Quitting Chronic Cardio

I hope the publication of this particular success story doesn’t come across as too self-serving. Reader Brett expresses at length his appreciation for what I do, and for that I’m very grateful. My goal is to touch millions of lives with the Primal Blueprint message, and it’s emails from readers like Brett that motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing. But at the end of day it’s not about what I do. It’s about all of the decisions each of you make daily. I’ll continue to do my small part in challenging conventional wisdom and attempting to provide some direction amidst all of the confusion. But it’s up to you to take that information and do something with it. So make like Brett and his wife Beth and get Primal today!

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. Thanks for reading!

Dear Mr. Sisson,

Please allow us to humbly express our deep sincere gratitude to you for the invaluable health and nutrition knowledge you are generously sharing through your online and other publications. We provide a brief outline of our story here in hope that others may find it helpful.

Our Brief Background Chronology

I, Brett, and partner Beth, 54 and 56 years of age respectively, have been enthusiastic lifelong endurance athletes. Our general lifestyle theme is to achieve the highest possible levels of health and fitness. It has long been our ambition to become centenarians. I began excelling physically as a competitive gymnastics champion at 12 years of age. During my teen years I began competing successfully in marathons, and continued in the sport at a recreational level for 30 years. Beginning each day with between a ten and thirty mile run became my fundamental lifestyle principal. More than a decade ago we began to find the Ironman triathlon competition more eventful and appealing than marathon running, and converted mostly to training for Ironman events. Partner Beth’s experience in endurance athletics has been similar to mine, as we evolved and trained together for the past 20 years. Although we were recreational athletes, our training was intense and our level of competitive standing was relatively high. By our mid-40s, we’d achieved success in international business, and made the lifestyle decision to retire and dedicate fully to pursuing ultimate physical fitness, health and well-being. We planned to continue our triathlon training and competitions indefinitely. Subsequent, for most of a decade, our daily regimen consisted of 6 to 8 hours of training. Much of which entailed intense training, where we adhered to performance quotas and rigorous goals. Nutrition is of immense interest to us. We researched and studied sports and health nutrition in depth for over 30 years. In our attempts to leverage optimal health and physical fitness, we experimented over the past 20 years with dietary regimens ranging from vegan to aggressive carnivore, but for the majority of our lives we adopted the conventional lower fat, high carb diet. We have been invariably careful about the quality of our food products. We have not and will not consume any processed foods of any type. For example, we presently live on our own sustainable organic farm, where we produce 100% of our own food requirements under exacting plant and animal raising protocols. We’ve spared no expense in achieving a diet that is free of the contaminants that characterize most of the commercial food chain. Water is our only beverage, and we have our own deep water well that provides water with exceptional natural purity, and we further process this water through our customized processing system, for even greater purity. Essentially we have long been generally trying to do everything correctly to support achieving our goals of ultimate physical fitness and health. The results of our lifelong dietary and exercise efforts, until recently, however, proved to leave us far short of our goal.

Coming to Terms with Failure

As we entered our 50s, we may have appeared fit, and our endurance event performances may have supported the image of strong health and fitness, but this was purely a facade. By reasonable and objective definition, we were unfit and in poor and failing healths. Given our high level of endurance training and  corresponding dependence on frequent carbohydrate fueling, we evolved to become borderline diabetic. Further, we exhibited many symptoms of the currently well recognized metabolic syndrome (namely excess of waistline body fat levels and other systemic markers of potential heart disease). Particularly disturbing to us was the accumulation of excess body fat around our waist lines that we were finding we were unable to lose, despite our 30 to 40 hours a week of training, and even aggressive calorie-restrictive dieting. We had little if any vital energy to carry out tasks and activities beyond our dogmatic endurance training regimen.

At this point it became blatantly clear to us that our entire health nutrition knowledge base had been all wrong, and we desperately needed new direction and a new plan to avert our pending health and fitness catastrophe. We began urgently digging deeply for truths and new direction. We gradually began to understand clearly the insidious health hazards of the carbohydrate-based diet and abandoned such. We then transitioned to a high fat diet and embraced many of the Paleo Diet theories as presented by Dr. Loren Cordain. But as we aimed to continue our commitment to achieving ultimate fitness through aggressive intense endurance training, while fueling on fat, our fitness levels and general healths declined even further. We were forced to moderate our exercise regimens as our fitness levels declined, and we continued with a Paleo type diet, but were lost in a cloud of uncertainty and lack of direction. We researched ambitiously to establish a new dietary and exercise plan, but for a long period of time we were not able to formulate a general healthy nutrition plan that we could be confident about or have faith in.


By great fortune for us, our desperate nutritional research efforts eventually led us to Mr. Mark Sisson’s comprehensive range of principles on health and fitness, which he generously shares through his numerous online publications. As lifelong athletes, with the deeply instilled beliefs that intense physical training of long durations would lead to better health and fitness and a better quality of life, our initial interpretation of Mr. Sisson’s Primal Blueprint theory was one of skepticism. Our deeply ingrained cultural and lifestyle biases brought us to be parochial and not readily able to see the light of reality. However, Mr. Sisson’s tireless and ambitious ability to confess his doctrine and values for the benefit of others, and to do so in a manner that is exceptionally extensive and comprehensive, allowed us to gradually but relatively quickly, internalize his principles and emerge to realize that Mr. Sisson conveys the absolute gospel. It was the fact that Mr. Sisson answered many of our uncertainties with certainty, confidence and comprehensive logical validation, that brought us to realize his great integrity and his abundant authority to provide leadership for athletes misguided as we were. For example, the very controversial and high-profile question of the relationship between consumption of animal fat/saturated fat/a high-fat diet and heart disease, is one which much erroneous information abounds about, and it is a question that  few health authors will take a strong position on. Mr. Sisson, however, thoroughly and comprehensively clarifies the truth for us on this matter, and he provides references to valid logical scientific data that proves his position is correct.

Realizing the Primal Blueprint Good Life

We are beyond grateful to state that we have made some enormous improvements in health and quality of life during the past year through having adopted Mr. Sisson’s exercise and nutrition principles. We have come to realize that intense aggressive endurance training is not a prerequisite for, nor component of, physical fitness. As Mr. Sisson clarifies, training regularly for a 10 hour intense endurance event is unnatural, unsustainable, and in discordance with our biological evolutionary heritages. Mr. Sisson has redefined accurately and clearly what constitutes physical fitness and a corresponding higher quality of life. Mr. Sisson provides brilliant leadership guidance that is comprehensive and correlates all relevant matters of nutrition and physical activity, leaving nothing vague and uncertain. We gave up Ironman training and competitions nearly a year ago, and are now grateful for having done so. Also, for nearly a year we have adopted the general principles of the Primal Blueprint diet in their entirety. We have, for instance, at present in our freezer at our Arizona organic farm, several hundred pounds of beef fat harvested from organically raised cattle. Beef fat is our soul source of fuel and our favorite food item, which we consume thousands of calories a day of. The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years, stable blood sugar levels, stable energy levels, and the return of normal vital energy for engaging in daily activities. We have abundant energy, for example, to take a 100 mile recreational day bicycle tour through the Arizona desert and do so often. Our running, weight training, and other physical activities are now limited and rarely intense. Our strengths and general fitness levels have improved, and perhaps for the first time in our lives, we are beginning to realize genuine physical fitness. Adopting the logical evolutionary science-based Primal Blueprint principals, which are correct and effective, for the longest time eluded us, as they may elude many persons of similar cultural backgrounds. It took Mr. Sisson’s ambitious and caring leadership to guide us to our enlightenment, and we remain immeasurably indebted.

I’ve been converted to the Primal Blueprint only a short time, and only recently transitioned from the bio-systemic instability inherent in a carb-based diet to the excellent stability and well-being inherent in fueling exclusively on fat. In this photo, which is a very early “after” commencing PB photo, versus the pre-PB photo (above), I have reduced the relaxed waistline (and waistline body fat deposit) measurement by 1.5 inches. Perhaps in six months to a year, both wife Beth and I can resubmit some photos and updates.

In conjunction with communicating and sharing his valuable health and nutrition knowledge, Mr. Sisson de facto acts for some of us, as a mentor, role-model and therapist. Many persons of Mr. Sisson’s generation, perhaps bestowed with similar cultural indoctrination to Mr. Sisson, formulated their lives around the concept of intense endurance training fueled by a high carb diet being a requirement for or a component of optimal physical fitness and a path to a better life quality. For such persons, the eventual realization that their plan was skewed and their efforts have not only been in vain, but have been health destructive, may be a matter that requires some difficult coming to terms with and cognitive adjustment. To arrive at the ultimate realization that they have dedicated perhaps the better years of their lives and the major portion of her lives to a false and harmful prophecy may be at least disturbing. Mr. Sisson provides a model of excellence for dealing with this consideration. As he advocates in his various writings, we need take responsibility and accountability for our circumstances. Mr. Sisson executes this nobly as he candidly identifies and shares the realities of his earlier life misdirections with health and fitness, and without remorse, employs his experience constructively to help others find their way to health and nutrition enlightenment and a genuinely better life experience.

TAGS:  guest post

About the Author

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

Comments are closed.

266 thoughts on “Quitting Chronic Cardio”

  1. Addiction to chronic cardio can be just as bad for some people as too many carbs can be addictive for others. I’m a huge proponent in exercise but you also can’t beat your body down too hard without a respective rest period.

    Congrats on the success!

    1. Is It just me or is this guy yanking Mark’s chain After reading the post I got the impression it was April fools day. I mean really take this qoute for example “We have, for instance, at present in our freezer at our Arizona organic farm, several hundred pounds of beef fat harvested from organically raised cattle. Beef fat is our soul source of fuel and our favorite food item, which we consume thousands of calories a day of”

      and this one

      “We have abundant energy, for example, to take a 100 mile recreational day bicycle tour through the Arizona desert and do so often.”

      Still sounds like chronic cardio is ruling his life still.

      Also “Our running, weight training, and other physical activities are now limited and rarely intense.”

      The primal workout is all about hard intense lifting and running”

      Yep sounds like he is pulling your leg.

  2. Interesting story, but it would be easier to read with fewer adjectives.

    1. Boy, that’s the truth as me and my
      partner would say…

      1. This guy, Brett, seems no different than the crazy religious fanatics. Btw, nice Mercedes, showoff… lol.

        1. Btw, the first picture looks way better than the 2nd. For a second I thought that the pictures were accidentally out of order, but apparently not.

          Whatever you were doing in the first example seemed to give you better results. Now you just look like a skinny marathon runner.

        2. I think he looks way better right now. You can tell in these pictures that his body doesn’t look natural.

          Primal bodies look the best, IMO

        3. I have to agree. He is very lean in both but has more muscle in the top photo, particularly in the chest.
          Of course, it could be that he is carb depleted and his muscles look flat due to holding less water and glycogen. The darker tan also adds to the more appealing look in the first photo.

  3. This is a great testimonial to give people a realistic idea of what chronic cardio really means. It’s not going for an easy 3 mile jog a few times a week or doing an occasional half-marathon.

    On another note, while there has clearly been a transformation, I gotta say, that’s one of the best “before” pictures I’ve seen!

  4. I wouldn’t call it self-serving at all. I think all of us feel the same about you Mark! You are indeed a mentor and role-model and deserve every last one of those adjectives!

  5. Some people are workout junkies and with all this time on their hands it seems to have become excessive.

    Different strokes….. I guess, but it’s probably better than sitting around on a computer or watching TV all day.

  6. I can’t wait to post my sisters and I’s stories. We Truly appreciate you, mark. 🙂

  7. Wish my before picture looked like that! 😮

    1. Please recognize that one’s physical image, in accordance with Western stereotypes of what underscores health and fitness, can be enormously misleading. Although my before photo may convey otherwise to some viewers, it realistically represents a time when I was at the lowest health point in life, on the edge of both diabetes and heart disease, as well as progressively accumulating visceral body-fat deposits.

      1. Where were the visceral fat deposits? This is borderlining on anorexia.

        1. Morgan

          Anorexia is really not part of the equation here – my actual body fat level was well over 10% and if you could have observed the immense amount of food I consumed while tri- training you would quickly dismiss the possibility of anorexia.

