Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 17 2017

The More You Seek, The More You Find

By Guest
26 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My name is Mark W. and I am a Primal Kitchen® Mayo junkie. Not the hard stuff, mind you [Chipotle Lime]—just the plain vanilla grade: real mayonnaise made with avocado oil. I smear a dab on each bite of my morning hard boiled, all natural, cage free, free range egg. Throw in a handful of my nut medley and I am good till lunch time.
I have come a long way down the Primal Path since that last spoonful of toasted oat cereal and glass of cranberry fruit juice for breakfast at the end of October in 2012. I shared that tale in my MDA Success Story posted on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in 2013.

After dropping 35 pounds following that initial wake-up call 5 years ago, I have settled into what appears to be my optimal weight of 168 pounds for the last four years—give or take a seasonal pound. But let’s review the numbers from that pivotal May 2012 blood test before continuing this updated Primal tale.

Blood glucose: 132
Glycohemoglobin (A1C): 7.3
Cholesterol:
Total: 231
HDL (good): 37
LDL (bad): 148
VLDL: 46
Triglycerides: 229
Weight: 203

Dad_fbThis photo captures a hint of that pre-Primal state back during my retro hippie phase—circa 2008 (note the progressing wattle under the chin).

Earlier this year I discovered a physician who formerly practiced geriatric medicine but now specializes in Functional Medicine and takes a more holistic approach to health care. He also happens to be fluent in Chinese medicine. He was impressed with my latest blood test results and even more impressed that I am 35 pounds lighter than I was five years ago—and have managed to keep it off!

New blood test numbers:
Blood glucose: 98
Glycohemoglobin (A1C): (not in the test)
Cholesterol:
Total: 192
HDL (good): 51
LDL (bad): 127 (particle size not tested)
VLDL: 14
Triglycerides: 70
Weight: 168 (ever since 6 months after going Primal)
BMI: 15 (according to that fancy new scale in the bathroom)

I still need some minimal medical intervention to regulate my blood pressure, but the Rx is about 1/10 of my original dosage. One way to help relieve some of the stress that contributes to that high blood pressure is doing Yoga. One Saturday morning three years ago following a session in Yellow Springs (about 15 miles down the road), I was walking over to the local Farmer’s Market for some greens, and on the way I stumbled upon a Myofascial Release Therapist who now does wonderful things to help me deal with my 40-year-old injury. I think she is part Shaman.

I have conscientiously made an effort to adhere to the Primal Laws and worked at re-establishing Primal Connections: I ate more leafy greens in those first 5 months of being Primal than in the preceding 55 years. I took a 1/2 mile stroll out to the warehouse and back 3 times a day at work from where I retired this past July 1st after 21 years with the District and 30+ in the field of IT. I threw in some basic Primal Movements for good measure along the course—usually in the stairwell. (It now looks like I will end up becoming one of those post-retirement mall walkers!)

Me Nov 2016I have a shirtless riding mower tan and I make sure to steer clear of the poison ivy. I hoist 40 pound bags and boxes of softener salt and cat litter in and out of the car and into the basement. I hop on my 5-speed bicycle in season (up to 15+ miles now) and pedal on the stationary bicycle once in a while in the off season. I run around barefoot when it is not too cold, and I drink plenty of distilled water. Early on I installed the f.lux software on my laptop to help cut the blue light effect. Recent screenings have given the ‘all clear’ for the major plumbing system: no polyps and no GERD.

Of course, there have been some twists and turns over the last 5 years: cataract surgeries in each eye, a matching set of hernia repair scars, 3 or 4 colds including acute bronchitis. But the symptoms I experienced were minor compared to what they used to be, and I got over the ailments much more quickly—and with no meds! (except for the bronchitis). Even the effects of the anesthesia from my surgeries dissipated in only a couple of weeks instead of lingering for the typical 2 months.

Also during that time I have become a ‘model’ for others and have gathered a small following of converts. Like Jonny Appleseed, I have handed out dozens of tracts with a link to my original MDA Success Story, and have freely distributed nearly 2 dozen ‘starter kits’ to those individuals that were genuinely interested. The kits consist of three books that I have come to consider as a basic fundamental set for newcomers: Mark’s Primal Blueprint, Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly Cookbook, and the Carlton’s Rich Food, Poor Food—their ‘field guide’ to hunting and gathering in the modern day grocery store. I have actually amassed a small collection of around 40 books (including cookbooks) related to all things Primal/Paleo/Healthy Lifestyle—even one on plastic (think safe water bottles).

The Mrs. (who lost 25 pounds, btw) has also become a strong advocate for the cause by steering patrons to pick and choose from among the numerous Primal/Paleo selections in the ‘Health’ section at the local branch of the public library where she works. Our 2 sons, Paul, 27 and Brian, 24, have followed the Primal suit to a certain extent and are working to undo the effects of years of canned round pasta in tomato sauce and boxes of synthetic macaroni and cheese. Paul regularly prepares green or purple (or brown-ish?) colored smoothies, and Brian enjoys preparing meals at a forward thinking, though not totally Primal, gourmet deli in German Village. Even our cats are in good health and stay in shape on their grain-free diet.

