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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April 16 2010

Where Are They Now? – Round 2

By Guest

What is in a story about personal health and wellness? We all have them; every one of us. Yours might be about your relationship with food, or about your body image, or about weight loss, or about overcoming illness or injury. If you’ve read my book you’re familiar with mine. I was a cardio junkie who swallowed the Conventional Wisdom-bait, hook, line and sinker for many years, paid the price, and then rebuilt my life using the powerful principles described in The Primal Blueprint. Whatever the theme, though, one thing can be certain. Health is a journey. It has its ups and downs, struggles and achievements, moments of dramatic change, plateaus and periods of homeostasis. Health is not static. And this is a good thing! It means that at any time we have the opportunity to reverse course and begin sending our genes the right signals for positive expression.

Last week we all had the pleasure of reading how the Primal lives of Griff, Michelle, Melissa and Sterling have been progressing. This week you’ll hear back from Apurva, Diana, Lisa and Christian. Find out what they’ve learned, experienced and come up against since last we heard from them, and then maybe take a moment to reflect on what your narrative is and what it could become. What is your story up to this point, April 16, 2010? Now get creative. Imagine what your story will be 1, 10, or 20 years from now. Are you healthy, energetic, happy and productive, or are you out of shape, tired and struggling through life? Tell yourself the story of your future self, and then take the steps to make it a reality. Read on for a little real life inspiration…


Hello Mark, thanks for your interest in my progress. I think the last time I sent you details about how my lifestyle changes were going was in March 2008, which makes it 2 years now.

Two years ago, I was on my way to getting primal and had enjoyed dramatic initial results. Since then, the progress has continued, albeit gradually, and involving a lot more effort. At that time, I had dropped a lot of fat and was bordering on looking skinny-fat. My diet was mostly primal, but carbs were not totally eliminated, and I was liable to the occasional binge. I also consumed a lot of fruit (a cup of papaya for breakfast, bananas, apples, etc.) My workouts were based on de Vany’s superset training involving quite a lot of isolation movement. My goals then were to get rid of the stubborn fat and to build muscle.

In the past two years, the changes in my diet and exercise have been quite big. Nowadays, I eat almost 100% primally: only meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, all by-and-large locally and organically grown. My fruit intake is severely curtailed, though in the spring and summer I help myself to the berries that become available on the local farmers’ market. My nut consumption has dropped significantly from the initially copious amounts that I consumed when I first made the shift away from carbs. I do indulge in red wine and dark chocolate.

As far as exercise goes, I have been doing CrossFit regularly for nearly 20 months now. I work off the main site WODs, scaled according to the recommendations at I also regularly do yoga, play tennis, bike around town, and sprint every week or so (except when all the fields are drenched). I usually do 3-4 CrossFit workouts in the week, yoga 2-3 times a week. So it is a pretty active lifestyle.

I think the biggest change from two years ago is in my relationship to food and in my physical capacity.

As far as food goes, I feel I have made it to a place where my natural response to food is exactly where I want it to be. If I am not hungry, I can easily not eat, or eat a little if the social situation demands it. If something carby (like bread on a restaurant table) is placed in front of me, it is easy to resist, or have the temptation be automatically wiped out with one bite. Hunger is very bearable, and I know how to eat so that I never feel full, and almost always leave a meal with a satisfied feeling. I think this highly tuned natural response is the best thing that has happened in the last year.

In terms of physical capacity, I think a workout last week showed just how far I have come: when I started CrossFit, I could not do a single pull up and barely 7-8 dips at a stretch. Last week, I did a workout that included 120 pull ups, 120 dips, and weighted squats. My time was not great, but the fact that I could do that much work in a single session was striking to me. My times on the benchmark CF workouts continue to fall, my score on the CrossFit Total has increased by more than 150 since I started. And I have not gotten so much as a sore throat or a sniffling nose for years (touch wood)!

So I am in quite a good place as far as health and fitness goes. It took a lot of effort and a lot of tinkering to create this lifestyle. I have hit many plateaus, and have realized that not all the recommendations on the site worked: intermittent fasting did not really make a difference (I tried it for 15 months); the general idea that you can eat as much fat and protein as you want as long as you cut the carbs did not apply to me (I have realized that was consuming way to many calories for my system and as a result the stubborn fat was going nowhere); etc.