          Visceral fat compressed against my vital organs like tumors – and was exceedingly uncomfortable, moreover I was rapidly losing ground in terms of increasingly accumulating more and more visceral fat while on the carb diet and aggressive endurance training. Remarkably, it seems that here in the West there is not adequate understanding of the implications of visceral fat in one’s general health.

          “Visceral fat is harder to lose than subcutaneous fat because it is more deeply embedded in the body’s tissues. Visceral fat is only measured accurately by an imaging machine that can see how much of the abdomen is made up of visceral fat. A person may be within a healthy weight range, but still have too much intra-abdominal fat around the internal organs.

          The liver metabolizes visceral fat and releases it into the bloodstream as cholesterol. Harmful, or “bad” cholesterol, which is Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), builds up into a plaque that blocks the arteries. Losing weight through proper diet and effective exercise can help reduce visceral fat. How much fat a person eats does matter as studies have shown that those who eat 30% or more of their diets as fat usually have high amounts of visceral fat. ” ( source: https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-visceral-fat.htm)

  8. Brett–

    My hat’s off to you for your strong dedication to ultimate physical health. It can’t be easy to put in all that time and dedication to a grueling training regimen to then make the leap to admitting that perhaps it was not the path to optimal fitness. Many people would not have been open to change at that point. You and your wife are both to be commended for your execeptional ability to be open to trying new things.

    1. You address a salient factor, that being that we may indeed be in a state of denial, or may simply wish to refuse to face reality. For Beth and I, the cognitive transition took a number of years to fully achieve, but the feeling of embracing reality is glorious!

  9. “Chronic cardio” … what a joke.

    Real men don’t do “cardio” they engage in athletic activities. Cardio is for overweight soccer moms.

    1. Everyone makes mistakes. Every one of us is here because we made bad nutritional or athletic decisions. Good job guys for finding your way out! You’ve got to be a real man or woman to do that.

      1. Absolutely. There isn’t one among us who hasn’t fallen victim to believing CW at some point. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

    2. Take your soccer mom jokes and shove ’em straight up your backside, pig! I know a LOT of soccer moms who are very fit, my daughter included. What is wrong with being a soccer mom? Was yours a fat couch potato or something?

      1. Referring to the guy with the “overweight soccer mom” remark, not the soccer mom defender!

  10. I always respect that the success story contributors are brave enough to put so much out there for criticism, and yet… still have some reservations about this one. Perhaps I’m influenced by the writing style and stern photos (please, please exhale), but doubters might too easily dismiss the approach described here as orthorexic.

    1. agree! a little less “tummy tuck” please.

      Brett Beth: It’s a long, bumpy road overcoming addiction. Congratulations on your recovery process!

    2. I too have reservations about this success story. I get the point about chronic cardio though.

    3. that’s what i thought too.

      does this guy really believe his “after” photo is better than his “before”?

      …he actually thought he was a bit fat in the first pic?

      1. There is a high degree of self absorption involved in the story…
        Think Grok was overly self absorbed?
        I don’t know…he probably didn’t have the time…instead of retiring at 45…
        he was dead…

    4. I agree. This wouldn’t be a post I would show to friends to explain the primal life. It seems difficult and sad!

      Usually MDA helps you to remember it is all worth it to make changes because you feel so darn great!

      I didn’t sense the same excitement from them although I wish them ALL the best in their journey.

      1. The improvement in quality of life we are already realizing from the PB mantra is substantial, and we are only yet early in the transition. It is indeed “darn great” to realize energy for many new recreational activities!

    5. I have to agree. I love before/after real-life stories that help me believe that un-CW strategies like PB (which I am in my first week of) really do produce results. I was pleased when reading this account when he mentioned the inability to lose excess waistline fat. But then I saw the before and after pics and was deflated, to say the least. For someone to feel that the before pic was un-ideal and included excess body fat, is, in my opinion, the sign of unhealthy (mentally) obsessive-compulsiveness. No offense to Brett and Beth, their commitment is admirable. However, real-world before/after stories such as those found with Body For Life (which gave me amazing results) are more inspiring to me. For average people looking to lose weight and be more healthy, those types of stories are more inspiring (and frankly, more motivating) than this one. For someone in average or below average physical condition, who needs to improve overall health and cut body fat, this article is almost de-motivating–to see someone in the unreal, ripped before picture with single-digit body fat, used as an example of a “before” PB condition. Let’s see more before/afters from average people with more common needs and desires…not from elite athletes who desire to go from 6% BF to 3%. And Brett doesn’t look happy in either. I like to see “after” photos that show the joy of relatively large overall health improvements, not a photos of an obsessive compulsive who goes from unreal condition to…slightly better condition? (Like I said I thought the overall build looked better in pic 1..and talk about lean!) Again, not an attack here…I’ll just have to say that when I started reading the essay, I was prepared to be inspired by a motivating transformation…but was left feeling flat, frankly.

      1. Your comment raises the helpful consideration that we may better look deeper than the surface in gauging our state of physical well-being. Although my photo waistline may not have evidenced such, a thick layer of visceral fat accumulated under the abs held major implications for HD (extreme lipid levels), and practically impaired physical performance. Remarkably, I found no way to counter this element of health decline while involved in endurance training and fueling with carbs.

        1. I think people are making the mistaken assumption that people who are not overweight or out of shape don’t also have health problems and need the real health advice Mark provides! There is a reason Mark continually condemns chronic cardio, and it is not for the benefit of the out of shape or “average” person (except maybe to keep them from going down that path), but for the benefit of the lean, cardio obsessed, athletic people out there who are killing themselves just as effectively as the overweight “average” person! These people may be the minority but they still need Mark’s help and advice and maybe even the odd success story that reaches them.
          A lot of judging going on on MDA today. Remember, we all have different priorities, and hold ourselves to different standards.
          I do hope Brett and Beth are enjoying life more with this more relaxed and fun fitness regime. Congrats!

    6. I feel the same way. And it reads like someone blogging about finding God, which I find hilarious (ex. “salvation”, “gospel”, the almighty Mark Sisson’s guidance…)

      1. Yes, the analogy is not entirely unfounded as, given it is real and valid, the Mark Sisson/PB theory has had a much greater positive impact on our lives than popular superstitious faith.

  11. While we are all grateful for the time and energy Mark and others have put in to educating the public on human health, the great thing about this community is that it feels legitimately egalitarian. Many people have taken the basic principles and churned out their own form-fitted life-style approach, so there’s no need to treat any of this as gospel. It’s a constant work and learning experience in progress.

    Kudos to you and your wife for demanding the best strategy for health and having the courage to redefine your approach to nutrition.

    1. A sagacious assessment! Our story is only on mundane account among many, and we must have gratitude for the Mark Sissons of society whom take time to care.

  12. I look foward to Friday success stories but this one did not resonate with me. “Brett” seems obsessive and very tightly wound, which made me sad reading his story. And submitting a photo of yourself posing in front of your Mercedes…. well ….. seems out of sync with the down to earth vibe this site and its followers seem to present. Just my two cents.

      1. I live in Arizona and ran round with out-of-state license plates for over 2 years before getting AZ plates. As long as my registration was still valid in my previous state, I didn’t worry about it. Plus people move around a lot back and forth—

      2. American culture is enamored with cars – the MB in the photo is a full electric conversion, and hence, could be viewed as more primal than the typical car in the sense it is not contributing to our carbon overload and its insidious impact on the health of humanity.

        1. Except much of the electricity in this world is generated with coal.

        2. Is that a tailpipe on the fully electric car?

    1. I have to agree. I didn’t take away anything inspiring from this “success”. Mark please post another truly inspiring success.

      1. I am not there (at success) as yet in physical image, but the inherent is far more important to us – that is having found the correct and realistic path to genuine health and fitness. For those of us whom have been lost for some time, the sensation of findings one’s way is sublime!

    2. Hate much? What does having or not having a Mercedes have anything to do with being down-to-earth or Primal?

      Not all of can relate to the hard-core athletic lifestyle Brett and Beth had been living, but the point of the story is that it did not result in optimal health.

      Get over the class warfare schadenfreude people.

      1. Gina, in your opinion did the before pic reflect “un-optimal health”, as opposed to the after pic?

      2. Schadenfreude is when you’re happy that someone else got hurt, emotionally or physically.

        Envy would’ve been a better word.

      3. I agree with Gina – people are getting really dogmatic about what kind of ‘success story’ they want to read, and they’re also being kinda mean…

        Brett, you are very different to most people here, but you’re still welcome! 🙂 Some people get off on pushing themselves to the limits of what is possible, while others prefer to sit and relax in their garden with a cup of tea and some wind-chimes nearby. I’m glad to hear you’ve loosened up your lifestyle a little, Brett. You say that you’re not nearly the success you’d like to be – I think your next goal should be to loosen up a little more. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured (and boy, have you already done a lifetime’s worth of that!):) You seem like the sort of person who is very hard on himself: for that reason, I think you should challenge yourself by indulging! Instead of living off beef fat alone – have some berries dipped in dark chocolate, maybe spend a day doing nothing in particular – no plans allowed – life is for (good) living!

  13. Impressive story. Congratulations on your success. I have to say that something seems off to me especially in the second photo. That thirty pound, steel frame bike that doesn’t even have clipless pedals does not match up with being a competitive iron-man triathlete nor for taking “100 mile recreational rides”. I have to assume that’s not your training or racing bike because there’s no way you could ride that thing 112 miles and be competitive. I hate to be a hater, but that’s too obvious to not point out.

    1. What? I personally would assume that someone so dedicated to triathlon has SEVERAL bikes. Using a heavier bike is great for casual rides. Plus, you can get into all sorts of debates on the merits of steel frames. And kick stands and pedals are really useful if you’re taking a day trip where you may want to stop and not have to lay your bike down, clop around in bike shoes, etc. At any rate, he’s not wearing one of his probably many tri suits so it makes sense that he’s not taking his race bike out for a spin.

      1. Sorry, but no serious triathlete I know has a bike even close to that regardless of what type of rides they may go on. Just sayin. Something’s off.

        1. No disrespect to our “weight weenies” but I’ve gratefully put my frail and dangerous 18lb carbon tri-frame behind me forever, and this is a great attribute of embracing a PB lifestyle transition!

        2. Actually, where I live in northern New England, a lot of us serious cyclists and triathletes own mtn bikes, which are pretty heavy, to ride outside during the winter. Nice not to worry about frost heaves, downed branches, etc. which plague our roads in the winter. Plus, the extra weight makes the hill work that much more effective, and you can get a better workout in shorter time, which means less time in the cold and wind!

        1. From K Mart. Just saying. Not a bad thing but if you’re into bikes (tri) and nice things (mercedes), one might have a nicer heavy load bike

  14. Is this real life story for real? Maybe it is sincere and just a little over the top (in which case my apologies for doubting), but I can’t help but wonder if it is meant as satire…

    1. That’s exactly what I thought. This story would make sense as April’s fools.

      Ultimately, what we are doing is supposed to improve the quality of our lives. Fretting all day long about how to best achieve this leads to a miserable life. You have to look at the bottom line. You might have gained some years (which is actually doubtful, psychology plays a role as well, after all), but at what cost?

      Eating only 100% foods from your own garden and drinking only water from your own well? Not that there’s anything wrong with that in itself, but again, if the motivation for doing so comes from an obsession (rather than genuine joy of farming), this seems too extreme.

      Eating nothing but beef fat all day? This story really seems like a satire trying to make fun of the primal lifestyle.

      1. Totally agree! I love reading these stories on Fridays and often forward them to the people I coach on nutrition. But this story does sound like a satire with all that business about eating only beef fat all day and eating and drinking 100% from your own well and garden. Eating nothing but beef fat isn’t even primal or what Mark teaches. Mark encourages veggies and protein. I thought Brett looked ill in the second photo. I wonder if Mark and his team fact-check to make sure people who submit stories are for real? I’d love to know, Mark!

        1. LOL – without a doubt. It just sounds completely obsessive and not to be encouraged.
          If not the obsession with “perfection” then some other obsession.

        2. Please allow me to contribute here, so as no one is even remotely mislead, of total daily calories, beef or other animal fats comprise approximately 60% of our daily total. Fat comprises our primary fuel. The significant point is that fueling on carbs is health destructive, while fueling on high quality fat is health developmental. Thank you Mark, for clarifying this high profile nutrition matter!