But all those books and the starter kits are more than just publications promoting ‘self help’ fads. True personal growth must build on a solid foundation of physical strength and flexibility, and a Primal lifestyle both nourishes and builds up that grounded physical platform on which to build.
And this is only the beginning ….

me and bariWe continue to simplify our lifestyle and become more in touch with Nature. I wake up to the birds chirping at sunrise. We ditched anti-biotic hand soaps and are switching to all natural personal hygiene products. I have become a member of the Thrive Market. I jumped at the opportunity for an office window seat and kept the overhead artificial lights off. I obtained one of Esther Gokahle’s Stretchsit Cushions for the car while on my pre-retirement 45 minute commute. I joined a new tribe 3 years ago and expanded my musical skills at the same time by participating in a newly formed British brass band that competes in the North American Brass Band Championships. (I still play in the other one, too.)

Attending a few workshops and retreats on Yoga and Mindfulness (think Zen) have improved the effectiveness of my Yoga practice which for me is like meditation in motion. Integrating this with my Primal foundation has helped strengthen the connections that extend beyond basic physical needs. My musical performance has become more rich and expressive. Sure, I still get tired, but my work had become more productive with little or no afternoon coma or brain fog.

I see my recent retirement as more of a career move and an opportunity to explore employment in Geographic Information Systems with renewed interest, energy, and clarity that I would not have envisioned happening 5 years earlier. I am better prepared for this retirement transition on so many levels, including updating my resume to include my GIS degree from 2011. We even signed up for the less expensive minimal health care coverage (Bronze plan) since our medical needs are fewer, thanks to our healthy Primal lifestyle.

This is not the end, however. There is always room for improvement. It is easy to become complacent and think that we have ‘arrived’, but it is actually an ongoing journey. And even with a decent working knowledge of the Primal lifestyle, I had been contemplating re-reading Mark’s Primal Blueprint to make sure I was still on track. About the time I was ready to crack open my old hardcover copy, Mark decided to produce a new and improved (and larger) version of his book: The New Primal Blueprint. Perfect timing. It is a real thirst quencher.

Each of us is on their own Path, and the Primal lifestyle is flexible enough to accommodate each one. But there is also a basic common ground that we all share, and being part of the Primal Tribe is a great way to learn and grow and find support along that path. Looking back at my own progress, I can now see all the Primal connections that opened up along the way:
That initial ominous doctor visit and blood test 5 years ago. Stumbling onto the MDA website after the ‘detox’ on our cruise. The trickle of health related books that became a flood of consistent new and expanded sources of information. The encounters with forward thinking health professionals. All the individuals that seemed to just ‘appear’ at the right time in their lives to disclose a need to improve their health, providing an opportunity to share my Primal story.

That Connection was there all along—and still is. I just did not recognize it. It seems that the more you seek, the more you find. So keep seeking, and Grok on.

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26 thoughts on “The More You Seek, The More You Find”

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  1. Thanks for the update Mark. Love seeing the bloodwork comparisons and the steady pace of moving foreward throughout the years.

  2. Great story! Congratulations on maintaining/developing your Primal lifestyle.

    My story is very similar (roughly same age I’d guess, started Primal in 2010, similar improvements).

    One thing I’ve just recently discovered (a few months ago) is that I was selling myself short in the physical training side. My wife and I have done *lot’s* of walking, including a number of 15-mile hikes this summer, but I had concluded that my strength (especially upper body) would never really change. Throwing 80 lb. hay bales around has been quite difficult.

    My 30yo son pushed me into trying CrossFit a number of months ago. I found a box owned/operated by an older (46!) trainer, and she was very interested in running a ‘Silver Fox’ group of 50+yo folks.

    Well, let me tell you, it has been an incredible eye opener – regular (3x/wk) training ala Crossfit has done amazing things for me. Those hay bales already feel lighter, I’m up to 5 good pull-ups (starting at 0), dozens of pushups (starting at maybe 3), etc. Not impressive for a 20 year old, but wonderful to feel at my age!

    And I just feel generally “lighter” for some reason – more agile, more nimble, stronger. It has been absolutely wonderful, particularly since I never thought or expected I could make these improvements. And it’s been fun – I have “permission” several times a week to jump on boxes, climb ropes, sling dumbbells around – it’s just fun!

    If you’re curious at all, I really recommend having a go at pushing yourself physically – like me, you might discover a whole new world of physical “wellness” you didn’t even remember from youth.