In the past two years, I feel that I have learnt many valuable lessons on fitness and health:

I have learnt that one has to find one’s own niche within the “Ten laws of the Primal Blueprint,” and that there is no silver bullet to finding the path of sustainable and continued progress. What worked yesterday will probably not work tomorrow, and what works for somebody else will probably not work for you. It is all about sharpening awareness of what is happening in your system and then experimenting with your lifestyle to find a way forward. Finally, it is important to have tangible, coherent, metrics (the Crossfit Workouts are great in that respect, and so is your waist size) so that you can gauge progress. But defining goals and identifying those metrics is again a very personal thing.

But I think my biggest gain in the last two years has been in fully accepting that building and maintaining fitness and health is a process and not a destination. One has to be willing to adapt to ones circumstances as they change. I have found that the “Ten Laws of the Primal Blueprint” provide wonderful guidance on how to adapt in the most healthful and effortless way. In addition, the experimental and empirical flavor of your work truly encourage the near constant tinkering that is necessary if one is to make long-lasting improvements to one’s life. It is in these capacities that the Primal Blueprint has proven invaluable to me in my fitness journey.

Read Apurva’s original Success Story here.


I’m still working hard to get rid of those last few inches around the middle. It’s coming down to loose skin at this point, and I’ve started taking donations to save up for surgery to fix some of the aesthetic issues that come from big weight loss. My weight has increased by about 5 pounds since I’m currently working on building some very nice muscle, especially in my arms. My legs are much stronger than they used to be, even when I was running. I can do REAL push-ups now! I’ve also started living in Vibrams, my hair is thicker and healthier after discontinuing shampoo, and my skin looks better than it ever has. I’m hoping by next summer, between intense workouts and maybe a little nip/tuck to be in a bikini for the first time in my life. This summer I plan on taking a 20-mile trek from my apartment to my parents’ house… just to see what it’s like to travel the old fashioned way. 🙂

Grok On, and thanks for all the help.

Read Diana’s original Success Story here. Also, check out Diana’s blog and drop her a donation at The Wilderness Childe.


When last we met, you were getting a slightly different perspective from me than most. I wasn’t the poster child for a ripped, sleek body and I certainly didn’t have the “luxury”, if you will, of changing all aspects of my life to Primal. Being a full-time mother, caregiver (to an elderly parent with dementia) wife and business owner has essentially trapped me in a life that is seemingly incompatible with the Primal Lifestyle. But I’ve decided to not worry about that and be what I call “Primal inspired” instead (or sometimes, when I’m having a rough day “Primal enough”).

I was trying to decide what I could share with you in terms of further success as my weight hadn’t changed much. But what I’ve come up is that I think I’ve succeeded with health and well-being during some of the most challenging times of my life and I suspect my diet has also been positively directly linked to my continued fertility too. Sure, it’s anecdotal, but I think there is something to it.

Specifically, I realized that this fall…when we had our WORST wedding season yet (again, our business is wedding photography)…that I managed to survive it WITHOUT GAINING WEIGHT. Wow. Do you realize what this meant for me? I mean, for at least the last 4 years if not more, I have gained weight every fall wedding season. Even when I lost weight earlier in the year, each and every time October rolled around, I’d finally give in to the stress (and lack of time to exercise) and my weight would jump back up…which set me up nicely for the holidays (**sarcasm alert**) and it’s been a rough haul ever since. It was the classic yo-yo pattern I’m sure so many of you know. But this year…eating according to the Primal Blueprint…it was FINALLY different. The photo I’m sharing is from October! I felt like I finally broke the cycle. And honestly, until the week after Christmas, I did fairly well. I did indulge a bit too much in sugary treats, but the first of year was back on track again.

So why have I no longer dropped weight since then? Well, because I have some amazing news. I’m pregnant! I am expecting our second child at the end of September.