  15. Training for and competing in marathons is brutal and does deserve the label ‘chronic cardio’ and yes it will make you unhealthy sooner or later. It’s great, guys, that you quit it. I did so myself a few years ago and never look back.

    But competing in marathons is not exactly the same as endurance running. Once a week I go to the woods and run for 3-4 hours (I also do sprints once or twice a week). Would you call it ‘chronic cardio’? You would be wrong – before each such run I eat only fat (coconut oil), stay below/around 70% HRmax, and my glycogen stores remain mostly untouched. That’s what endurance running by humans should look like and that’s how our ancestors hunted (no, we were never able to outsprint our prey). There’s a great book by Stu Mittleman who advocates this kind of running combined with low-carbs, high-fat and protein diet. Yes, you can eat low carb and excel at distance running, just do it smart. There’s another great book by Bernd Heinrich on the evolutionary sense of endurance running.

    1. Tomasz,

      Your weekly endurance run, which you fuel on coconut oil, are a monumental achievement, that Beth and I have only recently arrived at. It took us a great deal of time and struggle to overcome the dependency on carbohydrate fueling.
      For us the initial transition to fueling on fat seemed to involve a lot of acid related pain and discomfort in the muscles. Initially we made the error of trying to maintain regular endurance running fueled on fat, well before we had achieved the biological adjustment to comfortably fueling on fat rather than carbohydrates.
      Perhaps a bit similar to you, we are now engaging a few longer runs, but infrequently and at a less than competitive rate.

  16. Okay, after rereading this, there is no way this is a serious story, although I don’t know who is kidding whom. Beef fat as their only fuel source and custom processing of already naturally purified deep well water as the only beverage?

    1. which also means, you can’t have a social life outside your own estate. Unless your bring your own beef and water to vacations/parties etc..

  17. Mark,

    You deserve every one of the adjectives.

    I too am troubled by the photos. I would love to look like the first one. The second one looks like the zombies I see at running events.

  18. Congrats Beth and Brett and thank you for sharing!
    I cannot help but note that (as you were before on your endurance training) you are a 100% focused, this is great, but why do you need to take absolutely all your fuel from beef fat? Isn’t it a bit too much?
    Not sure Mark would recommend that: balance and diversity in the source of fat seems to make sense to me? Mark, Would you cook only with beef fat ? Beyond the survival of tastebuds, is there no reason to keep coconut oil, butter or olive oil in the mix?

    1. I think it’s an obsession about body image rather than an obsession about health.
      The ‘love handles’ (which I don’t see anywhere in the “before” photo) seems to be the focus of this entire story.
      They found the cheats to finally get rid of the 1 thing that’s plagued them their entire life. Basically, they’ve switched from carbs to fats as a source of fuel…but continue the chronic cardio it seems.

      1. That was my thought exactly when I read the story.

  19. My entire family is addicted to chronic cardio and it is so frustrating. I just try to tune it out and not worry, but sometimes I just get angry that they are so stubborn and won’t change their lives for the better.

  20. This guy looks FAR healthier in his before photo than his after photo. Anyone who looks at the before photo and thinks “there’s a 55 year old who needs to lose weight/inches from his waist” is crazy. I think this is the story of what a lifetime of food obsession/anorexia will do to you.

  21. I don’g believe it. Mark, you sure? Beef fat as only source of fuel????

  22. Brett, how did you achieve those legs? Awesome! Was it only high reps of bodyweight and sprint cycling? Or have you been using weighted exercises?

    1. I did regular intense strength weight training for 30 years, i.e. full squat sets of 3 to 6 reps with 400 lbs +. Remarkably, I do not think those years of heavy training yield any measurable benefits today. I now train one muscle group once a week with modest intensity, mostly in accordance with PB theory.

  23. People commenting here might want to step back a moment and see this story for what it is. From what I read, it’s about a couple that take their health VERY seriously. (I can relate.) A couple that desperately want to do the right the thing. A couple that will go to extreme measures to achieve optimum health and wellness. And it’s a type of couple (and a personality type) that I hope the Primal Blueprint messages reaches. Part of the PB message is that wellness doesn’t require overworking your body and extreme behaviors. That rest, play, down time, stress management, low-level aerobic activity and other behaviors are key to longevity and happiness. I think Brett and Beth are beginning to realize these things, and will be better off for it in the long run. Many thanks to Brett for taking the time to share with us his personal account. His story isn’t about weight loss, and may not read like other success stories published on this site, but that’s what makes it a real life story. It isn’t cookie cutter. It’s a personal, unique experience, and hopefully one that those that read it can take something from even if they don’t identify with it directly. Grok on.

    1. Ok, I can see this point, that “the message” needs to reach such ultra-obsessed people as much as it does the couch potatoes.

    2. sorry. still don’t buy it.

      i get what you’re implying. one can look great from the outside and feel like dying on the inside. i get it.

      but this guy *still* seems to be confused about his body image.

      this smacks of an ED.

      1. My before body image may not be disparaging on general American standards but the point we were aiming to convey is that this perception is a hoax, just as is much of the popular perception of what underscores genuine health and fitness.
        The western cultural influence as it pertains to health and fitness misconception is powerful. I’ve resided most of my life in China, where subscription to intense endurance exercise is culturally viewed as foolish and harmful, yet having emanated from the west and its culture it still took me much of my life to grasp reality, and I probably would continue to languor in misconception if not for the work of Mark Sisson.

    3. Mark, I find this information absolutely invaluable to the amount of people I come into contact who are cardio addicts, endlessly working day after day mile after mile for what they think is good for them. This article proves yes you can have an amazing looking body doing this type of workout regime over and over and over, but still not be healthy!!! For Brett to say they became Pre-diabetic is testimony to the high carb low fat lifestyle!!! Primal/Paleo will reverse that…I am proof!! I will be submitting my own success story by this time next year!! I have been following the Primal Blueprint and Paleo lifestyle for 43 days now and the results I’ve achieved in that time frame are staggering, and I’m someone who needs to lose weight! For those who appear healthy as Brett & Beth and for them to provide this kind of feedback is awe-inspiring to me!!! Thank you for posting their story!! I will be reposting for my facebook fans to show them that anyone at any fitness level can achieve greatness following this lifestyle!!


    4. I have to agree with the others who are questioning this post. Something just doesn’t seem…right.

      1. I had a good deal of back and forth with Brett via email and while anything is possible I got the impression from our correspondence that he was sincere and his story was genuine. To the extent that I am able, I attempt to verify the legitimacy of each success story submission, but of course, some level of trust comes into play. I’ve contacted Brett and hope he’ll chime in here on the comment board to clarify any questions you may have. And if he does I hope and expect he’ll be greeted with support rather than cynicism.

        1. Let him know I want another picture with a SMILE 🙂

    5. “Part of the PB message is that wellness doesn’t require overworking your body and extreme behaviors.”

      Eating nothing but beef fat and water is not an extreme behavior?

      Sorry Mark, but this article completely brought me down today for some reason. From reading the comments, it is apparent that the “appeal” for this before/after story is very limited. Your hope that it gets the message to “this type of couple” is the best you can hope for with this one. My read on it is that the vast majority of your readers were very turned off by it. Not to say it shouldn’t have been published, but I don’t see it helping the cause. Had I stumbled on this page first when I discovered you, I likely would have moved on…quickly. Thankfully, I initially landed on your site while researching a raw diet for my dog, of all things! And that hooked me. (And yes…my sheltie has been “raw” for two weeks, and I’ve been Primal for a week, since finding your terrific resource!)

      1. There has been some very helpful comments provided here regarding the merit of fueling on beef fat – which is an item we are enthused about!

        Some of our readers can readily grasp the merit, but for those that are finding the benefits to be somewhat nebulous, I explain that it is vitally important to qualify “beef fat”. We harvest beef fat from steers that have free ranged exclusively in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. In relative terms, this provides the healthiest fat source one can find, given that there is virtually none of the common toxins found in most of the commercial food chain, imminent in the desert steers’ standard vegetative fodder. Moreover, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in naturally grazed steers is the best of most all fat sources. On our organic farm we raise Peking ducks, and fuel partially on duck fat. Ducks naturally provide up to 50% or more of total animal calories from fat. Yet the quality of duck fat is inferior to that of beef fat.

        For those whom would genuinely scoff at discernment regarding drinking water quality, please be encouraged to seek truth in facts, and perform a few lab tests. You may be impressed by the high levels of arsenic, cadmium and unlimited other toxins in your standard water fare.

        1. Hi Brett, I know I am enjoying your feedback very much, I hope others are as well. The feedback certainly was somewhat reactionary for the most part, including myself to some degree. Probably better to think and wait before writing, as with most things.

          First of all, I agree with you on drinking water. People blindly drink whatever there municipality tells them is “safe.” I for one live in Park City, UT, where one would think the water would be fresh, clean mountain water. Unfortunately, most of it instead is derived from snowmelt that runs through old mining tunnels…which are toxic waste dumps. The water is treated and then deemed “safe.” YEch.

          I do have a question regarding the beef fat…when you say beef fat, are you referring to “Beef” as in flesh and fat, or are you literally referring to rendered fat only? If only the fat, in what form do you consume it, and where do you get your protein.

          I am glad to hear that so far, a diet with 60% fat is allowing you to get more lean than you even were before. Making that switch to less cardio and carbs and MORE fat is probably the hardest component for many, and definitely me, accept. Having only been ‘primal’ for a week…I have been sticking to 50-60% calories from fat (I am logging everything on Fitday.com, a fantastic resource Mark recommended) and carbs maxing out at 50g, virtually all from vegetables and a bit (maybe a few strawberries or the like). But I have to admit there has been unease on my part about whether such a radical shift in dietary structure would actually help burn more fat. So if in fact it has for you, then that’s reassuring.

          One other question, you mentioned the hours spent training every day until PB…how do you and Beth spend your days now? Just curious.

          Good luck with your continued journey, enjoy the ride.

        2. Peter,

          Congratulations on your discernment regarding our drinking water supply – unfortunately the blatant reality is that its very difficult to find water in either synthesized or natural forms anywhere in America that is not at least contaminated with arsenic.

          You raise an excellent insightful question about fueling on fat. This must be a major concern for many of us making the PB transition. Probably to proceed with confidence we must really research the valid scientific data as referenced by Mr. Sisson and others. One issue is that you may find very elevated lipid test results subsequent to beginning your fat fueling. I humbly suggest it is critically important to stop with most of the carbohydrates, whereas there seems to be some valid evidence that the relationship between carbs and saturated fat is very ominous toward our general health.

          Our aim with preparing and consuming fat is to do so in as close to natural form as possible. I genuinely believe the best approach nutritionally would be to consume the fat in its natural form raw, yet given a few circumstantial factors here in Arizona, we have not as yet graduated to this measure, although it is being done in traditional cultures in a few areas of the world. At this time we lightly slow cook the fat in a solar glass cooker, and do not render it, but rather consume all of the tissue and liquid combined.

          Unfortunately when you are a sustainable minded or ecological minded person, you may have objections to consuming beef fat, whereas the conversion factor involved in raising beef (approximately 7 or 8 pounds of plant material to produce 1 pound of beef) is not favorable. We also raise Peking ducks, which produce good quality fats, yet the conversion factor to produce 1 pound of duck meat is only 2 pounds of plant food. Significantly, however, the duck fat is more inflammatory and less optimal in micro fat nutrients that is the beef fat.

          Thank you for your interest in our personal lifestyle. Beth and I still contribute at least a couple of hours a day to regimented exercise training of some sort, and very often engage some much longer sessions of low intensity recreational style activities such as biking or hiking, or when overseas, swimming and diving. Here in Arizona at our farm, raising crops for animal feeds, producing organic vegetables in our greenhouses, and raising various animals (goats, rabbits, ducks, steers) can be a full-time occupation, but also a gratifying and rewarding one. Another of my personal hobbies is ongoing education, and I now spend a fair bit of time studying towards the completion of a doctoral degree in sustainable agriculture.

          Unfortunately it entails some expense and resources to live in the particular sustainable manner that Beth and I have chosen to. However, undoubtedly one wishing to transition to PB can also enjoy more conventional or urban versions of the healthier PB lifestyle.