  3. Thank you Mark for a very pleasant Saturday morning read. I took the opportunity to read your earlier post from 2013 before continuing your latest report. it is impressive reading how your weight has stayed so constant over the years. Obviously you are doing it right. As you get older the various traumas accumulate, but as you note, the recovery is quicker following the primal way of living. As you note we are all different as individuals but end up having much in common through our human heritage. I note with interest your passion for music, and interest in yoga. Once retired from the world of work you need something like these. Personally I paint and do Tai Chi. Kind regards, Ross

  4. It’s nice to see bloodwork comparisons before & after Primal. Additional tests that tell a fuller story are insulin, vitamin D, and CAC score.

  5. The numbers don’t lie, great information Mark! Your retro hippie style back in the day would have fit right in with the Yellow Springs crowd LOL. I’m an IT guy also and did some DoD work for the Air Force at WPAFB, perhaps we’ve crossed paths. I live in the same city / area as your son apparently, German Village is a neat place. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story. – George Basham

  6. Anorexics with bones poking out have a BMI of 15. Maybe yours is 25? Anyway, congrats!

    1. Caught my eye, too. At 168 lbs with a BMI of 15, one would have to be 7′ tall.

  7. Awesome results. Congrats. I have only been primal now for 5 months.. seem to be settling in at 175lbs after starting at 207! I am 6′ 00″, just wondering how tall are you?

    1. Currently at 6′ 1″ – in bare feet, of course. Somehow your body seems to gravitate to its optimal weight. Keep on the path. 5 month quickly turns into 5 years!

  8. Great story! I am so happy that Mark is mixing it up with success stories from us older folks, too. We also reap the benefits of this lifestyle! A 5 speed bike!!! I had a 5 speed when I was younger — much younger. I loved it. Is yours new? I too work at the public library and we are seeing an uptick in our patrons being quite interested in the Paleo way of eating. We have programs and eve subscribe to the Paleo magazine. Thanks for letting us see how you are getting on.

  9. As a long-time follower of MDA success stories, I love reading updates, Mark! And as a primal Chinese Medicine doctor and yogi, I love hearing the healing role those played in your journey! Way to go!

  10. Great work, Mark! Hope you’re adding a squirt of liquid minerals to your distilled water before you drink it!

  11. I love your story! Thanks for the update. And what’s your son’s deli in the German Village?

    1. My younger son works at Brown Bag Deli on Sundays located on the north side of Schiller Park in German Village, Columbus. He is also working at Jeni’s ice cream which has a location right next door to BB, but he was located at the one in the North Market in the Short North until he got a temporary full time spot in Jeni’s Customer Service department. His photography major at CCAD is a little challenge to find employment in his field, but he has a display in the Dreaming Tree Gallery thru January in Grove City (south of Columbus.) btw. Proud Papa.

  12. Congratulations on your health and happiness, from a fellow Primal Kitchen Mayo fan! I LOVE that mayo with tuna, with hard-boiled eggs, with liverwurst, with tomatoes… I could go on… It sounds like you and your wife are having your best possible lives!

  13. Very inspiring…I really enjoy follow ups of former success stories. Love that you are continuing to grow and expand, especially at an age when many people are just barely maintaining the status quo. Once you improve your health so many other areas of your life start to improve too…like the yoga and music in your case. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Love the pic with the euphonium! I teach at a band camp for Adult Musicians in Pennsylvania each summer. Let me know if you want more info. Thrilled for your success, and hope to have a success story of my own one of these days. Great job in influencing your family.

    1. I think playing an instrument keeps you young and it does not need to end when you graduate from high school. It is great that you are involved with people who continue along that path. Just an FYI, the horn may look like a euphonium, but it is actually a British bore baritone: a Willson 2575S to be exact. It is a 3-valve self compensation horn and is a little larger than say a Besson or Yamaha, but still has a brighter sound than a euphonium (I also have a Willson 2704 euphonium with 4 serial valves and is non-compensating, but a Willson is a Willson!)

      1. Jenny: on a side note, I happened to be in the Ohio State University Marching Band in the 70s and it has been 40 years since I had done a Script Ohio during my last year in the band. I made it back this year for the annual TBDBITL Alumni Band reunion this past September (it was only my 3rd time back but I did not march the first time in 1986, and I did not make the lottery selection for one of the 3 alumni Scripts the second time – 11 years ago). The main thing about this year is that it was about 100 degrees on the field and it was definitely a major workout for a 61 year old, but I was physically able to handle it (in spite of my old injury) only since being Primal. It was an exhilarating experience being down on the field performing the Script with 105,000 fans watching and cheering for the dotting of the 4 ‘i’s. But what was even more amazing was the silence that fell over that stadium just to listen to us sing Buckeye Battle Cry at the end. Did I say it was exhilarating?

        1. It is good to see fellow Buckeyes on this site! I recently took my 2 year old to his first OSU marching band practice. He loved it! O H!

  15. The reference to the, “progressing wattle under the chin,” made me smile. I can relate.

    I’m inspired by the thoroughness of your work and how it influenced your family and community. Way to go!