It was quite a surprise for us and I was stunned by the news, but I feel utterly and exceptionally blessed. Though I can’t prove it, I’ve often wondered about my low carb lifestyle and my fertility.  I’m not saying there was ever anything wrong that I knew about, but I’m amazed that here I am — “later in life” (I’m turning 40 in a little over a month) — and I’ve had no problems becoming pregnant. And I’m feeling good with no complications thus far (keeping fingers crossed). It seems all I’ve heard from SO many women is that they’ve had issues regarding that. As a matter of fact, I only have one friend who hasn’t had some kind of fertility issue. And the more you hear those things, the more you wonder if it’s your fate too.

Add to that some more information I read recently when I was at the OB office: There was an article on increasing your fertility that involved things like reducing sugar intake (and grains too – refined carbs in general work against fertility), going organic, avoiding chemicals such as BPA, and a bunch of other things that really made me stop and take note. These are all the things I’ve done that can be attributed to my LC lifestyle! And things have only gotten better over the years as I took on advice from the Eadeses (Protein Power) and then further tweaked my lifestyle according to Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think eating and living as I have have poised me for the best chances and I’m encouraged to think what a good lifestyle this has been in SO many more ways than just looking good naked, ya know? It’s the kind of things I need to keep reminding myself about to encourage continued adherence.

Just in case you’re curious, just like last time (eating LC also) I’ve had no morning sickness and relatively mild symptoms overall. My bloodwork just came back wonderful and I’m not the least bit worried about gestational diabetes (didn’t have it last time, don’t expect to have it this time). I am exercising a bit lighter than before and listening to my body. And I’m resting even more when I can. Every PB law really fits perfectly into a good pregnancy lifestyle, including play time with my son, and I’m doing just that. (I just need the NY winter to give way to spring!) I’m also doing my best to forgive myself my carb transgressions when they happen. And they do happen. But it’s ok because I know exactly where to go once I get off track. So where am I now? In a Primal Pregnancy and feeling great. Tired, sure. But great.

Read Lisa’s original Success Story here.


My life since going primal about a year ago has been nothing but positive. I am currently happy with the way I look/feel and have only focused on maintenance for quite sometime now. Maintenance has been quite easy for me. Even when I go crazy at times with the 80/20 rule, my body seems to be able to recover from a time to time carb binge fest without much struggle. I thought I’d see some major set backs after a week long business trip to S. Korea, where I consumed way too much alcohol and grain infested foods that I love so much and grew up on… but to the contrary, it didn’t do much damage at all. Now if were to permanently relocate there, I might be in big trouble…

Lately, I’ve been experimenting more with intermittent fasting and have added it more frequently to my schedule due to the convenience factor, but I’ll eat if I feel hungry or social situations dictate I should. I work out a bit less than I’ve ever done. Probably about 1-3 times heavy lifting (10-30 mins) and an occasional sprint or jogging session with walking added in through out the week. My fat percentage is still under 10% and weight has not fluctuated. The primal lifestyle really seems to be effortless.

My biggest challenge lately has been to shut my mouth to those who are not seeking advice. While I’ve gotten better, I can’t help but want to help people when I see them struggling with conventional wisdom of losing weight. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not for everyone… well at least not yet…=)


P.S. I haven’t taken a photo of myself without a shirt on in a while… it’s been cold on the east coast. I’ll try to send you an updated photo, but I pretty much look the same as I did last year…

Read Christian’s original Success Story here.

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48 thoughts on “Where Are They Now? – Round 2”

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  1. Well, I’m depressed. Reading Diana’s story, I see she has turned to surgery to get her loose skin taken care of. Has anyone, who has lost at least 100lbs, manage to tight up (so it’s not noticable when bending over) without going under the knife?

    1. Rapid weight loss is more likely to result in loose skin than slow and steady loss (1-2 lbs per week) that allows the skin time to adjust. Keeping good muscle tone (high resting contraction) through regular weight training throughout a weight loss program is also helpful.

    2. I am also in despair of ever getting rid of the loose skin on my stomach. After having three babies, where it was stretched to the limit, I seem to be unable to get the skin to shrink again. I have not even experienced rapid weight loss in any other aspect; just the before and after childbirth stomach. I have a sagging stomach that hangs over the top of my jeans and I have tried all kinds of moisturizers.

