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...

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Category: Nature

Telecommuting: How and Why to Do It

Our jobs define us, for better or worse. When we’re out at a party and someone asks “What do you do?” we don’t talk about our love of Eastern European history or our kite-flying or the workout regimen we’ve recently put together. We talk about how we make money – our job, our work – probably because it’s only natural to focus on the activities that allow us to eat, have a roof over our heads, and stay relatively clothed. But it’s also because work is the single biggest time sucker in our lives. The average American adult with kids and a job spends nearly 9 hours per day engaged in work-related activities, more than time spent sleep, leisure, or eating.

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Yearning for the Wild

A friend called this week after returning from a two week trip to the North Woods. An IT person who works in a large metropolitan city, he was grateful for the off-the-grid escape. “You forget how much the noise and traffic and technology and busyness get to you until you take a real break totally disconnected from it all,” he said. “I tell ya, by the end of the trip I felt totally realigned. I was sleeping better. I did a ton of hiking, but I rested a lot and just enjoyed socializing and watching the lake. I was calm and not fumbling every five minutes for my phone, which didn’t really work anyway, to distract me. I could focus and enjoy the silence. By the time we left, I felt like I was pared down to who I was again.” It’s amazing what two weeks can do – in the right environment, I think. As he described the trip’s setting and sounds, I couldn’t help but think about the elixir time in wilderness is – and how it’s the most obvious thing in the world but perhaps one of the least appreciated. He couldn’t wait to get back and was already planning the next trip, swearing he’d never again deprive himself of “needed time” in the middle of wilderness nowhere. I know exactly what he meant.

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Will You Make This Summer Your Best Summer Yet?

I’m not sure exactly why January gets all the hoopla here. When it comes to change, it seems like winter (all right, not here in Southern California) might be the most difficult time of year for some people to take on serious change. Sure, after the excess of the holiday season people are feeling penitent. They’re also perhaps ready to accept some quiet, “inward” time after the social overkill of the previous weeks. And, of course, it’s cultural sentiment to look back fondly on the year, clink the glasses at midnight and envision a beautiful, better year ahead – a vision that holds our collective attention for about a week. Well-intentioned as it is, New Year’s motivation is too often a flash in the pan. Maybe little wonder. The winter weeks that follow – truly brutal in some areas of the country – can be as inspiring as scraping your windshield. While I’m all for making change whenever (Isn’t it always a good idea, regardless of the calendar?), I wonder if there isn’t something backwards about this typical scenario. Personally, I get to June and sense that a certain energy and rare enthusiasm are accessible again (not to mention the inviting weather, longer days and fresh markets). You can literally see it in people. Who doesn’t know what I mean here (those of you with standard seasons at least)? Doesn’t this seem like the perfect time to imagine something new and ambitious for yourself? Part challenge, part resolution, part bucket list, part self-experiment? Humor me on this path for a bit….

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How to Get High on Life: 10 Natural Ways to Feel on Top of the World

Many of society’s favorite psychoactive compounds, both legal and illegal, work by hijacking our own neurotransmitters and brain receptor sites. In other words, they aren’t creating something out of nothing nor are they necessarily imposing an alien influence. They only work because our brains are set up to get high and feel pleasure.

Why does pleasure exist? Pleasure is the carrot dangled by the body to get us to do the things we need to survive and prosper. It helps us reach important survival goals. But we’re not ascetics. Experiencing and appreciating pleasure as its own entity is necessary for true happiness and life contentment. Our genes expect us to feel good, not just do the tasks that feeling good compels us to complete.

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Sheltered: Missing the Primal Power of Nature

In her book about human-animal relations, Made for Each Other, Meg Daley Olmert tells the story of C.J. Buffalo Jones, a 19th Century frontiersman who, in her words, “witnessed one of the last demonstrations of the natural order that shaped the logic of our ancestors” and left record of it. “On a hill in Canada’s Northwest Territory,” she explains, “he watched herds of caribou congregate until all the eye could see for ten of miles around was a giant mast of animals whose antlers became a mighty forest. For several days this living landscape flowed past him day and night.” The number, which Jones estimated at 25 million, absolutely staggers the modern imagination.

Whether or not his approximation was accurate, still the size and force of such an experience seem beyond comprehension. Yet, it’s exactly the kind of natural event that inhabited our ancient ancestors’ communal consciousness and, not surprisingly, directed their cosmology. As Olmert suggests, it’s a major mental stretch for us moderns “to fathom a world in which we were not the top predators.” Yet, we evolved not in a state of dominion but coexistence, observance and even reverence for nature’s many forces.

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How to Turn Your Nature Deficit Into a Nature Surplus

This summer I got an unmistakable itch. A yearning. A calling. It happens every summer. I start getting these admittedly ridiculous, unrealistic, impossible, and yet somehow still unavoidable and alluring thoughts about ditching civilization for a little cabin in the woods somewhere. Maybe a plot of land, some chickens, some livestock (not sure what, maybe cows, goats, and sheep, maybe a pig or two). There’s a river running through it, too, or at least a babbling brook, leading up to a big blue lake that you can see right through to the bottom even though it’s hundreds of feet deep. And trees everywhere, towering green giants that cover the sky and leave just enough room for me to stargaze and spot oncoming storms.

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