          Best wishes with the progress in your movement to the PB diet scheme.

    6. Oh MAN!! These comments are a hoot! *Way* funnier than the letter, Mark should make this a regular feature, Serio-Comic Funny Friday!!

      I disagree with the hate haters hatin’ the hate. Nothing like a good ol’ Grok style paleo ass kicking to relieve people of their arrogant puffery.

  24. Your body clearly evolved into a skinny fragile skeleton by doing life long chronic cardio.

    There was a test done back in the 40’s on 2 (i think german) men, Twins. One was told to do heavy lifting growing up and the other to use cardio. After a few years it clearly showed 2 different body types even though the twin boys started out with the same body frame.

    Congrats on discovering the primal lifestyle 🙂

    I need another photo…one with a smile.

  25. This article is ridiculous. Using simple words and sentences is always more effective in getting a message across.

    1. Yes, it reads like a “Personal interests” section in a CV, which makes me suspect that it is fictional.

      People find it easier to mislead, exaggerate and stretch the truth in formal rather than personal writing. This piece is written in a very stilted, formal style and almost entirely in the third-person.

    2. Yes, I somewhat agree, yet I’ve been more interested in organic gardening (since migrating to USA from China in 2008), than in developing colloquial American literary style – ha!

  26. This “story” just does not seem legit to me …

    1. This story is nonsense. Mr Sisson must have swallowed a thesaurus when copying and pasting the weekly success story this time.

  27. Brett, thank you for sharing your story. It’s amazing to see the possibilities for primal living when resources are unlimited. Living on a pristine farm with several hundred pounds of beef in the freezer sounds pretty close to paradise to me. I hope you can share this bounty with your friends and family and improve their lives, as well.

    The praise for Mark is appropriate and well deserved. For some people, Mark may be just a bright star in the paleo constellation, but for me and many others he is something like a savior. Whether he’s helping lifelong cardio addicts recover their health, or teaching lifelong couch potatoes (like me) to free the inner athlete they never knew existed, Mark has an unparalleled gift for opening minds.

    And he does it for free, as a public service. The overall effect of Mark’s efforts is immeasurably positive for the entire modern world, no exaggeration. Today is a good day to reflect on how fortunate we are to have him among us.

  28. As a newbie to this site, I can say unequivocally that this “reader story,” is off-putting. For Brett and Beth’s sakes, I hope this is someone out to satirize the primal lifestyle.

  29. I agree with the other posters — “Beef fat is our soul [sic]source of fuel” ?? Really??? You realize that sentence means that this is ALL you eat?

  30. Give me a break..this is really a guy who is in his 50s??????

    1. This guy could most definitely be in his 50’s in both pix. Where in his fifties – 51 or 59?- is a legitimate question, but good grief, people, 50’s just is NOT that old.

      1. Absolutely! I turned 50 this year, and I’m convinced that 50 is the new 30….And that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

        1. I’m almost 67 and DH just turned 80 – we could both run circles around most of the people in this forum. Well—DH could for sure…..

  31. The phrase “fueling exclusively on fat” makes it sound like they eat nothing but beef fat. I think he is just saying that they run on that instead of high carbs, not that it is all they eat. Take this sentence: “For example, we presently live on our own sustainable organic farm, where we produce 100% of our own food requirements under exacting plant and animal raising protocols.” Note the word “plant.”

  32. Organic beef farm in the arizona desert? 100 mile recreational rides and you’ve quit chronic cardo? Yea, calling BS on this one. It’s just weird.

    1. Additionally, if you download the photos and look at the metadata (Right-click > Properties > Summary > Advanced), it looks like both photos are from 2008?

      What’s going on here, Mark?

      1. The photo extension doesn’t say 2008. MDA2008 refers to the folder these photos are stored in on photobucket.com and has nothing to do what he titled the photos. In fact, he titled them:



        1. He named the photo “strugglingwith excessbodyfatanddecliningfitness”? The before photo?

          That tells it all. This person has some serious body image issues, unfortunately. I am sad for him.

        2. Peter,

          The before photo does not illustrate the health hazardous (visceral) fat that I referred to in titling the photo “struggling with excess body fat”. The main intended point of the photo was to convey that the western stereo image of what constitutes genuine health/fitness, cab be, and often is, specious.

    2. I live in the Donoran desert, and I can tell you for a fact that there are several companies that raise free range cattle. A lot of cattle is “brush fed.” we buy it at the local farmer’s market.

      1. Ummm…Sonoran. Not used to the iPad typing yet 🙂

  33. I agree. This is most definitely a joke.

    By ‘transformation’ the man in the picture goes from ripped to emaciated.

    A 100% beef fat diet… right!
    I think I’m going to dedicate my life to a ‘false and harmful prophecy’ now, sounds like fun!

    1. Hey, at least now we know how to get super skinny? LOL

      Eat more fat people!

  34. “our daily regimen consisted of 6 to 8 hours of training” not even pro’s without jobs train that much. I say BS.

    1. I can see six hours being possible. During the summer after my junior year of high school, I spent six hours a day in physical activity. Two hours lifting, one hour doing cardio (exercycle, stairmaster, rowing machine, etc.), and three hours playing some sort of sport (raquetball, volleyball, swimming). Rinse, wash, repeat for a summer of fun.

    2. However, Chinese middle school students (in China) will spend each day of their summer break studying at home, for basically the entire day. The culture of dedication and repetition is much different than the states. For someone who spent most his life in China, the story makes a lot more sense. The writing style does too.

  35. I hate to say it but I also think this is BS. The whole story seems off to me, sorry Mark but I really think you got this one wrong.

  36. This particular story seemed at bit less than credible to me. Brett seems to have gone from extreme to extreme. I don’t think what he describes in terms of diet really corresponds to much of what I have learned on the Primal Blueprint either. With all due respect, was this “success” story fact checked at all? And since we saaw two pics of Brett, I would be curious to see a picture of his partner Beth. I am curious to see her success story as well.

  37. None of this takes away from the fact that the description of Mark is 100% accurate.

    1. Not to mention Mark looks great, healthy, vibrant in his pics…and obviously from his writings, enjoys life immensely.

      The pics of Brett, esp the second one, don’t look that great to me, compared to Mark. And his writing does not indicate any joy/fun/pleasure in his life…only a scientific obsession with getting to 0% body fat.

    1. I revisited the posting and scrolled through, swearing that the guy looked an awful lot lie Charlie Sheen. And I am not the only one!!!

  38. I’m very skeptical of this, and think it was written by Mark or a member of his team. The language used, content, views, etc. It’s all very suspect.

    I like browsing the forums here and reading Mark’s latest posts, but the Friday success stories are sometimes (not always) suspicious.

    I’d like to see a shorter more believable story next week. Prefereably with photo’s, but that’s not as important as an authentic story.

    1. I don’t think Mark wrote it, but I do think its fake as hell, and I think Mark knew that before he posted it but did it anyway. If Mark didn’t know it, then maybe he should read it again because it screams “FAKE” to me…

      1. While I HATED the story and found it depressing as Hell (to the point of questioning…just for a moment…my interest in PB), what do you all think is fake. The pictures are certainly real. What would be the point of someone crafting this story from fiction? I think a before/after showing a 275 lb person transforming to look like the second picture, would be more suspect. Which is why a lot of other sits like Body For Life would have people holding newspapers in their Before/After pics to validate them.

        I think this is 100% real…just depressing. And if Mark made it up, wouldn’t he instead fabricate a story that showed dramatic results for an average Joe, that would have great mass appeal, unlike this account?

    2. I agree there’s something fishy, but Mark is too successful to post false stories that he has written himself. From what I’ve read about him he has more integrity than that. If the story is made up or exaggerated, I would say he was fooled as well.

      1. True enough, just one look at the Before and After Pics thread will show you there are plenty of success stories. There’s no lack of material and no reason to lie about it (for Mark, dunno about the submitter.)

  39. What a sad, unhappy life that couple lives. They seem to be looking for what only Christ can fill.

    1. That’s what I was thinking, too. Except I would suggest the Peace Corps or some kind of volunteer work to get them out of their own heads for awhile.

  40. I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but how something as positive as Success Stories can be brought down by the negative comments. As far as I see it, everyone who visits MDA is on a journey of some kind and while that connects us, each of us need to understand that we each journey from a different place & have seen different places along the way. I always saw MDA as a place where we don’t judge, constructive critisism on occasion perhaps but not judging. I just think that some opinions should be thought about before bringing people down, do you really think Mark would post something as a joke when he knows people value success stories so much? Plus, did you consider that it would offend/hurt someone who is serious about their personal journey & success if it wasn’t a joke as you’d thought??
    Long enough post really so one last thing… Good on you Brett & Beth. You’re following what you feel rather than being swayed further by conventional wisdom. 🙂

    1. I don’t mean to offend. Just saying I’m suspect, as many other posters are.

      If Brett and Beth are out there reading this, I’m sure they’re not bothered what I, or anybody else thinks, considering that they’ve reached their full potential.

      Why would a comment get them down?

      1. Yes, Joseph, you got that right! They’re much too narcissistic to be offended!

        This was one creepy article.

    2. This personal journey is like a guy telling you that he went to Atlantis for his vacation.

      1. Yeah, what irks me the most is that the whole scenario just feels like he’s bragging. Bragging about how fit he and his partner are, bragging about how dedicated they are, bragging about how extreeeeem they are, and then it was finished with a photo of him posed gratuitously in front of a Mercedes and I laughed out loud.

        It’s cool you’re on a journey, but…don’t be a jerk about it.

        1. cTO

          We contributed a lot of years on our incorrect and harmful pursuit of health/fitness, and therefore feel more so as failures and do not sense any accomplishment to be boastful of. A major issue of adjustment for us was coming to terms with our failure.

    3. Nicely said…
      The more I think about it, the more it this all reminds me of the old Rula Lenska shampoo commercials; “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”
      So they made smart investments & could “retire” before they reached the age I am at now (at 51 I realize I will never be able to retire…) good for them!
      They were addicted to chronic cardio & are learning to overcome that addiction.
      Ya, maybe alot of this smacks of fiction, but that’s because we haven’t had that life. Maybe it really is 2 people trying to overcome some OCD workout issues & who are we to judge?

      1. Rula Lenska! Now that’s a trip in the Way Back Machine! :o)

      2. When somebody claims they were unhealthy, and cites “symptoms of the currently well recognized metabolic syndrome (namely excess of waistline body fat)” I think it’s reasonable to look at their picture and gauge whether they exhibit said symptom.

        If you think that before pic is a guy with excess waistline body fat, then I am 100% justified in judging your opinion as well.

        And frankly, I think it’s imperative that we DO judge and question. If he thinks his 6 percent body fat (or whatever it is) is too high, he needs professional help. He’s anorexic. It’s in this guy’s best interest to hear some of these comments, I believe.

        1. JD

          You make a reasonable suggestion here in that we may well consider the role of psychological disorder in any of our health related concerns.
          In our particular case, the hypothesis of psychological disorder and our health deterioration being perhaps more imagined than real simply doesn’t hold up if one examines facts such as, stability/sanity in other areas of life (career, education, marriage, social activities, financial security etc,) and very importantly, concrete medical test results.

          The health problems we incurred as a result of intense physical long-term endurance training and the carbohydrate diet were real and profound. It was not imagined that we were exhibiting symptoms of diabetes and heart disease and the diseases were progressively worsening conditions. The aesthetic is not much the issue for us at this point in our lives as seniors, more so we pursue bona fide inherent good health. We now feel fully confident we are moving in the correct direction with the PB lifestyle scheme.

  41. Call me crazy…but this guy looks like he needs a good meal! I live in sport/health/weight obsessed Boulder, CO. I am 30 days Paleo, feel great, but this should not be about self obsession. Live life a little 🙂

  42. Who gives a shit if its fake…its still a funny story! And the pricipes are there!

  43. Take away the body in the first photo and he looks like Charlie Sheen. Anyone else see it?

    1. yep. he looks just like Charlie Sheen- if Charlie Sheen was in shape. haha

  44. I’m surprised at the hostility of some of these comments. Not to be cynical, but perhaps it has something to do with our human tendency to sympathize with those who are in worse shape than ourselves, physically and financially, and to feel much less generous towards those who are in the opposite position.