      PLEASE!!!???!!!! If there is anyone out there who knows how to get rid of this sagging skin without surgery (as I will never have the money for that and I scar terribly) could you please share?

  2. Thanks, Mark, for another round of where-are-they-nows. I love to read these!

    Diana, Lisa, Christian, you all look fantastic! Apurva, judging from your activity level, I’m sure you do too. Diana in particular has really put on some fine, feminine muscle. Lisa, congrats on expecting! A primal baby is a lucky baby indeed.

    Keep on living your inspiring lives, and reminding us that everybody can have a success story like yours if they adopt the Primal Blueprint.

    As for loose skin, it’s certainly doesn’t vanish like fat does, but I’m convinced that it can snap back somewhat over the longer term. (Paging Batty…?) From anecdotal reports, I think cold water stimulation might help. I take a cold shower every day. It’s supposedly good for wrinkles, and although I didn’t have 100 pounds to lose, I did have noticeably more extra skin around my belly two months ago than I do now.

    1. Thanks Timothy. I will try the cold showers as well 🙂
      Although, it may be that I am also 40+ and had my babies late in life (after my body stopped producing collagen and all those other things that promote elasticity to the skin).

      Mark, do you have any other information that could help all of us who are struggling with getting elasticity back into our skin?

      1. Hi Angelina,

        I’ve quite a bit of weight to lose as well and am supplementing with collagen powder (Type 1 and 3) which is supposed to do wonderful things for skin, hair, joints etc. Just started taking this last thing at night on an empty stomach with Vit. C and Hyaluronic Acid (which are supposed to aid in the absorption of collagen) as I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the body releases collagen in the first few hours of sleep…hoping that this together with the Primal lifestyle will minimise / eliminate the poochy belly skin. Might be worth looking into, maybe? I get mine from the iHerb website.

        1. Thanks Sweet Desire. I also shop at iHerb but did not know that I could get powdered collagen. I will definitely do some research into that one and see how I go 🙂
          This first few hours of sleep is interesting as well. Perhaps it has some connection with getting ‘beauty sleep’?

  3. Wow! YES!!! Diana is smokin, she reminds me of Starbuck from the new Battlestar Gallactica in that shot.


    Keep it up girl!

  4. Congrats to all of you. Diana, you do look smokin’ hot. Love your arms.

  5. You guys inspire me to keep on doing this. I’m amazed by all your progress! Grok on!

  6. Continued congrats to everyone. Your stories continue to inspire me.

    Diana, I understand how you feel about the loose skin.

    Following BB plans I went from 269 to 169 in 8 months which turned out to be a bad thing for me because it has left me with well let’s just say if I wanted to skydive, I won’t need a parachute. 😉

    Personally, I think you look FABULOUS!!!! I also understand what others can’t see underneath.

  7. Ahhh, yes. Diana is a babe. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with turning to plastic surgery to hellp with loose skin. After all, it’s not like she want to go under the knife to get rid of extra-weigth. She did a lot of hard work to get there. Now she just wants a bit of help with something she can’t really change much at this point.
    Way to go, Diana.

  8. It is wonderfully inspiring to read these follow-ups! I think that after having lost 125 lbs, Diana is worthy of all our support in her quest to have the surgery she needs. I just donated, and I strongly encourage anyone else who can afford even a little bit to help out.

    1. Just donated as well! Do it, even if only a couple bucks is all you can spare. Spare change for a spare tire? Sorry … my humor is horrible …

  9. Motivational stories. Wow! We could read stories like these all the time & not get tired. Everyone is different but its important to not give up & this is a good example of it. Progress & not perfection. Lol. Lisa congrats on your 2nd pregnancy.

  10. Inspiring stories all. When Mark talks about swallowing the conventional wisdom, I really feel that particular pain. My biggest change from a diet standpoint was when it was suddenly brought home to me that everyone out there trying to obey the conventional wisdom was struggling, yo-yoing, and really getting nowhere in the end.

    The uniquely fattening nature of refined carbs was a revelation to me, and I have lost 30 lbs. so far.

