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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...

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July 31 2015

Positively Primal: A Merry Makeover

By Guest
44 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!

real_life_stories_stories-1-2Flash back to 2012: we felt sick every day, counted calories religiously, felt guilty after eating any kind of food…we were fueled by low self-esteem and disorderly eating.

We’d both just completed a 12 week diet and exercise plan—not designed for health, but designed to lose weight. We reached our goal weights (aka stick thin) BUT along with our “perfect bodies” we were tired, moody, cold all the time and our periods completely stopped. Definitely not healthy and definitely not happy. Which was strange…because we’d always say, “When I weigh XX kilos…THEN I’ll be happy.”

We were in this obsessive whirlwind of dieting: losing weight, putting it back on, losing it again and no matter what, we still believed we were “fat.” Our brains were filled with negativity about ourselves, especially our bodies.

When we looked around at our friends, this seemed completely normal. They were all in this same kind of head space. We all thought we had to be a certain weight and look a certain way to be happy and to “fit in.”

In June 2012, Emma was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, which was the catalyst for us both to start looking into changing the food we ate.

We began by cutting out all gluten from our diets. This was pretty easy as “gluten-free” packaged foods were the new “it” product. We were eating things like gluten-free bread, rice pasta, rice cakes and corn chips.

Although we thought we’d made positive changes to our diets, we didn’t feel any better. Plus, one month into gluten free living and we were sick of the cardboard crackers.

We googled and read books on different diets and lifestyles like The Primal Blueprint, Sweet Poison, Atkins, The Paleo Solution and the word inflammation stuck out to us. It was consistently presented again and again as one of the main culprits of all illness. We thought, perhaps this was what had been causing our illness?

The very next week our trainer mentioned this “real food” way of eating. An old colleague was raving about his new found energy from eating like the cavemen did and up popped an email about this primal way (In FACT, it was one of Mark’s emails that a friend forwarded!).

So was it that we found primal/paleo, or that it found us? We’ll never know, but we took these as signs from some higher power, the universe, what ever you’d like to call it, that we just had to try it out for ourselves.

We read blogs (Mark’s Daily Apple was and still is our go-to for confirming everything!) and books, printed recipes and did a huge pantry and fridge clean out then restock to begin our primal journey.

It seemed full on. No grains, refined sugars, legumes or gluten! But we had been complete bread and cereal addicts. The thought of breakfast and lunch was causing some real anxiety, since our pre-primal meals included toast, cereals and sandwiches!

We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy transition or a quick fix, but from what we had read and heard, the benefits were going to be worth it. Plus, it just made sense: cut out processed “food-like” items and replace them with real, fresh, good quality produce.

We gave ourselves the goal to follow the primal/paleo lifestyle for a solid three months. If we continued to feel sick, tired and blerr, we’d try something new.

Two weeks in and we had headaches, craved our beloved cereal and we just wanted a darn sandwich!

Four weeks passed and these symptoms had disappeared. We felt different, better.

Eight weeks in and we’d got the hang of the primal way. Spiralising zucchini instead of pasta, grating cauliflower to go with curries and coming up with ways to enjoy a sweet treat every now and then.

When the three months were up we’d never felt and looked better.

We now had high and long lasting energy levels; our thoughts were clear and quick; we both lost around 10kg each; and our skin beamed health! Our hair was shiny, we ditched the 3pm sugar cravings and bloated bellies and felt more at ease…no more nasty mood swings!

emma and carla

Our new positive relationship with our food is by far the greatest benefit. Long gone are food binges and the guilty feelings that follow afterwards. Instead, we eat when we’re hungry and choose foods that are going to nourish our bodies and make us feel amazing.

We used to be completely controlled by food—stressed and anxious at the thought of meal times. Primal was like a weight off our shoulders. Although there were guidelines, they didn’t feel like restrictions and we sure weren’t counting calories anymore.

Our minds were no longer consumed by food. There was space for more. We soon realized that our corporate, government jobs weren’t enough for us. We had all this new found energy and it was being wasted sitting in a 9-5 soul-sucking job. We were happy people but the situation we found ourselves in was dragging us down. We loathed getting up and out of bed to get in to the office.