    There are a lot of primal virtues, but there are primal vices too, among them envy. I think Brett was brave to share a story that many folks have a hard time relating to, and to admit that he spent decades of his life in error. Before joining the mob in condemnation, please contemplate: is it cool reason that leads you to criticize, or an ancient emotion welling up inside?

    Personally, I only hope that someday my own success story is so incredible that nobody believes it. (“You’re trying to tell us that guy with the rippling 8-pack and lats like a flying squirrel, swinging two sledgehammers in each hand, is 84 years old? And he eats only mongoose adrenals, yak eyeballs, and white-elephant kefir from animals he personally raises on his secret Himalayan plateau…? Shenanigans!”)

    1. Reason leads me to criticize – I’m not envious of Brett or Beth.

      To have a skeptical, even critical personality, is simply just healthy self defense. We developed our skepticism because, in the words of George Carlin.. life in this country is about a whole lot of BS that needs to be detected and avoided. There are too many people that will take advantage of you if you are not able to see their intentions. Skepticism helps you see the intentions behind the actions.

      Most of us here are natural skeptics. If we weren’t, we would never have suspected flaws in the SAD, and when looking for answers would look no further than the doctors, or government websites (just one example). It’s skepticism that bought me to MDA.

      1. I understand that we’re all skeptics, and it’s natural to question things that don’t make logical sense. But I don’t see anything in Brett’s story that’s more implausible than the usual success story. Then again, perhaps I’m not looking carefully enough. If your own reasoning leads to different conclusions, then by all means, criticize.

        But consider. When we read stories of obese people becoming fit on the PB, we never see comments like “oh, he’s obviously on steroids”, or “she must have starved herself to get that thin”, or anything like that. We give the storyteller the benefit of the doubt, and we take their word for it when they say they lost X pounds in Y months using Z methods.

        I’m just intrigued that so many are withholding the benefit of the doubt in Brett’s case.

    2. I agree 100%. I would LOVE to have the time to be active all day, every day. And although many people can’t relate to the changes he had to make in his exercise regime, it does not mean they were any easier to make.

      How many of us struggled big time giving up foods like pizza? They didn’t.

      How many of us struggled to give up our long morning run and adapting the intense exercise regime we’ve followed for decades? Had to admit, as an exercise/fitness/health fanatic, that we were wrong… for decades? I certainly didn’t, but I can’t imagine it was any easier than cutting out pizza in my diet, which I thought was tough.

  45. Mark, I believe the pop-culture phrase that applies is “You just got punk’d!”

    Better take this one down.

  46. wow this guy and his wife are super duper serious. his writing style also conveys what he describes. hope they are “ok” with making “mistakes”. hope they have a sense of humor and can be laid back and laugh at life. hope. this particular story did not seem inspiring, Mark, and it seems to me, this fellow has not resolved his addiction to exercise AT ALL. His compliments are nice, Mark, but..WOW.

  47. Yup, definitely charlie sheen in the 1st pic.
    I can understand all the neg comments with the writing style and conflicting imagery, but is it that hard for people to understand some people out there obsessed with aspects of their life. Here we have an example of the person being completely obsessed with the chronic cardio lifestyle. The story is showing he has had an epiphany in understanding that there is a better way to live. Maybe he hasn’t fully transitioned to a primal lifestyle in that he is still obsessing, but he has made the crucial turn in the right direction and this is a huge success considering his previous path in life.

    The beef fat, is probably referencing most calories coming from that not that it’s the only source of food(regardless of how its worded).

    Also, the 100mi ride does not automatically constitute chronic cardio. I just did a 110mi charity ride this weekend and guarantee you it was the same as most people walking around town for the day. Heart rate always low enough to hold comfortable conversation.

  48. Mark:

    It’s a great story, especially for someone like me, who’s seen countless endurance athletes over-fuel on carbs and sugar.

    There’s something Brett writes, though, that really needs clearing up. As the comments bear out, readers are particularly thrown by this:

    “Beef fat is our soul source of fuel and our favorite food item, which we consume thousands of calories a day of. The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years, stable blood sugar levels, stable energy levels, and the return of normal vital energy for engaging in daily activities. We have abundant energy, for example, to take a 100 mile recreational day bicycle tour through the Arizona desert and do so often.”

    I’m not being judgmental here. I just think some clarification is needed. Doesn’t this mean that Brett and Beth are on what amounts to the Atkins Diet? I’m not an expert, but consuming protein and fat to the virtual exclusion of all else is essentially what Atkins is. If that’s the case, and that’s what they’re eating, how is it possible to do 100 mile bike rides in the Arizona desert? And if that’s what they’re doing, then aren’t they still endurance athletes (notwithstanding that they’ve given up their triathlon training)?

    Riding like that on protein and fat can lead to little else than what we see in the photos. Which looks great. But again, I make no judgments. I just want to know, as I think other readers do, what your take is this particular part of the story – especially with respect to its sustainability.

    Thanks, Mark. I hope you’ll reply.


    1. Thank you for your comment, Susan. Yes, for clarification, I do not recommend a diet consisting solely of (beef) fat (and protein).


      As one commenter pointed out, it may be that he means that beef fat has become his primary source of fuel rather than sole.

      Notice I titled this post QUITTING Chronic Cardio. Brett has only recently started adopting the Primal Blueprint principles. He’s been a chronic cardio junkie nearly his entire life. Taking things easier and scaling back the distance and time may not happen overnight.

      1. Thanks, Mark. The best part is that Brett has been open minded enough to try something new that’s so different from what he’s embraced for so long.

        I think it’s good to keep in mind all the people who wouldn’t try Primal for even one day – much less give it a wholehearted try for any length of time.

        The paragraph I quoted in my first comment jumped out at me because I’m both a cyclist and a Primal follower, so I’m always trying to square one with the other.

        I think I know enough about endurance sports and Primal for it to be fair to say that Brett hasn’t quite reached the right balance yet. It’s understandable because he’s new and he’s working on a lot of change. As he works at it and keeps reading the blog, I think he’ll evolve into all of this, which is the whole point. It’s what we’re all doing.

        I think most people here are just trying to figure out what to do and what not to do – for their own purposes. I thought some clarification (from you, and thanks for giving it), was needed on this particular point, because in its present form, in the text of the post – it’s could easily throw some people.

        Again, thanks for writing.


        1. Susan,

          You raise a helpful question when you suggest “riding like that on protein and fat can lead to little else than what we see in the photos”. I am not sure what you see in the photos, but my goal has been to reduce some of the health hazardous visceral fat that has progressively accumulated in my abdomen. Significantly, considerable uncertainty remains about what impact even recreational level (low intensity) endurance activity may have on visceral fat reduction/accumulation.

          Further, your suggestion that we’ve perhaps not reached a desirable “balance” as yet is appreciated. Yet, how does one gauge where is the balance? Coming from a background of serious tri-training, a 100 mile cycle ride through the Tucson mountains and desert feels nearly effortless and is pleasant.

          I apologize for the ambiguity about our fuel source. By fuel I meant the entity that drives our direct kinetics vs food for providing nutrients. We consume less than 50g of carbs daily, and derive 60% to 70% of daily calories from high quality animal fats.

    2. Although some people think Atkins is all fat and protein, that’s actually not true. There are 4 phases of Atkins, and in Phase 1, which only lasts 2 weeks and is designed to jump start weight loss, you are only eating 20 grams of carb a day…I suppose that’s where the idea that it’s all fat and protein come from. PB is probably most like Atkins Phases 2 and 3, where you are eating plenty of fat and protein and anywhere from 30 to 150 g of carb a day (from veggies, dairy, fruit, nuts, seeds) depending on your tolerance for carbs. Phase 4 is beyond PB, as it allows some grains.

  49. The title of this post is “Quitting Chronic Cardio” and I believe that this post shows us that we can be fit (or at least look fit) without all the endless hours 24/7/365 of constantly working out, jogging, aerobics, cardio, resistant exercise, ad nausem. And based on what I’ve read in Mark’s bio and other comments Mark has made in MDA I believe that’s why he decided to post this particular success story. As far as I’m concerned, the point is well taken. Gary Taubes touches on this subject in his latest book: if you’re exercising that much now just to keep at a constant weight, how much will you have to do 5, 10 15 years in the future?

    All the other factors regarding the individual life style choices of the people involved are IMHO not really anything I should be worried about.

    Sometimes looking fit and actually being healthy are 2 different things but that’s not the discussion here.

    BTW – who the hell is Charlie Sheen?

    1. Have you been living in a cave? 🙂 He’s an actor. The world has been bombarded with stories about his antics.

      1. Actually, our tribe considered itself very lucky to have found this cave. We only have to share it with an occasional bear during hibernating season.

  50. I am BLOWN away by the amount of hate and personal judgment expressed by the primal community in the comment section of this post today. It is disgusting.

    I have always been thin and lean, or at least looked that way. Always. So has my dad, who never exercises, eats a terrible diet, drinks tons of alcohol, and smokes. He looks incredibly healthy. And he is in his 50s. We are, or at least look, lean, no matter what.

    And you know what? So many people think they can say anything to someone who is thin. I have never struggled with an eating disorder in my life, and my BMI has never dropped into the unhealthy range, but do you know how many people have made comments like, “Wow, have you been eating? You look incredibly thin.” As if anyone wants to look “incredibly thin,” anorexic, etc. That is just as hurtful as “Wow, you have been eating. You look fat.” We live in a society where most people are overweight, the primary reasons for which are discussed on this and similar blogs, where the cures are also found, and consequently the dramatic weight loss stories and photos. While I understand that the before/after photos in this story do not tell a story of dramatic change, his words do. Photos cannot tell how a person feels about himself, what his energy levels are, or how his gut feels that particular day. I appreciate a success story with dramatic before and after photos as much as the next person, but I am not less affected by a story of someone who appears to be healthy, moves toward a primal life, and then feels much healthier.

    I can only wish I had made fitness and nutrition high priorities my entire life, like Brett and Beth have. They’ve tried very hard to be healthy, but they went down the wrong path. How is it NOT a success story when someone finds the right path, the path that makes them look and feel better?! I can’t relate to before/after photos of people who shed huge amounts of weight. But I am still encouraged by them. I look very similar, regardless of my lifestyle, but I feel like a different person entirely when I am eating poorly and not exercising. Just because my pictures don’t tell a dramatic story doesn’t mean that my body didn’t undergo serious changes when I converted to the primal lifestyle.

    Kudos to you Brett and Beth and thank you for telling your story!

    1. While I see where some commenters are coming from I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed as well.

      1. I was also blown away by such hatred of this column and success story. Everyone is so astounded that this guy’s writing style is way to structured and that the facts and pictures add up, when in fact I think they completely add up. If someone is extremely hard core about the things they take on and detail oriented, his life before and after primal, as well as his writing style would all come off as hard core. People seem to be bashing it because they can’t associate to it as much.

        Well here something we should all realize, we are all hardcore here! The fact you guys are reading a health blog everyday makes you a bit more hardcore about your health than the average dude walking down the street. It amazes me that with all the cynicism that every one of us probably encounters when we try to explain how we live to normal folk that we still have it in us to be this judgmental of someone else’s lifestyle.

        If a story doesn’t resonate with you, move on. You don’t get a gold star for your hatred. In the off chance that this is fake, pointing your finger and someone and saying “phony!” doesn’t help (anyone catch that reference…). All the hatred that is contained within people never ceases to amaze me.

    2. I agree with what you say, except that first picture is somehow bogus. The second one absolutely looks like the guy who wrote this post – beaten up by decades of chronic cardio and endurance events. He looks 54. The guy in the first photo, Charlie Sheen, Brett’s son or whoever he is, has not spent decades over-exercising and eating lots of carbs. He just has not.

      1. There is absolutely no way for you to know this. And you are actually accusing Mark of printing a bogus story, which I would be insulted by if I were him. You come to this blog to learn from Mark, yet you seem to be able to identify a “bogus” photo, while he was not.

        Photos are not complete stories. They are one moment in time, from one angle. He is much more tan in the first picture, which alone could explain why he looks more muscular. There is a reason body builders spray tan and oil their bodies before a show.

