typical gluten free processed foods taking a front row seat of course). But pretty shortly after, my skin (acne) seriously cleared up, the eczema on my eye went away, and stomach issues I was having were subsiding.
I started getting more into proteins, a little fat, and more whole foods as the months ticked by. I was also training for my first marathon, so I took an interest in fueling properly. Around this time is when I stumbled on MDA. I remember reading article after article very late into the night and being amazed by this community and lifestyle that I had never heard of before.
My Primal transition was a very slow one. I wasn’t totally convinced on the fat thing right away. And I was a broke college student, so grass fed beef and leg of lamb weren’t exactly high on my grocery list. But over the course of a year I made small changes, and my health slowly improved along with these changes. I completed my first marathon in 4:07 feeling great, barely needing much sugar along the way and never hitting the wall. I also pretty much quit running (long distances) the moment my foot crossed the finish line.
That brings me to this past year, senior year of college. I got into weightlifting, and Crossfitting, and hung up my running sneakers. I continue to make small changes all the time; the peanut butter to almond butter took me a while. And within the past few months I’ve gotten even more into highly nutritious foods like fermented veggies, organs, sardines etc. I work hard as a part time waitress on top of classes so I can afford this lifestyle that makes me feel amazing. I’m still learning and tweaking everyday, but my recent doctors visit proved to me that everything is right on track:
My iron levels were up, my HDL was one of the highest my doctor has seen in her practice at 89 mg/dl, triglycerides were 48 mg/dl, LDL 117mg/dl and my body seemed to naturally put back on the weight it needed to.
But beyond the numbers, I’m happier than ever and I feel alive again. My skin is great, I have amazing energy, no anxiety, no depression, core temperature is normal, regular menstrual cycle, and tamed blood sugar and hunger levels… the list could once again go on and on. I don’t claim to be perfect; I live by my own 85/15 rule that seems to feel right for my body; I enjoy drinks with friends occasionally and probably eat more sweet potatoes than you… but I’m a hell of a lot better off than I’ve ever been before.
Here I am this past winter; a healthier weight, and enjoying life. Since then, and since finding Crossfit, I’ve toned up even more, although I don’t have a great photo to share.
I’m not your typical Primal success story; I didn’t go from obese to petite, and my cholesterol was never sky high. But I hope others can find some inspiration or relate to my story in a different way. The Primal lifestyle is not always about losing. It can be about gaining too; gaining health, happiness, and yes, even weight when you need to.
I’ve been writing a blog now, KatieDid, for about a year and it follows my Primal transition while sharing my love for photography, gluten-free recipes, love of Crossfit and fitness, and everyday life. Please stop by and say hi! (oh and if you’re looking to fill a job with a recent college grad with a major in exercise science, enthusiastic about life, look no further 😉 )
So thanks again, Mark, for building up a community of such smart, enthusiastic, healthy, and passionate people; I’m proud to be a part of it!