Mark Sisson: The Importance, and Achievability, of Being Fit

For years, Mark Sisson competed as a professional runner and triathlete. He trained hard and conventionally, but realized that the "better" shape he was in, the more problems his body had: joint pain, digestive issues, tendonitis, etc.

Eventually he retired from competition and set out to find a way to remain fit, but healthy. His research led him to focus on the evolutionary path the human body has followed; How our physiology is designed and how our genes are wired.

What we discovered just in the last ten years is that much of how our body operates is with these genetic switches. You know, our bodies are the result of two and a half million years of human evolution, upright bipedalism based on certain ways of eating, certain ways of moving, certain amounts of sleep and sun exposure. And if we can dig deeply into all of the behaviors that created this recipe that we all possess to build a strong, fit, healthy, happy, productive human being, then we can combine the best of evolutionary biology and modern genetic science to kind of literally take responsibility for our health from this point going forward.

He published his findings in his work The Primal Blueprint which offers an exercise and nutrition program based on these evolutionary criteria.

This program was a big influence in enabling Chris to lose over 30 pounds back in 2011 (and keep the weight off since).

Key takeaways include:

  • Play-based activities (sports, etc) more effective than gym workouts
  • Intense short burst activity is more effective than prolonged aerobics
  • Nutrition influences about 80% of your body composition (vs exercise)
  • Cultivate a diet high in vegetables, fruit, saturated fat and (some) protein. Avoid grains, sugars, and processed foods.
  • A healthy diet cuts down on food cravings and moderates appetite, preventing overeating.
  • Exposure to sun and soil is important. As is sleep.

Now 60, Sisson level of fitness from practicing this program remains excellent and inspiring. His goal is to help people take greater control over their health. Through better maintenance and nutrition, he believes we can lead longer lives with less injury and disease, and be much less dependent on the medications and invasive procedure of modern medicine.

In a world of spiraling medical costs, underfunded health entitlement programs, and growing financial uncertainty, this concept of long-lived fitness at low expense seems an obvious and attractive investment to make.

For those interested in learning more, details of Mark's regime, as well as daily fitness insights, can be found at