        1. No. If you look through my posts, it is clear I am not one of the haters. Clearly Mark believes the story is genuine. My faith in Mark is just as strong as Brett’s. Normally in MDA I use lots of qualifiers. In this case, I would bet money that the first photo is not Brett just before starting Primal. If not for the recent license plate, I would say it was him at 30.

    3. If this story is fake, so be it. Mark certainly didn’t know it. Mark’s own story involves years of going down the path of hyper-athleticism, only to find his middle aged body to be unforgivingly truthful.

      Many folks in that realm LOOK great, look healthy, but are not. That is the point. My own brother-in-law ran marathons and did triathlons, only to suffer from a heart attack at 45, to everyone’s complete shock and amazement.

      I’m with you Angela – disgusted by the pile-on here, and especially at the people doubting Mark’s integrity. And now I am never going to post my “before” pictures – I’m thin too. How dare a thin person be a “before”??!!

      1. “My own brother-in-law ran marathons and did triathlons, only to suffer from a heart attack at 45, to everyone’s complete shock and amazement.”

        Fine, but did the marathons cause the heart attack?.. No – didn’t think so

    4. I couldn’t agree more Angela. This story didn’t sit well with me, but the hate-filled replies are ridiculous. I have been skinny my whole life but am very fit, strong, and eat well. People who are not happy with their weight often make negative comments about my appearance. While I pity them, I resent their negativity and attempt to bring other people down. Many replies to this story serve as a prime example of this type of behavior.

      Calling bullshit on a story is one thing, as is critiquing dietary and exercise choices. Personal attacks are lame.

    5. Well said, Angela. I’m all for healthy scepticism, but what about compassion too? The dirtiest looks I ever got were when I was Anorexic with a BMI of 13.4 – people seemed ready to bring out the pitch-forks and torches to hunt me down, when clearly I was in need of help… This mob mentality is kind of disheartening. The Primal Blueprint can help people from both extremes of the health spectrum move towards a more balanced lifestyle. It isn’t always about hearing what we want to hear… Some of the suspicion may stem from Brett’s verbose style of writing, but he just seems to be the kind of guy who likes to do a thing really well. Hopefully he is able to be kinder to himself now – no one else can do that but him.

    6. Thanks for posting this encouraging response, Angela.

      Like you, I’ve always been thin; and I often hear that I look “athletic.” Sadly, my fitness level ebbs and flows, and it’s nowhere near as regular as the tides. Even when I was lifting regularly, I didn’t always address cardio, so I may have been muscular and “athletic” but not necessarily fit. Others construct opinions of my fitness level based on their interpretation of my appearance, but looks can be deceiving.

      That being said, I can empathize with Brett in regards to being thin but feeling visceral fat developing, and being frustrated. I’m not obsessed about it, and it’s not something that would be obvious to others. However, I am definitely aware of a change that’s going on with my metabolism and my body, a change I want to address before the signs are significant enough for others to notice, and that’s one of the reasons I ended up on this site in the first place.

      I’m glad the primal lifestyle is working for you, and I think it’s great Brett & Beth found a new path that will hopefully work for them. Eventually, I’ll give this primal thing a go myself.

    7. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been primal six months now and I was very lean even before that. My biggest problem with the PB-litestyle is how to gain weight and increase in muscle since I look even smaller now than I dead before, although ripped, which is nice of course. But still, it’s though to feel so skinny. I’m 191 cm so I don’t want to look too skinny, it’s actually a big problem.

      And all the comments after this succes story made my extremely dissapointed and I was really shocked actually. We all have different reasons for eating like this and we certainly all have different backgrounds and goals we want ti achieve with it.

      This was my first comment here, I just had to write something since I was so upset. And sorry for the poor english, I’m from Sweden.

    1. How many head of cattle does it take to supply one couple, even a couple that eat a lot of beef? One or two? Can you raise one or two head of cattle in the Arizona desert? Duh!

  51. I am happy that the couple found MDA and the primal lifestyle. Congrats!

    But looking at the 2nd photo after seeing the 1st one was quite a shock. First thing that came to mind was Auschwitz.
    This needed a different title because this guy hasn’t stopped cardio…he’s standing next to his racing bike.
    The whole thing is a little confusing.

    So they’ve switched out grains and sugar for fats and continue the chronic cardio even though the title says “Quitting”…the right title should’ve been “Obsessing with chronic cardio”.

    Seems like many of us are a bit confused…but the story still seems real and I wish Brett and Beth the best of luck on the primal journey to perfect health.


    1. No, as people have pointed out, it is not a “racing bike” – it is a recreational bike.

  52. There are a lot of clues in the text that the story is fake, regardless of the pictures, which are in themselves bizarre.

  53. There are so many different ways to struggle with health and well being. Cripes, I can relate to OCD, anxiety, anorexia and other mental disturbances myself, especially while I was a vegetarian (maybe I should submit my own success story!). It takes a long time of good, animal-based nutrition to cure what you do to your brain by chronic cardio and a carb-based diet. Give the guy a break, he has done as much damage to his brain as anyone else might have done to their body by being obese. He’s fixing it. It’s a journey. Getting over being OCD and having anxiety issues has been a way bigger deal for me than giving up pizza and milk chocolate.

  54. Hey Brett – Smile more.

    I’m not jealous of the Mercedes though, it’s only a Kompressor. Now if it were a CL65 AMG, on the other hand….

  55. I didn’t have any sense this was faked, I had the sense of “OMG,those poor folks!” (Apparently) they suffer with the same sort of body dysmorphic image disorder as any anorexic. Y’all may not realize there are many men who have the “male version” of anorexia — which is the same completely unreal mental image of ‘how their body looks’ and as much commitment to (in this case, chronic cardio; in others’, hours in the gym doing everything) because their brains don’t let them see what others see.

    All I ‘heard’ in his writing was a desperate, desperate, “try anything” attempt to meet some (unreal) ideal ‘form’ — rather than any sort of self-acceptance of a human body, with its innate lack of perfection.

    Farming and purified well water and a seemingly crazy-massive training regimen sound like symptoms of an inability to accept any imperfections. “If only I do “it” *exactly* right, why then I’ll be lovable / loved / acceptable” — every abused child knows that song!

    To Brett and Beth (assuming Beth is as addicted/addictive as Brett seems to be): keep going, keep working on that primal eating… maybe try to cut down on the ‘recreational’ 100-mile rides in the desert, and see if letting your body relax and heal a bit, letting it relax into its Nature, rather than the (false) picture of perfection you’re chasing doesn’t make your health better and your life longer!

  56. If your goal was to get from lean to even leaner you certainly have succeeded.

    “The result of adopting the Primal Blueprint diet and exercise principles has been our achieving the leanest body compositions we have experienced in years”

    Congrats 🙂

  57. Healthy skepticism demands I consider this story an epic troll job.

    Surely MDA staff must realise that extraordinary claims (of which this piece is nothing but) require extraordinary evidence. The negative reactions this has garnered are only to be expected given how outlandish and extreme a picture it paints.

    Personally I would very much like to learn more about Brett and Beth and their unique lifestyle. I wonder have they ever been approached by reality TV producers?

  58. It looks to me like the head in the first picture has been photo-shopped. The shadow on the top of the chest does not look like it matches the head and sunglasses. The body is so brightly lit from the sun and the face seems much less bright. Maybe I am wrong but they don’t look like the go together.

    1. Wow. It is odd. The shadow doesn’t look right. The entire photo is front lit by the sun, yet his face is completely in Very odd. Not sure of what the point of going through this exercise would be, though.

  59. I’m afraid I feel strongly enough to chime in with the doubters here. Don’t hate or envy the guy, but pity does come to mind. The pictures are over the top poseur photos.

    and I’m a grammar cop, I couldn’t read further than here: “is one which much erroneous information abounds about”.

    Love YOU Mark!

  60. Seems to me a lot of people here have forgotten why Mark did all the research and developed the Primal Blueprint in the first place.

    Endurance marathons, chronic cardio, constant injuries … anyone???

    Cut them some slack and go eat a steak.

  61. Honestly, what is with all the hate and doubting? Isn’t Mark’s own story not that different from this guy’s? He was an elite athlete and by all appearances the picture of health but acutally unhealthy and sick all the time. Why do we doubt Brett’s story because of his appearance? The whole point is that his appearance is not a good indication of his actual health. Also, yes, his writing style is a little formal and full of superlatives, but if I could hazard a guess, I am thinking English might not be his first language. I could be wrong, but even so, disliking his writing style is really no reason for this level of virulence.

  62. The writing style fits perfectly a type A person, someone who has made enough money to retire young and spend countless hours training. Everything about the post rings true to me except the first photo. I was wrong to call it bogus. It is just hard to understand how that could be the same person fairly recently before the second, that’s all.

    To Brett, a 100 mile ride probably does seem relaxed now. And he certainly can do a race once in a while like many people here.

    Here is a human being who has tried to share his passion about Primal, only to be kicked in the face here. I’m sorry if I did some of that. I believe the story is real and inspirational. I do not pity Brett. He has found the right track.

  63. ok yes, brett seems a little obsessed with fitness and i think he might agree to that. but his story is about his change in thinking regarding constantly working out (chronic cardio) vs the grok way. if that was the purpose of this post (hence the name quitting chronic cardio) then that is what you have to look for when reading.

  64. I thought the first picture was Charlie Sheen. When he was healthy! Which is not a bad thing at all.

  65. I live in Arizona and take exception to the comments about organic grass fed beef/cattle not being capable of being raised here — mainly because we are thought of as a desert. Well, for the most part we are a desert but —-

    Therefore I decided to google “Arizona Organic Beef Farms” just to see what would come up. Here is the first link to come up:


    BTW, I buy organic grass fed beef at a small natural food store here in Central Arizona – not sure if I can mention the name – but here goes: New Frontiers in Prescott.

  66. Sounds like most people here are getting their undies in a bunch and taking this way too serious. Lighten up people, no need to be personally offended. I am certain Mark did not post this to pull a fast one on any of us. Take what you want from the story, or don’t. Now go to bed, you’re all WAY too grumpy today!

  67. People of zee wurld…relax! Welcome to Primal, Brett. Thanks daddy Grok.

  68. wow, well now I know never to share my own success story. I think it takes some guts to put your name, pictures and personal thoughts and struggles out there for all to see. The least this “community” could do would be respectful of both Mark and the submitter.

    not every story has to be about a fat person losing weight in order for it to be inspirational. I’ve never been overweight, but I’ve had lots of health and wellness struggles as Brett and Beth obviously have too.

    I’m happy for them that they’ve found a better path to take. Whatever their weights, level of tanning, vehicle they drive, etc is of no interest to me. It is inspirational to know that in your 50s it’s not too late to change course and feel better.

  69. Sorry Brett, I should not have made that comment(though, you gotta admit, you do look like Charlie Sheen in the first pic). Taking a step back, I and many of us are probably being too insensitive with our words.

    1. Perhaps, but for for the most part it’s healthy skepticism, and Brett can handle it!

  70. I’m super curious about your farm, I live in Tucson and would be a total customer in the case that you produce a surplus!

  71. I’m new here but my first thought was that not everybody is good at writing their story. It was kinda hard to sift through this one. And maybe the same goes for his choice of photos. He wasn’t thinking of the effect they would have. I mean that the photos don’t illustrate his story very well. He says he was quite I’ll before but the photo shows his tan fit looking bod. However, it wasn’t a healthy fit body. Just looked that way.

  72. Also calling BS. You’re triatheletes so you’re posing in front of a female Wal Mart bike? Sorry. Not buying it.

  73. I hope those people learn to relax. Why live a hundred years wound up tighter than a prairie dog’s butt in a dust bowl?

  74. At first I thought the “before” picture was the “after” picture. Like Mark said, “It’s isn’t cookie cutter.” There are many different people and experiences. I too hope Brett and Beth are living life. As someone mentioned on a previous post, life is for living. Good luck Brett and Beth. And I second the “amen” to Mark.

  75. I have no doubt this story is real. It is remarkable in that it describes a breakthrough moment. It is hard…HARD…for an obsessive person to acknowledge his obsession, let alone act on changing it.