    To quote Apurva “No silver bullet to finding the path of sustainable and continued progress. What worked yesterday will probably not work tomorrow, and what works for somebody else will probably not work for you.” I have had a growing awarenesss of the truth of this. A particular technique or bit of knowledge will get me to a particular level, but then I have to look for the next thing that will take me up higher. It seems a plateau is always a cue to change your thinking.

    For me, reducing carbohydrates was the first step, and progress was dramatic at first, then I began to plateau.

    The next step was to really listen to my body and realize when I was hungry, and when I was eating out of habit. Hint: “not stuffed” does not equal hungry. That one took a while to realize.

    Referencing Apurva again, I also don’t believe you will ever change your outcome unless this becomes a consistent feature of your life. By which I mean it actually becomes just the way you live.

  11. mark what is your policy on avocados? they are full of healthy fat and vitamins and so on paper sound like a paleo’s wet dream. but there is no such thing as a free lunch and i find it hard to believe a plant would invest so much energy to provide an animal with a meal, instead of the usual package of cheap sugar like most fruits.

    as u and others have mentioned before, most energy-dense plant-foods (and even eggs) are packed with toxins and anti-nutrients etc to protect them from being eaten since they cant run away. is mr avocado an exception?

    wikipedia says “The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds, and the ASPCA and many other sites list it as toxic to many animals including cats, dogs, and horses.[26]”

    are we to believe avocados are toxic to such a wide range of different types of animals but not humans??

    1. The avocado evolved to meet the nutritional requirements of certain American megafauna that are now extinct, where the relatively large toxic seeds would be passed through their digestive tracts for dispersal. I don’t know what potentially negative repercussions that might pose toward human consumption, but I eat them fairly regularly so I would be interested to more also.

      Here’s an enlightening article on the subject from a cultivation perspective (Google HTML preview of a .doc file):

  12. Great updates! I am sure that these stories will inspire even more people to keep at it. The results will come with time. I have lost about 25 pounds over the last 5 months and gotten a lot leaner by going Paleo and exercising more. And I know that what I have been eating-or more importantly haven’t been eating-has made the biggest difference.

    Be awesome in all you do,

  13. Awesome stories. This is what living primally is all about!

    “I’ve also started living in Vibrams, my hair is thicker and healthier after discontinuing shampoo, and my skin looks better than it ever has.”

    Quote from Diana.

    Question for those of you who also do not use shampoo…

    What do you use instead? I have been wanting to discard soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. but I have NO IDEA what to use instead!

    Any ideas?


    1. Nothing at all. I just rinse with warm water, and run a comb through it in the shower. Some scrubbing with the fingers and another comb-through and I’m good. It’s really not oily or greasy at all. 🙂

      1. Interesting. I believe I do not need any shampoo either. I have very very short hair – its a thought.

      2. This is actually interesting. I did read once that our scalps only produce all that extra oil because we keep stripping it with shampoos. I also find it difficult to find a shampoo that I don’t have an allergic reaction too. I have always had to live on rain water but 12 months ago I move somewhere where the water was even more scarce, so I started to only wash my hair once a week. Since then I have noticed that my hair is now taking at least a week to look greasy. So what Diana says certainly makes sense and I’m willing to give it a go 🙂
        At least this way too I can just wash it with water a lot more often without stripping the natural oils from my scalp.

      3. Same here. Back in January I had developed some really intense dry scalp/dandruff … got rid of the soap/shampoo and the problem is solved. My hair feels great just rinsing with water and a good scalp rub. Keep in mind my hair is only an inch long, could be a more difficult transition with longer hair.

    2. Hi Todd

      After Super Bowl Sunday I stopped using shampoo – I am female and have longish hair. I used baking soda and water to wash and apple cider vinegar to rinse and that worked pretty well. Then I learned online (google no-shampoo) about using cheap conditioner with no silicones and or sulfates, and that works great. I do have to wash about every 3 or 4 days. When using shampoo and conditioner before, I had gone from every other day to every 4 days over the last couple of years, but that may be a response to menopause (?). So try Suave Naturals conditioners – they are usually under $1 a bottle most places.