We felt so uninspired every day that we resorted back to our old eating habits. Not processed foods but binging. We were taking anything and everything on the “yes list” and going overboard with it. We would overeat until we felt sick.

We would create “healthy sweet treats” and eat the entire treat in a couple of days!

We’d consume up to a kilo of nuts between us sometime, and would eat sweet potato chippies every day. Our portions became bigger and bigger, including the amount of meat we were consuming.

Slowly but surely, the brain fog crept back in, we gained back the weight we’d lost and we were feeling tired and grumpy all the time again. Although the foods we had been eating were primal “yes” items, our bodies simply didn’t need that much food.

We started studying with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and quickly realized that it wasn’t just food and movement that played a part in our overall health and happiness. Aspects of our lives like our career, relationships and spirituality all played huge parts too.

We made the decision to move our focus from food to these other three aspects to help us live better, healthier, happier lives.

Our career was a big one for us. We were forever negatively thinking and talking about our corporate jobs that we hated. We were passionate to find something more.

We were also surrounded by negative relationships, so we decided to put a major focus on detoxing the negative relationships and welcoming positive amazing people into our lives. Yes, we now have less people in our lives, but we truly believe it’s quality over quantity. When we surround ourselves with people who give good energy rather than take, our world transforms.

We started sharing our primal creations to our personal Instagram accounts and we were overwhelmed with people who were really interested in what we were up to! They kept asking how we made something so delicious without using sugar, grains, and gluten!

This got us so excited…we had this super passion for primal living and others wanted to know about it. And we wanted to share it! We wanted others to feel as good as we were feeling.

So we googled: “how to start a blog?” followed by “what is a blog?”

From there, we started our business, The Merrymaker Sisters. This is our site that inspires hundreds of thousands with real primal food recipes. It shows our followers how to find and follow their bliss (bliss = their passion/dream).

We quickly realized that merrymaking was OUR BLISS…and so, we had to follow it. It took us about a year and a half of merrymaking part time until we quit our government jobs—to take a HUGE risk and try to make a living from something we loved doing.

At this point in our journey, we also discovered meditation and we truly fell in love with the benefits of sitting and just being. We realized how much we had to be grateful for and how every thought that goes on in our head can either negatively or positively affect our lives. When we think positive, kind, loving thoughts, that’s what we receive back. When we do the opposite, well, then, the opposite happens.

We asked ourselves: what is the bigger risk? Having a go at something we love and failing? Or being stuck in a job we absolutely hate for the next 50 years…looking back and thinking…what if? So we just did it! We quit our jobs to merrymake fulltime!

We believe what has allowed us to turn this in to a successful business is having the mentality to keep taking small step after small step…it’s all about taking action!

When we first started living primal, we never could imagine that a blog could turn into our fulltime careers. From sick government corporate workers, to bloggers, to full time business owners…and now? Authors!

We’ve just launched our brand new book: Make It Merry: A Healthy Cookbook, which has over 70 nutritious, primal, quick-and-easy recipes.

Make It Merry_selfie

paleo pork belly2

We sent our book to Mark and Carrie last week (they’ve been huge inspirations for our business) and we were so overwhelmed with the feedback they gave us:

“Charming and refreshing—just like the Merrymaker Sisters themselves. We both loved the book’s lively layout and tableside photography. Not to mention, it’s full of tasty, one-of-a-kind primal-approved treats. Coconut and macadamia nut crusted salmon? Sign us up!”

paleo salmon and quinoa salad

No Sweetener Chocolate Raspberry Brownies2

Primal living was the catalyst that changed our whole lives. We found a way to live that made us feel amazing, inside and out, and we found our bliss, our passion.

When we used to think about “health,” we’d think about losing weight, eating less and doing more exercise.

emma and carla_the merrymaker sistersThanks to primal living, we now believe it’s not a journey to health, it’s a journey of our best health. Our favorite message to send out to the world is: do what works for you and what makes you feel good.

So if you’re thinking of changing your diet, or thinking of going for a new job, leaving your partner, asking someone out on a date…then just do it! Because if you’re thinking about it, then it’s important! This. Is. It. Our one life to do what works for us and what makes us feel good. We all deserve to feel amazing, healthy, energized and we all deserve to find our passion and have the opportunity to follow it.