    There’s no way these two can just screech to a stop. If 100 miles is an easy ride, then it’s an improvement. I just hope that next week it will be 90 miles, and the week after that 80, and the week after that five days a week at 80, and so on. And maybe a nice long LEISURELY (3mph TOPS) barefoot (on the burning sands of the desert? maybe not) handholding walk to take up the slack. This last may be agony at first, but give it a serious try and you’ll find yourself liking it. Maybe even smiling…

    Most of us have to get moving and work harder. You’re simply starting from a different point on the spectrum. If you’re really committed to the Primal lifestyle, then you’ll work hard at slowing down and easing up. Good luck, you two!

  76. Dear Mark,

    I don’t think it’s strange or disappointing that people are upset by this post; I think it’s a credit to you and to the community you’ve created at MDA. MDA is a place where people trust one another, and learn from one another, and deal with one another honestly, in an effort to get to the truth — and therefore it’s distressing to come here and get duped. People aren’t upset because there’s a Mercedes, or a lack of body fat, in the pictures; they’re upset because they’re being lied to. (And also, of course, because they look up to you and don’t like to see you get duped.) I don’t know whether this is a malicious fake or just the work of an insane person, but it’s rife with totally outlandish inconsistencies, some of which have been pointed out by other commenters, and is unworthy of your really, really excellent site.

  77. Maybe I’ve become jaded by reading too many Matchdotcom profiles, but if this guy isn’t fake, he’s a self-involved anorexic. Retired young to pursue his own physical health? Come on, why live forever simply for the sake of living forever?! Help someone, create something beautiful (besides your own physique, which looks alarming to me anyway), work toward something outside yourself, for pete’s sake!

    1. Juliett,

      The fake element does prevail in the sense that I (Brett) and especially (Beth) cast an idealistic Hollywood image of health/fitness, but in actual fat were in poor health and far from being fit. Highest quality of life is our philosophical aim, but it seems longevity emerges as a necessary corollary.

      1. Lol… “Highest quality of life is our philosophical aim, but it seems longevity emerges as a necessary corollary”

        Seriously dude, STOP posting and just let this “Success Story” fall deep within the archives.

  78. Mark, I’m a big fan of your site and the PB, but I think you are being played here. Beyond the over the top writing, the pictures tell the story. Pic #1: Totally ripped body…check. Angry scowl…check. Clenched fists…check. Fancy Mercedes…check. Conclusion: Even with all my worldy posessions I’m not satisfied with how I look and my face and fists say it all.

    Pic #2: Body not as healthy as prior pic (yet still very fit)…check. Only eat animal fats…check. Over the top praise for Mark…check. Still not happy…check. Conclusion: I’ve been a disciple of yours for a short while and look at these great results? In his letter, he said he’d like to provide an update in 6 mos. to 1 year. I’m sure that will be real interesting.

  79. i think the major takeaway points of this story are not the typical ones that are so much more obvious in overweight people who need to “lose the fat” because they were in the evil grips of a CAD ;-).

    I don’t remember Brett saying he had love handles to lose; he said he was getting the thicker waist of the middle-aged due to VISCERAL fat, which is harmful and also not able to be “grabbed”; it’s INSIDE the belly, around your organs.

    The message is a good one; it was definitely scrambled by the extreme lifestyle and the unusually formal, serious, somewhat strange affect of the author.

    I think the takeaway message is still a valuable one – dangerous visceral fat can still become a problem even in those with endurance lifestyles and low subcutaneous bodyfat; and I would rather not waste my time with all the other quesitons.

  80. Where is Primal Blueprint Law number 7 – Play – in this post? It all seems so joyless, I love the PB concept but it is meaningless if it is an endless struggle to achieve physical perfection. I draw, I paint, I play guitar I have fun with family and friends and I try to live a PB life style. Have broad interest enjoy life.

  81. Wow. I am hugely disappointed….in the response of the MDA community. This story inspires. All success stories are great, but one coming from someone who is incredibly dedicated to optimal health, like this one, I found unique and thought-provoking. You’re knocking this guy because he drives a Mercedes? Because he took his health seriously enough to source all his own food? Criticizing his writing style??? C’mom guys. Kudos to you Brett and Beth, and thanks for sharing you one of a kind story.

  82. Wow. Is everyone so high and mighty that they cannot understand another’s unique journey that honors their truth?
    Brett and his partner were searching for the truth, and going deeper and deeper in their quest for supreme health. How can you judge him for doing this, even if you cannot understand it? I think we are all on a quest to live our lives truthfully. Kudos to them for going deeper and deeper, letting go of what’s not working, tranforming their beliefs to lead a healthier life for them, and what serves their highest good. Do I detect jealousy because he was successful, retired at a fairly young age and was solely in pursuit of ultimate health, having his own organic farm? More power to him!!! He is somebody who is taking personal responsibility for his life, and living his truth.

  83. I just took the leap 3 months ago and try daily to read Mark’s website.
    Every story I read and comments made are usually very inspiring and reinforces my decision to go Primal.

    The “Awesome Dave”story was my catalyst for leaping.

    I don’t recall Mark ever mentioning in his column that taking the leap meant I needed to conform to a protocol on what I drive, ride or how I take a picture to share a story and that I would need to answer to a “Primal review board”.

    Looks like Brett is in front of the “board” now.

    Thanks for sharing Brett. Maybe those who are most critical should post their story and picture? But Im sure they are better at being critical then laying it out.

    Mark-Thank you for the column.
    A close friend of mine saw you in Overland Park Ks back in May and said the seminar was very great.

  84. So a farm matching the details Brett provides should be pretty high profile. Any farm that produces vegetables in greenhouses, and also the livestock that he mentions–beef, goat, rabbit, duck, plus also produces all of its own animal FEED, all organically, would be a pretty high profile operation. A farm like that would cost quite a bit to run and would need to advertise and have a presence in the community. And yet, it is impossible to google any such farm owned by a “Brett” and “Beth” in Arizona. In fact, running a completely self-sustaining organic farm that produces all of its own animal feed is almost unheard of. Polyface farm is one such farm, and was so unique it was featured in a book by Micheal Pollan. It stretches believability to the breaking point to think that “Brett” and “Beth” have set up this kind of farm to feed themselves in their retirement in their spare time as they commit up to eight hours a day training. There are a number of other inconsistencies in the story and in the actual writing that suggest the prankster is a foreigner. He mentions “emanating” from China and there are numerous other odd phrasings and malapropisms that make the whole thing just very strange. The China thing seems to be a hastily-added enhancement to cover the lack of familiarity with the English language. It’s also suspicious that there’s no photo of Beth or description of her results, since she’s supposedly been on this journey with him.

    Mark–you can probably get some help tracking IP addresses and such, and also since you theoretically have this guy’s full name, you can request verification of his address and the existence of his farm in Arizona. That would be much more reassuring than a series of emails that “seem sincere.”

    Even if you take this story at face value, I have to question Mark’s judgment in posting it. This is someone complaining of overweight who very clearly in his “before” picture is not overweight and has very low body fat. (Contrary to what some are claiming, visceral fat is not invisible. Visceral fat results in the stereotypical “pot belly,” so it is not believable that this guy somehow had dangerous amounts of visceral fat hidden under his clearly ripped abdomen.) Calling this a “success story” does not send a very positive message to your readers.

    1. Catherine,

      Thanks for your interest in our AZ organic sustainable farm. Your request for verification is reasonable.

      Here are the details of our farm that anyone can verify now online (www.asr.pima.gov) :

      Tax assessors ID 208-46-116B
      Owner: Min Jiang Sun Trust
      Trustee: Brett Adams (me)

      You are correct that our sustainable farm, being off grid with a lot of elaborate infrastructure did take a stack of money to establish. For us, however, given our strong interest in health and fitness, the large investment was fully warranted. Our farm’s location is about as remote as you can find in most of the USA, being located next to the 129,000 acre Monument National Forest (about 30 miles Northwest of Tucson city in Marana AZ). We do not aim to be high profile, and prefer to remove ourselves far from most all tenets of conventional urbanization. Although because sustainable organic living is our hobby and an important personal concern, we do operate as a information resource base for our peers within the global sustainable living community (sharing information on water conservation, organic gardening, solar harvesting, and all other matters of sustainable living ). In accordance with our original farm design we constructed a fully equipped fitness center and tri training facility, hence it was not difficult to incorporate a fairly ambitious training schedule with our farming lifestyle, although things have changed a lot since we embraced the PB life.

      You discount the merit of my story as a “success” story, and this also seems reasonable as I at present continue to work on achieving some important health goals. Significantly, however, I now have a clear idea of how to achieve the goals, thank you to Mr. Sisson.

      1. I don’t see the comment I attempted to post just now. My apologies if it ends up being duplicated. This property is listed by Pima County as vacant. A search of the address turns up multiple current for sale listings describing it as a partially developed parcel with a number of unfinished buildings that was intended to be developed as a sustainable farm. Google maps satellite searches do not show anything that looks like a farm in the vicinity.

        1. So ask the guy for the complete address and go there to check by yourself. Seems to be the only way to be 100% sure and put an end to your ridiculous obsession.

        2. The address is 3988 Sassy Rd. Marana, Arizona. It is a VACANT parcel of land with some unfinished buildings on it. It is not a farm. There are no animals. There are no greenhouses. There is no house. Brett apparently purchased the land in 2008 for a little over $21,000, put up the buildings, and has it listed for sale for $125,000. There’s no sign that there is such a person as Beth.

        3. Catherine,

          Well, from a rational standpoint it may seem a stretch of our imaginations to imply that Brett is perhaps an Idogines living in a barrel on, as you claim “vacant” land, in the remote rural Sonoran desert – ha ha!

          Regardless, the matter may not hold a great deal of relevance to the meaningfulness of our examination of PB health principles. I sincerely wish you well in coming to terms with your conceptual challenges.

        4. Google the coordinates that follow. There is a fence around the property that looks like the fence in the first picture. Not exactly the same address but very close. Google misses on the addresses sometimes:


  85. The jealous people who are attacking and doubting Brett’s story, lifestyle or appearance should put their money where their mouth is and submit a wonderful and motivating success story filled with photos, so that we can analyze the details (but without a shred of real evidence) and call them liers.

    1. Dear PB readers/contributors,

      Please accept our sincere gratitude for the abundant amount of constructive feedback regarding our humble story of transitioning to a PB lifestyle.

      Some of you have provided some particularly helpful additional questions, insights, and encouragement. For those of you whom seem skeptical or doubtful about the truthfulness of our account for one reason or another, please be advised that your critical feedback is also much appreciated. In our society where deception abounds and perception or misconception overrules reality, skepticism is at least a helpful tool (especially in the high stakes realm of health/nutrition).

      I should apologize a bit, because my writing ability in English is not the best, and perhaps is inconsistent with conventional American idioms and colloquialism, therefore it is confusing and/or boring. My story was a bit burdensome to grasp based on the way it was written.

      Nonetheless, we must nominate Mr Mark Sisson as our hero, and as the source of our personal salvation. This is the main message we hope to convey by responding and sharing our modest story in his great discussion column.
      “Thanks to Mark” in itself is somewhat trite and superficial, but we hope it might prompt some due diligence in researching pertinent facts of health and nutrition that Mr. Sisson has prepared and presented for us, which help bring about stronger levels of general health awareness, and a better quality of life for many of us. It was perplexing for Beth and I that despite being persons of at least modest intellect with graduate educations, it took us many years of analysis and finally the particular guidance of Mr Sisson to define a clear and valid direction to real health and fitness.

      Sincere best wishes to you all with your personal PB health experiences, and thanks for the great discussion here.

      Respectfully, Brett

      1. Hello, I am Beth, partner of Brett who wrote this testimony, and has received a volume of replies. In general, it sounds like many readers disbelieve that Brett could look so fit yet be unhealthy. (I told him to not suck in his gut while snapping these photos (joke) …; )
        Brett has always looked fit and has wanted to go higher in his health pursuits. The thing was neither he nor I were achieving our wellness goals.

        At one time, I believed that health and fitness were one and the same but I was wrong. I would get comments about how great I looked and learned that looks are deceiving after seeing the results of my unhealthy blood tests. If not for Mark’s description of Chronic Cardio, I would still be out there every morning trying to run! Running had become a daily struggle, more like a shuffle and no longer enjoyable. Plus, the health benefits were not showing. There is a distinction between health and fitness, a hard lesson Brett and I learned. Thankfully Chronic Cardio hit the nail on the head and I sent Brett a copy.