    3. ~1T baking soda in ~1 cup water for “cleaning” your hair; ~1T apple cider vinegar in ~1 cup water for “softening” your hair. (I’ve also read that apple cider vinegar is a similar pH to your skin so helps keep skin healthy, too.)

      I use the above baking soda/vinegar regimen every 2-3 days at this stage. I’m coming out of a period of hair dyes and deep conditioners, my scalp needs some serious “detox” time!

      1. I use the same basic BS/ACV regimen, only I wash my hair waaaayyy less frequently – about once every 4-6 weeks in the winter, a bit more frequently in the summer. Summertime too since I sweat more I will rinse it out with plain water. Been doing this for years, and everyone loves my hair.

        Your body dies regulate the amount of oil it produces, so it you switch to washing less frequently you will go through a definite transition period FYI. Also of course the longer hair you have, the more length you have to distribute those oils over. (And for the record, I have VERY long hair,past my ass LOL which is a major reason I don’t wet it frequently! It actually takes very little time to wash…but ages to dry!)

  14. “My biggest challenge lately has been to shut my mouth to those who are not seeking advice. While I’ve gotten better, I can’t help but want to help people when I see them struggling with conventional wisdom of losing weight. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not for everyone… well at least not yet…=)”


    Right on man… I am the EXACT same way! But, I have improved recently 🙂

  15. Apurva- FANTASTIC insights and advice. Your workout regimen is fantastic. I want to be like that!

    Lisa- CONGRATULATIONS! That’s wonderful news. 🙂 I’m looking forward to someday going through a Primal pregnancy.

    Christian- It’s hard sometimes to not pipe in and tell people what they really should know. I’m learning to pick my battles too, hoping that maybe my success will spur people to ask.

    Wow everybody- thank you for the very kind responses. I still have trouble wrapping my head around it sometimes, that I’m not “the fat girl” anymore. I’ve always been one to hide in the background and I’m really, really working on overcoming that. Reading comments like that, about me, helps put things in a more positive perspective. Thank you for brightening my day!

  16. Diana-Hope to be able to see a bikini update soon…=) good luck with the fund raising.

  17. These stories make me heart swell. Seriously. I wish I’d known about primal living back in my teens before my dad died do to his type 2 diabetes. Maybe we could have avoided all the medications and bad dietary recommendations.

  18. What a wonderful community! So proud to be part of it! Congrats to everyone on so much success, and to everyone for the small, everyday successes!
    I, too, have the extra belly skin that I just dont know what to do with! I’ve never been “heavy” but I gained 50 lbs with both children (ages 6 and 7)..I am 5′ 1″ and 115lbs..with nice muscle tone..and loose tummy skin!! What to do? at this point it really does seem like a snip is the only thing that will help?! Any suggestions? And I also adore avacados…keep the info coming.

  19. Apurva, where on does it give recommendations on how to scale crossfit workouts? Thanks.

  20. I’m so impressed with how everyone! Well done!
    I’ve been trying to keep on the straight and narrow but I’m finding it very difficult to to stay on course. |You guys are so inspirational!
    And yes, Diana looks hot. Yowza.

  21. Tomorrow! I get Mark’s book tomorrow! (friend back from US). But have been primal a lot and feeling great!

  22. Sorry I’m late to the party but things are hectic as usual in my household. Turns out my Mom is officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s so that’s been an adjustment. Anyhow, it was really great to see this collection of stories. Thanks to all for your well-wishes (still feeling fine – just very weary for many reasons) and congrats to Apurva, Diana and Christian for incredible continued transformations. For me I’m in a different world being pregnant but when October rolls around I look forward to getting back on track and being aggressive again and seeing what a Primal Mom of 2 will look like. 😉 All the best to everyone!

  23. These stories are very insprirational, and its soo awesome that lives have been changed because of the primal movement : )

  24. I love these stories! Very inspirational! My husband, son & I have been eating primal (about 95% of the time so far) for nearly one month now (we’re newbies!) and we LOVE it! Anyway, our goal is to become more healthy, but as a bonus I’ve also lost around 20 pounds! We’re all feel better than we have in a long time… Thank you for sharing!