Emma and Carla Papas

TAGS:  guest post

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44 thoughts on “Positively Primal: A Merry Makeover”

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  1. I kinda love you ladies! I feel like I just took a big shot of happy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

  3. Finally we get your full story! Thanks!
    I’m happy you have a “healthy food” book that you can share with us. I love visiting your site and using your recipes.
    Your story has so many similarities with my story. I’m working through my challenges, one of which is not over eating but under eating from stress. The stress in my life destroys my appetite so food seems unappealing, searching for something tasty to make from “unappealing” fresh food helps.
    That first paragraph made me think “the Merrymakers” and lo and behold there were your smiling faces!
    Oh, and I love my “government job” because I get to work with fabulous people and sometimes get to do some “stand up comedy” as I call names for jury service in our courtroom. Thankfully you didn’t love your job, we, as a result, get to benefit from your changes! Win win all around!

    1. Absolutely our pleasure <3 That's so interesting about your stress! We are so glad you love your government job 🙂 🙂 we are glad we left too… merrymaking is much more fun than what we used to do! <3

  4. Great job, gals. From one blogger to another, I wish you continued success.

    Food looks fantastic, by the way. 🙂

  5. Such a wonderful, uplifting story for a Friday morning! I love the Friday stories of transformation. I really liked finding the hidden gem in the story — how they got healthy and then other important areas of their lives came into focus and they went back to overeating but with healthy, primal food! And they felt awful because they realized that they were overeating, even good stuff, came with a price. I wonder how many people start a new primal lifestyle only to go hog wild on delicious, healthy food only with whole, good food, you don’t need as much. I will ponder on this today. Thanks ladies!

  6. Cheers guys. You met me at PrimalCon.

    Keep up the great work. The tide is turning. And you and Christine and Gary and Pete and David G. are really changing things in Oz. Low carb down under also. They are a great follow on YouTube. Superb talks. Highly suggest everyone subscribe to their feed and have a fun time with all the ones already out.

    Real Meals just came out in Oz and apparently they literally can not keep it on the shelf.

    The tide is churning and keep on keeping on, you are helping so many.

  7. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! I will be sure to purchase your new book. I wish you both continued success!

  8. Nice to see you gals beaming with health and energy. The land of Oz is in good hands.

  9. You two live near the Philly area? I want to ask you both out. 🙂 I which I could run into girls like you both. Good head on your shoulders. Your bit on office jobs, hit me good….so sick of it and want to leave,…..

  10. Lovely and inspiring post. I checked out the web site and discovered the term Pegan. Interesting. Still wonder how omitting all animal foods could be good, truly, for anyone.

  11. That’s a great story! Your enthusiasm and drive really are infectious, and I’m sure your successes will only multiply.

  12. Loved your story but for a long time I couldn’t figure out why a single person was speaking in first-person plural. So I assumed it was the Queen.

  13. I’m excited to explore your blog. I always love a new primal inspiration. Congrats.

  14. Nice one ladies. Just sneaked (snuck?) a quick look at your website and it looks fabulous. Always pleased to find paleo folk in Oz, means I’ll keep seeing more options for it in cafe’s etc in the future as others see the light. Will be checking out your cookbook I think………..keep up the good work.

  15. Whenever I get the urge for a sandwich, I have the filling between two side slices of red pepper. works well and tastes great

  16. Love to see women doing their thing with grace, enthusiasm and SPARKLE!

  17. Good on you girls! Cheers from Melbourne! My friend/gym buddy/recipe tester and I love all your stuff! We each make different recipes and then give the other samples. We’ve both bought your book. I asked my parents to give it to me for my birthday. It’s arrived, but I haven’t opened the package because it’s not my birthday until tomorrow. I can’t wait to open it in the morning!
    Please continue on your merrymaking way, it brings a lot of pleasure to people ????

  18. LOVE LOVE LOVE, and def getting your book! I am studying at IIN right now. Like the two of you, I have seen how putting the best quality foods into my body affects me, and I have been committed to that for years. But the idea of primary food has been life changing for me. I have grown so much spiritually, and have also been having crazy wonderful adventures as I discover the real me that had become very boxed in over the years. I love your advice to just go for it, and that is what I am trying to do in every area of my life. I will be starting up my blog in the next few months, and once it is up and running would love to feature your book. It sounds amazing!!!