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Sisson (30m:52s):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This is a good article but not a great article.  Fitness is a major part of health but fitness derived from nutrition and exercise alone does not determine health.  Health is determined by nutrition, exercise, AND one's psychological/spiritual outlook.  Being involved, committed, and passionate about something is part of that outlook and Mark obviously demonstrates those characteristics with his promotion of his ideas.  But one must be careful not to allow enthusiasm, marketing, and media prominence serve as full confirmation of the absolute validity of one's ideas nor should testimonials be considered as full validation since they're basically a dime a dozen..   
But coming back to fitness and the nutrition component of fitness, it is one's metabolic type and metabolic sub-types that determine what diet is best for someone.  Certainly, the foods that one eats should be pristine, free from unintentional or intentional chemical or biological contamination, and contain the highest level of micro-nutrients possible which only come from healthy soil and from the healthy plants and animals supplied by that soil and consumed by humans.  But given that your foods have these qualities, the types of foods you eat and the optimal macro-nutrient ratios (i.e. proteins, fats, carbohydrates) are influenced at a macro level by your metabolic type.  Within your metabolic type, gene expression and the resulting isozyme forms can be influenced by both diet and exercise but that range of variation is limited by your genetics.  In other words, the up- or down-regulation of various enzyme systems, as described by Mark, has a narrower range of ability to change and therefore limited adaptability as compared to your wider ranging ability to change your diet to match your metabolic type.  
Mark has joined the band wagon of condemnation of grains and I would tend to agree with him, for HIS and MY metabolic type.  But there are others who will do well with a higher level of grains in their diet IF (and it's a vitally important IFf) those grains are NOT the more modern, higher yield selected grains (due to the gluten factor, among other things) but rather heirloom types and IF those grains are not GMOs.  Granted, finding this type of grain in the modern world, especially in the developed countries, is becoming increasingly difficult.
Eating high on the food chain will consistently result in greater concentration of contaminants in your diet.  Hence, while meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. are excellent sources of nutrition, especially of protein, depending upon the sources of those foods, consuming them virtually guarantees higher levels of contaminants in your body.  Thus, one must balance their consumption with the knowledge that you could be increasing your risks of cancers, not from the food itself, but from the contaminants found in the food.  Consumption of various plant foods, however, has the capability of negating some of those adverse effects.  For example, cilantro is a heavy metal chelator and can be beneficial in reducing levels of mercury absorbed into the body.  Also, the cruciferous vegetables are well known for their detoxifying effects (but they also have their own inherent health risk if they are not prepared properly with broccoli and cauliflower, for example, acting as goiterogens if they are consumed raw).
Regarding exercise, just like different individuals respond better to different foods, different individuals respond better to different types of exercise and differing intensities, volumes, frequencies, etc. of exercise.  Joint and connective tissue type, muscle type, and metabolic type, for example, all have an influence on exercise selection.  In addition (and this also, is a vitally important point), different types of exercise are appropriate for different stages of one's life cycle.  What is good for children is not necessarily optimal for teens and young adults and what is good for them is not necessarily good for a geriatric population.  In addition, understanding micro-, meso-, and macro-cycles of exercise is important.  The body likes variation, in food, exercise, mental stimulation, almost everything.  Mark mentioned his past problems with overtraining and even with triathlon participation in 3 different types of exercise, those 3 exercises are all similar types and doing them year round may not be optimal as compared to a cyclically varying exercise routine that phase various types of exercise in and out on a regular basis.  Ditto with ANY type of exercise or activity.  Variety is the spice of life. 
Mark mentioned play type of activities as a source of exercise and that is good.  But most of us don't live in Malibu like Mark, nor have his income, nor have his lifestyle.  Having to do more traditional work, learning how to incorporate work movements as an exercise form has more practical application for most of us.  How you get out of bed, how you stand, how you sit on the toilet, how you make your breakfast, how you clean your house and do laundy, how you get into your car, how you do your job, etc. can all be done in a way that breaks down the body OR builds up the body, depending upon how it is down.  We had a 10 inch snowfall the other day and  yesterday I had to clean off our 2 cars that were outside, shovel around the cars where our plow person's plow couldn't reach, clean off the front sidewalk, clean off the front deck, clean off the back sidewalk, clean off the back deck, and clean off the trampoline.  Doing this simple activity in different ways on both the left and the right side and at different speeds and intensities gave me a decent workout without any localized aches and pains.  Plus I chased the dog around in the snow so we had some fun and some play exercise to boot.;-)   
In addition, the major physical performance attributes must all be considered with exercise including posture, flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance.  For example, if one is training hard and intensely and experiencing the benefits of that but one's overall postural alignment is poor or a joint or series of joints are hypermobile or hypomobile or misaligned, then this hard training which is benefitting your cardiovascular system and your muscles may, on the other hand, be damaging your joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.  In addition, one must consider balanced exercise in terms of what I call the hard/soft or yin/yang principle of exercise.  Doing exclusively "hard" exercise will eventually burn one out while doing all "soft" exercise will leave one weaker, less challenged, less resilient, and less ... for want of a better word ... tough.  But using the two together and in balance can result in optimal utilization of both the development and remedial aspects of exercise.  Consideration of what type of exercise is preparatory, what is remedial, what is developmental, and what is maintenance is also important.  I could literally write days on this subject because this is what I have done and taught for the better part of my life but time is at a tremendous premium as of late.  Writing the post yesterday on 2nd amendment issues took up too much of what little free time I have on weekends but I felt it just had to get out there.  This issue is important but not as important as that so one prioritizes to the best of one's ability.

…Man am I glad you are here.
I am a sports junkie and have hit a wall because of the inability to exercise without whatever I do sticking my butt back in a chair.

For me and because of past commitments to exercise I have broken my back, ribs, bulging disks in the lower back, and titanium plates now holding my neck firmly in place, a face having repairs because I didn't duck enough or took an elbow as a right cross missed but my opponent swings back with the elbow to thwart my next attack. A repaired and herniated umbilicus because of a body shot.

I have pretty much set all these activities aside now, and I have never lifted weights. But I want to Golf and still umpire.  

What happens now is if I golf for a week then the small muscles that attach at the lower back fail and on my butt I end up. Right or left side it doesn't seem to matter but in particular my finishing side, the left side. 

I have tried everything, physical therapy is a joke, and I am at my wits end. Massages seem to help but still injuries are constant. I'm 58 and I don't think age should matter but old injuries haunting me again?

