Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
I have considered telling you my story for some time now, but for some reason I have never done so. I recently read the success story of the mixed martial artist named Abe Wagner and it made me decide to share my story as well. I am also a professional mixed martial artist, and while going primal has helped me in this venture, I also believe that it played a very large part in even allowing me to begin along it. So here is my long overdue success story.
It started about 3 years ago. I was playing rugby in college and was an alternate on the collegiate All-American national team. It was about this same time that I also started to become interested in mixed martial arts and training some in my free time as well as doing a few amateur fights. People would ask me for advice on nutrition and working out and I would regurgitate false truths. I’m sure that I would have continued down this road, but life sometimes seems to have us on a collision course. Quite literally in my case, as in I fell off of a ledge and landed head first on the concrete 12ft below. Being the sprightly young man that I was, I assumed that no real damage was inflicted in my fall. I “sucked it up” as my coaches told me to and continued along with rugby games and practices.
After a few months however, I could no longer pretend like everything was okay. I went to the doctor and told them that I thought I might had strained my neck. They decided to take a few X-rays and the results were quite a surprise to everyone involved. I had broken my neck in-between the C5 and C6 vertebrae. The doctors told me that I needed to have surgery. They took me to the hospital to go under the knife that day. But when I arrived at the hospital they discovered another problem; since I had gone several months with my neck broken, the damaged ligaments and muscles had healed around my broken neck. They could not perform the surgery until they got my neck back into alignment. They screwed a halo attached to a weight and pulley system into my head and laid me horizontal on a hospital bed. Every once in a while they would increase the weight pulling on my head to straighten my neck. After three days they said that it was straight enough to do surgery. I went in that night for surgery and they shaved off a piece of my hip and used it for a bone fusion in my neck as well as screwing in a small plastic support. When I woke up they called in the specialist who performed the surgery to talk to me. Being naive to my own reality and thinking I was invincible, my only concern was when I would be able to start playing sports again. He told me that I was lucky to be walking and that I would be in a neck brace for about a year and we would just have to see how my body took to the bone fusion. He then said that he doubted that I would ever be able to do high intensity sports again. I was not willing to accept that and quizzed him over anything I could do to help the healing process, and he told me just to be as healthy as I possibly could.
As far as fitness and nutrition went, I was under the impression that I was doing everything right. I was eating high amounts of protein, low fat, and lots of “good” carbs like rice, and pasta. I was taking all the stimulant-rich pre- and post-workout supplements that the bodybuilding forums said that I should be taking, and I was lifting 6 times a week in addition to my rugby practices. At the time I was 5’11 about 215 pounds and low body fat. As far as conventional wisdom went, I was extremely healthy. But since my diagnosis was grim I decided to look into everything that could possibly benefit me. I began researching what might help my recovery and stumbled onto marksdailyapple.com. At first I was just intrigued by how different of an approach it was from everything else I had come across. After reading for a long while, a lot of it seemed to make sense to me and I decided that I would give it a shot.
Over the next few months, I stopped taking supplements, stopped eating grains and legumes, and ate a high omega 3 diet with clean protein. I impatiently went to each checkup. The results slowly went from ambiguous to more and more positive, and then on the 7th month of being in my neck brace, the doctor told me he could not believe it but the bone fusion had completely filled in. The neck brace was removed (5 months ahead of schedule) and I was allowed to ease back into working out as long as I came in to make sure everything was coming along okay every couple weeks. Within a couple months I was back playing rugby and training mixed martial arts.
I had never done physical activity while primal before, but because of my results while injured, I decided to stay with it. I had lost some size which disappointed me at first, but became inconsequential once I realized how great I felt and how much better I was performing than I had before my injury. I stopped doing workouts that would restrict my movement and focused on playing. I finished my college rugby career and less than a year after getting out of my neck brace I made my professional debut in mixed martial arts. Since that time I have won 8 straight fights and I am one of the top unsigned prospects at my weight class. I am still in school at the moment and I use the winnings as my income while I continue my education.
The specialist who performed the surgery and monitored me post operation later asked my permission to submit my case to a conference. He said that it was one of the only instances he had ever heard of a recovery like I made on a case that severe. I have no doubt that the primal lifestyle played a huge role in that. Since switching to it I have recommended it to everyone close to me. I made a website for fighting a couple years ago so friends and family could keep up with my fighting. Your website has been one of my recommended links on my webpage since I first made it. I thank you for the knowledge you made available to me and it would be my pleasure to help Mr. Wagner spread the primal way of life throughout the MMA community.