        I hope the Primal readers can understand the point of this story, Looks are Deceiving! I am grateful to Mark and his publications and to the Primal community. Thanks for your replies!

        1. You two have taken the skepticism so well, I would be quite offended if it was me. So kudos for that. I hope PB continues to work out for you and you achieve your goals. I agree with your comments about Mark. Though I’m not exactly on the primal blueprint, being able to look to this blog for what “healthy” really means rather than some SAD advice about more whole grains and cardio has helped enough. By giving up grains and living mainly on meat/vegetables/fruit I’ve love a lot of body fat. I’m glad you and Mark distinguish between looking fit (basically being muscular and aesthetically appealing) and actually being healthy on the whole. A lot of people will just point at body aesthetics and say this proves the success of whatever lifestyle they have. It goes a lot further than that. Mind you I’m not the picture of perfect health whether it be inside or outside, but I’m improving thanks to the advice here.

  86. After reading all, well most, of the comments I do believe that some who wrote them truly believe that all the other adopters of PB should exactly as they are. If you think that Brett’s story is fake, then… you should also question Mark’s. They are not that different, really.

    I also have no problem with 100 mile recreational rides. On a flat course and if you’re fit (I wonder what Brett’s resting HR is) it does NOT have to be ‘chronic cardio’. It’s all (well, simplifying a bit) about the % of HR max.

    By the way, Mark, I think you should define ‘chronic cardio’ more clearly, otherwise one might claim that during your 9 hours of night sleep you’re deep in a ‘chronic cardio’ session. Metabolically, it’s not that much different from slowly running or cycling. Doug McGuff makes a very good point for dismissing cardio as a valid term at all.

  87. Brett, first of all congrats on the improved health markers but most importantly for improving your quality of life. I have to ask though, what are your goals at this point now that you’ve ditched the ironmans and triathlons? If its simply health and longevity I would argue that you could make a few minor changes and see drastic improvement. Have you tried just doing 2 or 3 short but heavy lifting sessions a week- with no cardio other than walking or the hiking you mentioned? This would do wonders to lowering overall inflammatory markers- have you had your C-reactive protein levels checked? Most importantly it seems that you are trying too hard. Relax man, take a deep breath, eat when your hungry and stop when your full, dont measure yourself or stand on a scale for a while and see how you feel. The fact that your here at MDA means your are well on your way to true health but I would bet good money that if you ditched all planned cardio or training sessions other than some heavy lifting that you will see a big improvement not just in the way you look and feel but also performace. Congrats once again!

  88. This is the scariest success story I have ever seen.

  89. Oh and after a few months of what I just suggested above throw in a sprint session once or twice a week. Also, it might be a good idea to just take a full week or 10 days off completely before hand. To me it sounds like you still may be over trained, thoughts?

    1. AAvKK

      You provide the type of helpful discussion that makes this site rewarding and meaningful – thank you.

      Both Beth and I have had C reactive protein tests, but the tests were last taken earlier, around 2009 at our home near Sanya, Hainan, PRC, where such tests are relatively more readily available and affordable. Beth’s results revealed high inflammation, mine were normal to low. Perhaps more instrumental for us than the tests were the actual physical symptoms of ankle and leg stiffness and soreness that may have seemed to be associated with possible overtraining. Initially we doubted that overtraining was a cause, whereas the uncomfortable symptoms came with our diet change, and our customary training regiment had not changed.

      Here we can raise the question of whether carb fueling genuinely supports more endurance training or if it only conceals over-training. The question for us is anyway unimportant, as we will never revisit a carb based diet nor intense endurance training.

      For persons whom have our type of extensive background in endurance training, and whom still enjoy the sensation of a good regular running regimen, your suggestion of abandoning aerobic conditioning for a period, is a bit difficult to embrace. However, taking valid evidence into account along with intuitive instinct, we’re feeling that your advice is entirely valid. Shortly after ceasing our aggressive aerobic training (almost 1 year ago now), the inflammation symptoms, that being the physical stiffness and soreness, have mostly entirely disappeared. Moreover, we now have energy and enthusiasm to participate in recreational type endurance events, such as a few regular long bicycle tours at a moderate rate of travel.

      Your advice today is very helpful, and it prompted Beth and I to discuss and make an affirmative action decision to genuinely stop with the aerobics of all sorts for a significant period of time. Earlier we were opting to only reduce aerobic training, but continue regular sessions. Logically, it may be that ceasing for an extended period is more effective or even necessary to counter overtraining.

      Our goal is simply achieving high-quality general health. We have no further aspirations to compete or be competitive in sports activities. We feel that an important element in achieving our goal is engaging in ambitious soil development at our Arizona farm, both for our own direct plant foods and for feeding our animals. Yet, as you imply, the quantity of food consumed, along with the nature and volume of exercise is vitally important. Our feeling is that you are 100% correct about the need to keep up with heavy regular sessions of weight training. This must be essential to ward off the skinny fat person syndrome, as well as to perhaps stimulate metabolic activity. Remarkably, Beth has taken up the sprint sessions occasionally, as you suggest. Sprinting only a mile, her times have progressively improved. I believe that you call it absolutely correctly, in suggesting that I’m still a bit overtrained. I rarely feel the ability or ambition to sprint any distance, and at one time I could easily sprint a mile in little over 5 min.

      A somewhat difficult issue for us now is gauging how many calories to consume. We don’t really feel a need to precisely count calories, but the beef-fat we are eating is extraordinarily delicious, and it is all too easy to consume far beyond our requirements for energy or fuel, and in my case I still aim to reduce visceral fat. You’re probably correct, in that it is best to focus on healing ones metabolic circumstances, and then maybe eventually, in the longer-term, pickup ones fat loss ambitions at a moderate pace.

      Many congratulations to you, whereas your discussion reveals that you are doing well and certainly are well ahead of us in your state of health and well-being.

  90. Well, who knows if this is true or not. I definitely side with the doubters, and that’s what prompted me to write. I can’t know if this is a satire or not, at least not right now, but I am thrilled to see the amount of skepticism leveled at the post. It’s easy to call it hating, but it’s not, it’s a sensible reaction to what seems unlikely and unrealistic tale. I was brought to Mark’s Daily Apple by my own skepticism of SAD–as many of us probably were. I think my skepticism, my reluctance to accept what is placed in front of me, is an essential strength. To question assumptions, to make up one’s own mind, to test hypothesis–these are admirable qualities. I lurked on this board until I saw how much healthy skepticism the commenters displayed. I’m very happy to see thinking on a blog. Keep it up!

    1. As one of the doubters, I appreciate your post. I am and have always been a skeptic and something rang very ingenuine to me about this story. I don’t see a problem with saying so, either.

      I would encourage anyone to incorporate the PB way into his or her lifestyle, regardless of whether the individual wrote a success story or not. I think all of us would. But it is a part of the unwritten contract of communication to ask questions and to think critically about what one is reading or hearing.

  91. I found it amusing how many people don’t believe in this story and the level they go through to disprove it.

    Brett writes like my grandfather and so it can come across as very factual and impersonal but there is nothing wrong about his writing style.

    The reason he looks “healthier” in the first picture is simply because the photo has a higher level of saturation in the colour (you can tell by looking at the dirt and plants in the back ground) this makes it appear like he has a nicer tan in the first picture. (I think both pictures may have been taken at different times of the year or with different cameras)

    People are forgetting he is new to PB and still maybe transiting to the new life style- I personally have been moving over to PB for the past 6 months and i still don’t sprint or lift heavy things regularly and drink way to much milk. If anyone submitted their personal story a few months into PB you would also have some hang ups left over from your old lifestyle and may not appear very different to your before PB pictures. But I bet everyone here after a few months on PB (whether strict or not) can attest to how amazing they felt and how much their health improved.

  92. While I agree with the point of this article, this couple sounds like they seriously could find better things to do with their lives. Like some have commented, I read this very cynically, surely this is a joke.
    I hope they figure out a better meaning of life for them because right now their meaning of life is organic farming and working out?? Sad.

  93. i’m really sorry MDA – but i dont “get” this case… I dont see any difference in the photos (other than the 2nd photo looking worse) – he seems to continue to go for chronic cardio style workouts … and is just is not inspirational (in fact a little off-putting) …

    Give me a “normal” case like the rest of the friday stories any day..

    PS – Showoff..
    PPS – Awful style of writing …

  94. I must confess that I was also puzzled by the before picture – I don’t see much evidence of fat accumulation around the waistline. He looks pretty lean compared to most people. In a later comment he says something about gaining visceral fat. Is this something that can be measured without doing a CAT scan?

    I am also curious as to how he determined that he was border line diabetic. Was this based on A1C, fasting blood sugar, glucose tolerance test. If so, what did the numbers look like.

    I also agree with what others have said – some of the details of his life do sound a little too good to be true: living on a self sustaining organic farm, training 6 to 8 hours a day??? I’m not saying it is a fake, but if it is not, then this is a pretty unusual fellow!

  95. Honestly, I think the top/before pic looks better than the bottom/after pic, but nonetheless, I can relate to the spirit of this post. Mark’s “chronic cardio” message has resonated with me too, as I feel liberated to hear from a former marathoner/triathlete that there more efficient methods to be healthy than running, running, and more running. And MDA has opened up a whole new internet for me with links to Richard Nikoley, Jimmy Moore, Art Devany and Loren Cordaine just to name a few. Keep up the great work guys!

  96. Gyday;

    In the last 7 days 3 people have ‘found the light’…

    When people ask me ‘what are you doing at 45 to look so good” ; I just get out my pen and a bit of paper and write Mark Sisson.

    That is all i do.

    You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink….inless it wants to.

    PB..the results speak louder than words.

  97. I’d like to ask what exactly is wrong with ‘chronic cardio’, as I hear that humans evolved for persistence hunting.

  98. I would think it would easy to verify the background of this story by looking for Brett’s ironman/triathlon/marathon results online. I’ve had a quick look and can’t find a 50+ year old Brett Adams mentioned anywhere (there’s a younger one from MN). But I’m not a distance runner, so I may be looking in the wrong places.

  99. I think it’s clear that neither Brett or Beth exists in actuality.

    They’re a fiction of somebody’s imagination, made up to serve some purpose, to advance somebody’s agenda.

    Anybody can write out a story and sign it with a different name. It happens all the time!

  100. I believe the story is true…and even if it isn’t, I KNOW for fact that Primal principles rule based off my own experiences.

    Mark rocks!

  101. Come on guys, ye are a bit overreacting. Don’t like the story? So don’t read it. No problem. I didn’t like teh story myself, but what’s the big deal? And threats with FTC are sipmly a shamefull disgrace.. Very, you know, American

  102. Catherine,

    We interpret from your contributions here that we would be unlikely to convince you of our story being authentic, and frankly, we do not interpret that you possess any genuine altruistic motives to reveal the truth. Moreover, we don’t feel the obligation to prove anything to anyone, nor to place all aspects of our private life under public examination.

    We nonetheless reply here to you because of the potential harm your false statements and litigation threats, may impose on PB readers and contributors who’ve come here with a sincere interest to lend help or obtain help in improving their health and lifestyle.

    We must make it clear to anyone concerned that we have no personal relationship or rapport with you. Certainly you have no authority to report on any of our financial transactions as you falsely did in your recent post. Your claims about our story lacking veracity, and your claims about our farm being vacant are maliciously false.

    In the scope of your litigation threats, it should be clarified that Beth and I are not as you falsely state a “customer” of Mr Sisson’s, and it is disgraceful that you seem to be deliberately setting out to discredit Mr. Sisson’s great and meaningful contribution to his society, as he freely shares his health knowledge on his web site.

    Your malicious agenda here can come to no good end. Persisting with your ploy will only make you guilty of per se defamation of character, of which there would be no effective defense, being that Beth and my reputations are excellent, and our story is truthful in every element.

    We respectfully request that you rethink and approach this situation in a more dignified manner.

  103. Enough is enough on this one. Anyone that would like to continue the discussion can do so in the forum.