Now I have thought that I will just let everything break down and then build from the ground up, and evenly. I have always drank enough water and monitor this through the color of my urine. 

After completing my latest bout with body break down, and this is an eye injury that requires I have to chill out. I can't lift more than 5 pounds (for a few more weels?), exercise is not to be done although walking is good and I do this. I will begin a balanced approach to my workouts. I love jumping rope (but will decrease this and do less but more reps, and I will chop wood equally with five swings from the right and five from the left and that will be my approach with everything. Crunches I cannot do or I will be laid out for a while as my back needs no excuse to spasm me to my knees. In reaching for something so simple like under a cupboard I will start to spasm, and honestly I have to hold on hard to the counter top just to stay on my feet, and I better stay on my feet or I am not getting up for a while. 

I am NOT a runner as this does nothing for me unless I am umpiring, boxing, hitting some baseballs at the cage, hockey, etc…In other words I run when playing something but to run for the joy of it is NOT going to happen. To finish, I love gardening, flowers and food but not enough to feed my family for a lengthy period of time. However, friends and I belong to a co-op and we get our good food by working together. This is truly a spiritually and rewarding task that is done during the growing season. Protein is provided from the same source and is NOT chemically enhanced. I feel terrific (at least I am very contented still so that's cool). I have still great energy but it is more an excitement for reading and research (more a redirection out of the need to occupy myself and having the pride in doing something, anything) which for me has been every bit as rewarding as the physical kind.

OK, how can an ex-jock re- build his core, without muscle mass, and build those attaching muscles without the workouts that strengthen these core muscles, because whenever they are asked to join the fun they seem to tear from their frame and again, sit my butt down because of a fairly good amount of pain, and spasms a quick response that my body wants me to just stop already. All I want to do is Golf and I can't even do that for any real length of time or consistency.

Wow! This was a mouthful. but I really want to Golf, and 36 holes a day or every other day which I am able to do for a couple of weeks and then I am down for a couple of weeks. I am at my wits ends and any guidance that is personally experienced that has worked for you would be appreciated.

I am NO LONGER interested in what ANY doctor has to say because they have yet to be helpful with regards tomy back and mid section.

I eat no different than I always have. A small bowl of cereal late morning and then a robust dinner at 6 with a balance to it, and not a great deal of meat, mainly lamb, and portions of everything else that seem reasonable. I will admit that losing weight is easy when active, and maintained when not. Of course Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to add that which I don't lose, and is now being added too the next year, and next, and next, so that now I am over the weight I have always carried which on a 5'10" frame was 202 and is now 215. I've been told 190 should be good but I feel my best at 202. I have no issues working off to 190 as less muscle is needed for golf than the higher muscle mass used for hockey, boxing or other strength needing sports. I love stretching and do that faithfully but even that must be focused as any false move can cause spasms in my back. Hell, I've been laid out for a couple of weeks just kicking my shorts off getting ready to put my jeans on. Crazy stuff.

I just felt like I whined through this whole thread but I am desperate for any real advice that I can implement. Trust me, I am as least fit as I have ever been, I have planned this actually so I can begin a different body shape. Where to begin now is important, and I am highly motivated. HELP!

By the way, you look as my Brother does and he is 62, that being ripped, lean muscled and I'm proud of you. Envied too. He's a professional too at staying fit as an ex ball player and manager. I want to again be like you two. I am embarrassed frankly, not depressed just embarrassed.

Thank you


…response from you so just point the way and I will trust what you recommend. That's it. Chris wouldn't have you here if you weren't of high character so a ringing endorsement then. I'm buying so show me, please.

Enjoyed the podcast. I'm good in respect to diet and being in shape (5'9/150lbs) but I struggle with the same back issues Bob. I'm pretty much in constant chronic low-level to medium back/hip pain. I used to think the issue was lower lumbar, but realized in the last two year that it really feels like the tendons in my hips are shot. Also like you Bob, I was involved in intense athletics (competitive mogul skier, waterskier, ultimate frisbee, tennis, golf, triathlete, you name it I love(d) it) for most of my life but have had to give up a lot of these activities on a competitive level because I can find myself out of commission for two months if I push myself too hard…my back siezes with acute pain. I can still do these activities to some degree, but  now that I'm 46 I worry that my ability to enjoy all these activities is going to continue to diminish. I know that I can't expect to have the same abilities as I did when I was younger, but I would like to enjoy exercise without the pain and/or the fear of pain.
Same as you Bob, I've been to the doctors, and physical therapists, but I have had very limited success and certainly no prolonged pain-free periods of respite. The inversion table has helped a little and I'm going to try acupuncture next. I stretch daily and work out a half an hour daily with varying activities (play, core, cardio) so I'm still active, but the pain is just managed and always there. Anyone have insights for me? Thank you for any replies!

I've had my share. And I thought for a time that I would have to find an alternative to my current work as a carpenter. But for some reason I haven't experienced debilitaing lower back pain for about 10 years now. I'm 51, and my troubles started when I was about 33. I remember being out of commission with lower back pain several times a year for many years.
But after allowing sufficient time for healing following some of my worst episodes of back trouble, I eventually learned what activities strengthened my back as opposed to those that likely caused my injury. And also for me doing bench, sitting type work has always led to back problems. That is because I experieced my worst years for back trouble when I was a piano tuner technician and guitar tech. Too much bending over and sitting for long periods of time always leads to back problems for me.
But I currently work over 50 hrs per week as a house framer. And although my back does get stiff, I no longer have any fear of "putting my back out". That is as long as I don't exert myself in ways that I know will cause injury like putting excessive load on my back while it is extended.
I am also an avid whitewater canoeist, x-country skier and those activity plus my love of dancing and swimming keep me in pretty good shape I think. I have also done yoga. I think that helped a lot.
But maybe I am mostly just very lucky to have overcome the misery of cronic lower back pain.

Both Mark and ao raise valid and valuable points. And Bob & Gillbilly have my (our?) sympathy too – there can be few more frustrating things than one’s desire to live a physically active life restricted by a shutdown in physical capability… particularly so when a large cross section of society’s able-bodied souls are married to their sofas (and why would you have any chronic pain when the biggest workout you do is pushing your index finger to the limit on the remote?!!).

One aspect which is often not covered when fitness / health regimes are discussed is the motivation to be fit and healthy. As ao suggested, the perfect trifecta is physical, nutritional and spiritual well-being. It’s hard to imagine having a dissatisfied soul if that trifecta is strong. Anyone who has gone from a state of poor health to exceptional health (and sometimes back again!) knows the exhilaration of that journey and the feeling of being at one’s prime when you’re physically taut, emotionally attuned to your lifestyle, and your intellectual faculties are razor-sharp.


The desire to be healthy is far easier than the work required to get there, and it’s why we sometimes stumble (or downright crash) along the way. As far as the physical element of health is concerned, the global diet industry knows it’s onto a winner: tap into that part of the human brain which regulates guilt, fear and anxiety, and bob’s your uncle. Overweight people are often caught in a desperate and vicious circle of guilt-eat-worry, coupled with genuine ignorance of dietary and exercise basics. Add to that the occasional restrictive factors of freezing northern hemisphere winter weather & darkness, and the cosiness of indoor comforts becomes waaaay too appealing. However, there's just too much good dietary & exercise information out there not to give it a try.


If it helps anyone looking to embark along a journey of health, my own transformation started with a chance online discovery of a physical training programme combined with nutritional discipline. I lost 17kgs (37lbs in old money) in 17 weeks, and thereafter moved onto spiritual and mental strengthening (meditation, resilience-planning, and even a little hypnotherapy). In hindsight I think this sequence worked for me because the resilience I achieved from fitness was a great springboard for a spiritual journey. For physical conditioning I used Turbulence Training Fatloss programme, and I monitored everything I put it my mouth using My Fitness Pal. TT requires no more than 4 x 45min sessions per week, and you can do it in the comfort of your own bedroom/study/large broom cupboard, with the simple tools of an inflatable exercise ball and a dumbbell set. Get through the first 2 weeks then it’ll get a lot easier.


To anyone who’s at the startpoint of their journey to health, choose something which works for you, your body and your circumstances. The following helped me greatly, and if any of it helps you then please give it a try:


  • set realistic, achievable goals, but ensure that you still challenge yourself (resilience comes from the experience of overcoming hurdles);

  • if you stumble, all is not lost. Get up and try again. And then again. You aren’t the first to trip up and you won’t be the last;

  • at the end of every training or meditative session, take 5mins to “zone out” and remember exactly why you are on the path you are on. Picture vividly what your life could be like with ill-health;

  • every day take 2 mins to stop and be grateful that you’ve been given the opportunity to be healthy, and be grateful for your loved ones;

  • don’t eat anything which your grandparents would not have eaten. Generally, if it comes out a packaged box or a bag then leave it alone.


Finally, I’d like to share a recent sobering experience with someone who has taught me the value of resilience and motivation:

I volunteer as a counsellor, and last weekend I spoke to a man with a degenerative bone condition. Unlike the lucky majority his condition is incurable, he has constant chronic pain, and spends his summer days lying on his back on ice and his winter days lying alongside several heat bottles. He refuses to take his full dosage of medicine because he says that he’d effectively be a legalised addict if he did. Every day he considers suicide, and every day he has to actively motivate himself not to carry it out (he has a detailed & long-established suicide plan). He was a state-level competition swimmer, but can no longer work and has lost a thriving business, his house, money and a great lifestyle. He is an only child, both parents are deceased, and his remaining family have deserted him. For around 10 years he has lived in shared boarding accommodation, in an unsafe neighbourhood with addicts for company. Part of the counselling model my organisation employs is to find some ambivalence, some small chink of hope in a suicidal person’s life. I tried 150% to find something, but the only motivation that this intelligent man sees in his life is to get the government to publicly acknowledge the devastating causal link between physical impairment, ill-health and poverty, when instead the government wants only to throw money at methadone programmes and efficient (read cramped) housing for addicts. He believes has nothing else to live for, yet by sharing his decade-long living hell he has taught me an immeasurably valuable lesson in appreciating what I have. That – and the legacy which I hope this man leaves to this world – will be what motivates me from now on. If I can achieve even 20% of his strength and motivation for my own balanced health then I’ll be enriched.

I'll preface my comment by saying I'm a huge fan of Mark Sisson.  The man is legit and has empowered so many people to take control of their health and thus their resilency.  
You can do all the preps you want, buy all the PMs you can, but if you don't have your health it ain't much good.  In my opinion, health begins with feeding yourself the type of diet (paleo/primal) that Mark Sisson reccomends. My family is a testament to this: massive weight loss, auto-immune disease reversed, and a huge sense of control in regards to food!  As someone who works in healthcare, I would agree with others that I wouldn't trust your health to your MD.  The conventional wisdom in regards to diet and exercise (just like finance and economics!) is so misaligned with what is truly needed to be healthy.  Besides Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf is another great resource for people to check out-and he is also a big proponent of peak prosperity!  Thanks Chris for changing gears with the Podcast this week-personal health resiliency is something our community should focus on more.



I enjoyed the podcast with Mark and I plan to seek out Animal Blueprint. He presents some compelling ideas.  One concept I might argue though was the proposition that there was not much of a need in our biological past for extended cardio performance("only short bursts to chase down dinner or avoid becoming dinner").  I recently enjoyed the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall which would argue the opposite.  The author makes a good case that modern humans evolved to run down game over many miles and hours-- to literally run game to death(before bow and arrow type tools were available).  Cro-magnon(the first anatomically modern humans) were better endurance runners than the stronger (and larger brained) Neanderthals, and in this way were perhaps enabled to outcompete the Neanderthals.   Suffice to say that I am not an ultra runner or an anthropologist but I would not dismiss extended cardio training based on the idea that it was never required in our evolution.  Thank you for the talk gentlemen. I look forward to exploring Mark's work further.   Cheers, Wayne

This weekend I have been playing with my body.
I have successfully made it Ketonic. I am edging up to 8milli mol/litre. And I feel fine.

My squamus looks as though it is trying to regain a foothold. In 3 weeks time I have an appointment with Mack the Knife. By that time it should be clear. It is fading fast. Cancer craves Sugar.

I keep a little Ikran Billis in the fridge. If I get the munchies, a small handfull settles it…

I must be a natural born bottom feeder.

Don't forget to use saffron. It will prevent Macular degeneration. Who wants to go blind?

If you only have a small bit of ground, consider growing saffron. It is Very Expensive. It is better to be a seller than a buyer.

I'm Just Mad about Saffron.

[quote=Arthur Robey]This weekend I have been playing with my body.
I have successfully made it Ketonic. I am edging up to 8milli mol/litre. And I feel fine.
My squamus looks as though it is trying to regain a foothold. In 3 weeks time I have an appointment with Mack the Knife. By that time it should be clear. It is fading fast. Cancer craves Sugar.
I keep a little Ikran Billis in the fridge. If I get the munchies, a small handfull settles it…
I must be a natural born bottom feeder.
Don't forget to use saffron. It will prevent Macular degeneration. Who wants to go blind?
If you only have a small bit of ground, consider growing saffron. It is Very Expensive. It is better to be a seller than a buyer.
I'm Just Mad about Saffron.
Ever hear of chaga?  We use it around these parts.

I had never heard of Chaga. I do believe that fungi have been battling microbes since the dawn of time and have developed some very interesting properties.
Penicillin was derived from a fungus.

Christianity disaproved of the European medicine women and stamped out nearly all their knowledge. Called them witches.

I married a Russian. Christianity got there later so the Russians are still keen mushroom hunters. The tradition has not been erased. They call them Grebe.(Gre Be, sort of.) 

This is one fascinating book on the subject.

Whoops. Mushrooms are a rich topic. I got side tracked. Anyway, Paul Stammets is your man.


We should start a fungi thread.
AO's lead is very interesting.

 Recent scientific research in Japan and China has been focused more on the anticancer potential and showed the effects of these specific polysaccharides to be comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, but without the side effects.[11][12] Further research indicated these polysaccharides have strong anti-inflammatory[10] and immune balancing properties,[13] stimulating the body to produce natural killer(NK) cells to battle infections and tumor growth, instead of showing a direct toxicity against pathogens. This property makes well-prepared medicinal mushroom extracts stand out from standard pharmaceuticals - no side effects will occur or develop; the body is healing itself, triggered into action by the BRM effect of the chaga extract.[14] Herbalist David Winston maintains it is the strongest anticancer medicinal mushroom. Russian literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his autobiographical novel, based on his experiences in a hospital in TashkentCancer Ward (1968).

I do hope that the authors are not allowing their enthusiasm to get the better of them.

Here is what the beauty looks like. I seem to recall seeing it.

I regularly see in depth reviews of books, programs and products by people who clearly haven't read the book, honestly tried the program or owned the product.  The reviews are always at least somewhat critical.  Think about what motivates leaving such and in depth critical review of something you haven't tried.
I enjoyed the podcast and will read the book. I have very occasionally read similar books and benifited from one or two of them.

My current diet is good, rather than great.  Exercise, for me these days, is about strengthening muscle groups to counter phyrical problems I've developed over the years.  I'm 61 and have back and joint issues.  

The other concept I adopted at about 40 is a "fully functional musculature."  Basically, I wanted to enjoy any recreation on the weekend without paying a significant price in Monday pain.  I've been mostly successful with that for 20 years now.  However, I have had to tone down my recreation expectations as time marches on.  

I am still more active than most due to maintaining weight and an appropriate exercise program some of which is PT recommended.

There is always room for improvement.

The podcast is particularly appropriate on websites like Peak Prosperity.  A lower energy society will require more physical exertion.  I look around me these days and see a lot of people who will not be capable of contributing effectively in that environment.

Thanks Mark. 

What a pleasant surprise it was to see Mark on today's podcast. I've been following Mark's program (as well as the related paleo diet, crossfit, barefoot(ish) running scene in general) for at least 3 years now and Mark was my first dose and a great inspiration. No more blood sugar swings, I'm down 30 lbs, I've put on muscle I never had, my blood pressure is normal again, cholestrol is normal, and even though I no longer distance run 3x/wk like I used to, I still make PRs when I do decide to run a 5k or 10k for fun.
Sometimes people get really caught up in the minor points and newcomers can get overwhelmed but I think there are a few simple things one can do to make huge change: 1.) cut out gluten, even if you aren't celiac. 2.) reduce your consumption of processed foods (most importantly processed sugar). 3.) 80/20… just do your 80% best and don't sweat the 20% cheat. If you focus on nothing more than those 3 points you'll see dramatic changes in your body.
The easiest way for me to make these dietary changes was to stop stocking bread and pasta in the pantry. I just stopped allowing myself to buy it. When the pantry was starting to get bare I really had to start thinking differently about what I'm gong to cook. Huge crocks of soups, curries, and slow cooker roasts started happening a lot more and my food costs started plummeting due to making several days worth in bulk. And I started enjoying bacon and eggs with some veggies every day for breakfast. Delicious!

Anyone see this movie:  Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead?  It is a similar personal transformation-of-health story where a guy realizes that no one can save him but himself and embarks on a major journey to find health.  Here is a review from Joe Mercola, a physician/health advocate blogger:

The specific content is slightly different than Mark Sisson's, but the story of personal health transformation is wonderful and inspiring.

There is a field of medicine that VERY closely aligns with Mark Sisson's philosophy.  It is being called "Functional Medicine."  Members include Nutritionists, Naturopaths, nutritionally oriented Chiropractors and about 30% are traditional MDs and DOs who are eager to find something that actually promotes health.  (Traditional medicine is NOT AT ALL concerned with restoring true health, but about limiting complications and symptoms of diseases.)

Another similar place this story is heard is in Mark Hyman's book, "The Blood Sugar Solution" specifically aimed at people with "Diabesity" (insulin resitance with excessive abdominal fat).  This Functional Medicine approach is almost identical to Mark Sisson's.  (Dr Hyman's website is a bit glitzy which turns some people off, but the science and the message is very sound in my opinion.)  Mark Hyman is the current chairman of The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Chris, thanks for including health in the scope of converstations about resilince. 


I posted this little film a while ago but I think it's worth putting out there again. "Jack Rabbit" lived to be over 100 years old. And I believe and he was very active and mentally sharp even in his 90's.
And the interesting thing is that he lost almost everything he had when he was around 50. That was because all his investments were in stocks at the time of the stock market crash of 29.

OK, I'm the guy who normally posts news link without comment. Now for the personal story. I'll try to make this short:

Over the past nine months or so I have cut almost 100% of the grains and sweets. Favorite foods:

  1. Avocado

  2. Raw nuts

  3. California raisins

  4. Small quantities of any meat that doesn't have preservatives or msg

  5. pineapple

  6. bananas

  7. Eggs

I'm also over 50 and am just 5 foot 6 inches. My top weight was around 155, so weight was never a big issue. After eating this I lost almost every bit of the belly fat and am down to 135 pounds. This may sound light, but I actually gained muscle weight and for the first time in my life my workout is able to include 100 yard sprints on an extremely steep uphill. I couldn't run this hill in high school. Resting pulse rate before my workout has dropped from around 60 to the high 40s.

While I have a very healthy appetite, the high fat in my diet means I only get hungry twice a day.

Supplements include just a multivitamin and high doses of the spice turmeric. Studies show that turmeric stops and/or prevents inflammation. Please do your own Google search for the link between inflammation and any of the major diseases that haunt us.

The point is that dropping the processed food, the sweets and the grains has had very dramatic results.

Thanks Chris and Mark.




I certainly agree with ao's comments that there's a lot of specificity to be wrestled with as each person is unique.
However, I think the broad outlines are these:

  • Carbohydrates in the form of breads and sweets are easy to overdo and, if I had to pick one dietary villain, they are the main cause of unwanted weight gain.
  • Exercise does not require a gym, several hours a day (or even an hour), or special equipment and is best if it is also enjoyable.
While individual mileage will vary, I will happily restate that I am in the best form of my life here at 50 and I can best summarize my exercise success in two words:  Every day.

I do something, anything, every day.  It does not take much time at all, and it helps to counter my otherwise very sedentary job of sitting in front of a computer reading and writing.  I will regularly get up and do a set of pushups.  Or planks.  Or Sit ups.  

My favorite routine performed each morning involves a Pandora channel I have carefully curated that I stretch, flex and lift to.  I have a chair I use to do dips, a rug that I do pushups and sit ups on, and one set of 35# dumbbells for curls and lifts.

The point being, regular household items work just fine.  At least for me.


This sounds very similar to what I've done - a low carb combination of the South Beach Diet (tons of studies) and the Atkins Diet. I call it the Wendy's Private Beach Diet. And I am always willing to tweak it so I'm glad to meet you. Mark!
Getting rid of all processed carbs and cutting most carbs, increasing fats, veggies and protein meant my severe allergies dissapeared, and my chronic, debilitating depression vanished. I went don from a size 26 to an 18 in six months (blew through two wardobes on th way down.)

I like your idea of constant, low-level activity with bursts of intensity,